FBI investigates Jared Kushner’s Russia meetings

Activities of the president’s son-in-law in the month before Donald Trump’s inauguration under spotlight

Jared Kushner's links to Russia were in the spotlight again on Friday after the Washington Post reported that the president's son-in-law and adviser is the focus of an FBI investigation into Russia.

The report, citing sources close to the investigation, said that Mr Kushner’s activities in the months before Mr Trump’s inauguration were being examined as part of the probe.

While officials said there was no indication that Mr Kushner had been involved in any wrongdoing, it is understood that the FBI is examining meetings he held with Russian individuals before Mr Trump took office.

In particular, Mr Kushner’s meeting with Russia’s ambassador to the United States and the head of Russian bank Vnesheconombank in December in New York are under scrutiny. Investigators are also looking at data analytics used by Mr Kushner and the Trump campaign in devising their electoral campaign strategy, amid fears that this information could have been inadvertently used by Russia.


Russian interference

In the final weeks of his presidency, Barack Obama confirmed that Russia had interfered in the US presidential election.

In testimony to the senate intelligence committee earlier this week, former CIA director John Brennan said there had been concern about a “number of contacts that the Russians had with US persons” in the final months of the campaign, with fears that Russia was using its contacts with individuals to try to garner intelligence and influence the election.

While the FBI has been looking into links between the Trump campaign team and Russia since July, Mr Kushner's involvement would mark the first time that a current White House official has been named in connection with the investigation. Former campaign manager Paul Manafort and Mr Trump's first national security adviser Mike Flynn no longer work for the president.

Mr Kushner has previously said he would testify in front of congress if requested and would submit any relevant information demanded by investigators.

Mr Kushner and his wife Ivanka, who accompanied the president on his first foreign trip on taking office, returned to Washington on Friday after spending an extra day in Rome while the remainder of the president’s entourage continued to Brussels.

The 36-year-old former property magnate is a senior figure in the White House, playing an increasingly prominent role in foreign policy.

Hillary Clinton’s critique

Meanwhile, addressing graduates at her alma mater Wellesley College on Friday, former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton delivered a strong critique of the current administration.

“Look at the budget that was just proposed in Washington. It is an attack of unimaginable cruelty,” she told students.

She said that “a full-scale assault on truth and reason” was currently under way. “When people in power invent their own facts, and attack those who question them, it can mark the beginning of the end of a free society,” she said. “That is not hyperbole, it is what authoritarian regimes throughout history have done.”

The former secretary of state also appeared to compare Mr Trump to Richard Nixon as she recalled the mood on campus in 1974, her own graduation year.

“We were furious about the past presidential election of a man whose presidency would eventually end in disgrace with his impeachment for obstruction of justice, after firing the person running the investigation into him at the department of justice,” she said.

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch, a former Irish Times journalist, was Washington correspondent and, before that, Europe correspondent