President Trump's son-in-law and close adviser Jared Kushner has agreed to be interviewed by the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of its ongoing probe into alleged ties between Russia and Trump's inner circle.
The New York Times reports that Kushner, along with former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at Trump Tower in December 2016. When Kislyak requested a second talk, Kushner sent his deputy, Avrahm Berkowitz, to attend on his behalf.
Kushner also reportedly had a meeting with Sergey Gorkov, the head of a state-owned Russian development bank.
The Trump administration was quick to downplay the significance of those meetings, insisting that nothing inappropriate took place.
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"Throughout the campaign and transition, Jared Kushner served as the official primary point of contact with foreign governments and officials. Given this role, he has volunteered to speak with [Senate Intelligence] Chairman [Richard] Burr's committee, but has not yet received confirmation," a White House official told CNN.
White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks emphasized that Kushner's meeting with Kislyak was just one of dozens that took place during the campaign.
"Jared's only meeting with Ambassador Kislyak took place during the transition, as has been reported," she said. "He met hundreds of people on the campaign and may have shaken the ambassador's hand prior to an April 2016 speech on foreign policy by the president."
"They generally discussed the relationship, and it made sense to establish a line of communication," Hicks added, according to ABC News. "Jared has had meetings with many other foreign countries and representatives -- as many as two dozen other foreign countries' leaders and representatives."
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According to The New York Times, Hicks said the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the possibility of normalizing relations between the U.S. and Russia. They also talked about ways in which the two countries could work together to solve the various conflicts plaguing the Middle East.
With respect to Kushner's meeting with Gorkov, Hicks said the discussion lasted about 30 minutes and that the Russian banker merely expressed his desire to open a line of dialogue with the incoming administration.
"It really wasn't much of a conversation," she said.
The Senate Intelligence Committee began interviewing individual witnesses earlier this month, Politico reports. The first to be questioned were the intelligence officials who evaluated the extent of Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 election.
Other Trump associates due to be interviewed include Paul Manafort, who served as Trump's campaign chairman, and Roger Stone, a political consultant and prominent Trump surrogate.