Jared Kushner to be questioned about meetings with notorious Russian bank

Kushner and Russia

A notorious bank which acts as a front for Russian espionage, is now part of the investigation into contacts between President Trump administration officials and the Russian government.

This time it is Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, who will be questioned by Senate investigators about his meetings with Russia’s Vnesheconombank (VEB).

The bank used to be chaired by Russian president Vladimir Putin and because it has funded so many of Putin’s pet projects -- it needed to be bailed out by the Russian government.

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The previously undisclosed meeting took place during the Trump transition before Jared Kushner stepped down as head of his real estate company.

In December, Kushner sat down with Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak at Trump Tower -- a meeting the White House has previously confirmed. But afterward, Kislyak asked Kushner to meet with the head of a Russian bank known as “VEB,” which has deep ties to president Vladimir Putin and Russian intelligence agencies.

The bank is run by Sergey Gorkov, who once trained at the Russian spy agency known as the FSB. In 2016, another VEB official, Evgency Buryakov, was sentenced to 30 months in jail for using his banking job to disguise efforts to recruit U.S. spies for Russia.

The VEB itself was sanctioned by the U.S. government after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.

“I have nothing to do with Russia, I told you,” Mr. Trump said. “I have no deals there ... I don’t know anything.”

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The president has long denied ties to Russia, but the Kushner disclosure moves the Russia inquiry even closer to the Oval Office. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Kushner acted as a conduit to foreign governments during the transition.

“He met with countless individual that was part of his job,” Spicer said at a White House press briefing. “That was part of his role and he executed it completely as he was supposed to.”

So he doesn’t believe that he owes the American public an explanation, CBS News asked.

Spicer replied: “For what? Doing his job. Meeting with -- you’re acting there’s something nefarious about doing what he was tasked to do.”

Virginia’s Mark Warner is the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“If there’s nothing there, then the administration should want us to get this right and we’ll say nothing there,” Warner said. “And if there is something there, we’re going to follow the intel wherever it leads.”

Senator Warner told CBS News no decisions have been made about whether Kushner’s testimony will be given in public or under oath. Warner also had no opinion on White House explanations that Kushner’s interactions with the Russians were routine.