A former Justice Department official said Jared Kushner’s repeated failure to disclose contacts with Russia is starting to look intentional — and could be considered obstruction of justice.
Kushner received emails in September 2016 about Wikileaks and a Russian overture to set up a backdoor channel and a dinner meeting, then forwarded them to another campaign official, but the White House adviser did not turn those documents over to congressional investigators.
“I think what we see here is you have to start with the fact that (special counsel) Robert Mueller’s team requested these documents from the campaign months ago, and presumably some had been turned over,” said Matthew Miller, an MSNBC analyst and former Justice Department spokesman. “Last month they decided to go a step further and issue a subpoena, which, if you don’t return documents under a subpoena, you can be charged with obstruction of justice. What that usually means is they don’t trust that they were getting everything they were supposed to get based on voluntary requests.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee’s chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and ranking Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), sent a letter to Kushner’s lawyers demanding the documents — which had been turned over by other campaign associates but not the president’s son-in-law.
“This is a group that just hasn’t been trustworthy,” Miller said. “You see Jared Kushner omit a number of meetings with Russian officials, you saw him not turn over all the relevant documents to the Senate Judiciary Committee that came out yesterday, you’ve seen repeated lie after lie after lie and omission after omission by everyone on this team, and I think Mueller has decided, ‘Look, we’re not going to trust your word on this matter — we’re going to send you a subpoena, and if you don’t comply I can charge you with a crime.”
He singled out Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has been walking back denials during his confirmation hearings that he had contacts with Russian officials during the campaign.
“Look, you might get the benefit of the doubt the first time you fail to remember something, the first time you don’t disclose a meeting,” Miller said. “You don’t get it on the second time, don’t get it on the third time, certainly not on the fourth time. That’s where we’re at with Jared Kushner. It’s the same standard that applies to Jeff Sessions. You might give him the benefit of the doubt the first time. But on the fourth occasion of failing to disclose a meeting with Russian officials, no one is going to trust that it was anything but intentional.”