Jared Kushner brokered a deal to bring ventilators -- which turned out to be faulty -- from Russia by leaning on his relationship with a Vladimir Putin ally who was singled out in the Mueller report.
The mysterious delivery arrived in New York City on a Russian military aircraft in March, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo pleaded with the federal government for help in fighting the coronavirus, and The Daily Beast reported that Kushner had worked out the deal with Kremlin-linked banker Kirill Dmitriev.
Kushner and Dmitriev, who has been investigated by Congress and special counsel Robert Mueller for his role in 2016 election interference, have been in regular contact since the Russian banker took part in an infamous January 2017 Seychelles meeting with former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince.
That meeting was intended to establish a roadmap for U.S.-Russia cooperation under President Donald Trump, and Kushner and Dmitrievy discussed ways for the foreign adversaries to work together -- such as creating a joint business council, working on a Middle East peace agreement, leading negotiations on an OPEC deal and delivering medical supplies, according to multiple senior officials.
More than a dozen current and former Trump administration officials told The Daily Beast that Kushner turned to Dmitriev because the president mistrusted national security and intelligence officials, who tried to simultaneously pursue Trump's insistence on improving relations with Russia while also trying to deter its threats against the U.S.
“It was a vicious cycle where, even though we were doing a lot of concrete things to take punitive measures against Russia, the president’s own personal behavior and how that was portrayed in the domestic context didn’t allow us to say, ‘We have a coherent Russia policy,’” said one former senior official.
The pair communicated, often through intermediaries, as senior administration officials became frustrated by mixed signals from the White House to national security and intelligence officials, and some of them were disturbed by Kushner's communications with the Putin ally.
“Dmitriev came into the picture because Putin was always saying, ‘Talk to my guy because he can help you with the Gulf and with the Middle East peace plan, we can help stabilize,’” said one former senior administration official. “A lot was going on behind the scenes … they kept it to themselves.”