Kushner Is Said to Have Asked Flynn to Contact Russian Envoy
(Bloomberg) -- Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, is the “very senior” member of the presidential transition identified by former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn as having instructed him to reach out to Russia and several other countries last December, according to two people familiar with the matter.
As part of a deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller to plead guilty to a charge of lying to FBI agents, Flynn provided details surrounding a controversial meeting he held with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak According to a court filing Flynn said that a “very senior member” of the presidential transition team asked Flynn on Dec. to contact officials to help delay or defeat a United Nations Security Council vote condemning Israeli settlement policies.
Another person familiar with the push against the UN resolution said it was a collaborative effort that involved advisers Stephen Bannon and Reince Priebus as well as Kushner.
Flynn also said he reported back on Dec. 29 to a “senior official” in the transition team at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, Florida, resort on his conversations with Kislyak about new sanctions that then-President Barack Obama imposed on Russia because of its meddling in the presidential campaign.
That official, according to two people familiar with the matter, is K.T. McFarland. The people asked not to be identified discussing internal matters.
The transition official and Flynn “discussed that the members of the Presidential Transition Team at Mar-a-Lago did not want Russia to escalate the situation.” Shortly after, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced he wouldn’t take retaliatory measures against the Obama sanctions.
McFarland was brought to the transition team and later to the White House by Flynn, who was fired for lying to Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Kislyak. McFarland served as deputy national security adviser until being asked to step down in April by Flynn’s replacement, H.R. McMaster. In May, Trump nominated McFarland to serve as ambassador to Singapore. Her nomination is still awaiting confirmation by the Senate.
Flynn now says he lied to the FBI about the substance of his conversations with Kislyak, but that he had fully informed the transition team of the talks.
On Dec. 22, Trump tweeted his opposition to the proposed U.N. resolution on Israel, saying the U.S. should veto it. But since he wasn’t president yet, there are questions about whether members of his transition team violated the law by negotiating with foreign countries as private citizens. Obama let the resolution win approval by withholding the U.S.’s customary veto.
The disclosures raise the stakes for Trump, with his son-in-law and top adviser now being potentially drawn directly into Mueller’s probe.
White House attorney Ty Cobb downplayed the significance of Flynn’s decision to cooperate with Mueller, though the former Trump adviser said that he had kept senior administration officials apprised of his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. during the presidential transition last year.
“Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn,” Cobb said in a written statement. “The conclusion of this phase of the Special Counsel’s work demonstrates again that the Special Counsel is moving with all deliberate speed and clears the way for a prompt and reasonable conclusion.”
©2017 Bloomberg L.P.