WASHINGTON: Congressional investigators probing Russia's meddling in the U.S. election will have their first opportunity this week to hear from someone in President Donald Trump's innermost circle: son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Kushner, who is a senior adviser to the president and is married to Trump's daughter, Ivanka, will talk to staff on the Senate Intelligence Committee Monday behind closed doors. On Tuesday, he'll talk privately to members of the House Intelligence Committee.
Both panels are investigating Russian interference and possible connections to Trump's campaign. Kushner has attracted attention for a December meeting with a leading Russian diplomat. He oversaw digital strategy for the campaign, and some lawmakers have said they want more answers about whether Russian social media "trolls" were connected to Trump's election efforts.
Kushner also attended a June 2016 meeting with Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., and his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and a Russian lawyer who Trump Jr. was told had damaging information about election rival Hillary Clinton. Congressional investigators have said they are interested in learning more about the meeting and want to talk to those who attended.
Abbe Lowell, a lawyer for Kushner, said ahead of the meetings that Kushner "has been and is prepared to voluntarily cooperate and provide whatever information he has on the investigations" to Congress.
"He will continue to cooperate and appreciates the opportunity to assist in putting this matter to rest," Lowell said.
California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence panel, said on CBS's "Face the Nation" Sunday that lawyers for Kushner had said they would make him available for two hours so "we expect this is just going to be the first interview" of the president's son in law. He said the panel will have many questions for him.
Schiff says he wants to know more about the June 2016 meeting and a separate meeting Kushner had with the top executive of Russia's state-supported VEB bank.
"We want to know whether those meetings took place, whether other meetings took place, we have a lot of ground to cover," Schiff said.
Trump Jr. and Manafort were also scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week but avoided the public spectacle late Friday as their attorneys were in negotiations with that panel. The two men are now in discussions to be privately interviewed by staff or lawmakers, though the GOP chairman of the committee, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, has said they will eventually testify in public.
The president took to Twitter over the weekend to defend himself and repeat his criticism of the investigations. On Sunday, Trump tweeted: "As the phony Russian Witch Hunt continues, two groups are laughing at this excuse for a lost election taking hold, Democrats and Russians!"