WASHINGTON — Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, has volunteered to testify before the Senate intelligence committee in relation to its Russia investigation, the White House and Senate committee confirmed Monday.
The New York Times reported the Senate committee had informed the White House Counsel's Office earlier this month that they were looking to question Kushner on "meetings he arranged with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, according to the government officials." The meetings reportedly took place during the presidential transition period.
"Mr. Kushner will certainly not be the last person the committee calls to give testimony, but we expect him to be able to provide answers to key questions that have arisen in our inquiry," said a statement from the Senate intelligence committee released on Monday.
The White House described the purpose of one of those meetings in Trump Tower, reported by the New Yorker, as a way of opening "a more open line of communication in the future." Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser who resigned over contact with Russian officials before Trump took office, was also at that meeting, according to the New York Times.
The committee has not made a decision on timing for Kushner’s interview, but are requesting documents and other “information necessary to ensure that the meeting is productive for all sides." When asked whether the questioning would occur in open or closed session, a Senate source told BuzzFeed News those details had not been confirmed yet.
Kushner is not the first to make such an offer. Last week, Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, also volunteered, through his attorney, to be interviewed in an ongoing Russia investigation being conducted by the House Intelligence committee.
As the Russia investigation continues to pick up momentum, more scrutiny is being placed on interaction between Trump transition team and administration members and Russian contacts. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' meetings with Kislyak and the resulting uproar led Sessions to recuse himself from any investigations into the 2016 election.
The FBI is also investigating any ties between Trump's orbit and Russia, Director James Comey confirmed in an open hearing of the House Intelligence Committee last week.
Rep. Devin Nunes, who chairs the House Intelligence committee, announced Manafort's offer to testify on Friday morning and encouraged others with information related to the investigation to volunteer to do the same.
It is unclear whether Kushner made the same offer to the House Intelligence committee.
"We are in early stages of compiling our witness list," a committee member told BuzzFeed News when asked if the House Intelligence committee was also looking to question Kushner.
When asked the same question, a staffer with knowledge told BuzzFeed News that "hasn't been decided yet."
The House Intelligence committee is coming off of a week of drama, where disagreements between members became public and raised questions about the body's ability to investigate the issue. Nunes angered members and broke with protocol last week when he briefed the press and the White House saying he had seen new information that suggested the Trump team had been surveilled, without first briefing fellow committee members.
News broke Monday morning that Nunes was on White House grounds the day before making his announcement. Nunes has said, however, that the new information he viewed and discussed last week is unrelated to the Russia investigation.
Members of the Senate Intelligence committee have taken pains to distance themselves from the House committee's drama, arguing that their committee is still in a good position to continue the investigation.
“It was awful. Really truly awful," Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat on the Senate Intelligence committee, told BuzzFeed News last week. "It was discouraging to see that type of action, you know, and I’m confident in saying that won’t happen in the Senate. I would be absolutely astounded if that would happen in the Senate. It won’t. We’ve got good leadership, we’ve got a chairman and a ranking member working together.”
Republicans including Sen. John McCain also raised doubts over the House's ability to conduct the investigation, while praising their own efforts in the Senate. McCain, however, has gone a step further than his many of his colleagues in calling for a select committee or independent committee to take over the investigation.
"The scope of the investigation is larger than just the intelligence committee even though I think the intelligence committee is doing a fine job," McCain told BuzzFeed News last week.
Lissandra Villa is a reporter with BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Lissandra Villa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.