Former Department of Justice attorney Michael Zeldin hasn’t worked with Robert Mueller in two decades, but in a Tuesday night discussion on with CNN, Zeldin indicated that the way his former boss had worded the sentencing agreement with Michael Flynn should be worrying to other members of Trump’s transition team — including Jared Kushner.
A large portion of both the sentencing recommendation and an attached memo detailing Flynn’s cooperation with the special counsel were redacted. That’s left the small amount of text still visible subject to high levels of scrutiny. It’s clear from the documents that, in addition to helping with the special counsel investigation into connections between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, Flynn assisted in at least one, possibly two, criminal matters being pursued by either federal or state attorneys. It’s also clear that Flynn assisted the special counsel on at least three matters, all of them likely related to the Trump campaign.
But the one section that’s primarily in the clear is that fact that Flynn assisted the counsel’s office in looking into activities during the transition period. That testimony included Trump’s contacts with the Russian ambassador during that period, and testimony on other subjects … that are redacted.
But Zeldin—who was the Director of the Money Laundering Office and an expert on international money laundering—feels as if this is one section of black ink that might have some clear targets. Several others worked with Flynn on those transition activities. As Newsweek reports, Zeldin pointed at one Trump team member who joined Flynn in his outreach to the Russians.
President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is at risk because of Michael Flynn’s testimony to the Russia investigation, a former assistant to special counsel Robert Mueller suggested.
Kushner has testified in closed door sessions for both the House and Senate. He’s also visited with Mueller at least twice. Kushner also released a statement concerning his contacts with Russian officials, saying there were “hardly any.” That’s in spite of Kushner’s presence at the Trump Tower meeting, his meeting with the Russian ambassador, and his efforts to set up a “back channel” for communication with Moscow.
In his statement to Congress, Kushner maintained that he arrived at the Trump Tower meeting significantly late, that the subject was “the issue of a ban on U.S. adoptions of Russian children” and that he emailed his assistant to get him out of the meeting early. Kushner described the meeting as “a waste of time,” but every one of his statements about that meeting as been contradicted by other participants. When it comes to the stack of emails explaining in advance that the meeting was part of the Russian government’s effort to help the Trump campaign, Kushner had a simple answer — he got the emails, but didn’t read them. He also claimed not to recall a couple of phone calls with the Russian ambassador, and that a face to face meeting with Sergei Kislyak was nothing but a handshake and an exchange of greetings.
All of that was during the campaign period. During the transition, Kushner claimed that he forgot some contacts with Russia because of the “incredible volume of messages.” But he did recall a Trump Tower meeting on December 1, 2016 during which he met with Kislyak — along with Michael Flynn.
Kushner: During the meeting, after pleasantries were exchanged, as I had done in many of the meetings I had and would have with foreign officials, I stated our desire for a fresh start in relations. Also, as I had done in other meetings with foreign officials, I asked Ambassador Kislyak if he would identify the best person (whether the Ambassador or someone else) with whom to have direct discussions and who had contact with his President.
Kushner then admitted that he, Kislyak, and Flynn had a discussion related to Syria. And that they talked about the need for a “secure line” to the transition team so that Russian generals could “convey important information” about Russia’s thoughts on that nation. This is the point where Kushner suggested a different approach.
Kushner: I asked if they had an existing communications channel at his embassy we could use where they would be comfortable transmitting the information they wanted to relay to General Flynn.
Kushner denied that this represented a “secret back channel” between Russia and the transition team. In his statement, Kushner seemed amazed that anyone would think this effort anything but innocent, and claimed that his efforts to create a secure link with the Russians were simply evidence that “that I was not aware of one that existed before Election Day.” However, Kushner did admit to talking with Russian officials again on December 12, and meeting with one of Putin’s inner circle, Sergey Gorkov, on December 13.
Between this public statement, the statements that Kushner made directly to the special counsel, and the two closed door sessions for Congress, Robert Mueller has a lengthy amount of material to examine when it comes to Trump son-in-law. And, if as seems likely, Michael Flynn’s cooperation included a detailed recounting of those occasions when his meetings with the Russians overlapped with those of Kushner, Mueller also has at least one additional set of statements to check the truth of what Kushner has disclosed.
But … Jared Kushner hasn’t been indicted. That suggests that either Mueller believes that what Kushner said in his statements represented the truth to the best of his knowledge, or that there’s some reason for delaying any move against Kushner. That delay may have come simply because the special counsel is aware that any move against Trump’s very special adviser is likely to make it impossible for the investigation to continue under anything resembling normal order. It may also be because, like the testimony of Donald Trump Jr, Kushner’s House testimony has still not been provided to the special counsel’s office. House Republicans, led by Devin Nunes, have been sitting on that testimony, but Adam Schiff has stated it will be turned over as soon as Democrats take control in January.
Maybe Mueller isn’t going to move against Kushner. Maybe he’s waiting to see one last set of statements to understand the real scope of Kushner’s lies. Whatever the case, the fact that Flynn is being thanked for his cooperation on events that were shared with Kushner should make Trump’s son-in-law think very carefully about what he has said.