FILE PHOTO -- Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner watch as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Donald Trump hold a joint news...
JIM BOURG

Kushner’s meetings with Russian officials draw closer scrutiny

Updated
Donald Trump’s 36-year-old son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has a policy portfolio that’s so expansive, he’s quickly become one of the most powerful figures in the White House, despite having no meaningful experience in government or public affairs. Complicating matters, however, is Kushner’s chats with Russian officials.

The Rachel Maddow Show, 3/27/17, 9:00 PM ET

Trump son-in-law sought for Russia questions

Rachel Maddow reports on the background of the former Russian spy-turned-bank-official who met with Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and notes the remarkable number of significant tasks Trump has assigned to Kusher.
As Rachel has reported on the show, while the president’s son-in-law’s to-do list keeps growing, so too does interest in Kushner’s previously undisclosed meeting with the head of a Russian bank – an institution with direct ties to Vladimir Putin and Russian spy services – which came after his previously undisclosed meeting with the Russian ambassador to the United States. It’s these chats that help explain why Kushner is set to meet with the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of its investigation into the broader Russia scandal.

The New York Times moved the ball forward a bit this morning with new details surrounding Kushner’s interactions with Russian officials.
When Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, sought the top-secret security clearance that would give him access to some of the nation’s most closely guarded secrets, he was required to disclose all encounters with foreign government officials over the last seven years.

But Mr. Kushner did not mention dozens of contacts with foreign leaders or officials in recent months. They include a December meeting with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, and one with the head of a Russian state-owned bank, Vnesheconombank, arranged at Mr. Kislyak’s behest.
Kushner’s lawyer told the Times that the omissions were an error, and that may turn out to be true. The same article added, however, that failing to disclose foreign contacts can, in some instances, lead to officials losing “access to intelligence, or worse.”

In this case, Kushner has apparently already begun the process of amending the official documents to be more accurate. That said, there are still a couple of angles of interest to this.

The first is whether this was an honest mistake or not. It’s not clear why the president’s son-in-law participated in these meetings with Russian officials, and the fact that he failed to disclose the discussions when he was supposed to won’t help the questions go away anytime soon.

But there was one other sentence in the New York Times’ article that jumped out at me: “Mr. Kushner’s omissions were described by people with direct knowledge of them who asked for anonymity because the questionnaire is not a public document.”

Oh. So someone in the Trump administration pulled the private document, recognized that it might look bad for Kushner, and then chose to share it with the nation’s largest newspaper.

I mention this because there’s been a fair amount of palace intrigue at the White House lately, with reports of intensifying animosity between rival factions led by Kushner and chief White House strategist Stephen Bannon.

Just yesterday, Axios published a piece quoting “close Bannon ally” who said the former Breitbart News editor planned to push back against Kushner. Bannon reportedly told associates, “I see some bad press in [Jared’s] future.”

The next morning, the New York Times reported on an internal document that’s problematic for Kushner.

It may just be a coincidence. It also may be evidence of an intensifying conflict between contingents in the West Wing.

Russia, Scandals and White House

Kushner's meetings with Russian officials draw closer scrutiny

Updated