Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner watch as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Donald Trump hold a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., March 17, 2017.
JIM BOURG

As Russia investigation moves forward, Kushner draws FBI scrutiny

It was late last week when the Russia scandal first made the leap from Donald Trump’s campaign operation to the White House itself. The Washington Post reported that the investigation “has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest,” adding that the person drawing scrutiny “is someone close to the president.”

The Rachel Maddow Show, 5/25/17, 8:59 PM ET

Trump-Russia probe turns its attention to Jared Kushner: NBC News

Matt Zapotosky, who covers the Justice Department for the Washington Post, talks with Rachel Maddow about the new revelation that Donald Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner is a person of interest in the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation.
Matt Zapotosky, who covers the Justice Department for the Washington Post, talks with Rachel Maddow about the new revelation that Donald Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner is a person of interest in the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation.
There was considerable speculation about whether the Post was referring to the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Yesterday, as Rachel noted on the show, NBC News moved the story forward.
Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and one of his senior advisers, has come under FBI scrutiny in the Russia investigation, multiple U.S. officials told NBC News.

Investigators believe Kushner has significant information relevant to their inquiry, officials said. That does not mean they suspect him of a crime or intend to charge him.
There’s a lot about the nature of the investigation that we do not yet know, including the seriousness of the scrutiny. That said, the Washington Post published a related piece late yesterday that added, “Kushner, who held meetings in December with the Russian ambassador and a banker from Moscow, is being investigated because of the extent and nature of his interactions with the Russians, the people said.”

Let’s note for context that we also know from previous reporting that Kushner had a 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. When Kushner sought the top-secret security clearance, he was required to disclose those interactions, but initially failed to do so.

Whether this line of inquiry will grow more serious for Kushner or his father-in-law remains to be seen, but if it does, the challenges for Trump World will be considerable. First, as Rachel emphasized on the show, the president has given his son-in-law an expansive policy portfolio, covering a range of issues that include national security, international trade, diplomacy with China, Middle East peace, domestic infrastructure, criminal-justice reform, broadband policy, and tackling the opioid crisis – among other things.

And second, as presidential historian Michael Beschloss explained, presidents in the midst of scandals have routinely thrown various officials under the bus in the hopes of saving themselves, but Trump may find that more difficult given that Kushner is literally a close member of his family.

Postscript: The DNC Is calling for the White House to suspend Kushner’s security clearance until the matter is resolved. That seems unlikely, but it’ll be interesting to see whether congressional Democrats pick up on this.