(JTA) — Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, attended a controversial meeting in December between a Russian diplomat and former national security advisor Michael Flynn.
The New York Times reported the story and the White House confirmation.
The meeting between Kushner, Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak lasted 20 minutes at Trump Tower and was intended to “establish a line of communication,” White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks told the Times Thursday.
The FBI is currently investigating alleged Russian involvement in November’s U.S. election. Flynn resigned after failing to disclose the nature of calls he had with Kislyak, in which he reportedly urged the Russians not to respond to sanctions imposed or planned by the Obama administration, saying relations would improve under Trump.
Kushner was not known to have participated in talks with Russian officials prior to the report.
“Jared has had meetings with many other foreign countries and representatives – as many as two dozen other foreign countries’ leaders and representatives,” Hicks said, adding that Kushner has not met with Kislyak since the December meeting.
The news comes as Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he would recuse himself from the FBI investigation into Trump campaign links to Russia. Sessions admitted he had discussed Ukraine with Kislyak at the Republican National Convention, which he used Trump campaign money to attend. At his confirmation hearings in the Senate Sessions was asked:
If there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government, in the course of this campaign, what will you do?
Despite Flynn already having resigned because of his contacts with Kislyak Sessions responded
I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians. And I’m unable to comment on it.
In an interview with the Times of London, Trump said that Kushner — previously his de facto campaign manager — would take on the task of negotiating peace between Israelis and Palestinians– an appointment Trump had previously floated due to the fact that Kushner “knows the region, knows the people, knows the players,” Trump described in a previous interview.
Kushner is Jewish and has visited Israel many times. His wife underwent an Orthodox conversion before their wedding in 2010.