In his column “All Roads Now Lead to Kushner,” published Thursday in The New York Times, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Nicholas Kristof made a very clear demand: revoke Jared Kushner’s security clearance immediately.
Recent revelations that Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., and then-Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort met with a “Russian government attorney” in June 2016 after an email exchange offering high-level and sensitive information against Hillary Clinton has left the Trump’s credibility in tatters, Kristof argues.
Kristof offered two ways forward.
First, look beyond Donald Trump Jr. to Jared Kushner and to President Trump himself. Second, explore how Trump Jr.’s attempt at collusion with Russians may relate to the bizarre effort by Kushner to set up a secret communication channel with the Kremlin.
Just a day after Trump Jr. received the first email floating the possibility of dirt on Clinton, his father announced he would soon hold a major speech with surprising revelations about her. That speech never took place, but its announcement narrowly preceded the first leak of stolen Democratic materials. Despite this, the Trump team insists that the president knew nothing about the Russian’s offer.
But Kushner did know — he was there. And he failed to report that meeting (and others) while filing paperwork to receive his security clearance. That meeting, says Kristof, gave the Russians potential leverage over the Trumps.
Then there was the extraordinary initiative by Kushner in the transition period to set up the secret communications channel. There’s no indication that the channel was actually established, and the assumption has been that the communications would have required visits to Russian consulates — which would be bizarre.
Furthermore, investigators for Congress and the Justice Department are looking into whether the Trump campaign’s digital operations, supervised by Kushner, helped guide Russian efforts to target voters with fake news.
“Look, this is a murky, complicated issue,” Kristof continued:
But this much we know: Kushner attended a secret meeting whose stated purpose was to advance a Kremlin effort to interfere in the U.S. election, he then failed to report it, and finally he sought a secret channel to communicate with the Kremlin. One next step is clear: Take away Jared Kushner’s security clearance immediately.
Michael Heckle is the Forward opinion summer fellow and ASME associate.