Jared Kushner, the senior White House advisor and President Trump's son-in-law, met with a representative of a state-run Russian bank, which was known to have planted spies in the United States, the “New York Times” reported on Monday.
In mid-December, Kushner met with Vladimir Putin ally Sergey N. Gorkov of Vnesheconombank, a state-controlled Russian bank that is still under sanction by the U.S. It has also been used by Russia to plant spies in the United States. The "Times" reports that in March 2016, a Russian intelligence agent was caught posing as a bank employee in New York and pleaded guilty to spying against the United States. Preet Bharara, who was the U.S. attorney in Manhattan at the time said the spy was under “the guise of being a legitimate banker, gathered intelligence as an agent of the Russian Federation in New York.”
Kushner did not disclose the meeting before entering the White House. Federal investigators are examining why Kushner and Gorkov met. According to the "Times," current and former officials say it may have been part of an effort by Kushner to establish a direct line to Putin outside of U.S. intelligence channels.
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White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks told the "Times" that “Mr. Kushner was acting in his capacity as a transition official” and that Kushner was willing to be interviewed by congressional investigators. In March, Gorkov said he met with Kushner to discuss banking trends and promising sectors in Europe, Asia and the United States.
Kushner's meetings with Russians have come under increasing scrutiny. Last Friday, the "Washington Post" reported that during the presidential transition period, Kushner met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak and proposed setting up a secret backchannel to Russia using the equipment and facilities of the Russian embassy or consulate. The White House hasn't denied the "Post" report.