Kushner says he did not collude with Russia, had no improper contacts

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal prosecutor speaks out, says Barr 'has brought shame' on Justice Dept. Former Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick MORE's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, said Monday in remarks at the White House that all of his actions in the 2016 campaign were proper and that he did not collude with Russia during the presidential campaign.

“The record and documents I have voluntarily provided will show that all of my actions were proper and occurred in the normal course of events in a very unique campaign,” Kushner, a Trump adviser who rarely speaks publicly, told reporters in a brief statement outside the White House.

Kushner returned to the White House to make the remarks after an interview behind closed doors with Senate staffers investigating Russian meddling in the presidential race.

“Let me very clear: I did not collude with Russia nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so,” he said.

Kushner spoke slowly and deliberately, at times pausing to look down at his notes, as cameras flashed and reporters angled for position.

He stood at the podium emblazoned with a White House logo for just more than two minutes and ignored the hail of questions shouted at him as he walked away.

Kushner has become a key figure in the political frenzy surrounding Trump’s campaign and Russia, particularly after it came to light that Kushner attended a now-infamous meeting between Donald Trump Jr., former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and a woman described as a Russian government lawyer offering dirt on Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBloomberg rolls out M ad buy to boost Biden in Florida Hillicon Valley: Productivity, fatigue, cybersecurity emerge as top concerns amid pandemic | Facebook critics launch alternative oversight board | Google to temporarily bar election ads after polls close Trump pledges to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, designate KKK a terrorist group in pitch to Black voters MORE.

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His interview with Intelligence Committee investigators behind closed doors was one of the most highly anticipated milestones in the unfolding Senate investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

By the time Kushner arrived on Capitol Hill on Monday morning, photographers were set up on at least three different levels of the Hart Senate Office Building, where he met committee staffers for an hour and a half. The leaders of the committee, Sens. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrHillicon Valley: Subpoenas for Facebook, Google and Twitter on the cards | Wray rebuffs mail-in voting conspiracies | Reps. raise mass surveillance concerns Bipartisan representatives demand answers on expired surveillance programs Rep. Mark Walker says he's been contacted about Liberty University vacancy MORE (R-N.C.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerFBI director casts doubt on concerns over mail-in voting fraud Democrats call for declassifying election threats after briefing by Trump officials It's time to upgrade benefits MORE (D-Va.), were not present.

He said little to reporters on Capitol Hill, a smile planted on his face while entering and exiting the meeting. One protester, claiming to be from the group Americans Take Action, leapt out of a crowd of journalists to demand that he sign a Russian flag as he left the meeting.

Scores of media later waited outside the White House, sweating in the 90-degree heat, in anticipation of the rare public remarks from the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser.

Kushner told reporters he had no improper contacts with Moscow, and has not relied on Russian funds for his businesses.

Several of his remarks at the podium appeared to be quoted directly from a carefully constructed statement issued hours before the meeting. In one notable deviation, Kushner gave a spirited defense of the legitimacy of his father-in-law's victory on Nov. 8.

"Donald Trump had a better message and ran a smarter campaign, and that is why he won," Kushner said. "Suggesting otherwise ridicules those who voted for him."

His statement details several interactions with Russian officials, including the Trump Tower meeting with Trump Jr., Manafort and the Russian lawyer.

In each case, Kushner downplayed the interactions. He pushed back on press reports of his dealings with Russian officials, denying that he tried to organize a “secret back channel” for communications with the Russians and saying that he is “skeptical” two reported calls with the Russian ambassador during the campaign took place.

He also characterized himself as a hard-working campaign aide sometimes operating beyond his experience level.

A few committee Democrats indicated after the meeting on Capitol Hill that they expected to hear more from Kushner.

A genial Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinThe debate over the filibuster entirely misses the point Trump plans to pick Amy Coney Barrett to replace Ginsburg on court Day before Trump refused to commit to peaceful transition, Aaron Sorkin described how he would write election night MORE (D-W.Va.) told reporters that staffers were conducting a “preliminary type of thing” on Monday morning and that they would help set the parameters of the investigation.

Others were less pleased.

Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Subpoenas for Facebook, Google and Twitter on the cards | Wray rebuffs mail-in voting conspiracies | Reps. raise mass surveillance concerns On The Money: Anxious Democrats push for vote on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi, Mnuchin ready to restart talks | Weekly jobless claims increase | Senate treads close to shutdown deadline Democratic senators ask inspector general to investigate IRS use of location tracking service MORE, a firebrand Democrat from Oregon, issued a blistering statement that demanded Kushner testify under oath in public.

“Kushner’s statement raises far more questions than it answers,” Wyden said, calling the document “clever lawyering.”

“His description of his financial relationships with individuals and businesses tied to Russia appears incomplete, at best,” Wyden said.

Kushner is set to appear before the House Intelligence panel on Tuesday. Both committees are probing Russian interference in the election.

--This report was updated at 2 p.m.