The biggest news in the Trump Russia scandal this week has been involving a meeting with members of the Trump transition team and a Russian lawyer. Donald Trump Jr. has been at the center of much of the focus, but a New York Times report on the matter says, “all roads lead to Jared Kushner,” who was also at the meeting for 10 minutes reportedly. With Jared Kushner increasingly in the spotlight, multiple Congress members have gone on record to recommend Kushner be removed from the White House, including a Republican Congress member from Texas reports Politico.
Democrat Congress members are very vocal about Jared Kushner, with many saying that Kushner should not just be removed from the White House but have his security clearance revoked completely. Politico reports that Republican Representative Bill Flores of Texas spoke in a radio interview this week and said it would be better for President Trump if “all his children” were no longer working in the White House.
Additionally, a cursory view on Twitter reveals that many Trump voters themselves are unhappy about Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump in the White House. There are many tweets to the president with the theme, “I voted for you but not Ivanka or Jared.”
But Representative Bill Flores of Texas said the following this week.
“I’m going out on a limb here – but I would say I think it would be in the president’s best interest if he removed all his children from the White House.”
Rep. Flores says that the optics of having someone in the White House, under so much scrutiny, isn’t good for the president.
The New York Times reported on the Donald Trump Jr. email scandal this week saying, “All roads now lead to Kushner.”
The email scandal involves Trump Jr. releasing emails that reveal the Trump campaign was offered information from a Russian lawyer that appeared to be opposition research on Hillary Clinton. In one email, Donald Trump Jr. said, “I love it” which New York Times says signaled, “We’re in.”
The New York Times reports that Democrat Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon said, “This was an attempt at collusion.” The scandal this week has led to the Predict-It website now listing gambling odds as to whether or not Donald Trump Jr. will be indicted on a federal crime. Odds at this website are 15 cents that yes Donald Trump Jr. will be indicted, and 86 cents for the vote of no he won’t be indicted.
One gambler on the website commented directly on the matter.
“Junior is gonna face the firing squad by the end of the year. Seeking oppo research is illegal, and seeking oppo research from Russians is treason….I know it, you know it, everyone knows it. It’s an open and shut case.”
But legal experts are conflicted over whether or not the Russian meeting regarding opposition research is a matter of collusion. It will be something that special prosecutor Robert Mueller and his legal team will be looking at.
President Trump insists that he was unaware of the Russian meeting, but walked back that statement on Air Force One this week. The day that Donald Trump Jr. received the email was also the day before candidate Trump spoke at a campaign rally saying, “we’re going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons. I think you’re going to find it very informative and very, very interesting.”
Such a disclosure never took place publicly but by June 15 of last year, the first WikiLeaks dump against the Democratic National Convention had taken place.
The New York Times notes that of those emails, Donald Trump Jr. had forwarded them to Jared Kushner who responded he would be at the meeting. But Jared Kushner did not report the meeting on his Standard Form 86 or, SF-86 when applying for security clearance. It is a felony to intentionally omit anything from the SF-86 punishable by up to five years in prison.
Further, Jared Kushner was head of the Trump campaign digital operation. The New York Times says that operation “helped guide Russia’s remarkably sophisticated efforts to use internet bots to target voters with fake news attacking Hillary Clinton.”
Jared Kushner also reportedly set up a secret communications channel with Russia, or at least expressed an intent to. It is all of these issues combined that are leading Congress members to say his security clearance needs to be revoked. While Republican Congress member Bill Flores of Texas has not suggested this extreme yet, he has said that removing Kushner from the White House would be better for the optics on the Trump Administration.
But Democrat Representative Jamie Raskin, who is serving Maryland’s 8th and serves as Senior White and House Judiciary Committee Vice Ranking Member, says removal is not enough. Rep. Raskin tweeted the following this week on revoking Jared Kushner’s security clearance.
“Kushner and Co continue to make a mockery of national security rules. He deserves clearance about as much as General Flynn. Jared Kushner isn’t above the law. Why does he still have a security clearance? #RevokeKushner”
Rep. Anna G. Eshoo, a Democrat serving California’s 18th District, is on that same page. She tweeted this week a letter that she had sent to White House Counsel Don McGahn on June 1. Yesterday, she tweeted that she was renewing her call to have Jared Kushner’s security clearance revoked.
An excerpt of the June 1 letter to White House Counsel Don McGahn reads as follows.
“Multiple press stories sourced to senior Administration and law enforcement officials report that Jared Kushner, a senior adviser and son-in-law to the president is a subject of the Federal Bureau of Investigations ongoing probe into possible collusion between Russian officials and the Trump campaign…”
“According to the reports, Mr. Kushner, along with former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to discuss options for establishing a secret line of communication directly between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin…Not only was the purpose of the meeting concealed from the public, the meeting itself was omitted from both Mr. Kushner’s and Mr. Flynn’s FBI security clearance questionnaires…”
“The Standard Form-86 (SF-86), mandatory for obtaining a security clearance requires the disclosure of all foreign contacts. Knowingly falsifying or concealing information on a SF-86 questionnaire is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.”
Rep. Eshoo says that given the severity of these matters, Kushner’s security clearance must be revoked pending the conclusion of the Trump Russia investigation. Rep. Flores of Texas told radio station KBTX this week that he thinks the optics of the entire situation were bad, and he also has issues with the Russian meeting in question.
He thinks both Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner should leave the Trump Administration, along with Donald Trump Jr. reports Politico.
“Not only Donald Trump Jr. but Ivanka and Jared Kushner. I do find issues with the meeting, that it’s a meeting that should not have taken place…Through no fault of their own, the presence of President Trump’s adult children in the White House has caused some distractions from the work the Trump Administration is doing on behalf of hardworking American families.
Given the liberal media’s unwavering scrutiny of the Trump Administration, it may be beneficial for the president to do all he can to remove any distractions from the administration so that he can focus on our conservative agenda.”
Meanwhile, at the White House, Vanity Fair is reporting that Jared Kushner is at odds with everybody, and White House aides could come under scrutiny with special prosecutor Robert Mueller after this week’s news regarding the Russian meeting. Vanity Fair also notes that Jared Kushner may be trying to get Donald Trump Jr. to take the fall for the Russian meeting.
Vanity Fair reports that Kushner had pushed for the White House to use the press office to respond to “Donnygate” and that it should have been handled “with urgency.” But Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus disagreed, saying the White House should take a slower and quieter approach to the emerging scandal, that was in the middle of the bigger Trump Russia scandal.
Kushner’s push to put “Donnygate” into the spotlight was viewed by some as an attempt to take the heat off of him, and his own security clearance form issues, and put it onto Donald Trump Jr., but the White House communications department strenuously disagreed and recommended a slower “wait and hold” approach. One senior administration official said the following.
“Jared didn’t like the idea; he wanted people to get aggressive. Jared’s the guy who is rushing the front lines.”
Jared Kushner reportedly believes this is an optics matter, a public relations scandal, rather than a legal matter. But failing to disclose properly on sworn statements on the SF-86 is a federal offense punishable by up to five years in prison, as Rep. Eshoo points out.
This is not just a public relations problem for the White House, as even a Republican Congress member has suggested Trump remove his adult children from the Administration.
Watch this legal analysis where Laurence O’Donnell from MSNBC explores the legal problems that Jared Kushner could be facing.
Republican Representative Bill Flores isn’t the only Republican unhappy with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump in the White House. Trump voters are getting restless about Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump and have been for several months. One voter tweeted to the president directly saying the following.
“Sir I support you and voted for you. But damn it I didn’t vote for Kushner or Ivonka Dems. They support what we voted against.”
Another Trump voter from New Jersey that uses the “Deplorable” identity on Twitter, as many Trump voters do say something similar in a tweet to the president.
“Love ya but I voted for you not Kushner. We need more Bannon and less family influence. You got this!”
Another Trump voter echoed the same sentiment, saying he did not vote for Jared Kushner and asked for him to be fired.
“Mr. President, I know Kushner is your son in law, but I did not vote for a Soros puppet, I voted for you! Fire his a**!”
Yet another Trump voter said almost the same thing verbatim without the Soros reference. “I voted for you but not Jared or Ivanka. I know you love and trust your kids but they don’t hold elected offices.”
[Featured Image by Alik Keplicz/AP Images]