After Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed the first charges in his investigation into collusion between Donald Trump and Russia, new rumors say that the first person arrested by Mueller will be 36-year-old Jared Kushner — Trump's own son-in-law and a top White House adviser. Initial speculation among experts named former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort as the initial target for arrest. But Manafort himself — through individuals close to him — shot down that speculation on Saturday.
If indeed Kushner is the target of Mueller's reported criminal indictment and is arrested on Monday, the arrest would come just five days after he celebrated the eighth anniversary of his wedding to Trump's eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, 35, who is also a White House adviser to her father.
According to a report in London's Independent newspaper, Manafort remains unaware of any criminal charges that may have been filed against him. In many white-collar criminal cases, targets are given notification of the charges against them at some point before warrants are served and arrests are made.
The Washington, D.C., political site Politico also reported that, according to sources close to another widely rumored Mueller arrest target, Michael Flynn, the former Trump national security adviser, is also unaware of any charges filed against him.
Mueller's filing of charges against at least one individual, and possibly others, in the special counsel's Russia investigation was first reported by CNN on Friday. The cable network's reporting was then independently confirmed by three separate news organizations — the Reuters wire service, the Wall Street Journal which just two days earlier had called in an editorial for Mueller's resignation, and finally on Saturday by NBC News.
But Mueller's indictments remain sealed and though media reports have said that an arrest could come as early as Monday, October 30, the target could be someone unexpected and relatively unknown — such as a family member of Manafort or Flynn, or an accountant or lawyer who has worked for one of the two, or for someone else in the Trump inner circle.
But Scott Dworkin, a former Democratic strategist who has become an outspoken opponent of Trump online, said on Saturday that a source connected to the FBI told him that the first arrest in the Russia probe would indeed be Kushner.
Was just told by attorney who used to work at FBI that Jared Kushner is most likely the one being arrested Monday. My bet's still Manafort.But why would Kushner qualify as a high-priority target for Mueller and his investigation — perhaps even equivalent to Manafort and Flynn?
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) October 28, 2017
Trump's son-in-law has been at the center of numerous publicly reported connections between the Trump organization and Russia. In fact, Kushner's Russia connections have been so troubling that in September, according to media reports, Trump's own lawyers attempted to persuade Trump to squeeze out his son-in-law from his White House team.
But Trump refused to force Kushner to resign, despite the fact that Kushner has repeatedly concealed his meetings with Russian officials from his security clearance disclosure forms, updating the forms at least three times to bring himself into compliance with disclosure laws.
Kushner was also one of three Trump campaign officials who took a June 9, 2016, meeting with a group of Russians spearhead by a lawyer who promised to deliver derogatory information that would damage Democrat Hillary Clinton — information that recent reports have revealed came straight from the Russian government.
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In December, Kushner, according to reports, tried to set up a secret hotline for communication between the Trump team and Moscow — one that would be shielded from scrutiny by United States intelligence agencies — using Russia's own secure diplomatic communications network. Kushner's proposal was so alarming that even the Russians rejected it.
Also in December, Kushner took a still-mysterious meeting with officials from a Russian government-run bank, Vnesheconombank, for reasons that remain unclear. Bank officials later said that Kushner requested the meeting to talk about his family's real estate business, but Kushner himself claimed that he was acting as a representative of the Trump campaign.
In addition Kushner ran the 2016 Trump campaign's voter-targeting data operation, and some experts have speculated that the campaign's data was shared with Russian government online "trolls" who used it to aim fake news and propaganda at specific voters using social media.
Kushner also reportedly pushed Trump to fire now-former FBI Director James Comey, a firing that Trump himself later publicly admitted was connected to "the Russia thing." Mueller is reportedly investigating Trump directly for obstruction of justice in the Comey firing.
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