USA

Kushner told Flynn to contact Russians: Report


Washington, Dec 2 (IANS): US President Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is being named as the "very senior member" of the President's transition team who directed former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to contact Russian officials, media reports said.

Quoting sources CNN said Kushner directed Flynn to get in touch with
Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak and other envoys.

Flynn on Friday pleaded guilty to making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) about meetings with Kislyak weeks before Trump's inauguration.

The filings from Flynn's plea hearing on Friday say a "very senior member" of Trump's transition team asked Flynn to contact officials to learn where each country stood on the UN Security Council vote on Israeli settlements and to influence it.

An attorney for Kushner did not respond to a request for comment, the CNN said.

The court documents provide the clearest picture so far of coordination between Flynn and other Trump advisers in contacting Russian officials to influence international policy.

It also raised questions about who higher up the chain of command in Trump's orbit -- possibly even including the President himself -- is in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's sights after he agreed to a plea deal with retired General Flynn, CNN said.

The revelations also undermine Trump's often repeated contention that the Russia investigation is little more than a witch hunt being perpetrated by his political enemies, the CNN said.

A person familiar with the transition's effort on the UN vote told CNN it was well-known and a collaborative effort by various transition officials, including Trump's former chief of staff Reince Priebus, former adviser Steve Bannon, Flynn and Kushner.

In court, prosecutors detailed calls Flynn had made in late December 2016 to the senior Trump transition team at Mar-a-Lago to discuss conversations with Kislyak.

The document also says Flynn falsely said he did not ask Kislyak to delay the vote on the UN Security Council resolution.

Flynn faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, according to federal sentencing guidelines, though the judge on Friday stressed he could impose a harsher or lighter sentence.

Flynn's plea agreement stipulates that he will cooperate with federal, state or local investigators in any way that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office might need, according to a document filed in court Friday.

He could also be required to participate in covert law enforcement operations, such as wearing a wire, if asked or to share details of his past dealings with the Trump transition team and administration, CNN said.

Kushner met with Mueller's team earlier in November as part of the investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 US election, according to two people familiar with the meeting.

"Kushner has voluntarily cooperated with all relevant inquiries and will continue to do so," Abbe Lowell, Kushner's lawyer has told CNN.

The conversation lasted less than 90 minutes, one person familiar with the meeting said, adding that Mueller's team asked Kushner to clear up some questions he was asked by lawmakers and details that emerged through media reports.

A source told CNN that the nature of the conversation was principally to make sure Kushner does not have information that exonerates Flynn.

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