While the top news today surrounds Thursday night’s strike against the Shayrat Airbase in Syria, and the appointment of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, in the background the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election is ongoing.
And with that investigation, there are the nagging questions surrounding Trump team members and their possible entanglements with Russian players.
For months, Democrats have been suggesting that there was collusion between members of Team Trump and Russia.
The foundation of the claims are that Russia would consider Trump, who has often praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for his strong leadership, and even joked that Russia should find Hillary Clinton’s lost emails, an easily manipulated pawn.
After last night’s tomahawk strike in Syria, where Russia has supported the regime of Bashar al-Assad, that last bit may be in question.
Still, there are questions. Trump’s newly appointed national security adviser Michael Flynn was forced to step down, after it was found that he had conversations with Russia’s Ambassador to the U.S. around the time former President Obama was leveling sanctions against Russia and kicking their diplomats out of the country, and then he lied to VP Pence about it.
There have been others close to Trump who have had to step aside, or otherwise fell under scrutiny because of their relationship with Russia.
Now, in what is likely to hit closest to Trump, his senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, seems to have his own entanglements to work through.
A story in the Washington Examiner today details how Kushner, while pursuing his security clearance, failed to include a series of meetings with Russian officials on the required documents.
Kushner omitted a meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and a separate meeting with a Russian state-owned banking executive, the New York Times reported late Thursday. Kushner’s attorney told the Times the omissions were made in error.
Of course. When the air is thick with accusations and lingering questions about foreign collusion, you forget those things.
Kushner holds a temporary security clearance while the FBI processes his paperwork and required background check. His aides told the Times that they are working to produce a list of foreign contacts to the FBI in order to comply with disclosure requirements under the law.
All this comes at a time when there is said to be heightened tensions within Trump’s inner circle.
Kushner’s influence over the president seems to be growing, even as the grip of Steve Bannon, former Breitbart CEO and current chief strategist, seems to be slipping away.
The White House has defended Kushner’s contacts with foreign leaders by noting that his job on the transition team involved opening lines of communication with various foreign leaders ahead of Trump’s inauguration.
This may very well be true. Reports are that the true power behind the throne belongs to Kushner, as Trump has turned a historical amount of control of policy and issues over to his son-in-law. If that’s the case, he would definitely need to develop many relationships.
The House Intelligence Committee hearings are far from over, and for the next few days, focus will be elsewhere, but you can expect the spotlight to turn to Kushner, at some point, as lawmakers attempt to unravel what has become a very complicated political morass.