Jared Kushner’s team of advisers and lawyers wanted to leak information to a news outlet about the now-infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a group of Russians, an idea that was eventually overridden by President Trump.
But information about the meeting — including emails in Kushner’s possession — were eventually leaked to The New York Times, raising questions about whether the Kushner team followed through with their initial plan.
The Washington Post reported details of Kushner’s deliberations on Monday:
Hope Hicks, the White House director of strategic communications and one of the president’s most trusted and loyal aides, and Josh Raffel, a White House spokesman who works closely with Kushner and Ivanka Trump, huddled with Kushner’s lawyers, and they advocated for a more transparent approach, according to people with knowledge of the conversations.
In one scenario, these people said, Kushner’s team talked about sharing everything, including the contents of the emails, with a mainstream news organization. (emphasis added)
The biggest revelation in The Post report is that President Trump dictated a statement issued by his son Donald Trump Jr. regarding the June 9, 2016 meeting. In the statement, Trump Jr. said that the meeting, which was attended by Kushner, Paul Manafort, a Russian lawyer and several others, concerned the issue of U.S. adoptions of Russian children.
But it came to light over the next several days that Trump Jr. accepted the meeting after being offered — through email — derogatory information about Hillary Clinton.
Trump Jr. was forced to revise his statement about the meeting by acknowledging that he was offered research on Clinton. He also pre-emptively released emails in which he arranged the meeting — and which he forwarded to Kushner and Manafort — after he was informed that The Times planned to release the documents.
How The Times obtained the emails — as well as how it first caught wind of the Trump Tower meeting story — has remained a mystery.
Speculation has swirled about who would have leaked the documents. Given his and President Trump’s initial misleading statements about the meeting, Trump Jr. and his legal team were not the likely culprits.
Manafort has been floated as the suspected leaker. Federal investigators have also been blamed, though it is not certain that they had possession of the email chain. Kushner has also been suspected, and The Post’s reporting that his team considered leaking raises the odds that he was the leaker.
Raffel, the spokesman for Kushner who discussed the transparency strategy, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.