The pool is open. Is it Bannon? Kushner? Priebus? Ivanka?
Seeing as how Jared was the one who reportedly wanted to hit back hardest after Robert Mueller was named special counsel for the Russiagate probe, I’ll put a fiver on him.
The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest, showing that the probe is reaching into the highest levels of government, according to people familiar with the matter.
The senior White House adviser under scrutiny by investigators is someone close to the president, according to these people, who would not further identify the official…
Current administration officials who have acknowledged contacts with Russian officials include Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, as well as Cabinet members Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Uh, Sessions and Tillerson aren’t “senior White House advisors.” But Kushner sure is.
Gabe Malor wonders if there’s less here than meets the eye. Note first that WaPo doesn’t cite law-enforcement sources, just “people familiar with the matter.” Maybe this is less a significant development in the Russia probe and more a case of backbiting by White House staffers looking to sabotage a rival. Being a “person of interest” doesn’t mean you’re facing charges, after all. It may mean nothing more than that you’ve been interviewed by the feds.
Additionally, recall that this White House is a thieve's nest of backstabbers. Two WH guys leak that FBI is looking at someone in the WH?
— Gabriel Malor (@gabrielmalor) May 19, 2017
Fair enough, but if this is a coordinated hit by Team Bannon on Team Kushner or vice versa, why didn’t the culprit identify the “person of interest” for WaPo? Or did they, and WaPo chose to withhold that person’s name for some reason? If they were confident enough in the truth of the story to print it, seems odd that they wouldn’t be confident enough to name the POI.
Another clue from a Times story published last month as to who the mystery advisor-turned-person-of-interest might be, which maybe supports Malor’s theory:
— Jeff Hauser (@jeffhauser) May 19, 2017
Kushner neglected to mention some of his foreign contacts, including some with Russians after the election, on his security clearance form before joining the administration. One meeting he had during the transition that’s gotten some press attention lately was with the head of a state-run sanctioned Russian bank, a meeting encouraged by, errrr … Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak. A source told CNN the meeting was designed to open a channel to Moscow. WaPo notes in today’s story that although the Russiagate probe had focused exclusively on possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow when it began, “the investigative work now being done by the FBI also includes determining whether any financial crimes were committed by people close to the president.”
A reporter who writes for New York magazine and GQ, among other publications, claims that Kushner is indeed the “person of interest”:
It's jared Kushner have confirmed this with four people. I'm not speculating
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) May 19, 2017
Is Jared really in trouble or is this just a hit by the Bannonites designed to feed suspicion of someone who’s frequently in their way? Stay tuned.
Update: No reason to suspect that this story is connected to WaPo’s “person of interest” story, but since they’re both part of a narrative about the Russiagate probe creeping inside the White House, let’s put them in the same post:
Investigators into Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential elections are now also probing whether White House officials have engaged in a cover-up, according to members of Congress who were briefed Friday by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
That avenue of investigation was added in recent weeks after assertions by former FBI Director James Comey that President Donald Trump had tried to dissuade him from pressing an investigation into the actions of Trump’s first national security adviser, retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, members of Congress said, though it was not clear whom that part of the probe might target.
Even as members of Congress were mulling over the expansion of the case into possible cover-up, and its reclassification from counterintelligence to criminal, the scandal appeared to grow.
Is the supposed “cover-up” a reference to Trump allegedly leaning on Comey to “go easy” on Flynn or is there something more to it? E.g., if Trump’s deputies knew that he’d pressured Comey to tone down the investigation and didn’t report it to anyone, are they in legal jeopardy too? For such a juicy lede, McClatchy’s awfully thin on details.