We already knew it was Kushner’s team that “discovered” the emails. But this is the first confirmation, I believe, that they considered publishing them — coincidentally, just 10 days or so before the New York Times got its hands on copies.
If Team Jared isn’t the culprit who leaked Don Jr’s messages, someone very clever is working very hard to make it look like they are.
On June 21, Kushner’s lawyers provided an amended SF-86 to the FBI, their third such change, to list the meeting with the Russian lawyer. Two days later, on June 23, Kushner met with the FBI to be interviewed for his security clearance.
On June 26, CNN asked a White House spokesman assigned to Kushner about the additional meeting on the amended security clearance form, including that it was organized by Donald Trump Jr.
But Kushner’s team did not respond. On June 28, Jamie Gorelick, Kushner’s lawyer handling the issue, sent a letter to the FBI to complain about what she believed was an improper leak, according to a person close to the matter.
The Kushner team also discussed whether they should immediately go public and disclose the meeting and the emails, given the press inquiry, according to a person close to Kushner. This person said Kushner knew of the newly discovered email by mid-June and told his lawyers he planned to sit down with the President to discuss the meeting and the email that had been discovered.
Read that again carefully. Apparently someone leaked details of the meeting to CNN, including Don Jr’s role in it, within three days of Kushner being interviewed by the FBI on June 23. Kushner’s team heard about the leak by June 26. Then they had a hard decision to make: Knowing that CNN already had the info, should they wait passively for the inevitable CNN story and *hope* that the network focused on Don Jr’s role in arranging the meeting rather than on Jared? Or should they be proactive in shaping the narrative by leaking the emails to the Times and highlighting Don Jr’s role themselves? CNN’s giving you the motive for why Team Jared allegedly leaked to the NYT right here.
But they’re opening up another big question. Who told them what Jared had told the FBI on June 23 about the meeting with Don Jr and the Russian lawyer? Is the FBI leaking against Jared Kushner? What other explanation could there be? No wonder Jared is raging at the White House communications team to be more aggressive in fighting back on Russiagate, never mind the fact that no player throughout all of this has danced on as many Russia-related landmines as Kushner himself has. I can’t imagine how the White House inner circle even functions anymore now that Trump and Kushner have each lawyered up and the president is being advised, futilely, not to discuss Russiagate with anyone, especially Kushner. Maybe Jared’s little vacation to Sun Valley this week isn’t so much a vacation as just getting him out of Dodge while Trump and his lawyers figure out what to do next.
By the way, Yahoo News reports today that Kushner’s well-known Washington lawyer, Democrat Jamie Gorelick, is turning over all Russiagate responsibilities to Abbe Lowell, the newest Kushner attorney to come aboard (and another Democrat, natch). Gorelick shared a firm, Wilmer Hale, with Bob Mueller before he left to become special counsel at the DOJ overseeing the Russiagate probe and she reportedly feared “that Mueller might be motivated to be tougher on Kushner — leaning over backward to avoid the appearance of going easy on him out of deference to his former law partner.” (Isn’t that still a risk if Gorelick remains on Kushner’s legal team, even if she’s not handling the Russiagate stuff?) I wonder if, because of her Democratic pedigree, Gorelick is under suspicion by Trump and his lawyers for masterminding the leaks about Don Jr to the Times. After all, she was Jared’s lead attorney until Lowell was retained on June 26, the very day that CNN revealed to Team Jared that it knew about the meeting with the Russian lawyer that Kushner had recently disclosed. If there was a strategy to leak to the Times, chances are she was right in the middle of it. Maybe the president put pressure on Kushner to sideline her as punishment for going against the family.
In lieu of an exit question, enjoy Shep Smith and Chris Wallace showing some un-Foxy upset about Russiagate this afternoon.
Shep Smith: "The deception, Chris, is mind-boggling…why are we getting told all these lies?"
Chris Wallace: "I don't know what to say" pic.twitter.com/DQKOAC8a2o
— Leanne Naramore (@LeanneNaramore) July 14, 2017