Almost six weeks ago—or seven centuries in Trump Era Time—The Washington Post and Reuters published back to back bombshells about Jared Kushner trying to set up a back channel communication in the freaking Russian Embassy. Recently retired FBI agent Scott Olsen told Business Insider that:
”This is way beyond a private server. This is doing US government diplomatic business over a foreign government’s communication system. It’s not an off-the-record conversation. It’s a conversation recorded by the opposing party. This shows a staggering lack of understanding of the US and its place in the world. Actually, it shows a staggering lack of common sense. When he negotiates a business deal does he use the other guy’s notes?”
Well, one of our favorite “I can’t seem to stop forgetting discussions and meetings with high-level Russians” Russiagate characters is back at it again. Per Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in a letter they sent on behalf of the Senate Judiciary Committee to Kushner’s lawyers:
For example, other parties have produced September 2016 email communications to Mr. Kushner concerning WikiLeaks, which Mr. Kushner then forwarded to another campaign official. Such documents should have been produced in response to the third request but were not. Likewise, other parties have produced documents concerning a ‘Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite’ which Mr. Kushner also forwarded. And still others have produced communications with Sergei Millian, copied to Mr. Kushner. Again, these do not appear in Mr. Kushner’s production despite being responsive to the second request.”
Not producing e-mails that Sergei Millian was cc’d on is a big deal. Millian is not some random schmuck—as I wrote in my deep dive into Donald Trump’s business connections to Russia:
Sergei Millian is the head of the shadowy Russian American Chamber of Commerce, and in 2009 said that it had “signed formal agreements with The Trump Organization” in an April newsletter that is no longer on its website. An investigation by the Financial Times revealed that most of its board members are non-descript organizations with unclear ownership, and after calling all phone numbers listed, roughly half went unanswered.
One FT reporter went to the Wall Street address listed on the RACC’s website and found no trace of its existence, even though it has facilitated a bunch of trips for Russian regional governors to the United States.
KGB expert and former Russian MP Konstantin Borovoi—who was president of Russia’s first commodities exchange—told the FT that prior to the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Chamber was “the official representative office of the secret services.” In an interview with Ria Novosti in April of last year, Millian said that he met Donald Trump in 2007 at the “Millionaire Fair.” He went on to elaborate on this connection (note: this quote is translated from Russian using Google Chrome’s built-in translator):
“Later we met in his office in New York, where he introduced me to his right hand—Michael Cohen. He—the chief lawyer Trump, through which all contracts. Next to me was signed to a contract for promotion in Russia and the CIS one of the real estate projects. You could say I was their exclusive broker. Then, in 2007-2008, the Russians bought dozens of apartments in buildings Trump in the US. But I would not want to disclose the specific amounts and names.”
That isn’t the only direct line that we can link to Trump, as “his right hand” reached out to Millian during the campaign last summer.
U.S. Criminal Code, Title 18, Chapter 47, Section 1001 outlines three offenses that a government official can make:
1. falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;
2. makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or
3. makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry;
If someone “knowingly and willfully” qualifies for these offenses, they may face up to five years in prison. With reports that special counsel Bob Mueller is trying to “flip” former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort with these indictments, it begs the question: who is Mueller trying to flip Manafort on?
Campaign chair is a fairly senior position, and Manafort even coordinated the Republican National Convention, so there simply are not many people above him to turn on whose name doesn’t end in Trump. Kushner is a likely candidate, considering that “other parties have produced documents concerning a ‘Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite’ which Mr. Kushner also forwarded. And still others have produced communications with Sergei Millian, copied to Mr. Kushner,” yet he did not. Why?
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.