- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 23, 2019

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner said Tuesday that lengthy probes into the Trump campaign and 2016 election had a “much harsher” impact on American democracy than Russian meddlers did.

“You look at what Russia did, buying some Facebook ads to try to sow dissent and do it — and it’s a terrible thing. But I think the investigations and all of the speculation that’s happened for the last two years has had a much harsher impact on our democracy than a couple of Facebook ads,” Mr. Kusher, who is President Trump’s son-in-law, told a Time magazine forum. “If you look at the magnitude of what they did and what they accomplished, I think the ensuing investigations have been way more harmful to our country.”

Mr. Kushner said Mr. Trump “campaigned his butt off” and fine-tuned a winning message in key states, while using analytics to place ads that would be seen by swing voters.

“We didn’t know that Russia was doing what they were doing,” Mr. Kushner said.

Mr. Kushner’s comments come several days after special counsel Robert Mueller released a report detailing areas in which Russian meddlers tried to sow division in U.S. politics and give Mr. Trump a boost over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.



Efforts included a social media campaign that disparaged Mrs. Clinton, and a hacking operation that stole unflattering emails from Democrats working on the campaign, resulting in their public release.

However, the special counsel found no criminal conspiracy between his campaign and Russia.

Mr. Mueller left decisions on obstruction of justice to Attorney General William P. Barr, who said there wasn’t enough evidence of a corrupt motive to hide illegal Russian activities to make an obstruction of justice case.

House Democrats are deciding whether to pursue impeachment proceedings based on what Mr. Mueller found, especially as it pertains to obstruction.

They say they’re appalled that Mr. Trump and his orbit haven’t more fully acknowledged that Russians sought to aid their side in 2016.

“On Sunday, Kellyanne Conway wouldn’t even acknowledge Russia helped Trump. And Rudy Giuliani effectively said it was fine if they did,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said on Twitter, referring to a White House counselor and one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers. “Today, Jared Kushner said the attack was no more than a few Facebook ads. There is no patriotism in Trump’s GOP. Only cowardly opportunism.”

Mr. Kushner, meanwhile, said ongoing efforts to dig up dirt on the administration amount to a distraction.

“Everything that the president’s been saying, everything that I’ve been saying has now been fully authenticated,” Mr. Kushner said.

The president was thrilled with his son-in-law’s perspective, tweeting: “Great interview by Jared. Nice to have extraordinarily smart people serving our Country!”

Mr. Kusher is married to the president’s oldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, who also works in the White House.

He’s taken on a huge portfolio, ranging from trade deals and immigration to forging an elusive peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians.

Mr. Kusher said he wants to present an immigration-reform plan to Mr. Trump as soon as this week. It will focus on border security, merit-based migration and how to treat seasonal farm workers.

Mr. Trump will “make some changes, likely, and then he’ll decide what he wants to do with it,” Mr. Kushner told the Time forum.

On the Middle East, Mr. Kushner said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is still forming his government after a “great” reelection victory, so the White House will wait several more weeks before releasing a framework for peace.

“We’ll wait until after Ramadan, and then we’ll put our plan out,” Mr. Kushner said, though declined to offer specifics on whether it includes a two-state solution. “We’re going to lay that out very clearly.”

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