Jared Kushner claims Mueller report has ‘much harsher impact’ on US public than Russian interference

'The whole thing is just a big distraction for the country'

Chris Riotta
Manhattan, New York
Wednesday 24 April 2019 00:40
Jared Kushner on whether he is a 'grave national security risk'

Jared Kushner has attacked Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election during one of his first public appearances since the release of the groundbreaking report.

The White House senior adviser said Tuesday the probe had a “much harsher impact” on the US public than “a couple Facebook ads”, referring to evidence of Russian social media interference the special counsel detailed in its report.

“The whole thing is just a big distraction for the country,” Mr Kushner said at the TIME 100 summit in New York City. He also joked that he would need time for “redactions” before discussing Mr Mueller’s findings.

Donald Trump’s son-in-law continued to undermine the special counsel’s investigation, claiming Russians simply “tried to buy some Facebook ads to sow discontent” before adding that interference in US elections was a “terrible thing”.

Mr Kushner’s denial of Mr Mueller’s findings echoed similar statements from White House officials in recent days rebuking the special counsel’s report, which said “the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts”.

According to Mr Mueller’s report, Russia engaged in a multi-pronged attack on the US election process in 2016, unleashing a bevy of targetted social media posts, organising events and launching cyberattacks on the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton.

Mr Kushner suggested the Russian effort was minimal, comparing the Kremlin’s spending on its interference operation to that of Mr Trump’s digital operations throughout the election.

“I think they said they spent $160,000. I spent $160,000 on Facebook every three hours during the campaign,” he said. “If you look at the magnitude of what they did, the ensuing investigations have been way more harmful.”

Democrats have demanded the full report be sent to Congress following a redacted version attorney general William Barr sent to lawmakers and made public last week. House committees have subpoenaed the report, setting up what will probably be a lengthy legal and political battle between Capitol Hill and the Department of Justice.

Mr Kushner’s appearance at the New York City summit was rather rare; the 38-year-old former real estate mogul joked that he would not be campaigning much for Mr Trump in 2020, noting that he was more comfortable in his office than “events like this”.

As one of the president’s closest advisers, Mr Kushner said he has been tasked not only with developing a Middle East peace process, but overhauling the US immigration system in the form a new upcoming policy proposal to be sent directly to Mr Trump by the end of the week.

He said he would be presenting the plan to the president who would then make changes. “Next week we’ll present it again, then he’ll make some changes likely, then he’ll decide what he wants to do,” he said.

Mr Trump congratulated his son-in-law after the TIME event on Twitter, writing, “Great interview by Jared.”

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