A current senior White House official “close to Donald Trump” is a “significant person of interest” in the expanding Trump-Russia investigation, according to “people familiar with the matter”.
Although the sources would not give the identity of the official to The Washington Post, other journalists and Washington correspondents pointed at Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor.
The revelation came two days after the Justice Department named former long-time FBI director Robert Mueller to head the inquiry into links between Trump associates and Russian officials, bypassing the White House and defying Trump’s firing of Mueller’s successor James Comey last week.
The news was released only minutes after Trump — with Kushner among his entourage — departed on his first overseas trip. It was accompanied by an exclusive in The New York Times that Trump had bragged to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, a day after Comey’s dismissal on May 9, that he had fired the “crazy…nut job” FBI Director.
Kushner met Kislyak in late November, and he also had a discussion with the head of the Russian development bank, Vnesheconombank, which has been under U.S. sanctions since July 2014. He initially omitted the contacts from a national security questionnaire, with his lawyer later saying that Kushner submitted the form prematurely and informed the FBI that he would provide an update.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions met Kislyak in September 2016 as Sessions worked on the Trump campaign. Sessions eventually recused himself from the Trump-Russia inquiry because of the contact.
The Washington Post’s sources said that, while investigating the current senior White House advisor, the inquiry is still looking at former Trump officials, including ex-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
The political crisis was stoked further this week with the revelation that Trump asked Comey in mid-February to halt the investigation of Flynn, a day after the White House finally pushed out the National Security Advisor over his conversations with Russian Ambassador Kislyak.