28 Mar 2017

Trump's son-in-law to be questioned over Russia ties

7:18 am on 28 March 2017

A US committee investigating alleged ties between the Trump team and Moscow will question US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.

Mr Kushner is married to Mr Trump's daughter, Ivanka.

Mr Kushner had volunteered to speak to the Senate Intelligence Committee, the White House said.

Jared Kushner is married to Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka.

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump Photo: AFP

The committee is examining Russia's alleged interference in last year's election.

The US intelligence community believes alleged Russian hacking during the presidential election helped Mr Trump defeat Democrat rival Hillary Clinton.

Russia has denied the allegations. Mr Trump has branded the story "fake news".

There are two congressional investigations into the issue, plus an FBI one.

The Senate committee wants to question him about two meetings he allegedly arranged with senior Russians, officials told the New York Times.

The first was with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak at Trump Tower in New York in December. The second was with the head of Russia's state-owned development bank.

White House staff told the New York Times nothing significant was discussed and members of the president-elect's team routinely met Russians and other foreign delegations.

Mr Kushner's staff said, so far, his offer to be questioned had not been answered.

Tense situation

The Russian story, given congressional inquiries and the ongoing FBI investigation, has the potential to be a ticking bomb within the Trump White House.

When Mr Kushner sits down with committee investigators he will, in effect, speak for the president.

His words could assuage concerns - or bring the controversy a step closer to the president.

The meeting will likely be cordial for now. If Mr Kushner is called to publicly testify before a congressional committee on the matter, things could get heated.

Kushner influential in White House

The 36-year-old property investor and media executive was a senior adviser to Mr Trump during the election campaign.

He advises the president on foreign relations and is said to have influenced Mr Trump's staff choices for his campaign and in government.

He has been picked to lead a new White House team that aims to overhaul government bureaucracy. That team will have sweeping powers to reform procedures, with technology and data a key area and the help of Apple chief executive Tim Cook and Microsoft founder Bill Gates reportedly enlisted.

He told the New York Times the "government should be run like a great American company".

Mr Kushner has been tasked with brokering Middle East peace, soothing Mexican and Canadian officials as Nafta is reopened for negotiation and handling Chinese diplomats puzzled by the new Washington regime.


Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs