WASHINGTON — With Special Counsel Robert Mueller finishing his final report on potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, Jared Kushner appears to be off the hook — at least for now.
On Friday afternoon, Mueller submitted his full inquiry and supporting materials to Attorney General William Barr. It’s not yet clear how much of the document will be made public. Barr told Congress he might provide a summary of its “principal conclusions” as soon as this weekend, igniting an intense fight to release the entire report.
As of now, no one beyond top Justice Department officials knows Mueller’s findings. The only definitive outcome is that he will not be recommending any more indictments.
That leaves some in Trump’s inner circle in the clear, most especially Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and the president’s eldest son, Don, Jr.
Both attended the infamous Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 to speak with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskay to hear damaging information about Trump’s then rival, Hillary Clinton. The appointment was revealed through Don, Jr.’s emails. “If it’s what you say I love it,” he wrote to British publicist Rob Goldstone, who set up the tete-a-tete. Veselnitskay has strong connections to the Kremlin.
During Trump’s transition into office, Kushner approached Russia’s then ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak to set up a secret communications channel through the Russian Embassy. Around the same time, he met with Sergey Gorkov, a Russian espionage officer who runs a Russian state-owned bank that was sanctioned by the Obama administration. Kushner has said the topic of sanctions never came up.
But while Kushner won’t be indicted by the special counsel, it doesn’t mean that he’s totally exonerated. It’s possible Mueller isn’t bringing charges against certain individuals implicated in the investigation but instead recommended that other prosecutors take their case further.
Over the course of his inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible obstruction of justice by Trump, Mueller sought criminal charges against 34 individuals.
Many of the cases involved in the sweeping investigation that’s taken two years to conclude were referred to federal prosectors around the country. At least three are currently being investigated by the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
There are also ongoing Congressional probes, including through the House Oversight, Judiciary, Foreign Affairs and Financial Services committees, as well as the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Meanwhile, the American public is waiting most anxiously to learn what Mueller’s report reveals about the president. It’s possible that Mueller did not recommend an indictment against Trump because existing Justice Department policy is a sitting president cannot be indicted (although that contention is a source of debate among constitutional and legal scholars).
The Mueller drama will inevitably seep into the American Israel Public Affairs 2019 Policy Conference, which is set to start on Sunday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also the subject of multiple investigations of malfeasance and is in the middle of a tough campaign for election back home, will address the confab and meet with Trump twice over the course of two days.
In one of their gatherings, the president may sign a formal declaration of his tweet on Friday recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a move seen widely as an attempt to bolster Netanyahu’s re-election bid.
While both heads of state have had a dark cloud of investigations cast over their leadership for the last several years, there is one distinct difference between the American and Israeli systems of justice: whereas Trump cannot be indicted, Netanyahu can.
Indeed, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who had been tasked with leading the probes against Netanyahu, announced in February that he will indict the Israeli premier pending a hearing.