Secret Service is blocking lawsuit on behalf of Jared Kushner, DNC complains

The president's son-in-law and adviser has avoided being served in a lawsuit for allegedly colluding with Russia

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published July 18, 2018 4:14PM (EDT)

Jared Kushner (Getty/Drew Angerer)
Jared Kushner (Getty/Drew Angerer)

Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and adviser, has been ducking a lawsuit regarding his involvement in potential collusion with Russian officials for months — and a judge has declined to make it easier to hold Kushner accountable.

The underlying issue appears to be how to force Kushner to receive formal notification of the fact that he is being sued.

The Democratic National Committee filed a lawsuit in April and has made multiple attempts to serve Kushner that have been avoided each time, according to Bloomberg. These included three attempts to deliver his summons at Kushner's Manhattan apartment, as well as an attempt to deliver the summons to Kushner's Washington address (it was turned away by the Secret Service). The Democratic National Committee even felt compelled to use the United States Postal Service but was informed that this would not be effective because no one was willing to sign for the package.

Kushner has been a controversial figure from the moment he was chosen to be one of Trump's senior advisers. The main concern, of course, was the fact that the real estate and media entrepreneur had no resume for the job — nothing to recommend him, indeed, aside from the fact that he was married to the president's daughter. Further hurting matters is Kushner's pervasive reputation as an intellectual lightweight, one who would have been inconceivable as a policy adviser in any context besides one in which he was directly related to the man in power.

Yet there is more to the opposition toward Kushner than nepotism. There were reports that he may have used his influence on Trump to retaliate against Qatar after he was unable to secure financing for one of his family's real estate properties from the country's financial leaders. On another occasion, it was reported that Kushner attempted to secure financing with Anbang Insurance Company, which has connections to the Chinese government. Attempts to secure funding from financial entities in South Korea, Israel, Saudi Arabia and France have also been reportedly pursued by Kushner.

Certainly, these help Kushner fit right into an administration that has been noted for its copious conflicts of interest. The president's conflicts of interest have caused headaches for him from the government of Panama to the creation of his infamous Muslim ban list, while his choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, had a number of conflict of interest-related scandals of his own.

On a deeper level, however, the controversy with Kushner involves the fact that he is been at the center of quite a few of the Trump administration's Russia-related headaches. In July 2016, Kushner was present at a controversial Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and campaign manager Paul Manafort in which members of the campaign attempted to get "dirt" about Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton from a Kremlin-connected lawyer, according to CNN. In December of that same year, Kushner again met in Trump Tower with someone connected to the Kremlin, this time then-Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, according to The Washington Post. The apparent goal was to establish a backchannel of communication between the Trump administration and Russia, with Kislyak suggesting that they utilize Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States in order to do so.

READ MORE: Donald Trump, Brexit and the Russians: A dangerous turning point in "World War IV"

Also during the Trump transition period, Kushner met with the head of Vnesheconombank, a financial entity entirely owned by the Russian government, according to The New York Times. As the media outlet reported in June 2017:

Three years ago, in response to Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine, the Obama administration imposed sanctions on VEB that have effectively kept it from taking on most new business in the United States. Since then, however, VEB has quietly kept up appearances on Wall Street in the event that sanctions would be lifted, according to interviews with American bankers and former government officials.

That moment appeared to be nearing with Mr. Trump’s victory. And so the bank’s chief, Sergey N. Gorkov, traveled to New York in December for what he described as a “roadshow” promoting the bank that was largely hinged on the prospect of improved diplomatic and business relationships between the United States and Russia...

On that same trip, Mr. Gorkov met with Mr. Kushner. The nature of the meeting, which remains in dispute, followed a session between Mr. Kushner and the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, about opening a communications channel with Russian officials during the presidential transition, according to current and former American officials.

The F.B.I. and congressional investigators are now scrutinizing whether Mr. Kushner may have met with Mr. Gorkov to help establish a direct line to Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, or for other reasons not cited by the White House.

The White House and VEB have issued contradictory statements about the purpose of the Gorkov meeting.

There is also the fact that Kushner lied on his security clearance form, a controversy that proved particularly embarrassing for Kushner since it raised questions as to why he had access to certain types of classified information. As Fox News host Shepard Smith noted in February, "There's a Kushner problem at the White House."

He added, "Jared Kushner submitted his application – his 'SF-86' as they call it – and did not include 100 contacts with foreigners, and then later had to go back and include them. But then later he did not include the meeting at Trump Tower with the Russian lawyer and the Russian translator. He didn't include that. So that was another amendment to this thing."

Ultimately the security clearance form issue was cleared up for Kushner, and certainly Kushner's ongoing scandals suggest that even if he is served with his summons, it likely won't impair his status as one of Trump's closest advisers.

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By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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2016 Presidential Election Anbang China Donald Trump Jared Kushner Qatar Russia