5 Things Jared Kushner Told Congressional Interns in Leaked Speech - NECN

5 Things Jared Kushner Told Congressional Interns in Leaked Speech

Kushner spoke about collusion and his role as the White House's envoy to the Middle East

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    NEWSLETTERS

    During a hearing Tuesday, Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) got into a bit of a testy exchange with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly over the appropriateness of Jared Kushner allegedly trying to set up a back channel of communications between the U.S. and Russia. (Published Tuesday, June 6, 2017)

    In a speech Monday, which was later leaked to the press, Jared Kushner boasted that details of his Middle East negotiations have not been leaked to the press.

    An audio recording of President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser giving the off-the-record talk to congressional interns was obtained and published by Wired magazine Tuesday.

    Besides addressing his role as the White House's envoy to the Middle East, Kushner also joked about collusion and discussed serving as publisher of the New York Observer.

    NBC News verified the transcript, originally obtained by Wired, and reached out to Kushner's representatives for comment.

    Here are some highlights from the recording:

    NO LEAKS ON MIDDLE EAST TALKS
    Kushner, who was tapped by Trump to broker peace in the Middle East, visited the region in June to meet separately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

    "Nothing’s leaked out, right?" Kushner said about the talks. "Nothing has leaked out, which I think gives the parties more trust and more ability to really express and share their viewpoints."

    Netanyahu is a family friend of Kushner's and someone he has known since childhood.

    He added that the lack of leaks can only help him in negotiations, which he has also conducted with Jason Greenblatt, a special representative for international negotiations.

    "I think you need to be able to probe people in private for them to have confidence that it’s not going to be used against them and that it’s not going to leak out in the press, which would be very, very hurtful," he said. "But I think we were able to keep things quiet."

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    UNCLEAR WHAT'S 'UNIQUE' ABOUT HIS STRATEGY
    Kushner told the interns he isn't sure what's unique about his approach to the challenge of brokering a peace deal in the Middle East, and he isn't sure if the problem has a solution.

    "I’m sure everyone that’s tried this has been unique in some ways," Kushner said. "So, what do we offer that’s unique? I don’t know."

    Later, he added: "There may be no solution, but it’s one of the problem sets that the president asked us to focus on."

    He also emphasized that he would rather focus on trying to understand the decades-long relationship between the two sides.

    "Everyone finds an issue, that 'you have to understand what they did then' and 'you have to understand that they did this,'" Kushner told interns. "But how does that help us get peace? Let's not focus on that. We don’t want a history lesson. We’ve read enough books. Let’s focus on, 'how do you come up with a conclusion to the situation?'"

    WHITE HOUSE 'CAN'T COLLUDE' WITH ITSELF
    Kushner told interns that the Trump campaign was too disorganized to have colluded with Russia during the election.

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    "They thought we colluded, but we couldn’t even collude with our local offices," he joked.

    Kushner has come under fire for four meetings with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign and transition, though he maintains that he discussed nothing improper in those meetings -- and that no one in the campaign colluded.

    During a question-and-answer session, one intern asked about an investigation into the campaign's potential ties to Russia and questions about Kushner's security clearance. In response, Kushner said, "we don't know where it's going."

    In Kushner's SF-86 form, which is required to apply for security clearance, he initially did not report contact with some foreign nationals -- including a now-infamous meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and an attorney tied to the Kremlin.

    "There are 127 pages on the SF-86, but there are only two you guys have to worry about," he said about the form. "Make sure you guys keep track of where you travel."

    BUYING A NEWSPAPER WAS 'DUMB'
    Kushner, who worked primarily as a real estate developer, bought the New York Observer, a newspaper focused on New York City real estate and society, for $10 million when he was 25. He became CEO of Kushner Companies two years later.

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    (Published Friday, Oct. 20, 2017)

    "We had a family situation where I needed to come to my companies -- my family business -- much earlier than I thought," he said. "Along the way, I did a lot of dumb things. I bought a newspaper, which was … very interesting."

    He left his position as the newspaper's publisher in January for his role at the White House, selling his stake in the paper to a Kushner family trust.

    'COMFORTABLE' BECAUSE OF LACK OF PRESS
    "I’m a lot more comfortable talking to you guys today ’cause there isn't any press," Kushner said.

    But the speech made it to the press anyway, despite a warning from Katie Patru, deputy staff director for member services, outreach and communications.

    "To record today’s session would be such a breach of trust, from my opinion," she told interns before Kushner's speech. "If someone in your office has asked you to break our protocol and give you a recording so they can leak it, as a manager, that bothers me at my core."