A December meeting between White House adviser Jared Kushner and a prominent Russian banker was not set up by the Kremlin, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday.
"These contacts do not require any authorization from the Kremlin, and they were not carried out on behalf of the Kremlin," spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
The meeting came to light in an 11-page statement Kushner issued this week defending his contacts with Russian officials. Kushner, who is meeting Tuesday with House Intelligence Committee members investigating President Trump's Russian ties, said he had four contacts with Russians during the campaign and transition, none of which were improper.
The primary focus of the statement was another, controversial meeting in June 2016 that involved Donald Trump Jr. and Russian contacts. Kushner, in his statement, said he attended the Trump Jr. meeting, but said he didn't read emails in advance that indicated the president's eldest son expected to receive damaging information about Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton from representatives of the Russian government.
The only other scheduled meeting was with prominent Russian banker Sergey Gorkov on Dec. 13. Kushner said he took the meeting at the request of the Russian embassy and that it lasted less than 30 minutes. He said Gorkov, who leads the state-owned development bank Vneshekonombank, gave him a piece of art and a bag of dirt from the village in Belarus where Kushner's grandparents were from.
Kushner said he gave the gifts to his assistant to formally register them with the presidential transition office. He said Gorkov told him about his bank and about the Russian economy. Gorkov said he was friendly with President Putin and "expressed disappointment with U.S.-Russia relations under President Obama and hopes for a better relationship in the future."
Kushner said no specific policies were discussed at the meeting, and that he hasn't had any contact with Gorkov since.
"We had no discussion about the sanctions imposed by the Obama administration," Kushner said in his statement. "At no time was there any discussion about my companies, business transactions, real estate projects, loans, banking arrangements or any private business of any kind."
Kushner spoke Monday behind closed doors with Senate Intelligence Committee staff members investigating Russia's interference in the presidential election. Afterward, he insisted he did nothing wrong and wants to get on with his White House duties.
"Let me be very clear: I did not collude with Russia, nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so," Kushner said during a brief statement outside the White House.
Contributing: David Jackson
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