July 25, 2017
UNITED STATES CAPITOL — Yesterday, a cocky thirtysomething mega-billionaire who is married to Donald Trump’s older daughter testified in secret before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Its Chairman is Sen. Richard Burr (R-North Carolina). Its vice chair is Sen. Mark Warner (D – Virginia).
So the star witness, Jared Kushner, submitted ahead of time an eleven page statement defending his numerous contacts with representatives of the Russian government before and after last year’s presidential election repressentatives, claiming that he was both young and smart and hopelessly overworked by his father-in-law, who trusts only family members as opposed to sensible people who know how the federal government works (cf. Arnie Karni’s report in yesterday’s Politico, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/07/24/kushner-defends-himself-ahead-of-senate-intel-meeting-i-did-not-collude-240870).
So we asked associate solitary reporter Melissa Smith to sit in on today’s hearing before Burr et. al.
Much to her surprise, as soon as Kushner entered the closed hearing room, who should be seated next to Sen. Warner but Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), Mohammed Fethulah Gulen, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. It was Christie who, as the top federal prosecutor in the Garden State, sent Kushner’s father, Charles Kushner, to prison for two years for tax evasion, illegal campaign donations, and witness tampering (no wonder big fat Chris Christie didn’t get to be Trump’s Attorney General).
Smith, of course, is very savvy about how Congress works, as she is our chief congressional correspondent. This is a portion of the transcript which she filed with us yesterday afternoon, after the secret hearing was concluded:
“SR, to my astonishment, when it came time for Sen. Warner to question Kushner, Sen. Sanders rudely interrupted this secret hearing, saying 'Let the record show that Sarah Huckabee Sanders is not related to me. Instead, she is the daughter of twice-failed GOP presidential candidate and leading evangelical huckster Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas.'”
As Sen. Burr tried to gavel Sen. Sanders out of order, Gulen politely asked Chairman Burr for permission to speak.
“By all means, Sir. It’s not as though we invited you down here today, but since you’re here, why don’t you tell us why Turkey’s leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is so convinced that you are responsible for the failed coup which tried to remove him from power?”
“That’s easy,” the elderly cleric and political activist said, “I used to be a political ally of Erdogan but we had a falling out, and I moved to the United States. I had nothing whatsoever to do with the coup, but a few of my followers in the Gulenist Movement may have, and Erdogan, who is a ruthless dictator, keeps blaming me for fomenting that coup, and he has jailed hundreds and hundreds of dedicated civl servants in my native land, and a few of them are Gulenists.”
“But Sir,” Sen. Burr asked, “Turkey is a very important ally of this country, and Erdogan has been seeking your extradition for many months now. Don’t you think it would be to the benefit of the United States for you voluntarily to go back home?”
At this, Sen. Warner interrupted and said, “Mr. Chairman, I object. You called this secret hearing, with my concurrence, to find out why Mr. Kushner met with Ambassador Kislyak and Putin’s Emissary, Natalia Vesilnitskaya, and why he falsified his application for security clearance by omitting his illegal contacts with Russian representatives. Although I would like to question Mr. Gulen at great length on another occasion, we are here to find out as much as we can about how and why the so-called Trump Administration made illegal contacts with the Russians before January 20.”
“Very well, Sen. Warner,” Burr said, “Governor Christie, would you like to question Mr. Kushner?”
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”
“Mr. Kushner, are you still really pissed off at me for throwing your corrupt father in prison?”
“Yes, Governor, I am.”
“And you know how much I adore your father-in-law, who is the most magnificent specimen of a gutsy New Yorker.”
“Could you please put in a good word with your father-in-law? Attorney General Sessions will be resigning very soon, either that or he will be shown the door. If your father-in-law nominates me to succeed Sessions, I promise you that under no circumstances will I tolerate the witch hunt which is taking place right now because Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein messed up big time by appointing a Special Prosecutor to inform the American people exactly how deep and dirty the Russians went to elect your father-in-law.”
“Yes, Governor I will discuss that with my father-in-law as soon as I get back to my office in the White House.”
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman,” Christie said. “I have no further questions.”
“Thank you, Governor Christie. Senator Sanders, I fully acknowledge that you probably would have come a lot closer to winning the election than Secretary Clinton, who went into last year’s presidential election carrying a huge amount of baggage. But Bernie, you’re not a member of this committee, so I will ask you to leave this secret hearing and catch the next plane to Burlington and stay there for the remainder of the year.”
“Mr. Chairman,” Sanders replied, “yes, it’s obvious to me that had I won the nomination of the political party to which I no longer belong, I would be sitting in the Oval Office right now, trying to badger a very recalcitrant Republican Senate into passing a single-payer health care plan to improve the Affordable Care Act.”
“But Donald Trump occupies the White House today. Thank you Mr. Chairman, I will leave now, and I will go directly to my Senate office here in Washington, where I have a lot of work to do."