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Congress Wants to Question Trump Son-in-Law over ‘Russia Ties’ | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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US President Donald Trump gives a thumbs-up as he and White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner depart the White House in Washington. (Reuters)

Washington – Donald Trump’s son-in-law and top aide Jared Kushner will appear before a Senate panel investigating Russian interference in the US presidential election, the White House said Monday, a day after he was tapped to lead a new White House office that aims to apply ideas from the business world to help streamline the government.

Kushner volunteered to be interviewed by the committee, according to a White House official, making him the fourth member of President Trump’s campaign operation to come forward in the past week offering to speak with congressional investigators.

A Senate source confirmed that the interview had been offered, but said that it would not be scheduled until the committee “has received any documents or information necessary to ensure that the meeting is productive for all sides.”

According to a senior congressional official, committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., spoke with the White House counsel “some weeks ago” to warn that the committee would be seeking to speak with administration officials, including Kushner. The White House indicated to the committee over the weekend that Kushner would be willing to participate.

According to The New York Times, Kushner met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during both the election and transition period, and later, at Kislyak’s request, met with Sergey Gorkov, chief of Russian government-owned Vnesheconombank.

The congressional official was not aware that Kushner had met with the Russian banker.

A White House official said that Kushner was the “official primary point of contact” with foreign governments and officials during the campaign and transition period.

A spokesman for the House intelligence committee said that the committee has not decided whether it will interview Kushner.

On Sunday, the Washington Post reported that the White House Office of Innovation is to be unveiled Monday with sweeping authority to overhaul the bureaucracy and fulfill key campaign promises like reforming care for veterans and fighting opioid addiction, the Post said.

“I promised the American people I would produce results, and apply my ‘ahead of schedule, under budget’ mentality to the government,” Trump was quoted as saying.

It is conceived as a sort of SWAT team made up of former private sector executives charged with bringing fresh ideas to the business of government, according to the report.

“The government should be run like a great American company. Our hope is that we can achieve successes and efficiencies for our customers, who are the citizens,” Kushner told the Post.

The 36-year-old is a senior adviser to Trump with far-reaching influence over domestic and foreign policy.

Top Trump strategist Stephen Bannon, who has called for “deconstruction of the administrative state,” will not be part of the new group, the Post said.

Technology and data are expected to be a key focus of the effort, and the White House has been working with the likes of Apple CEO Tim Cooke, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Tesla’s Elon Musk, the Post said.

“There is a need to figure out what policies are adding friction to the system without accompanying it with significant benefits,” Stephen Schwarzman, CEO of investment firm Blackstone Group, told the Post.

“It’s easy for the private sector to at least see where the friction is, and to do that very quickly and succinctly.”