The two years of investigations and speculation about Russian interference in U.S. elections and supposed collusion with President Donald Trump has hurt the country more than what the Russians actually did, said Jared Kushner, senior White House adviser and the president’s son-in-law.
“Quite frankly, the whole thing is just a big distraction for the country,” Kushner said on April 23. “You look at what Russia did, buying some Facebook ads to try to sow dissent and do it and it’s a terrible thing, but I think the investigations and all the speculation that’s happened for the last two years has had a much harsher impact on our democracy than a couple of Facebook ads.”
Kushner addressed the topic during a Time magazine forum in New York when he was asked about some of the results of the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller, who was tasked in 2017 to probe Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election and whether the Trump campaign colluded with the interference.
Legacy media flooded the public with thousands of reports mostly following the narrative that the probe was nearly sure to prove Trump was in cahoots with the Russians, fueling a divide between the supporters and opponents of Trump and throwing shade on the legitimacy of the election—exactly the goals the Russian meddlers set for themselves, according to U.S. intelligence.
The Mueller probe ultimately found that Russians interfered in the election, but it didn’t establish that any collusion with the Trump campaign occurred.
— TIME (@TIME) April 23, 2019
“I personally think that what happened was is all these people thought Trump was going to lose, they all predicted Trump was going to lose. They were wrong. The American electorate and this great democratic system chose the opposite. And then I think that instead of saying, ‘Oh, wait. We got it wrong,’ they said, ‘Well, maybe it was Russia,’” Kushner said.
“And I think now we spent two years going through that nonsense and the one thing the Muller report was very conclusive on is there was absolutely no coordination or collusion with the Trump campaign and everything that the president has been saying, everything that I’ve been saying for two years, has now been fully authenticated.”
Great interview by Jared. Nice to have extraordinarily smart people serving our Country! https://t.co/d6Tgrn4Tzn
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 23, 2019
Kushner contrasted the massive operation of the 2016 Trump campaign with the Russian influence operation.
“I think they [Mueller] said they [Russians] spent about $160,000. I spent $160,000 or so on Facebook every three hours during the campaign so if you look at the magnitude of what they did and what they accomplished, I think the ensuing investigations have been way more harmful to our country,” he said.
The campaign established a robust data analysis operation and their election models proved correct, he said. That’s why the campaign was, back then, dismissive of news about the Russian meddling.
“The notion of what they were doing didn’t even register to us as being impactful,” he said.
Kushner, a real-estate investor who married Trump’s daughter Ivanka in 2009, has been one of the president’s top negotiators, involved in building a relationship with the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, negotiating the U.S.–Mexico–Canada trade agreement, trade negotiations with China, and brokering the bipartisan deal on prison reform in Congress, among other endeavors.
His current priority is developing a plan for a peace deal in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. He said the administration will unveil a plan in the next few months.