4. Jared Kushner 's Meeting with Sergey Gorkov
On December 6, 2016, the Russian Embassy reached out to Kushner 's assistant to set up a second meeting between Kislyak and Kushner. Kushner declined several proposed meeting dates, but Kushner 's assistant indicated that Kislyak was very insistent about securing a second meeting. Kushner told the Office that he did not want to take another meeting because he had already decided Kislyak was not the right channel for him to communicate with Russia, so he arranged to have one of his assistants, A vi Berkowitz, meet with Kislyak in his stead. Although embassy official Sergey Kuznetsov wrote to Berkowitz that Kislyak thought it" important'' to" continue the conversation with Mr. Kushner in person,'' Kislyak nonetheless agreed to meet · instead with Berkowitz once it became apparent that Kushner was unlikely to take a meeting.
Berkowitz met with Kislyak on December 12, 2016, at Trump Tower. The meeting lasted only a few minutes, during which Kislyak indicated that he wanted Kushner to meet someone who had a direct line to Putin: Sergey Gorkov, the head of the Russian-governmentowned bank Vnesheconombank( VEB).
Kushner agreed to meet with Gorkov. The one-on-one meeting took place the next day, December 13, 2016, at the Colony Capital building in Manhattan, where Kushner had previously scheduled meetings. VEB was( and is) the subject of Department of Treasury economic sanctions imposed in response to Russia 's annexation of Crimea. Kushner did not, however, recall any discussion during his meeting with Gorkov about the sanctions against VEB or sanctions more generally. Kushner stated in an interview that he did not engage in any preparation for the meeting and that no one on the Transition Team even did a Google search for Gorkov 's name.
At the start of the meeting, Gorkov presented Kushner with two gifts: a painting and a bag of soil from the town in Belarus where Kushner 's family originated.
The accounts from Kushner and Gorkov differ as to whether the meeting was diplomatic or business in nature. Kushner told the Office that the meeting was diplomatic, with Gorkov expressing disappointment with U.S.-Russia relations under President Obama and hopes for improved relations with the incoming Administration. According to Kushner, although Gorkov told Kushner a little bit about his bank and made some statements about the Russian economy, the two did not discuss Kushner 's companies or private business dealings of any kind.( At the time of the meeting, Kushner Companies had a debt obligation coming due on the building it owned at 666 Fifth Avenue, and there had been public reporting both about efforts to secure lending on the property and possible conflicts of interest for Kushner arising out of his company 's borrowing from foreign lenders.)
In contrast, in a 2017 public statement, VEB suggested Gorkov met with Kushner in Kushner ' s capacity as CEO of Kushner Companies for the purpose of discussing business, rather than as part of a diplomatic effort. In particular, VEB characterized Gorkov 's meeting with Kushner as part of a series of" roadshow meetings'' with" representatives of major US banks and business circles,'' which included" negotiations'' and discussion of the" most promising business lines and sectors.''
Foresman, the investment bank executive mentioned in Volume l, Sections IV.A. I and IV.B .3, supra, told the Office that he met with Gorkov and VEB deputy chairman Nikolay Tsekhomsky in Moscow just before Gorkov left for New York to meet Kushner. According to Foresman, Gorkov and Tsekhomsky told him that they were traveling to New York to discuss postelection issues with U.S. financial institutions, that their trip was sanctioned by Putin, and that they would be reporting back to Putin upon their return.
The investigation did not resolve the apparent conflict in the accounts of Kushner and Gorkov or determine whether the meeting was diplomatic in nature( as Kushner stated), focused on business( as VEB 's public statement indicated), or whether it involved some combination of those matters or other matters. Regardless, the investigation did not identify evidence that Kushner and Gorkov engaged in any substantive follow-up after the meeting.
Rather, a few days after the meeting, Gorkov 's assistant texted Kushner 's assistant," Hi, please inform your side that the information about the meeting had a very positive response! ''' Over the following weeks, the two assistants exchanged a handful of additional cordial texts. On February 8, 2017, Gorkov 's assistant texted Kushner 's assistant( Berkowitz) to try to set up another meeting, and followed up by text at least twice in the days that followed. According to Berkowitz, he did not respond to the meeting request in light of the press coverage regarding the Russia investigation, and did not tell Kushner about the meeting request .1166
5. Petr Aven 's Outreach Efforts to the Transition Team
In December 2016, weeks after the one-on-one meeting with Putin described in Volume I, Section IV.B .1. b, supra, Petr Aven attended what he described as a separate" all-hands'' oligarch meeting between Putin and Russia 's most prominent businessmen. As in Aven 's one-on-one meeting, a main topic of discussion at the oligarch meeting in December 2016 was the prospect of forthcoming U.S. economic sanctions.
After the December 2016 all-hands meeting, Aven tried to establish a connection to the Trump team. Aven instructed Richard Burt to make contact with the incoming Trump Administration. Burt was on the board of directors for LetterOne( L1), another company headed by Aven, and had done work for Alfa-Bank. Burt had previously served as U.S. ambassador to Germany and Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs, and one of his primary roles with Alfa-Bank and Ll was to facilitate introductions to business contacts in the United States and other Western countries.
While at a Ll board meeting held in Luxembourg in late December 2016, Aven pulled Burt aside and told him that he had spoken to someone high in the Russian government who expressed interest in establishing a communications channel between the Kremlin and the Trump Transition Team. Aven asked for Burt 's help in contacting members of the Transition Team. Although Burt had been responsible for helping Aven build connections in the past, Burt viewed Aven 's request as unusual and outside the normal realm of his dealings with Aven.
Burt, who is a member of the board of CNI( discussed at Volume I, Section IV.A .4, supra), decided to approach CNI president Dimitri Simes for help facilitating Aven ' s request, recalling that Simes had some relationship with Kushner. At the time, Simes was lobbying the Trump Transition Team, on Burt 's behalf, to appoint Burt U.S. ambassador to Russia.
Burt contacted Simes by telephone and asked if he could arrange a meeting with Kushner to discuss setting up a high-level communications channel between Putin and the incoming Administration. Simes told the Office that he declined and stated to Burt that setting up such a channel was not a good idea in light of the media attention surrounding Russian influence in the U.S. presidential election. According to Simes, he understood that Burt was seeking a secret channel, and Simes did not want CNI to be seen as an intermediary between the Russian government and the incoming Administration. Based on what Simes had read in the media, he stated that he already had concerns that Trump 's business connections could be exploited by Russia, and Simes said that he did not want CNI to have any involvement or apparent involvement in facilitating any connection.
In an email dated December 22, 2016, Burt recounted for Aven his conversation with
Through a trusted third party, I have reached out to the very influential person I mentioned in Luxembourg concerning Project A. There is an interest and an understanding for the need to establish such a channel. But the individual emphasized that at this moment, with so much intense interest in the Congress and the media over the question of cyber-hacking( and who ordered what), Project A was too explosive to discuss. The individual agreed to discuss it again after the New Year. I trust the individual 's instincts on this. If this is unclear or you would like to discuss, do n't hesitate to call.
According to Burt, the" very influential person'' referenced in his email was Simes, and the reference to a" trusted third party'' was a fabrication, as no such third party existed." Project A'' was a term that Burt created for Aven 's effort to help establish a communications channel between Russia and the Trump team, which he used in light of the sensitivities surrounding what Aven was requesting, especially in light of the recent attention to Russia 's influence in the U.S. presidential election. According to Burt, his report that there was" interest'' in a communications channel reflected Simes 's views, not necessarily those of the Transition Team, and in any event, Burt acknowledged that he added some" hype'' to that sentence to make it sound like there was more interest from the Transition Team than may have actually existed.
Aven replied to Burt 's email on the same day, saying" Thank you. All clear.'' According to Aven, this statement indicated that he did not want the outreach to continue. Burt spoke to Aven some time thereafter about his attempt to make contact with the Trump team, explaining to Aven that the current environment made it impossible,[ REDACTED-GRAND JURY]. Burt did not recall discussing Aven 's request with Simes again, nor did he recall speaking to anyone else about the request.
In the first quarter of 2017, Aven met again with Putin and other Russian officials. At that meeting, Putin asked about Aven ' s attempt to build relations with the Trump Administration, and Aven recounted his lack of success.[ REDACTED-GRAND JURY]. Putin continued to inquire about Aven 's efforts to connect to the Trump Administration in several subsequent quarterly meetings.
Aven also told Putin 's chief of staff that he had been subpoenaed by the FBI. As part of that conversation, he reported that he had been asked by the FBI about whether he had worked to create a back channel between the Russian government and the Trump Administration.
According to Aven, the official showed no emotion in response to this report and did not appear to care.
6. Carter Page Contact with Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich
In December 2016, more than two months after he was removed from the Trump Campaign, former Campaign foreign policy advisor Carter Page visited Moscow in an attempt to pursue business opportunities.[ REDACTED-GRAND JURY]. According to Konstantin Kilimnik, Paul Manafort ' s associate, Page also gave some individuals in Russia the impression that he had maintained his connections to President-Elect Trump. In a December 8, 2016 email intended for Manafort, Kilimnik wrote," Carter Page is in Moscow today, sending messages he is to talk to Russia on behalf of DT on a range of issues of mutual interest, including Ukraine.''
On December 9, 2016, Page went to dinner with NES employees Shlomo Weber and Andrej Krickovic. Weber had contacted Dvorkovich to let him know that Page was in town and to invite him to stop by the dinner if he wished to do so, and Dvorkovich came to the restaurant for a few minutes to meet with Page. Dvorkovich congratulated Page on Trump 's election and expressed interest in starting a dialogue between the United States and Russia. Dvorkovich asked Page if he could facilitate connecting Dvorkovich with individuals involved in the transition to be in a discussion of future cooperation.[ REDACTED-GRAND JURY].[ REDACTED-GRAND JURY].
[ REDACTED-GRAND JURY] Dvorkovich separately discussed working together in the future by forming an academic partnership.[ REDACTED-GRAND JURY].[ REDACTED-GRAND JURY].
7. Contacts With and Through Michael T. Flynn
Incoming National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was the Transition Team 's primary conduit for communications with the Russian Ambassador and dealt with Russia on two sensitive matters during the transition period: a United Nations Security Council vote and the Russian government 's reaction to the United States 's imposition of sanctions for Russian interference in the 2016 election. Despite Kushner ' s conclusion that Kislyak did not wield influence inside the Russian government, the Transition Team turned to Flynn 's relationship with Kislyak on both issues. As to the sanctions, Flynn spoke by phone to K.T. McFarland, his incoming deputy, to prepare for his call to Kislyak; McFarland was with the President-Elect and other senior members of the Transition Team at Mar-a-Lago at the time. Although transition officials at Mara-Lago had some concern about possible Russian reactions to the sanctions, the investigation did not identify evidence that the President-Elect asked Flynn to make any request to Kislyak. Flynn asked Kislyak not to escalate the situation in response to U.S. sanctions imposed on December 29, 2016, and Kislyak later reported to Flynn that Russia acceded to that request.
a. United Nations Vote on Israeli Settlements
On December 21, 2016, Egypt submitted a resolution to the United Nations Security Council calling on Israel to cease settlement activities in Palestinian territory'. The Security Council, which includes Russia, was scheduled to vote on the resolution the following day. There was speculation in the media that the Obama Administration would not oppose the resolution.
According to Flynn, the Transition Team regarded the vote as a significant issue and wanted to support Israel by opposing the resolution. On December 22, 2016, multiple members of the Transition Team, as well as President-Elect Trump, communicated with foreign officials to determine their views on the resolution and to rally support to delay the vote or defeat the resolution. Kushner led the effort for the Transition Team; Flynn was responsible for the Russian government. Minutes after an early morning phone call with Kushner on December 22, Flynn called Kislyak. According to Flynn, he informed Kislyak about the vote and the Transition Team 's opposition to the resolution, and requested that Russia vote against or delay the resolution. Later that day, President-Elect Trump spoke with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi about the vote. Ultimately, Egypt postponed the vote.
On December 23, 2016, Malaysia, New Zealand, Senegal, and Venezuela resubmitted the resolution. Throughout the day, members of the Transition Team continued to talk with foreign leaders about the resolution, with Flynn continuing to lead the outreach with the Russian government through Kislyak. When Flynn again spoke with Kislyak, Kislyak informed Flynn that if the resolution came to a vote, Russia would not vote against it. The resolution later passed 14-0, with the United States abstaining.
b. U.S. Sanctions Against Russia
Flynn was also the Transition Team member who spoke with the Russian government when the Obama Administration imposed sanctions and other measures against Russia in response to Russia 's interference in the 2016 presidential election. On December 28, 2016, then-President Obama signed Executive Order 13757, which took effect at 12:01 a.m. the following day and imposed sanctions on nine Russian individuals and entities. On December 29, 2016, the Obama Administration also expelled 35 Russian government officials and closed two Russian government-owned compounds in the United States.
During the rollout of the sanctions, President-Elect Trump and multiple Transition Team senior officials, including McFarland, Steve Bannon, and Reince Priebus, were staying at the Mara-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida. Flynn was on vacation in the Dominican Republic, but was in daily contact with McFarland.
The Transition Team and President-Elect Trump were concerned that these sanctions would harm the United States 's relationship with Russia. Although the details and timing of sanctions were unknown on December 28, 2016, the media began reporting that retaliatory measures from the Obama Administration against Russia were forthcoming. When asked about imposing sanctions on Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election, President-Elect Trump told the media," I think we ought to get on with our lives.''
Russia initiated the outreach to the Transition Team. On the evening of December 28, 2016, Kislyak texted Flynn," can you kindly call me back at your convenience.'' Flynn did not respond to the text message that evening. Someone from the Russian Embassy also called Flynn the next morning, at 10:38 a.m., but they did not talk.
The sanctions were announced publicly on December 29, 2016. At 1: 53 p.m. that day, McFarland began exchanging emails with multiple Transition Team members and advisors about the impact the sanctions would have on the incoming Administration. At 2:07 p.m., a Transition Team member texted Flynn a link to a New York Times article about the sanctions. At 2:29 p.m., McFarland called Flynn, but they did not talk. Shortly thereafter, McFarland and Bannon discussed the sanctions. According to McFarland, Bannon that the sanctions would hurt their ability to have good relations with Russia, and that Russian escalation would make things more difficult. McFarland believed she told Bannon that Flynn was scheduled to talk to Kislyak later that night. McFarland also believed she may have discussed the sanctions with Priebus, and likewise told him that Flynn was scheduled to talk to Kislyak that night. At 3: 14 p.m., Flynn texted a Transition Team member who was assisting McFarland," Time for a call ? ? ? '' The Transition Team member responded that McFarland was on the phone with Tom Bossert, a Transition Team senior official, to which Flynn responded," Tit for tat w Russia not good. Russian AMBO reaching out to me today.''
Flynn recalled that he chose not to communicate with Kislyak about the sanctions until he had heard from the team at Mar-a-Lago.1241 He first spoke with Michael Ledeen, a Transition Team member who advised on foreign policy and national security matters, for 20 minutes. Flynn then spoke with McFarland for almost 20 minutes to discuss what, if anything, to communicate to Kislyak about the sanctions. On that call, McFarland and Flynn discussed the sanctions, including their potential impact on the incoming Trump Administration 's foreign policy goals. McFarland and Flynn also discussed that Transition Team members in Mar-a-Lago did not want Russia to escalate the situation. They both understood that Flynn would relay a message to Kislyak in hopes of making sure the situation would not get out of hand.
Immediately after speaking with McFarland, Flynn called and spoke with Kislyak. Flynn discussed multiple topics with Kislyak, including the sanctions, scheduling a video teleconference between President-Elect Trump and Putin, an upcoming terrorism conference, and Russia 's views about the Middle East. With respect to the sanctions, Flynn requested that Russia not escalate the situation, not get into a" tit for tat,'' and only respond to the sanctions in a reciprocal manner.
Multiple Transition Team members were aware that Flynn was speaking with Kislyak that day. In addition to her conversations with Bannon and Reince Priebus, at 4:43 p.m., McFarland sent an email to Transition Team members about the sanctions, informing the group that" Gen[ F] lynn is talking to russian ambassador this evening.'' Less than an hour later, McFarland briefed President-Elect Trump. Bannon, Priebus, Sean Spicer, and other Transition Team members were present. During the briefing, President-Elect Trump asked McFarland if the Russians did" it,'' meaning the intrusions intended to influence the presidential election. McFarland said yes, and President-Elect Trump expressed doubt that it was the Russians. McFarland also discussed potential Russian responses to the sanctions, and said Russia 's response would be an indicator of what the Russians wanted going forward. President-Elect Trump opined that the sanctions provided him with leverage to use with the Russians. McFarland recalled that at the end of the meeting, someone may have mentioned to President-Elect Trump that Flynn was speaking to the Russian ambassador that evening.
After the briefing, Flynn and McFarland spoke over the phone.Flynn reported on the substance of his call with Kislyak, including their discussion of the sanctions.According to McFarland, Flynn mentioned that the Russian response to the sanctions was not going to be escalatory because they wanted a good relationship with the incoming Administration. McFarland also gave Flynn a summary of her recent briefing with President-Elect Trump.
The next day, December 30, 2016, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that Russia would respond in kind to the sanctions. Putin superseded that two hours later, releasing a statement that Russia would not take retaliatory measures in response to the sanctions at that time. Hours later President-Elect Trump ," Great move on delay( by V. Putin).'' Shortly thereafter, Flynn sent a text message to McFarland summarizing his call with Kislyak from the day before, which she emailed to Kushner, Bannon, Priebus, and other Transition Team members. The text message and email did not include sanctions as one of the topics discussed with Kislyak. Flynn told the Office that he did not document his discussion of sanctions because it could be perceived as getting in the way of the Obama Administration 's foreign policy.
On December 31, 2016, Kislyak called Flynn and told him the request had been received at the highest levels and that Russia had chosen not to retaliate to the sanctions in response to the request. Two hours later, Flynn spoke with McFarland and relayed his conversation with Kislyak. According to McFarland, Flynn that the Russians wanted a better relationship and that the relationship was back on track. Flynn also told McFarland that he believed his phone call had made a difference. McFarland recalled congratulating Flynn in response. Flynn spoke with other Transition Team members that day, but does not recall whether they discussed the sanctions. Flynn recalled discussing the sanctions with Bannon the next day and that Bannon appeared to know about Flynn 's conversation with Kislyak. Bannon, for his part, recalled meeting with Flynn that day, but said that he did not remember discussing sanctions with him.
Additional information about Flynn 's sanctions-related discussions with Kislyak, and the handling of those discussions by the Transition Team and the Trump Administration, is provided in Volume II of this report.
In sum, the investigation established multiple links between Trump Campaign officials and individuals tied to the Russian government. Those links included Russian offers of assistance to the Campaign. In some instances, the Campaign was receptive to the offer, while in other instances the Campaign officials shied away. Ultimately, the investigation did not establish that the Campaign coordinated or conspired with the Russian government in its election-interference