In rare interview, Jared Kushner calls infamous Trump Tower meeting with Russians 'a clown show'

Jonathan Swan talks Kushner interview on new episode of "The Investigation."

President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner said in a rare interview that the meeting he had with his brother-in-law and campaign leadership in June 2016 with a Russian attorney was a "clown show."

Speaking to Axios' Jonathan Swan, Kushner was asked about that meeting he attended with Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort in the search for "dirt" on Hillary Clinton from Russian lawyer Natalia V. Veselnitskaya.

"We're in a place now where people are playing Monday morning quarterback and they're being so self-righteous. Let me put you in my shoes at that time: OK, I'm running three companies, I'm helping run the campaign. I get an email that says show up at 4 instead of 3 to a meeting that I had been told about earlier that I didn't know what the hell it was about," Kushner told Swan.

Swan pushed back on Kushner's response. "It had Russia in the subject line," Swan said in the interview. Kushner responded by pointing out that he was overwhelmed by emails during the campaign. Veselnitskaya has since been charged with obstruction of justice in a separate case. She has not entered a plea.

Swan told ABC News on Monday that he believes Kushner remains a resilient force within the White House.

"I think he's in a very, very strong position," Swan said on the latest episode of "The Investigation." "He's the most powerful family member of a president since Bobby Kennedy, I don't think you could mount an intellectual argument, intellectually honest argument, to counter that."

ABC News' conversation with Swan follows the release of his sit-down interview with Kushner, which aired on HBO Sunday evening.

PHOTO: Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner look on as President Donald Trump, places a wreath on the Grave of the Unknown Warrior during a visit to Westminster Abbey, June 3, 2019, in London.
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner look on as President Donald Trump, places a wreath on the Grave of the Unknown Warrior during a visit to Westminster Abbey, June 3, 2019, in London.
Stefan Rousseau/Getty Images

Swan's interview on HBO touched on a broad swath of topics, including the financial dealings of Kushner's company. Kushner came under fire last year after Citigroup issued a $325 million loan to Kushner's company just one month after Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat met with Kushner at the White House.

"Look, I would not have come into government had there been anything salacious and nefarious that I was worried about. At this point, I have been fully vetted and I think people see it this way," Kushner told Swan.

In Swan's conversation with ABC, he said Kushner was "very sincere" when he said this. "He absolutely believes it, and it's not the first time he said that," Swan said.

In response to a letter sent by lawmakers to Corbat in March 2018 questioning the loan, Citigroup told Democratic congressional leaders "The Kushner family has been a client of Citi for decades" and played down the timing of the loan and Corbat's meeting with Kushner.

"I think I could see from the way he responded that if he, if he had to do it again, he wouldn't do it again," Swan told ABC News. "He didn't say that, but seemed to me that that was a meeting that he realized the optics of it were not great. I mean that was a huge loan that they gave. And he met with the CEO in the White House."

Kushner told Swan during the interview that can "understand the appearance" of a conflict of interest, but that he didn't know that Citigroup was discussing business with the Kushner company during the time of the meeting. "I was meeting with a lot of executives when we got here," Kushner said.

During the interview, Swan also asked Kushner whether Trump's birtherism movement, which sought to discredit President Barack Obama's citizenship, was racist. Kushner told Swan repeatedly during that "I wasn't involved," also stating, "I know who the president is, and I have not seen anything in him that is racist. So, again, I was not involved in that."

Swan told ABC News that he thinks "people misunderstand Jared Kushner a little bit" and that Kushner's political stances are not as far from the president's as some people believe.

"People who know him well and who work with him," Swan said on the podcast, "say that he actually agrees with Donald Trump on far more than he disagrees with him."

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