Jared Kushner downplays Russian interference in 2016 election, says it was just ‘a couple of Facebook ads’

The White House senior adviser Jared Kushner onstage at the Time 100 Summit on Tuesday in New York City. The event showcases the annual Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world.

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The White House senior adviser Jared Kushner onstage at the Time 100 Summit on Tuesday in New York City. The event showcases the annual Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world.
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Spencer Platt/Getty Images

  • Jared Kushner on Tuesday echoed President Donald Trump and bashed the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference.
  • “I think the investigations and all of the speculation that’s happened for the last two years has a much harsher impact on our democracy than a couple Facebook ads,” Kushner said at the Time 100 event in New York City.
  • Mueller’s report painted a far more serious picture of Russian election interference.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

NEW YORK CITY – Jared Kushner, the White House adviser who is President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, said Tuesday that the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation was worse for the US than Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

“You look at what Russia did, buying some Facebook ads and trying to sow dissent. It’s a terrible thing,” Kushner said at the Time 100 Summit in Manhattan. “But I think the investigations and all of the speculation that’s happened for the last two years has a much harsher impact on our democracy than a couple Facebook ads.”

Kushner’s remarks came less than a week after a redacted version of Mueller’s report on the inquiry was made public.

Read more: Read the full report from the special counsel Robert Mueller

“I think they said they spent $160,000. I spent $160,000 on Facebook every three hours during the campaign,” he added. “If you look at the magnitude of what they did, the ensuing investigations have been way more harmful.”

While Kushner downplayed Russia’s influence campaign, Mueller’s report painted a far more serious picture of election interference.

“Russian efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election represent the most recent expression of Moscow’s longstanding desire to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order, but these activities demonstrated a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort compared to previous operations,” the report said.

As the report laid out, Russia’s efforts involved both efforts to divide voters via social media – including through Facebook ads – as well as hacking emails of Democrats including members of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

The Mueller report went into detail of how the Internet Research Agency, the Russian troll group linked to the Kremlin, sought to undermine the democratic process in the US.

“Collectively, the IRA’s social-media accounts reached tens of millions of US persons,” the report said. “In total,” it added, citing Facebook, IRA-controlled Facebook accounts made “over 80,000 posts before their deactivation in August 2017, and these posts reached at least 29 million US persons and ‘may have reached an estimated 126 million people.'”

Read more: The 11 biggest takeaways from the Mueller report

Mueller in his report made it clear the Russian efforts were meant to aid Trump’s campaign and harm Clinton’s.

The special counsel “did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” the report said.

The report added, however, that “the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.”

After Kushner’s appearance on Tuesday, the president tweeted: “Great interview by Jared. Nice to have extraordinarily smart people serving our Country!”