Breaking Down the Mueller Report: Rick Gerson’s Russian Contacts
Breaking Down the Mueller Report
Rick Gerson’s Russian Contacts
(Mueller Report Pages 147-159)
- According to the Mueller Report, close Kushner friend Rick Gerson was in regular communication with Kirill Dmitriev, head of the sanctioned Russian Direct Investment Fund, during the transition period.
- Gerson and Dmitriev worked on a U.S.-Russia relations plan that was likely cleared by Putin and eventually passed to Kushner, Bannon, and Tillerson.
- Gerson was reportedly in the Seychelles at the time of the infamous meeting between Trump associate Erik Prince and Dmitriev but has denied attending.
Key Facts from the Report
- In December 2016 and January 2017, Gerson worked with Dmitriev “on a proposal for reconciliation between the United States and Russia, which Dmitriev implied he cleared through Putin.” Gerson was introduced to Dmitriev by George Nader, a “UAE national security advisor.”
- The Mueller report indicates that Dmitriev was also angling for a meeting with Kushner. Although it does not appear that Kushner and Dmitriev ever met, Dmitriev did meet twice with Trump associate and major campaign supporter Erik Prince in the Seychelles during the transition. Nader was also at this meeting.
- Dmitriev told Gerson directly that he had been “tasked by Putin to develop and execute a reconciliation plan between the United States and Russia.” The two men discussed this plan throughout December 2016.
- On January 9, 2017, Dmitriev sent his biography to Gerson and asked him to share it with Kushner “or somebody else very senior in the team.” Dmitriev noted that they were “focused from [their] side on improving the relationship and [Dmitriev’s] boss asked [him] to play a key role in that.” The report then notes that when Dmitriev referred to his “boss,” this was “an apparent reference to Putin.”
- On January 16, 2017, Dmitriev wrote up the ideas he and Gerson had been discussing into a two-page document. Gerson gave the document to Kushner on January 18, 2017, and Kushner eventually passed it to Bannon and Tillerson. According to Kushner’s account, neither Bannon or Tillerson “followed up with [him] about it.” Gerson also reported back to Dmitriev once he had given it to Kushner.
According to the report, Rick Gerson was close friends with Jared Kushner. During the transition, Gerson worked with Dmitriev on a U.S.-Russia relations plan “which Dmitriev implied he cleared through Putin.” This proposal was eventually passed from Gerson to Kushner, then on to Bannon and Tillerson.
Gerson was introduced to Dmitriev in late November 2016 by George Nader, who cooperated with the Mueller investigation and is described in the report as a “UAE national security advisor.” Nader, a lobbyist who has longstanding ties to Russia, helped arrange the Seychelles meeting between Prince and Dmitriev. The introduction was initially focused on potential joint ventures between Gerson’s hedge fund and RDIF, but discussions quickly shifted to setting up meetings with the incoming administration. Dmitriev told Gerson directly that he had been “tasked by Putin to develop and execute a reconciliation plan between the United States and Russia,” and the two men discussed this plan throughout December 2016. Dmitriev asked Gerson “who he should meet with in the incoming Administration who would be helpful” towards his goal of “improved economic cooperation between the United States and Russia.” Gerson told Dmitriev he would “try to figure out the best way to arrange appropriate introductions,” and he said he would ask Kushner and Flynn.
Questions have been raised about Gerson’s involvement and possible attendance at the Seychelles meeting between Prince and Dmitriev; an NBC report claimed that Gerson was also in the Seychelles in January 2017. While there, Gerson allegedly met with the UAE Crown Prince and with Nader. Gerson’s spokesman has stated that Gerson was “on vacation in the Seychelles” and did not participate in Prince’s meeting with Dmitriev, despite Dmitriev telling Gerson it was a “positive meeting.”
On January 16, 2017, Dmitriev wrote up the ideas he and Gerson had been discussing into a two-page document with five main points, including “maintaining an honest, open, and continual dialogue regarding issues of disagreement” and “ensuring proper communication and trust by ‘key people’ from each country.” Gerson reported back to Dmitriev once he had given the document to Kushner. On January 26, 2017, Dmitriev told Gerson that his boss – “an apparent reference to Putin” – asked if the Trump team had given “any feedback on the proposal.”
In late January 2017, Dmitriev told Gerson that Putin and Trump would soon be talking over the phone. Dmitriev asked Nader if he could confirm to his “boss” (an apparent reference to Putin) that the Trump team would be using “some of the ideas from the 2 pager” during the call. Nader said that the 2 pager had been “submitted […] by Rick and me” and that the Trump team had taken it “seriously”. After the call between Putin and Trump, Dmitriev told Nader that it went “very well,” and Gerson also reported to Dmitriev that the call went well.
- Why was Gerson, who had no experience in foreign relations, pursuing this freelance diplomacy? Is it possible that there was there a financial incentive for him?
- Gerson appears to have discussed potentially doing business with the RDIF just after the election. Did he or his firm have any previous relationship with the RDIF or Dmitriev, or was Gerson targeted as a possible backchannel to Trump’s inner circle?
- Did Gerson attend the Seychelles meeting between Dmitriev and Prince, or meet with Dmitriev separately in the Seychelles?
- What was discussed on the reported call between Trump and Putin?
- Who on the Trump team was aware that Gerson was working with Dmitriev, the head of a sanctioned investment fund, on a plan that had been “cleared through Putin”?
- The Mueller report states that Gerson told Dmitriev that the phone call between Trump and Putin went well. Who on the Trump team told Gerson this? Did the Trump team tell Gerson to convey that to Russian contacts?