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US. Department of Justice
Attemey—Werle-Predvuet // May-GentafirMatefial—Preteeted-Hnder-Fed—R—Gm—P—éée)

interest in establishing a communications channel between the Kremlin and the Trump Transition
Team.1171 Aven asked for Burt’s help in contacting members of the Transition Team. 1 172 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.1173

Burt, who is a member of the board of CNI (discussed at Volume 1, Section IV.A.4,
supra),“74 decided to approach CNI president Dimitri Simes for help facilitating Aven’s request,
recalling that Simes had some relationship with Kushner.1175 At the time, Simes was lobbying the
Trump Transition Team, on Burt’s behalf, to appoint Burt US. ambassador to Russia.1176

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.1177 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
US. presidential electionmg According to Simes7 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.1179 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.1180

In an email dated December 22, 2016, Burt recounted for Aven his conversation with
Simes:

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.

“73 Burt 2/9/18 302, at4.

“74 Burt 2/9/18 302, at 5.

“75 Burt 2/9/18 302, at 3.

“76 Burt 2/9/18 302, at 3.

“77 Burt 2/9/18 302, at 3; Simes 3/27/18 302, at 4.
“78 Burt 2/9/18 302, at 3; Simes 3/27/18 302, at 4.
“79 Simes 3/27/18 302, at 5.

”80 Simes 3/27/18 302, at 5.

164



If this is unclear or you would like to discuss, don’t hesitate to call.1181

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 Buit 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 US. presidential
election.“82 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.1183

Aven replied to Burt’s email on the same day, saying “Thank you. All clear.”1184
According to Aven, this statement indicated that he did not want the outreach to continue.1185 Burt

spoke to Aven some time thereafter about his attempt to make contact with the Trum team,
ex lainin to Aven that the current environment made it impossible,

.1186 Burt did not recall discussing Aven’s request with Simes again, nor did
he recall speaking to anyone else about the request.1187

In the first quarter of 2017, Aven met again with Putin and other Russian officials.1138 At

that meeting, Putin asked about Aven’s attem tto build relations with the Trum Administration,
_ene Aven eeee his leek ofmsw H

”90 Putin continued to inquire about Aven’s efforts to connect to the Trump

Administration in several subsequent quarterly meetings.1191

Aven also told Putin’s chief of staff that he had been subpoenaed by the FBI.1192 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.1193

‘1“ 12/22/16 Email, Burt to Aven (7:23 p.m.).

“32 Burt 2/9/18 302, at 3.

“83 Burt 2/9/18 302, at 3—4.

1“ " 12/22/16 Email, Aven to Burt (4:58:22 pm).

1‘“ Aven 8/2/18 302, at 7. .

1‘“ Burt 2/9/18 302, at 3-4.
“89— Aven m 302, at v.
”92 Aven 8/2/18 302, at 8.

evens/mazes;—

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