Report says Trump son-in-law Kushner sought secret line to Moscow

President Donald Trump's son-in-law and now top White House adviser Jared Kushner proposed setting up a secret back channel between the Kremlin and the Trump transition team during a December meeting with a leading Russian diplomat.

US intelligence agencies first learned about the discussion several months ago, according to a senior USA official who had been briefed on intelligence reports.

One version - from Ellen Nakashima, Adam Entous, and Greg Miller of the Washington Post - is full of ominous portend, suggesting Kushner was embarked on a kind of amateur hour cloak and dagger scheme whose objective was to allow Trump to hide communications with Russian Federation from America's own intelligence services.

Kislyak allegedly told his higher-ups that Kushner floated the proposal for back-channel communications during a conversation between the two and former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn at Trump Tower on December 1 or December 2. The bank is under US sanctions and was implicated in a 2015 espionage case in which one of its NY executives pleaded guilty to spying and was jailed.

The FBI and White House did not comment, while the Russian embassy said it was policy not to comment on individual diplomatic contacts.

But Kushner is not the subject of a criminal investigation.

Former CIA director John Brennan revealed this week that intelligence chiefs had been looking into suspicious contacts between Trump campaign associates and Russian officials since mid-2016.

If it's true, it's the most hard for them to explain in the context of an FBI investigation into Russian Federation meddling in the US election and whether Trump's campaign helped.

Jamie Gorelick, a lawyer for Mr. Kushner, said in a statement that her client "participated in thousands of calls in this time period". For the president-elect's incoming National Security Advisor to conduct direct talks about ongoing military operations with a foreign government outside the auspices of the American government would be highly unorthodox but not necessarily indicative of anything more nefarious than Flynn's deep distrust for an Obama administration national security team that, after all, fired him.

The intelligence described emails between then-Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and a political operative suggesting that Lynch would make the FBI investigation of Clinton go away.

Reuters reported today that Kushner had "at least three previously undisclosed contacts" with Russian officials including two phone calls between April 2016 and November 2016.

And Oleg Deripaska, a Russian once close to Trump's former campaign manager, has offered to cooperate with congressional bodies probing alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 USA election, The New York Times reported Friday. Entous said sources had confirmed that USA intelligence intercepted Kislyak's reporting of the meeting.

Flynn was pushed out of the White House in February after officials said he misled Vice President Mike Pence about whether he and the ambassador had discussed USA sanctions against Russian Federation in a phone call. The omissions were described as an "administrative error" by Gorelick, who said additional information about his meetings were provided to the Federal Bureau of Investigation the day after he submitted his incomplete clearance application.

The Russian ambassador, Sergei Kislyak, was surprised by Kushner's idea of the secret channel and passed it on to the Kremlin, the Post said.

Kushner has acknowledged meeting during the transition with Russia's ambassador and separately with the head of a Russian bank.

A former United States ambassador to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation who has served in both Bush administrations and under President Clinton issued a strong rebuke Friday night of President Trump's relationship with Russian Federation.

On May 10, the Senate Intelligence Committee ordered a subpoena for documents relating to the ongoing Russian Federation investigation.

  • Leroy Wright