Bill Kristol: Back Channels 'Suspicious' Only When Kushner Involved
- Author: Leroy Wright May 28, 2017,
May 28, 2017, 21:13
Flynn served briefly as Trump's national security adviser before being fired 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. At the time, a White House official dismissed it as a brief courtesy meeting.
The story about the alleged phone calls was reported by Reuters, the day after reports about Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, now being part of a federal investigation into Trump associates allegedly colluding with Russian Federation to win the 2016 White House race. As the president met with leaders and diplomats in the Middle East and Europe, senior aides met in the White House to discuss damage control.
Conservative journalist Bill Kristol tweeted Saturday that back-channel networks are "suspicious" only when they involve "the president-elect's son-in-law" and Russian Federation.
From left, senior advisor of President Donald Trump Jared Kushner, his wife Ivanka Trump, President Donald Trump and First lady Melania pose for a family photo during their visit to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums, at the Vatican, following their meeting with Pope Francis, Wednesday, May 24, 2017.
"It's not just unfortunate for Trump, it's unfortunate for Americans", the Whitman Republican said. "They're in full-scale war, and they're thinly staffed".
Aides are also considering creating a White House "war room" to more aggressively push back against the Russian Federation controversy as well as the fallout of Trump's abrupt firing of Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey earlier this month.
Kushner's legal counsel said after the reports that Kushner was part of the federal investigation, but not a target, his client will talk to federal investigators and Congress about his contacts and his role in the Trump campaign.
Asked about reports that U.S. President Donald Trump's son-in-law had tried to set up a clandestine communication channel with Russian Federation before the president took office, U.S. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said Saturday that so-called "back-channeling" was normal, reported Voice of America.McMaster was in Taormina, Italy, on the sideline of the Group of Seven meetings, and he did not speak specifically about Jared Kushner, who is also a senior advisor to Trump.
Mr Kushner is the only person now in the White House known to be under investigation.
Those close to Kushner said he has no plans to take a reduced role, though people who have spoken to him say that he is increasingly tired of the nonstop frenzy.
The opposition Democratic party urged Trump to fire Kushner. Earlier in the day in Kushner's office, the two briefly discussed the stories involving Kushner and Russian Federation. Other G-7 nations leaned heavily on Trump to stay in the climate deal, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying "we put forward very many arguments".
Underscoring the uncertainty of what lies ahead, some Trump associates said there have been conversations about dispatching Priebus to serve as ambassador to Greece - his mother is of Greek descent - as a face-saving way to remove him from the White House. There was no immediate White House reaction.
The president has expressed frustration - both publicly and privately - with his communications team, ahead of the expected overhaul.
It's the final day of the president's nine-day trip.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the deputy White House press secretary, is being considered as a replacement behind the lectern. But one of Trump's short-list candidates, former Connecticut Sen.
The source also said the Trump team eventually felt there was no need for a back channel once Rex Tillerson was confirmed as secretary of state, and made a decision to communicate with Moscow through more official channels. The person, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss private conversations.
"They need accomplishments on issues that affect jobs", said one Trump adviser.