Kushner sought Russian Federation back channel, report claims
- Author: Leroy Wright May 28, 2017,
May 28, 2017, 8:14
H.R. McMaster said he's "not concerned" following reports that President Donald Trump's son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner may have discussed setting up diplomatic backchannels to Moscow during the presidential transition.
Back-channeling is a practice at times used by government officials, but Kushner was not yet a government employee at the time of his contact with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December.
The New York Times said the line was never established.
The request from the committee arrived last week at campaign headquarters in NY, according to person familiar with the request who wasn't authorized to discuss the developments publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The White House did not immediately comment on either claim, both outlets reported.
"The Post reported in April that Erik Prince, the founder of the private security firm Blackwater, now called Academi, and an informal adviser to the Trump transition team, met on January 11 - nine days before Trump's inauguration - in the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean with a representative of Russian President Vladimir Putin".
The FBI, in the course of its investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election, is now also looking at Kushner's multiple roles in Trump's campaign operation and his contacts with Russian officials.
The request appeared "extremely naive or absolutely insane", to one former senior intelligence official who spoke to the Post. But people familiar with the matter say the Federal Bureau of Investigation now considers the encounter, as well as another meeting Kushner had with a Russian banker, to be of investigative interest.
U.S. President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, is now a focus of investigations into potential link between Trump's 2016 campaign and Russian officials.
Obama administration officials told The Associated Press this past week that the frequency of Flynn's discussions with Kislyak raised enough red flags that aides discussed the possibility Trump was trying to establish a one-to-one line of communication - a back channel - with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
But a former head of the US National Security Agency harshly condemned Kushner's alleged effort to set up a secret communications line, saying if it's true, it would reveal a risky degree of ignorance or naivete. It is unclear whether they learned about it from intercepted Russian communications or by other means.
Mr Trump has held no news conferences during the nine-day trip, allowing him to avoid questions about the Russian Federation investigations. During the presidential campaign, he frequently criticized the Obama administration's Syria policy as unnecessarily antagonistic toward Russian Federation. Kushner is eager to cooperate with any and all inquiries, this official said. Neither side followed up on it.
This latest revelation comes two weeks after Trump abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey, who was responsible for overseeing the investigation.
Ambassador Sergei Kisylak is said to have told his superiors in Moscow about the conversation which allegedly took place at Trump Tower.
The interactions between Mr. Trump's advisers and Mr. Kislyak have been a constant source of trouble for the new administration.
Mr Flynn was sacked in February after misleading the White House about his contact with Mr Kislyak.
Weeks later, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was forced to recuse himself from the Justice Department's Russian Federation investigation after it was revealed that he had not disclosed during his confirmation process meetings he had with Mr. Kislyak in 2016.
The White House declined to answer questions about Mr Kushner's meeting with Mr Kislyak.
The FBI's Russian Federation investigation gained increased attention after the firing of FBI Director James Comey.
In addition, Reuters reported that Kushner had at least three previously undisclosed contacts with Kislyak previous year, including two phone calls between April and November.
"Russia as a country came up a lot".
Kushner's lawyer refused to comment on that report. "He has no recollection of the calls as described", Jamie Gorelick said.
"But we have not received such information", Ms. Gorelick added. When proposed by president-elect's son-in-law using Russian comms w/ no clear national security goal.