Kushner wanted top secret back-channel to Moscow , Washington Post reveals
- Author: Leroy Wright May 28, 2017,
May 28, 2017, 20:48
President Trump's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, repeatedly declined to answer media questions about reports that the president's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, sought backchannel communications with Russian Federation prior to Trump's taking office.
The December meeting at Trump Tower also was attended by Michael Flynn, Trump's first national security adviser, who was later forced to stand down due misleading members of the administration about his links with Russian Federation.
Once U.S. President Donald Trump returns from his overseas trip, the White House plans to launch its most aggressive effort yet to push back against allegations involving Russian Federation and his presidential campaign, tackling head-on a scandal that has threatened to consume his young presidency.
The sources stress that the talk between Kushner and the Russian envoy about communications was focused on the USA response to the crisis in Syria and other policy-related matters.
The Post report cited communications intercepted by USA intelligence officials as Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak reported to his superiors in Moscow.
Kushner has already volunteered to speak to Congress about those meetings, and his attorney says he's willing to cooperate with any additional investigations. The White House said other similar events are in the planning stages.
President Donald Trump is considering overhauling his White House staff and bringing back top campaign strategists, frustrated by what he views as his team's inability to contain the burgeoning crisis involving alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
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.
Trump has been frustrated of late that his communications team hasn't done a more effective job at making the case that he isn't implicated in the Russian Federation probe and highlighting his administration's successes, sources close to the president said.
The White House declined to comment.
What role does Kushner hold in the Trump administration? Those investigations include allegations that there may have been collaboration to help Trump and harm Hillary Clinton.
Officials familiar with intelligence on contacts between the Russians and Trump advisers said that so far they have not seen evidence of any wrongdoing or collusion between the Trump camp and the Kremlin. A source with knowledge of the matter confirmed to CNN that Kushner first discussed creating the backchannel in a meeting last December with the Russian ambassador.
In addition to their discussion about setting up the communications channel, Kushner, Flynn and Kislyak also talked about arranging a meeting between a representative of Trump and a "Russian contact" in a third country whose name was not identified, according to the anonymous letter.
Kushner offered in March to be interviewed by the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is also investigating Russia's attempts to interfere in last year's election.
A person in regular touch with the White House said it needed a different structure to focus on the "new reality" that there would be continued leaks to the media from the law enforcement and intelligence communities, leaks that have increased in frequency since Trump fired former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey on May 9. His lawyer later said it was a mistake, telling Federal Bureau of Investigation that he would amend the forms.