McMaster isn't fazed by Jared Kushner 'back-channel' reports

White House officials defended the concept of secret communications channels without commenting specifically on the Kushner case.

National Security Advisor HR McMaster said he was "not concerned" following reports that Jared Kushner attempted to set up secret backchannels with Russian officials.

"No", McMaster said. "We have back-channel communications with a number of countries".

Although the back channel was never actually set up it's a reminder of why the Federal Bureau of Investigation has taken a particular interest in Kushner as it investigates possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation.

McMaster and Gary Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, swatted away the questions after reports surfaced that Kushner considered setting up a secret line of communication with Russian Federation to discuss military options in Syria and other matters.

The White House on Saturday declined to comment on the report.

The controversy surrounding Kushner's alleged plan cast a shadow over the final few days of Trump's first overseas trip as commander in chief, which the president described yesterday as a "home run". "Any way that you can communicate with people, particularly organizations that are maybe not particularly friendly to us, is a good thing".

He continued, "No, I would not be concerned about it".

The DNC has called for Kushner's security clearance to be pulled.

"This is off the map", Hayden told CNN's Michael Smerconish.

"Almost everything right now feels new and different", Michaels said.

Retired U.S. Navy Officer and MSNBC terrorism analyst Malcolm Nance also voiced the same concern. "There is no way this can be explained, from the intelligence perspective".

Kelly told "This Week" co-anchor Martha Raddatz on Sunday that with countries such as Russian Federation that are not allies of the US, any means of communication "is a good thing".

The U.S. intelligence community concluded in January that Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to sabotage the campaign of Mr. Trump's presidential opponent, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, and the U.S. House, Senate and Justice Department are each investigating possible collusion between the Trump team and the Kremlin.

The idea was to have Flynn speak directly with a senior military official in Moscow to discuss Syria and other security issues, the New York Times reported, citing officials. Both Kushner and Trump have had to raise money to fund their extensive real estate businesses.

He is the only person now in the White House known to be under investigation.

While the FBI is investigating Kushner's contacts with Russian Federation, he is not now a target of that investigation, a current law enforcement official told the Reuters. But Kushner is not the subject of a criminal probe.

FBI investigators are examining whether Russians suggested to Kushner or other Trump aides that relaxing economic sanctions would allow Russian banks to offer financing to people with ties to Trump, said the current United States law enforcement official.

Asked by Smerconish if he thought such an inquiry by Kushner would have been nefarious or naïve, Hayden said the latter.

When Raddatz compared these leaks to Trump's reportedly sharing Israeli intelligence with the Russians in an Oval Office meeting earlier this month, Kelly resisted making any comparison.

Although the secret channel was never set up, it is just the latest worrying detail to emerge from probes into the nature of relationships between the Trump campaign and Moscow. He has told friends that he and his wife, Ivanka Trump, have made no long-term commitment to remain by Trump's side, saying they would review every six months whether to return to private life in NY.

  • Larry Hoffman