McMaster says 'not concerned' after Kushner back-channel reports
- Author: Larry Hoffman May 28, 2017,
May 28, 2017, 0:12
President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner sought a secret channel of communication last December between Trump's transition team and the Kremlin, according to US media reports.
According to USA officials who intercepted and reviewed Russian communications regarding the proposal, Kislyak told his superiors that Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, suggested the communications line during a meeting at Trump Tower on December 1 or 2.
Less than two weeks later, Kushner backed off the idea of the communications channel when Trump announced Rex Tillerson, a former chief executive of Exxon Mobil who had worked closely with Russian officials on energy deals, as his choice to become secretary of state.
The meeting was also attended by Michael Flynn, who served as the White House national security adviser until he was forced to step down for failing to properly disclose contacts with Russian officials and discussions pertaining to sanctions.
Kislyak was reportedly taken aback at the question of allowing an American to use Russian communications gear at their embassy or consulate. USA officials told The Post this was an apparent move by Kushner to block any monitoring of Trump's activities ahead of the inauguration from the U.S. The White House has not responded to CBS News' requests for comment. This report adds to the growing number of questions he might have to face when he gets back.
But we have a caveat to that caveat: It's unclear why the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, would misreport his conversations to his own people.
Kushner has described how, beginning last June, he began testing the use of data targeting to sell Trump merchandise.
Obama administration officials have previously told the AP 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.
Reuters also reported Friday that Kushner had two phone calls with Kislyak before the election past year that he had not disclosed. "The meetings took place in the form of a roadshow on VEB's strategy by 2021 with the representatives of the largest banks and business circles of the United States, including head of Kushner Companies Jared Kushner".
Investigators are also interested in a meeting Kushner had with the Russian banker, Sergey Gorkov, according to reports from The Post and NBC News. His lawyer later said it was a mistake, telling Federal Bureau of Investigation that he would amend the forms.
"Mr. Kushner participated in thousands of calls in this time period", Kushner's attorney, Jamie Gorelick, said in response.
Neither, though, would talk about Kushner, who is also a top White House adviser.
A lawyer for Jared Kushner says he is willing to cooperate with federal investigators looking into ties between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign. The news agency anonymously cited current and former US officials.
U.S. intelligence agencies concluded past year that Russian Federation used hacking and leaking of emails in an effort to harm Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and ultimately help Trump win.