Trump team brush off Kushner 'secret Russian Federation line' questions

Russia's ambassador to Washington told his superiors that Jared Kushner, Donald Trump's son-in-law, wanted to set up a secret communications channel with the Kremlin, according to the latest revelations about links between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

Kushner, in a meeting with the Russian envoy to the US Sergey Kislyak, discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between the then transition team and the Kremlin using Russian diplomatic facilities in the US, The Washington Post reported.

Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, declined to say whether he would be concerned if a private citizen attempted to set up backchannel communications with a foreign government to influence United States foreign policy and said he would not be concerned if a White House official attempted to do so.

The Washington Post said Kushner's secret communications proposal was made December 1 or 2 at Trump Tower in NY, according to intercepts of Russian communications that were reviewed by USA officials.

Mr. Kushner met Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and with Russian banker Sergey Gorkov, chairman of Vnesheconombank, a Russian state institution that has been under US sanctions since July 2014.

On his first trip overseas, the president has been unable to escape ongoing developments back home related to the FBI Russia investigation.

She said Mr Kushner could not remember any calls with Mr Kislyak before the election.

On Friday, it was reported Kushner failed to disclose multiple conversations between himself and Kislyak, though a lawyer for the businessman claimed he has "no recollection" of such communications.

Cohn said: "We're not going to comment on Jared". Investigators believe Kushner could shed some light on persons of interest in the current inquiry, but they do not consider him guilty of a crime. The newspaper cited anonymous USA officials who were briefed on intelligence reports on intercepted Russian communications.

The investigation is being led by Robert Mueller, a respected former FBI director who was given broad powers to pursue the case as a special counsel after Trump abruptly fired Comey on May 9.

A senior administration official told Politico concern has been growing at the White House for a while, but it's not something openly discussed.

The White House did not acknowledge the meeting or Kushner's attendance until March.

In another development, The New York Times reported Friday that Oleg Deripaska, a Russian once close to Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort, has offered to cooperate with congressional bodies probing alleged Russian election meddling.

Kushner has offered to talk to Congress about these meetings, according to his lawyer Jamie Gorelick.

Lt Gen McMaster and Mr Cohn, who were accompanying Mr Trump as part of his first foreign trip as president, were asked several times about the reports during a news conference in Italy.

  • Leroy Wright