Trump's son-in-law Kushner sought secret communication line to Moscow
- Author: Leroy Wright May 28, 2017,
May 28, 2017, 10:47
Kushner discussed creating a secret communications channel between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin with Russia's ambassador Sergey Kislyak, a source with knowledge of the matter confirmed to CNN after The Washington Post reported Friday, citing United States officials briefed on intelligence reports. Kushner, among Trump's closest advisers and the husband of his daughter Ivanka, is the first current White House official reported to be a "person of interest" in the probe now led by Mueller, who was appointed special counsel last week. Earlier this week it was reported that the FBI was investigating his contacts with Russian officials.The President's son-in-law is just the latest associate of Mr. Trump's to come under investigative scrutiny."I called somebody who works for one of the technology companies that I work with, and I had them give me a tutorial on how to use Facebook micro-targeting", Kushner told Forbes. Attorney General Jeff Sessions met with Kislyak at least twice in 2016, including at the Republican National Convention, and CNN reported this week that Justice Department officials said Sessions did not disclose the Kislyak meetings on his security clearance application.
Kislyak reportedly was taken aback by the suggestion of allowing an American to use Russian communications gear at its embassy or consulate - a proposal that would have carried security risks for Moscow as well as the Trump team.
A person in regular touch with the White House said it needed a new structure to focus on the "new reality" that there would be continued leaks to the media from the federal law enforcement and intelligence communities, leaks that have increased in frequency since Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey this month.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has "asked President Trump´s political organisation to gather and produce all Russia-related documents, emails and phone records going back to his campaign´s launch in June 2015", The Post reported.
The White House declined to comment on plans for a "war room" but said Trump will be looking to build on momentum it believes it has built up during the president's trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Europe.
"It says an bad lot about us as a society that we could actually harbor those kinds of feelings that the organs of the state would be used by my predecessor to come after me or to intercept my communications or to disrupt my administration in a way that made it seem legitimate to me to use the secure communications facilities of a foreign power".
The newspaper cited anonymous US officials who were briefed on intelligence reports on intercepted Russian communications. But new administrations are generally cautious in their handling of interactions with Moscow, which USA intelligence agencies have accused of waging an unprecedented campaign to interfere in last year's presidential race and help elect Trump.
But Kushner, a 36-year-old real estate developer who is married to Trump´s daughter Ivanka, is likely to take center stage in the coming days.
On Saturday, the AP confirmed that the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russia's meddling in the 2016 USA presidential election, has requested information and documents Trump's campaign. This week, officials who reviewed the letter and spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence said the portion about the secret channel was consistent with their understanding of events.
Kushner is the only person now in the White House known to be under investigation.
"Really, being spoken to, does not confer a target status on the individual", he said.
Kushner's lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, told CNN in response to the Reuters report: "Mr. Kushner participated in thousands of calls in this time period".
Trump's first national security adviser, Flynn, was forced to resign after a series of false statements about his conversations with Kislyak. "He will do the same if he is contacted in connection with any other inquiry".