White House won't comment on Jared Kushner controversy
- Author: Leroy Wright May 28, 2017,
May 28, 2017, 1:20
During the meeting at Trump Tower in New York City, Kushner proposed using Russian diplomatic facilities for the discussions, apparently to make them more hard to monitor, according to The Washington Post, citing anonymous US officials who were briefed on intelligence reports on intercepted Russian communications.
The New York Times reported that the backchannel between Trump officials and Russian Federation would be in service of Michael Flynn - McMaster's predecessor - who was ousted from the job in February after he misled the administration about his contacts with Kislyak.
In this May 23, 2017, photo, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, left, and his wife Ivanka Trump watch during a visit by President Donald Trump to Yad Vashem to honor the victims of the Holocaust in Jerusalem. The Washington Post is reporting that the FBI is investigating meetings that Trump's son-in-law, Kushner, had in December 2016, with Russian officials.
Citing six different sources, Reuters also reports that the pre-election conversations between Kushner, Mike Flynn and Kislyak "focused on fighting terrorism and improving U.S".
Mr. Trump came into office promising improved relations with Russian Federation on numerous issues, including greater cooperation to try to end the civil war in Syria.
The White House did not acknowledge the meeting or Kushner's attendance until March.
That's the period of time when Russian officials allegedly started holding meetings with members of Trump's campaign, according to Brennan, who said he had been keeping an eye on the meetings after noticing odd activities.
Kushner also held a previously undisclosed meeting with Russian banker Sergey Gorkov, who is chairman of VneshEconomBank, a Russian government institution that is under US sanctions.
The newspaper cited anonymous USA officials who were briefed on intelligence reports on intercepted Russian communications.
The Post said Kislyak reportedly was taken aback by the idea of having an American use Russian communications equipment at one of its facilities because it could have involved security risks for both Americans and Russians. Tillerson was sworn in on February 1.
Per the reports, Kushner spoke with Russia's ambassador to the U.S., Sergei Kislyak, about establishing a secret line of communications to avoid being monitored.
But there have been a number of as yet unexplained contacts - during last year's presidential campaign and afterward - between other top Trump aides and senior Russian officials, including Flynn, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Manafort and others. Flynn remains under federal investigation in Virginia over his foreign business ties and was interviewed by the FBI in January about his contacts with Kislyak.
H.R. McMaster said he's "not concerned" following reports that President Donald Trump's son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner may have discussed setting up diplomatic backchannels to Moscow during the presidential transition.
Meeting with reporters in Sicily, two Trump advisers refused to address the contents of Kushner's December meeting with the Russian diplomat. In that communication, according to the New York Times, Kislyak said the objective of the channel was to enable secure (meaning leak-free) communications about Syria and other mutual security interests.
McMaster told American reporters traveling with Trump at the G7 summit in Sicily that the US frequently sets up backchannels to countries for discreet communications.
McMaster and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, who together briefed reporters Saturday, were unwilling to discuss the Kushner matter, as was White House press secretary Sean Spicer.
Cohn, asked to explain his comment Friday that the president's view on the Paris climate accords is evolving, said Trump is "continuously talking to people about the issue to gain more knowledge about the issue".
As the Trump administration continues to be rocked by controversy, McMaster has come under fire in recent days for his defense of the administration's actions, and some believe his role may be too politicized, potentially at the cost of national security. But if you look at all this as it has unraveled - Russia's clear intervention on Trump's behalf, Trump's firing of James Comey in an attempt to stop the FBI investigation, the multiple, unprecedented and undisclosed contacts between Russian officials and those at the highest levels of the Trump campaign, and Trump's attempts to disrupt NATO, Russia's most-feared adversary - I can't honestly make that argument any longer.
Meanwhile, the Senate Intelligence Committee has stepped up its inquiry into Russian interference into the 2016 presidential race by requesting all Russian related documents, emails and phone records beginning June 2015 from the Trump organization, according to the Post.