Kushner reportedly encouraged to step aside as FBI investigates Russia contacts

The Times published another of its long reports detailing intrigues within the White House, including alleged recent tensions between Trump and Kushner. Kushner spoke with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the US, about creating the secret line to make it easier to hold sensitive discussions about the conflict in Syria, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

United States media said the White House is creating a new rapid-fire communications unit to respond to the controversy, led by Kushner, senior presidential adviser Steve Bannon and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.

Kelly did not address a central element of the reports, that Kushner discussed the possibility of using Russian communications channels from a Russian diplomatic outpost to shield from US intelligence surveillance whatever discussions Trump transition officials wanted to have with Moscow.

Trump also has to decide soon on a Pentagon recommendation to add more US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops in Afghanistan, as well as boosting reinforcement for the beleaguered Afghan military.

Underscoring the uncertainty of what lies ahead, some Trump associates said there had been conversations about dispatching Priebus to serve as ambassador to Greece - his mother is of Greek descent - as a face-saving way to remove him from the White House.

The intent was to connect Trump's chief national security adviser at the time, Michael Flynn, with Russian military leaders, said this person, who wasn't authorized to publicly discuss private policy deliberations and insisted on anonymity.

After some delay, a senior Trump administration official en route back to Washington briefed reporters for nearly 25 minutes, on matters from anti-terror cooperation to the administration's view that the summit had been a smashing success - despite huge differences on climate change. He unleashed a flurry of tweets, lashing out at what he called the "fake news" media. A White House official dismissed it as a brief courtesy meeting at the time. Trump interviewed potential candidates and said he was "very close" to deciding on a replacement before he left for the Middle East.

A person familiar with Trump's thinking says the president believes he is facing more of a communications problem than a legal one.

Those changes also include, according to the anonymous sources cited by the papers, creating a "war room" to respond to the constant media reporting on the Russian Federation probe and directing the flow of the White House message on it, including the possibility that a team of attorneys may review Trump's tweets.

The 36-year-old Kushner, a real estate developer with no previous government experience, had at least three previously undisclosed contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States during and after the 2016 presidential campaign, seven current and former USA officials told Reuters.

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster refused to talk about the allegations. Flynn was sacked in February, officials saying he misled Vice President Mike Pence about whether he and the ambassador had discussed US sanctions against Russian Federation in a phone call.

The bad news for Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump is that they aren't going to be able to walk back into their old lives and escape their part in working for Daddy Dearest.

"You've got the ambassador to Russian Federation reporting back to Moscow on an open channel", Graham said.

Accompanied by first lady Melania, Trump waved to reporters as he made his way into the White House but made no comment.

Federal investigators and several congressional committees are looking into any connections between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign, including allegations that there may have been collaboration to help Mr Trump and harm his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

  • Zachary Reyes