Trump's son-in-law 'proposed secret channel between Kremlin and transition team'
- Author: Leroy Wright May 29, 2017,
May 29, 2017, 19:12
United States media outlets and officials have repeatedly accused people from Trump's team of contacts with the Russian side alleging that Moscow used these contacts for its own purposes and even meddled in the U.S. 2016 presidential election.
Even when authorized, top officials in the Trump White House frequently request anonymity to brief reporters "on background", meaning their names will not be disclosed.
Kushner has made it clear he's willing to answer any questions about the matter, Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said on "Meet the Press" on Sunday.
Trump's administration has been straining to contain the fallout from news reports that Kushner spoke in December with Russia's ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, about establishing a secret channel to Moscow to discuss the war in Syria and other matters.
The White House faces mounting questions about potential ties between Russian Federation and Trump's presidential campaign, which are also the subject of criminal and congressional investigations.
"It is my opinion that numerous leaks coming out of the White House are fabricated lies made up by the #FakeNews media", said Trump in the first of several Sunday morning tweets, Efe news reported. "So, generally speaking, about back-channel communications, what that allows you to do is to communicate in a discreet manner".
The disclosure of the back channel has put the White House on the defensive.
"If not, then there's no way he can maintain that kind of a clearance", Schiff told ABC's "This Week".
Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said Sunday the allegation that a key Trump campaign figure sought secret communications with a country that intervened in a USA election was serious.
While there have been many allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election that helped Donald Trump win, the investigation into these allegations is ongoing, and an official finding as to whether or not it happened has not yet been reached.
Some critics have called for Kushner's security clearance to be revoked, others say he should temporarily step aside while his ties to Moscow are being reviewed.
"Jared is doing a great job for the country..."
But Kushner is being told to "lay low", one White House official told NBC News, in the aftermath of those reports and new revelations that he sought to set up a secret back-channel with Russian Federation.
The Washington Post reported the Russians were surprised by the suggestion because it would have involved using Russian communications equipment. He met separately last December - after the election but before Trump assumed office - with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to Washington, and Sergey Gorkov, the head of the government-owned Vnesheconombank, which has been subject to USA sanctions because of its role in Russia's occupation of a part of Ukraine.
Two White House officials said Trump and some aides including Steve Bannon are becoming increasingly convinced that they are victims of a conspiracy against Trump's presidency, as evidenced by the number of leaks flowing out of government - that the crusade by the so-called "deep state" is a legitimate threat, not just fodder for right wing defenders.
Graham said that if the email described in the document was fake, the US needed further sanctions on Russian Federation, but also allowed for the possibility that it was real.