Kushner sought secret back channel with Russia, AP source says

Lauren Perry
May 29, 2017

Other members of Trump's campaign already had deep ties to Russian Federation, among them former campaign manager Paul Manafort and adviser Carter Page. "So, generally speaking, about back-channel communications, what that allows you to do is to communicate in a discreet manner".

Asked if such communications were a big deal, Kelly said: "any time you have channels of communication with a country, particularly one like Russian Federation, I wouldn't criticize it". Kushner, a 36-year-old real-estate developer who served on Trump's campaign in an expanded role described as a "de facto campaign manager", reportedly told Moscow during the election he wanted a back channel form of communication with the Kremlin and failed to disclose several meetings with Russian officials following Trump's shocking electoral upset victory.

While the FBI is investigating Kushner's contacts with Russian Federation, he is not now a target of that investigation, a current law enforcement official told the Reuters.

Senior Trump administration officials said that the change in rhetoric wasn't a softening of his stance, instead pointing to Trump's direct call for Muslim leaders to bear more responsibility for the plight of Islamist extremism. And sure enough, Brennan said, Russian officials started holding meetings with members of the Trump campaign. White House aides have also talked about having a rotating cast of staff brief the media, a group that could include officials such as national security adviser H.R. McMaster.

The reports cite communications intercepted by USA intelligence officials. 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.

Mr Trump's private legal team, led by his NY lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, was preparing to meet in Washington to face new questions about contacts between Mr Kushner and representatives of President Vladimir Putin of Russian Federation. The Obama White House only learned that the crown prince of Abu Dhabi was flying to NY in December to see Kushner, Flynn and Stephen Bannon, another top Trump adviser, because U.S. border agents in the UAE spotted the Emirate leader's name on a flight manifest.

Shortly after the tweets, Trump's Homeland Security Secretary, John Kelly, made the rounds of Sunday television news shows to praise any so-called back channel communications, especially with Russian Federation, as "a good thing".

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In a meeting during the transition last December, Mike Flynn gave the Russian ambassador the impression that sanctions could be revisited after Trump took office.

The Post and other media have been careful to note that their sources did not say Kushner was a "target" of the investigation, nor that he was accused of any wrongdoing.

As a newly appointed special counsel is beginning his investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and close adviser, has become a focus of the probe, according to The Washington Post. 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.

Earlier, two of his top advisers faced reporters and swatted away questions about Kushner. But they did not dismiss the idea that the administration would go outside normal USA government and diplomatic channels for communications with other countries.

Kushner was a trusted Trump adviser previous year, overseeing the campaign's digital strategy, and remains an influential confidant within the White House as does his wife, Ivanka Trump. "He will do the same if he is contacted in connection with any other inquiry", said Jamie Gorelick, his attorney.

Todd Hinnen, the former acting head of the Justice Department's national security division, said it would be easy to read too much into investigators' interest in Kushner.

Current and former U.S. Intelligence officials told the Washington Post on Friday that, while Russian diplomats do typically maintain secure communication lines with Moscow, Kushner's request for access to those channels is highly unorthodox.

Other reports by VgToday

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