Kushner sought secret link with Russia


Jared Kushner, a top aide to his father-in-law, President Donald Trump, spoke in December with the Russian ambassador about creating a secret communications channel with the Kremlin, a source with knowledge of the matter confirmed to CNN.

Trump's private legal team, led by his NY lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, meanwhile was preparing to meet in Washington to face fresh questions about contacts between Kushner and representatives of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

However, the eve of his return brought the biggest story to date: A Washington Post report Friday about Kushner's alleged proposal to the Russians to create a secret channel out of earshot of United States spymasters. It was said to be the first time any investigators have made inquiries with Trump's campaign officials.

US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly considers that maintaining any communication channels with Russian Federation is "a good thing".

He added, "What that allows you to do is communicate in a discreet manner so I'm not concerned".

He says the government needs to "get to the bottom" of the allegations, and if they are true, "there's no way" Kushner should keep his security clearance. "We're just not going to".

The White House has tried to downplay Kushner's contacts, with Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly saying Sunday he "didn't see any big issue". The negotiations were conducted by two of President Barak Obama's national security advisers, and a small Cuban team.

Kushner, now a senior adviser to Trump, suggested using Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States for the communications, according to the Post, which cited US officials briefed on intelligence reports.

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Such a back channel would be unprecedented, said retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, who also once headed the National Security Agency.

Ahead of Trump's remarks to the troops, two of the president's top advisers also declined to answer questions on Kushner.

Investigators are also interested in a meeting Kushner had with the Russian banker, Sergey Gorkov, according to reports from The Post and NBC News. The newspaper cited anonymous USA officials who were briefed on intelligence reports on intercepted Russian communications.

Kushner, who serves as senior adviser to Trump, has drawn the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation because he considered setting up a secret line of communications between the incoming administration and the Russian government, primarily to discuss a resolution to the crisis in Syria, according to a person familiar with the matter.

On his first trip overseas, the president has been unable to escape ongoing developments back home related to the FBI Russia investigation.

While the recent firing of Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey and an ongoing inquiry into ties between his campaign and Russian Federation were subjects Trump wanted to avoid discussing, that imperative was only heightened by revelations in the closing days of the trip about the FBI's growing interest in engagement with Russian Federation by Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Kushner has grown exhausted of the fact that nothing ever seems to really get done in the White House and everyone is just constantly fighting with each other.

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.

Separately, amid the mounting questions about Russian Federation, three members of Trump's family - his sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., and Eric's wife, Lara - were said to have met privately with GOP leaders to share their concerns.