WASHINGTON, May 30, 2017 ⏤ Just days after the Federal Bureau of Investigation began looking into Jared Kushner's dealings with Russian officials, President Trump has expressed his "total confidence" in his son-in-law and top political aide.
The Republican president returned to the White House after a nine-day trip to the Middle East and Europe that ended on Saturday to face more questions about alleged communications between Jared Kushner and Russia's ambassador to Washington.
U.S. 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.
In a statement given to the New York Times, Mr Trump praised the "great job" Mr Kushner is doing. He is respected by virtually everyone and is working on programmes that will save our country billions of dollars.
"In addition to that, and perhaps more important, he is a very good person", Trump added.
That campaign spirit could be back in full view in the coming weeks, as well, with one official telling NBC News that Trump is expected to get back on the road and to the rallies he so loves, using them to bolster his agenda on key issues like tax reform and health care. "And the other pattern we have is just a continuous drumbeat of inappropriate contacts with the Russians".
Kushner made his secret communications proposal on December 1 or 2 at Trump Tower in NY, according to intercepts of Russian communications reviewed by USA officials, the Post reported late Friday. He unleashed a flurry of tweets, lashing out at what he called the "fake news" media. A small team of senior White House officials and Cuban officials met quietly in Canada and the Vatican for over a year in order to keep the meetings from the public eye, although State Department officials executed a coordinated strategy publicly.
Kushner boasts an enormous portfolio of domestic and global responsibilities, underscoring his importance as Trump's chief adviser despite having no experience in politics before the 2016 White House race.More news: Wenger agrees two-year extension
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Congressional Democrats demanded to hear directly from Kushner over allegations of the proposed secret back-channel, saying his security clearance may need to be revoked.
Mr Kelly said: "It's both normal, in my opinion, and acceptable", he said on ABC's This Week. "Any way that you can communicate with people, particularly organizations that are maybe not particularly friendly to us, is a good thing and, again, it comes back to whatever the communication is, comes back into the government and shared across the government", he said. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, when asked by reporters on Saturday if it would be wrong for someone to create a back-channel with Russian Federation, he replied: "No".
"If these allegations are true and he had discussions with the Russians about establishing a back-channel and didn't reveal that, that's a real problem in terms of whether he should maintain that kind of a security clearance", Schiff said. The communications channel was never set up, the people said.
"There's no way that it can be appropriate to say, 'I want to use a hostile government's communications system to avoid our government knowing anything about it, '" Cohen said.
"You have to ask, well, who are they hiding the conversations from?"
Mr Kushner is reported to have come under FBI scrutiny in the Russian Federation investigation, with officials telling NBC News that investigators believe he has significant information relevant to their inquiry.
"We're chasing our tails as a nation when it comes to the Russians", Senator Lindsey Graham told CNN. Schiff said he expects Kushner to testify before the House intelligence committee. The German-U.S. relationship has been a bedrock of post-World War II foreign policy, and Merkel is still "a deeply convinced trans-Atlanticist", her spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said Monday.