As he mulls outside reinforcements to his operation, Trump returned late Saturday from his nine-day journey to a White House seemingly in crisis mode, with a barrage of reports hitting close to the Oval Office and involving Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and influential adviser.
"Jared is doing a great job for the country". That story, citing "U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports", said that Kislyak "reported to his superiors in Moscow that Kushner, son-in-law and confidant to then-President-elect Trump, made the proposal during a meeting on December 1 or 2 at Trump Tower, according to intercepts of Russian communications that were reviewed by USA officials". "He is respected by virtually everyone and is working on programs that will save our country billions of dollars", he said. "He's very pleased with work of his staff, I think that he's frustrated like I am and so many others to see stories that are patently false to see narratives that are wrong to see quote unquote, fake news".
Reports about the December meeting in Trump Tower between Russians and Trump officials - which was already under scrutiny from investigators - have thrust Kushner into the center of the ongoing Russia investigations.
The White House was not the only part of the administration touting the trip, as the State Department briefing room was suddenly put to use for the first time in several weeks - in order to talk about the high points of Mr. Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia and Israel.
The show's coverage centered on a quickly debunked Fox News report that has since been scrubbed from the network's website.
While overseas, Trump's longtime lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, joined a still-forming legal team to help the president shoulder the intensifying investigations into Russian interference in the election and his associates' potential involvement.
Kornbluh continues: "The fact that he wasn't president yet, that he was trying to set-up these secret communications with the Russians, even using Russian facilities ... raises a whole set of extremely serious questions which clearly demand answers".
The "Fox & Friends" tweet promoted by Trump said, "Jared Kushner didn't suggest Russian communications channel in meeting, source says". "#FakeNews is the enemy!" he said. Trump, when he returned to Washington, quickly assailed news media reports of White House turmoil linked to investigations of his aides and their ties to Russian Federation.More news: Kelly defends plan for Russia back channel
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Monday Mr. Trump's first campaign manager Corey Lewandowsky and deputy campaign manager Dave Bossie were at the white house for meetings.
Kelly, the homeland security secretary, carried the same message on Sunday.
"But for people associated with the campaign after that campaign has ended and where the Russians during that campaign were helping you, to try to establish a back channel and hide it from your own government, that's a serious allegation", he said.
Even as he did not directly answer questions from reporters, Spicer nearly seemed to confirm stories that Kushner had sought a secret communications channel with Moscow during the transition.
Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said the reports were "obviously very concerning", adding that - if proven - Kushner's top-secret security clearance should be removed immediately. Multiple news outlets, citing sources, reported last week Kushner discussed with a Russian ambassador about setting up a secret communications channel between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin. Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, noted that Kushner has been willing to answer questions.
"This is off-the-map. I know of no other experience like this in our history, certainly within my life experience", he said.