President Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, made a pre-inauguration proposal to the Russian ambassador to set up a secret, bug-proof communications line with the Kremlin, the Washington Post has reported.
Kushner is now under investigation by the FBI for his role in alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government before the election.
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.
Reuters reported last week that a proposal for a back channel was discussed between McMaster's predecessor Mike Flynn and the Russian ambassador as Trump prepared to take office.
"But I can't keep out of my mind the thought that, if an American intelligence officer had done anything like this, we'd consider it espionage", he said.
"I was having a conversation with her stepdaddy and her mama and her, my wife, about me taking my children home", he said.
But Burns added that it does not make sense why members of the Trump transition team would not communicate "transparently and openly" with foreign officials.
Several Trump administration officials declined Saturday to comment on the reports.
As for the trip, the two aides said, Trump succeeded in pressing North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to do more to fight terrorism, bringing home billions in business deals, and calling on European allies to drop trade restrictions.
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Kushner boasts an enormous portfolio of domestic and worldwide responsibilities underscoring his importance as Trump's chief aide-de-camp, despite having no experience in politics before the 2016 White House race.
Speaking generally, national security adviser H.R. McMaster said "we have back channel communications with a number of countries".
Reports that the FBI has now turned its attention to Kushner-though he is reportedly not the formal subject of a probe or the target of a criminal investigation-mean the investigation has reached the White House, increasing pressure on the Trump administration.
"It's not something that I've in any way been involved with or have any knowledge of", McMaster said at a press briefing in Italy of the revelation that Kushner talked about communications in his discussion with Russia's US ambassador in December.
A man of few words who is never far from the president's side, Kushner boasts an enormous portfolio of domestic and global responsibilities underscoring his importance as Trump's chief aide-de-camp, despite having no experience in the world of politics before the 2016 race.
Donald Trump has labelled leaks about the interactions of his son-in-law with Russian Federation "fabricated lies", as he returned to Washington to confront a mounting political crisis.
Kushner's attorney, Jamie Gorelick, said Kushner did not remember any calls with Kislyak between April and November.
USâÂÂPresident Donald Trump with son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Michael Flynn was also in attendance at the meeting, according to WaPo.
There is nothing inherently wrong with an incoming presidential administration establishing "back channel" communications with a foreign power such as Russia, Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly said Sunday.