– According to several aides and outside allies of President Donald Trump, his top priority upon his return from his first foreign trip will be a possible retooling of his senior staff and the creation of a “war room” inside the White House.
The news of the secret channel proposal came in the same week that Reuters reported that Kushner had three unreported contacts with the Russians between April and November of past year.
Kushner, who is married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka, is the only current White House official known to be considered a key figure in the probe, which is targeting other members of Trump’s campaign team.
John Kelly, the Secretary of Homeland Security, praised Jared Kushner’s reported desire for a secret back channel with the Russian government as a “good thing” in an interview with Fox News Sunday, visibly surprising host Chris Wallace.
But if the report is true, he said, why would Kushner try to keep his communications with the Russians secret.
Durbin said on “Fox News Sunday” that allegations that Kushner sought to set up a backchannel with Russian Federation was “a rumor at this point”, adding: “I’ll trust Bob Mueller’s judgment”.
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The House Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat called for a review of Jared Kushner’s security clearance over questions of whether he was truthful about his contacts with Russian Federation.
Schiff said he could neither confirm nor deny the reports about Kushner, but if they are accurate, “it’s obviously very concerning”. Schiff said that if he had confirmation of the allegations, Kushner’s security clearance should be revoked.
Schiff said he disagreed with White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster’s suggestion that such back-channel communications might be typical and not concerning.
The FBI is looking at meetings that Kushner fielded with Kislyak and Russian banking executive Sergey Gorkov in December as part of the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
He spoke on ABC’s “This Week”.
Kelly’s comments, the closest anyone from the Trump administration has come to confirming reports that Kushner sought secret talks with the Russians before Inauguration Day, came the morning after the president returned to the US from his first overseas trip. The White House is also lawyering up, notes the Post, with longtime Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz expected to advise the president on the Russian Federation situation as early as Sunday. Chaffetz then called on the FBI to release the memos “so the Committee can consider that question, and others” related to the Russian Federation probe and Trump’s potential interference in the investigation.
The Washington Post and the New York Times have reported that Kushner has become a focal point for investigators because of his clandestine entreaties to Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak in December.