Kushner's Russian back channel involved Syria

Elias Hubbard
May 29, 2017

On Saturday White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster suggested such communications might be typical, saying the back channel communications the administration has with a number of countries allow for "discreet" communication.

Todd Hinnen, the former acting head of the Justice Department's national security division, said it would be easy to read too much into investigators' interest in Kushner.

Kushner spoke with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about creating that line of communication to facilitate sensitive discussions aimed at exploring the incoming administration's options with Russian Federation as it was developing its Syria policy, a person familiar with the discussions told The Associated Press. "There is no way this can be explained, from the intelligence perspective", said Malcolm Nance, a retired naval officer and expert on terrorism and intelligence, speaking on MSNBC late Friday.

The intent was to connect Trump's chief national security adviser at the time, Michael Flynn, with Russian military leaders, said this person, who wasn't authorized to publicly discuss private policy deliberations and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The Russian ambassador, Sergei Kislyak, was surprised by Mr Kushner's idea of the secret channel and passed it on to the Kremlin, The Post said. There's nothing necessarily nefarious about a back channel-as the Post reports, the Trump transition was also secretive about its dealings with other government, including the U.A.E.

In early December, after Mr Trump had won the elections, Mr Kushner and Flynn met in NY with Kislyak.

Reuters reported Friday that Kushner had at least three previously undisclosed contacts with Kislyak past year, including two phone calls between April and November.

Unless Trump had a major epiphany while overseas to curb his social media use, that defense will nearly certaintly be found on his favorite method for communicating with the public: Twitter. Those investigations include allegations that there may have been collaboration to help Trump and harm his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Mr Kushner is the only person now in the White House known to be under investigation.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein last week appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to oversee the investigation.

The Senate and House Intelligence committees also are investigating, but not with an eye to bringing criminal charges.

Trump has denied any collusion with Russian Federation, calling the probe "the greatest witch hunt" in American political history.

Contacts between Trump associates and Russian officials during the campaign coincided with what USA intelligence agencies concluded was a Kremlin effort through computer hacking, fake news and propaganda to boost Trump's chances of winning the White House.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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