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WashPost: Kushner, Russia Discussed Secret Communication Channel

WashPost: Kushner, Russia Discussed Secret Communication Channel

By    |   Friday, 26 May 2017 08:10 PM EDT

Jared Kushner and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak last year discussed creating a possible secret communications system between Donald Trump's transition team and Moscow that could not be monitored, according to news reports quoting U.S. officials briefed on intelligence data.

Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law who is now a senior White House adviser, proffered the idea during a meeting on Dec. 1 or 2 at Trump Tower in New York, The Washington Post reports.

The channel apparently would have used Russian diplomatic operations to circumvent monitoring — and Kislyak reported the suggestion to his superiors in Moscow, according to the Post.

The meeting was attended by former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

The Russian, according to the Post, "reportedly was taken aback by the suggestion of allowing an American to use Russian communications gear at its embassy or consulate — a proposal that would have carried security risks for Moscow as well as the Trump team."

The officials told the Post that neither the meeting nor the communications of Americans involved were under U.S. surveillance.

The Trump administration "disclosed the fact of the meeting only in March, playing down its significance," according to the report.

"But people familiar with the matter say the FBI now considers the encounter, as well as another meeting Kushner had with a Russian banker, to be of investigative interest."

The Post and NBC News reported Thursday that Kushner's meetings were under FBI scrutiny.

Jamie Gorelick, Kushner's lawyer, said then that her client would cooperate with the investigation.

"Mr. Kushner previously volunteered with Congress what he knows about these meetings," she said in a statement. "He will do the same if he is contacted in connection with any other inquiry."

In addition, the White House declined to comment on Friday's report.

Flynn's attorney, Robert Kelner, also declined to comment, and the Russian Embassy did not respond to requests for comment from the Post.

U.S. intelligence officials told the newspaper that while Moscow's diplomats can securely communicate with Moscow, Kushner's apparent suggestion was extraordinary.

"How would he trust that the Russians wouldn't leak it on their side?" asked one former top intelligence official.

He explained that the FBI would easily learn of a Trump transition official regularly visiting the Russian embassy in Washington, causing "a great deal" of concern to intelligence officials.

The notion of a possible back-channel network, he told the Post, "seems extremely naive or absolutely crazy."

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The Washington Post reports that Russia's ambassador to the U.S. has told his superiors that he and Jared Kushner discussed setting up a secret communications channel between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin in December.
US, Trump, Russia Probe, The Latest
Friday, 26 May 2017 08:10 PM
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