Washington Post: Kushner Wanted Secret Communication Channel With Kremlin
President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and trusted aide Jared Kushner may have discussed creating a secret communications channel between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin with Russia’s ambassador Sergei Kislyak, The Washington Post reported Friday, citing US officials briefed on intelligence reports.
The claim comes from intercepts of conversations between Russia’s ambassador and Moscow.
Kislyak reportedly told higher-ups in Moscow that Kushner suggested the proposal in a meeting at Trump Tower — which former national security adviser Michael Flynn also attended — in December. Kushner “suggested using Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States for the communications,” the Post reported.
The idea was to have Flynn “speak directly with a senior military official in Moscow to discuss Syria and other security issues,” The New York Times reported, citing three people with knowledge of the discussion.
Reached Friday, an administration official said there would be no comment on the latest Kushner report.
However, Washington Post reporter Adam Entous said there is a chance that Russia could have intentionally exaggerated what happened in the meeting.
“Kislyak has a good reputation in terms of the accuracy of his reporting, according to the officials that I’ve talked to,” Entous, one of three reporters who wrote the article, told CNN’s Pamela Brown on Friday. “That being said, … adversaries to the United States routinely put false information into their communications. Sometimes they do so in order to see if the Americans are in that channel.”
CNN has not yet confirmed the Post’s report.
However, earlier this year, in March, CNN reported Kushner had “relationship meetings” with Kislyak and with Russian banker Sergey Gorkov to discuss issues like sanctions. The transition team was looking for ways to establish a back channel to Putin, a source told CNN.
The FBI’s investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election is looking at Kushner’s multiple roles in the Trump administration, CNN reported Thursday.
Reuters, citing seven current and former US officials, also reported Friday that Kushner had previously undisclosed contacts with Russia’s ambassador — including two phone calls between April and November of 2016.
However, officials told Reuters — and have previously told CNN — that so far they have not seen evidence of wrongdoing or collusion between the Trump administration and Russia.
“There may not have been anything improper about the contacts,” the law enforcement official told Reuters.
Kusher’s attorney Jamie Gorelick said his client “has no recollection of the calls as described.”
“Mr Kushner participated in thousands of calls in this time period. He has no recollection of the calls as described,” Gorelick said in a statement to CNN. “We have asked (Reuters) for the dates of such alleged calls so we may look into it and respond, but we have not received such information.”