Reports swirling about Kushner and back channel with Russia

WASHINGTON >> President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and now top White House adviser Jared Kushner reportedly proposed setting up a secret back channel between the Kremlin and the Trump transition team during a December meeting with a leading Russian diplomat.

During the meeting at Trump Tower in New York City, Kushner proposed using Russian diplomatic facilities for the discussions, apparently to make them more difficult to monitor, according to The Washington Post, citing anonymous U.S. officials who were briefed on intelligence reports on intercepted Russian communications.

The Russian envoy, Sergey Kislyak, ambassador to the United States, told his superiors that he was “taken aback” by Kushner’s suggestion, the newspaper said. The New York Times reported that the back channel was intended as a way to discuss Syria and other policy issues, but never was set up.

The disclosures put White House advisers on the defensive Saturday, as Trump wrapped up his first foreign trip as president, and led lawyers for Kushner to say he is willing to talk with federal and congressional investigators about his foreign contacts and his work on the Trump campaign.

Meeting with reporters in Sicily, two chief Trump advisers refused to address the contents of Kushner’s December meeting with the Russian diplomat. But they did not dismiss the idea that the administration would go outside normal U.S. government and diplomatic channels for communications with other…

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