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'Kushner wanted secret communications channel with Russia'

By Lalit K Jha
Last updated on: May 27, 2017 20:49 IST
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Donald Trump’s influential son-in-law Jared Kushner allegedly wanted to have a secret and secure communication channel with the Russians weeks after the United States presidential polls, according to media reports on Saturday.

Kushner, in a meeting with the Russian envoy to the US Sergey Kislyak, discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between the then transition team and the Kremlin using Russian diplomatic facilities in the US, The Washington Post reported.

The information, which Kislyak relayed to Moscow after their meeting on December 1 or 2, was intercepted by the US intelligence agencies, the daily said quoting an unnamed US official briefed on intelligence reports.

The meeting was also attended by Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, the daily said.

“The White House disclosed the fact of the meeting only in March, playing down its significance. But people familiar with the matter say the Federal Bureau of Investigation now considers the encounter, as well as another meeting Kushner had with a Russian banker, to be of investigative interest,” the daily reported.

Kushner, 36, a senior White House aide, has not commented.

The opposition Democratic party urged Trump to fire Kushner.

“Trump has no choice but to immediately fire Kushner, whose failure to report this episode on his security clearance is reason enough for a criminal investigation,” the Deputy National Committee deputy communications director Adrienne Watson demanded in a statement.

“The next question is whether the President authorised this, because no one stands between Trump and Kushner on the chain of command,” Watson asked.

Democratic Congressman Nanette Diaz Barragan from California tweeted, “The Kremlin and Kushner/ #Trump ties become more & more disturbing as we learn more facts w each passing day.”

According to The Washington Post, the Russian Ambassador was alarmed by such a proposal from Kushner, who is now the senior most advisor to President Trump and has played a key role in his trips to Saudi Arabia and Israel and Palestine.

The daily alleged that the discussion of a secret channel adds to a broader pattern of efforts by Trump’s closest advisers to obscure their contacts with Russian counterparts.

The secret channel was supposed to be used to discuss Syria and other policy issues during the transition period between Trump’s election in November and his inauguration in January 2017.

The New York Times said the line was never established.

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Lalit K Jha
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