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John Kelly, Homeland Security Sec, defends back-channel with Russia

31 May 2017

And Kushner was still a private citizen, not yet a government official.

The broad outlines of the Post's reporting was later confirmed by other outlets, including the Associated Press and New York Times.

Kushner's meetings with Russians have come under increasing scrutiny. The current and former US officials now say it may have been part an effort by Kushner to establish a direct line to Putin outside of established diplomatic channels.

There has been no indication that Mr Kushner, who returned from Mr Trump's first foreign trip as president with his wife Ivanka on Friday, may be stepping down from his role as adviser.

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., who serves on the House Oversight Committee, said that "the issue is not simply that Mr. Kushner wanted a communication backchannel".

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Moreover, Kushner reportedly discussed (whether it was his proposal or the Russians' is unclear, though Fox News reports it was Moscow's suggestion) channeling communications through Russian diplomatic facilities in the U.S. In other words, Russian intelligence could have access to those conversations but American intelligence would not.

He said the USA could not necessarily trust messages from Russian Federation, but would include this distrust as another "data point" in White House deliberations.

Yesterday Politico reported that Kushner is back in the West Wing and continuing to lead meetings despite the rising tide of Russia-related questions.

But Kornbluh adds that back channels have also been abused.

"I'm going to presume he did this at the behest of the President-elect of the United States". Multiple news outlets, citing sources, reported last week Kushner discussed with a Russian ambassador about setting up a secret communications channel between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin.

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Flynn attended the meeting at Trump Tower with Kislyak.

The Post based its story on intercepts of Russian communications that were reviewed by USA officials and leaked to the press. In an interview with Australian television ABC News on Monday, McCain said he simply did not like Kushner's possible ties to Russian Federation.

Democrats in Congress are calling for Kushner's security clearance to be reviewed, or revoked, until this is all cleared up. That statement said he met with representatives of "business circles of the US, including with the head of Kushner Cos., Jared Kushner". Those trying to defend him and his family members against Russian Federation scandal allegations might want to keep this recent history in mind. "Also, the idea of using the equipment of a foreign country, especially an adversary such as Russian Federation, would be acutely alarming".

Gorkov is the head of Vnesheconombank, a state-owned Russian entity that is the subject of USA government sanctions.

He explained that it's common for representatives of an incoming administration to "get their feet wet" with foreign officials during the transition process.

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Mr Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters in Moscow that the Kremlin was unaware of the meeting between Mr Kushner and Mr Gorkov at the time and that it was routine.

John Kelly, Homeland Security Sec, defends back-channel with Russia