All eyes on Jared Kushner as Russia story takes a “backchannel” turn

Hey, Moscow: A/S/L?
Hey, Moscow: A/S/L?
Image: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo
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Jared Kushner reportedly sought a secret line of communication with Moscow and failed to disclose several conversations with Russian officials prior to his father-in-law, US president Donald Trump, taking office.

According to US media reports, Kushner spoke with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak by phone at least twice both during and after Trump’s 2016 campaign. The White House has only now acknowledged those chats—as well as Kushner’s dealings with a Russian businessman—after they came to light in press accounts.

According to the Washington Post, the White House adviser had pushed to establish a secret channel between himself and the Russians. Officials from the previous administration believe that Kushner may have made the request as a response to rampant leaks from staff.

Speaking to reporters traveling with the president at the G7 summit in Sicily, national security adviser H.R. McMaster said he’s unconcerned by Kushner’s request for diplomatic backchannels.

“We have backchannel communications with a number of countries,” McMaster said. “What that allows you to do is communicate in a discreet manner, so I’m not concerned.” Kushner’s lawyers have also pushed back against the allegations.

Chief economic adviser Gary Cohn declined to answer questions about the new reports. “We’re not going to comment on Jared,” he said.