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Report: Kushner Met Secretly With Russians, Proposed Covert Back Channel

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Report: Kushner Met Secretly With Russians, Proposed Covert Back Channel

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and close adviser, Jared Kushner, had at least three previously undisclosed contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States during and after the 2016 presidential campaign, seven current and former U.S. officials told Reuters.

Those contacts included two phone calls between April and November last year, two of the sources said. By early this year, Kushner had become a focus of the FBI investigation into whether there was any collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, said two other sources – one current and one former law enforcement official.

Kushner initially had come to the attention of FBI investigators last year as they began scrutinizing former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s connections with Russian officials, the two sources said.

While the FBI is investigating Kushner’s contacts with Russia, he is not currently a target of that investigation, the current law enforcement official said.

The new information about the two calls as well as other details uncovered by Reuters shed light on when and why Kushner first attracted FBI attention and show that his contacts with Russian envoy Sergei Kislyak were more extensive than the White House has acknowledged.

NBC News reported on Thursday that Kushner was under scrutiny by the FBI, in the first sign that the investigation, which began last July, has reached the president’s inner circle.

The FBI declined to comment, while the Russian embassy said it was policy not to comment on individual diplomatic contacts. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

Kushner’s attorney, Jamie Gorelick, said Kushner did not remember any calls with Kislyak between April and November.

“Mr Kushner participated in thousands of calls in this time period. He has no recollection of the calls as described. 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,” she said.

In March, the White House said that Kushner and Flynn had met Kislyak at Trump Tower in December to establish “a line of communication.” Kislyak also attended a Trump campaign speech in Washington in April 2016 that Kushner attended. The White House did not acknowledge any other contacts between Kushner and Russian officials.

Before the election, Kislyak’s undisclosed discussions with Kushner and Flynn focused on fighting terrorism and improving U.S.-Russian economic relations, six of the sources said. Former President Barack Obama imposed sanctions on Russia after it seized Crimea and started supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine in 2014.

After the Nov. 8 election, Kushner and Flynn also discussed with Kislyak the idea of creating a back channel between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin that could have bypassed diplomats and intelligence agencies, two of the sources said. Reuters was unable to determine how those discussions were conducted or exactly when they took place.

Reuters was first to report last week that a proposal for a back channel was discussed between Flynn and Kislyak as Trump prepared to take office. The Washington Post was first to report on Friday that Kushner participated in that conversation.

Separately, there were at least 18 undisclosed calls and emails between Trump associates and Kremlin-linked people in the seven months before the Nov. 8 presidential election, including six calls with Kislyak, sources told Reuters earlier this month. . Two people familiar with those 18 contacts said Flynn and Kushner were among the Trump associates who spoke to the ambassador by telephone. Reuters previously reported only Flynn’s involvement in those discussions.

Six of the sources said there were multiple contacts between Kushner and Kislyak but declined to give details beyond the two phone calls between April and November and the post-election conversation about setting up a back channel. It is also not clear whether Kushner engaged with Kislyak on his own or with other Trump aides.

FBI scrutiny of Kushner began when intelligence reports of Flynn’s contacts with Russians included mentions of U.S. citizens, whose names were redacted because of U.S. privacy laws. This prompted investigators to ask U.S. intelligence agencies to reveal the names of the Americans, the current U.S. law enforcement official said.

Kushner’s was one of the names that was revealed, the official said, prompting a closer look at the president’s son-in-law’s dealings with Kislyak and other Russians.

May.26 -- Jared Kushner, according to reporting on Thursday from NBC and the Washington Post, is now front-and-center in the FBI's investigation of Russia's intersection with the Trump presidential campaign and, apparently, the Trump White House. Bloomberg View columnist Timothy O'Brien has more on "Bloomberg Markets."

FBI investigators are examining whether Russians suggested to Kushner or other Trump aides that relaxing economic sanctions would allow Russian banks to offer financing to people with ties to Trump, said the current U.S. law enforcement official.

The head of Russian state-owned Vnesheconombank, Sergei Nikolaevich Gorkov, a trained intelligence officer whom Putin appointed, met Kushner at Trump Tower in December. The bank is under U.S. sanctions and was implicated in a 2015 espionage case in which one of its New York executives pleaded guilty to spying and was jailed.

The bank said in a statement in March that it had met with Kushner along with other representatives of U.S. banks and business as part of preparing a new corporate strategy.

Officials familiar with intelligence on contacts between the Russians and Trump advisers said that so far they have not seen evidence of any wrongdoing or collusion between the Trump camp and the Kremlin.  Moreover, they said, nothing found so far indicates that Trump authorized, or was even aware of, the contacts.

There may not have been anything improper about the contacts, the current law enforcement official stressed.

Kushner offered in March to be interviewed by the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is also investigating Russia’s attempts to interfere in last year’s election.

The contacts between Trump campaign associates and Russian officials during the presidential campaign coincided with what U.S. intelligence agencies concluded was a Kremlin effort through computer hacking, fake news and propaganda to boost Trump’s chances of winning the White House and damage his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

(Reporting by Ned Parker and Jonathan Landay; Additional reporting by John Walcott, Warren Strobel and Phil Stewart in Washington; Editing by Kevin Krolicki and Ross Colvin)

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43 Comments

  1. TREASON.

    Reply
    1. Joycejprendergast May 27, 2017

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      Reply
    2. Dapper Dan May 27, 2017

      Yup and when the indictments start coming from the president on down you will see the greatest purge in our Nation’s history. From Jared Kushner, to Michael Flynn to AG Jeff Sessions and of course Trump himself will in all likelihood be charged with treason and face up to 20 years at least. Now that’s what I call draining the swamp

      Reply
      1. Mama Bear May 27, 2017

        Dan, do you really believe this will happen? Who has to make the determination? Is it the Republican Congress?

        Reply
        1. Dapper Dan May 27, 2017

          The indictments will be coming down from the FBI. Don’t forget former FBI Director Richard Mueller is special counsel who’s job is to determine who has been colluding with Russia and how much US intel was passed to them during the campaign up to now. Once the damning evidence is presented to congress they’ll have no other choice but to file articles of impeachment against trump. If Justice is served there will be a lot of people going to prison that should include Steve Bannon also

          Reply
          1. Mama Bear May 27, 2017

            thanks. So…what do you think Kushner was trying to communicate that he did not want the US to know about? And what made him think they would do it for him?

            Reply
          2. Just A Citizen May 27, 2017

            Mama

            I think Mr. Trump wanted a way to talk directly to Putin that would not result in a bunch of “leaks” about their conversation.

            This is because Mr. Trump prefers personal contact and relationships with people, not the normal bureaucratic protocol.

            This view was also expressed by a “Russian Expert” that CNN had on the other night. And she is not a Trump fan.

            Now let us also not get all in a bunch here. More than one of these supposed major news flashes have been proven wrong this year. Lets wait and see what comes of this before jumping off the cliff.

            Reply
          3. Independent1 May 27, 2017

            Wow!! Nice try there dirtbag but no sale!! Donald Trump and company were outright colluding with the Russians to rig the election and afterward they wanted to arrange very underhanded deals they didn’t want leaked to our congress.

            Who do you think you’re trying to hoodwink there twinkle toes – outright morons like you find on your right-wing dirtbag websites???

            Reply
      2. Walter May 27, 2017

        You sound like one of those vaginal Democrats that can not accept Hillary’s defeat. What is in the swamp is a bunch of neocons that want conflict. Many of them have dual citizenship U.S. and guess?

        Reply
        1. Dapper Dan May 27, 2017

          And you sound like a graduate from Trump U. If the republicans had nominated John Kasich I would’ve happily voted for him but under no circumstances would Trump ever get my vote. There are a lot of republicans who also didn’t vote for the Liar in Chief who doesn’t have the IQ of an Iguana when he couldn’t figure out how to turn on the lights at the WhiteHouse. Sounds like the perfect metaphor for someone who’s clearly in the dark all the time anyway. He acts like a bully with the mentality of a child who always wants his own way. He has 6 failed bankruptcies under his belt and is notorious for stiffing contractors. He only won because he appealed to a lot of racists like David Duke and was actually endorsed by the KKK and the National Enquirer the purveyor of real fake news. Denigrating the media that criticizes him and calling them fake news doesn’t change the facts that he’s a bald faced liar. And what’s with that crazy orange hair ? He’ll be the first and hopefully only US President to be convicted and sent to prison for treason against this country. By electing him you let our country be sabotaged by Russia a communist nation.

          Reply
          1. Walter May 27, 2017

            Update yourself Dan. Russia is not Communist .Having Russia as an enemy is a danger to America . Having them as friends alleviates many worries that we have.

            Reply
          2. Dapper Dan May 27, 2017

            I’ll tell you what Walter. I’ll stop calling Russia a communist country when Trump stops calling mainstream news outlets like CNN and NYT as Fake news. But in no way will I ever trust Putin who holds on to power like any other dictator has. There is no way we’ll let Russia take over this nation or we’ll see a lot of civil liberties we take for granted taken away

            Reply
          3. Independent1 May 27, 2017

            So your supportive of a nation who is run by a guy who manages to figure out a way to ‘eliminate’ anyone who openly disagrees with his dictatorial actions?? If so, you’re not the kind of person we need running loose around America.

            Reply
      3. Jan123456 May 28, 2017

        What scares me is that Trump can pardon them all…pre-emptively if he wants. And you know Pence will finish what Trump could not and pardon him also.

        Reply
        1. Dapper Dan May 28, 2017

          If trump and yes even Pence is indicted who would be foolish enough to pardon them ? Whoever 46 is will know they’re covering for someone who conspired against the United States ???????? We all know Ford lost to Carter in ’76 because he pardoned Nixon and there will be major blowback if the next president were to pardon trump. Heads will roll and several people are going to be looking at lengthy prison sentences if the system works the way it’s supposed to

          Reply
          1. Jan123456 May 28, 2017

            I so hope you’re correct.

            Reply
  2. Dominick Vila May 27, 2017

    This revelation is so bizarre that the best we could do at this point is proceed with caution. The Russian Ambassador in the USA is probably the single most effective spy they have. The idea that a man with his knowledge would discuss Kushner’s alleged request via an open medium with the Kremlin is hard to believe. There is no doubt in my mind that he is well aware of the fact that our intelligence agencies monitor his calls, and that such conversation was bound to be intercepted. Could it be that he deliberately did this to create havoc in the USA? Trump is a loose cannon. Arrogant, narcissistic, immature, and extremely ignorant, but that does not mean that his closest advisors are stupid. If true, this revelation means high treason, and considering how close Kushner is to Trump, it is enough to justify impeachment.

    Reply
    1. Independent1 May 27, 2017

      Yes, and according to an article in the HuffPost, Kislyak was taken aback by Kushner even asking that he and the Trump team could use the Russian’s own highly secret communication channel.

      See this:

      That suggestion surprised Kislyak, who is widely believed to be involved with Russia’s spying operations, according to the Post:

      Kislyak reportedly was taken aback by the suggestion of allowing an American to use Russian communications gear at its embassy or consulate — a proposal that would have carried security risks for Moscow as well as the Trump team.

      Former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was fired in February
      after he discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with Kislyak and then lied about it, also attended the meeting, as was reported in March.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jared-kushner-kremlin_us_5928b55ce4b053f2d2ac9e6d?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

      Reply
      1. Dominick Vila May 27, 2017

        Perhaps not surprisingly, the same people that were chanting “lock her up” when we learned that Hillary was using her own server in the basement of her New York house for official business, are now dismissing a deliberate attempt to use the communication medium of an adversary for official business!

        Reply
        1. Independent1 May 27, 2017

          It’s actually disturbing, to me anyway, that Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, stated in an interview that he would not be concerned about the Trump Team creating a back-channel communication system with Russia.

          See this from the WaPo:

          Trump adviser: ‘I would not be concerned’ about a Russia back channel, irrespective of Kushner

          TAORMINA, Italy — President Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said Saturday he “would not be concerned” about having a back-channel communications system with Russia, though he and other top White House officials refused to comment specifically on the growing controversy surrounding Jared Kushner.

          A news briefing here at the conclusion of Trump’s maiden foreign trip was overtaken at times by questions about Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and Friday’s Washington Post report that Kushner had discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin.

          The Post reported earlier in the week that Kushner — who helped plan the Middle East portion of Trump’s trip and traveled with the president to Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican — is now a focus of the FBI investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

          McMaster and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, who together briefed reporters Saturday, were unwilling to discuss the Kushner matter, as was White House press secretary Sean Spicer. White House officials insisted the briefing be conducted off-camera, preventing photographers or televisioncameras from documenting it.

          https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/05/27/trump-adviser-i-would-not-be-concerned-about-a-russia-back-channel-irrespective-of-kushner/?utm_term=.1accd0f39f02&wpisrc=nl_most&wpmm=1

          Reply
          1. Dominick Vila May 28, 2017

            Can you imagine something like this happening in the Eisenhower or Truman days? These bozos would have faced a firing squad! I suspect that McMaster, and other administration officials, are desperately trying to save the S.S. Trumptanic. The most important thing to remember is that what Kushner proposed was not a “back channel”, which implies a third party serving as intermediary during negotiations. What he proposed was to use the communication resources of an adversary, instead of U.S. mediums, to keep information away from our government and the American people. The name for that is treason, and McMaster, an honorable military officer should know that. Can you imagine how difficult it is going to be to impress on personnel holding security clearances that they must avoid disclosing even a hint of what they deal with

            Reply
          2. Independent1 May 28, 2017

            Take a look at the latest email from the White House:

            Friend,

            I’ve said it before and I will say it again: the Fake News Media is the real opposition. It’s a 24/7 barrage of hit jobs, fake stories, and absolute hatred for everything we stand for as a movement.

            And the same talking heads that said Hillary Clinton had a 99% chance of winning the election now think they can speak on behalf of the American people. It’s time to once again release our Mainstream Media Accountability Survey to show the that the American people are fed up with the Fake News Machine.

            I need you to take the MEDIA ACCOUNTABILITY SURVEY to do your part to fight back against the fake news attacks and deceptions.

            They don’t care about the truth. They don’t care about what’s right. They only care about propping up the liberal Democrats they worship.

            There is nothing they won’t do to stop us.

            This is a fight we can’t afford to lose. The future of America hangs in the balance. Our country is at stake.

            Please take the Mainstream Media Accountability Survey to do your part to fight back against the media’s attacks and deceptions.

            Thank you,

            Donald J. Trump

            President of the United States

            Reply
          3. Dominick Vila May 28, 2017

            He sounds rattled…

            Reply
          4. Independent1 May 29, 2017

            Yes, and you really have to wonder why many of his supporters don’t see that he’s running scared; knowing the media is starting to bring out the truth. Of course, I understand that a lot of them know he’s lying about the media but they go along with his fabrications because they’re just as narcissistic and crooked as Donald Himself. Especially the right-wing trolls posting here on the NM who are trying to sell us lies after lies.

            Reply
          5. Independent1 May 29, 2017

            Here’s a cartoon from the WaPo that tells it like it is.

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a79f1b486520eea6edd43b233bfb4a14f97155f61d357a53261f4700ed6fc858.jpg

            Some of Trump’s supporters … well, they can’t really explain it either

            Reply
    2. Mama Bear May 27, 2017

      what I’m struggling to understand is what did he want to say that he wanted it to be so secretive?

      Reply
      1. Dominick Vila May 27, 2017

        Obviously, something they did not want the American people to know about.

        Reply
    3. nutbar May 27, 2017

      His closest advisors may not be stupid, but they have allowed themselves to be blinded by greed and power. They are not there to serve, they are there to enrich themselves through any means available regardless of how it affects the rest of the country. Drained the swamp and filled it with effluent.

      Reply
      1. Dominick Vila May 27, 2017

        Trump drained the swamp and turned it into a sewage.

        Reply
        1. Janetcmccullers May 28, 2017

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          Reply
    4. Just A Citizen May 27, 2017

      DV

      Asking or even having a back channel directly between POTUS and PUTIN is NOT TREASON. By either Kushner or Trump.

      And it matters not how that back channel is established. Maybe you should be more concerned with the fact that our intelligence agencies have violated their Trust, thus pushing POTUS to seek out such back channels.

      No POTUS before has had to have all their conversations recorded or revealed. So how about stopping with the double standard.

      Reply
      1. jeffromac23 May 27, 2017

        If this took place before Trump was President like it was reported than yes it would be illegal for them to discuss policy or anything to do with policy. This all took place when Trump was still only the President-elect when Obama was still President so it was wrong. It wasn’t Trumps people that were being recorded it was the Russians that they were eavesdropping on not Trump and his people especially Flynn should of known they were being listened in on when talking to Russia.

        Reply
        1. Just A Citizen May 27, 2017

          jeffromac

          NO it wouldn’t. As one famous Democratic lawyer said the other day, if that were true Jimmy Carter would have bee tossed in prison years ago. Along with Jesse Jackson and Bono.

          What makes you think Flynn did not believe he was being listened to when talking to the Russian envoy?

          Reply
      2. Dominick Vila May 27, 2017

        Requesting permission from an adversary to use their communication medium, instead of ours, is as close to treason as you can get. As a minimum, Kushner demonstrated that he, and probably his boss, have no confidence or respect on our institutions, and that they feel more comfortable using our enemies’ systems than ours.

        Reply
        1. Just A Citizen May 27, 2017

          Since when did Russia become our ENEMY?

          Reply
          1. Independent1 May 27, 2017

            It’s always been our enemy – when did it ever stop being one?? Just because the cold war ended did not make Russia America’s ally!! AT NO TIME DID THAT EVER HAPPEN!!!!

            Reply
          2. Dominick Vila May 28, 2017

            When they decided to aim 7,000 ICBMs with nuclear warhead at us during the Soviet Empire. When they decided to help al Assad stay in power. When they invaded the Crimea. When they sent troops to Easter Ukraine. When they engaged in genocidal acts in Chechnya, and when they decided to influence the outcome of our election. Russia may not longer be the same country they were in the days of the Soviet Union, but their geo-political ambitions have not changed, their global hopes have not changed, and their interests are the exact opposite to ours. Especially the dissolution of NATO, undermining the effectiveness of the EU, cooperating with Iran, etc. They may not be active enemies, but they are not our friends.

            Reply
          3. Just A Citizen May 28, 2017

            Dom

            Was the Soviets under Stalin our friend? No. But we worked with them on things that benefited both.

            The Cold War is over. Russia has its own ambitions and desires. That does not make them our enemy. Not unless they start attacking us or our strategic interests.

            Question. The left seems in a frenzy over Russia. The rhetoric is over the top. The kind that could lead to war if cooler heads don’t prevail. So why not the same howling at the moon over China. They have done far greater actual damage to us than Russia.

            P.S. The Crimean people voted to leave Ukraine and join Russia. Do you deny this? Do you know that most people living in Crimea have roots in Russia?

            Why did the Russians move on Ukraine?

            Reply
          4. Dominick Vila May 30, 2017

            The fact that the ethnicity of a large segment of the population in the Crimean Peninsula and Eastern Ukraine is Russian does not justify the invasion of a sovereign country. BTW, I do not object to seeking better relations with Russia, and achieving that worthy goal by engaging in dialogue and compromise, when warranted. My problem involves the proposal made by Mr. Kushner to use Russian communication mediums to coordinated negotiations with the Russians. The implication is that Kushner, and very likely his boss and others in the administration, have more confidence in Russian secrecy, than on our intelligence institutions, and believe that keeping the American people in the dark is essential to achieve the goal (s) they are pursuing.

            Reply
          5. Just A Citizen May 30, 2017

            Dom

            Every POTUS has kept things from the public. So that is a NON Issue.

            The proposed channel seems strange to me. But remember, this is after there had been leaks. So I am not going to get my tail in a knot because they didn’t trust our agencies more than the Russians. It is a sad statement about our agencies, not just the Trump camp. Let me also say we do not know what the actual facts are regarding this “reported” outreach to Russia.

            Let me bring up another but related point. During the campaign it seemed that Trump has inside information at times. Not the kind people are accusing the Russians of, but stuff from somebody who knew the Intel. community.

            Reply
  3. Walter May 27, 2017

    What is wrong with having communication with Russia?? When will we Americans get over our psychic feeling about Russians. They look like us, are Christian, and have thousands of nukes. Having them as enemies is a danger to America. Having them as friends would be a positive in many ways.

    Reply
    1. jeffromac23 May 27, 2017

      If this communication was no big deal why did he not put them on his security clearance documents. Flynn, Kushner and AG Sessions all left communications with the Russians off the part where it asks to list any meetings or phone calls with any representative of a foreign government.
      It is also illegal for a private citizen to negotiate with a foreign government like discussing the relief of sanctions. That is why we only have one President at a time. The Trump administration didn’t start unroll January 20 and they should of waited to discuss policy untill he was President that is what every administration before him has done (Unless you believe Reagan made a deal with Iran before he was President) before him.
      They can make introductory calls and speak to them on a get to know basis but that’s it.

      Reply
    2. Independent1 May 27, 2017

      We don’t need “friends” being foreign government officials who work for a regime that operates like a dictatorship and magically disposes of dissidents by having them rubbed out. You need your head examined and better yet, you need to find another country to live in; like maybe Russia since you seem to be so in love with them.

      Reply

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