Russia

Russian ambassador: Jared Kushner wanted ‘secret back channel’ to the Kremlin

According to a breaking news exclusive from the Washington Post, the Russian ambassador to the U.S. allegedly told his superiors in Moscow that White House senior adviser Jared Kushner wanted to set up a “secret back channel” of communication between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin.

The Post reports that intelligence sources close to the matter say that Ambassador Sergey Kislyak reported to his superiors in Moscow that Kushner “made the proposal during a meeting on Dec. 1 or 2 at Trump Tower,” and that he “suggested using Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States for the communications.”

Michael Flynn, who later became Trump’s National Security Adviser, also attended the meeting. The FBI reportedly now considers the encounter to be of “investigative interest.”

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.

Russia at times feeds false information into communication streams it suspects are monitored as a way of sowing misinformation and confusion among U.S. analysts. But officials said that it’s unclear what Kislyak would have had to gain by falsely characterizing his contacts with Kushner to Moscow, particularly at a time when the Kremlin still saw the prospect of dramatically improved relations with Trump.

Some officials called the revelations an example of Kushner’s “staggering naivete” or just being “absolutely crazy.”

“How would he trust that the Russians wouldn’t leak it on their side?” a former senior intelligence official said, according to the Post.

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. Trump’s first national security adviser, Flynn, was forced to resign after a series of false statements about his conversations with Kislyak. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from matters related to the Russia investigation after it was revealed that he had failed to disclose his own meetings with Kislyak when asked during congressional testimony about any contact with Russians.

You can watch read the Washington Post’s full report here.

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