WASHINGTON — President Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner sought to communicate with the Kremlin through secure transmission systems at Russian diplomatic facilities to ostensibly evade U.S. monitoring during the presidential transition, the Washington Post reported today.
The WaPo based the report, which came a day after the paper reported Kushner’s contacts were a focus of the FBI investigation into potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, on U.S. intercepts of conversations that Ambassador Sergey Kislyak had with his bosses back in Moscow.
Kislyak allegedly told his higher-ups that Kushner floated the proposal for back-channel communications during a conversation between the two and former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn at Trump Tower on Dec. 1 or Dec. 2. The White House acknowledged the meeting in March.
“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,” the report states. “Neither the meeting nor the communications of Americans involved were under U.S. surveillance, officials said.”
Flynn stepped down after lying about conversations he had with Kislyak. Attorney General Jeff Sessions met with Kislyak at least twice in 2016, including at the Republican National Convention, and CNN reported this week that Justice Department officials said Sessions did not disclose the Kislyak meetings on his security clearance application.
Reuters reported today that Kushner had “at least three previously undisclosed contacts” with Russian officials including two phone calls between April 2016 and November 2016. Responding to that report, Kushner’s attorney, Jamie Gorelick, said her client “participated in thousands of calls in this time period. He has no recollection of the calls as described.”
Gorelick, former deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration, said her team had asked Reuters “for the dates of such alleged calls so we may look into it and respond, but we have not received such information.”
Gorelick has not commented on the Washington Post report.
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) told CNN today that Kushner is “now in a compromisable position” and “needs to have his security clearance suspended.”
“The Russians can go to him and say, well, hey, we’re going to provide information out there that you may not like and all of a sudden he is in a compromised position,” Lieu said. “That’s why his security clearance needs to be suspended until the FBI finishes its counterintelligence and criminal investigation into Trump-Russia collusion.”