A Washington Post report alleging that Jared Kushner was seeking to open a secure, private line with Russia is false, a source familiar with the matter has told Fox News. It was the Russians’ idea, according to the source. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law is currently under FBI scrutiny as part of the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The December meeting between Kushner and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak at Trump Tower focused on Syria, the source said. The meeting included another senior adviser in the Trump administration, as well.
Via Fox News:
During the meeting the Russians broached the idea of using a secure line between the Trump administration and Russia, not Kushner, a source familiar with the matter told Fox News. That follows a recent report from The Washington Post alleging that Kushner wanted to develop a secure, private line with Russia.
The idea of a permanent back channel was never discussed, according to the source. Instead, only a one-off for a call about Syria was raised in the conversation.
In addition, the source told Fox News the December meeting focused on Russia’s contention that the Obama administration’s policy on Syria was deeply flawed.
According to the WaPo report, Kushner had suggested the use of Russian diplomatic facilities as a way to evade U.S. monitoring during pre-inauguration discussions with Kislyak. The “taken aback” Russian ambassador allegedly then relayed the suggestion to his superiors in Moscow.
The Post based its story on intercepts of Russian communications that were reviewed by U.S. officials and leaked to the press. Neither the meeting nor the Americans involved were under U.S. surveillance, officials told the Post.
According to Fox News’ source, Kushner is “eager” to tell his side of the story to Congress.
Under the circumstances, it is easy to understand why the Trump administration would have been open to establishing the private line with the Russians, Townhall columnist and Fox News contributor Guy Benson argued on Fox News Tuesday.
“You can understand why a new administration might look at the Obama team and say, ‘these are hostile folks to us. They don’t agree with our agenda, we don’t agree with theirs. Let’s find a way to back channel with Russia to talk about some of this stuff offline before we get things rolling,'” Benson said. “That unto itself is not a scandal and not even necessarily unusual.”