Back home after foreign trip, Trump faces slew of challenges

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Trump returned to the White House after a nine-day trip to the Middle East and Europe that ended on Saturday to face more questions about alleged communications between Jared Kushner and Russia's ambassador to Washington.

National security adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters on Saturday that he was not bothered by news of President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner's reported attempt to set up a secret backchannel between the United States and Russian Federation.

"That's something I'm not prepared to talk about", McMaster said when he was first asked about the allegations.

The Post says the White House and Flynn's lawyer didn't want to comment for their story. "We're just not going to comment".

The White House in March confirmed that Kushner and Kislyak met at Trump Tower in December for what one official called a brief courtesy meeting.

The idea was to have Flynn speak directly with a senior military official in Moscow to discuss Syria and other security issues, the New York Times reported, citing officials.

Pressed repeatedly on the matter during a news conference on Saturday that was kept off camera at the White House's insistence, McMaster also said he was not "involved with or have any knowledge of" any attempt on Kushner's part to set up backchannel communications with Moscow.

As the investigation tightens around the White House, team Trump is reportedly considering a range of measures to counter the flow of damaging headlines that have emerged-drawing up legal contingency plans, and getting back on the front foot.

U.S. President Donald Trump is facing a barrage of challenges including Jared Kushner's role in the ongoing Russian probe, after coming back to the White House after his first global trip, during which he visited Saudi Arabia, Israel, Italy, the Vatican and Belgium over a period of nine days.

Trump scolds European leaders who react by snickering
White House economic adviser Gary Cohn says statements issued after summits like the G-7 are always a "give and take". The more disciplined of Europe's leaders scowled as he spoke; the less disciplined whispered to each other.

The newspaper cited anonymous US officials who were briefed on intelligence reports on intercepted Russian communications.

The Washington Post reported on Friday that Kushner participated in that conversation.

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

On Thursday, U.S. news outlets reported that Kushner is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in its probe of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation.

Kislyak told higher-ups in Moscow that Kushner's proposal came as a surprise to him, the report said.

Pressed in a follow-up about question whether he has any concerns at all about Kushner's talking to the Russian ambassador about setting up back-channel communications, McMaster stayed silent and simply did not respond. He has no recollection of the calls as described.

In that case, McMaster's "going before the press didn't do anything to limit" fallout from revelations that Trump disclosed code-word information to the Russians, said Jon Michaels, a professor and expert on national security at UCLA Law. This official said Kushner will keep his head down and stay focused on his work.

Meeting with reporters in Sicily, two chief Trump advisers refused to address the contents of Kushner's December meeting with the Russian diplomat. Kushner is eager to cooperate with any and all inquiries, this official said.

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