According to McMaster and Cohn, Kushner was a private citizen at the time, not a United States government official.
Following Trump's return to Washington on Saturday night from a nine-day foreign trip that provided a bit of a respite from the controversy back home, the White House plans to far more aggressively combat the cascading revelations about contacts between Trump associates, including Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior adviser, and Russian Federation. It appears the backchannel was never set up.
President Donald Trump and his advisers, seeking to contain the escalating Russian Federation crisis that threatens to consume his presidency, are considering a retooling of his senior staff and the creation of a war room within the White House, according to several aides and outside Trump allies. "So, generally speaking, about back-channel communications, what that allows you to do is communicate in a discreet manner", McMaster said.
New Hampshire state Rep. Al Baldasaro said its unfortunate that the president's performance during the trip wasn't getting more news coverage. Given, Russia, at least for my money, is our primary adversary. Two people familiar with those 18 contacts said Flynn and Kushner were among the Trump associates who spoke to the ambassador by telephone. "He had no business".
Other Trump players who have drifted from his orbit in recent months, such as Sam Nunberg, are also being courted to play more active roles, either officially joining the White House or in an outside capacity, working through confidants of the president.
Reuters reported last week that a proposal for a back channel was discussed between McMaster's predecessor Mike Flynn and the Russian ambassador as Trump prepared to take office.
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The newspaper cited anonymous U.S. officials who were briefed on intelligence reports on intercepted Russian communications.
Kushner was joined by Michael Flynn, the retired general who would resign as Trump's national security adviser after reports that he secretly spoke with Kislyak about sanctions.
He also acknowledged that Kislyak had to be considered as part of the Russian intelligence community.
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Aides and allies of Trump say they have come to the realization that unflattering stories about Russian Federation will be part of the daily conversation for the foreseeable future and acknowledge that the White House has been ill-equipped to handle them. Trump on Thursday ordered an investigation of the leaks, saying they "pose a grave threat to our national security". "Obviously this is improper and may have been illegal".
"The fact that they would want to hide it not just from the USA public but the US government is unusual, and then they would want to embed the channel inside the Russian intelligence apparatus, if true, is entirely shocking and unprecedented", said Evelyn Farkas, the former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia under the Obama administration.
The White House did not acknowledge the meeting or Kushner's attendance until March.
On the more severe side, such communications could test the Logan Act, a largely dormant statute that bans private citizens from interfering with US diplomatic relations. Reuters was unable to determine how those discussions were conducted or exactly when they took place. "Every president from Eisenhower to Obama used a back channel to approach Fidel Castro in Cuba and his brother Raul".
"We're not going to comment on Jared, we're just not going to comment", said Gary Cohn, Trump's chief economic adviser, during a press conference in Italy as a G7 summit wound down.
"They need accomplishments on issues that affect jobs", said one Trump adviser. "Usually the president has known about these back channels because he initiated them". "They can be a safety valve for things that can be explosive", said Smullen, who recalled such efforts with the Soviets when he was an aide to Admiral William Crowe, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during the Cold war.
US President Donald Trump.
In another development, The New York Times reported Friday that Oleg Deripaska, a Russian once close to Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort, has offered to cooperate with congressional bodies probing alleged Russian election meddling.
Investigators are also interested in a meeting Kushner had with the Russian banker, Sergey Gorkov, according to reports from The Post and NBC News.