WaPo: Kushner Asked Russian Envoy To Set Up Secret Moscow Backchannel

Alex Brandon/AP

Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner and Russia’s ambassador to the United States discussed setting up a secret communications channel between Trump’s transition team and Moscow in December, the Washington Post reported late Friday.

Intercepts of Russian communications show Ambassador Sergey Kislyak said Kushner suggested setting up the secure backchannel and even proposed using communications equipment in stateside Russian diplomatic facilities, according to the report, which cited anonymous U.S. officials briefed on the intercepts.

Kislyak was taken aback by Kushner’s proposal to use Russian equipment, according to the Washington Post, and reported it to his superiors in Moscow in intercepted communications that U.S. officials later reviewed.

Kushner reportedly made the proposal at a meeting attended by President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was forced out after it came to light that he lied about discussing U.S. sanctions against Russia with Kislyak before inauguration.

The White House and Robert Kelner, one of Flynn’s lawyers, declined to comment to the Washington Post, while the Russian Embassy did not respond to requests for comment.

The Washington Post had reported late Thursday that Kushner’s interactions with Kislyak, as well as his meetings with the head of a Russian bank that the United States has sanctioned, are of interest to the FBI in its sprawling investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election.

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Esme Cribb is a newswriter for TPM in New York City. She can be found on Twitter @emquiry and reached by email at esme@talkingpointsmemo.com.

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