The Latest: DHS sec’y ‘wouldn’t criticize’ Russia channels
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on developments involving possible connections between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign (all times local):
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly is on the defensive amid reports that the president’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner had proposed a secret back channel between the Kremlin and the Trump transition team.
In interviews Sunday, Kelly said he didn’t know whether the reports were true. But he said on “Fox News Sunday” that “any channel of communications back or otherwise with a country like Russia is a good thing.”
Asked if such communications were a big deal, Kelly said: “any time you have channels of communication with a country, particularly one like Russia, I wouldn’t criticize it.”
On Saturday White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster suggested such communications might be typical, saying the back channel communications the administration has with a number of countries allow for “discreet” communication.
10: 45 a.m.
The top Democrat on the House intelligence committee is urging a review of White House adviser Jared Kushner’s security clearance following news reports that he sought to set up back-channel communications with Russia.
Rep. Adam Schiff described the reports as “very concerning.”
He says the government needs to “get to the bottom” of the allegations, and if they are true, “there’s no way” Kushner should keep his security clearance.
Schiff said he disagreed with White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster’s suggestion that such back-channel communications might be typical and not concerning.
The California Democrat says it’s a serious allegation to have a key Trump campaign figure seeking secret communications with a country that intelligence experts say intervened in a U.S. election.
He spoke on ABC’s “This Week.”
The White House has been battered in recent days by a relentless stream of sourced reports about alleged Trump campaign contacts with Russia, and President Donald Trump is hitting back on Twitter.
Trump tweets that “it is my opinion that many of the leaks coming out of the White House are fabricated lies” from what he calls the “FakeNews media.”
He says that “whenever you see the words ‘sources say’ in the fake news media, and they don’t mention names ... it is very possible that those sources don’t exist but are made up by fake news writers. #FakeNews is the enemy!”
The latest reports says Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner proposed a secret back channel between the Kremlin and the Trump transition team. The tweets came shortly after Trump’s return from his first foreign trip.
Advisers to President Donald Trump have been put on the defensive by reports that adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner had proposed a secret back channel between the Kremlin and the Trump transition team.
A person familiar with the discussions tells The Associated Press that Kushner spoke with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about creating that line of communication.
The purpose was to facilitate sensitive discussions aimed at exploring the incoming administration’s options with Russia as it was developing its Syria policy.
Trump aides traveling with the president in Europe have refused to address the contents of Kushner’s December meeting with the Russian diplomat.
National security adviser H.R. McMaster says the administration has back channel communications with a number of countries and that they allow for “discreet” communication