President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and the Russian ambassador talked about setting up a secret communication link between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin, according to published reports.
The secure channel would have used Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, according to the Washington Post, which cited unnamed officials.
Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak reported to Moscow that Kushner, confidant to then-President-elect Trump, made the proposal during a meeting on Dec. 1 or 2 at Trump Tower, according to intercepts of Russian communications that were reviewed by U.S. officials.
The meeting also was attended by Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, according to the Post.
Reuters reported that Kushner had at least three previously undisclosed contacts with the Russian ambassador during and after the 2016 presidential campaign. Reuters cited seven current and former U.S. officials.
The contacts included two phone calls between April and November last year, two of the sources told Reuters.
The new information about the two calls as well as other details uncovered by Reuters shed light on when and why Kushner first attracted FBI attention and show that his contacts with Kislyak were more extensive than the White House has acknowledged.
The White House disclosed the meeting only in March, playing down its significance. But people familiar with the matter say the FBI now considers the encounter, as well as another meeting Kushner had with a Russian banker, to be of investigative interest.
USA TODAY reported that Kushner has caught the attention of federal investigators for his contacts with Russian officials, according to a person familiar with the inquiry who was not authorized to speak on the record.
At this time, Kushner is not regarded as a formal target of the probe. The FBI is investigating possible collusion between Trump campaign associates and Russia in connection with Russia’s alleged interference in the election.
Ex-Trump campaign associates Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Carter Page are active subjects of the investigation.
Flynn has so far refused to turn over documents related to Senate Intelligence Committee, invoking the Fifth Amendment in his rejection of a Senate subpoena. Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., did not rule the possibility that the Senate could try to hold Flynn in contempt for his refusal.