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Kushner back channel with Russia involved Syria

The Washington Post is reporting that the FBI is investigating meetings that Trump's son-in-law, Kushner, had in December 2016, with Russian officials.

U.S. President Donald Trump's son-in-law and now top White House adviser Jared Kushner reportedly proposed setting up a secret back channel between the Kremlin and the Trump transition team during a December meeting with a leading Russian diplomat.

McMaster and Gary Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, swatted away the questions after reports surfaced that Kushner considered setting up a secret line of communication with Russian Federation to discuss military options in Syria and other matters.

According to reports, Kushner showed up on the FBI's radar as it began to investigate Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign from his post as National Security Adviser because of allegations of improprieties.

Russian Federation has long backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, often at the expense of civilians, during the long civil war.

It makes Steve Bannon's reported private warnings that Kushner's Russian Federation dealings would become a major distraction to the White House look prescient.

Life was hell in the White House.

Trump returned home on Saturday from a nine-day foreign trip that provided a respite from the crisis in Washington.

Last week, when news reports said that a White House official was in the ambit of the investigation, Press Secretary Sean Spicer had said: "As the President has stated before - a thorough investigation will confirm that there was no collusion between the campaign and any foreign entity".

Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said Sunday the allegation that a key Trump campaign figure sought secret communications with a country that intervened in a US election was serious.

When applying for a security clearance, applicants are asked to disclose details about their interactions with foreigners, including the names of all the foreign government officials the applicant has had contact with over the past seven years.

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The FBI's Russian Federation investigation gained increased attention after the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

"How would he trust that the Russians wouldn't leak it on their side?" said one former senior intelligence official.

United States officials told The Post this was an apparent move by Mr Kushner to block any U.S. monitoring of Mr Trump's activities ahead of Mr Trump's inauguration.

No one responded to requests for comments from the Post, including the White House, Robert Kelner, a lawyer for Flynn, and the Russian Embassy.

The discussion was with Russia's ambassador in the U.S., said the Post. Sally Yates, the former acting attorney general, told Congress this month that that deception left Flynn vulnerable to being blackmailed by the Russians.

The Post reported earlier in the week that Kushner - who helped plan the Middle East portion of Trump's trip and traveled with the president to Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican - is now a focus of the FBI investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election. He has not been contacted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation yet. This particular, very odd approach to the Russians may well have been simple amateurishness, but the pattern of Trump officials forgetting or minimizing contacts with the Russians, combined with the latest on the attempted back channel, is bound to stoke further suspicions.

The bank said in a statement in March that it had met with Kushner along with other representatives of USA banks and business as part of preparing a new corporate strategy.

Right around the time Trump's son-in-law and top adviser held a meeting with the Russian ambassador to the United States last spring, the Central Intelligence Agency director started to notice something odd: the Russians were talking about actively, aggressively trying to influence the U.S. presidential election against Hillary Clinton.

"Trump has no choice but to immediately fire Kushner, whose failure to report this episode on his security clearance is reason enough for a criminal investigation", the Deputy National Committee deputy communications director Adrienne Watson demanded in a statement.

National Security Adviser HR McMaster said backchannel communications between different governments was normal. "What that allows you to do is communicate in a discreet manner". Kislyak also attended a Trump campaign speech in Washington in April 2016 that Kushner attended.

Underscoring the uncertainty of what lies ahead, some Trump associates said there have been conversations about dispatching Priebus to serve as ambassador to Greece - his mother is of Greek descent - as a face-saving way to remove him from the White House.

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