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Jared Kushner (L) and Donald Trump
Jared Kushner (L) and Donald Trump

Sounds of Silence as Russia Probe Pierces Trump’s Inner Circle

The latest furor was stirred up after The Washington Post reported that Jared Kushner made a pre-inauguration proposal to the Russian ambassador to set up a secret, bug-proof link with the Kremlin

Sounds of Silence as Russia Probe Pierces Trump’s Inner Circle

Donald Trump, just back from his first international trip as US president, geared up to combat concerns on Sunday over aides’ ties to Russia, including explosive reports that his son-in-law sought a secret communications line with Moscow.
The latest furor was stirred up after The Washington Post reported late Friday that Jared Kushner–arguably Trump’s closest White House aide, and husband to the president’s eldest daughter Ivanka–made a pre-inauguration proposal to the Russian ambassador to set up a secret, bug-proof link with the Kremlin, AFP reported.
Kushner, 36, even suggested using Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States to protect such a channel from monitoring, The Post said, quoting US officials briefed on intelligence reports.
The report, if confirmed, would raise new questions about the Trump team’s relationship with the Russians, who US intelligence agencies say tried to sway the November election in Trump’s favor.
News reports said the White House, reeling from the explosive developments in the long-running Russia saga, is creating a new rapid-fire communications unit to respond to the controversy, led by Kushner, senior presidential adviser, Steve Bannon, and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.

  Naive or Sinister
Trump returned to Washington Saturday night from his first overseas trip, to the Middle East and Europe. Accompanied by first lady Melania, Trump waved to reporters as he made his way into the White House but made no comment.
A former head of the US National Security Agency harshly condemned Kushner’s alleged effort to set up a secret communications line, saying if it is true, it would reveal a dangerous degree of ignorance or naivete.
“What manner of ignorance, chaos, hubris, suspicion and contempt would you have to have to think that doing this with the Russian ambassador was a good or appropriate idea?” Michael Hayden said on CNN.
He said he leaned toward “naivete” as an explanation, though he did not find it comforting.
Malcolm Nance, a retired naval officer and expert on terrorism and intelligence, said, “This is now sinister. There is no way this can be explained from the intelligence perspective.”
“That is indicative of espionage activity of an American citizen that is working in league with a hostile government,” he told MSNBC.
The Washington Post said Kushner’s secret communications proposal was made on December 1 or 2 at Trump Tower in New York, according to intercepts of Russian communications that were reviewed by US officials.
Kushner boasts an enormous portfolio of domestic and international responsibilities underscoring his importance as Trump’s chief aide-de-camp, despite having no experience in politics before the 2016 White House race.
He is the only person currently in the White House known to be under investigation.
The investigation is being led by Robert Mueller, a respected former FBI director who was given broad powers to pursue the case as a special counsel after Trump abruptly fired Comey on May 9.
The Senate and House Intelligence committees are also investigating, but not with an eye to bringing criminal charges.
Former CIA director, John Brennan, revealed this week that intelligence chiefs had been looking into suspicious contacts between Trump campaign associates and Russian officials since mid-2016.
Trump denies any collusion with Russia, calling the probe “the greatest witch hunt” in American political history.
HIGHLIGHT: Despite having no experience in politics before the 2016 White House race, Kushner boasts an enormous portfolio of domestic and international responsibilities underscoring his importance as Trump’s chief aide-de-camp

 

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