Kelly defends plan for Russia back channel as a 'good thing'

Jun 01, 2017, 00:48

Authorities say Godbolt was either related to or knew the seven other people killed.

Dubke is the latest White House staffer to leave this administration as scrutiny intensifies over contacts Trump staffers may have had with Russian government officials during the campaign and transition period.

"They have talked to many people, including me", Bossie said.

The latest reports say that Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, proposed secret back-channel communications with Russian Federation during the presidential transition.

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Mike Dubke confirmed reports he had resigned, saying in a statement, "It has been my great honour to serve President Trump and this administration". But he said on "Fox News Sunday" that "any channel of communications back or otherwise with a country like Russian Federation is a good thing".

News of the discussion was first reported by The Washington Post.

It's been just a few days since news surfaced that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into the role Kushner held during the campaign and transition, including his contacts with Russian officials, his role in the campaign's data analytics operation, and his relationship with former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Reports on Friday said that Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak told the Russian government in December that Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior aide, had requested a back-channel with Russia for Trump's team. But Kelly said such back-channel communications don't bother him and would not be harmful to US security interests.

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But the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating the Russian election meddling, was dubious about those assertions. The person, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss private conversations. Kushner spoke with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the US, about creating the secret line to make it easier to hold sensitive discussions about the conflict in Syria, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

There is no indication Kushner is now a target of the FBI's probe, and there are no allegations he committed any wrongdoing. Senior adviser Kellyanne Conway told Fox News the White House will continue to bring in Cabinet secretaries and other top officials to handle news briefings on topics in their patch. He added: "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". Instead, the president spent his afternoon on Twitter challenging the accuracy of stories about the White House.

Russian political analyst Vladimir Vasilyev, chief research fellow at the Moscow-based Institute of United States and Canada Studies, commented to Radio Sputnik on the reports. "The White House could use his perspective and long-range vision".

Trump has repeatedly expressed frustration with internal leaks to the media from the White House. Flynn was sacked in February, officials saying he misled Vice President Mike Pence about whether he and the ambassador had discussed USA sanctions against Russian Federation in a phone call. He remains an influential confidant within the White House as does his wife, Ivanka Trump.

More news: Senate panel threatens Flynn with criminal contempt over subpoenas

Kushner was a trusted Trump adviser a year ago, overseeing the campaign's digital strategy.

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