No evidence of Trump-Kremlin collusion

“FBI scrutiny of Mr Kushner began when intelligence reports of Mr Flynn’s contacts with Russians included mentions of US citizens, whose names were redacted because of US privacy laws.

This prompted investigators to ask US intelligence agencies to reveal the names of the Americans, the current US law enforcement official said.

Mr Kushner’s was one of the names that was revealed, the official said, prompting a closer look at the President’s son-in-law’s dealings with Mr Kislyak and other Russians.

Officials familiar with intelligence on contacts between the Russians and Trump advisers said so far they had not seen evidence of any wrongdoing or collusion between the Trump camp and the Kremlin. Moreover, they said, nothing found so far indicated Mr Trump authorised, or was even aware of, the contacts.

There may not have been anything improper about the contacts, the current law enforcement official stressed.”

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ABC News Australia

Donald Trump: Jared Kushner, Russian ambassador ‘discussed secret communication channel’

27 March 2017

White House adviser Jared Kushner discussed with the Russian ambassador to the US the idea of setting up a back channel of communication between President Donald Trump and President Vladimir Putin, sources said.

Mr Kushner had at least three previously undisclosed contacts with ambassador Sergei Kislyak during and after the 2016 presidential campaign, seven current and former US officials said.

Key points:

  • While FBI investigates Kushner’s contacts with Russia, he is not currently target of that investigation, one source says
  • Kushner’s attorney says he did not remember any calls with Russian ambassador between April and November
  • NBC News earlier reported Mr Kushner was under scrutiny by the FBI

Those contacts included two phone calls between April and November last year, two of the sources said.

Before the election, Mr Kislyak’s undisclosed discussions with Mr Kushner and former national security adviser Michael Flynn focused on fighting terrorism and improving US-Russian economic relations, six of the sources said.

After the election, Mr Kushner and Mr Flynn also discussed with Mr Kislyak the idea of creating a back channel between Mr Trump and Mr Putin that could have bypassed diplomats and intelligence agencies, two of the sources said.

Reuters was unable to determine how those discussions were conducted or exactly when they took place.

The FBI declined to comment, while the Russian embassy said it was policy not to comment on individual diplomatic contacts. The White House did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Mr Kushner’s attorney, Jamie Gorelick, said Mr Kushner did not remember any calls with Mr Kislyak between April and November.

“Mr Kushner participated in thousands of calls in this time period. He has no recollection of the calls as described,” she said.

“We have asked [Reuters] for the dates of such alleged calls so we may look into it and respond, but we have not received such information.”

Kushner ‘under scrutiny by FBI’

By early this year, Mr Kushner had become a focus of the FBI investigation into whether there was any collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, said two other sources — one current and one former law enforcement official.

Mr Kushner initially had come to the attention of FBI investigators last year as they began scrutinising Mr Flynn’s connections with Russian officials, the two sources said.

While the FBI is investigating Mr Kushner’s contacts with Russia, he is not currently a target of that investigation, the current law enforcement official said.

The new information about the two calls, as well as other details uncovered by Reuters, shed light on when and why Mr Kushner first attracted FBI attention and show his contacts with Mr Kislyak were more extensive than the White House had acknowledged.

NBC News earlier reported Mr Kushner was under scrutiny by the FBI, in the first sign the investigation, which began last July, had reached the President’s inner circle.

In March, the White House said Mr Kushner and Mr Flynn had met Mr Kislyak at Trump Tower in December to establish a line of communication.

Mr Kislyak also attended a Trump campaign speech in Washington in April 2016 that Mr Kushner attended. The White House did not acknowledge any other contacts between Mr Kushner and Russian officials.

Separately, there were at least 18 undisclosed calls and emails between Trump associates and Kremlin-linked people in the seven months before the presidential election, including six calls with Mr Kislyak, sources told Reuters earlier this month.

Two people familiar with those 18 contacts said Mr Flynn and Mr Kushner were among the Trump associates who spoke to the ambassador by telephone.

Six of the sources said there were multiple contacts between Mr Kushner and Mr Kislyak but declined to give details beyond the two phone calls between April and November and the post-election conversation about setting up a back channel.

It is also not clear whether Mr Kushner engaged with Mr Kislyak on his own or with other Trump aides.

No evidence of Trump-Kremlin collusion

FBI scrutiny of Mr Kushner began when intelligence reports of Mr Flynn’s contacts with Russians included mentions of US citizens, whose names were redacted because of US privacy laws.

This prompted investigators to ask US intelligence agencies to reveal the names of the Americans, the current US law enforcement official said.

Mr Kushner’s was one of the names that was revealed, the official said, prompting a closer look at the President’s son-in-law’s dealings with Mr Kislyak and other Russians.

Officials familiar with intelligence on contacts between the Russians and Trump advisers said so far they had not seen evidence of any wrongdoing or collusion between the Trump camp and the Kremlin. Moreover, they said, nothing found so far indicated Mr Trump authorised, or was even aware of, the contacts.

There may not have been anything improper about the contacts, the current law enforcement official stressed.

Mr Kushner offered in March to be interviewed by the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is also investigating Russia’s attempts to interfere in last year’s election.

The contacts between Trump campaign associates and Russian officials during the presidential campaign coincided with what US intelligence agencies concluded was a Kremlin effort through computer hacking, fake news and propaganda to boost Mr Trump’s chances of winning the White House and to damage his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.