Kushner ties to Russia questioned as Trump blasts media lies

The disclosure of the back channel put White House advisers on the defensive, as Trump wrapped up his first foreign trip as president.

"It is my opinion that numerous leaks coming out of the White House are fabricated lies made up by the #FakeNews media", Mr Trump wrote.

McMaster declined to speak specifically about the case of Jared Kushner, who serves as a senior adviser to Trump, but when asked if it would concern him if someone in the administration tried to set up a back channel with the Russian embassy or the Kremlin, he replied "no".

The latest reports in the Russian Federation matter said Kushner spoke with Russia's ambassador to the United States about setting up secret communications with Moscow during the presidential transition.

Jared Kushner and Russia's ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Trump's transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, according to USA officials briefed on intelligence reports.

Kushner spoke with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about facilitating sensitive discussions to explore the incoming administration's options with Russian Federation as it developed its Syria policy, a person familiar with the discussions told The Associated Press.

The Associated Press and other news organizations reported that Kushner in December proposed a back channel between the Kremlin and the Trump transition team. But they did not dismiss the idea that the administration would go outside normal US government and diplomatic channels for communications with other countries. Multiple sources told NBC News that changes are still coming in a White House that has become known for its palace intrigue and publicly aired internal politics.

Mr Trump, who had been uncharacteristically quiet on Twitter during his nine-day trip overseas, furiously dismissed the allegations of Russian Federation ties as "fake news" and "fabricated lies".

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said he didn't know if the news reports were true but described back-channel communications as a "good thing".

Kushner later failed to disclose that he had contact with Russian diplomats during his security clearance application, a felony under U.S. law that carries a potential prison sentence.

"And you hear people now, very close to the president, openly saying that it is too much, that he now finds himself at the centre of this investigation, even if he is ultimately completely cleared, he is at the centre of this investigation right now". The intent was to connect Trump's chief national security adviser at the time, Michael Flynn, with Russian military leaders, a person familiar with the discussions told the AP.

But there is one chore Trump assigned to Kushner that he can carry out - criminal justice reform.

James Clapper, the former national intelligence director, described the general nature of communications between Kushner and Russian Federation as a red flag. Officials said he misled Vice-President Mike Pence about whether he and the ambassador had discussed USA sanctions against Russian Federation in a phone call.

But to the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, it's "obviously very concerning" that a key Trump campaign figure was possibly seeking secret communications with a country that intelligence experts say intervened in the 2016 election.

Last week, it was confirmed the 36-year-old, who is married to Mr Trump's eldest daughter, Ivanka, was the focus of the FBI's ongoing investigation.

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