Homeland Security boss defends Russia back channel

United States Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has defended an alleged effort by top White House adviser Jared Kushner to create a back-channels communication with Moscow.
By Ian Marsh | May 31, 2017
United States Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has defended an alleged effort by top White House adviser Jared Kushner to create a back-channels communication with Moscow.

Kelly described the effort as "a good thing, " as Donald Trump's administration sought to quell growing questions over secret ties to Vladimir Putin's Russian government.

Speaking on a Sunday news show, Kelly claimed he didn't know whether the reports by the Associated Press and other news outlets involving Kushner were accurate.

He, however, added that such back-channel communications don't worry him, and would not be harmful to American security interests.

"It's both normal, in my opinion, and acceptable. Any way that you can communicate with people, particularly organizations that are maybe not particularly friendly to us, is a good thing," the security boss stated.

Congressional Democrats demanded to hear directly from Kushner President Trump's son-in-law over allegations of the proposed secret back-channel, arguing that his security clearance may need to be revoked.

But President Donald Trump immediately criticized administration leaks in several tweets on Sunday, calling them "fabricated lies."

Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said it was "obviously concerning" if a senior Trump campaign figure was possibly seeking secret communications with the Kremlin during the transition period.

Schiff added that the government needed to "get to the bottom" of the matter. He also called for a review of Kushner's security clearance "to find out whether he was truthful."

The Associated Press and other media houses reported that Kushner in December proposed a back channel between the Kremlin and the Trump transition team.

According to the reports, Kushner spoke with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about facilitating sensitive talks to explore the incoming administration's options with Russia, as it developed its policy on Syria.

Russia is a pivotal player in the Syrian civil war and has backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, often at the expense of civilians and against the wishes of the United States.

---

Have something to say? Let us know in the comments section or send an email to the author. You can share ideas for stories by contacting us here.

Comments
Comments should take into account that readers may hold different opinions. With that in mind, please make sure comments are respectful, insightful, and remain focused on the article topic.