An intelligence report confirmed the Senate Intelligence Committee testimony of former CIA Director John Brennan that there were contacts and interactions between Russian officials and the campaign of then Republican candidate Donald Trump. Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of Trump, was one of those who had meetings with a Russian diplomat.

The Washington Post cited U.S. officials who provided a briefing, saying that the intelligence reports stated that Sergei Kislyak, Russian ambassador to Washington, met with Kushner on the first week of December at the Trump Tower.

They met to discuss the possible use of Russian diplomatic facilities as a secret and secure communications channel.

Shield from government monitoring

The proposal to use the Russian diplomatic facilities aimed to protect their pre-inauguration discussions from being monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies. Besides Kushner, also at the meeting was Michael Flynn who became Trump’s national security adviser.

Besides the meeting with the Russian envoy, Kushner also met with Sergey Gorkov, head of Vnesheconombank, which was affected by the U.S. sanctions on Russia for the annexation of Crimea. The FBI is now considering Kushner’s meeting with Gorkov as worthy of an investigation because of its financial implications.

Since Kushner’s proposal had security risks for Russia and Trump’s campaign, the ambassador was reportedly taken aback by Trump’s son-in-law’s proposal to use Russian communications equipment at the Washington embassy or consulate. Both the White House and Flynn’s lawyers declined to comment on the report, while the Russian Embassy ignored The Washington Post’s request for a comment.

Under surveillance by FBI and NSA

Russian officials in the U.S. are monitored closely by the FBI as well as its diplomatic facilities, while those overseas are under surveillance by the National Security Agency. The report said that the FBI knew someone from Trump’s transition team was meeting with Russian diplomats, which caused a great deal of concern.

However, an ex-senior intelligence official said Kushner’s proposal was an example of being extremely naïve or absolutely crazy. The White House admitted only in March Kushner’s meeting with the Russians after it was reported by media.

War room to repel questions about Russian involvement

Reuters reported that after Trump’s return on Saturday from his nine-day overseas trip, the White House plans to establish a war room where it would combat the growing number of questions from investigators and media about the links between Russian officials and Trump’s campaign team. More aides would be brought in to work in the war room. They include Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, the chief of staff of the president, and ironically Kushner, who is at the center of the investigations.

The White House would also bring in political professionals with experience, including the former campaign manager of the real estate billionaire, and likely more lawyers to handle the investigation on the Russian ties.

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