Theresa May accused of being ‘Trump’s mole’ in Europe after UK tries to water down EU climate change policy

The Independent reports: Theresa May has been accused of being Donald Trump’s “mole” in Europe after leaked documents showed the UK attempted to water down EU policies designed to tackle climate change.

While other European politicians have made clear to the Republican billionaire that his denial of climate science is a problem, the Prime Minister has remained resolutely silent on the issue.

Her visit to Washington – when the two leaders were pictured holding hands – was widely regarded as an attempt to build a strong relationship with Mr Trump, despite concerns about his attitudes towards women, migrants, Islam, Vladimir Putin’s Russia and other issues.

The leaked documents, obtained by Greenpeace’s Energydesk, show the UK tried to make a policy designed to improve energy efficiency – reducing greenhouse gas emissions and making goods cheaper to run for consumers – voluntary rather than mandatory.

It also essentially argued EU member states should be allowed to make no progress at all towards a 2030 target on renewable energy until the last moment.

Barry Gardiner, the shadow International Trade Secretary, who speaks on climate change issues as a result of Ms May’s decision to scrap the dedicated climate change Cabinet post, told The Independent: “After the G7 [meeting], the word was put out that six countries were on track, pursuing the objective of the Paris Agreement. Only one country, America, was out of step.

“That simply has been proven not to be the case by this leak, which shows Donald Trump actually has a mole within the EU and that mole is the UK.

“The UK is, behind the scenes, trying to water down the commitments and make them voluntary instead of mandatory.”

He said the changes proposed by the UK were not “cosmetic” – to make targets “aspirational”, rather than legally enforceable, was “ridiculous”. [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

Jared Kushner’s position in the White House looks increasingly insecure

The New York Times reports: It has been duly noted in the White House that Mr. Trump, who feels that he has been ill served by his staff, has increasingly included Mr. Kushner when he dresses down aides and officials, a rarity earlier in his administration and during the campaign.

The most serious point of contention between the president and his son-in-law, two people familiar with the interactions said, was a video clip this month of Mr. Kushner’s sister Nicole Meyer pitching potential investors in Beijing on a Kushner Companies condominium project in Jersey City. At one point, Ms. Meyer — who remains close to Mr. Kushner — dangled the availability of EB-5 visas to the United States as an enticement for Chinese financiers willing to spend $500,000 or more.

For Mr. Trump, Ms. Meyer’s performance violated two major rules: Politically, it undercut his immigration crackdown, and in a personal sense, it smacked of profiteering off Mr. Trump — one of the sins that warrants expulsion from his orbit.

In the following days during routine West Wing meetings, the president made several snarky, disparaging comments about Mr. Kushner’s family and the visas that were clearly intended to express his annoyance, two aides said. Mr. Kushner did not respond, at least not in earshot.

His preppy aesthetic, sotto voce style and preference for backstage maneuvering seemingly set him apart from his father-in-law — but the similarities outweigh the differences. Both men were reared in the freewheeling, ruthless world of real estate, and both possess an unshakable self-assurance that is both their greatest attribute and their direst vulnerability.

Mr. Kushner’s reported feeler to the Russians even as President Barack Obama remained in charge of American foreign policy was a trademark move by someone with a deep confidence in his abilities that critics say borders on conceit, people close to him said. And it echoes his history of sailing forth into unknown territory, including buying a newspaper at age 25 and developing a data-analytics program that he has said helped deliver the presidency to his father-in-law.

He is intensely proud of his accomplishments in the private sector and has repeatedly suggested his tenure in Washington will hurt, not help, his brand and bottom line.

That unfailing self-regard has not endeared him to the rest of the staff. Resentful Trump staff members have long talked about “Jared Island” to describe the special status occupied by Mr. Kushner, who, in their view, is given license to exercise power and take on a vague portfolio — “Middle East peace” and “innovation” are its central components — without suffering the consequences of failure visited by the president on mere hirelings.

Adding to the animus is Mr. Kushner’s aloof demeanor and his propensity for avoiding messy aspects of his job that he would simply rather not do — he has told associates he wants nothing to do with the legislative process, for instance. He also has a habit, they say, of disappearing during crises, such as his absence on a family ski trip when Mr. Trump’s first health care bill was crashing in March.

Mr. Bannon, a onetime Kushner ally turned adversary known for working himself into ill health, has taken to comparing the former real estate executive to “the air,” because he blows in and out of meetings leaving little trace, according to one senior Trump aide. [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

If Trump pulls out of the Paris accord he will be serving Putin and turning the U.S. into a rogue nation

Joe Romm writes: President Donald Trump has privately told “confidants” he intends to leave the Paris accord on climate change, “according to three sources with direct knowledge,” Axios reported Saturday.

After persuading voters that America isn’t great anymore, Trump apparently intends to make sure of it — by having this country lead the effort to kill humanity’s last, best hope of avoiding catastrophic climate change.

Quitting a unanimous agreement by 190+ nations after a two-decade negotiating process would make us a rogue nation, a global pariah, like Vladimir Putin’s Russia. And, it could make Putin happy, as we’ll see.

While Trump tweeted out Saturday from Italy that “I will make my final decision on the Paris Accord next week,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters after the G7 meeting, “The whole discussion about climate has been difficult, or rather very unsatisfactory.” She added, “Here we have the situation that six members, or even seven if you want to add the EU, stand against one.”

Axios notes that “Although Trump made it clear during the campaign and in multiple conversations before his overseas trip that he favored withdrawal, he has been known to abruptly change his mind.” They add, however, top political appointees at EPA “were relieved” when Trump refused to join a consensus G7 statement reaffirming “their strong commitment” to the Paris accord.

While the White House’s attack on domestic climate action already undermines the global effort to avert climate catastrophe, we shouldn’t discount the importance of a U.S. withdrawal from Paris — especially if Trump teams with Russian President Vladimir Putin to undermine the whole global negotiating process.

“Will Trump repay Putin by ending Russian sanctions and killing the Paris climate deal?” was a question I posed back in January, examining the growing evidence Russia helped elect Trump and questioning what kind of quid pro quo there could be. Politically, Trump can’t end the sanctions now given the explosive news of recent weeks on the FBI investigation into collusion between his campaign in Russia.

But Trump can pull out of Paris, an agreement Putin has never liked, because it means a large fraction of Russia’s fossil fuel reserves would remain in the ground, unable to provide vast revenue for him and the Kremlin. [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

Trump is fomenting even more conflict in the Middle East

The Washington Post reports: In a speech intended to galvanize Arab and Muslim leaders against threats from extremists and Iran, President Trump demanded unity from his audience in Saudi Arabia, and focus.

“One goal transcends every other consideration,” he said to the assembled leaders in the Saudi capital, in an address that shifted between stark realism and startling optimism. “We pray this special gathering may someday be remembered as the beginning of peace in the Middle East,” he said.

But instead of peace, the Middle East was battered by a wave of conflict in the days that followed, awash with recriminations and repression that suggested that, far from uniting the region, Trump’s words had only aggravated its divides.

Qatar and Saudi Arabia launched a bizarre and unexpected war of words that highlighted their longtime competition for regional influence and their often sharply contrasting visions.

As that dispute raged last week, the leaders of Bahrain and Egypt embarked on unusually vicious crackdowns on political opponents at home, killing five people and arresting hundreds.

And leaders in Iran, Saudi Arabia’s principal rival, where voters earlier this month reelected a reformist president, went on the offensive, condemning Trump’s announcement of billions of dollars in weapons sales to the Saudis while revealing the existence of an underground ballistic missile facility.

Analysts said the tensions were almost surely a consequence of Trump’s visit to Riyadh: a forceful American endorsement of Saudi leadership in the Arab world, punctuated by the weapons sales, which had stirred panic and anxiety among the kingdom’s competitors and enemies while emboldening its loyal and authoritarian allies. [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

‘Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands,’ says Merkel

The New York Times reports: Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Europe’s most influential leader, has concluded, after three days of trans-Atlantic meetings, that the United States of President Trump is not the reliable partner her country and the Continent have automatically depended on in the past.

Clearly disappointed with Mr. Trump’s reluctance to publicly endorse NATO’s doctrine of collective defense — or to agree to common European positions on Russia, climate change or global trade — Ms. Merkel said in Munich on Sunday that traditional alliances were no longer as steadfast as they once were, and that Europe should pay more attention to its own interests “and really take our fate into our own hands.”

Her strong comments were a further indication that Mr. Trump’s trip did not go down well with major European leaders and seems to have increased trans-Atlantic strains rather than diminished them.

“This seems to be the end of an era, one in which the United States led and Europe followed,” said Ivo H. Daalder, a former United States ambassador to NATO who is now the director of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “Today, the United States is heading into a direction on key issues that seems diametrically opposite of where Europe is heading. Merkel’s comments are an acknowledgment of that new reality.”

Ms. Merkel, who did not mention Mr. Trump by name, also spoke of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, which means the bloc will lose its second-largest economy and one of its two nuclear powers. Britain’s departure, or “Brexit,” will also weaken trans-Atlantic ties and leave the Continent more exposed than before.

“The times in which we could rely fully on others — they are somewhat over,” Ms. Merkel said, speaking on the campaign trail after a contentious NATO summit meeting in Brussels and a Group of 7 meeting in Italy. “This is what I experienced in the last few days.” [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

Trump’s war on regulations

Politico reports: The chaos of Donald Trump’s first four months as president has overshadowed a series of actions that could reshape American life for decades — efforts to rewrite or wipe out regulations affecting everything from student loans and restaurant menus to internet privacy, workplace injuries and climate change.

Trump and his agencies have already wielded executive actions and Republican control of Congress to postpone, weaken or outright kill dozens of regulations created by Barack Obama’s administration, often using delays in the courtroom to buy time to make those changes. Their targets have included protections for streams from coal-mining pollution and a directive on the rights of transgender students.

Other Obama-era regulations are in the crosshairs for possible elimination or downsizing, such as limits on greenhouse gases from power plants and rules meant to prevent concentrated ownership of media companies.

But Trump is going after even bigger targets, setting bureaucratic wheels in motion that could eventually ax or revise hundreds of regulations as agencies reorient themselves toward unwinding red tape and granting speedier approvals to projects. Just one of those efforts — an upcoming plan by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for reducing burdens on manufacturers — yielded 171 suggestions from business groups and others who submitted comments. Another executive order, requiring agencies to repeal two regulations for every new one they create, “will be the biggest such act that our country has ever seen,” Trump said in January.

If successful, these efforts could represent the most far-reaching rollback of federal regulations since Ronald Reagan’s presidency, especially if Trump’s proposed budget cuts make it hard for a future Democratic president to reaccelerate the rule-making apparatus. But Trump’s retrenchment faces multiple obstacles, including his slow pace in naming political appointees and his team’s overall inexperience in navigating the federal bureaucracy. [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

‘Final act of bravery’: Men who were fatally stabbed trying to stop anti-Muslim rants identified

The Washington Post reports: Two men were stabbed to death and one injured Friday on a light-rail train in Portland, Ore., after they tried to intervene when another passenger began “ranting and raving” and shouting anti-Muslim hate speech at two young women, police said.

Portland police on Saturday identified the two slain victims as 53-year-old Ricky John Best and 23-year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche.

A third victim, 21-year-old Micah David-Cole Fletcher, is being treated for non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

On Saturday, people mourned the stabbing victims and praised them as heroes for their actions. Namkai Meche’s sister, Vajra Alaya-Maitreya, emailed a statement to The Washington Post on behalf of their family, saying her brother lived “a joyous and full life” with an enthusiasm that was infectious.

“We lost him in a senseless act that brought close to home the insidious rift of prejudice and intolerance that is too familiar, too common. He was resolute in his conduct (and) respect of all people,” she wrote. “In his final act of bravery, he held true to what he believed is the way forward. He will live in our hearts forever as the just, brave, loving, hilarious and beautiful soul he was. We ask that in honor of his memory, we use this tragedy as an opportunity for reflection and change. We choose love.” [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

To hell with the world: Trump reported to have decided to withdraw from Paris climate accord

Axios reports: President Trump has privately told multiple people, including EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, that he plans to leave the Paris agreement on climate change, according to three sources with direct knowledge. [Continue reading…]


Trump’s tweet implies he hasn’t already made this decision and yet the idea that he might be both undecided and also set an arbitrary deadline for making his mind up, would be to trivialize the issue — not withstanding his incapacity to think deeply about anything.

There seems little reason to doubt that what Trump’s tweet actually means even if this is not literally what he says, is that he will announce his decision next week — that decision most likely became even more firm while he was in Europe where he was received with thinly veiled contempt and derision.

The logic (for Trump) in his delayed announcement is probably that this is how he delivers his counterpunch — as though by tearing up the accord, he gets the last laugh.

That’ll show them, the self-preening orange man thinks, as he engineers another assault on humanity and the planet.

Facebooktwittermail

Trump delays decision on Paris climate accords

The New York Times reports: President Trump declined to endorse the Paris climate accords on Saturday, saying he would decide in the coming days whether the United States would pull out of the 195-nation agreement.

Mr. Trump’s lack of a decision after three days of contentious private debate and intense lobbying by other leaders came even as the six other Group of 7 nations reaffirmed their commitment to cutting planet-warming emissions in a joint statement issued on Saturday afternoon.

The lobbying essentially ended in a stalemate, with Mr. Trump remaining opaque about his intentions regarding the 2015 pact as he prepared to return home after a nine-day overseas trip. The impasse underscored the continuing division between the United States and its allies about the global environmental pact.

The joint communiqué made clear that all the G-7 nations except the United States remained determined to carry out the Paris agreement. It said: “Expressing understanding for this process, the heads of state and of government of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom, and the presidents of the European Council and of the European Commission reaffirm their strong commitment to swiftly implement the Paris Agreement.”

In a message on Twitter posted before the joint statement was officially released, Mr. Trump said: “I will make my final decision on the Paris Accord next week!”

The reaction was swift and critical. Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said: “President Trump’s continued waffling on whether to stay in or withdraw from the Paris Agreement made it impossible to reach consensus at the Taormina summit on the need for ambitious climate action. But he stands in stark isolation.” [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

Trump returns to Kushner-focused crisis that the White House is struggling trying to contain

The New York Times reports: Trump’s advisers were working to create a crisis-control communications operation within the White House to separate the Russia investigations and related scandals from the administration’s day-to-day themes and the work of governing, according to several people familiar with their plans and who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to divulge the details of a still-evolving strategy.

Aides are talking about bringing Corey Lewandowski, Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager, and David Bossie, his former deputy campaign manager, onto the White House staff to manage the war room.

Under the evolving scenario, Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, would take a diminished public role, with daily on-camera briefings replaced by more limited interactions with journalists, while Mr. Trump would seize more opportunities to communicate directly with his core supporters through campaign rallies, social media appearances such as Facebook Live videos, and interviews with friendly news media outlets.

The president, who has more than 30 million followers on Twitter, has been told by his lawyers to limit his posts. Each one, they argue privately, could be used as evidence in a legal case against him, and the president went through his entire overseas trip without posting a single incendiary message.

Among those most adamant about limiting Mr. Trump’s access to the news media was Mr. Kushner, who has been critical internally of the White House press operation and has sought to marginalize Mr. Spicer, whom he views as too undisciplined to control the president’s message. Mr. Kushner has also favored creating a rapid-response team to counter reports like the ones that emerged on Friday [about Kushner].

In a move that many in the West Wing viewed as emblematic of his attempt to wrest control of communications from Mr. Spicer and Mr. Priebus, Mr. Kushner displaced an operations official from the office across the hall from his own and installed his personal spokesman, Josh Raffel, in his place, according to two people familiar with the matter. [Continue reading…]

The Washington Post reports: Underscoring the uncertainty of what lies ahead, some Trump associates said there have been conversations about dispatching Priebus to serve as ambassador to Greece — his mother is of Greek descent — as a face-saving way to remove him from the White House. A White House spokeswoman strongly denied that possibility Saturday.

The president has expressed frustration — both publicly and privately — with his communications team, ahead of the expected overhaul.

Though no final decisions have been made, one option being discussed is having Spicer — who has been parodied on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” to devastating effect — take a more behind-the-scenes role and give up his daily, on-camera briefings.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the deputy White House press secretary, is being considered as a replacement behind the lectern and is likely to appear on camera more often in coming weeks. White House aides have also talked about having a rotating cast of staff brief the media, a group that could include officials such as national security adviser H.R. McMaster. Having several aides share the briefing responsibilities could help prevent Trump — who has a notoriously short attention span — from growing bored or angry with any one staffer. [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

Kushner’s desire for a back channel to Russia seems to have led him to lie on his application for a security clearance

Ryan Koronowski writes: When he applied for his top-secret security clearance for his White House job, Kushner was required to disclose all meetings with foreign government officials over the previous seven years but omitted dozens of contacts — including this meeting [with the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December at Trump Tower].

When questioned about it, his lawyers called it an error.

A top presidential aide simply forgetting a meeting such as this strains the bounds of credulity. As Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) noted, Kushner did not just omit the meeting once on his SF86 security clearance form. He also failed to include it again on his revised form, which Lieu argued would be two separate federal crimes. In a tweet, Lieu showed the certification that everyone must sign to get clearance, acknowledging the consequences that willful false statements can bring, including jail time.


Rep. Lieu called for Kushner to resign if the story is true, and said he should be prosecuted for lying on his security clearance form. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said Kushner’s clearance “must be revoked until we get to the bottom of this.”

Knowingly falsifying or concealing information on these forms can carry up to five years of jail time.

Malcolm Nance, a career counterintelligence officer, said on MSNBC Friday night that this kind of activity is indicative of espionage. [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

The FBI hasn’t contacted Kushner, yet — which is why he should be worried even more

Ryan Lizza writes: The Senate Intelligence Committee announced that it wanted to interview Kushner about his contacts with Kislyak and Gorkov. (Kushner has agreed to testify, and, unlike Flynn, he has not announced that he will assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.) In the House, several Democrats sent a letter to the Trump Administration asking that Kushner be stripped of his top-secret security clearance. “Knowingly falsifying or concealing information on a SF-86 questionnaire is a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison,” the letter said.

Given these previous reports, yesterday’s news that the F.B.I. is interested in Kushner is not surprising. “Mr. Kushner previously volunteered to share with Congress what he knows about these meetings,” Kushner’s lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, said in a statement. “He will do the same if he is contacted in connection with any other inquiry.”

The second half of the statement suggests that Kushner has not yet been contacted by the F.B.I., a fact confirmed to me by the White House. Defenders of Kushner seized upon this detail as somehow exculpatory, noting that Flynn had been interviewed by the F.B.I. in January. But this might not mean much. In fact, it could actually be a bad sign. “The fact that Kushner hasn’t been contacted now, let’s assume it’s true,” the source close to Comey said. “It’s either meaningless with respect to culpability or, pointing to the riskier side, the more likely that he’s implicated, because the people you’re really suspicious of you don’t really interview until later.” [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

Why would Jared Kushner trust Russian officials more than the U.S. government?

Adam Serwer writes: Why did Jared Kushner seemingly trust Russian officials more than he trusted the U.S. government?

Friday evening, The Washington Post broke the story that, according to an intercepted report by the Russian ambassador in Washington to his superiors in Moscow, Kushner sought to use secure communications facilities at the Russian Embassy to correspond directly with Russian officials. The Russian ambassador, Sergei Kislyak, reported that the proposal was made in December, after Trump won the election but before he had taken office. The conversations reportedly involved Michael Flynn, the former Trump national-security adviser who was fired after it was revealed that he lied to administration officials about the content of his conversations with Russian officials.

Although Kushner never used those facilities, former national-security officials said that for officials with access to classified information, entering foreign embassies is considered a security risk. The White House has not commented directly on the report. Kushner’s attorney, Jamie Gorelick, a former Justice Department official with extensive national-security experience, has neither confirmed nor denied the report, but she has emphasized Kushner’s willingness to cooperate with ongoing investigations into the Trump team’s contacts with the Russians. If Kushner did in fact make the request, that alone would have put him in a compromising position, since Russian officials could have used it as leverage against him.

But what is also peculiar is the level of trust Kushner would have been placing in Russian officials in asking for such a communications channel. Foreign affairs is often complex, yet Kushner didn’t want the U.S. government’s help—or supervision.

“What is unusual and borderline disturbing about this is less that it cut out the State Department or cut out the intelligence community; I think there is a precedent for both of those things in back-channels,” said Jon Finer, former State Department chief of staff under John Kerry. “It shows a level of trust in Russian intelligence, and Russian diplomatic personnel beyond the level of trust afforded to American intelligence and American personnel.”

The White House has obliquely defended Kushner’s actions while refusing to comment on them specifically. “We have back-channel communications with a number of countries. So, generally speaking, about back-channel communications, what that allows you to do is to communicate in a discreet manner,” National-Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters on Saturday. Asked whether it would be cause for concern if a National Security Council staffer used such a back-channel to Moscow, he said: “No, I would not be concerned about it.”

“What puts this in an entirely different category is that this is a transition; they weren’t in the government yet,” said Paul Pillar, a former analyst with the Central Intelligence Agency. “That’s really a departure. It’s normal for an incoming administration to have contacts with foreign leaders, but I can’t think of a precedent for this kind of thing.”

And former national-security officials noted that while back-channel communications are often compartmentalized—meaning they can only be viewed by a select number of officials—they usually have some level of involvement from national-security officials. Communicating with Moscow using Russian facilities could have shielded Kushner’s correspondence from U.S. intelligence agencies, without denying their Russian counterparts the same access.

“The only reason you would operate that way is if you were hiding something from your own government. That’s it. That’s the only plausible explanation,” said Nada Bakos, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and a former CIA analyst. [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

Hayden on Kushner: We are in a dark place as a society

 

The Hill reports: Former head of the National Security Agency (NSA) Michael Hayden on Saturday said White House adviser and President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is naive and ignorant if reports that he sought to create a secure communication channel with Russia are true.

“Well, Michael, right now, I’m going with naiveté and that’s not particularly very comforting for me,” Hayden told CNN’s Michael Smerconish.

“I mean what manner of ignorance, chaos, hubris, suspicion, contempt would you have to have to think that doing this with the Russian ambassador was a good or appropriate idea?” [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

Kushner met with Russian banker, Sergey Gorkov, who is Putin crony and spy school graduate

NBC News reports: The Russian banker Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner met with in December is viewed by U.S. intelligence as a “Putin crony” and a graduate of a “finishing school” for spies who was often tasked with sensitive financial operations by Putin, according to multiple U.S. officials and documents viewed by NBC News.

Sergey Gorkov, 48, graduated from the FSB Academy, which was chartered in 1994 to educate Russian Intelligence personnel. He has long served Russian President Vladimir Putin in critical economic roles. Most recently, Putin chose him to head of the state-owned VneshEconomBank (VEB). As the Russian state national development bank, VEB has played a critical role in blunting the impact of U.S. sanctions against Russia by finding other sources of foreign capital.

Before that, Gorkov was the deputy chairman of Sberbank, Russia’s biggest bank, also state-owned, and also under U.S. sanctions since 2014. [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail

Kushner was in contact with Russian ambassador even before Trump had won GOP nomination

Reuters reports: U.S. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and close adviser, Jared Kushner, had at least three previously undisclosed contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States during and after the 2016 presidential campaign, seven current and former U.S. officials told Reuters.

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

Kushner initially had come to the attention of FBI investigators last year as they began scrutinizing former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s connections with Russian officials, the two sources said.

While the FBI is investigating 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 Kushner first attracted FBI attention and show that his contacts with Russian envoy Sergei Kislyak were more extensive than the White House has acknowledged. [Continue reading…]

Facebooktwittermail