Jared And The Russian Backchannel – It Happened, Didn’t Happen, But He Didn’t Do It, But So What If He Did?

Ken AshfordL'Affaire Russe, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

On Friday, The Washington Post reported that Jared Kushner sought to create a secret line of communication between Donald Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin during a meeting with Russian diplomats in December.

On Saturday, national security adviser H.R. McMaster said at a news conference that he “would not be concerned” about such an arrangement and added that “we have back-channel communications with a number of countries.”

On Sunday, Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly told ABC News that “any channel of communications, back or otherwise, is a good thing.”

On Monday, Fox News published an online article with no byline and a single unnamed source that claimed that Kushner, a senior White House adviser, did not try to set up a back channel after all. (Make no mistake: It is not normal to publish a supposed scoop without a byline. The only clue Fox News offered about the reporting was a note at the bottom of the story that said Catherine Herridge “contributed.”)

On Tuesday morning, “Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade posed a question to counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway: “Do you back up the Fox News report?” Conway refused. “I’m not going to get into any of that,” she said. Conway echoed McMaster and Kelly, saying “they’re not concerned” and that “back channels like this are the regular course of business.”

A short time later, Trump tweeted a link to the Fox News report that Conway had just declined to support, seemingly endorsing an alternative defense of Kushner that his own administration spent three days not making.

What the heck is going on here?

Option 1: He did it, but that’s okay.

Option 2: He didn’t do it.

Never mind that both things cannot be true. The bottom line is Kushner did nothing bad. Believe me.

UPDATE:   Sean Spicer is giving the first press briefing since Trump’s overseas trip.  He’s basically saying that the White House cannot confirm if there was a backchannel and takes no position on it (even though Trump tweeted about it and referred to the Fox News article and even though, as Spicer says, “there is nothing wrong with establishing a backchannel”).  Makes no sense