The White House declined to comment Saturday on a news report that top President Trump adviser Jared Kushner had at least three undisclosed conversations last year with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak.
“We’re not going to comment on Jared,” Trump economic aide Gary Cohen said at a press conference in Italy, the last stop on the president’s nine-day overseas trip.
The story about the alleged phone calls was reported by Reuters, the day after reports about Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, now being part of a federal investigation into Trump associates allegedly colluding with Russia to win the 2016 White House race.
The story also appeared the same day The Washington Post reported that Kislyak told his superiors that he and Kushner discussed setting up a secret communications channel between the Kremlin and the Trump transition team.
At the press conference with Cohen on Saturday, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster declined to talk directly about Kushner. But he acknowledged that the United States has back-channel communications with a number of countries that allow officials to “communicate in a discreet manner.”
An attorney for Kushner responded late Friday about the alleged conversations with Kislyak, saying his client participated in myriad calls during that time and doesn’t recall those being alleged.
“Mr. Kushner participated in thousands of calls in this time period,” attorney Jamie Gorelick said. “He has no recollection of the calls as described.”
Two of the alleged calls took place between April and November of last year.
Gorelick also said he’s asked Reuters for more specific dates so that he can review the information and respond.
Kushner’s legal counsel said after the reports that Kushner was part of the federal investigation, but not a target, his client will talk to federal investigators and Congress about his contacts and his role in the Trump campaign.
Sources have told Fox News that any discussions about back channels likely would have been about facilitating one between then-NSA Director Michael Flynn and Russian generals to discuss the Syrian conflict and possible co-operation in the war against ISIS because Russian generals would likely not be inclined to speak over an unsecure line about anything substantive.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.