Jared Kushner White House braces for more scrutiny, Trump defends embattled son-in-law

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Jared Kushner and Russia's ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Trump's transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, according to USA officials briefed on intelligence reports.

"Any way that you can communicate with people, particularly organisations that are maybe not particularly friendly to us, is a good thing and, again, it comes back to whatever the communication is, comes back into the government and shared across the government".

"We have back-channel communication with a number of countries", he added, without commenting specifically on the Kushner allegations.

The president today retweeted a Fox News story with no byline citing one unnamed source that said the Russians were the first to suggest the idea of a back channel, not Kushner. "It doesn't bother me".

Still, sources said the Russians claims "could have been exaggerated or even made up".

He declared his "total confidence" in Kushner, who boasts an enormous portfolio of domestic and worldwide responsibilities, underscoring his importance as Trump's chief adviser despite having no experience in politics before the 2016 White House race.

Before departing Italy for the U.S., White House officials refused to address the reports about Kushner.

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"The facts are that Jared Kushner has said from the very beginning he is willing to go and share any information that he has with Congress, with the Federal Bureau of Investigation", she said on "Fox & Friends". "I mean he shares that".

Reports about alleged contacts between Trump's aides and Russian officials during last year's presidential campaign coincided with accusations by U.S. intelligence agencies that Moscow sought to boost Trump's chances of defeating his presidential rival Hillary Clinton through computer hacking and propaganda. He said they have a special prosecutor and House and Senate intelligence committees looking into the matter.

Nevertheless, some critics have called for Kushner's security clearance to be revoked, while others say he should temporarily step aside while his ties to Moscow are being reviewed.

Publicly, Donald Trump is still saying that Jared Kushner is beyond reproach and that Kushner will come out of this latest controversy untainted.

"He needs to answer for what was happening at the time", Booker said on CNN's "State of the Union", according to the AP. So one is this administration not talking about our values, cozying up to authoritarian leaders. He is considered a person of interest, and the FBI is investigating his alleged role in setting up communications between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives.

Ivanka Trump posted a video of son Theodore, 1, upon her return Friday morning, writing, "It's hard to be away. especially when this little dude is waiting for you at home!"

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