McMaster Responds To Kushner's "Russia Back-Channel" Report

Having admitted that their Memorial Day Weekend blockbuster scoop that President Trump's son-in-law "discussed the possibility of setting up a secure communications channel between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak,"  is really a non-story because, as they state themselves "It is common for senior advisers of a newly elected president to be in contact with foreign leaders and official," The Washington Post reports that President Trump's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster agrees this is a non-story, saying Saturday he "would not be concerned" about having a back-channel communications system with Russia.

WaPo reports that McMaster and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, who together briefed reporters Saturday, were unwilling to discuss the Kushner matter, as was White House press secretary Sean Spicer. White House officials insisted the briefing be conducted off-camera, preventing photographers or television cameras from documenting it.

As McMaster and Cohn took the stage in the briefing room, a television screen just over their shoulder played CNN, which at that moment aired a discussion of the Kushner-Russia story under a "breaking news" banner.

"We're not going to comment on Jared," Cohn said.

 

"We're just not going to comment."

McMaster said he could not talk about Kushner's talks with Russia because "it's not something that I've in any way been involved with or that I have any knowledge of."

However, as WaPo reports, McMaster, a decorated three-star Army general, was asked whether he would be concerned if an official on his National Security Council staff or elsewhere in the Trump administration sought a back-channel communications system with the Russian embassy or the Kremlin in Moscow. His response is telling...

"No," McMaster said. "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."

 

He continued, "No, I would not be concerned about it."

The Washington Post reports that the press conference grew more tense after that... we suspect the reason is clear, The White House would not be drawn into the non-story narrative that the entire press corps wants to run with for the weekend.