Trump lashes out at leaks, considers staff upheaval

Citing unnamed officials who had reviewed United States intercepts of communications between Kislyak and Moscow, the newspaper reported that the Russian ambassador told his superiors that Kushner had suggested the talks utilize secure Russian facilities.

The real estate developer with no previous government experience 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 USA officials told Reuters.

US President Donald Trump attacked the news media and dismissed leaks from the White House as "fake news", following reports his son-in-law tried to set up a secret channel of communications with Moscow before Mr Trump took office.

The talks between Kushner and Kislyak at Trump Tower in NY weren't acknowledged during the transition, and it's not clear which side called for the meeting. But he describes such efforts to communicate as "a good thing".

One possible casualty of Trump's increasing uncertainty is chief of staff Reince Priebus, who has often been criticized by White House senior aides who talk about Trump's woes to reporters.

After returning late Saturday from his first foreign trip as president, Trump geared up to combat concerns over his advisers' ties to Russian Federation, including explosive reports about Jared Kushner, his indispensable aide-de-camp.

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But the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating the Russian election meddling, was dubious about those assertions. But Kelly said such back-channel communications don't bother him and would not be harmful to US security interests. Shortly after the election, Kushner allegedly discussed setting up a secret communications channel with the Russian government to facilitate sensitive discussions about the conflict in Syria. The person wasn't authorized to publicly discuss private policy deliberations and insisted on anonymity. They have built a thick skin over the past few months in the White House, and they recognize that a certain level of attention comes with the high-profile opportunities they have been given, per the official. He added that it is "very possible that those sources don't exist but are made up by fake news writers".

However, the eve of his return brought the biggest story to date: A Washington Post report about Kushner's alleged proposal to the Russians to create a secret channel out of the reach of USA spymasters.

Mr Trump had earlier taken to Twitter to vent his frustrations with the "fake news media". Priebus and White House adviser Steve Bannon have been laying the groundwork for the new "war room".

It should be recalled that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from matters related to the Russia investigation, after lying to Vice President Mike Pence about his own meeting with the Russian Ambassador.

The escalation of the campaign against Trump coincides with his failure at the Brussels summit to clearly affirm support for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and its military-strategic offensive against Russian Federation, and his attack on Germany at the G7 meeting in Italy. He remains an influential confidant within the White House as does his wife, Ivanka Trump.

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