The Latest: DHS sec’y ‘wouldn’t criticize’ Russia channels

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly is on the defensive amid reports that the president’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner had proposed a secret back channel between the Kremlin and the Trump transition team.

In interviews Sunday, Kelly said he didn’t know whether the reports were true. But he said on “Fox News Sunday” that “any channel of communications back or otherwise with a country like Russia is a good thing.”

Asked if such communications were a big deal, Kelly said: “any time you have channels of communication with a country, particularly one like Russia, I wouldn’t criticize it.”

On Saturday White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster suggested such communications might be typical, saying the back channel communications the administration has with a number of countries allow for “discreet” communication.

10: 45 a.m.

The top Democrat on the House intelligence committee is urging a review of White House adviser Jared Kushner’s security clearance following news reports that he sought to set up back-channel communications with Russia.

Rep. Adam Schiff described the reports as “very concerning.”

He says the government needs to “get to the bottom” of the allegations, and if they are true, “there’s no way” Kushner should keep his security clearance.

Schiff said he disagreed with White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster’s suggestion that such back-channel communications might be typical and not concerning.

The California Democrat says it’s a serious allegation to have a key Trump campaign figure seeking secret communications with a country that intelligence experts say intervened in a U.S. election.

He spoke on ABC’s “This Week.”
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