President Donald Trump's top counselor, Kellyanne Conway, on Tuesday dismissed the importance of recent reports that senior adviser Jared Kushner attempted to create a secret line of communications with Russia during the presidential transition last year.
In an interview on "Fox and Friends," Conway pointed to comments from national security adviser H.R. McMaster and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, who said they weren't concerned about Kushner's reported request to conduct the communications using Russian gear that could not be intercepted by the US or other intelligence services.
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"Back channels like this are the regular course of business, and that's really all that we know," Conway said. "I think it's very important to recognize that the president has expressed full confidence in Jared Kushner and also went on to note the considerable progress and very large important portfolio that Jared oversees here at the White House."
Conway said "he'll be fully cooperative with any information that he has."
Critics have described the arrangement as unusual, questioning why Kushner would attempt to make contact with Russia while avoiding detection by US intelligence and suggesting his actions could have made Kushner vulnerable to manipulation.
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In an interview on "CBS This Morning" on Tuesday, Democratic Sen. Al Franken suggested the move may have been illegal.
"I think it is," Franken said when asked. "In getting his security clearance, you're supposed to list those, and then there's this peculiar one where he is trying to set up a thing within the Russian communications system so that our own intelligence couldn't be part of it, which is very unusual."
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