MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There are new questions about President Donald Trump’s adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
The scrutiny includes Kushner’s dealings with Russia.
Reuters is reporting of at least three previously undisclosed contacts during Trump’s presidential campaign between Kushner and the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
The Washington Post reported Kushner had interest in creating a backchannel of communications with the Kremlin.
The FBI is scrutinizing Kushner’s Russian contacts but has not accused him of any wrongdoing.
Kushner’s lawyer said he “has no recollection of the calls described,” and that they have requested dates of the alleged undisclosed contacts to they can investigate.
Prof. Larry Jacobs discussed the latest developments with Esme Murphy on WCCO Sunday Morning. He said this latest controversy comes at an inopportune time as Trump returns from his first foreign trip.
“I think, for the White House, it’s sad news for them. They had a pretty good trip abroad,” Jacobs said. “The atmospherics in the Middle East were fantastic. He got his message out in Europe about standing up on trade and climate change and NATO and he comes home and it’s back right into this morass of the controversy around Russia.”
Jacobs explained the core issue of Kushner’s reported contact with Russian officials.
“I think the key thing here is you had Jared Kushner, who is a private citizen, this is just a month after the election, who’s setting up communications with the Russians,” Jacobs said. “There are all sorts of other individuals and offices who do this all the time for the White House.
“Clearly, the White House is in crisis.”
There has been no absolute denial from the White House, but Trump tweeted Saturday morning that “many of the leaks coming out of the White House are fabricated lies made up by the #FakeNews media.”
“[Kushner] did not disclose it. It appears — and again, it’s an appearance — that it fits into a pattern of back channel conversations, failure to disclose these communications with the Russians and that’s the problem right now I think for the Trump administration,” Jacobs said. “It’s not yet a smoking gun, but there’s a lot of smoke.”
Though Trump still has an 80 percent approval rating among Republicans, Jacobs said the controversy surrounding Trump’s presidency is “without precedent.”
“I can’t think of a president who, so early in the administration, is under fire with the ‘I’ word — impeachment — being mentioned,” he said.