WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork) — President Donald Trump spent his first day back from the G7 summit Sunday confronting, and seemingly downplaying, the new allegations against his son-in-law.
As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, Trump was back on U.S. soil and back on the defensive Sunday. He ignored reporters’ questions about his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, proposing setting up a secret channel of communication with the Kremlin and the Trump transition team before the election.
But while had nothing to say upon landing, he had plenty later on Twitter. Trump’s posts attempted to discredit which sourced anonymous U.S. officials, calling them “fake news.”
In interviews Sunday, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said he did not know if the reports are true. But he said if they are, “I think any channel of communication, back or otherwise, with a country like Russia is a good thing.”
National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters in an off-camera news conference that he does not find backchannel communications with Russia problematic.
“What that allows you to do is to communicate in a discreet manner, so it doesn’t predispose you toward any sort of content of that conversation or anything,” McMaster said. “So no, I would not be concerned about it.”
But the U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, is very concerned.
“To have the president’s son-in-law, a key player within the Trump Organization, trying to establish a backchannel with the Russians through a Russian diplomatic facility — you have to ask, well, who are they hiding the conversations from?” Schiff said.
The unanswered questions about Russia may add to declining U.S. relations with European allies.
After meeting with Trump during the G7 summit and failing to convince him to commit to the Paris Climate Acord, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told supporters Sunday: “The times in which we can fully count on others are somewhat over…. We Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands.”
Trump will make his first public appearance since his trip at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.