Kushner Russia Allegations Split the GOP as Kelly Faces Off Against McCain
In stunning news from Washington D.C. this past weekend, top Trump aid, and head of the newly-formed Office of American Innovation, Jared Kushner, came under fire for allegedly proffering back-channel communications with Russia last year.
By Sunday afternoon, congressional Democrats demanded an explanation from Kushner, personally, to determine if his security clearance should be revoked. As details of the accusations emerged, consternation from both parties became evident as various Washington insiders made the 24-hour news channel circuit over Saturday night into Sunday.
Upon Trump’s return from his trip overseas taking to his favorite social media outlet, he denounced via tweet the “fabricated lies made up by the #FakeNews media”.
Details of collusion between the First Son-in-Law and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were in fact, gathered intelligence leaked by his own administration. With Trump firmly planted in Kushner’s corner, John Kelly, President Trump’s homeland security secretary appeared on ABC, NBC, and Fox News in an apparent effort to defend the character and mission of the president’s key Advisor .
“He’s a great guy, decent guy. His No. 1 interest, really, is the nation,” Kelly said. “So, you know, there’s a lot of different ways to communicate, back channel, publicly with other countries. I don’t see any big issue here relative to Jared.” Kelly continued.
He stated that he saw Kushner’s attempts to communicate in this manner as a “smart thing”.
Speaking under anonymity, a source told the Associated Press that Kushner spoke with Kislyak about “facilitating sensitive discussions to explore the incoming administration’s options with Russia as it developed its Syria policy.”
Several former CIA operatives and administrators conveyed dismay at the thought of sharing information related to national security through channels not only monitored but maintained by the Kremlin.
Retired four-star General and former head of the National Security Agency Michael Hayden, calls the alleged act “unprecedented” and “off the map”.
Initially, Kelly, the retired Marine Corps General, broke with many of Trump’s more divisive campaign rhetoric during his senate hearing confirmation, even garnering approval from Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, top Democrat on the homeland security committee, as well as other Democratic committee members.
During his confirmation hearing, Kelly stated in his opening statement that he believed “in America and the principles upon which our country and way of life are guaranteed. I believe in respect, tolerance and diversity of opinion. I have a profound respect for the law and will always strive to uphold it.”
“I have never had a problem speaking truth to power, and I firmly believe that those in power deserve full candor and my honest assessment and recommendations,” he added.
Kelly’s first break with supportive Democrats and moderate Republicans came when he openly backed Trump’s controversial travel ban.
When pressed by Representative Bennie Thompson (D-Miss) to offer more proof the targeted population of the ban posed an imminent risk to Americans, including immigrants, Kelly answered, “Not until the boom. Not until they blow something up and go into a mall and kill people. Not until then.”
Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) disagreed with these statements on the ban by Kelly. This has created a rift between the two former military and war veterans.
McCain, in an interview with Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Sunday, called the actions by Kushner “bizarre” stating “I know that some administration officials are saying ‘well, that’s standard procedure.’ I don’t think it’s standard procedure prior to the inauguration of this president of the United States by someone who is not in an appointed position.”
Calling for new sanctions against Russia, Senator McCain, the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee says the Russians “tried, and are still trying” to affect the outcome of elections, most recently with their interference in the French election.”
He said he feels Putin is a bigger threat to the United States at this point than ISIS.
The shockingly non-nonchalant response from Kelly has yet to elicit response from other Senate and Congressional members.
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