President Donald Trump on Tuesday promoted an unbylined Fox News story based on a single anonymous source to defend his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner just days after blasting such stories as “made up.”
The Monday Fox News report Trump retweeted lays blame on the Russians for discussing the possibility of a communications back channel between the Trump administration and Moscow, rather than Kushner. The Fox report cited “a source familiar with the matter.”
The Fox report followed The Washington Post’s Friday story that stated Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak told Moscow that Kushner wanted a secret communications back channel between the Trump team and the Kremlin. The Post’s story cited US officials who’d been briefed on intelligence reports.
The Fox News source, however, says that at a December meeting in Trump Tower, it was the Russians who brought up the possibility of a “secure line between the Trump administration and Russia” to discuss the Syrian civil war.
A New York Times report from Saturday corroborates some of this, citing three people “with knowledge of the discussion” who said the proposed back channel was for the purpose of communicating about the Syrian civil war. The Times story said it was unclear who first proposed the back channel.
While Trump retweeted the Fox News report that relies on a single anonymous source, he has recently decried the use of anonymous sources in stories about his administration.
On Sunday, Trump tweeted that “whenever you see the words ‘sources say’ in the fake news media, and they don’t mention names … it is very possibly that those sources don’t exist but are made up by fake news writers.”
“#FakeNews is the enemy!” he continued.
The ‘Fox & Friends’ tweet promoted by Trump read, “Jared Kushner didn’t suggest Russian communications channel in meeting, source says.”
The Fox News story was not attributed to any reporter at the network, although one of its top journalists, Catherine Herridge, was credited at the bottom of the report with contributing reporting.
The reports about the December meeting between Russians and Trump officials in Trump Tower, which had been under prior scrutiny from investigators, have thrust Kushner into the center of the ongoing Russia investigations. The FBI is currently investigating whether any members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
Earlier this month, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who was overseeing that investigation. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein then appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation.
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