Former acting CIA director John McLaughlan on Friday responded to reports that President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner discussed setting up a secret communications line between Trump's transition team and the Kremlin, saying if such reports are true, it would be considered espionage.
"I don’t want to overstate this because obviously there is a lot we don’t know — we don’t know the exact content of the conversation. We don’t know the objective that was a part of the conversation — those things we don’t know," McLaughlan said on MSNBC's "The Last Word" Friday.
"But I can’t keep out of my mind the thought that, if an American intelligence officer had done anything like this, we’d consider it espionage.”
The president's son-in-law and senior adviser inquired about using Russian diplomatic facilities for the communications, apparently to shield the talks, U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports told The Washington Post.Tom Winter and Robert Windrem report at NBC:
The Russian banker Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner met with in December is viewed by U.S. intelligence as a "Putin crony" and a graduate of a "finishing school" for spies who was often tasked with sensitive financial operations by Putin, according to multiple U.S. officials and documents viewed by NBC News.
Sergey Gorkov, 48, graduated from the FSB Academy, which was chartered in 1994 to educate Russian Intelligence personnel. He has long served Russian President Vladimir Putin in critical economic roles. Most recently, Putin chose him to head of the state-owned VneshEconomBank (VEB). As the Russian state national development bank, VEB has played a critical role in blunting the impact of U.S. sanctions against Russia by finding other sources of foreign capital.
Before that, Gorkov was the deputy chairman of Sberbank, Russia's biggest bank, also state-owned, and also under U.S. sanctions since 2014.