Sergey I. Kislyak


The NY Times is reporting that Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and now a senior adviser and  Mike Flynn, then Donald J. Trump’s incoming national security adviser, had a previously undisclosed meeting with the Russian ambassador in December to “establish a line of communication” between the new administration and the Russian government, the White House said on Thursday.

The meeting  was held at Trump Tower with  Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador. But among Mr. Trump’s inner circle, it is Mr. Flynn who appears to have been the main interlocutor with the Russian envoy — the two were in contact during the campaign and the transition, Mr. Kislyak and current and former American officials have said.

Sergey I. Kislyak

But the extent and frequency of their contacts remains unclear, and the disclosure of the meeting at Trump Tower adds to the emerging picture of how the relationship between Mr. Trump’s incoming team and Moscow was evolving to include some of the president-elect’s most trusted advisers.

The White House has repeatedly sought to play down any connections with Mr. Kislyak. Attorney General Jeff Sessions acknowledged this week that he had met twice with him during the campaign, despite previous denials.

The New Yorker reported this week that Mr. Kushner had met with Mr. Kislyak at Trump Tower in December. Hope Hicks, a White House spokeswoman, confirmed on Thursday that Mr. Flynn was also at the meeting in response to questions from a New York Times reporter.

It is common and not improper for transition officials to meet with foreign officials. But all meetings between Trump associates and Russians are now significant as the F.B.I. investigates Russian interference in the American election and whether anyone close to Mr. Trump’s campaign was involved.

The meeting in December came at a crucial time, just as the Obama White House was preparing to sanction Russia and publicly make its case that Moscow had interfered with the 2016 election.

What is now becoming clear is that the incoming Trump administration was simultaneously striking a conciliatory pose toward Moscow in a series of meetings and phone calls involving Mr. Kislyak.

“They generally discussed the relationship and it made sense to establish a line of communication,” Ms. Hicks said. “Jared has had meetings with many other foreign countries and representatives — as many as two dozen other foreign countries’ leaders and representatives.”

The Trump Tower meeting lasted 20 minutes, and Mr. Kushner has not met since with Mr. Kislyak, Ms. Hicks said.

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