Trump eyes White House overhaul, outside lawyers and PR team

by Abel Hampton May 31, 2017, 6:29

The briefing came four days after The Washington Post reported the president's son-in-law and senior adviser tried to set up back-channel communications with the Russians during the transition.

In his first briefing since President Trump returned from his nine-day worldwide trip, White House press secretary Sean Spicer was looking to highlight the trip's successes.

The result is that we end up with a president who at 8:33 a.m. says that it's his opinion "that numerous leaks coming out of the White House are fabricated lies made up by the #FakeNews media", and then at 10:43 a.m. says that the prime minister of the United Kingdom was mad about information that was leaked.

In interviews Sunday, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said he did not know if the reports are true.

Russian officials spoke of having potentially "derogatory" information about Donald Trump during the 2016 election campaign, CNN reported on Tuesday, citing two former intel officials and a source in Congress.

"#FakeNews is the enemy!" he continued.

On Saturday White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster suggested such communications might be typical, saying the back channel communications the administration has with a number of countries allow for "discreet" communication.

But the U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, is very concerned.

A special prosecutor is investigating whether Trump aides colluded illegally with Russian officials to help him win the November election, while congressional committees have called on numerous current and former Trump aides to testify.

Trump tweeted Tuesday: "Russian officials must be laughing at the USA & how a lame excuse for why the Dems lost the election has taken over the Fake News".

However, as some have pointed out, Kushner's reported suggestion that the channel be established using Russian facilities in the United States is abnormal.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from SC, said on CNN's "State of the Union" that he was skeptical of the back-channel story because he did not trust Russian officials.

"I'm not going to comment on any of that because there is no reason to, frankly", Conway said when asked specifically about the Times report.

In March the White House disclosed that the two had met, but the Post's sources say that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has taken an interest in what was discussed.

Schiff said he could neither confirm nor deny the allegations against Kushner, but if they are accurate, "it's obviously very concerning".

Just back from visiting the Middle East and Europe, Trump on Sunday dismissed recent reports as "fake news".

The Washington Post is reporting that the FBI is investigating meetings that Trump's son-in-law, Kushner, had in December 2016, with Russian officials.

Dubke said in a statement "It has been my great honor to serve President Trump and this administration".

Russia, a pivotal player in Syria, has backed Syrian President Bashar Assad, often at the expense of civilians and at odds with US policy during Syria's long civil war.

Former director of national intelligence James Clapper took a darker view of contacts with representatives of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Russia, at least for my money, is our primary adversary", he told NBC.

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