ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
The Washington Post reports this evening that President Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, discussed with the Russian ambassador the possibility of having a secret direct channel to the Kremlin leading up to the inauguration. And The Post reports that the FBI considers those conversations to be of investigative interest. National security reporter Greg Miller co-wrote this story for The Post. Welcome to the program.
GREG MILLER: Thank you.
SHAPIRO: The White House voluntarily disclosed some information about these meetings back in March. Tell us what you're reporting today that is new.
MILLER: So we are learning more about what occurs in this meeting? You're right that the White House would - might quibble with the word voluntarily, but they - you're right that they did disclose this meeting had occurred in early December with then National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, with Jared Kushner, the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
What we're learning more about tonight is one of the items that was discussed in that meeting, and it has to do with an idea of setting up a secure or private channel of communication going forward between Moscow and the Trump transition team that presumably would be beyond the scrutiny or monitoring of the U.S. government or the Obama administration.
SHAPIRO: How unusual would that be?
MILLER: I think it would be pretty extraordinary. I mean I really don't know of an instance in history where an incoming administration is trying to set up a private channel of communication with Moscow, let alone one that, you know, according Kislyak's account of this meeting, would involve using Russian communication facilities or equipment at Russian compounds, either the embassy or other diplomatic compounds in the United States. I mean it's hard to see another scenario in which that happens.
SHAPIRO: You write that even the Russians had some concerns about the security implications of this. What would the security implications be?
MILLER: Well, I mean essentially this would this would involve bringing a U.S. citizen, an American, into the Russian embassy, consulate or other facility, taking them into the most secure part of that building and putting them on the line with Moscow through the most sophisticated communication gear that the - Russia might have.
I mean for Russia, it's extremely important that their officials here are able to talk with Moscow - with the government in Moscow beyond the - beyond U.S. surveillance, out of reach of U.S. surveillance. So bringing an American in to use that that phone line would be pretty remarkable.
SHAPIRO: Now, as I said, you also reported that the FBI considers these conversations of investigative interest. Describe how this fits into the larger picture of the ongoing investigation into the Trump team's ties to Russia.
MILLER: Well, I think that, you know - I think it's easy to see why the FBI would be intrigued by this. Why would the Russian ambassador be telling his bosses that the incoming president's closest adviser and son-in-law wants a private channel, a private way of talking? Why would they want that? There are all these other ways of communicating with Moscow on open channels. Or if you really need it, the State Department or the White House could probably help you set up a secure channel with Moscow if that was really that important. What is this about?
SHAPIRO: What is it about from the perspective of the Trump administration? What have they told you?
MILLER: Well, in this case, we got very little that we could use for the story. I mean you can see in the story, we have a - that the White House declined to comment. That's not for lack of trying. We spent a good deal of effort trying to get the White House version of events or a White House response to this. They were unwilling to provide that on the record.
SHAPIRO: That's Greg Miller of The Washington Post. Thanks very much.
MILLER: Thank you.
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