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.
Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak told his superiors that Kushner floated the idea during a meeting at Trump Tower on Dec. 1 or 2, according to the Post, which cited intercepts of Russian communications reviewed by U.S. officials.
Following the reports on Friday, the Democratic National Committee called for Kushner’s immediate firing from his White House position.
When asked what his first reaction would be if reports are proven true, McLaughlan said he’d ask himself, “is this a prank?”
“[The reaction] would be kind of disbelief, because it’s not the sort of they think you would expect to happen in a normal transition,” he said.