CNN panel: No way Jared Kushner was 'lone-wolfing' backchannel pitch to Russians - Trump was involved
Wolf Blitzer panel -- CNN screengrab

On CNN's "The Situation Room," Wolf Blitzer's panel too a long hard look at reports that White House adviser Jared Kushner reached out to the Russian ambassador to set up a secret backchannel communications line with the Kremlin, suggesting he was the messenger boy for President Donald Trump.


Former CIA officer Phil Mudd was the first to bring up Trump's name.

"There's a judgment by Jared Kushner and the president's team that says, 'I trust the Russians more than I trust the Americans. I'm going to go talk to the Russian embassy because I don't trust American channels,'" Mudd explained. "We don't know what he said and whether anything he said was either inappropriate or illegal, and I'm going to presume he did this at the behest of the president-elect of the United States."

CNN correspondent Chris Cillizza seconded the motion, saying there was nothing in Kushner's background to suggest he might initiate the proposal.

"I find it hard to believe no, matter what you think of Jared Kushner, that he was lone wolfing it on this," Cillizza explained. "That he developed a plan entirely independent of Donald Trump or Mike Flynn or anybody else. What we know about him is that, yes, he is a member of the family. He is a trusted adviser, but he's not someone, I don't think, who believes he should just go and run channels, particularly at that point, particularly in the transition period."

"So I think it does not look great, particularly because of the context," he continued. "This is not the first story we have heard about something -- to Phil's point, espionage, treason, something that looks had a little bit odd to a number of people who spent a lot of time there, related to the Trump administration, Trump transition and Russia. I think that's part of the problem. A lone event that happened in a vacuum, might not be great for Jared Kushner, maybe shouldn't have done it, but when you have Mike Flynn and Carter Page and Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner having other meetings with Russians that were not disclosed, it looks like something that merits investigation."

Watch the video below via CNN: