Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Sunday that he and the intelligence community were “very concerned” about reports that White House adviser Jared Kushner discussed establishing secretive back channels with the Kremlin.

“I will tell you that my dashboard warning light was clearly on, and I think that was the case with all of us in the intelligence community, very concerned about the nature of these approaches to the Russians,” the former intelligence chief told Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

While Clapper declined to confirm or corroborate reports that Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, discussed creating communications channels with Russia that would have evaded U.S. monitoring, he said the reports are troubling given Russia’s history of seeking to undermine American democracy.

“If you put that in context with everything else we knew the Russians were doing to interfere with the elections and the historical practice of the Russians … we were concerned,” he said.

Clapper said that although he did not see any “smoking-gun evidence of collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russian officials while serving in the federal government, he thinks the information coming out of the ongoing congressional and FBI probes “certainly arouses your concern about what is going on.”

“I have to say, at the time I left, I did not see any smoking-gun evidence of collusion, but it certainly was appropriate, given all the signs, certainly appropriate for the FBI to investigate.”

The former intelligence chief also said that the dialogue between Kushner and Russian diplomat Sergey Kislyak — which reportedly took place between Trump’s election triumph and the end of President Barack Obama’s presidency — may have violated the spirit of the presidential transition.

“We have a time-honored custom that we have one president and one administration at a time,” Clapper said, “and oncoming administrations don’t get a head start before the end of the current president’s incumbency.”

Source: http://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/28/clapper-kushner-russia-backchannels-238901

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