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Alex Brandon / AP

The hottest topic among top White House officials is the FBI's interest in Jared Kushner, the closest adviser and son-in-law of the President. The Washington Post report that Kushner discussed "a secret and secure communications channel between Trump's transition team and the Kremlin" is something from a Clancy novel.

Why it matters: He did it, knowing the world suspected Russia of helping tilt the election to his father-in-law.

Deets from N.Y. Times, which follows The Post and also makes it the paper's lead story: "The [December] conversation between Mr. Kushner and the ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, took place during a meeting at Trump Tower that Mr. Trump's presidential transition team did not acknowledge at the time. Also present at the meeting was Michael T. Flynn."

"It is unclear who first proposed the communications channel, but the people familiar with the meeting said the idea was to have Mr. Flynn speak directly with a senior military official in Moscow to discuss Syria and other security issues. The communications channel was never set up."

Sound smart: A hot theory is that Trump can't clean house because those inside know too much to be let go, and outsiders (beyond old campaign hands) can't be trusted with what they'd learn.

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Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
14 mins ago - World

Israeli ground troops join the fight near Gaza, raising threat of war

Israeli troops prepare to fire shells toward the Gaza Strip. Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli ground troops have joined the fight near the Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces announced on Thursday night.

Driving the news: While tanks and artillery were deployed for the first time on Thursday, there have not yet been reports of a ground invasion of Gaza. But Israel has called up 9,000 reservists and massed at least three brigades on the frontier with Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas.

Updated 40 mins ago - Economy & Business

The states ending federal pandemic unemployment benefits early

Protesters demand senators support the continuation of unemployment benefits on July 16, 2020 in Miami Springs, Florida. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

More than a dozen Republican-led states have announced they are terminating their involvement in federal pandemic-related unemployment programs early.

Driving the news: Many of the states' governors cited worker shortages. But some experts say it's the job climate, including pandemic-era factors, and not unemployment benefits that is determining when and how people return to work.

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