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Andrew Harnik / AP

The Washington Post reports that Jared Kushner wanted to set up a secret communications channel between President Trump's transition team and the Kremlin that would be free of monitoring. He wanted the secret channel to discuss policy issues and Syria with Russia, according to three officials who spoke with the NYT.

What we know: Kushner requested on Dec. 1 or 2 that the secret channel be set up during a meeting with Kislyak at Trump Tower — a meeting also attended by Michael Flynn, Trump's first national security adviser. Kushner wanted to use Russian diplomatic facilities for the proposed meetings. They also discussed setting up a meeting between a Trump associate and a Russian contact in a third country.

Update: Once Rex Tillerson was confirmed as Secretary of State, Trump's team felt there was no need for a backchannel, per an AP report, which confirmed Kushner made the request. The AP, like the NYT, reports that the channel was meant to connect Flynn with military leaders.

Why it matters: The revelation comes at a time when the FBI and DOJ are conducting an ongoing investigation into Russia's election meddling and any collusion between Russian officials and Trump team members.

Some officials said the request showed a "staggering naivete," as WashPost put it. The White House and Flynn lawyer Robert Kelner, declined to comment to the Post, while the Russian embassy didn't respond to requests for comment.

Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak told his superiors in Moscow about the request and was "taken aback" by the proposal, since it would pose a security risk for Russia and Trump's team, per WashPost

Worth noting:

  • This report is based on U.S. officials briefed on intel reports that come from intercepts of Russian communications. Russians are known to thread false information into communications to sow doubt in the U.S.
  • Trump's advisers have been similarly secretive about meetings they have had with leaders from the United Arab Emirates.

Go deeper

Collins helps contractor before pro-Susan PAC gets donation

Sen. Susan Collins during her reelection campaign. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A PAC backing Sen. Susan Collins in her high-stakes reelection campaign received $150,000 from an entity linked to the wife of a defense contractor whose firm Collins helped land a federal contract, new public records show.

Why it matters: The executive, Martin Kao of Honolulu, leaned heavily on his political connections to boost his business, federal prosecutors say in an ongoing criminal case against him. The donation linked to Kao was veiled until last week.

How cutting GOP corporate cash could backfire

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies pulling back on political donations, particularly to members of Congress who voted against certifying President Biden's election win, could inadvertently push Republicans to embrace their party's rightward fringe.

Why it matters: Scores of corporate PACs have paused, scaled back or entirely abandoned their political giving programs. While designed to distance those companies from events that coincided with this month's deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol, research suggests the moves could actually empower the far-right.

8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Kaine, Collins pitch Senate colleagues on censuring Trump

Sen. Tim Kaine speaks with Sen. Susan Collins. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine and Susan Collins are privately pitching their colleagues on a bipartisan resolution censuring former President Trump, three sources familiar with the discussions tell Axios.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction in his second impeachment.