Intelligence experts are reacting to the allegations against Kushner with shock and disbelief, and say Kushner's attempt to establish a secret communication channel with Moscow out of the Russian Embassy is both suspicious and totally unprecedented.
"It is inconceivable that a White House official who had done this would continue to work there," said Susan Hennessey, former attorney in the National Security Agency’s office of general counsel.
Intelligence veteran Malcolm Nance says, at a minimum, Kushner's security clearance must be revoked immediately.
"This one incident requires Jared Kushner and all of his immediate staff to have their clearances pulled right now and to have the FBI descend to determine whether this is hostile intelligence in the White House one step from the president."
But Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly said there is nothing inherently wrong with an incoming presidential administration establishing “back channel” communications with a foreign power such as Russia. Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” the retired general did not confirm the reports on Kushner, but said the principle of establishing secretive contacts during a presidential transition “doesn't bother me.”
“I think that any channel of communication, back or otherwise, with a country like Russia is a good thing,” he said.
Sen. John McCain strongly disagreed with Kelly's characterization of Kushner's overtures:
"I know some administration officials are saying this is standard procedure," he told an interviewer. "I don't think it's standard procedure."
John McCain says not "standard procedure" for unelected officials like Jared Kushner to conduct negotiations with Russia
Others point out Kushner may have lied several times on his SF86 security clearance forms. He failed to note several meetings with Russian envoys, though when questioned about it, his lawyers called it an error. Falsifying information on these clearance forms is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
Intel sources: Jared Kushner did not disclose Russian meetings on his SF86 security clearance form. It's a felony, punishable by 5 years.