Sen. Lankford: Kushner's Kremlin communication issue is question of "why"

Sen. Lankford on Russia probe

Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, says that as the Senate's investigation into Russian meddling continues, lawmakers are now questioning why President Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner needed back-channel communications with Kremlin officials.

Lankford, who serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told "CBS This Morning" on Wednesday that while it is "entirely appropriate" for White House officials to have ongoing communications with "large governments," the real question is why specifically Kushner wanted to establish those channels.

0531-ctm-senjameslankford-qa-1325806-640x360.jpg
Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma CBS News

"We're trying to figure out exactly why, for him in particular, was the reason to have back channels. It's one thing to have national security back channels, it's another thing for other individuals in the White House," said Lankford.

"I would expect every White House while they're setting up and getting prepared to develop relationships and conversations they would have once the administration begins,"  Lankford added. "You don't want someone calling the very first day, January 20, and saying 'Hi, my name is —,' and you need to set up some sort of system in process. The difference in this one is it seems to be a back channel communications, separate from normal communications. That's part of the question."

When asked if Kushner's security clearance should now be reviewed, Lankford said, "I think the security clearance has been reviewed, I think we'll work through the process to get the rest of the facts on it. We're asking all those same questions and we'll work through the process together."

Lankford said while the committee is continuing to gather further information on just how the Russian government was able to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, lawmakers are pressing for further details on whether any American was involved in aiding the Russians, as well as the leaking of classified documents.

Lankford added that there are "so many unnamed sources" surrounding leaks coming from the White House and the investigation as a whole that it creates "instability" in the country.

"The Russians wanted to interfere in our election and they seemed to have created quite a stir and chaos — that was their initial mission, to destabilize our democracy," said Lankford.  

  • emily-tillett-220x140.png
    Emily Tillett On Twitter»

    Emily Tillett is the digital producer at "Face the Nation"