U.S. Democrats demanded to hear from key White House adviser Jared Kushner over allegations he tried to establish secret communications with Russia before the inauguration of his father-in-law, President Donald Trump.
Representative Adam Schiff (Democrat-California), who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, said on May 28 that it was "obviously very concerning" that a key Trump transition team member was possibly seeking secret links with a country accused of interfering in the 2016 election.
Some Democrats said Kushner's national security clearance might have to be revoked.
The allegations first surfaced in reports by The New York Times and The Washington Post. Other news outlets also reported on Kushner's alleged attempt to establish a back-channel line to the Kremlin.
Trump took to Twitter to label the leaks coming out about his administration as "fabricated lies."
"It is my opinion that many of the leaks coming out of the White House are fabricated lies made up by the #FakeNews media," he wrote.
"Whenever you see the words 'sources say' in the fake news media, and they don't mention names it is very possible that those sources don't exsist [sic] but are made up by fake news writers. #FakeNews is the enemy!" Trump wrote.
News reports said Trump was meeting with attorneys at the White House on May 28 over matters related to Russia, possibly to set up a so-called "war room" to respond to the controversy.
Kushner, senior presidential adviser Steve Bannon, and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus could lead the team, the reports said.
Democrat Schiff said the government needed to "get to the bottom" of the matter. He said a review of Kushner's security clearance was necessary to determine "whether he was truthful."
"If not, then there's no way he can maintain that kind of a clearance," Schiff said.
U.S. media reported that Kushner in December spoke to Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak about setting up a secret communications channel between the Kremlin and the Trump transition team.
The White House has confirmed the meeting and Kushner's attendance in March but said it was only a brief courtesy call.
Senator Cory Booker (Democrat-New Jersey), who is on the Foreign Relations Committee, described the allegations as "serious" and called for a thorough investigation.
"He needs to answer for what was happening at the time," Booker said. "What's worrying me are the patterns we're seeing. So, one is this administration not talking about our values, cozying up to authoritarian leaders. And the other pattern we have is just a continuous drumbeat of inappropriate contacts with the Russians."
Kushner's lawyers have said he was willing to talk with investigators about his foreign contacts and his work on the Trump campaign.
With reporting by AP and AFP