The White House announced on March 2 that President Donald Trump's senior adviser and former national security adviser met with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. in December.
Senior advisor Jared Kushner, who is also Trump's son-in-law, held the 20-minute meeting with former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at Trump Tower in New York, according to The New York Times.
It is reportedly not improper or unusual for officials of the incoming administration to meet representatives of foreign countries during the transition, The Times notes. However, the FBI is investigating allegations that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
"They generally discussed the relationship and it made sense to establish a line of communication," White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks said of the December meeting. "Jared has had meetings with many other foreign countries and representatives -- as many as two dozen other foreign countries’ leaders and representatives."
Flynn was forced to resign in February after it was revealed that he had spoken several times with Kislyak in late December after the Obama administration unveiled new sanctions against Russia. Flynn reportedly urged Russia not to respond to the sanctions because relations would improve under Trump.
Another member of the Trump administration was under pressure on March 2 over a meeting with the Russian ambassador. Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the media he would not oversee the federal inquiry into Russia's alleged intervention in the election.
The decision came after news emerged that Sessions met with Kislyak twice during the election campaign. During his confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee in January, Sessions twice denied having had contact with the Russian government.
"I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I didn't have -- did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it," Sessions said in response to a question during the hearing from Democratic Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, The Atlantic reports.
Sessions's first meeting with Kislyak came at a gathering with 50 other ambassadors in July. The second was a one-on-one meeting in September.
"Let me be clear: I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign, and the idea that I was part of a 'continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government' is totally false," Sessions told media on March 2. "My response to Senator Franken was honest and correct as I understood it at the time."