Jared Kushner, senior advisor to President Trump, is seen here in March 2017. (240599)
Credit: POOL

First there was Paul Manafort, and then Michael Flynn. Now the intrigue and possible collusion with the Russians has reached even deeper inside the Trump administration to his son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Even as the Russian connection now touches the Trump family and Kushner’s meeting with ambassador Sergey Kislyak for the purpose of establishing backchannel communications, the smoking gun is still just that, with nothing substantial about the content of the meeting.

According to The New York Times, Kushner had more than one meeting with the ambassador during and after the last presidential campaign. He also met with the Russian banker Sergey Gorkov, with the greater possibility of a direct link to President Putin.

Although questions have been raised about Kushner’s contacts with the Russians, the FBI has said he is not at the moment under investigation, and he has volunteered to testify before the congressional committees looking into Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

“Jared is doing a great job for the country,” President Trump told the press Sunday. “I have total confidence in him.”

Kushner’s meetings have been, as expected, supported by other administration figures, including Homeland Security adviser John Kelly, who says Kushner has every right to seek backchannel communications.

On the other hand, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said “I don’t like it,” when asked about Kushner’s attempt to set up a secret communication channel. “I know that some administration officials are saying ‘Well, that’s standard procedure.’ I don’t think it’s standard procedure before the inauguration of the president of the United States by someone who is not in an appointed position.”

McCain continued, “And I think that [former FBI Director James] Comey, we know, took action that he did in regards to then-candidate [Hillary] Clinton because of some false news that was being put out by the Russians. I mean, this becomes more and more bizarre. In fact, you can’t make it up.”

But making up things has been part and parcel of the Trump administration, although we wait for the details to be disclosed about how much Kushner discussed with the Russians, and it couldn’t be any more than what his father-in-law disclosed.

With the Trump administration enduring daily turmoil, one wonders how the president will deal with Kushner, a relative he can’t throw under the bus, or can he?

Trump didn’t have to remove White House Communications Director Mike Dubke. Tuesday, Dubke resigned or was asked to step aside as the Russian debacle intensifies. “It has been my great honor to serve President Trump and this administration,” Dubke said. “It has also been my distinct pleasure to work side-by-side, day-by-day with the staff of the communications and press departments.”

Dubke’s departure may be a harbinger of a major shakeup in the Trump administration.