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Michael Flynn and Jared Kushner met with the Russian ambassador in December, White House reveals

The White House on Thursday acknowledged a previously undisclosed meeting between Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and senior adviser Jared Kushner, The New York Times reports. The meeting took place in December, before President Trump’s inauguration, when Flynn was gearing up to serve as Trump’s top national security official.

The meeting was arranged to "establish a line of communication" between the incoming Trump administration and the Russian government, White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks told the Times. The New Yorker reported earlier this week that Kushner and Kislyak had met in December, but it wasn’t until Hicks’ statement Thursday that Flynn’s attendance at the meeting was confirmed. The three men reportedly spoke for about 20 minutes.

The Times notes that while "it is common and not improper for transition officials to meet with foreign officials" before the formal change-over of government, Kushner and Flynn’s meeting with Kislyak came "just as the Obama White House was preparing to sanction Russia" for its interference in the 2016 election. Flynn resigned from his post as national security adviser last month after it was reported he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other White House officials regarding his conversations with Kislyak before Trump’s inauguration.

"They generally discussed the relationship and it made sense to establish a line of communication," Hicks said of the meeting. Also Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced he would recuse himself from any investigations pertaining to the 2016 presidential campaigns after it was reported he too had spoken to Kislyak twice during the election, despite testifying before the Senate that he "did not have communications with the Russians." Read more about the December meeting at The New York Times. Kimberly Alters