From the May 28 edition of NBC's Meet the Press:
KIMBERLEY STRASSEL (WALL STREET JOURNAL): Back-channels are completely normal, they happen all the time. Reagan did them, Obama did them, everyone did. So I am not quite sure why supposedly having -- at least the president is now elected, setting up a back-channel with the Russians, is somehow out of balance.
JOEY REID (HOST, AM JOY): Here is one key difference. In October, months before this latest meeting, and it was one of 18 separate contacts that we now know of between the Trump campaign and Russia, our primary adversary in the world. In October, the collective judgment of the 17 intelligence agencies had been that Russia had been taking active measures to interfere in our elections -- quite a difference; we don’t think Iran was doing that. We know that that was happening in October. So in December, the now-president-elect decides that he's going to name Jim Mattis to be his secretary of defense. But he doesn’t open a back-channel, he sends his real-estate developer son-in-law, supposedly, or the real-estate developer son-in-law decides to open this back-channel, not just -- and it isn't a back-channel, by the way, because this is not how it works. You don't go to the adversary country and say, “Let's set something up inside your secure facility, in your embassy, so that we evade our intelligence services” -- sorry -- “we set it up inside of your security facility,” which even takes them aback, because that's bizarre, the idea that we're going to do this on your facility, and you send them to do that without Jim Mattis, the real estate developer who has no foreign policy experience whatsoever, and then if it's a channel about opening up negotiations in terms of something realistic -- in terms something about foreign policy, why are they also back-channeling with a bank? A Kremlin connected Russian bank? And why is the Reuters report saying that part of the discussion was the possibility of opening up opportunities for financing for Trump related --
STRASSEL: We don't know the answers to any of those questions because what we are getting here are --
REID: That's not a back-channel. By definition.