Washington Post: Kushner Tried To Set Up Secret Communications Channel With Russians

Hotline_VHS_coverThe Washington Post released a bombshell story on Friday that alleges that senior White House aide (and presidential son-in-law) Jared Kushner met withSergei Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to Washington to set up a private communications channel with the Kremlin.  The channel reportedly was sought for secret and secure and direct communications with the Russians.  Once again, there is nothing on its face unlawful about either the meeting or the desire for a secure communications line. However, the allegation (if true) would deepen the unease over the associations between the Trump camp and the Russians.  The increasing number of meetings has raised questions over why Trump officials were so solicitous to the Russians — a concern that reached its apex with Trump’s bizarre decision to entertain Kislyak and the Russian Foreign Minister in the Oval Office the day after firing former FBI Director James Comey.  Update:  After two days, the White House has been conspicuously silent.

The Post is relying on officials who leaked the results of intelligence reports on the meetings.   Reuters is also reporting that Kushner had at least three previously undisclosed contacts with Kislyak during and after the 2016 presidential campaign.

The officials told the Post that it was Kushner who suggested the use of Russian diplomatic facilities as a way to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring. That is a rather bizarre request since Trump could have asked for a secure line from U.S. officials after the election to facilitate any discussions.

Notably, Flynn was also in the meeting.

The idea of working with the Russians to create a secret line of communications would be highly alarming for U.S. intelligence officials who actively seek to monitor such communications.  Nevertheless, as I explained earlier, there is no Logan Act violation in such meetings.

There are a couple of serious questions however raised by the story (again if true). First, did Kushner reveal the contacts and particularly the effort to create a secret communication channel with the Russians as part of his security clearance?  The failure to do so would be a major violation and raise issues of false statements to the government.  Second, is there any evidence to suggest that the Russians disclosed or discussed the hacking of the email systems?  If so, statements made by Trump officials could be challenged as knowingly false or misleading, including statements made to congressional members.  Finally, it is doubtful that Kushner would simply take it upon himself to carry out such meetings.  This last question will be dangerously reminiscent: “What did the President know and when did he know it?”

Once again, as I have stated repeatedly for weeks, this alleged cover up still lacks a clear crime. The most that Jeff Toobin could come up with on CNN this week when pressed was “It’s a crime, aiding and abetting, hacking, it’s a crime.”  Sure, but it is a highly implausible crime to suggest that Trump or his associates played an active and direct role.  Section 1030 of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act makes any unauthorized access into a protected network or computer a federal crime and permits harsh penalties for those convicted.  However, there is little reason for the Russians to enlist the help or even inform Trump officials of any such effort.  Indeed, intelligence officers are trained to avoid unnecessary disclosures and to compartmentize such information.

The legal danger presented by the Post story is the degree to which it contradicts statements made to investigators or Congress.  Thus far, there has not been a great deal of such statements to investigators who only this week indicated a desire to interview Kushner.  Yet, the risk rises with these interviews for White House staff given the ever present threat of an 18 U.S.C. 1001 prosecution for false statements.

At a minimum, Kushner’s meetings with the Russians should require his recusal from White House efforts in this area, including the recently announced war room operation with Steve Bannon.

Kushner has expressed a willingness to discuss these meetings and he may deny the allegations in the Post story.  Once again, there is a presumption of innocence and the need to articulate a crime in this whole Russian mess.  Yet, the Post story again raises more questions and answers.

 

173 thoughts on “Washington Post: Kushner Tried To Set Up Secret Communications Channel With Russians”

  1. Jon Turley neglected to mention the most important and powerful of the Washington Post’s bombshells on the Trump-Russian connection!

    They Post’s crack invsetogative reporters have uncovered and obtained incontrovertible and verified evidence that Jared Kushner ate sandwiches and/or salads that included RUSSIAN dressing on February 21, 2016, April 7, 2016, April 28, 2016, June 3, 2016, September 12, 2016, September 15, 2016, Septmeber 20, 2016, Septmeber 30, 2016, October 5, 2016, October 12, 2016, October 16, 2016, November 4, 2016, November 5, 2016, November 7, 2016, November 8, 2016, November 12, 2016, and December 7, 2016.

    Note Kushner’s undeniable pattern in which the RUSSIAN dressing is consumed more often in the days approaching the U.S. election and even after the election! And if this were not damning evidence enough, the Washonton Post has engaged prominent British statisician Sir David Roxbee Cox to assess the likelihood that Kushner’s consumption of the RUSSIAN dressing was a mere coincidence. Sir Cox conlcuded that the odds of this being a coincidence were 1 in 2,563,890.

    Can you taste impeachment? Can you taste the Pulitzer Prize coming for these revelations? We truly are living in extraordinary times.

  2. Oh yeah! You can always get good information from the Washington Compost especially when it comes to the Trump administration, or gun rights groups, or conservative issues, or Christian genocide, etc. I wonder what Don Lemon’s take is aside from thinking the American people are blithering idiots. Maybe we should all shave our heads.

  3. “Are you now, or have you ever been, in contact with the Russians?”

    Modern Joe McCarthy

    1. “Have you or your business associates ever received funding, investments or any other payments from Russia, Russian oligarchs, or Russian financial organizations? Do you owe them money?”

  4. How can any work get done if all conversations are being monitored and leaked during the process?
    I don’t blame Trump for wanting some privacy.

    1. Curiously, there is no evidence that Republican Congressional strategy meetings re health care or the budget, have been leaked.

      1. However Roscoe, in a world of moral relativism, being outraged at the murder of innocent human life does not extend to the millions killed under the banner of abortion rights.

        1. Aha, we get to the heart of the matter….. Embryos are people? A sperm is half a person?

          1. Embryos are people?

            You’re partially correct. Embryos are evidence of life. Human embryos are evidence of human life.

  5. Wouldn’t it be funny if all nations demanded private secured lines after the admission of the level of surveillance under the Obama Administration? And with all the politically motivated leaks, clearly our current system cannot be trusted.

    It would seem strange if Russia told Trump, Kushner, or any of his associates that they hacked the DNC. Spooks are notoriously secretive. It’s the nature of the job. And revealing a spy network renders it useless. We’ll have to see what comes out of the investigation.

    Soon after the election, anti-Russian sentiment was high. It is most likely that they were trying to salvage diplomatic relations to avoid another Cold War with a nuclear power.

    I have found the entire Russian scandal interesting. Russia got everything it ever wanted out of Obama and Hillary. They got the Crimea, that stupid Reset Button, 1/5 of all of our nation’s Uranium, and various other sweet deals. The media is painting Hillary as some sort of Arnold Schwarzenegger character that Russia was petrified of should she take office. Russia knew how to handle (i.e. buy) Hillary quite well. Putin may have found her more annoying than Trump on a personal level, but strategically, she would have been a gold mine for them as POTUS. Or a uranium mine. Whatever. Or maybe they felt that her usefulness was done.

    My personal theory is that Russia takes gleeful delight in embarrassing the US. We hold ourselves to be the pinnacle of democracy, a republic forged on freedom and sacrifice. So they would take great pleasure in revealing the seeding inner workings of our government and our politics. What goes on behind closed doors is a deep embarrassment to anyone willing to take responsibility. It shamed us. It affected our standing globally. Many nations now understand the extent to which Obama engaged in illegal surveillance of its own citizens. Combined with so many leaks from our intelligence community and the government in general, and one supposes that nations would change their vetting procedure on what information they will share with us.

    They did not try to win the election for Trump. No one thought he would win, including Russia. I believe that their efforts may have been to thoroughly embarrass and delegitimize Hillary Clinton when she took office as president. And maybe they thought she was a fool and enjoyed embarrassing her.

    In any case, our relations with Russia are almost ruined. Our leverage over them and scope for diplomatic solutions to their expansion efforts and interference in our goals in the Middle East are severely damaged. Part of that may be Russia’s fault, and part of that is the fault of the media and the DNC. We all pay for the scorched Earth policies they have employed against Russia. There is very little good will left and the 90s have sent their foreign policy forward. Rather than proving that Trump is their Good ‘Ole Boy, we have had to repeatedly scramble our jets to turn away Russia fighter jets from CA and Alaska. They are pushing and probing and ignoring how their efforts in Syria destabilize the globe. Our media and the DNC have so thoroughly razed any efforts at diplomatic talks with the ambassador of Russia that I don’t see much point in their maintaining an embassy.

    Who can even make eye contact with a Russia ambassador or diplomat at this point without being dragged through the press and accused of treason? Well, except for Bill Clinton. He can get paid a half a million dollars to talk for a few minutes around the time that his wife signed off on giving the Russians 1/5 of our Uranium, and there is absolutely no story there. Hillary can have all the contact with Russians that she desires. The media was curiously silent about Obama’s open assurance that he would have more scope to pander to Russia after his last election, and hyper sensitized to Trump’s administration. They have taken the stance of show me the man and they will show you the crime.

    Yes, of course any hacking and cyber security risks should be thoroughly investigated. And many of us have felt for years that Russia was positioning herself to be a major adversary once again. But be cautious that you are not desperately trying to find a crime because you dislike someone’s politics or their personality. Investigate fairly and equally.

    Which means that Hillary Clinton should finally be investigated and if appropriate prosecuted for hiding her communications from the government and the public, mishandling classified information, and for bribery in which she sold access to our uranium to Russia in exchange for massive amounts of money for Bill’s speeches and donations to her money laundering foundation.

    1. Let me add to the above statement that if anyone in the Trump administration or government committed a crime, then let them be investigated and prosecuted as if they were any average citizen. And that includes those in the intelligence community releasing politically motivated leaks. These leaks demonstrate the danger in weaponizing government agencies politically to be used against its own citizens. In addition, if anyone in Hillary Clinton’s, Obama’s, or the DNC’s camp committed any crimes, then let them be investigated and prosecuted just the same.

      I want exactly the same justice for all, regardless of politics and wealth. Justice should be blind and impartial.

    2. Well said overall, Karen.

      I do not quite understand to whom you reference in this statement:
      “They are pushing and probing and ignoring how their efforts in Syria destabilize the globe.”

      Russia in Syria destabilizing the globe? Or ours?

      1. Hi Prairie:

        To clarify, Russia is probing and nettling our defenses with their repeated flybys near Alaska and CA. Russia supports Assad, providing military aid, and we oppose him. So we are working at odds in Syria. Meanwhile, the Syrian civil war has unleashed floods of refugees and migrants from this country infamous as a hotbed of terrorism, anti semitism, homophobia, and violence against women. And ISIS has captured and claimed large chunks of the country. About the only thing Russia and the US agree on, on paper, is that we both oppose ISIS, although Russia supports some terrorists globally, such as in Afghanistan, to fight against our interests.

        I suspect their efforts have been more along the lines of the destabilization of the US rather than favoritism of a Manchurian candidate.

        We are heading for a complicated future.

  6. Here is a different analysis of this story:

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-05-26/wapo-reports-kushner-sought-secret-back-channel-moscow-admits-its-normal-practice

    Kushner appears quite sleazy and has done some truly vile actions. I doubt back channels to the Russians means much of anything but the following really does:

    https://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2017/05/24/meet-jk2-westminster-l-l-c-the-kushner-family-real-estate-subsidiary-preying-on-poor-people/

    Story two is based on actual evidence. Story one is the usual anonymous sources and has some serious flaws in the reporting. The reason we don’t here about story two is the MSM agrees with Kushner’s actions which result in harming poor people.

  7. The Kushner family has been convicted of money laundering. They have no right to a back channel to secure more funds.

  8. The NSA and leaks are the reason a secure channel was desired. He may want a secure channel with England and Germany, too, but the leakers conveniently did not mention that.

    Also, while I disagree with them on establishing a secure channel (it all belongs to the public), this outrage is ridiculous. Clinton had her secret email and server and people were giving her a pass and she got a pass.

    Heck, I want a secure channel, too, for my communications with friends and family that NSA cannot access.

    1. Clinton never claimed that her server was secret, or even clandestine. The fact that it was not a government server could be discerned from her email address. And more to the point, she used the server for communicating routine office materials to and from her staff. Her staff, who were government employees and advisors. Not to representatives of a presumably hostile foreign power.

      1. She denied it existed (a lie), and she passed ‘routine’ classified documents over unapproved and insecure channels that she also denied doing (another lie).

        Pay for play, while not with overtlly hostile powers, is still an abuse of office.

        You are giving her a pass.
        Your outrage should apply to both.

        1. If she denied it existed, how did she communicate with her staff? Telepathy?
          As for the documents, that is a subtle and debatable point. She has maintained that when these messages were sent, they were not clearly marked classified, and/or arguably were not classified. As I have pointed out other times on this blog, the Secretary of State is the final classification authority for documents originating within and circulating within the Department of State. Not the FBI, not anyone external to the State Department. Other agencies can have opinions as to what DoS perhaps should have classified, but ultimately it is not their call. At the top of the food chain, it is likewise true that if Trump thinks something is not classified, it is not classified (for better or worse).
          And I am still not sure what Quo was delivered for what Quid, by Hillary.

          1. You are giving her a pass. She lied that she had turned over all work related emails (Guccifer outed her via Blumenthal). Your telepathy comment is an awful like her pretending to wipe with a cloth when she had actually had the server bleach-bitted. And, she had classified markings removed so that she could say that no classified documents had gone over her unapproved email and server (nevermind that some did, whoopsie).
            She granted access to herself as SoS to Clinton Foundation donors and helped unqualified people get on committees who were Clinton Foundation donors.

  9. I think it could be that the Trump team came upon the inevitable connections that the Clinton’s had and could be preparing to blackmail the Clinton’s regarding their sale of Uranium to the Russians.
    The ultimate irony, HRC and the Clinton foundation made a deal with the Russians top enrich their own cabal so they smear Trump as pro Putin to diminish her and Bill’s sins.
    Their goals of the deal were noble Trump was just a profiteer.

    http://www.snopes.com/hillary-clinton-uranium-russia-deal/

  10. Bombshell Report: Jared Kushner sought a way to set up a secret line of communication with the Russians and other entities to avoid the intel communities unauthorized monitoring of the Trump transition team. Michael Flynn advised the team all communications would be monitored and leaked to do damage to the President’s incoming administration. Source: Olly Reported by: RIL

    There, given all the evidence we’ve seen to do date, that makes as much sense as anything else.

      1. The goal? With the Russians and other entities? To do the damn job without being undermined by our own intel agencies.

          1. The job for which he was elected. Given what we know about the NSA’s wiretapping abuse of power, is it not reasonable to conclude any evidence of selling out to a foreign power would have been presented? Logically, what would the Trump administration (including Jared Kushner) believe they could possibly get away with? This is a 4 year gig, perhaps 8 years; what in the world would they have to gain by colluding with any entity that would not be scrutinized by EVERY so called news agency, intel agency, etc.? President Trump cannot eat dessert without it being characterized as a tyrannical act. This whole thing is absurd.

            1. Always about easy money for Trumps and Kushners. Do we know understand why Jared wanted Comey fired?

              1. Frank,
                If they are that stupid to think easy money will come living in a fish bowl, then take them down. As for Comey, Kushner would be standing in a long line of people believing he should have been fired.

                1. Olly – i thought Comey should have been fired after he failed to indict Hillary.

        1. My thoughts exactly.
          How can any work get done if all conversations are being monitored and leaked during the process.
          I don’t blame Trump for wanting some privacy.

      2. My own personal belief is that the Russians are heavily invested with the Trump and Kushner families and organizations, because Russian financiers provided funding when more conventional sources wouldn’t. And that to safeguard those investments, the Russians want specific actions and considerations in return. “Or else.” But that’s just my opinion.
        More generally, I think that these billionaires view themselves more as citizens of the world, than of the US.

      1. anon – wasn’t Kasparov defeated by a big computer? And if so, why should we listen to him.

          1. Jay S – Big Blue probably has more political savvy than Kasparov.

  11. Does Jared have a temper? Jared isn’t a shoe shine boy anymore…..So watch out.

  12. I wonder, are there ANY activities that the Trump inner circle could commit with respect to Russia, that commenters here would agree constitute treason against the United States? Or is it by definition impossible for this admistration to commit treason?

          1. That is okay. My garden is calling me and that is a much better place to be than a blog. 🙂

            1. anon – you have no idea how many of us feel the same way. 🙂

      1. I’m trying to remember the specifics of his case. Didn’t he give classified info to his squeeze/girlfriend (who was not a government employee), that she was going to use for some book project? That in and of itself strikes me as a gross and probably criminal mishandling of classified information, but not treason. Did Petraeus also direct sensitive info to any foreign power, to the detriment of our country?

        1. The point is how would we ever know.
          I know the specifics of the case. I just wanted to see how quick people who cry treason actually care about the nuances of revealing secrets by people who should know better and all that it entails.

          It will be great when the Washington Post finds themselves indicted on espionage charges after publishing WikiLeaks docs.

          I guess it all depends on which secrets are more important than others.

      2. Or maybe the direct answer to your question should be, “for the convenience of the government.” After all, why weren’t von Braun and his rocket pals tried and jailed after WWII? Instead, they got set up in a very nice laboratory and given lots of funding.

        1. von Braun and company oversaw the most costly propaganda hoax in world history. That most people STILL believe Neil Armstrong et al. actually walked on the Moon’s surface is proof that the hoax worked. Didn’t fool the Soviets, but Ivan wasn’t the intended fool. Joe Sixpack was.

          1. The headshrinker your family insists you consult must find you awfully tiresome.

      3. Because he wasn’t guilty of ‘treason’ or even espionage. He was indicted for mishandling classified information by showing some notebooks to Paula Broadwell (who had security clearances, btw).

    1. Totally agree with you. A lot of people are wondering “what on earth is it going to take to bring a charge of treason?”

      1. A lot of people are wondering “what on earth is it going to take to bring a charge of treason?”

        Hmmm, evidence of an actual crime?

        1. In general terms, what would it mean to “sell out your country?”

          1. Assuming that is a rhetorical question, is there evidence that anyone sold out our country?

              1. Good. Bring it. And while they are at it, prosecute those where the evidence that already exists. Be done with this already and let’s move on to actual governance.

    2. Jay,
      You don’t wonder. I think you believe holding a belief different than your own somehow means it supports treason. That is a ludicrous assertion. The LAW is clear. No individual is above the law. I for instance want any evidence of treason prosecuted. This is not a party issue. Would you accept indictments against ANYONE regardless of party?

    3. You are full of wonder Jay. The question I would have for you is do you want treason to be found, or do you want a President Trump to move on with constitutional governance?

      1. What I want, is to know one way or the other.
        Oh, and I also want to know if Trump will ever succeed in holding Melania’s hand.

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