(This post has been slightly expanded since original publication.)
I confess that this post's title is a provocation, though it expresses my sincere belief. If this Reuters report
and this WP report
are true -- and as of this writing, they have not been denied -- Jared Kushner is a traitor. He should not simply lose his job; he must be tried. Tried for treason
Kushner lied on his security clearance forms -- forms which clearly state that a deliberate falsification will result in jail. Any "Oops! Forgot!" claim is a bad joke. Jared Kushner cannot possibly have forgotten a meeting with the Russian ambassador in Trump Tower. No-one can forget an attempt to set up a back channel communication system using Russian facilities.
Matthew Yglesias offered a hilarous tweet
: "Who among us has never set up a secret, secure back-channel line of communication with the Russian government?" Indeed! Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
You wanna know who really is
without sin in all this? Hillary Clinton.
Yet the Republicans chanted "Lock her up!" because Hillary set up a private email server. Contrary to the incessant lies emitted by right-wing propagandists, that server handled NON-classified communications, with a couple of accidental exceptions (which Hillary did not send). The most often-cited of these exceptions was a piece of piffle about Malawi which never should have received a classification stamp.
That's why the Republican establishment demanded that Hillary Clinton lose her security clearance: Freakin' Malawi
. The same establishment is now trying to come up with a way to save Kushner's ass.
The hypocrisy on display here is beyond flabbergasting, beyond infuriating. I cannot think of a parallel in the entire history of partisan double standards. Anyone who can damn Hillary while excusing Kushner and Trump must be mentally sick.
At this time (last December), Trump and his team were bad-mouthing the U.S. intelligence community. Kushner's back-channel was designed to keep Trump's communications with Putin hidden from our
people, not from the FSB.
There was an obvious quid-pro-quo behind all of this. Despite changing his stances on nearly all other matters -- health care, coal, Goldman Sachs, trade, taxes -- Trump retains his antipathy for NATO and the European Union. He still opposes Obama's sanctions against Russia. Even Josh Marshall, the "safe-and-sane" blogger who usually steers clear of anything that reeks of conspiracy theory, admits that Trump's opposition to NATO is ominous
President Trump’s visit to Brussels/Europe wasn’t just another grab bag of impulsive aggression and gaffes. It wasn’t scattershot. It was quite clearly focused on destabilizing and perhaps eviscerating the NATO Alliance and somewhat secondarily, but relatedly, the European Union. This has been the strategic goal of Russia and before it the Soviet Union for decades. The sum total of everything that happened on this trip casts the entire Trump/Russia story in a decidedly more ominous light.
To undermine NATO in this way has, of course, been a core goal of Russian (and, earlier, Soviet) foreign policy as long as NATO has existed. And through all the ups and downs of the Cold War and post-Cold War eras, Russia has never scored a success on that front as striking as Donald Trump’s elevation to the presidency and his continued refusal to affirm that the United States will defend its allies. Why exactly Trump won’t do that remains a mystery, but the conduct itself is striking — in some ways all the more so because it involves Trump overruling the professional opinion of his own aides in favor of a different, more Russia-friendly line.
It is also quite clear that Trump has personally received funding from the Russians, channeled through Deutsche Bank and the Bank of Cyprus, both of which have provided Putin with money laundry services. No one else would loan money to Trump, given his bankruptcies and well-known phobic reaction to the idea of paying back loans. As recently as 2008, Trump and Deutsche Bank were engaged in a lawsuit because Trump didn't want to pay what he owed. Trump continued to get loans through a Deutsche Bank subsidiary -- and with each passing day, it is becoming clear that he must have had Russian co-signers.
But the Trump/Russia financial links go deeper. From the above-cited piece by Yglesias:
A stray line in the Times story offers a hint of a possible alternate explanation for Kushner’s unusual communications requests:
In the days after the meeting with Mr. Kislyak, Mr. Kushner had a separate meeting with Sergey Gorkov, a Russian banker with close links to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.
The Post’s reporting also mentions the Gorkov meeting, more pointedly suggesting that FBI investigators see a possible link between the two events:
The White House disclosed the meeting only in March, playing down its significance. But people familiar with the matter say the FBI now considers the encounter, as well as another meeting Kushner had with a Russian banker, to be of investigative interest.
Tim O’Brien of Bloomberg View, a Trump biographer who Trump has in the past unsuccessfully sued for libel, speculates that Kushner’s interest in Gorkov and his bank was fundamentally about money:
At the time, Kushner had already spent months trying to arrange fresh financing for a troubled building his family owns, 666 Fifth Avenue.
After one of those meetings, Kislyak arranged a meeting between Kushner and Sergey Gorkov, the powerful chief executive of a major Russian bank, Vnesheconombank, also known as VEB.
says that the newspaper first learned about Kushner's backchannel from an unusual source:
The Post was first alerted in mid-December to the meeting by an anonymous letter, which said, among other things, that Kushner had talked to Kislyak about setting up the communications channel. This week, officials who reviewed the letter and spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence said the portion about the secret channel was consistent with their understanding of events.
The WP story indicates that the intelligence community learned about the Trump Tower dialogue not through eavesdropping of that location but via an intercepted "after action" report sent by Russian ambassador Kislyak to his superior in Moscow.
Frankly, I'm a bit dubious of this part of the story. Perhaps Trump Tower was
bugged -- or "tapped. If the FBI or NSA eavesdropped, they did so for damned good reason: Actual criminal activity was afoot. It is possible that this eavesdropping prompted that anonymous letter.
However, any eavesdropping cannot be revealed to the public at this time. As everyone knows, the Trumpers will leap at any chance to switch the narrative and blame the Obama administration for the "tapp": How DARE Obama find out that we've committed treason!
It is simpler all around for the story of Jared's traitorous dealings to be sourced back to Kislyak's report to his superiors, since the NSA is supposed
to monitor that kind of communication.