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Thursday, June 01, 2017

Did Flynn flip?

Although it has one big problem, the Keith Olbermann video embedded above is worth watching. Olbermann addresses a question that a number of people are asking: Is Michael Flynn already blabbing -- privately -- to the Justice Department?

Here's the one big problem: Olbermann misunderstands one key aspect of the WP's bombshell story about the Kushner's "backchannel" meeting with Kislyak at Trump Tower. There is no need to presume that a foreign nation provided the intercept of Kislyak's communication with his bosses back home. I'm pretty sure that the NSA did that job -- after all, spying on Russians (talking to other Russians) is what the NSA is supposed to do.

We know from earlier reports that the Russians believed that their communication system was absolutely secure. It wasn't: No Such Agency was listening in the whole time.

That said, I think that Olbermann raises a good point: The WP might not have gone with this story unless they had confirmation. Who could have given them that confirmation? Michael Flynn was the only other American present -- that we know of.

It's worth noting that, when this WP story broke, Team Trump made no serious attempt to claim "It's all a lie." Since the WP's only source is an intercepted communication from Kislyak to Moscow -- a communication which has never been published -- it should have been pretty easy for the White House to claim: "Fake News! Jared would never do a think like that."

Tellingly, the White House has made no such claim. From the start, they stipulated the reality of the WP's report, although they claimed (unpersuasively) that the backchannel was instituted for benign purposes.

It makes a lot of sense to presume that Flynn has quietly confirmed -- either to the FBI or to some other investigator -- that the Kushner/Kislyak interaction occurred.

Here's an interesting point from the WP's timeline:
Trump transition team members warn Flynn that his communications with Kislyak will be monitored by American intelligence agencies. To impress upon Flynn the risks of cozying up to the Russian ambassador, the team requests a dossier on Kislyak to share with Flynn. It’s now known if he ever read it.
(That last sentence should probably read "It's not known...") For a few more details, let's look at this WP story from May 5:
Flynn was told during a late November meeting that Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s conversations were almost certainly being monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies, officials said, a caution that came a month before Flynn was recorded discussing U.S. sanctions against Russia with Kislyak, suggesting that the Trump administration would reevaluate the issue.
That was November. Yet Flynn attended the Kushner/Kislyak meeting in Trump Tower early in December, and kept in touch with the Russian ambassador throughout the month. Flynn must have known that Kislyak would talk with Moscow.

What the hell got into Flynn? He was warned in November: "They're eavesdropping on the Russian ambassador." But that didn't stop him from talking to the Russian ambassador. Why?

I can come up with a couple of answers:

1. Flynn may have had reason to believe that the Russians had devised a communication system which the NSA could not crack. Perhaps when he was head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, someone told him that Russian encryption was ironclad and impenetrable. Perhaps that was the time.

2. Flynn may have presumed that Trump's takeover of the government would insure his safety.

Those two guesses are the best I can come up with right now. You may have ideas of your own; I'd like to hear them. It's fair to presume that there's a big part of this story which we don't yet know.

As you may have guessed, Louise Mensch has taken the "flipping Flynn" story further than anyone else...
Multiple sources with links to the intelligence and law enforcement communities say that Lt. Gen Mike Flynn has turned on Donald Trump, and has already had at least one lengthy interview with the FBI.

General Flynn has not been offered a deal as of yet, these sources say. They indicate that as of this writing Flynn has not been arrested. He would likely be offered a chance to surrender himself, sources report, when that time comes.
Sources with links to the Justice Department indicate that General Flynn has already been indicted. On Twitter, Claude Taylor exclusively reported on May 14th that an indictment against Flynn had been returned by a Grand Jury and that this indictment was sealed. I can further report that Flynn’s indictment is thought to be for his failure to register under FARA, the Foreign Agents’ Registration Act, for his lobbying for Turkey.
A freakin' indictment? Right. I'll believe that when I see evidence. (Why no indictment of Jared for lying on his security forms?) At the moment, the "Flynn flipped" claim seems more persuasive, although proof remains lacking.

For what it's worth, here's another interesting aspect of Mensch's story...
Separate sources with links to the intelligence community confirm our earlier reporting on how Mike Flynn co-ordinated Russia’s propaganda attack on the West on behalf of Trump, giving advice across Europe to far-right parties linked to the Russian state. These include, but are not limited to, UKIP, Marine Le Pen in France and a far-right party in Austria. Flynn regarded himself as a partisan of the Russian state, and his assistance in Russia’s messaging was not limited to hacking the American election, but in trying to boost Nazi ideology and Putin allies right across Europe.
Very intriguing. A lot of people would be outraged by the suggestion that a former DIA head has been converted to neo-Fascism, but I find the idea credible. Mensch's allegation -- though unproven -- ties in with an important point raised by Hillary Clinton in her recent Q&A session.
"The Russians in my opinion could not have known how best to weaponize that information unless they had been guided by Americans."
Mensch believes that Flynn was the one offering guidance. However, more evidence suggests that Kushner was the guide. From an important Forbes piece from last November:
Kushner's crew was able to tap into the Republican National Committee's data machine, and it hired targeting partners like Cambridge Analytica to map voter universes and identify which parts of the Trump platform mattered most: trade, immigration or change. Tools like Deep Root drove the scaled-back TV ad spending by identifying shows popular with specific voter blocks in specific regions--say, NCIS for anti-ObamaCare voters or The Walking Dead for people worried about immigration. Kushner built a custom geo-location tool that plotted the location density of about 20 voter types over a live Google Maps interface.
A week ago, Kos diarist Frank Vyan Walton offered a follow-up:
It seems now that the FEC is going to be looking into whether these tactics weren’t just used by the Trump campaign itself, but whether they’re micro-targeting was mimicked by Russia in their push to get as much fake-news and anti-Clinton propaganda as possible — including sabotaging Bernie Facebook pages — creating an echo effect with the campaigns own efforts, and vice versa.

All of this is even more critical if Kushner was among one of the person in the Trump campaign that former CIA director John Brennan testified today that might have been “coordinating and colluding with the Russians” according to the intel he had received.
“I’m aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts on such individuals,” Brennan told members of the House Intelligence Committee.

“And it raised questions in my mind whether or not the Russians were able to gain the cooperation of those individuals,” he added. “I don’t know whether or not such collusion existed. I don’t know. But I know there was a sufficient basis of information to require investigation by the [FBI] to determine whether or not U.S. persons were actively conspiring, colluding with Russian officials.”
It’s seem likely that he’s speaking here of Flynn and Page who clearly have a history of Russia attempting to influence them. Other possibilities are Manafort, Stone, Cohen, Horton and Sater. The inclusion of Kushner, who did join one of the clandestine meetings with Kislyak along with Flynn and has since been named a “person of interest” in the investigation would be very, very serious because of his involvement with Cambridge Analytics.
The meeting at Trump Tower suggests that Flynn and Kislyak were working together quite closely.

Sometimes I think that I'm the only person on the east coast who hasn't yet met Sergei Kislyak. Should I invite him to my birthday party?
Once again, Whitehouse says the same
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