Cartoon: Jared’s back channel
Most people would be extremely defensive about being accused of putting the interest of a hostile nation over the United States. They’d be very eager to prove their innocence and erase all doubt. Not these jerks connected to Trump. They’re too busy trying to kill investigations and trying to make deals for immunity.
Is there anyone in the Trump administration or campaign who hasn’t gone on a date with Russian ambassador and renowned spy Sergey Kislyak? Carter Page, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump Jr., Rex Tillerson, Wilbur Ross, J.D. Gordon, Michael Caputo, Rick Gates, Michael Cohen, George Papadopoulos, Erik Prince, and even son-in-law Jared Kushner all have ties to Russia. If you were to count all the people from Team Trump connected to Russia, you’ll need at least three hands.
The latest disturbing revelation came out Friday afternoon when The Washington Post reported that Kushner told Kislyak that the Trump transition team wanted a secret backdoor channel to communicate with the Kremlin. If this is true then nepotism isn’t Trump and Jared’s most flagrant offenses. It’s spying and treason.
The idea of a secret channel is so the U.S. government can’t track the communications. Trump has put a lot of faith into his son-in-law, appointing him as senior adviser and heading up his efforts to bring peace to the Middle East. Jared, who is only 36, has never worked in government and doesn’t have any experience in diplomacy and much has been made of his lack of experience. There’s no better example if the accusations are true that he wanted a secret network with Russia, as the U.S. can track those things. They’d probably also notice Jared going in and out of the Russian embassy. How many times can you use the excuse that you were only there to use the restroom (one Trump ally visited Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for 40 minutes and later said he couldn’t remember why he was there)?
Apparently, the idea is so crazy, as in stupid, that even Kislyak was dismayed by the idea. The government didn’t listen in on the conversation between Kushner and the ambassador, but they heard the ambassador’s report back to Moscow. The Post reports that Jared wanted to use Russia’s facilities and encryption techniques for the clandestine chit-chats. Such a thing wouldn’t be a high risk just for the Trump Team, but also for Russia. Doing so would require Moscow to expose its most sophisticated communications capabilities — which are likely housed in highly secure locations at diplomatic compounds — to an American. They wouldn’t want to do that even with treasonous Americans.
To be a senior adviser, Kushner had to receive a security clearance. He forgot to include his meetings with Russians on his application, which would normally get your clearance revoked.
Malcolm Nance is a retired United States Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer in naval cryptology, author, scholar, and an expert on terrorism and intelligence. He summed it up best in a not-so-subtle manner Friday night to MSNBC’s Chris Hayes.
Nance said “had any individual other than these individuals who worked immediately for President Trump, performed these actions at any time in the SF-86 security clearance process, they would have immediately had their clearances pulled. They would have had their jobs terminated. Some of these contacts are so suspicious that they would have warranted their own counterintelligence investigation. This nation is in a counterintelligence investigation. They are in a spy hunt over at the FBI, and now we have this story—should it prove true—of an American citizen who is the senior adviser to the president of the United States, attempting to establish what we call in the intelligence community ‘covert communications’ with a hostile nation’s potential intelligence agency or senior leadership. That brings you — that crosses the line to the espionage act of 1917. This cannot be explained. Put aside the other 18 contacts with Moscow. This one incident requires Jared Kushner and all of his immediate staff to have their clearances pulled right now and to have the FBI descend on there and to determine whether this is hostile intelligence in the White House one step from the president.”
He’s right. Not only should Jared lose his clearance, he should be fired. He’s actually done worse than Michael Flynn, who was fired…eventually. Daddy-in-law can always give him a pardon later.
In fact, I think I’ll start a pool of how many pardons Trump will eventually dish out to members of his administration.
Clay Jones can be reached at [email protected]