It seems this week’s Resistance agenda has been to publically skewer Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, for seeking a back channel with the Russians during the presidential transition. This morning there were reports attributed to no one in particular that suggested that Kushner was being asked to step aside. Who knows, maybe he was asked by President Trump, or, more likely, he hasn’t been asked to resign by anyone other than the concocter of today’s unattributed and, so far, unsubstantiated scheduled rumor. The “Kushner affair” is being presented, in well-orchestrated fashion, as though it were the greatest scandal since turncoat Benedict Arnold made his stealth dash down the Hudson River to the HMS Vulture nearly 240 years ago.
Presidential transition team back channels to the Russians, or for that matter to the Iranians or, actually anyone, are neither new nor illegal, so the so-called Resistance and the journalists who carry their water, have kept up an endless drumbeat of If’s—“if Kushner said this or offered that. The last we heard government intelligence sources were still opining that Kushner was neither the focus nor the target of any investigation…not yet anyway.
So far, the only real news seems to be that someone within the intelligence community has passed along to the press information that our snoops know Kushner sought the establishment of a back channel with the Russians in order to discuss who knows what. We’re sure it delights the never-under-any-circumstances-anti-Trumpsters that their government is listening and telling. Sad, there are so few civil libertarians among them, or that they don’t care because, after all, this is about Trump, or that those who do care have been so effectively silenced.
Perhaps Kushner wanted to offer the Kremlin our nuclear codes, but we rather doubt it. Perhaps, more plausibly, he wanted to explore chances for a significant improvement in relations sort of like Robert Kennedy, JFK’s brother and closest advisor, did when he secretly met with a known Russian agent in December 1960 just prior to his brother’s inauguration. Interestingly, Robert Kennedy who was also the senior-most member of President-elect Kennedy’s transition team, met with the Red agent at the Russian’s request.
Then of course we learned from Robert Sick who helped handle the Iranian hostage crisis during the Carter Administration that William J. Casey, a key Reagan confidant and future CIA Director, was meeting with representatives of Iran months before the 1980 election to discuss timing the hostage release after Reagan was elected and sworn it.
Then there was the leaked memo Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Kobryin wrote in 1969 to his bosses in the Kremlin in which he explained that Henry Kissinger confided to him that the Nixon administration wanted to conduct a “most confidential exchange of views” because President Nixon said (we love this part) “the Soviet side … knows how to maintain confidentiality; but in our State Department, unfortunately, there are leaks of information to the press.”
Much is being made, according to the leaks, that Kushner suggested that the back-channel discussions take place through the use of Russian secure communications. Why would that surprise anyone, given how pathetically porous our own governmental and private communications have become? Nothing other than, presumably, pillow talk seems out of listening range these days, and who can be sure of that?
We don’t know what conversations may have transpired between Jared Kushner and the Russians. We’ll be surprised to learn that those conversations involved any skullduggery, but we don’t know. What we do know is that our intelligence community has turned it’s snooping apparatus on American politicians and American political candidates, and, perhaps, for good reason…and perhaps not.
Julian Sanchez of the libertarian CATO Institute summed it up well. “Progressives who’ve recently learned to stop worrying and love the surveillance state should think hard about the precedent such leaks set — and the implicit message they send to political actors — even if any particular instance can be justified as serving the public interest. The leaks may not be, as conservative media would have it, the only real scandal, but nobody should be too enthusiastic about the prospect of living in a country where officials who antagonize spy agencies find their telephone conversations quoted in news headlines.”
We do know as a certainty that our intelligence apparatus is maliciously and illegally leaking to the press, apparently, with complete abandon, for no other conceivable reason other than to bring down certain public figures—especially if they are part of the Trump Administration. There may be reason to bring them down, but this is not the way to do it, and when all is said and done, the pervasive bugging and leaking may be the biggest scandal of all.
Maybe our snoops are bugging and leaking because they believe the Trump Administration is riddled with crooks and spies. And maybe the snoops are in high dudgeon simply because they can’t stand Donald Trump.
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