Top 5 Questions about Kushner’s back channel to Moscow

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

In a meeting with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the US, WaPo reveals that Jared Kushner asked that a private, encrypted back channel be set up to the Kremlin. The report is based on a leak to a WaPo reporter from last December, which the paper has only recently managed to verify.

The story raises large numbers of questions, and is hard to understand except as an indication of something fishy going on.

1. Who leaked the information to the Washington Post’s Ellen Nakashima that Kushner made this request of Kislyak, back in December of 2016? Was it someone, as alleged, at the National Security Agency or the CIA who heard the information from a tap on Kislyak?

2. Why did Kislyak reveal this request to the Kremlin on an open channel that he must have known was under US surveillance? Was he trying to sink Kushner or Trump? Is there some sort of double sting going on?

3. Why did Kushner (and Trump?) want a secret back channel to Moscow? For what purpose? What did they want to discuss with Vladimir Putin that they did not want US intelligence to know about?

4. Michael Flynn is alleged to have told Kislyak around the same time that Trump would lift sanctions on Russia that Obama had slapped on because of the annexation of the Crimea. What did Russia do for Trump as a quid pro quo? Was the back channel related to the lifting of sanctions?

5. Kushner is known to have been involved in manipulating social media into supporting Trump or dissing Clinton. Is his mastery of psy-ops related to his role with Russia? It is alleged that fake news about Hillary was fed to RT and Sputnik by an undercover pro-Trump team, and that RT etc. then broadcast it to social media, targeting states Trump needed. Was Kushner a conduit to Russia in this regard?

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

Washington Post: “Russian ambassador told Moscow that Kushner wanted secret channel with Kremlin”

18 Responses

  1. >Jared Kushner asked that a private, encrypted back channel be set up to the Kremlin.

    This is not what the Post says. The Post says that the Russian ambassador told Moscow that Kushner requested the backchannel. Potentially huge difference here.

    Frankly the request is so absurd, I think the Russians are trying to feed false intel to the Americans.

  2. Can’t wait for Trump’s house of cards to actually start tumbling down.

    Thus, the major question: will enough House and Senate Republicans actually vote for the impeachment and conviction of a Republican President in 2017? How much worse does it have to get for them ??

  3. We can only speculate. Here’s mine.

    Leak undoubtedly from the security services who seem to have become a fourth arm of government Why would they leak it? They’re out to get Trump.

    Kislyak would only reveal the request that way under instructions from Moscow who could hardly have been in the dark about it. Why? Whether they aided his campaign or not he has proved less than useful, and since the growing anti Trump movements are gaining traction and pulling Russia into the mire it’s a way to step back from the fray since requesting is one thing and granting quite another. Russia would never anyway have agreed to such a request.

    The request itself could have been more of a gesture. Trump may have thought doing everything to appear buddy buddy with Putin would strengthen his hand when it came to dealing with China which he was going on a lot about at the time.

    Trump may not have expected any quid pro quo, appearing to be that close to Putin would be enough.

    Feeding fake news to media is standard practice in modern political campaigning. Kushner was probably sending such stuff all over, and RT has a significant US following among the less cerebrally inert.

  4. All good questions. Why indeed did Kushner want this back channel. If was only about sanctions, it would have been Russia making that move. This seems far worse than the sanctions, and with Kusher/Trump having business deals with Putin’s bank, it seems Kushner/Trump seems to be too cozy with Russia. It seems they had no concern or respect for the laws of their own country, when they established sinister connections to enemy no. 1.

  5. There is a scandal here: undermining the president’s constitutional prerogative to establish foreign policy. Americans voted for trump in part because they wanted an end to confrontation militarism ala Hillary. But the ziocons who run foreign policy will not have it.

    • This happened and was reported to WaPo before
      Trump became President. That makes a big difference. Secondly, there is extensive research which shows that racism, anti-immigration and xenophobia were the major components of support for Trump. His foreign policy positions were quite unimportant in garnering votes.

    • Would ending all that military confrontation include bombing Syria, calling for a massive military budget, and plenty of saber rattling against North Korea? Mmmmm – I can already smell the wafting of Caligula a l’Orange’s big steamy pile of peace everywhere. Of course we all expected anti-militarism from him and should take him at his word – he’s always been such an honest, gentle, and sensitive soul.

    • You’re all out of credibility now in claiming that Trump is not a militarist after the bombing of the Syrian airbase on flimsier grounds than even Obama used. You’re also out of credibility in claiming Trump’s racist redneck base hates war. They want war on Moslems abroad and Blacks at home, and the crueler he is the more they dig in.

      And conniving while a private citizen to get elected to the presidency by making deals with foreign powers to sabotage the sitting president’s policies is what Richard Nixon did and should have been prosecuted for in 1968. How is THAT not undermining a sitting President’s constitutional prerogative to establish foreign policy? Why is sabotaging Obama’s sanctions on Russia okay with you?

  6. Good questions! Thanks for delineating the matter. I doubt Kushner’s a master of anything except servility to the Trump wealth and resentment of the federal government for rightfully imprisoning his corrupt father. Kushner junior might have been part of a go-between team with Russia. though. Definitely something fishy happening.

    What I don’t seem to read anywhere is that Trump and his sick ilk see Russia and the U.S. as white supremacist nations that should act mutually in that regard. Trump et al know how Putin disemboweled Chechnya and want to do the same to Muslims themselves. Look at Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia – DRIVE THEM OUT, DRIVE THEM OUT, DRIVE THEM OUT. I’ll never be convinced that Trump’s not an amoral hate-spewing eliminationist waiting for the chance to do that big-time ‘over there’ and also at home to the degree he thinks he can get away with it. We have to stop that from happening.

    Also in common is homophobia. Putin’s proactive anti-LGBTQ agenda also appeals strongly to Trump and his sick ilk. When Roy Cohn’s homosexual activities were made public, remember how Trump totally rejected Cohn (his former lawyer and his father’s lawyer and a mentor to Trump Jr.) and is said to never have had contact with him again. That’s my recollection of that situation anyway.

    • I think you are right about the white nationalist connection. Not that Trump is a white nationalist, but he sees political benefit in appealing to white identity generally. I doubt that Trump much cares what happens in Ukraine or Syria, although Kushner (being Jewish) probably does. I also doubt that Trump cares about gays one way or the other–recall that during the campaign, he accepted gay marriage as “settled law,” and led Republicans to drop the anti-gay message.

  7. One thing I do know is that the intercepted communication would have been done by NSA (see books by James Bamford). Such intercepts are closely guarded so that outside of NSA, only top officials would have had access to that information. Thus, the average CIA analyst might not have had any knowledge of this. Thus, the leak must have come from either inside of NSA, or from top officials in other intelligence agencies. Since it happened in December, then it would have been either a career NSA employee or someone who was in the Obama administration who was the leaker.

  8. “None dare call it treason.” I think one of the effects of changes in the world economy and political alignments is that sectors of the US elites as well multinationals are no longer ‘patriotic’ in the sense that this word was understood 50-60 years ago. ‘Patriorism’ is an attitude to display to the general public but is not connected to how business is conducted and with whom. While the facts re Trump campaign and Russia still remain unclear, I would welcome hearing the word ‘treason’ thrown out once in a while just to get a discussion going. (p.s. I am not a conservative)

  9. It’s occurred to me that the individual most benefiting from a Kushner downfall would be Steve Bannon. Assuming, of course, that such an event not take down the entire administration.

  10. Paul Mueth

    This leak of Kushner conversation recorded by NSA does elicit the question. Wouldn’t Kushner et al already have a secure channel to the Ruskies if there had been collusion before the election?

  11. Could the Kushner story leaker be pro-Trump? After all, the leak in effect warns Kushner about what he must disclose (and might have hidden) in his upcoming FBI interviews. It could save him from perjury. Also, is the leaker patriotic? He/she is disclosing to the Russians that we can decrypt their communications. Kislyak’s message to the Kremlin seems to assume its security.

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