Saturday, May 27, 2017

Back Channel

Let me follow up on last night’s Post blockbuster about Jared Kushner and an attempted back-channel to Moscow.

To review, Kushner allegedly asked Russian Ambassador Kislyak to arrange a secret, secure back-channel through which members of the Trump team could communicate directly to the Kremlin. But this additional detail was the heart of last night’s Post blockbuster: Kushner reportedly asked Kislyak to allow Trump team members access to the secure facilities Russia itself uses to send secure communications from the US back to Moscow. This presumably involves secure facilities/hardware at the Russian Embassy and other US-located diplomatic facilities. These definitely exist. We have the same thing in Moscow.

It is difficult to capture how extraordinary and close to incomprehensible such a step would be. As a number of former intelligence officials have noted, if an intelligence officer or really any other US government official did this it would be considered espionage.

This meant opening a channel where Trump team members could speak openly with Russian counterparts without fear of being heard by and behind the backs of the US intelligence community, US diplomats and the US military. Why do you want or need that? Even Kislyak was apparently taken aback by the request. And as a sidelight to this, even if we believe the absolute worst about Kushner and Flynn, no country would ever let foreign nationals have access to those kinds of facilities.

Why would Kushner and Flynn push for such a secret channel of communications?

by Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo |  Read more: