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Jared Kushner Is “Focus” Of F.B.I. Investigation

Donald Trump Jared Kushner

The Washington Post revealed late yesterday that President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is a “focus” of the F.B.I’s ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether or not there was collusion between people close to Trump and Russian officials:

Investigators are focusing on a series of meetings held by Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and an influential White House adviser, as part of their probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and related matters, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Kushner, who held meetings in December with the Russian ambassador and a banker from Moscow, is being investigated because of the extent and nature of his interactions with the Russians, the people said.

The Washington Post reported last week that a senior White House official close to the president was a significant focus of the high-stakes investigation, though it did not name Kushner.

FBI agents also remain keenly interested in former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, but Kushner is the only current White House official known to be considered a key person in the probe.

The Post has not been told that Kushner is a target — or the central focus — of the investigation, and he has not been accused of any wrongdoing. “Target” is a word that generally refers to someone who is the main suspect of investigators’ attention, though prosecutors can and do bring charges against people who are not marked with that distinction.

“Mr. Kushner previously volunteered to share with Congress what he knows about these meetings. He will do the same if he is contacted in connection with any other inquiry,” said Jamie Gorelick, one of his attorneys.

In addition to possible coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election, investigators are also looking broadly into possible financial crimes — but the people familiar with the matter, who were not authorized to speak publicly, did not specify who or what was being examined.

Sarah Isgur Flores, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said, “I can’t confirm or deny the existence or nonexistence of investigations or subjects of investigations.” The FBI declined to comment.

At the time of the December meetings, Trump already had won the election. Contacts between people on the transition team and foreign governments can be routine, but the meetings and phone calls with the Russians were not made public at the time.

In early December, Kushner met in New York with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, and he later sent a deputy to meet with Kislyak. Flynn was also present at the early-December meeting, and later that month, Flynn held a call with Kislyak to discuss U.S.-imposed sanctions against Russia. Flynn initially mischaracterized the conversation, even to Vice President Pence — ultimately prompting his ouster from the White House.

Kushner also met in December with Sergey Gorkov, the head of Vnesheconombank, which has been the subject of U.S. sanctions following Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its support of separatists in eastern Ukraine.

In addition to the December meetings, a former senior intelligence official said FBI agents had been looking closely at earlier exchanges between Trump associates and the Russians dating to the spring of 2016, including one at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington. Kushner and Kislyak — along with close Trump adviser and current attorney general Jeff Sessions — were present at an April 2016 event at the Mayflower where then-candidate Trump promised in a speech to seek better relations with Russia. It is unclear whether Kushner and Kislyak interacted there.

CNN came out with a similar report around the same time yesterday and, as noted above, this report comes just a week after it had been reported that a “Senior White House Official” was a “person of interest” in connection with the investigations. Based on the reporting at the time, as well as rumors circulating about the ongoing investigation, made it rather obvious that Kushner was the most likely person that to be that “person of interest.” At the same time, though, it’s important to note that the fact that Kushner is a “focus” of the investigation doesn’t mean that he may have done anything legally culpable, or that he is destined to become a suspect or a target of the investigation. For now at least it likely simply means that the Bureau is interested in Kushner, most likely because of his contacts with Russian officials. These contacts apparently occurred both before the election and during the transition period between Election Day and Inauguration Day and Kushner didn’t initially disclose those contacts on his security clearance application, although he has apparently since amended that paperwork. The point is that the fact that Kushner is a “focus” of the investigation should not be taken as a presumption of any kind, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t serious. This is, after all, the F.B.I. we’re talking about and given the fact that it’s a Federal crime to lie to an F.B.I. agent, as Martha Stewart and Scooter Libbey learned all too well. Anyone they’re interested in ought to be concerned.

The fact that Kushner’s meetings with Russian officials took place after Election Day suggests strongly that the reason for the Bureau’s interest is not directly related to the election investigation. However, as the Post’s Amber Phillips explains, Kushner’s contacts with Russian officials, which aren’t necessarily unusual when a candidate for President becomes their party’s nominee, came at the same time that intelligence officials first started to became aware of Russian efforts to interfere in the upcoming Presidential campaign. One of the ways they might do that is by developing close relationships between people close to a candidate and officials who they may not be sophisticated enough to realize that they are being used as sources of information or manipulated by a foreign intelligence agent, or even that the person they’re in contact with is a foreign intelligence agent. Since Kushner, along with people such as Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, and Carter Page, was among those who had contact with Russian officials during the relevant time period it seems obvious that the Bureau would at least want to talk to him.

As Callum Borchers at the Post notes, the fact that Kushner is of interest to the Bureau for any reason puts the President in an awkward position:

Plan A for Team Trump will be to argue that there was nothing inappropriate about the contact Kushner had with Russia’s ambassador to the United States and executives from a Russian bank that was hit with sanctions by the Obama administration. But what is Plan B, in the event that the probe shows otherwise?

Under normal circumstances, the backup strategy would be to look for the closest speeding bus. We’ve already witnessed Trump’s willingness to turn on people who appear to be liabilities.

(…)

The fact that it is Kushner, rather than another top aide such as Stephen K. Bannon, Reince Priebus or Kellyanne Conway, is significant for the president — by which I mean worse. Kushner is family; he is the husband of Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and the father of Trump’s grandchildren. If the investigation were to reveal anything incriminating, it would be far more difficult to scapegoat Kushner than almost anyone else.

I should emphasize, as Matt Zapotosky, Sari Horwitz, Devlin Barrett and Adam Entous did in Thursday’s report, that “The Post has not been told that Kushner is a target — or the central focus — of the investigation, and he has not been accused of any wrongdoing.”

Plan A for Team Trump will be to argue that there was nothing inappropriate about the contact Kushner had with Russia’s ambassador to the United States and executives from a Russian bank that was hit with sanctions by the Obama administration. But what is Plan B, in the event that the probe shows otherwise?

Under normal circumstances, the backup strategy would be to look for the closest speeding bus. We’ve already witnessed Trump’s willingness to turn on people who appear to be liabilities.

As Borchers points out, this ‘Plan A’ followed by “Plan B’ strategy has been one that Trump has employed in the past when people close to hm in the campaign have been subject to reports of wrongdoing. Those names have ranged from the likes of Roger Stone and Paul Manafort to Michael Flynn and Corey Lewandowski. In each of those cases, both Trump specifically and the campaign generally were supportive of the individual in question but quickly moved to distance themselves when the extent of what they did becomes public. That’s not exactly easy to do when you’re talking about someone who is not just a top aide but also the husband of your eldest daughter and father of your grandchildren. If all these reports mean is that the Bureau wants to talk to Kushner as a potential witness in their investigation, then that doesn’t necessarily mean much for the President or the Administration. If it goes very far beyond that, though, then things will become very, very complicated.

 

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    I have a feeling which I have been reluctant to express because I thought it might be a result of my own professional involvement in narrative, but from early on this has felt like someone – some specific person or small group – was reading us a story from a book they had open on their lap. The relentlessness of it, the pace of it, the decisions to avoid stepping on other stories, it all feels deliberate.

    Of course that could be coincidence. Maybe I’m seeing intentionality where the reality is just multiple sources all spilling simultaneously. But as a guy who has written about 30,000 pages of story, it doesn’t feel that way.

    What is so interesting is that with one minor exception – Comey asking for additional resources – none of these stories has been shot down. They’ve been denied, they’ve been ignored, but none has been shot down. That, too, suggests a single authoritative narrator – someone who knows the truth.

    Jared’s involvement is not a surprise because this is not at its base a story about a cover-up, or a story about collusion; it’s a story about dirty money. The Trump crime family is IMO neck-deep in laundered Russian mob money. My sense is that collusion came next, followed by cover-up.

    As to who the master narrator is? Well, who has all the pieces? Who has that book open on their lap? It’s either someone very close to Trump, or it’s someone in the intelligence community, perhaps ours, perhaps the Brits or another ally.

    Whoever it is, he or she is not a bad writer. He knows it can’t come out in a single thunderclap because of the innate human rejection of the truly new and unprecedented. He knows the audience has to be brought along slowly, but without boring them. So, drip. . . drip. . drip. . .

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 1

  2. Mr. Bluster says:

    As I have stated in the past, this rag was my first political journal.
    I’m headed over to the local Waldenbooks to pick up a copy and read their latest scoop!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. MarkedMan says:

    I think a lot of people, especially on the right, are having trouble accepting that Trump is owned by the Russians because of a category error: they feel that Trump being taken in by Russian ideology and betraying the country is just a ridiculous notion. And they are correct. Trump literally has no ideology. That’s not the category in play here. Trump is owned by the Russians because of his money and more importantly, his business. I’ve maintained, since the alteration of the platform at the Republican Convention, that there has been no alternative explanation of Trump’s very pro-Russian stance, and especially the specificity of some of his positions. As a rule Trump doesn’t understand enough about anything to really care one way or the other, but somehow he keeps coming back to his anti-Nato and anti-EU position despite every attempt made by those who surround him? He has literally never said a negative word about Vladimir Putin when Trump is resoundingly mocked for being Putin’s b*tch. Think about it: is there anyone else that Trump would not have turned on to show his dominance?

    And what could be a bigger coup for Putin if he controlled the President of the US than getting him to help weaken the alliance that has stood in opposition to Russia for decades? Given that Trump has had almost a year to come up with some other reason for being so blindly servile to Russia’s aspirations, it is obvious that none exists. I think by his behavior it is nearing certainty that Putin has a hold on him. And, moving on to speculation, I think Putin would know how to play Trump: basically wrap his manly arm around him and tell him that they, Putin and Trump, are the real men and the historical figures and it is only natural that they should hold to the same opinions on these matters, and by the way, here are those opinions. Nothing needs to be said about bank records, or videotapes or parties with underaged prostitutes.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

  4. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Trump will get rid of Mueller before he let’s Jared take any heat.

    @michael reynolds:
    What’s really struck me today is that the FBI has refused to give the Comey memo to Chavitz and the House Oversight Committee. Someone is definitely taking this seriously and playing right down the line. If I were Dumb Donnie I’d be shaking in my boots. But he may be too stupid.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  5. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    John Boehner, someone who knows about orange people, called Trump a “complete disaster”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  6. Lit3Bolt says:

    @michael reynolds:

    It’s either Flynn or a CIA/FBI asset in Trump’s organization or the GOP. Someone in Trumpland has flipped hard to the other side.

    Flynn’s motivation will be to live. Either he dies in prison in the US or the Russians kill him if he doesn’t cut a deal. He desperately needed protection and immunity once he was fired and no longer in a position to help Trump. The Russians were hopping mad over that, and Flynn’s smart enough to know they have moles everywhere, including the FBI and federal prison.

    Trump’s also been connected to the Russian mafia for almost 25 years now. You may have heard the name of Felix Sater, who was a CIA/FBI asset that worked for Trump. I can’t help but think there’s more.

    It may be Eric or Don Jr or Melania. They would certainly be interested in staying wealthy and free while Trump himself went to jail.

    It may be Pence, Bannon, Stone, Sessions, or Manafort. All of them are facing significant legal exposure right now.

    It may be Ryan, McConnell, Burr, or Chaffetz. They would want to limit their own liability.

    Trump’s stupidity, incompetence, and just plain meanness is working against him. He’s stupid, so he self-incriminates. He’s incompetent, so can’t effectively use the government powers he has to protect himself. And he’s mean as a snake, so no one who works for him has any reason to “stay strong” or “loyal” to him. Including his own family.

    And now he’s the focus of every single Intelligence agency in the Western world. Every single property he owns has been bugged by now and has a satellite aimed at it. Every cook, maid, janitor, and WH aide has been offered hundreds of thousands of dollars to report everything they hear and/or wear a wire.

    If Trump was smart, he would turn himself in and resign.

    Trump is not smart.

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  7. dmichael says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: A few weeks ago, I cautioned against attributing positive motives to Chaffetz. Chaffetz requesting documents from the FBI is an attempt to either give warnings to the White House or to try to screw up Mueller’s investigation.

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  8. CSK says:

    I wonder if Uday and Qusay (Donny Jr.and Eric) will be dragged into this. They appear to be heavily involved with the money flowing into the Trump Org from Russia.

    Somehow I don’t think that Jared will be willing to take a fall to protect Big Daddy, which should cause some tension between him and Ivanka.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  9. Mikey says:

    Now it comes out that Kushner suggested using Russian secure communication channels as a way to keep contacts between the Russian government and the Trump transition team secret.

    http://wapo.st/2qsJQk0

    There is no innocent explanation for this.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 0

  10. Janis Gore says:
  11. Janis Gore says:

    @Mikey: Sorry there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  12. michael reynolds says:

    As @Mikey said: there is no possible innocent explanation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  13. Dave D says:

    WaPo is also reporting senate intel committee has asked Trump camp to turn over all documents and emails.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  14. michael reynolds says:

    Legally- and hopefully we’ll hear from @HL92 ’cause IANAL – I think this works most devastatingly as consciousness of guilt in any other Kushner-Russia element. From this point forward no communication with Russians can be portrayed as innocent for Kushner. If it was me I’d already be setting up a meeting with Mueller. The first to flip gets the best deal.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  15. Janis Gore says:

    Umm, no sh*t.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  16. MarkedMan says:

    Predicitions:
    – Trump will soon make it clear that he will pardon anyone caught up in this Russia thing because it is all nonsense.
    – Republican leadership will still carry water for him since they feel he is their best chance to award their benefactors.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  17. Modulo Myself says:

    What if the real Russian double-agent is the one doing the leaking? And everything that’s being leaked is true, but it’s designed to make this country a completely ridiculous forgery of a democracy? The WaPo article on Kushner is basically mocking him for being dumb enough to ask what he asked. Trump’s people are not A-material. They’re morons, and into Russian banks for tons of money, and they probably though they could just make the government stop investigating this. After all, that’s how you buy off a sexual harassment lawsuit. Meanwhile, the deep agent is happily telling the truth about how dumb Americans were to ever let the situation come to this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  18. michael reynolds says:

    What occurs to me is that this level of sheer imbecility on #TrumpRussia suggests this is not just about covering up past money deals; what if this is still going on? What if Trump and Kushners ’empire’ is broke and desperately holding out for a new cash infusion? It would be an alternate explanation to the blackmail one. Or an addition to it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  19. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Oh,yes.This is ongoing. You can take that to the bank–so to speak.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  20. michael reynolds says:

    @CSK:
    It would explain why even these idiots can’t figure out not to be seen in the oval with the enemy. I mean, that was so stupid even Trump. . . Then again, the stupid runs deep in this gang. I mean, how dumb do you have to be to think using a Russian secure channel would somehow fail to attract surveillance? Sending a snail mail letter would be safer. Waving semaphore flags in Red Square would be less likely to attract attention.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  21. michael reynolds says:

    My bet as to the identity of the Uber Source, the Deepest Throat if you will, is a foreign intelligence agency – with US intel looking studiously away. The source may be safe, meaning his government is part of it. Who can pull that off? MI-6? The Germans?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  22. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    What if the real Russian double-agent is the one doing the leaking? And everything that’s being leaked is true, but it’s designed to make this country a completely ridiculous forgery of a democracy?

    There was an NPR piece I heard a week or two ago suggesting that Putin is backing people like Trump, Le Pen, Wilders, etc. not because it actually thinks it can change the behavior those contries, but just so it can make Western Democracies look ridiculous and thus discredit domestic political reformers (e,g, Why would you want to risk a clown coming into power? We’re better off with a stable autocrat like Putin)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  23. Hal_10000 says:

    @Mikey:

    Good. Lord.

    OK, I’ve been sitting her for 15 minutes trying to think of something pithy to say and I can’t. This is crazy/

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  24. michael reynolds says:

    @Hal_10000:
    I was watching MSNBC as it broke and the panel just more or less sat there with their jaws open.

    First as tragedy, then as farce? This is becoming a Three Stooges movie.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  25. al-Ameda says:

    You really can’t make up a story like this.

    …. Does anyone actually believe that Jared would go seeking a back channel with the Russians without the knowledge and approval of his father-in-law?

    This confirms to me the notion that Trump really did not expect to win the election. He’d fight the fight, lose, claim election fraud, lose that one, then go back to New York City, Mar-a-Lago, or Moscow, and support the impeachment of Hillary Clinton.

    He won, he was shocked, and he probably thought that after the stunning defeat Democrats would get over it, get in line and support him, or be put in their place by McConnell and Ryan .He probably thought that the Republican sweep and full control of the federal government would give him enough insurance and cover to keep all of this Russian business from ever seeing the light of day.

    It really is coming down to Trump’s finances.

    I’m looking forward to leaked documents concerning Trump’s ”arrangements’ to finance hotels, resorts, and luxury residences both in America and abroad.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  26. Jen says:

    My current working theory is that they had some loan with the Russians coming due, and decided that since they had won the elections, they’d try to renegotiate better terms. Or maybe they wanted to delay/put on hold any transfers until Trump is out of office, because how do they do that without attracting scrutiny?

    Like others above, I think this is all about the family finances, and has nothing to do with US foreign policy. The NYT explanation that the secure channel was about Syria doesn’t seem to make sense–why the urgency in early December? Why the need to evade US intelligence?

    Unless of course the whole thing is a head fake or false story planted by Kislyak, maybe to show Kushner who is boss…but that starts getting too much like a novel.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  27. MarkedMan says:

    @Jen:

    Like others above, I think this is all about the family finances, and has nothing to do with US foreign policy.

    I hope you aren’t including me in that group. Although I strongly suspect Trump and his co-conspirators got themselves into this through their greedy business dealings, the Russians are only interested in using them to affect US foreign policy. At this point it doesn’t matter what Trump’s motivations are. He’s 100% owned by Putin. And it is obviously working. Look at his behavior towards our allies. Trump is Putin’s man in the Whitehouse.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  28. Jen says:

    @MarkedMan: To clarify: I agree with you. What I meant by “this is all about the family finances” is how they got entangled in this mess–the money trail. Clearly the Russians’ end goal is policy. This is right along with the standard Soviet/Russian playbook: those whose finances are a mess are ripe targets. It’s why most of these folks wouldn’t have qualified for security clearances under normal circumstances.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  29. Mikey says:

    The NYT is reporting the secret communications thing was all innocent, the Trump transition team just wanted a backchannel to discuss Syria. And such backchannels are not uncommon.

    But…if that was the reason, why suggest going into Russian diplomatic spaces and using Russian secure communications? And why just drop the idea altogether when the Russians balked?

    Sorry, NYT, you whiffed on this one. There really is no innocent explanation for what Kushner asked of the Russians.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  30. Not the IT Dept. says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Actually, when it comes to the triad of Don Jr-Ivanka-Eric + Jared, I think there’s a lot that Trump doesn’t know, and it strikes me as logical that the son-in-law concerned only about keeping two business “empires” afloat would make deals like backchannel communications with the Russians on his own. They’re scrambling, trying to keep it all from flying apart, and probably pretty much doing whatever their Russian financiers demand. Also entirely possible that Trump et al do not understand how their is no line between Putin and Russian “private sector businessmen”.

    Ten bucks says Jared flips and Ivanka backs him, and we’re into Greek-tragedy-level family meltdown.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  31. JohnMcC says:

    If this story leads to the security clearance enjoyed by Mr Kushner being yanked that would leave Pres Trump with a Robinson Crusoe level of loneliness. I doubt that will work out well. My feeling is that the psychological stress on the President is what is going to write the finale of this story.

    @MichaelReynolds: I’ve had the same thought about this having a narrative. It even seems to have a coordination of it’s shifting focus. Last week was Gen Flynn’s week. This week is Kushner’s. We’ll shift our gaze to the election in GA-6th and when we look back it will take us somewhere else. How many times have YOU looked at the TV and said ‘if this was a novel no one would believe it’?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  32. Hal_10000 says:

    You know it’s bad when the only defense is that Kushner was too stupid to understand the implications of what he was doing.

    Matt Welch had an interesting point on Twitter last night. What he sees is not so much puppetry as an intersection of interests, incompetence and intense scrutiny. You have people — Trump, Le Pen, Orban — whose nationalist fervor aligns with Putin’s interests. Their views are a minority so they staff with people who are crazy (Flynn) or neophytes (Kushner). The Left is scrutinizing everything Trump does (as it should). And, of course, he responds with bluster and idiocy because he’s a blustery idiot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  33. michael reynolds says:

    @JohnMcC:

    I’m feeling sorry for the writers at HOUSE OF CARDS. They used to be outrageous; now they can barely keep up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  34. michael reynolds says:

    @Mikey:
    The NYT story is baloney and they’ll probably quietly drop it. Flynn was in the room. Former head of Defense Intelligence, Flynn. Jared might be naive enough, but Flynn wasn’t. The NYT is wrong.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  35. Lit3Bolt says:

    @Hal_10000:

    That theory discounts the 30 year odd relationship Trump has had with the Russian mafia.

    There’s a LOT of Russian activity in Trump’s businesses even before 2015.

    And then you have to believe that Putin or Trump wasn’t willing to leverage that exposure/risk.

    Jared Sexton said on Twitter that Russian-Trump campaign signs of collusion were obvious a year ago. But people didn’t want to believe it. It was too fantastic, too brazen, too obvious. It had to be simply regular DC shenanigans. Nobody wanted to believe that the Russians were playing every American like a finely tuned harp, and Trump was helping them in expectation for a big payday.

    No one wanted to say the obvious: Trump and Co. are traitors, and they are fully in bed with Russia 100%. Because that would make white Americans have a sad.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  36. Pch101 says:

    It should be obvious that the Trumps are tied to Russian money.

    One reason we know this because the Trump organization has admitted it.

    The populist American right has an affection for Putin because they think that he’s a badass. (Read: American right-wingers are fond of right-wing dictators; like slaveowners, they want freedom for themselves but only for themselves.)

    So Trump figured that he was pretty safe and wouldn’t have to hide anything. And sure enough, his base doesn’t care because Trump behaves like a punkass.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  37. Pylon says:

    The timing of the backchannel discussion is in testing. I think it was shortly after Obama took action because of Russian interference with the election. So right after US intelligence said the Russians had acted improperly, right after Obama hits the Russians with sanctions, Kushner is meeting and suggesting a secret communication method.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  38. Pch101 says:

    @Lit3Bolt:

    Russian-Trump campaign signs of collusion were obvious a year ago. But people didn’t want to believe it.

    I wouldn’t believe it because Trump has a big mouth and doesn’t know when to shut up.

    What I would expect, though, is that Russians laid out their agenda, hinted that his access to funds would be lost if he didn’t cooperate, and that Trump knew to play kissy-face with the Russians because money was on the line.

    Meanwhile, the Russians ran a hacking operation that they would have probably would have run, anyway, because that’s how they roll. They probably would not have discussed that with Trump because he didn’t need to know about it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  39. Janis Gore says:

    Jill Dougherty of the Woodrow Wilson Center was on CNN last night positing a scenario where Kushner was setting up the facility for his father to do the “Big Deal” with Russians.

    Yesterday Hollywood Reporter ran a story about his ambition to meet one-on-one and produce an arms deal as early as 1984. One of his “only I can do” fantasies.

    Jim Acosta tweeted an hour ago that Trump had asked to exchange cell phone numbers with Macron so they talk directly to each other.

    So it would not be inconsistent for the prince to try to create a channel for that sort of thing.

    Yeah, I know.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  40. MarkedMan says:

    @Mikey:

    The NYT is reporting the secret communications thing was all innocent, the Trump transition team just wanted a backchannel to discuss Syria.

    I read the article a bit differently: that the Syria thing is what was claimed in front of witnesses. I’m assuming the source is that we were able to read the Russian communications and that is what he Russians passed on. But such a channel could be used for anything once in place.

    The Syria thing doesn’t pass the laugh test. Donald Trump was proactive enough and knowledgeable enough that he wanted to get right to work on this particular issue? Does anyone really believe that? He hasn’t gotten to work yet on any issue, and he’s 5 months into his presidency.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  41. wr says:

    @Not the IT Dept.: “Ten bucks says Jared flips and Ivanka backs him, and we’re into Greek-tragedy-level family meltdown.”

    My money is on her sticking with Daddy. Especially if she’s actually Barron’s mother.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  42. michael reynolds says:

    @wr:
    I agree. She married Kushner because Kushner is Trump – vain, cocky, entitled and a scumbag of a slumlord.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  43. michael reynolds says:

    So, one day Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s son-in-law decided he’d like a back channel to Adolf Hitler. Because he, um. . . wanted to work out that whole Holocaust thing? But it just so happened – purely by coincidence – that he was leveraged to the eyeballs and had lied repeatedly about meetings with Goering and Goebbels, as well as contacts with Nazi bankers.

    So. Nothing to see here.

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  44. Janis Gore says:

    @wr: Oh, Barron is Melania’s.

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  45. Janis Gore says:

    Re: the difference in the stories in the WaPo and the NYT

    http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/05/kushnergate-update-was-it-really-all-about-syria

    Sources for the Syria angle didn’t want to be designated as speaking for Kushner, so WaPo passed.

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  46. charon says:
  47. charon says: