Opinion: OK, maybe there really WAS collusion

(AP)

In December, Jared Kushner reportedly asked the Russian ambassador to establish a secret backchannel, using secure Russian diplomatic equipment, between the Trump transition team and Russian officials. That would be the same Russian officials who had just helped to elect his father-in-law as president of the United States.

And who was their mutual enemy, the third party from whom both Kushner and the Russians wanted to hide their discussions?

That would be the U.S. government.

Pointedly, Kushner has not attempted to deny those charges, published Friday evening by both the New York Times and Washington Post. Nor did Kushner deny a separate report from Reuters that he had at least three separate contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak between April and November of 2016, including two telephone conversations.  None of those contacts were disclosed by Kushner, as required by law, when he applied for and received a top-secret security clearance.

“Mr. Kushner participated in thousands of calls in this time period,” his attorney explained in a statement. “He has no recollection of the calls as described. We have asked (Reuters) for the dates of such alleged calls so we may look into it and respond, but we have not received such information.”

No recollection.

I’ve never met or spoken with Kislyak — at least I don’t think I have. But he’s apparently the most nondescript, boring person on the face of planet Earth, because nobody who did meet or talk with him seems to have any memory of doing so.

Citing six different sources, Reuters also reports that the pre-election conversations between Kushner, Mike Flynn and Kislyak “focused on fighting terrorism and improving U.S.-Russian economic relations.” That’s interesting. On one hand, it seems premature at best to discuss “improving economic relations” at a time when Trump was still a longshot to win or, in the case of the April call, before he had even claimed the GOP nomination.

On the other hand, such talk might serve as encouragement and give the Russians a pretty good idea of what they had to gain should Trump be elected.

Remember, the Trump campaign had steadfastly denied that it had any contacts whatsoever with Russian officials. Yet as Reuters also reports:

“Separately, there were at least 18 undisclosed calls and emails between Trump associates and Kremlin-linked people in the seven months before the Nov. 8 presidential election, including six calls with Kislyak, sources told Reuters earlier this month. Two people familiar with those 18 contacts said Flynn and Kushner were among the Trump associates who spoke to the ambassador by telephone.”

And just to put this into context, top officials for the campaigns of Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, John McCain and George W. Bush have all confirmed that they had zero contacts with Russian officials.

And as the Washington Post reports in its own account:

“In addition to their discussion about setting up the communications channel, Kushner, Flynn and Kislyak also talked about arranging a meeting between a representative of Trump and a “Russian contact” in a third country whose name was not identified, according to the anonymous letter.

The Post reported in April that Erik Prince, the founder of the private security firm Blackwater, now called Academi, and an informal adviser to the Trump transition team, met on Jan. 11 — nine days before Trump’s inauguration — in the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean with a representative of Russian President Vladimir Putin.”

To this point, I have argued strongly and repeatedly that actual collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials was highly implausible. But if you look at all this as it has unraveled — Russia’s clear intervention on Trump’s behalf, Trump’s firing of James Comey in an attempt to stop the FBI investigation, the multiple, unprecedented and undisclosed contacts between Russian officials and those at the highest levels of the Trump campaign, and Trump’s attempts to disrupt NATO, Russia’s most-feared adversary — I can’t honestly make that argument any longer.

It’s now an open question, an open question with possibly earth-shaking implications.

 

Reader Comments 1

3465 comments
Liberty_
Liberty_

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Denise285
Denise285

In 2013, a group of students on the south side of Chicago asked their classmates to wear orange in memory of a friend whose life had been taken by gun violence.

That single act of remembrance for a friend has grown into a nationwide movement, and on Friday, June 2nd and Saturday, June 3rd, millions of people will wear orange for National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

It's an opportunity to remember those we've lost to acts of gun violence and a moment to come together as we keep up the push for common-sense gun laws that will help put an end to gun violence in this country.

BenHeppner
BenHeppner

I still think the most likely scenario is that these morons got a call from someone with Russia who wanted to help them, and all they thought was, "Sweet! We got some dirt on Hillary!" . It wasn't until months later that they really grasped the ramifications of what they had done. I think this simply a case of a bunch of amateur's running a campaign at the highest levels and making amateur mistakes

skydog12
skydog12

After a 2 week absence, Spicy gave a 30 minute press conference.


He used 15 of those minutes telling us what a glorious trip they had. No mention of Trump not letting a life long Catholic not see the Pope.

This is the beginning of the end for Trump.

rimsky
rimsky

Trump Lawyer Cohen Says He Won’t Comply With House, Senate Requests

+++

How about drag him by his nutz and throw him jail.  That is the only thing they understand.

skydog12
skydog12

@Fan4500 @rimsky

If you had any brothers and sisters, I bet they hated you.

"But momma, Amy did it first".

rimsky
rimsky

‘Condemn Violence’: Portland Hero’s Mother Pens Open Letter To Trump“You have said that you will be President for all Americans.”


+++

Warning to joe smo on the street: if you run into a jacked up trumpette tread with caution.  Be ready to either flee or fight.

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

 Fan4500 21 minutes ago

@skydog12 You missed the point.
The point was much like the hysteria with the birth certificate, is kind of like the Trump-Russia collusion


It's ironic that Trump is at the center of both controversies.  Someone whose life is in such disarray has no business being POTUS. Fact

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

@Fan4500 @StraightNoChaser @skydog12 A majority of Trump voters were dems, they are regretting their vote now.  It's a little too late but 9 times out of 10 he won't be getting those votes again.  He's even losing support among white male voters.  Unless his performance improves, he will be fired.  Too much disarray and whining.  People are not stupid and they know the difference in someone not being a politician and someone who is just out right incompetent.  As a businessman he is suppose to have his act together and he doesn't. He's sloppy, lazy, and incoherent all the time.

Fan4500
Fan4500

Everyone, please check with skydog12 to see if your post's on Jay Bookman's Opinion Column are worthy of his attention. He has a very high standard.
 His permission is required.

skydog12
skydog12

@Fan4500


Not required Fan, just recommended if you don`t want to be called out as a liar.

Like I said earlier, you are cult material.

skydog12
skydog12

Fan, stop wasting our time with Birther BS.


Did we see the moon landing happen? No

Did it happen? Yes


You need to find some cult to hang out with.

Fan4500
Fan4500

@skydog12 You missed the point.
The point was much like the hysteria with the birth certificate, is kind of like the Trump-Russia collusion, we don't really know anything until the facts are in. All we know now is speculation by news organizations.Let the Special Counsel tell us.

Fan4500
Fan4500

@skydog12 @Fan4500 You mean blogging on Jay Bookman's Opinion Column is wasting your time? I'm so sorry, did you have some important activities to attend to?

Brosephus
Brosephus

@Fan4500 

There is more than just speculation with the media.  When our allies have transcripts of intercepts and have passed them along to us, that's more than just speculation.  When Congress was briefed by officials and left disgusted without making a single utterance to the media, in spite of their tendency to grandstand, that is more than speculation.


Nobody in the public sphere will know with 100% certainty, but there are tells that trained investigators can and do pick up on.  There were tells with the Fast and Furious issue that made me see that things were not what they were being portrayed as long before the investigation was stopped.  The same thing happened with Benghazi.


As of now, I'm not sold on the Russia/Trump thing, but there are indications that some of the people within the campaign will have some legal issues in the future.  I don't know if Trump will be implicated, but there are some who are going to go down.  


In the end, I doubt we will ever be told everything because that will give away espionage techniques and hamper us and our allies in the future.

Fan4500
Fan4500

@Brosephus @Fan4500 And there is just as much speculation that obama and associates spied on Trump and his campaign team and his transition team.

I will wait for the Special Counsel to hopefully fill us in, until then...

Brosephus
Brosephus

@Fan4500 
That is speculation.  There is fact that Americans were unmasked under the Obama administration because they continuously contacted Russian operatives who were being monitored.


Knowing that, it's easy to ascertain that Obama "spied" on Trump and his campaign team if they kept contacting Russian operatives.  Now, did they intentionally spy on Americans, or were Americans picked up because they kept contacting people who were getting spied on?  


The question you should ask yourself is why were they continuously in contact with known Russian spies.  It's not like Flynn wasn't aware of our spying techniques.



Fan4500
Fan4500

@Brosephus @Fan4500 And also the FISA Court chewed out the obama admin. for all the unmasking. 

And Flynn, I agree, don't you think he knew? Maybe there was nothing to the conversations. 

And my question still is if they had all this intel, why did they not say something last year? hillary would be in the White House most likely for sure. Why wait?

Brosephus
Brosephus

@Fan4500 

"why did they not say something last year?"


http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/12/10/mitch_mcconnell_prevented_stronger_action_against_russian_election_meddling.html


At the end of a bombshell Washington Post piece about how the CIA has concluded that Russia was trying to help Donald Trump win the White House, there is word of a secret meeting on Capitol Hill with a group of key lawmakers in September. It was at this meeting that McConnell reportedly expressed serious reservations about the intelligence and threatened to politicize the agency’s findings if they were made public...


According to several officials, McConnell raised doubts about the underlying intelligence and made clear to the administration that he would consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics.


----------------------------------


I don't think Obama wanted to have such a major implication injected into the election.  Just my personal view, but Obama tried to play middleman his entire tenure.


People who paid attention to the news, had an idea of this stuff.  I refused to vote for Trump because of what was being reported.  It didn't hurt that I despised Trump's campaign rhetoric too and saw him as nothing more than a snake oil salesman.

Fan4500
Fan4500

@Brosephus @Fan4500 Maybe but all it would take is a small leak. Just like the leak of Flynn's name to the Post, someone committed a crime but did it anyway.

Brosephus
Brosephus

@Fan4500 

There were leaks during the election.  Most people simply dismissed them or ignored them.  There were allegations of collusion made in August against Trump.  There was a big dust up over the softening of the GOP platform at the convention, but most people ignored it.


There have been all kinds of road signs along the way, but nobody paid attention to them until after the election.  Even the Steele dossier was a GOP funded affair to discredit Trump.  It's likely that even some Republicans knew things were not 100% okay before the election but said nothing anyway.


These are things that we're never going to know unless people go to trial and evidence is presented in court.

Fan4500
Fan4500

@Brosephus @Fan4500 So, in your opinion, how did Russia affect votes for either candidate? The Russians have already admitted to trying to influence elections here and that they will continue to do so, (per obama)

Brosephus
Brosephus

@Fan4500 

Massive trolling to push fake stories.  When you have aggregation sites, such as Drudge, it is easier than what people realize.


Look at the number of people who believed the story about Comet Pizza even though it was complete bs.  There were the stories about Clinton's health too.


Russia didn't have to mess with the actual voting machines.  They only needed to feed the narrative in the country to make Clinton as unlikable as possible.  That made it easy for people to vote for Trump even with all the crap that Trump said while campaigning.


Look at how often news outlets pointed out Trump saying or doing things that would have killed previous campaigns.  Those things only helped Trump instead of hurting him.

Fan4500
Fan4500

For SNC, who here is 100% positive, obama was born in America?

P.S. Not asking if you believe it, but are 100% sure.
(This is a hypothetical discussion)

Brosephus
Brosephus

@Fan4500

He was born in Hawaii.  Hawaii was a state.  He was born in America.  100%

Brosephus
Brosephus

@Fan4500
Well, seeing that I was born in 1973, I wasn't there personally.  I find it hard to believe someone would conspire back in 1961 to fake his place of birth because he MIGHT become president at some time.


I haven't seen any fact to show that he was not born in America.  There has been lots of opinions on the subject, but nobody has put forth a single solitary fact to show that he was born elsewhere.  Not even Trump with his team of investigators.

HDB0329
HDB0329

@Fan4500 @Brosephus ...the State of Hawai'i would not have issued a birth certificate for him if he hadn't been born in the State...and the US GOVERNMENT would not have issued him a US PASSPORT if he were not a US CITIZEN!!


FACT!!

Brosephus
Brosephus

@HDB0329 

Interestingly enough, the Dept. of State only has to be 51% convinced that you are a citizen to issue a passport.  The State of Hawaii, on the other hand, probably has a much higher standard for issuing birth certificates.

BuckeyeGa
BuckeyeGa

What the point of the hypothetical discussion when there is proof he was born in Hawaii..Thats like asking are you 100 percent sure Antartica exists.

Fan4500
Fan4500

@Brosephus @Fan4500 Ok, agreed. we accept the facts provided but there is a chance they could be wrong. Much like this Trump-Russia collusion, we don't really know anything until the facts are in. All we know now is speculation by news organizations.

Brosephus
Brosephus

@Fan4500 

No matter what the situation, people make their decisions on the facts provided.  How are either of those situations any different?  The facts are in on Obama's place of birth.  Not so much for the Trump/Russia issue.  The two are nowhere near the same.

HDB0329
HDB0329

@Fan4500 @HDB0329 @Brosephus I am not disputing the facts as presented....


...it's like my asking you do you own a flying carpet? If you present the facts that you own one and show the FAA registration, then that's factual proof that you own a flying carpet....

Fan4500
Fan4500

@Brosephus @Fan4500 You don't really know that, only what news outlets have told you.

P.S. And I can create a Birth Certificate

Brosephus
Brosephus

@Fan4500 

I deal in document analysis on a daily basis.  I'm well aware of how to research and find documents.  Anyone can create a birth certificate.  Creating a valid and official birth certificate can only be done by the state.


I do know that.

Fan4500
Fan4500

@Brosephus @Fan4500 I do also and I know it can be done. I would have to hold and see the document. Seeing the document on TV or a Computer screen does nothing. Again, much like this Russia thing, I want to see facts. Agreed , I won't be there but...

Brosephus
Brosephus

@Fan4500 

And, in my profession, I trust the judgement of other professionals unless they give me pause to not trust them.  I had no such reservations in the birther issue.  Nor do I at this point in the Russia issue.

Fan4500
Fan4500

@Brosephus @Fan4500 Just a side thought, what did you think of the youtube video that showed how the birth certificate looked to be created, not typed, like on a typewriter. Just curious of your professional opinion of his analysis.

Brosephus
Brosephus

@Fan4500 

Haven't seen the YouTube video, but I have seen printed birth certificates that attempt to do the same.  The problem is two-fold.


Trying to create an original document that is weathered is almost impossible because the weathering techniques are easy to spot.  Trying to create an official copy is difficult because of the security features embedded in the documents themselves.  If you know the security features, you can spot a fake, even in photos.