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Kushner reportedly tried to set up a secret, illegal Trump-Putin channel BEFORE the inauguration

It's not just Michael Flynn. Not by a long shot.

According to a story run in this morning's Washington PostIvanka's husband, Jared Kushner, tried to set up a secret, secure, back-channel line of communications between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin. The proposal- which in the eyes of the FBI and the CIA amounts to treason- was so inappropriate that Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak was "taken aback."

At the very least, it's a violation of the Logan Act, which prohibits private citizens from negotiating with foreign powers. But it's even more serious than that. Glenn Carle, the former head of counterterrorism operations for the CIA, says bluntly, "If you are in a position of public trust, and you talk to, meet, or collude with a foreign power" through other than official channels, "you are, in the eyes of the FBI and CIA, a traitor."

The story confirms a report by Reuters earlier in the month about attempts by the Trump campaign to establish a backchannel means of communication between then President-elect Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Reuters reported at least 18 contacts between Trump campaign officials and the Russians over the last seven months of last year's campaign.

The report adds motive to the appearance of an attempt to obstruct justice on the president's part by supposedly asking former FBI Director James Comey to drop the investigation into Flynn, an appearance intensified by efforts by Trump aides to either keep meetings with the Russians secret from the appropriate American authorities or even to mislead them.

Carle points out that the Post learned of the Kushner meeting via an anonymous letter. He raised the possibility that the Russians might have sent it in an attempt to direct attention away from other and more incriminating meetings with the Russians. In any event, such a pattern of improper and clandestine meetings between Trump transition officials and the Russian government raises disturbing questions about why the Trump people were so anxious to be able to communicate with Putin and the Russians without American counterintelligence agencies being aware of it.

Former CIA officer, former independent presidential candidate, and current Trump critic Evan McMullin tweeted, "If true, this is treasonous activity, whether  borne of malice or naivete, or both."

He added, "In the intelligence business, this is known as a 'comms plan.' Usually, however, it's proposed by the officer, not by the traitor."

In any case "treason" at this point is an accurate description only as the word is apparently used in the intelligence services. The legal definition of the term is given by Article 3, Section 3 of the United States Constitution, which says, "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court."

Whether or not the definition fits, that hasn't happened yet, either in Flynn's case nor Kushner's nor in the case of any other Trump campaign or transition official. The truly significant thing about today's revelations is the seriousness it adds to former Director Comey's claim that President Trump tried to get him to drop the investigation into Gen. Flynn's activities with regard to the Russians.


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