Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Kushner Connection

Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, was looking for a direct line to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia — a search that in mid-December found him in a room with a Russian banker whose financial institution was deeply intertwined with Russian intelligence, and remains under sanction by the United States.


The banker [Sergey N. Gorkov] is a close associate of Mr. Putin, but he has not been known to play a diplomatic role for the Russian leader. That has raised questions about why he was meeting with Mr. Kushner at a crucial moment in the presidential transition.


The Washington Post reported that Mr. Kislyak told his superiors in Moscow that Mr. Kushner had proposed a secret channel and had suggested using Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States for the communications.


White House spokeswoman, Hope Hicks [...] said that the meeting came at the request of the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey I. Kislyak, with whom Mr. Kushner had met earlier in December at Trump Tower to discuss opening a communications channel with Russian officials during the presidential transition.

Nothing fishy here.
It is not clear whether Mr. Kushner saw the Russian banker as someone who could be repeatedly used as a go-between or whether the meeting with Mr. Gorkov was designed to establish a direct, secure communications line to Mr. Putin.
Or to the Russian bank.
Several people with knowledge of the meeting with Mr. Kislyak, and who defended it, have said it was primarily to discuss how the United States and Russia could cooperate to end the civil war in Syria and on other policy issues.
Sure. That's it. Are already estabished US connections with US diplomatic facilities not secure enough? That makes no sense. The US government (via Kushner, or not) would not be using Russian diplomatic facilities secretly. It obviously wouldn't be secret from the Russians. Just the Americans.

Also..."primarily" means there were other topics under discussion.
They also said the secure channel, in part, sought to connect Michael T. Flynn, a campaign adviser who became Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser, and military officials in Moscow.

Mr. Flynn attended the meeting at Trump Tower with Mr. Kislyak.
A US national security adviser would be communicating with Russian officials using Russian diplomatic facilities, in an attempt to be unknown to other US officials.  No problem there.  The inclusion of Michael Flynn in these matters makes me think there was more to this than just a way to enrich the Trumps and Kushners. There are just a whole lot of questions.
During the Trump administration’s first week, administration officials said they were considering an executive order to unilaterally lift the sanctions, which bar Americans from providing financing to and could limit borrowing from Mr. Gorkov’s bank, Vnesheconombank. Removing the sanctions would have greatly expanded the bank’s ability to do business in the United States.
Namely, with Kushner's and Trump's business interests.
Mr. Kushner disclosed none of his contacts with Russians or any other foreign officials when he applied for his security clearance in January. He later amended the form to include several meetings, including those with Mr. Kislyak and Mr. Gorkov, but it is unclear whether he told the investigators who conducted his background check about the attempts to set up a back channel. His aides have said his omissions from the clearance form were accidental.
And we believe that, don't we?

By the way, there's another little interesting detail:
[Gorkov's] bank is controlled by members of Mr. Putin’s government, including Prime Minister Dmitri A. Medvedev.
[It] has also been used by Russian intelligence to plant spies in the United States. In March 2016, an agent of Russia’s foreign intelligence service, known as the S.V.R., who was caught posing as an employee of the bank in New York, pleaded guilty to spying against the United States.


In March, both CNN and the Post columnist David Ignatius reported that Mr. Kushner had met with Mr. Gorkov because he wanted the most direct possible contact with Mr. Putin.
Why? With Trump as president, Trump has the ability to ring up Mr. Putin any time day or night.

And did Kushner and Flynn not know of this spying incident?
The most plausible ‘bad’ story behind the Trump/Russia mystery has always been some kind of financial preferment to members of the Trump family in exchange for lifting the sanctions put in place after the Russian annexation of Crimea and subsequent low-intensity incursions into eastern Ukraine. This wouldn’t come out of the blue. It would probably come in the context of some ‘deal’ over Syria or Ukraine or perhaps some agreement about global counter-terrorism cooperation. As I’ve written, there is a more ‘innocent‘ explanation as well. It may not be any quid pro quo. It could simply be years of doing business with Russians and people from other parts of the former Soviet Union which has made Trump inclined to see their needs in a sympathetic light.

I think I'd stick with that first analysis.
His hostility toward the sanctions regime could also be driven by the fact that, with his dependence on Russian and FSU investments and purchases, they likely hurt him directly.
Infinitely more likely than that he cares about the Russian people.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

No comments: