Lazy Saturday Reads: A Spy Ring in the White House?

Good Morning!!

I’m illustrating this post with paintings of women and cats–not relevant, but perhaps more soothing than the news.

It’s beginning to look like we have an actual spy ring in the White House. Here are the late-breaking stories from last night. I’m assuming everyone has read or heard about them.

The Washington Post: Russian ambassador told Moscow that Kushner wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin.

The New York Times: Kushner Is Said to Have Discussed a Secret Channel to Talk to Russia.

Reuters: Exclusive: Trump son-in-law had undisclosed contacts with Russian envoy – sources.

The Washington Post: Senate Intelligence Committee requests Trump campaign documents.

The New York Times: Russian Once Tied to Trump Aide Seeks Immunity to Cooperate With Congress.

While all this news has been breaking, Trump has been in Europe undermining NATO and our country’s relationship with long-time allies. He has done everything Vladimir Putin could have wished for. Trump ignored his advisers and refused to reaffirm U.S. support for Article 5

Kees von Dongen, Woman with Cat 1908

Foreign Policy: Trump’s Article 5 Omission Was an Attack Against All of NATO.

When President Trump spoke to NATO members for the first time on Thursday he failed to say the one thing Europeans were waiting to hear. He never mentioned America’s unwavering commitment to Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, which states that an attack on one is an attack on all. Twitter erupted in a storm of outrage and, for at least a few hours, #NATO was trending. Sean Spicer, responding to the criticism, stressed that even though the president didn’t say it outright, he is “fully committed” to NATO and Article 5.

Spicer’s logic? Trump’s mere presence at the dedication ceremony at the new NATO HQ was evidence enough. For folks that don’t track NATO issues on a day-to-day basis (and that’s most people), the president’s omission may not seem like a big deal. But Trump’s refusal to repeat what so many members of his own Cabinet have already stated — including his vice president — was a significant blow to the transatlantic relationship and could have lasting consequences.

Why were Europeans so eager to hear Trump utter the words “Article 5”? It was just last summer when Trump, in an interview with the New York Times, alluded to the fact that the United States could make its commitment to Article 5 conditional on whether the country in question was spending enough on defense. That sent a shiver down the spines of many NATO allies as they imagined calling Washington in a crisis — only to be asked first asked whether they had met the 2 percent target. (For many, the answer would be no.) Throughout the campaign, Trump also called the alliance “obsolete” (before he said it was “no longer” obsolete) and has repeatedly claimed — falsely — that NATO allies owe the United States vast sums of money.

Read the rest at the link. Foreign Policy is providing free access to their articles this weekend.

Carl Olof Larsson, The Bridge, 1912

NBC News: Trump Declines Endorsing Paris Climate Change Deal at G7 Summit, Will Make Decision Next Week.

TAORMINA, Italy — Under pressure from allies, President Donald Trump backed a pledge to fight protectionism on Saturday, but refused to endorse a global climate change accord, saying he needed more time to decide.

The summit of Group of Seven wealthy nations pitted Trump against the leaders of Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada and Japan on several issues, with European diplomats frustrated at having to revisit questions they hoped were long settled.

Trump, who has previously called global warming a hoax, tweeted that he would make a decision next week on whether to back the 2015 Paris Agreement on curbing carbon emissions following lengthy discussions with G7 partners.

He probably needs to check with Putin first.

“The entire discussion about climate was very difficult, if not to say very dissatisfying,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters. “There are no indications whether the United States will stay in the Paris Agreement or not.”

However, there was relief that Trump agreed to language in the final G7 communique that pledged to fight protectionism and commits to a rules-based international trade system.

Read more at the link.

Pierre Auguste Renoir, Girl and Cat 1880-81

NBC News is reporting this morning that Trump and his entourage are refusing to give on-camera briefings to the press or answer questions about Kushner. All other NATO countries are holding public press conferences at the closing of the summit. They did send out designated patsy H.R. McMaster to answer some questions.

Philip Rucker at The Washington Post: Trump adviser: ‘I would not be concerned’ about a Russia back-channel, irrespective of Kushner.

TAORMINA, Italy — President Trump’s National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said Saturday he “would not be concerned” about having a back-channel communications system with Russia, though he and other top White House officials refused to comment specifically on the growing controversy surrounding Jared Kushner.

A news conference here at the conclusion of Trump’s maiden foreign trip was overtaken at times by questions about Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and Friday’s Washington Post report that Kushner had discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin.

The Post reported earlier in the week that Kushner — who helped plan the Middle East portion of Trump’s trip and traveled with the president to Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican — is now a focus of the FBI investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

McMaster sand National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, who together briefed reporters Saturday, were unwilling to discuss the Kushner matter, as was White House press secretary Sean Spicer. White House officials insisted the briefing be conducted off-camera, preventing photographers or television cameras from documenting it.

“We’re not going to comment on Jared,” Cohn said. “We’re just not going to comment.”

Fritz Zuber Buhler_A Reclining Beauty With Her Cat

McMaster either misunderstood what Kushner was trying to do or is simply trying to obfuscate and sow confusion about what happened with her holographic nails. Kushner wasn’t just seeking a secure channel to communicate with the Kremlin. He wanted to use the Russian embassy and Russian security channels for communications that would be hidden from the U.S. government and the American people. How can that not be treason?

Some reactions to the Kushner revelations

Business Insider interviewed Bob Dietz, who formerly worked for NSA and the CIA:

“GOOD GRIEF. This is serious,” said Bob Deitz, a veteran of the NSA and the CIA who worked under the Clinton and Bush administrations.

“This raises a bunch of problematic issues. First, of course, is the Logan Act, which prohibits private individuals conducting negotiations on behalf of the US government with foreign governments,” Deitz said. “Second, it tends to reinforce the notion that Trump’s various actions about [fired FBI Director James] Comey do constitute obstruction.”

“In other words, there is now motive added to conduct,” Deitz noted. “This is a big problem for the President.”

They also talked to Glen Carle, formerly of the CIA.

“If you are in a position of public trust, and you talk to, meet, or collude with a foreign power” while trying to subvert normal state channels, “you are, in the eyes of the FBI and CIA, a traitor,” said Glenn Carle, a former top counterterrorism official at the CIA. “That is what I spent my life getting foreigners to do with me, for the US government.”

Carle noted that, if the Kushner-Kislyak meeting and reported discussion were an isolated incident, then it could be spun as “normal back-channel communication arrangements among states.” ….

“We know about the multiple meetings of Trump entourage members with Russian intel-related individuals,” Carle said. “There will be many others that we do not know about.” He noted that while this reported back channel is “explosive,” it is worth questioning who planted the story — The Post reportedly received an anonymous letter in December tipping them off to the Kushner-Kislyak meeting.

Additionally, as a longtime diplomat, Kislyak would have known that his communications were being monitored. So the possibility remains, Carle said, that the Russians used the meeting with Kushner to distract the intelligence community and the public from potentially more incriminating relationships between the campaign and Moscow.

Read much more at the Business Insider link.

Tatyana Gorshunova, Woman in the Armchair

I have to agree with Joseph Cannon on this: Lock him up? No. SEEK THE DEATH PENALTY!

I confess that this post’s title is a provocation, though it expresses my sincere belief. If this Reuters report and this WP report are true — and as of this writing, they have not been denied — Jared Kushner is a traitor. He should not simply lose his job; he must be tried. Tried for treason.

Kushner lied on his security clearance forms — forms which clearly state that a deliberate falsification will result in jail. Any “Oops! Forgot!” claim is a bad joke. Jared Kushner cannot possibly have forgotten a meeting with the Russian ambassador in Trump Tower. No-one can forget an attempt to set up a back channel communication system using Russian facilities….

You wanna know who really is without sin in all this? Hillary Clinton.

Yet the Republicans chanted “Lock her up!” because Hillary set up a private email server. Contrary to the incessant lies emitted by right-wing propagandists, that server handled NON-classified communications, with a couple of accidental exceptions (which Hillary did not send). The most often-cited of these exceptions was a piece of piffle about Malawi which never should have received a classification stamp.

That’s why the Republican establishment demanded that Hillary Clinton lose her security clearance: Freakin’ Malawi. The same establishment is now trying to come up with a way to save Kushner’s ass.

The hypocrisy on display here is beyond flabbergasting, beyond infuriating. I cannot think of a parallel in the entire history of partisan double standards. Anyone who can damn Hillary while excusing Kushner and Trump must be mentally sick.

At this time (last December), Trump and his team were bad-mouthing the U.S. intelligence community. Kushner’s back-channel was designed to keep Trump’s communications with Putin hidden from our people, not from the FSB.

Please go read the rest at Cannonfire.

More links to check out

The New Yorker: Jared Kushner’s Russia Problems.

The New Yorker: How Worried Should Jared Kushner Be?

Politico: Meet the Real Jared Kushner.

Vox: The dueling scoops about Jared Kushner’s plan for secret communications with Russia, explained.

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I couldn’t sleep last night after reading these articles and watching MSNBC’s reports. I’m probably going to have to take a nap soon, but I’ll be checking in to see your reactions and click on your links. Take care everyone. This is really really scary.

31 Comments on “Lazy Saturday Reads: A Spy Ring in the White House?”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Have a nice weekend, Sky Dancers!

  2. bostonboomer says:

    I’d be willing to bet that the purpose of all this cloak and dagger stuff was to get Russian money for Kushner and Trump in return for lifting sanctions and killing NATO. Again, how that that not be treason?

    • bostonboomer says:

      Josh Marshall:

      President Trump’s visit to Brussels/Europe wasn’t just another grab bag of impulsive aggression and gaffes. It wasn’t scattershot. It was quite clearly focused on destabilizing and perhaps eviscerating the NATO Alliance and somewhat secondarily, but relatedly, the European Union. This has been the strategic goal of Russia and before it the Soviet Union for decades. The sum total of everything that happened on this trip casts the entire Trump/Russia story in a decidedly more ominous light.

      And the light was already quite ominous.

      There are plenty of theories as to why President Trump might want to destabilize our alliance with our European allies and upend the global liberal internationalist order. But that he wants to do that seems basically beyond question at this point. His still largely unexplored and in many ways inexplicable relationship with Vladimir Putin’s Russia is just the most viable explanation. On virtually every other issue he is almost infinitely malleable and susceptible to blandishments and praise. Except this one. Here he remains fixed on True North.

      • dakinikat says:

        and according to a few people, the EU IC are going to release a lot of dirt on Trump they have been collecting for awhile in retaliation … we may get to see the potty tapes after all

    • NW Luna says:

      What we can tell about Kushner’s finances is that he is in deep trouble debt-wise and has managed to pile scheme on scheme to barely stay above water so far. Not clear with Trump but he’s been engaged in enough that looks and smells like money-laundering for years. There is no reasonable and benign explanation to account for the multiplicity of contacts and coincidences that have surfaced.

  3. Pat Johnson says:

    Kushner knew damn well what he was doing. And Flynn was in the room with him when they spirited Krysliak in through the back door of Trump Tower so the press stationed in the lobby did not see him enter or exit.

    This election needs to be set aside as it appears the “hanky panky” was a deliberate act between both the Russians and the Trump campaign to overthrow the democratic process in an attempt to “install” Trump as POTUS.

    And why such secrecy? Why all the denials of contact from those close to Trump? Why was Jared “charged” with so many roles in the administration? Why was there a plank inserted in the Republican platform that favored Putin? Who chose Rex Tillerson as SOS?

    Sessions, Kushner, Manafort, Flynn, Page, Miller the Trump lawyer are up to their lying necks in this outraged must be relieved of whatever it is they have planned. Pence too who has done nothing but lie. This is without a doubt treason at its highest level. A thoroughly criminal enterprise based on greed from all parties involved.

    What was done to Hillary is nothing short of treason and again, where is the GOP leadership?

    • Enheduanna says:

      I have grave doubts anything close to treason will be charged. One of Joseph Cannon’s commentators posits it can’t be treason unless Russia is an enemy state. Are they technically an enemy state?

      Espionage and treason are apparently two different things. I have no idea myself – but it looks like we’ll learn soon enough. Here is from the Constitution Online:

      • bostonboomer says:

        That commenter was a Trump troll. Of course Russia is our enemy. Besides, specific charges of treason won’t be needed.

        • Enheduanna says:

          I sure hope so, BB. These weasels are so slippery I just know they’ll find a way to avoid justice. Looks like Jared’s going the “duh I forgot” route. Slimeball.

    • dakinikat says:

      What I want to know is why have the damned media finally awakened to the threat now? Why didn’t they do their damned jobs a year ago!!! And they’re all shocked by reporters being body slammed now? The damned Trump rallies didn’t tell them it was coming?

  4. dakinikat says:

    Did you see this BB?

    F.B.I. Once Warned G.O.P. Congressman That Russian Spies Were Recruiting Him

    The F.B.I. warned a Republican congressman in 2012 that Russian spies were trying to recruit him, officials said, an example of how aggressively Russian agents have tried to influence Washington politics.

    The congressman, Dana Rohrabacher of California, has been known for years as one of Moscow’s biggest defenders in Washington and as a vocal opponent of American economic sanctions against Russia. He claims to have lost a drunken arm-wrestling match with the current Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, in the 1990s. He is one of President Trump’s staunchest allies on Capitol Hill.

    As a newly appointed special counsel investigates connections between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives, the warning to Mr. Rohrabacher shows that the F.B.I. has for years viewed Russian spies, sometimes posing as diplomats, as having a hand in Washington.

    Mr. Rohrabacher was drawn into the maelstrom this week when The Washington Post reported on an audio recording of Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House majority leader, saying last year, “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.” Mr. McCarthy said on Wednesday that he had made a joke that landed poorly.

    But the F.B.I. has taken seriously the possibility that Russian spies would target American politicians. In a secure room at the Capitol, an F.B.I. agent told Mr. Rohrabacher in 2012 that Russian spies were trying to recruit him as an “agent of influence” — someone the Russian government might be able to use to steer Washington policy making, former officials said.

    Mr. Rohrabacher said in a telephone interview on Thursday that the meeting had focused on his contact with one member of the Russian Foreign Ministry, whom he recalled meeting on a trip to Moscow. “They were telling me he had something to do with some kind of Russian intelligence,” Mr. Rohrabacher said. He recalled the F.B.I. agent saying that Moscow “looked at me as someone who could be influenced.”

    Law enforcement officials did not think that Mr. Rohrabacher was actively working with Russian intelligence, officials said, rather that he was being targeted as an unwitting player in a Russian effort to gain access in Washington, according to one former American official. The official said there was no evidence that Mr. Rohrabacher was ever paid by the Russians.

    Also at the meeting were Representative Mike Rogers, Republican of Michigan, and according to one former official, Representative C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Democrat of Maryland. Mr. Rogers and Mr. Ruppersberger were the senior members of the House Intelligence Committee. In a brief telephone interview, Mr. Ruppersberger said that he recalled a meeting with Mr. Rogers and Mr. Rohrabacher, but did not remember that an F.B.I. agent was present. “Mike and I reminded Dana that Russia is our adversary,” he said.

    Mr. Rogers, who has since retired from Congress, declined to comment.

    Mr. Rohrabacher said he appreciated the warning but needed no reminder. “Any time you meet a Russian member of their Foreign Ministry or the Russian government, you assume those people have something to do with Russian intelligence,” he said.

    • Enheduanna says:

      There sure are a lot of GOPers with their fingers in Russian Pie. Even Nunes and the delightful Gianforte have investments there. Money grubbing grifters to the core.

      I agree with Luna – the money ties are what tRump & Co. are desperately trying to uphold. The Russians own the entire Klan. In tRump’s mind the Russians are above criticism because that’s what he has to believe.

      And the breathtaking arrogance of a man so indebted to Russian backers seeking the office of the Presidency – how completely blind and dense can a person be? I don’t think the possibility of any of this mess ever entered his mind.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        I doubt he ever expected to win. Just a blowhard shooting off his big mouth hoping to make more money from The Apprentice.

        Then he took off, beating back 16 other candidates because he was “different” and his celebrity helped.

        Enter Wikileaks. Comey. Putin and Friends. An infatuated MSM. Hours and hours of free time on the networks. Bernie and the Bots. Fake Facebook entries. Comey at the finish.

        This was never supposed to happen. But it did. 80,000 votes dragged him over the electoral finish line and here we are. 62 million like minded morons who saw nothing wrong with a lying cheat and a morally bankrupt candidate, unqualified and ignorant, to sit in the highest office the land and embarrass himself and us as a nation while playing “patty cake” with a murderous dictator with deep pockets.

        Hundreds of years of history wiped out in the name of Trump.

        • Enheduanna says:

          Add rigged electoral system of course.

          We must overcome this. I believe we can but Democrats need to start turning out in huge numbers for local, mid-term and general elections.

  5. dakinikat says:

  6. dakinikat says:

    lil pudgy trumpkins
    head looks like a pumpkin…
    and his tiny weiner …. neener neener neener

  7. dakinikat says:

    I just want every one to see this in BIG PRINT

  8. dakinikat says:

    Here’s your domestic terrorist …. another white supremacist …

    Witnesses: Man Cut the Throats of Two MAX Passengers Who Tried to Stop Anti-Muslim Bullying of Women on Northeast Portland Train
    The attack occurred in the Hollywood District. “He said, ‘Get off the bus, and get out of the country because you don’t pay taxes here.’

  9. jackyt says:

    Lest we forget… the underlying misogyny of the electoral landscape provided the fertilizer that nourished this treasonous crop. This article paints the numbers:

    • NW Luna says:

      Jaw-droppingly staggering. I knew there was some difference between the countries, but didn’t think it was that much! I’m going to look at more info on this. Thanks for posting, jackyt!

      In order to understand the orientation to the structure of authority in the family in each country, we periodically ask representative samples of people 15 and older if they agree or disagree with the statement: “The father of the family must be master in his own house.”

      In 2016, 50 per cent of the 8,000-plus Americans surveyed agreed with the statement. In Canada, the equivalent proportion (with a sample of 4,000-plus) was 23 per cent.

  10. NW Luna says:


  11. bostonboomer says:

    This seems like an important read:

    ‘RussiaGate’ Has Become a Catastrophic Failure of Leadership — and a Debacle From Which the Trump Presidency Will Not Recover
    The Trump-Russia scandal has metastasized quickly and destructively.


    To understand why this is so serious, it’s important first to realize what is truly important to the inquiry — and to escape some of the distractions of the past six months. Why Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in November, or exactly how Russian interests attempted to disrupt and influence our electoral process, is important, but ultimately not what matters most. Whether former Trump campaign officials and advisers failed to disclose past business dealings with interests in Ukraine, Russia and Turkey is a question that will be answered, but not a defining one. That President Trump and his family have had past business dealings or allegedly engaged in personal hijinks in Russia is hardly important at all.

    No, this is an investigation about one thing: the now-undeniable fact that a Russian espionage conspiracy accomplished an objective that has never previously occurred in American history — compromising the highest levels of US government, penetrating the White House, establishing influence and leverage over the president’s national security adviser and planting false information with the vice president of the United States — who then, wittingly or unwittingly, repeated those fictions to the American people.

  12. NW Luna says:

  13. NW Luna says:

  14. bostonboomer says:

    Gregg Allman, Soulful Trailblazer of Southern Rock, Dies at 69

  15. Earlynerd says:

    BB, the women and cat paintings were good stress relievers – more intriguing than awwww-inspiring this time, but that works too. (The reclining beauty makes me laugh every time I look at her)

    Your post was excellent in showing the grand betrayals the Trump family are increasingly implicated in. I thought this article shows Kushner, like his father-in-law, is also a master of malfeasance at both the low and the high ends.

    I had read about Kushner’s slumlord behavior before, but had no idea it was this petty on this grand a scale. Or this relentless and cruel.