General Hayden on Jared Kushner: “We’re in a Really DARK PLACE as a Society.”

“I mean what manner of ignorance, chaos, hubris, suspicion, contempt would you have to have to think that doing this with the Russian ambassador was a good or an appropriate idea.”

General Michael Hayden — Former head of the NSA and CIA

CNN’s Michael Smerconish spoke with former head of the NSA and CIA General Michael Hayden Saturday (May 27 2017), in the wake of reports that White House senior advisor Jared Kushner tried to establish a backchannel with the Kremlin. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

The story

Jared Kushner discussed creating a secret communications channel between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin with Russia’s ambassador Sergei Kislyak, The Washington Post reported Friday, citing US officials briefed on intelligence reports.

The claim comes from intercepts of conversations between Russia’s ambassador and Moscow.

Kislyak told higher-ups in Moscow that Kushner suggested the proposal in a meeting at Trump Tower — which former national security adviser Michael Flynn also attended — in December (Either December 1st or 2nd).

Kushner suggested using Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States for the communications.

Quick analysis

We now understand why Kushner has been designated a “person of interest” as the FBI considers the encounter, as well as another meeting Kushner had with a Russian banker, to be of “investigative interest”. let us face it: the story is almost surrreal.

According to the Post,

“Kislyak reportedly was taken aback by the suggestion of allowing an American to use Russian communications gear at its embassy or consulate — a proposal that would have carried security risks for Moscow as well as the Trump team.”

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.

“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.”

In the light of these recent developments, I find it pretty hard to believe that Flynn acted alone and betrayed his colleagues when he contacted Russian Ambassador Kislyak in late December 2016. (This explains why I have added these events to the “Flynngate” Timeline.)

A very damaging leak

Also, the story may very well explains why the DOJ requested the “unmasking” of US citizens if their names appeared in such a channel of communication.

This story — of course — implies that the NSA intercepts the conversations between Russia’s ambassador and Moscow.

But it also implies that the NSA can decrypt — in real or near real-time — Russian diplomatic cables.

[According to WP journalist Adam Entous, an anonymous letter was delivered to him in mid December 2016. The Post simply dismissed the letter as a hoax.]

The Interview of General Hayden

Smerconish started by asking Hayden if Kushner’s actions struck him more as the result of “nefarious” intentions, or “naiveté.”

“Well Michael right now I’m going with naiveté, and that’s not, particularly, very comforting for me,” Hayden responded.

“I mean what manner of ignorance, chaos, hubris, suspicion, contempt would you have to have to think that doing this with the Russian ambassador was a good or an appropriate idea,” he added. “So again, naiveté doesn’t make me feel good about many things.”

Hayden pointed out that the talks could have been borne out of President Donald Trump’s distrust for the previous administration, noting that was nonetheless dumbfounding, in the light of accusations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia: “here you are willing to risk the perception of secret communications with your alleged co-conspirator because you feared the existing government so much.”

“Boy Michael, that suggests we’re in a really dark place as a society,” Hayden said.

Smercornish went on to ask about Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s likely response to Kushner, with Hayden stating the request to set up a backchannel “goes so far out of the norm that [Kislyak] was probably shocked.”

RELATED POST: Trump-Russia Investigation — Who is the White House Official identified as a “Person of Interest”?

TIMELINE [Flynngate]

September 2011 — Flynn is promoted to Lieutenant General and assigned to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

April 17 2012 —President Barack Obama nominates Flynn to be the 18th director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

2013 — As DIA chief, Flynn visited the GRU headquarters in Moscow. He was the first US officer ever allowed inside its headquarters.  A second GRU visit was planned but denied. During this trip, he meets Russian diplomat Sergey Ivanovich Kislyak for the first time.

February 2014 — Flynn meets Svetlana Lokhova at Cambridge (CIS)

April 30 2014 — Flynn ‘quits’ the Defense Intelligence Agency

October 8 2014 — a letter to Flynn from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Office of General Counsel explicitly warns Flynn, as he entered retirement, that he was prohibited by the Constitution from receiving payments from foreign sources without advance permission.

Summer 2015 –Flynn meets Trump for the first time after being invited to do so by his team

April 2016 — On May 25 2017, a former senior intelligence official told the Post that the FBI was closely examining an April 2016 event at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, where both Kushner and the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak were present.

May 2016 — Flynn joins NSO Group as an “adviser”

July 15 2016 — Attempted coup in Turkey. Ankara claims Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the US since 1999, masterminded the failed putsch. Extradition requested. Turkey Coup: “CIA Plotters’ Meeting” in Büyükada

August 9 2016 — Flynn Intel Group entered into a contract with Inovo, a consulting firm based in the Netherlands. The work focused on Mr. Fethullah Gulen and charter schools in the United States that are associated with Gulen.

August 15 2016 — The Flynn – Inovo contract goes into effect.

August 15 2016 — Presidential Candidate donald Trump tweets: “I’ve got fresh evidence 13 CIA senior officers helped in Turkey Failed Coup. I will divulge the names in the coming days.” Trump and the Attempted Coup in Turkey : “13 CIA senior officers helped in Failed Coup”

August 24 2016 — U.S. Vice President Joe Biden visited Turkey. Biden made it clear that an extradition request is a legal matter, not one for the POTUS to decide.

September 9 2016 — Inovo BV Payments to Flynn Intel Group $200k

September 19 2016 — Flynn met with senior representatives of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government at the Essex House hotel in New York City. Extradition of Gulen discussed. The Turkish officials are Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Energy Minister Berat Albayrak who is the son-in-law of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

October [x] 2016 — Flynn Intel officials presented some of their ‘anti-Gulen’ research to the House Homeland Security Committee.

October 10 2016 — Inovo BV Payments to Flynn Intel Group $185k

November 8 2016 — Suspicions about Flynn’s ties to the Turkish government were sparked by an op-ed he wrote in the Hill. Flynn calls Gulen ‘shady’ and endorses his extradition.

November 10 2016 — Mike Flynn calling for the extradition of Gulen

November 10, 2016 — Obama warned Trump about Flynn during their Oval Office meeting

November 15 2016 — Inovo BV Payments to Flynn Intel Group $145k

November 17 2016 — President-elect Trump intends to pick Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn to be his National Security Advisor

November 18 2016 — Flynn becomes Trump’s NSA

November  30 2016 —The Justice Department notified Mr. Flynn that it was scrutinizing his lobbying work (Turkey)

December 1st or 2nd — [Date previously unknown but Slate places it “some time before the two events of Dec. 29th.”]  Jared Kushner and Michael T. Flynn had a previously undisclosed meeting with the Russian ambassador in December to “establish a line of communication” between the new administration and the Russian government.  NYT

December 17 2016 — Three experts — including former MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove — unexpectedly resigned from their positions at the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar (CIS), amid concerns that the Kremlin is behind a newly-established intelligence journal, which provides funding for CIS.

December 28 2016 — Flynn sends text message to Russia Amb. Kislyak to wish him a Merry Christmas.

December 28 2016 — Russia Amb. Kislyak  replies asking if they can talk on the phone?

December 29 2016 — US expels Russian diplomats over cyber attack allegations. The Obama administration said the GRU is responsible for the DNC hack.

December 29 2016 — Flynn and Russia Amb. Kislyak  phone calls (5?). US sanctions are discussed.

December 30 2016 — Putin announced that he would not retaliate. Trump praised Putin for the decision, writing in a Twitter post, “Great move on delay (by V.Putin). I always knew he was very smart!”

January 4 2017 —Flynn told Trump  transition team’s chief lawyer Donald F. McGahn II he was under federal investigation for secretly working as a paid lobbyist for Turkey

January 5 2017 — “Effective immediately, Ambassador Woolsey is no longer a Senior Advisor to President-Elect Trump or the Transition.”Woolsey said on CNN that he did not want to “fly under false colors” any longer.

January 11 2017 — Erik Prince meets with a representative of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Seychelles

January 24 2017 — Mike Flynn interviewed by the FBI (At the White House; No lawyer)

January 24 2017 —Sally Yates, the former acting attorney general, again raised the issue with FBI Comey, who now backed away from his opposition to informing the White House.

January 26 2017 — Yates and a senior career national security official spoke to McGahn, the White House counsel. Yates tells the White House counsel that Flynn is vulnerable to blackmail by Russian intelligence.Yates  considered Flynn’s comments in the intercepted call with Russia Amb. Kislyak  to be “highly significant” and “potentially illegal”

January 27 2017 — Yates and McGahn second meeting. McGahn wants to know 4 Things. Why the DOJ cares? Is there a criminal case? Could the White House decision be interpreted as interference? What and where is the evidence against Flynn?

January 27 2017 — Michael Cohen, Andrii Artemenko, and Trump business associate Felix Sater meet at the Loews Regency Hotel in Manhattan to discuss a Ukraine “peace plan” that would lift international sanctions on Russia and “lease” Crimea to Russia in exchange for the withdrawal of Russian forces from eastern Ukraine.

January 27 2017 — Trump invites Comey for dinner. Trump requests “pledge of loyalty”.

January 30 2017 — Sally Yates  dismissed by President Trump

February 13 2017 — (Monday night) National Security Adviser Mike Flynn resigns

February 14 2017 — Trump asks Comey to drop the investigation on Flynn

March 2 2017 — The White House reveals that Jared Kushner and Michael T. Flynn had a previously undisclosed meeting with the Russian ambassador in December to “establish a line of communication” between the new administration and the Russian government. NYT

March 8 2017 — Flynn Intel Group Inc filed retroactive documents with the Department of Justice to register as a foreign agent.

March 20 2017 —In testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, Comey confirmed that the FBI has been investigating possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia

March 24 2017 — WSJ breaks the news of the September 19 meeting (Woolsey). The meeting was however mentioned in the documents filed on March 8 2017.

March 25 2017 — Julliette Kayyem (CNN) suggests Flynn made a deal with the FBI

May 3 2017 —In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Comey said that Russia is the “greatest threat of any nation on Earth … One of the biggest lessons learned is that Russia will do this again. Because of 2016 election, they know it worked.” He also said that Russia should pay a price for interfering

May 9 2017 — CNN reported that a grand jury had begun issuing subpoenas to associates of Michael Flynn

May 9 2017 — Comey is dismissed by President Trump

May 10 2017 —The Senate Intelligence Committee  issued a subpoena to Mike Flynn

May 11 2017 — Comey had been scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on May 11, but after he was dismissed on May 9, committee chair Senator Richard Burr said that Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe would appear instead.

May 16 2017 — Memos reveal Trump asked FBI Comey to drop Flynn investigation

May 17 2017 — Robert Mueller appointed special Prosecutor

May 19 2017 — White House senior official identified as “person of interest”

May 25 2017 —  NBC News and The Washington Post reported that investigators are looking into meetings Kushner held in December with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S., and Sergey Gorkov, the head of Vnesheconombank (VEB), a state-owned Russian bank that previously financed a deal with Trump’s former business partner.

General Hayden on Jared Kushner: “We’re in a Really DARK PLACE as a Society.”

REFERENCES

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General Hayden on Jared Kushner: “We’re in a Really DARK PLACE as a Society.”

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