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Another story from the Deep State soft coup plotters: Kushner, Flynn and the ‘back channel’ to Russia

The latest story about Jared Kushner and Michael Flynn – discussing their perfectly legal proposal after the election to set up a back channel to Russia – once again shows how elements of the US bureaucracy are acting illegally to obstruct the President’s policy of improving relations with Russia.

Alexander Mercouris

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Yesterday I wrote that having failed to find any evidence against any of the other people involved in the Russiagate inquiry, the investigators have turned on Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Today predictably there is the leak intended to cause him harm from our old friends, ‘three anonymous current and former officials’.

This leak alleges that in early December at a meeting with Russian ambassador Kislyak in Trump Tower which General Michael Flynn also attended Kushner discussed with Kislyak the setting up of a back channel between General Flynn and the Russians.

The idea apparently was that Flynn would use this back channel to discuss with the Russians the conflict in Syria and other security issues.  Here is how The New York Times describes the purpose of the ‘back channel’

…..the idea was to have Mr. Flynn speak directly with a senior military official in Moscow to discuss Syria and other security issues……

The idea behind the secret communications channel, the three people said, was for Russian military officials to brief Mr. Flynn about the Syrian war and to discuss ways to cooperate there.

Neither side followed up on it. And less than two weeks later, the idea was dropped when Mr. Trump announced that Rex W. Tillerson, a former chief executive of Exxon Mobil who had worked closely with Russian officials on energy deals, was his choice to become secretary of state.

There is no suggestion here that the back channel was intended to discuss possible collusion between the Trump team and the Russians relating to the US political process.  Of course by this point the election was over, so this proposal for a back channel can have no bearing on the allegations of secret collusion during the election between the Trump campaign and the Russians, which are the subject of the Russiagate investigation.

It should be said clearly that there is nothing remotely unprecedented or even sinister about a US President having a back channel to the Russians that circumvents the bureaucracy.

The Kennedy administration used a back channel which ran through Alexander Feklisov, the KGB Resident at the Soviet embassy in Washington, to communicate directly with the Kremlin during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  It is now generally acknowledged that the eventual agreement that ended the Cuban Missile Crisis – and with it the threat of nuclear war – was largely negotiated via Feklisov and the back channel.

The expression ‘back channel’ is however more closely associated with the actions of former US President Richard Nixon.

Before his election victory in November 1968 – ie. during the election campaign – Nixon established two back channels to the Kremlin, one set up by his friend Robert Ellsworth, which ran through Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin and Soviet Charge d’Affaires Yuri Cherniakov, and the other set up by his future National Security Adviser, Henry Kissinger, which like Kennedy’s back channel ran through the KGB Resident at the Soviet embassy in Washington, who was by this point Boris Sedov.

Nixon’s back channels to the Kremlin continued to function after he became President. Eventually they evolved into the famous Kissinger-Dobrynin back channel, which enabled Nixon and Kissinger to conduct secret diplomacy directly with the Kremlin circumventing the State Department.

Nixon’s back channels to the Kremlin have remained controversial.  However there has never been any suggestion that they were illegal.  Most historians today credit them with easing the process of negotiation of the web of arms control and other agreements of the early 1970s which established the so-called period of detente.

Back in December, shortly after Kushner had his meeting with Kislyak, an article appeared in the Washington Post discussing the Nixon back channels and speculating that the Trump transition team might be thinking of copying them.  Kushner is specifically mentioned in the article.

The New York Times says that US intelligence learnt about the discussion between Kushner and Kislyak about setting up the back channel ‘months ago’.

The article in the Washington Post about Nixon’s back channels looks like it was inspired by the Kushner-Kislyak meeting.  Putting this together with what the New York Times says about US intelligence learning about the Kushner-Kislyak meeting “months ago”, that suggests that knowledge of the meeting was already widespread by mid December, in which case US intelligence must have learnt about the meeting almost immediately, probably as soon as it happened.

That suggests two possibilities, both hinted at by the New York Times

American intelligence agencies first learned about the discussion several months ago, according to a senior American official who had been briefed on intelligence reports. It is unclear whether they learned about it from intercepted Russian communications or by other means.

If US intelligence learnt about the Kushner-Kislyak discussion “from intercepted Russian communications” then once again the release of information to the media about the Kushner-Kislyak meeting constitutes a very serious leak of classified information, which will have alerted the Russians to the fact that their secret communications have been compromised.

Since the Russians will almost certainly in that case take steps to tighten up the security of their communications as a result of the publication of this story, that could lead to the US losing an important intelligence source.  If so then yet again individuals within the US intelligence community, obsessed with their feud with Donald Trump, have damaged the national security interests of the US.

The other possibility is that US intelligence learnt about the discussion “by other means”, either from a source within the Trump transition team or – what has to be more likely – from electronic bugging of Trump Tower.  In the latter case then this confirms that Trump Tower was bugged despite the heated denials to the contrary.

The back channel was never set up because Donald Trump decided to make Rex Tillerson rather than General Flynn his point man in his dealings with the Russians.

If the idea of the back channel came from Flynn – as is likely – then that supports my theory that Flynn was seeking to carve out a position for himself as Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser akin to those held in the 1970s by Nixon’s and Carter’s National Security Advisers, Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski, and that this was the real reason why he was forced to resign.

Putting that aside, the key question about this story is not why Kushner discussed with Kislyak the idea of setting up a back channel.  The New York Times professes to be mystified about it

Even if the proposal was designed primarily as a conduit to discuss policy issues, it is unclear why such communications would have needed to be carried out though a secret channel.

In fact – as the New York Times of course knows – the answer is obvious.  The attempted sabotage of every move the Trump administration has made to pursue a diplomatic opening to Russia shows why senior figures within the Trump transition team might have searched for ways to circumvent the bureaucracy in order to carry out the President’s policy.

Rather the key questions about this story relate to how the information about the Kushner-Kislyak meeting was obtained, and the use this information has been put to.

Specifically, was the information obtained because (1) Trump Tower was bugged; or (2) from an informer within the Trump transition team; or (3) through the interception of Russian communications; and (4) in the case of (3) has the leaking of this information to the media damaged the national security interests of the US?

Needless to say these are precisely the questions that the media in the US are not going to ask.

In any of these cases the story again shows how the leaking of classified information has once again been used illegally to damage the reputation of a US citizen – in this case the President’s son-in-law Jared Kushner – by insinuating that he has done something illegal and wrong, when in fact he has not.

I will finish with one general observation about the Russiagate affair.

Donald Trump won the election saying openly and frankly that he wanted to improve relations with Russia. He made it clear that this was his intention throughout the election campaign.  He was constitutionally elected to the Presidency specifically saying that he would carry out that policy.

Instead of being allowed to do as President what he said he would do before he was elected, and which was elected by the people to do – which is improve relations with Russia – elements of the US bureaucracy and the media are obstructing him whilst trying to destabilise him and his administration so as to drive him from office.

If that is not a soft coup by the Deep State – seeking to obstruct the foreign policy the President was elected to follow, and seeking to remove from office a constitutionally elected President for trying to carry out the policy the people elected him on – I do not know what is.

In 1964 there appeared a film in the US – Seven Days in May – about an attempted coup against the President of the United States provoked by his attempts to improve relations with Russia.

In the US – as happens all too often – fiction has now become fact.

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Why did Trump recognize the Golan Heights as Israeli territory?

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 116.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine the reasons behind US President Trump’s sudden recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

Following Trump’s statements as US President, acting Israeli Foreign Minister is saying that Trump will make it official and sign an executive order to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Syrian border territory on Monday.

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Via DW

Israel says White House officials are preparing an official document to codify support for Israel’s sovereignty of the Golan Heights, which will be signed by US President Donald Trump on Monday.

The signing of the decree will be witnessed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during talks with Trump at the White House, Israel’s acting foreign minister, Israel Katz (pictured), said in a Tweet.

“Tomorrow, President Trump, in the presence of PM Netanyahu, will sign a decree recognizing Israel’s sovereignty on the Golan. Israel-US ties are closer than ever,” Katz said.

Israel seized the strategic plateau from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war, subsequently annexing it in 1981 in a move never recognized by the international community.

Trump’s tweet annoys allies

Trump broke with decades of US Middle East policy when he posted a Tweet on Thursday that said it was time to accept Israel’s widely-contested claim to the border territory.

The decision has been criticized by many US allies — Germany, Britain, France and the EU have all said they still consider the Golan Heights to be “occupied” by Israel.

Syria and other states in the region said the recognition, if confirmed, would violate international law.

Netanyahu has long pushed for Washington’s endorsement, and many analysts see Trump’s comments as a campaign gift ahead of Israel’s April 9 election.

In 2017, Trump drew condemnation throughout the Middle East when he recognized the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

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Russia Gives US Red Line On Venezuela

Political force is out. Military force is out. Respect international law and Venezuela’s sovereignty. That’s Russia’s eminently reasonable ultimatum to Washington.

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Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


At a high-level meeting in Rome this week, it seems that Russia reiterated a grave warning to the US – Moscow will not tolerate American military intervention to topple the Venezuelan government with whom it is allied.

Meanwhile, back in Washington DC, President Donald Trump was again bragging that the military option was still on the table, in his press conference with Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro. Trump is bluffing or not yet up to speed with being apprised of Russia’s red line.

The meeting in the Italian capital between US “special envoy” on Venezuelan affairs Elliot Abrams and Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov had an air of urgency in its arrangement. The US State Department announced the tête-à-tête only three days beforehand. The two officials also reportedly held their two-hour discussions in a Rome hotel, a venue indicating ad hoc arrangement.

Abrams is no ordinary diplomat. He is a regime-change specialist with a criminal record for sponsoring terrorist operations, specifically the infamous Iran-Contra affair to destabilize Nicaragua during the 1980s. His appointment by President Trump to the “Venezuela file” only underscores the serious intent in Washington for regime change in Caracas. Whether it gets away with that intent is another matter.

Moscow’s interlocutor, Sergei Ryabkov, is known to not mince his words, having earlier castigated Washington for seeking global military domination. He calls a spade a spade, and presumably a criminal a criminal.

The encounter in Rome this week was described as “frank” and “serious” – which is diplomatic code for a blazing exchange. The timing comes at a high-stakes moment, after Venezuela having been thrown into chaos last week from civilian power blackouts that many observers, including the Kremlin, blame on American cyber sabotage. The power grid outage followed a failed attempt by Washington to stage a provocation with the Venezuelan military over humanitarian aid deliveries last month from neighboring Colombia.

The fact that Washington’s efforts to overthrow the elected President Nicolas Maduro have so far floundered, might suggest that the Americans are intensifying their campaign to destabilize the country, with the objective of installing US-backed opposition figure Juan Guaido. He declared himself “acting president” in January with Washington’s imprimatur.

Given that the nationwide power blackouts seem to have failed in fomenting a revolt by the civilian population or the military against Maduro, the next option tempting Washington could be the military one.

It seems significant that Washington has recently evacuated its last remaining diplomats from the South American country. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commented on the evacuation by saying that having US personnel on the ground “was limiting” Washington’s scope for action. Also, American Airlines reportedly cancelled all its services to Venezuela in the past week. Again, suggesting that the US was considering a military intervention, either directly with its troops or covertly by weaponizing local proxies. The latter certainly falls under Abrams’ purview.

After the Rome meeting, Ryabkov said bluntly: “We assume that Washington treats our priorities seriously, our approach and warnings.”

One of those warnings delivered by Ryabkov is understood to have been that no American military intervention in Venezuela will be tolerated by Moscow.

For his part, Abrams sounded as if he had emerged from the meeting after having been given a severe reprimand. “No, we did not come to a meeting of minds, but I think the talks were positive in the sense that both sides emerged with a better understanding of the other’s views,” he told reporters.

“A better understanding of the other’s views,” means that the American side was given a red line to back off.

The arrogance of the Americans is staggering. Abrams seems, according to US reporting, to have flown to Rome with the expectation of working out with Ryabkov a “transition” or “compromise” on who gets the “title of president” of Venezuela.

That’s what he no doubt meant when he said after the meeting “there was not a meeting of minds”, but rather he got “a better understanding” of Russia’s position.

Washington’s gambit is a replay of Syria. During the eight-year war in that country, the US continually proffered the demand of a “political transition” which at the end would see President Bashar al Assad standing down. By contrast, Russia’s unflinching position on Syria has always been that it’s not up to any external power to decide Syria’s politics. It is a sovereign matter for the Syrian people to determine independently.

Nearly three years after Russia intervened militarily in Syria to salvage the Arab country from a US-backed covert war for regime change, the American side has manifestly given up on its erstwhile imperious demands for “political transition”. The principle of Syrian sovereignty has prevailed, in large part because of Russia’s trenchant defense of its Arab ally.

Likewise, Washington, in its incorrigible arrogance, is getting another lesson from Russia – this time in its own presumed “back yard” of Latin America.

It’s not a question of Russia being inveigled by Washington’s regime-change schemers about who should be president of Venezuela and “how we can manage a transition”. Moscow has reiterated countless times that the legitimate president of Venezuela is Nicolas Maduro whom the people voted for last year by an overwhelming majority in a free and fair election – albeit boycotted by the US-orchestrated opposition.

The framework Washington is attempting to set up of choosing between their desired “interim president” and incumbent Maduro is an entirely spurious one. It is not even worthy to be discussed because it is a gross violation of Venezuela’s sovereignty. Who is Washington to even dare try to impose its false choice?

On Venezuela, Russia is having to remind the criminal American rulers – again – about international law and respect for national sovereignty, as Moscow earlier did with regard to Syria.

And in case Washington gets into a huff and tries the military option, Moscow this week told regime-change henchman Abrams that that’s a red line. If Washington has any sense of rationale left, it will know from its Syria fiasco that Russia has Venezuela’s back covered.

Political force is out. Military force is out. Respect international law and Venezuela’s sovereignty. That’s Russia’s eminently reasonable ultimatum to Washington.

Now, the desperate Americans could still try more sabotage, cyber or financial. But their options are limited, contrary to what Trump thinks.

How the days of American imperialist swagger are numbered. There was a time when it could rampage all over Latin America. Not any more, evidently. Thanks in part to Russia’s global standing and military power.

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With RussiaGate Over Where’s Hillary?

Hillary is the epitome of envy. Envy is the destructive sin of coveting someone else’s life so much they are obsessed with destroying it. It’s the sin of Cain. She envies what Trump has, the Presidency.

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Authored by Tom Luongo:


During most of the RussiaGate investigation against Donald Trump I kept saying that all roads lead to Hillary Clinton.

Anyone with three working brain cells knew this, including ‘Miss’ Maddow, whose tears of disappointment are particularly delicious.

Robert Mueller’s investigation was designed from the beginning to create something out of nothing. It did this admirably.

It was so effective it paralyzed the country for more than two years, just like Europe has been held hostage by Brexit. And all of this because, in the end, the elites I call The Davos Crowd refused to accept that the people no longer believed their lies about the benefits of their neoliberal, globalist agenda.

Hillary Clinton’s ascension to the Presidency was to be their apotheosis along with the Brexit vote. These were meant to lay to rest, once and for all time, the vaguely libertarian notion that people should rule themselves and not be ruled by philosopher kings in some distant land.

Hillary’s failure was enormous. And the RussiaGate gambit to destroy Trump served a laundry list of purposes to cover it:

  1. Undermine his legitimacy before he even takes office.
  2. Accuse him of what Hillary actually did: collude with Russians and Ukrainians to effect the outcome of the election
  3. Paralyze Trump on his foreign policy desires to scale back the Empire
  4. Give aid and comfort to hurting progressives and radicalize them further undermining our political system
  5. Polarize the electorate over the false choice of Trump’s guilt.
  6. Paralyze the Dept. of Justice and Congress so that they would not uncover the massive corruption in the intelligence agencies in the U.S. and the U.K.
  7. Isolate Trump and take away every ally or potential ally he could have by turning them against him through prosecutor overreach.

Hillary should have been thrown to the wolves after she failed. When you fail the people she failed and cost them the money she cost them, you lose more than just your funding. What this tells you is that she has so much dirt on everyone involved, once this thing started everyone went along with it lest she burn them down as well.

Burnin’ Down da House

Hillary is the epitome of envy. Envy is the destructive sin of coveting someone else’s life so much they are obsessed with destroying it. It’s the sin of Cain

She envies what Trump has, the Presidency.

And she was willing to tear it down to keep him from having it no matter how much damage it would do. She’s worse than the Joker from The Dark Knight.

Because while the Joker is unfathomable to someone with a conscience there’s little stopping us from excising him from the community completely., even though Batman refuses.

Hillary hates us for who we are and what we won’t give her. And that animus drove her to blackmail the world while putting on the face of its savior.

And that’s what makes what comes next so obvious to me. RussiaGate was never a sustainable narrative. It was ludicrous from the beginning. And now that it has ended with a whimper there are a lot of angry, confused and scared people out there.

Mueller thought all he had to do was lean on corrupt people and threaten them with everything. They would turn on Trump. He would resign in disgrace from the public outcry.

It didn’t work. In the end Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen and Roger Stone all held their ground or perjured themselves into the whole thing falling apart.

Andrew Weissman’s resignation last month was your tell there was nothing. Mueller would pursue this to the limit of his personal reputation and no further.

Just like so many other politicians.

Vote Your Pocketbook

With respect to Brexit I’ve been convinced that it would come down to reputations.

Would the British MP’s vote against their own personal best interests to do the bidding of the EU?

Would Theresa May eventually realize her historical reputation would be destroyed if she caves to Brussels and betrays Brexit in the end?

Always bet on the fecklessness of politicians. They will always act selfishly when put to the test. While leading RussiaGate, Mueller was always headed here if he couldn’t get someone to betray Trump.

And now his report is in. There are no new indictments. And by doing so he is saving his reputation for the future. And that is your biggest tell that HIllary’s blackmail is now worthless.

They don’t fear her anymore because RussiaGate outed her as the architect. Anything else she has is irrelevant in the face of trying to oust a sitting president from power.

The progressives that were convinced of Trump’s treason are bereft; their false hope stripped away like standing in front of a sandblaster. They will be raw, angry and looking for blood after they get over their denial.

Everyone else who was blackmailed into going along with this lunacy will begin cutting deals to save their skins. The outrage over this will not end. Trump will be President when he stands for re-election.

The Wolves Beckon

The Democrats do not have a chance against him as of right now. When he was caving on everything back in December it looked like he was done. That there was enough meat on the RussiaGate bones to make Nancy Pelosi brave.

Then she backed off on impeachment talk. Oops.

But the Democrats have a sincere problem. Their candidates have no solutions other than to embrace the crazy and go full Bolshevik. That is not a winning position.

Trump will kill them on ‘socialism.’

The Deep State and The Davos Crowd stand revealed and reviled.

If they don’t do something dramatic then the anger from the rest of the country will also be palpable come election time. Justice is not done simply by saying, “No evidence of collusion.”

It’s clear that RussiaGate is a failure of monumental proportions. Heads will have to roll. But who will be willing to fall on their sword at this point?

Comey? No. McCabe? No.

There is only one answer. And Obama’s people are still in place to protect him. I said last fall that “Hillary would indict herself.” And I meant it. Eventually her blackmail and drive to burn it all down led to this moment.

The circumstances are different than I expected back then, Trump didn’t win the mid-terms. But the end result was always the same. If there is no collusion, if RussiaGate is a scam, then all roads lead back to Hillary as the sacrificial lamb.

Because the bigger project, the erection of a transnational superstate, is bigger than any one person. Hillary is expendable.

Lies are expensive to maintain. The truth is cheap to defend. Think of the billions in opportunity costs associated with this. Once the costs rise above the benefits, change happens fast.

If there is any hope of salvaging the center of this country for the Democrats, the ones that voted against Hillary in 2016, then there is no reason anymore not to indict Hillary as the architect of RussiaGate.

We all know it’s the truth. So, the cheapest way out of this mess for them is to give the MAGApedes what they want, Hillary.

And hope that is enough bread and circuses to distract from the real storm ahead of us.

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