Reading the mainstream media headlines relating to the flipping of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to provide evidence relating to the allegations about Russian interference in America’s last presidential election requires the suspension of one’s cognitive processes. Ignoring completely what had actually occurred, the “Russian story” with its subset of “getting Trump” was on display all through the weekend, both in the print and on the live media.
Flynn’s guilty plea is laconic, merely admitting that he had lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) about what was said during two telephone conversations with then Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak, but there is considerable back story that emerged after the plea became public.
The two phone calls in question include absolutely nothing about possible collusion with Russia to change the outcome of the U.S. election, which allegedly was the raison d’etre behind the creation of Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel office in the first place. Both took place more than a month after the election and both were initiated by the Americans involved. I am increasingly convinced that Mueller ain’t got nuthin’ but this process will grind out interminably and the press will be hot on the trail until there is nowhere else to go.
Based on the information revealed regarding the two conversations, and, unlike the highly nuance-sensitive editors working for the mainstream media, this is the headline that I would have written for a featured article based on what I consider to be important: “Israel Colluded with Incoming Trump Team to Subvert U.S. Foreign Policy,” with a possible subheading “FBI Entraps National Security Adviser.”
The first phone call to Kislyak, on December 22nd, was made by Flynn at the direction of Jared Kushner, who in turn had been approached by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu had learned that the Obama Administrating was going to abstain on a United Nations vote condemning the Israeli settlements policy, meaning that for the first time in years a U.N. resolution critical of Israel would pass without drawing a U.S. veto. Kushner, acting for Netanyahu, asked Flynn to contact each delegate from the various countries on the Security Council to delay or kill the resolution. Flynn agreed to do so, which included a call to the Russians. Kislyak took the call but did not agree to veto Security Council Resolution 2334, which passed unanimously on December 23rd.
The second phone call, made by Flynn on December 29th from a beach in the Dominican Republic, where he was on vacation, may have been ordered by Trump himself. It was a response to an Obama move to expel Russian diplomats and close two Embassy buildings over allegations of Moscow’s interfering in the 2016 election. Flynn asked the Russians not to reciprocate, making the point that there would be a new administration in place in three weeks and the relationship between the two countries might change for the better. Kislyak apparently convinced Russian President Vladimir Putin not to go tit-for-tat.
In taking the phone calls from a soon-to-be senior American official who would within weeks be part of a new administration in Washington, the Russians did nothing wrong. It would not be inappropriate to have some conversations with an incoming government team. Apart from holding off on retaliatory sanctions, Kislyak also did nothing that might be regarded as particularly responsive to Team Trump overtures. If it was an attempt to interfere in American politics, it certainly was low-keyed, and one might well describe it positively as a willingness to give the new Trump Administration a chance to improve relations.
The first phone call about Israel was not as benign as the second one about sanctions. Son-in-law Jared Kushner is Trump’s point man on the Middle East. He and his family have extensive ties both to Israel and to Netanyahu personally, to include Netanyahu’s staying at the Kushner family home in New York. The Kushner Family Foundation has funded some of Israel’s illegal settlements and also a number of conservative political groups in that country. Jared has served as a director of that foundation and it is reported that he failed to disclose the relationship when he filled out his background investigation sheet for a security clearance. All of which suggests that if you are looking for possible foreign government collusion with the incoming Trumpsters, look no further.
And it should be observed that the Israelis were not exactly shy about their disapproval of Obama and their willingness to express their views to the incoming Trump. Netanyahu said that he would do so and Trump even responded with a tweet of his own expressing disagreement with the Obama decision to abstain on the vote, but the White House knew that the comment would be coming and there was no indication from the president-elect that he was actively trying to derail or undo it.
Kushner, however, goes far beyond merely disagreeing over an aspect of foreign policy as he was trying to clandestinely reverse a decision made by his own legally constituted government. His closeness to Netanyahu makes him, in intelligence terms, a quite likely Israeli government agent of influence, even if he doesn’t quite see himself that way. He is currently working on a new peace plan for the Middle East which starts out with permanently demilitarizing the Palestinians. It will no doubt continue in the tradition of former plans which aggrandized Jewish power while stiffing the Arabs. And not to worry about the team that will be allegedly representing American interests. It is already being reported that they consist of “good, observant Jews” and will not be a problem, even though Israeli-American mega-fundraiser Haim Saban apparently described them on Sunday as “With all due respect, it’s a bunch of Orthodox Jews who have no idea about anything.”
What exactly did Kushner seek from Flynn? He asked the soon-to-be National Security Adviser to get the Russians to undermine and subvert what was being done by the still-in-power American government in Washington headed by President Barack Obama. In legal terms this does not quite equate to the Constitution’s definition of treason since Israel is not technically an enemy, but it most certainly would be covered by the Logan Act of 1799, which bars private citizens from negotiating with foreign governments on behalf of the United States and also could be construed as a “conspiracy against the United States” that the Mueller investigation has exploited against former Trump associate Paul Manafort. As Kushner is Jewish and certainly could be accused of dual loyalty in extremis, this part of the story obviously makes many in the U.S. Establishment and media uncomfortable, so it is being ignored and expunged from the record as quickly as possible. And don’t expect Special Counsel Mueller to do anything about the Israel connection. As an experienced operator in the Washington swamp he knows full well that the Congressmen currently calling for blood in an investigation involving Russia will turn 180 degrees against him if he tries to go after Netanyahu.
And just to demonstrate exactly how the story is shaped to protect Israel, here is a piece from the generally reliable The Hill written by Morgan Chalfant on 5 take-aways from Flynn’s guilty plea. Israel is not even identified and, if one reads the two mentions of the U.N. vote connected to the first call, it appears to be deliberately omitted. The first citation reads “He also lied when he said he did not ask Kislyak to delay or defeat a vote on a pending U.N. Security Council resolution…” and the second is “Prosecutors also say that a senior member of the transition team on Dec. 22 directed Flynn to contact officials from Russia and other governments about their stance on the U.N. resolution ‘and to influence those governments to delay the vote or defeat the resolution.’” Does omitting Israel and emphasizing the Russian aspect of the story throughout the rest of the piece change what it says and how it is perceived? You betcha.
For me, there was also a second take-away from the Flynn story apart from the collusion with Israel. It involves the use of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to set-up Flynn shortly after he had been installed as National Security Adviser. Insofar as I can determine, the FBI entrapment of Flynn has only been examined in a serious way in the media by Robert Parry at Consortium News.
Michael Flynn was actually interviewed by the FBI regarding his two phone conversations on January 24th shortly after assumed office as National Security Adviser. During his interview, he was not made aware that the Bureau already had recordings and transcripts of his phone conversations, so, in a manner of speaking, he was being set-up to fail. Mis-remembering, forgetting or attempting to avoid implication of others in the administration would inevitably all be plausibly construed as lying since the FBI knew exactly what was said.
To be sure, many would agree that the sleazy Flynn deserves everything he gets, but the logic used to set-up the possible Flynn entrapment by the FBI, i.e. that there was unauthorized contact with a foreign official, is in itself curious as Flynn was a private citizen at the time and such contact is not in itself illegal. And it also opens the door to the Bureau’s investigating other individuals who have committed no crime but who find that they cannot recall details of phone calls they were parties to that were being recorded by the government six months or a year before. That can easily be construed as “lying” or “perjury” with consequences that include possible prison time.
So there are two observations one might make about the Flynn saga as it currently stands. First, Israel, not Russia, was colluding with the Trump Administration prior to inauguration day to do something highly unethical and quite probably illegal, which should surprise no one. And second, record all your phone conversations with foreign government officials. The NSA and FBI will have a copy in any event, but you might want to retain your own records to make sure their transcript is accurate.
Philip M. Giraldi, is a former CIA Operations officer who is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax exempt educational foundation that seeks a more interests based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address us P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville, VA 20132, and email address is [email protected]