Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff / Flickr kushner sitting...
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff / Flickr

Donald Trump assigned just about every job to son-in-law Jared Kushner: solving the opiod crisis, reaching peace in the Middle East—and connecting the campaign to Russia.

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s guilty plea Friday for lying to the FBI is alarming news for Donald Trump. But the first person it’s likely to jeopardize will be the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Flynn was directed to make contact with Sergei Kislyak to urge the Russian ambassador to oppose a vote on a UN resolution condemning expanded Israeli settlements. The goal was to stop any vote on the resolution until Trump could get into office, where he would oppose it. This affair, where the Trump team directly interfered in the foreign policy of the Obama administration during the transition period, was one of the things that Flynn lied about when describing his actions to the FBI.

Flynn’s instructions on that occasion came from a “very senior” campaign official, according to his plea deal.  Bloomberg has put a name to that description. 

This was the context of Kushner’s instruction to Flynn last December. One transition official at the time said Kushner called Flynn to tell him he needed to get every foreign minister or ambassador from a country on the U.N. Security Council to delay or vote against the resolution.

So Kushner was pushing his own foreign policy, in opposition to the government in office, with Flynn as his mouthpiece. And there was someone else involved other than just the ambassadors Flynn called.

Much of this appeared to be coordinated also with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose envoys shared their own intelligence about the Obama administration’s lobbying efforts to get member states to support the resolution with the Trump transition team.  

Trump’s team wasn’t just talking with foreign governments to discuss their policy when they took office. They were actively coordinating with foreign governments in an attempt to thwart policies already underway.

All of that’s interesting, and it’s certainly an example of Flynn lying to the FBI. But—and this is a big but— it’s far from enough to bring down Trump, or Pence, and maybe not even Kushner. There are possibilities. If Netanyahu was sharing information with the Trump team, were they sharing information with him? Information that carried a classified stamp? That kind of activity has certainly gotten people in trouble in the past.

However, If the extent of Flynn’s conversations with the Russians was in an attempt to press them into taking foreign policy actions counter to what the U.S. government then in power wanted, many would agree that’s bad. Maybe it should even be illegal. But the only law it clearly violates is the Logan Act, which Mueller is no more likely to invoke than Bigfoot.

This particular aspect of the Flynn investigation certainly sounds exciting on the surface: the Trump transition team secretly tells Flynn to contact the Russian ambassador and presses him to delay action on a UN vote until Trump can get into power and block the resolution. Meanwhile, they’re getting the inside scoop on the Obama administration filtered through a foreign government.

It’s unsavory. It’s devious. It’s … probably unlikely to result in a single additional charge.

That is, unless others also lied to the FBI about this incident. It’s always possible that the reason this item is on the list of things Flynn lied about is because it’s going to also appear on the list of future indictees—with Kushner being the prime candidate. But if Flynn’s testimony is really going to be “against President Trump” as reports this morning indicated, there has to be a lot more to it than this.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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