While the Democrats and media blasts the Trump administration for ‘backchannels’ with Russia, then candidate Obama did the same with Iran in 2007 and media was silent. Today Kimberly Strassel made that point on NBC’s Meet the Press and it was virtually ignored by the panel.
Meet the Press
May 28, 2017
KIMBERLEY STRASSEL: I think we are having a discussion that is absolutely divorced from reality this week. It is astonishing. Let me set the scene for you:
It’s 2008, we are having an election and candidate Obama, he’s not even president elect, sends William Miller over to Iran to establish a backchannel, and let the Iranians know should he win the election they will have friendlier terms. Okay? So this is a private citizen going to foreign soil, obviously in order to evade U.S. intelligence monitoring and establishing a backchannel with a sworn enemy of the United States who was actively disrupting our efforts in the military in the Middle East.
So, is that bad judgment? Is that a bad thing that happened? Backchannels are completely normal, they happen all the time. Reagan did them, Obama did them, everyone did. So, I am not quite sure why, supposedly having at least the President is now elected setting up a backchannel with the Russians, it is somehow out of bounds.
JOY REID: Well, here is one key difference. In October, months before this latest meeting and it was 18 separate contacts that we know of between the Trump Campaign and Russia, our primary adversary in the world.
STRASSEL: And a major super power.
REID: In October, the collective judgment of the 17 intelligence agencies had been: Russia had been taking active measures to interfere with our elections. Quite a difference. We don’t think that Iran was doing that. So we know that was happening in October. So in December, the now President-Elect decides he’s going to name Jim Mattis his secretary of defense. But he doesn’t open a backchannel, he sends his real estate developer son-in-law supposedly– or the real estate development son-in-law decides to open this backchannel.
REID: Then, if it is a channel about opening up negotiations in terms of something realistic– in terms of something about foreign policy. Why are they also back-channeling with a bank? A Kremlin-connected Russian bank and why is the Reuters report saying that part of the discussion was a possibility of opening up opportunities for financing for Trump-related – Trump-related—
STRASSEL: But we don’t know the answers to any of those questions because what we’re getting here are half leaks and anonymously by sources.
CHARLIE SYKES: You have to follow the money, you have to follow the meetings, the lies,—
STRASSEL: And we don’t have any of that information.
SYKES: –the attempts to derail this investigation! Don’t have any of that information. And the reality here is Jared Kushner and the Trump administrations apparently trusted the Russians more than the intelligence community. Look, how could this not be suspicious?
STRASSEL: Why would you trust—I’m sorry, by the way. We can’t forget that the intelligence services and also the Defense Department were being run by the Obama administration. They had plenty of reasons not to want administrations.
REID: In December, the election was over. In this country, we have a continuity of government, we hand over peaceful power from one party to another all the time and have done so for more than 240 years. Are you telling me that the now elected Trump administration did not trust John Brennan that somehow these straight arrow guys in our intelligence services were going to now work to actively undermine, are they now seeing them as some sort of dissidents? [Crosstalk] That has never happened in the history of the United States.
STRASSEL: One of the most interesting pieces of news that actually came out this week, was the FISA court revelation that they said that the Obama administration had been actively engaged in abusing fourth amendment protections by unmasking people’s identities on a routine basis, which they did not acknowledge to the court. And which they said, brought up major, major concerns. So maybe you wouldn’t trust that team in fact.
REID: Who said that? Who is the source of that information?
STRASSEL: The FISA court.
REID Do you know how difficult it is to get a FISA warrant against an American citizen—an American person.
STRASSEL: You are not talking about what I just mentioned.