During the election campaign Donald Trump argued for better relations with Russia. He wanted to engage in a common fight against the Islamic State and other terrorists. Hillary Clinton argued for a confrontational policy against Russia and a new cold war. The foreign policy establishment, the media and the CIA were solidly on Clinton’s side. The people of the United States made their choice. It was Trump and his views of policies that were elected.
After Trump had won the election, he advised his staff to set up a confidential track-2 communication channel with the Russian government. He rightfully did not trust the established official channels through the State Department and the CIA. His incoming National Security Advisor Flynn and his foreign policy advisor Kushner worked on his behalf when they soughed contacts with Russian officials. Such diplomacy is by nature not acted out in public.
But now the U.S. people are told by their media that it is a scandal, A SCANDAL, that President Trump’s advisors pursue the policies the candidate Trump had argued for. Today’s headlines: NYT – Kushner Is Said to Have Discussed a Secret Channel to Talk to Russia; WaPo – Russian ambassador told Moscow that Kushner wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin; The Hill – Kushner wanted secure line with Kremlin before inauguration: report; The New Yorker – Jared Kushner’s Russia Problems; Reuters – Exclusive: Trump son-in-law had undisclosed contacts with Russian envoy – sources.
The various formulations in those pieces are painting the discrete diplomatic contacts as something sinister and illegal:
NBC News reported on Thursday that Kushner was under scrutiny by the FBI, in the first sign that the investigation, which began last July, has reached the president’s inner circle.
FBI investigators are examining whether Russians suggested to Kushner or other Trump aides that relaxing economic sanctions would allow Russian banks to offer financing to people with ties to Trump, said the current U.S. law enforcement official.
But paragraphs down from that:
While the FBI is investigating Kushner’s contacts with Russia, he is not currently a target of that investigation, the current law enforcement official said.
There may not have been anything improper about the contacts, the current law enforcement official stressed.
The WaPo author has at least the honesty to note:
It is common for senior advisers of a newly elected president to be in contact with foreign leaders and officials.
The scandal here are not various contacts by whatever means of Trump advisors with Russia and with other country’s diplomats. The scandal is the undermining of the constitutional prerogative of the elected President of the United State to set foreign policy:
Under the Constitution, the President serves as head of state and head of government. [..] As head of government, he formulates foreign policy, supervises its implementation and attempts to obtain the resources to support it. He also organizes and directs the departments and agencies that play a part in the foreign policy process. Along with the Vice President, he is the only government official elected nationally. This places him in a unique position to identify, express and pursue the “national interests” of the U.S.
The scandal here is not Trump and are not his adviors’ contacts with Russian officials. The scandal are the leaks by “officials” about confidential diplomacy, the sham FBI “investigations” and the general undemocratic hostility and resistance of the foreign policy establishment, the security services and the media towards the president’s chosen policies.