The Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s main evidence thus far in his “Russiagate” probe is not actually about possible Russian collusion with Trump to win the Presidency, but instead about definite Israeli collusion with Trump after Trump had already won the Presidency but before he became inaugurated. As a lawyer explained on the day when Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was indicted in a plea-deal: “Mr. Flynn has just become the prosecution’s star witness.” What Flynn had pled to was his trying to obtain Russia’s support for Israel’s Government, against the Palestinians. Russia said no; Putin said no to Flynn’s request, which had been made on behalf of Israel.
The way that Mueller’s investigation, to find reasons for Trump’s impeachment, achieved on December 1st the indictment and plea-deal with Flynn, was to get Flynn to admit (after his first having lied to deny) that he had been asked by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who had been asked by Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to communicate to Russia’s head-of-state Vladimir Putin through Russia’s U.S. Ambassador, a request on behalf of the incoming U.S. Administration of Donald Trump, for Russia to get Israel out of a jam at the U.N. Security Council. Netanyahu didn’t want to be alone in trying to pressure Putin to turn against the Palestinians; he wanted the incoming Trump Administration also to be pressuring Putin to do that — for Russia to veto, this time, a resolution (#2334 in 2016), which, every year in the past, had been supported by Russia; or, failing to achieve that, to get Russia’s support for Israel’s effort to delay the Security Council’s vote, until after Trump would become installed as the U.S. President on January 20th. That’s what Putin was saying no to.
The initiative in this matter — the matter that has oddly become the centerpiece of Mueller’s case for impeaching Trump — came from Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, not at all from Russia’s head-of-state, Vladimir Putin, such as is almost universally reported to have been the Trump Administration’s foreign master (if any). Trump’s agent, Kushner, was the supplicant, on behalf of Israel, for Putin’s assistance to Israel. Kushner had been asked by Netanyahu to do this, and Kushner assigned Flynn to do it, on behalf of Trump. According to ABC News,
“Trump phoned Flynn shortly after the election to explicitly ask him to ‘serve as point person on Russia,’ and to reach out personally to Russian officials to develop strategies to jointly combat ISIS.”
But, apparently, Flynn accepted Kushner’s instructions also (not only Trump’s), and he assumed that what Kushner wanted here (which was not against ISIS, but instead against the Palestinians) was also what Trump wanted on this matter. In fact, Eli Lake reported about Flynn, on the day of Flynn’s indictment, December 1st,
“that during the last days of the Obama administration, the retired general was instructed to contact foreign ambassadors and foreign ministers of countries on the U.N. Security Council, ahead of a vote condemning Israeli settlements. Flynn was told to try to get them to delay that vote until after Barack Obama had left office, or oppose the resolution altogether.”
This was being done for Netanyahu, not for Putin. As the New York Times reported this,
“Mr. Flynn asked Russia to intervene at the United Nations on behalf of Israel.”
Furthermore, Putin’s answer to Kushner’s request for Russia to veto or at least delay the “United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israel for its settlement policy” was the exact opposite of what Netanyahu-Kushner were requesting: Russia voted in favor of the resolution, not weakened it — much less vetoed it, as Netanyahu-Kushner were urging.
In other words: Russia refused to comply with the incoming U.S. President’s son-in-law’s request that had been passed to Putin through Russia’s U.S. Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, through Flynn, through Kushner, who had received the request directly from Netanyahu (and the indictment makes no allegation that President-Elect Trump even so much as knew about any of this; there is no impeachable allegation made there against Trump). Possibly, but not yet certainly, Kushner had received, from his father-in-law, instructions to comply with Israel’s ‘requests’, so that Kushner didn’t need to communicate with Mr. Trump specifically for permission to pass along to Putin through Russia’s U.S. Ambassador, Netanyahu’s desire, as being also America’s desire. Not only was Trump not Putin’s agent in this matter, but his son-in-law was instead serving there as Netanyahu’s agent, under some as-yet-undetermined authorization from Trump, but the indictment doesn’t even allege there to have been any such authorization, by Trump, at all.
We can be certain that Kushner did have Trump’s authorization, however, in some form, because even now, Trump hasn’t yet fired Kushner. Kushner’s incompetence might bring down Trump, but Trump still stands with Kushner, against Mueller, even though that seems politically suicidal for Trump to be doing. No doubt, if Trump were to break from Kushner, then Kushner might testify against Trump — and so that path (Trump’s turning against Kushner) would also be politically suicidal for Trump. Perhaps Kushner will go to prison if he becomes prosecuted and doesn’t reach any plea-deal. Maybe that’s the reason why Trump doesn’t fire Kushner.
The plea-deal with Flynn has him admitting that his contacts with Kislyak were authorized only by Kushner (referred to in Flynn’s indictment not by name but only by the vague phrase “a very senior member of the Presidential Transition Team”). However, Flynn had earlier lied to the FBI and