The Unmasking Panic and the Flynn Plea

Yesterday, Eli Lake was the first person to confirm the identity of the “very senior” official who “directed FLYNN to contact officials from foreign governments, including Russia, to learn where each government stood on the resolution” condemning Israel’s illegal settlements.

At the time, the U.N. Security Council resolution on Israeli settlements was a big deal. Even though the Obama administration had less than a month left in office, the president instructed his ambassador to the United Nations to abstain from a resolution, breaking a precedent that went back to 1980 when it came to one-sided anti-Israel resolutions at the U.N.

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. 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.

Lake was also the reporter who got the earliest “scoops” on the unmasking panic earlier this year.

There’s a reason for that. They’re the same story.

In April, I laid out how Devin Nunes was at the center of both the January unmasking panic and the panic on behalf of a bunch of Republicans, during the Iran deal negotiations, who got their collusion with Bibi Netanyahu to kill the deal sucked up.

Throughout his ongoing information operation to claim the Obama White House spied on the Trump transition team, Devin Nunes has pointed to what he claimed was a precedent: when, in December 2015, members of Congress suddenly copped on that their conversations with Bibi Netanyahu would get picked up incidentally. In his March 22 press conference, he explained,

We went through this about a year and a half ago as it related to members of Congress, if you may remember there was a report I think it was in the Wall Street Journal and but then we had to have we had a whole series of hearings and then we had to have changes made to how Congress is informed if members of Congress are picked up in surveillance and this looks it’s like very similar to that.

Eli Lake dutifully repeated it in the second of his three-post series pitching Nunes’ information operation.

A precedent to what may have happened with the Trump transition involved the monitoring of Israel’s prime minister and other senior Israeli officials. The Wall Street Journal reported at the end of 2015 that members of Congress and American Jewish groups were caught up in this surveillance and that the reports were sent to the White House. This occurred during a bitter political fight over the Iran nuclear deal. In essence the Obama White House was learning about the strategy of its domestic political opposition through legal wiretaps of a foreign head of state and his aides.

But Lake didn’t apparently think through what the implications of Nunes’ analogy — or the differences between the two cases.

Here’s the WSJ report and CBS and WaPo versions that aren’t paywalled. All make it very clear that Devin Nunes took the lead in worrying about his conversations with Bibi Netanyahu being sucked up (I don’t remember Republicans being as sympathetic when Jane Harman got sucked up in a conversation with AIPAC).

It’s clear now that it’s all one panic.

The most public confirmed unmasking involved Susan Rice discovering that Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan had a secret meeting with Flynn, Kushner, and Bannon in NY.

Former national security adviser Susan Rice privately told House investigators that she unmasked the identities of senior Trump officials to understand why the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates was in New York late last year, multiple sources told CNN.

The New York meeting preceded a separate effort by the UAE to facilitate a back-channel communication between Russia and the incoming Trump White House.
The crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, arrived in New York last December in the transition period before Trump was sworn into office for a meeting with several top Trump officials, including Michael Flynn, the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his top strategist Steve Bannon, sources said.

But we now know that there would be intercepts between Netanyahu and Kushner leading up to it.

I wouldn’t even be surprised if the Republicans are so certain they’ve been unmasked because Israel has their own way of discovering such things.

I’ve laid out how Jared Kushner’s “peace” “plan” really is just an attempt to remap the Middle East to the interests of Israel and Saudi Arabia, interests which require significantly more belligerence against Iran than Obama showed. The unmasked discussions would include the ones that preceded Kushner’s order to Flynn to try to undercut the resolution, as well as whatever else Kushner discussed with Netanyahu at the time.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

24 replies
  1. orionATL says:

    wow!

    for one thing it seems like “the russian investigation” may end up going a lot of places that aren’t spelled r-u-s-s-i-a.

    for another, though i suppose one should not speak this way publicly, it seems to me that a highly observant orthodox jew who was not yet in power would be a little more circumspect in aserting power he did not yet have, in fact, would be circumspect even when he came to power due to the international damage an appearance of strong bias could cause. but then, again, american jewish voters who are zionists have been a republican target for some time, so kushner’s actions could be seen as serving a constituency.

  2. TomA says:

    Why do people presume that they can have privacy in electronic communications such as telephone conversations and email exchanges? Why not educate everyone that all electronic communications may be monitored and used adversely? Big Brother is a de facto reality. The only advantage of maintaining the fiction of privacy is to entrap the ignorant and the stupid. It has been reported that Admiral Rogers informed the Trump transition team of the FISA monitoring a few days after the election. Kushner should be charged with criminal stupidity.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    God may have an inordinate fondness for beetles, but Trump seems to have an inordinate fondness for Russia and Israel.  He was panting, desperate even, to show them support.  That is not normal, let alone smart.

    Why was he so desperate to kiss their rings?  Why could he not wait a few weeks until he had formal power, which he could then cover in a fig leaf of statesmanship?  What was there in his decades of shady deals, dirty money, and Russian links that drove him to show his fealty even before the Oval Office was his – and then lie about it?

    Trump did not court disaster so much as welcome it.  I suppose he is bored without it.  If so, he’s unlikely to be bored for the remainder of his term.

    • mary bess says:

      After years of observing Trump’s business activities with Kleptocrats et al, Putin had the goods on him. As a result,  Trump became a Russian asset.  Putin wants the sanctions removed and the Magnitsky legislation repealed, without which he cannot access the rumored $200 billion he has parked outside Russia. Trump has his marching orders. He’s interested in making money and saving Donald, Jr., Jared and Ivanka.  It will be interesting to see if he saves them or himself.  I’m betting against them.

  4. Bay State Librul says:

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders looks more and more like Ron Ziegler.

    Is Mike Pence playing Spiro?

    Jeff Sessions makes a fine weasel Meese look-a-like.

    This tale is worse than Watergate………..

     

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Combine these crimes with the tax bill and the situation is far worse than Watergate.  It’s as if Nixon had also attempted to undo all of Johnson’s civil rights legislation, double the number of troops in Vietnam, and quadruple Cointelpro’s staffing and budget.

      Today’s Congress and GOP have nothing like the leadership found in the 1970s – and they were hardly paragons of disinterest – which says something about how low and how parasitic this GOP has become.

      • posaune says:

        I like that word, “parasitic,” because that’s what they are:   sucking life and resources out of the 99 for their own.   What a day it was yesterday — the death knell for the middle class and any remnant of the postwar meritocracy.

  5. Bay State Librul says:

    Suddenly Last Summer?

    I was wondering a few months back, why Mueller one day lost one of his investigators.

    Now, we have the answer……

    “Special counsel Robert Mueller removed a senior FBI official from his team in the Russia probe after learning of anti-Trump text messages that could be used to undermine the investigation’s credibility, The Washington Post reports”

    Mueller did the right thingy….

  6. SpaceLifeForm says:

    Was this tweet really written by the alleged account holder?

    Who is it really directed at? HPSCI?

    Is he asking/directing someone on HPSCI to intentionally leak?

    https://mobile.twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/936037938898636800

    The House of Representatives seeks contempt citations(?) against the JusticeDepartment and the FBI for withholding key documents and an FBI witness which could shed light on surveillance of associates of Donald Trump. Big stuff. Deep State. Give this information NOW! @FoxNews

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20171130/09333738709/trump-tweet-about-surveillance-undercuts-fbis-glomar-responses-foia-lawsuits.shtml

    https://mobile.twitter.com/BradMossEsq/status/936043556816539648

      • bmaz says:

        Oh, it was “obvious” was it Mr. Digibyte? Exactly what do you base that on your high holiness?

        If you can quit talking to yourself long enough like a narcissistic jackass, maybe you can engage the community and explain yourself and what you are talking about. I will not hold my hopes up.

          • bmaz says:

            As usual, there is no way for  anybody here…other than your self serving ass…to know what you are even referring to. You really just are not capable of being a functioning member of this community, are you?

  7. wayoutwest says:

    Flynn;s admitting to lying to the FBI would seem to make him a spoiled witness for anything the witch-hunt targets now. I also can’t see young Jared ordering General Flynn to do anything, they’re both just advisors.

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        Because McFarland probably has already flIpped and Kushner certainly must assume that.

        The longer he holds out the bigger the mess.

        • bmaz says:

          Okay, thank you. I am not sure I agree, nor have seen sufficient evidence to get there as to KTM to date.

          But that is at least pretty interesting speculation. and maybe! We’ll see about McFarland, but you are certainly right about Kushner hearing footsteps. Again, thank you for explaining.

  8. Bay State Librul says:

    Just saw Dershowitz on TV…..

    What a complete jerk.

    He needs to be put out to pasture….

     

    • orionATL says:

      yes, indeed.

      more importantly, dershowitz is a monumental hypocrite. he went from being a lion on first amendment rights to supporting egregious social persecution of exercise of free speech, particularly at universities.

  9. Bjorn Jensen says:

    Can Marcy or anyone else please explain Robert Parry’s coNtinual scepticism about “Russiagate”? He is a distinguished journalist. Not Fox news.and not a Trump fan at all…
    Every time SC Mueller seems to be turning out new leads to bring everyone closer to understanding what happened, I check in on Parry to see if his views have changed- but they have not . I’m curious as to what you all might think. I read EW regularly including the very smart comments.

    Following the plea deal here is what Mr Parry offered :
    ” The Scalp Taking of Gen.Flynn”

    https://consortiumnews.com/2017/12/01/the-scalp-taking-of-gen-flynn/

    Any thoughts appreciated.

  10. wayoutwest says:

    It’s almost entertaining watching the snowflakes thrash about trying to create a story-line that leads to their dark goal. Flynn was charged with lying to the FBI because there was nothing else to charge him with. The fact he admitted his unnecessary lying makes him a spoiled witness for any other uses by the witch-hunters.

    • bmaz says:

      I’ll give you credit, your ability to consistently be a dumbass without any depth or clue what you are squawking about……Is most impressive.

Comments are closed.