Two Other Important Stories Today

Because of the military operation in Syria, these two stories are not going to get a lot of attention. Which is not a coincidence.

1. Jo Becker and Matthew Rosenberg at the New York Times: Kushner Omitted Meeting with Russians on Security Clearance Forms.
When Jared Kushner, [Donald] Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, sought the top-secret security clearance that would give him access to some of the nation's most closely guarded secrets, he was required to disclose all encounters with foreign government officials over the last seven years.

But Mr. Kushner did not mention dozens of contacts with foreign leaders or officials in recent months. They include a December meeting with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, and one with the head of a Russian state-owned bank, Vnesheconombank, arranged at Mr. Kislyak's behest.

The omissions, which Mr. Kushner's lawyer called an error, are particularly sensitive given the congressional and F.B.I. investigations into contacts between Russian officials and Trump associates. The Senate Intelligence Committee informed the White House weeks ago that, as part of its inquiry, it planned to question Mr. Kushner about the meetings he arranged with Mr. Kislyak, including the one with Sergey N. Gorkov, a graduate of Russia's spy school who now heads Vnesheconombank.
You may recall that I wrote about Kushner's undisclosed meetings with Kislyak and Gorkov, noting that Vnesheconombank financed a takeover of one of Ukraine's struggling steel groups, right in the middle of a Ukrainian election—an election which was won by the pro-Putin candidate Viktor Yanukovych, for whom both Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and Sanders chief strategist Tad Devine worked during that election.

Vnesheconombank, as noted in the Times piece, is also "a target of American sanctions imposed in response to Moscow's annexation of Crimea and aggression in Ukraine. It is controlled by members of President Vladimir V. Putin's government, including Prime Minister Dmitri A. Medvedev, and has been used to bail out oligarchs favored by Mr. Putin and to fund pet projects like the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi."

That would be the same "aggression in Ukraine" regarding which members of the Trump campaign pressured changes in the Republican platform, "to include language against arming Ukrainians against pro-Russian rebels."

I know that's a lot to follow. Suffice it to say, there are questions about why Kushner would have been meeting with the head of Vnesheconombank at all, no less concealing it.

2. Eric Lichtblau at the New York Times: CIA Had Evidence of Russian Effort to Help Trump Earlier Than Believed.
The C.I.A. told senior lawmakers in classified briefings last summer that it had information indicating that Russia was working to help elect Donald J. Trump president, a finding that did not emerge publicly until after Mr. Trump's victory months later, former government officials say.

The briefings indicate that intelligence officials had evidence of Russia's intentions to help Mr. Trump much earlier in the presidential campaign than previously thought...

The former officials said that in late August — 10 weeks before the election — John O. Brennan, then the C.I.A. director, was so concerned about increasing evidence of Russia's election meddling that he began a series of urgent, individual briefings for eight top members of Congress, some of them on secure phone lines while they were on their summer break.

...[A]s the election approached and new batches of hacked Democratic emails poured out, some F.B.I. officials began to change their view about Russia's intentions and eventually came to believe, as the C.I.A. had months earlier, that Moscow was trying to help get Mr. Trump elected, officials said.

It was not until early December, a month after the election, that it became publicly known in news reports that the C.I.A. had concluded that Moscow's motivation was to get Mr. Trump elected.

In January, intelligence officials publicly released a declassified version of their findings, concluding that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had "aspired to help" Mr. Trump to win the election and harm Hillary Clinton, a longtime adversary.

...Some intelligence officials were wary of pushing too aggressively before the election with questions about possible links between Russia and the Trump campaign because of concerns it might be seen as an improper political attempt to help Mrs. Clinton.

But after her loss, a number of Mrs. Clinton's supporters have said that Mr. Comey and other government officials should have revealed more to the public during the campaign season about what they knew of Russia's motivations and possible connections to the Trump campaign.
Emphasis mine.

It will never stop being incredible and rage-making to me that intelligence officials let their decision be dictated by the possible accusation of partisanship. Their loyalty is supposed to be to the country, and keeping silent to avoid partisan criticism allowed the election of a man who they knew was being aided by the Russians and suspected may have been colluding with them.

And now here we are.

It's also incredible and rage-making that this is an accurate statement: "A number of Mrs. Clinton's supporters have said" they should have revealed what they knew when it mattered most. It shouldn't be only Clinton supporters, but it is. Because the Republicans are fucking cowards, and because all the non-Republicans who weren't Clinton supporters hate her so much that they don't care.

Whether it's partisanship or personal animus toward Clinton, or both, everyone but Clinton supporters are eminently willing to prioritize and prize their opposition to Clinton over their fealty to this nation and its democratic systems.

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