Appearing on MSNBC late Friday night, a former head of the CIA expressed disbelief at the revelation that President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, proposed a secret back-channel communication line between the White House and the Kremlin.
Speaking with host Lawrence O’Donnell, John McLaughlin — who served as Acting Director of Central Intelligence under President George W. Bush after director George Tenet stepped down — was asked about the blockbuster report by the Washing post.
“John McLaughlan, you worked in the CIA. You come across say an intercepted Russian communication which seem what would be the certainly CIA reaction to intercepting this communication from the Russian ambassador indicating that Jared Kushner wanted to set up this secret communication?” O’Donnell asked.
“Well, Lawrence, if that’s what it was, the first reaction would be is this a prank?” McLaughlin — who still seemed stunned — replied. “It would be kind of disbelief, because it’s not the sort of they think you would expect to happen in a normal transition. So oddly for me, I was thinking about it tonight. I see all of this through the eyes of an intelligence officer, of course. And it is simultaneously familiar and bizarre. Familiar in the sense that I know secret channels, used them all my life. Bizarre in the sense that it’s a proposed secret channel through the government that is probably the most active government in the world in carrying out espionage against the United States.”
“So in that context, if you were to get this at the CIA, having read that and having known that, your first reaction would be could this be true?” he continued. “And then you would discover it is true and move on from there. I don’t want to overstate this because obviously there is a lot we don’t know — we don’t know the exact content of the conversation. We don’t know the objective that was a part of the conversation — those things we don’t know. But I can’t keep out of my mind the thought that, if an American intelligence officer had done anything like this, we’d consider it espionage.”
Watch the video below via MSNBC:
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