Donald Trump’s public statements, tweets and actions are indicative of a man fearful of incurring Russian President Vladimir Putin’s wrath. But Trump is also a deeply paranoid man. He avoids using email because of the electronic trail it leaves behind. Therefore, it is inconceivable Trump would allow the overwhelming majority of White House staff (especially former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster) and State Department officials to know about his most sensitive communications with Russia.
Neither the backchannel that federal prosecutor Michael Dreeben accused Paul Manafort of having with Russia, nor the one son-in-law Jared Kushner tried to establish during the transition period, is sufficient to explain the entirety of the Trump-Russia conspiracy. It is highly unlikely that Trump and Putin are calling each other up on burner phones. Therefore, both men probably have designated emissaries, who cannot be tracked, to convey the most sensitive communications between the two leaders.
It is the only reasonable explanation for the baffling about-face the Trump administration did with its latest round of Russian sanctions, where United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley was hung out to dry. Somebody in Putin’s orbit told somebody in Trump’s orbit that punishment would have the type of personal repercussions that causes nightmares for our compromised President.
The fully scope of what Robert Mueller knows and is doing is a mystery, which is by design. If he really wants to prove ongoing collusion, finding the real backchannel keeping Trump and Putin on the same page is the smoking gun that will make a strong case an ironclad one.
J.H. Norton is a communications professional, life-long Democrat, and married father of two boys living in Washington, D.C.