As Democrats line up to accuse President Donald Trump of trying to create a “back channel” to communicate with Russia, it has been revealed that former President Barack Obama had his own unofficial communication line with Russian officials.
Perhaps the more telling aspect of the revelation is that it isn’t a revelation at all. The press has known for some time that Obama maintained a secret communication line, but only now is concerned with the practice with President Trump in office.
During and even after the Cold War, America has maintained a “back channel” means of communication with Russia. It is a practice often seen in movies as a “red line” telephone that links directly to the Kremlin. The modern day “back channel” is believed to be a secure messaging protocol.
NBC News has been aware that the Obama administration was using a “back channel” as far back as December, but never showed any concern about the practice. Until now.
The Obama administration had a “back channel” to communicate with Russian officials, according to a new report detailing Moscow’s efforts to delegitimize the U.S. presidential election results.
The news comes after Trump White House aide Jared Kushner was criticized for allegedly trying to open a back channel line of communications with Russian officials during the transition last year.
Former intelligence officials called Kushner’s alleged back channel “dangerous,” but now Bloomberg reports the Obama administration had its own back channel to Moscow.
The White House contacted the Kremlin on what Bloomberg described as a “modern-day red phone” after Russian operatives tried to infiltrate software and databases used by state election officials.
Bloomberg reported on the back channel recently.
The scope and sophistication so concerned Obama administration officials that they took an unprecedented step — complaining directly to Moscow over a modern-day “red phone.” In October, two of the people said, the White House contacted the Kremlin on the back channel to offer detailed documents of what it said was Russia’s role in election meddling and to warn that the attacks risked setting off a broader conflict.
The Daily Caller also reports that NBC had no problem reporting on Barack Obama’s “red phone” back in December. At that time, it was mentioned in a discussion about possible Russian hacking of the election. At that point, an Obama official and NBC reported that there had been no hacking by Russia. Now, however, they have changed their tune.
NBC News first reported on the red phone in December, noting the red phone has existed in various forms for the last 50 years or so.
In fact, the Obama administration said the red phone communications must have worked to keep Moscow from launching cyber attacks against election systems.
“Look at the results,” one Obama administration official told NBC in December. “There was nothing done on Election Day, so it must have worked.”
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