When Ted Kennedy's emissaries met with the KGB

  • 9 April 2018
  • NormanL
When Ted Kennedy's emissaries met with the KGB

We are repeatedly told that Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and the possibility the Trump campaign may have met with the Russians to gain an advantage over Hillary Clinton, is shocking, unprecedented, and criminal to its core.

But as Mark Kelton writes at the Cipher Brief, American politicians have met with the Russians in the past in advance of a presidential election. He relates the case of then-Sen. Ted Kennedy's team sitting down with the KGB in 1980 (when Kennedy challenged President Carter in the Democratic primaries), and continued after the election:

On March 5, 1980, [California Sen. John] Tunney met with senior KGB officials for the first of 15 meetings he held at Kennedy’s behest. The history of Kennedy’s interaction with the KGB, which historian Paul Kengor aptly describes as ‘well-documented but under-reported’, is related in the writings of deceased KGB First Chief Directorate archivist Vasiliy Mitrokhin, who defected to the U.K. in 1992[1], and in a 1983 letter KGB Chairman Viktor Chebrikov sent to then-Soviet General Secretary, and former KGB Director, Yuri Andropov.

According to the KGB documents, the initial impetus of Kennedy’s collusion with Moscow was his concern over the damage President Jimmy Carter’s “belligerent” response to the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was doing to the policy of “détente” with Moscow. The KGB noted that Kennedy blamed heightened U.S.-Russia tensions on Carter, who Kennedy was challenging for the Democratic Presidential nomination, and not on Russian leader Andropov.

While Kennedy’s outreach to the KGB began during the Carter Administration, the overwhelming majority of Tunney’s meetings with the KGB dealt with how Senator Kennedy might work with Moscow to undermine the Reagan presidency. According to Chebrikov, Kennedy offered “to work in close concert with high-level Soviet officials to sabotage President Ronald Reagan’s re-election efforts and to orchestrate favorable American press coverage for Andropov and Soviet military officials.”

Chebrikov’s letter also described an offer by Kennedy to arrange for major U.S. television companies to interview Andropov. Kennedy, Chebrikov wrote, offered specific proposals built around a public relations effort designed to “counter the militaristic politics of Reagan and his campaign to psychologically burden the American people.” The movement of which the KGB wrote of in their analysis was, of course, the nuclear freeze movement, which was opposed to the deployment of U.S. Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles in Europe.

I highlight these ties between a sitting U.S. senator and the Soviet leadership not to excuse any collusion that may be proven to have occurred during the 2016 Presidential election campaign, although that seems unlikely at this stage. Rather, I want to point out that were such collusion to be proven, it would not be unprecedented.

We're sure the truth seekers at MSNBC and CNN will love reporting this. Or not (likely not...it's too disruptive to their narrative).