"Back channels" are protocol for a president -- but not for a president-elect

What’s not okay is when an incoming administration seeks to undermine the policies of the incumbent. We have “one president at a time.” That’s not just a political truism but a matter of law, enunciated back in 1799 in the Logan Act, which prohibits private meddling with official policy during a dispute. The fact that this statute has never been enforced criminally doesn’t blunt its importance.

And it’s not okay, either, for any citizen, even the son-in-law of the president-elect, to propose contacts that would use the communications tools of a foreign intelligence service to evade detection. As Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said Sunday: “You have to ask, well, who are they hiding the conversation from?”

The secret Kushner contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Kremlin-friendly banker Sergey Gorkov raise similar questions to Michael Flynn’s contacts with Kislyak. Flynn resigned as national security adviser in February after it was revealed that he had misled Vice President Pence and the public about whether, in a Dec. 29 conversation with Kislyak, he discussed easing anti-Russia sanctions after Trump’s inauguration.

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