Before that date we had some stray data points, but nothing solid. We knew that Michael Flynn had been under investigation by the FBI for undisclosed Russian contacts during the transition. We knew that Flynn urged the Russians not to retaliate for Obama measures and discussed sanctions relief. We knew that other Trump officials, had failed to disclose contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. We knew that Congressional Republicans were up in arms that the Obama Administration had unmasked U.S. persons, and that without further details there was no way of knowing whether the unmasking was proper or not. We knew that Kilsyak sneaked through the back door to hold a secret meeting in Trump Tower. We knew that Acting Attorney General Andrea Yates darkly hinted that Flynn had done something worse than merely fail to disclose contacts with Ambassador Kislyak. We knew that even after Trump was forced to fire Flynn as National Security Adviser, he seemed very solicitous toward him, encouraging him to "stay strong" and doing his best to stop the investigation. We knew that Trump fired Comey to stop the Russia investigation. And we knew that Jared Kushner was one of the prime movers behind the firing. Oh, yes, and we knew that even after Flynn was fired there was talk of current White House occupant who was still the target of investigation. That person turned out to be Jared Kushner.
A person looking at these various facts could piece together a pattern here. The problem is that there is lots of information out there and it is way too easy to impose a pattern where none exists. That way lies paranoia, an occupational hazard for anyone who works finding patterns in seemingly disparate data. (Flynn succumbed in a big way).
But with the big story (is it really almost two weeks ago?) everything is starting to take shape. It had already been vaguely intimated that the secret meeting in Trump Tower took place between Kislyak, Kushner and Flynn and its purpose was to “establish a line of communication,” which is not necessarily improper. What was utterly new was the Washington Post's revelation that Kushner and Flynn actually proposed to send messages from the Russian embassy, over their secure channel, to keep it out of US hands!*
Suddenly, everything falls into place. The meeting apparently took place December 1 or 2, 2016, or less than a month after Trump won the election and over a month before his inauguration. We can see why the parties were at such pains to keep it secret! We can also see why the Obama Administration, learning that two US Persons had met in secret with the Russian ambassador asking to send messages from the Russian embassy over a secure channel would want their names unmasked, and appropriately so. We now know what Andrea Yates was darkly hinting at when she said Flynn's "underlying conduct" was alarming. And we know why any further communications between Flynn and the Russians would be of great interest to the intelligence community. We also know what Flynn had on Trump, or at least his son-in-law, that would make both men very eager to halt the investigation and why the intelligence community is still keeping an eye on Kushner.
Since Kislyak presumably relayed this message back home on the same secure channel that Kushner wanted to use, this story also revealed the most sensitive of sensitive information -- that the secure channel was not longer secure, which naturally means that the Russians will no longer use it. The unknown officials who leaked this story considered it more important than even concealing this super-sensitive information.**
Of course, one little detail remains unknown. What were Kushner and Flynn up to that was so alarming they were ready to send it over a secure Russian channel to hide it from U.S. intelligence?
You know, we are way, WAY past Hillary e-mails jokes by now.
*How shocking is this? Well, I am a follower of John Schindler, a former NSA employee and ardent Trump hater, whose contacts in the intelligence community are firmly convinced that Trump is in cahoots with the Russians and will ultimately be impeached. Schindler had a Twitter account in which he drops constant dark hints that the truth about Trump is much worse than anyone suspects. But on hearing this revelation he was stunned and outraged. He called it "quite literally, the most shocking #natsec story I've ever heard. If this were wartime, summary executions for ALL involved = SOP" and added, "If you tried this on Putin, he'd have everyone involved die horrible deaths. Can't say he'd be wrong on this one." He ended up ranting, "Americans do not deal gently with traitors. Not in 1776, not in 1861. We will kill you all. This is our way. This is the glorious Republic," which alarmed many who supported him up till then.
**Or else the Russians figured out on their own that their secure channel had been compromised and stopped using it, in which case it would be safe to leak.