On at least three different occasions, Trump's campaign and transition team tried to set up secret back-channel methods to communicate with the Kremlin without any American government officials knowing. While these were done before Trump was sworn into office, one of them was only days before his inauguration.
Why would a sitting American President need to speak covertly with the Kremlin without anyone else in Washington knowing? Presidents communicate directly through a dedicated line in the White House.
Some questions need answers, like: how many other attempts were made by Trump's people and how many of them were successful?
This same week, Jane Mayer at The New Yorker wrote an excellent, detailed, and deeply researched article (link here) that reports at least one intelligence source has revealed that the Kremlin vetoed Trump's possible selection of Mitt Romney as Secretary of State. Romney has long been a harsh critic of Russia, exactly the sort of person Moscow wouldn't want as ambassador.
So, say, you had set up a secret back channel to the Kremlin, that would be a great way to have Vladimir Putin vet your cabinet secretary finalists. Why would Trump do this?
The answer is simple: if they have highly compromising intelligence on Trump that could ruin him, they could control him. A secret back channel would be the way to do that.
Now that sounds like something borrowed from the plot of some paranoid Hollywood thriller.
But how else to you explain the repeated attempts to set up secret back channels between Trump and the Kremlin?
Almost certainly these questions and more are being explored by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team as they conduct a criminal investigation into Trump and his associates. Stay tuned for possible answers soon.