How two Democrat senators plotted with Soviet leaders against a sitting U.S. president

by WorldTribune Staff, December 13, 2016

Who came up with the idea of inviting Moscow’s interference in a U.S. election?

Democratic Sens. Ted Kennedy and John Tunney used their close ties with the Soviet Union in attempts to undermine two sitting U.S. presidents, according to KGB documents.

John Tunney, left, and Ted Kennedy were college roommates.
John Tunney, left, and Ted Kennedy were college roommates.

Kennedy “offered to work in close concert with high level Soviet officials to sabotage President Ronald Reagan’s re-election efforts,” according a 1983 KGB document, cited by the American Spectator in a June 22, 2010 report.

Kennedy proposed a quid pro quo with the Soviets in which the Massachusetts senator would lend Yuri Andropov a hand in “dealing with Reagan.” In return, the Soviet leader would lend the Democratic Party a hand in challenging Reagan in the 1984 presidential election, the document shows.

“The only real potential threats to Reagan are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations,” the document stated. “These issues, according to the senator, will without a doubt become the most important of the election campaign.”

Kennedy also offered to have “representatives of the largest television companies in the U.S. contact Andropov for an invitation to Moscow for the interview,” KGB head Viktor Chebrikov explained in a letter to the general secretary dated May 14, 1983, the document shows.

“The idea here would be for the Soviet leader to make an end run around Reagan and make a direct appeal to the American people,” the Spectator said.

The KGB letter to Andropov first came to light in a Feb. 2, 1992 report published in the London Times entitled “Teddy, the KGB and the Top Secret File.” Paul Kengor, a Grove City College political science professor, included the document in his 2006 book: The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and The Fall of Communism.

Kennedy suggested that Walter Cronkite, Barbara Walters and Elton Raul, the president of the board of directors for ABC, be considered for the interviews with Andropov in Moscow. He also asked the KGB to consider having “lower level Soviet officials, particularly the military” take part in television interviews inside the U.S. where they could convey peaceful intentions.

Tunney, the former senator from California, served as an intermediary traveling to Moscow in 1983 to relay Kennedy’s intentions, the Spectator report said.

Kennedy 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,” Chebrikov wrote.

“Tunney told his contacts that Kennedy was very troubled about the decline in U.S -Soviet relations under Reagan,” Kengor said in an interview. “But Kennedy attributed this decline to Reagan, not to the Soviets. In one of the most striking parts of this letter, Kennedy is said to be very impressed with Andropov and other Soviet leaders.”

“The pattern of behavior should concern members of both political parties,” Kengor said, because it shows Kennedy was willing to work against American foreign policy, regardless of who occupied the White House.

Charles Dunn, dean of the Robertson School of Government at Regent University, said Kennedy’s actions were a “clear violation of the U.S. Constitution and at the expense of presidential authority.”

The secret overtures to the KGB during the Reagan years were particularly insidious, Dunn said, because Tunney and Kennedy were working to undermine what ultimately proved to be a policy that brought an end to the Cold War.

“If another country gets the idea that it can deal outside of official channels then that undermines presidential leadership,” Dunn added.

Documents also show that Tunney discussed Kennedy’s presidential ambitions with the Soviet contacts. Kennedy was looking to run in 1988 when he would be remarried and his “personal problems” resolved. However, the documents also said he did not rule out 1984.

“Kennedy was afraid that Reagan was leading the world into a nuclear war,” Kengor said. “He hoped to counter Reagan’s policies, and by extension hurt his re-election prospects.”

Kennedy’s long history with the KGB is well documented and is available through the writings of the now deceased Vasiliy Mitrokhin, who defected to Britain from the Soviet Union in 1992. Mitrokhin made meticulous copies of KGB files by hand prior to his defection.

Noted Cold War author and researcher Herbert Romerstein has described Mitrokhin as a “highly credible source” with vast knowledge of the now-closed KGB archives.

The KGB files Mitrokhin retrieved indicate that Kennedy placed the blame for heightened U.S.-Soviet tensions on the administration of Jimmy Carter, not on the Kremlin. Kennedy at the time was challenging incumbent Carter for the Democratic nomination for president.

“The atmosphere of tension and hostility towards the whole Soviet people was being fueled by Carter,” Kennedy argued, as well as by some key advisers, the Pentagon and the U.S. military industrial complex, Mitrokhin wrote.

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