Our View

Our frustration with the use of encryption and self-destruct technology continues to climb as we learn about their misuse by government officials.

We've told you about the way Missouri officials have used them to flout state law and undermine accountability, and that Robert Mueller reported that his federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and allegations of conspiracy and obstruction of justice was stymied at times by the use of these apps.

Deep in the Mueller report is more.

Paul Manafort served as President Donald Trump's campaign chairman from late March to Aug. 19, 2016, and during that time, as well as afterward when he still acted as adviser for Trump, Manafort met with Konstantin Kilimnik, a longtime associate of Manafort's who had once worked for him. Kilimnik, the report states numerous times, has ties to Russian intelligence.

Kilimnik presented to Mueller a peace plan, that, according to the Mueller Report, "was a 'backdoor' means for Russia to control eastern Ukraine."

"Several months later, after the presidential election, Kilimnik wrote an email to Manafort expressing the view β€” which Manafort later said he shared β€” that the plan's success would require U.S. support to succeed: 'All that is required to start the process is a very minor 'wink' or (slight push) from DT (Donald Trump).'"

But did Manafort present the plan to Trump during the campaign, or afterward?

Mueller's investigation did not uncover evidence that Manafort passed along information about the Ukrainian peace proposal to Trump or anyone else in the campaign, or later the administration, and for his part Trump told the Mueller investigation that he could not remember.

But Mueller noted that his office was not able to gain access to all of Manafort's communications because "in some instances messages were sent using encryption applications."

The Mueller report also notes that Manafort had also "lied" to both the investigation and to a grand jury about the peace plan and his meetings with Kilimnik, and his statements are considered unreliable.

In other words, the use of the encryption technology make it impossible to find out what Trump knew, and when, to dig down into the relationship between a key Trump official and a Russian operative, so we are left to take the word of Trump and Manafort β€” a cold comfort because both men stood to benefit and both men are not known for being truthful.

We have said before that the use of these kinds of apps is incompatible with open government, and the more we learn, the more we are convinced their use must be stopped by lawmakers.

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