In 1983 Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Ma) wanted to run for president, and so he sent a friend, John Tunney, to Moscow to set up a quid pro quo deal with the Russians.
Picking his way through the Soviet archives that Boris Yeltsin had just thrown open, in 1991 Tim Sebastian, a reporter for the London Times, came across an arresting memorandum. Composed in 1983 by Victor Chebrikov, the top man at the KGB, the memorandum was addressed to Yuri Andropov, the top man in the entire USSR. The subject: Sen. Edward Kennedy.
“On 9-10 May of this year,” the May 14 memorandum explained, “Sen. Edward Kennedy’s close friend and trusted confidant [John] Tunney was in Moscow.” (Tunney was Kennedy’s law school roommate and a former Democratic senator from California.) “The senator charged Tunney to convey the following message, through confidential contacts, to the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Y. Andropov.”
Kennedy’s message was simple. He proposed an unabashed quid pro quo. Kennedy would lend Andropov a hand in dealing with President Reagan. In return, the Soviet leader would lend the Democratic Party a hand in challenging Reagan in the 1984 presidential election. “The only real potential threats to Reagan are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations,” the memorandum stated. “These issues, according to the senator, will without a doubt become the most important of the election campaign.” Forbes
In 1980 Ted Kennedy wanted to run for president in place of Carter, the Mitrokhin Archives reveal Kennedy sent a friend, John Tunney (former Senator from California) to reach out to the KGB and Leonid Brezhnev.
Kennedy’s long history with the KGB is well documented, but underreported. It remains available through the writings of the now deceased Vasiliy Mitrokhin, who defected to Britain from the Soviet Union in 1992, and a separate 1983 memo addressed to then General Secretary Yuri Andropov. Kennedy’s actions occurred at the expense of presidential authority and in violation of federal law, according to academics and scholars who are familiar with the documents.
The Mitrokhin papers highlight a meeting that took place at the behest of Kennedy between former Sen. John Tunney (D-Calif.) and KGB agents in Moscow on March 5, 1980. The information exchanged during this encounter is included as part of a report Mitrokhin filed with the Cold War International History Project of the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington D.C. The former KGB man continued to work with British intelligence until the time of his death.
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. Romerstein, who headed up the U.S. government’s Office to Counter Soviet Disinformation and Active Measures during the 1980s, has explained in previous interviews that Mitrokhin made meticulous copies of KGB files by hand prior to his defection.
The KGB files Mitrokhin retrieved indicate that Kennedy fixed the blame for heightened international tensions on the Carter White House, not on the Kremlin. It is important to note that Kennedy was challenging incumbent Carter for the Democratic nomination for president at that time.
Tunney told his KGB counterparts that Kennedy was impressed by the foreign policy statements made by General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev. Kennedy saw in Brezhnev a leader who was firmly committed to the policy of “détente,” the report said.
Moreover, Kennedy also blamed the Carter Administration for assuming an overly belligerent posture toward the Soviet Union after the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan, according to the papers. Spectator
Paul Kengor, a Grove City College political science professor, included the 1983 Soviet archives document in his 2006 book: The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and The Fall of Communism.
Also Online: Kennedy and the KGB by Paul Kengor
The KGB, Kennedy, and Carter by James Simpson