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Seth Abramson @SethAbramson
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(THREAD) Today we may have learned something *very* significant about the role Chris Christie played—or, rather, didn't play—in the Trump-Russia conspiracy. And remarkably, we learned what we did from a NYT story that wasn't about Christie at all. I hope you'll read on and share.
1/ For 72 hours after the 2016 election, Chris Christie was still running the Trump transition team. We know two things about Christie's plans for the transition: he didn't want Michael Flynn in the administration, and he was hoping to be AG. Then Kushner fired him November 11th.
2/ We now know that, *less than 24 hours* after Christie was fired, the Kremlin's man in London was pumping a man who'd just met with Trump at Trump Tower—Arron Banks—to find out what administration role one person in particular would have: Jeff Sessions. It wasn't a coincidence.
3/ First, know that Sessions' campaign role was to secretly negotiate sanctions with Russia's man in DC, Kislyak. Second, know that Sessions wanted to be AG—the role Christie wanted. Third, know that Sessions was the public face of Trump's NatSec team—which, privately, Flynn ran.
4/ Fourth, know what the NYT reported today: Arron Banks looks to have been Russia's man, too—a witting agent of Kremlin designs here and Europe who'd been promised riches by Putin. Now ask yourself: what message would the Kremlin have had for Trump in the 72 hours post-election?
5/ No one doubts the Kremlin would've wanted Trump's point man on sanctions (Sessions) in a position of power in the administration. Just so, no one doubts the Kremlin would've been livid if its *original* Team Trump liaison—Flynn—had been kept off the administration by Christie.
6/ So a likely Russian agent meets Trump to talk administration personnel issues on November 9 or 10, at a time the Kremlin would've been *livid* about any whispered news Christie planned to nix Flynn and/or take Sessions' natural spot (AG).

The next day, Kushner fires Christie.
7/ It seems clear the Kremlin knew Banks and Trump would talk personnel—Russia's man in London was primed to ask Banks about personnel when they met the day after Christie's firing. So who was at the Banks meeting? Did Banks pass a message from his/Trump's mutual Kremlin friends?
8/ I think the chances that Putin had a say in Christie's firing—that it wasn't simply about Kushner's daddy issues (Christie prosecuted Jared' dad)—just went up 500%. Banks was well placed to be sending along to Trump Russian angst over Christie's handling of Sessions and Flynn.
9/ We *know* Flynn became Trump's point man with Russia as soon as he was brought aboard the transition—which happened immediately after Christie was fired—so had Christie been successful in keeping Flynn off the transition, the Kremlin would've lost much of its access to Trump.
10/ But we also know something else: that Russia's *second* point man during the transition was Jared Kushner, the man who fired Christie. Within four weeks of firing Christie, Kushner had already had *two* clandestine, face-to-face Trump Tower meetings with top Kremlin agents.
11/ So Russia's Western ambassadors were worried—on November 12—about the roles Sessions (campaign sanctions chief) and Flynn (Trump's behind-the-scenes NatSec chief, with Sessions playing that role in public) would play in January '17. So guess what else Kushner did in November?
12/ That's right—we know that Kushner called Sergey Kislyak by phone in November. What do you want to bet that the call was in part to quell Russian fears that Trump would, by his personnel decisions, signal a reneging on his commitment to drop all sanctions against the Russians?
13/ We know, certainly, that Flynn was hand-holding the Russians during the transition; that Flynn and Kushner both attended secret meetings with Russians in December 2016; and that Trump did indeed spend the transition planning to drop Russia sanctions as soon as he took office.
14/ I think—and I think that Mueller likely thinks—that the Kushner-hates-Christie story for Christie's firing was a cover story. The decision was actually made by Trump in consultation with Russian agents, and had everything to do with installing Sessions as AG and Flynn as NSA.
15/ And what has Trump said of Sessions? That he made him AG because he thought Sessions would end any Russia investigation. And why would he think that? Because Sessions was secretly and illegally negotiating sanctions during the campaign and Trump made him AG *because* of that.
PS/ Some of you may wonder, then, why Sessions took the job? And then recused himself? The answer is simple—and underscores why Trump hates him. By taking the job and recusing, Sessions got AG—his dream—while having an excuse to not commit additional (and serious) federal crimes.
PS2/ By recusing himself, Sessions retained the option of cooperating with those investigating Trump—if necessary—to avoid indictment. After all, Sessions' illegal sanctions negotiations during the campaign were likely less serious offenses than those Trump wanted from him as AG.
PS3/ Republicans have long said Logan Act violations—illegally negotiating US policy with a foreign power with lacking the color of authority to do so—aren't serious offenses. Meanwhile, Trump wanted Sessions to engage in the gravest acts of Obstruction in U.S. political history.
PS4/ Whatever one thinks of Christie, nobody thinks he'd be willing to do something which—as it turned out—even a scoundrel like Sessions wasn't willing to do. But the idea that *only Kushner was concerned about this* is *laughable*. Trump was concerned about it—and so was Putin.
PS5/ What this means is that the November 9 or 10 (2016) Trump Tower meeting with Banks that we *know Trump himself was at*—but don't yet know who *else* attended—may turn out to be an *even more critical* Trump-Russia contact than the Mayflower, RNC, and Trump Jr. meetings. /end
SOURCE2/ The first Trump campaign cover story, which we now know was a lie:…
SOURCE3/ The *second* Trump campaign cover story for the firing of Christie, which we now know was also a lie:…
SOURCE4/ And here's the *third* story American voters were given to explain the firing of Christie, which story comes from Christie himself (not the Trump campaign, which may have decided two lies was enough) and now appears to be dramatically incomplete:…
SOURCE5/ 6 days after his firing, Christie went to Trump to find out if it was Trump or Kushner who wanted him fired—or both. And you're *not going to believe* how Trump responded, just days after talking personnel with a Russian agent: "He didn’t answer."…
NOTE/ Once the Russia investigation started, Trump changed his tune and told Kushner that he—Trump—had nothing to do with Christie getting fired. That's astounding—that he wouldn't say so to Christie until it was a necessary exculpatory line to say so. But I say it *wasn't* true.
CORRECTION/ Thanks to @leeunkrich for a correction: Christie never even had a chance to ask Trump if it was his decision to fire him, apparently. According to the article I linked to, it was Bannon and not Trump who refused to answer that question. That was my mistake; I misread.
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