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Seth Abramson @SethAbramson
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(THREAD) Tracking the in-campaign movements/ties of both Putin and Trump aides—including Trump's closest advisor, Tom Barrack—provides the strongest evidence yet that during the 2016 campaign Trump was illegally negotiating Russia sanctions policy. I hope you'll read and retweet.
1/ To follow this thread, there are 3 things you must understand first:

1. Tom Barrack was and is Trump's closest political advisor.
2. Vladimir Putin only visited an EU country twice during the '16 campaign.
3. Secretly negotiating U.S. sanctions policy pre-election is a crime.
2/ To follow up on the first of these: Barrack—with Cohen—was Trump's first political advisor; handpicked Trump's campaign manager (Manafort); co-ran the transition and the inauguration; and is someone Trump violates White House cell policy to call regularly on an unsecure phone.
3/ To follow up on the second of these: from June 2015 through Election Day, Putin visited an EU nation precisely twice. In both instances, these were high-profile foreign relations trips Putin took to advocate for an end to Western sanctions on Russia (including U.S. sanctions).
4/ To follow up on the third of these: when ABC "erroneously" (we'll see) reported that Trump ordered Michael Flynn to negotiate Russia sanctions *in-campaign*, Brian Ross was suspended and the Dow dropped 350 points. Why? Because this would be a crime and proof of coordination.
5/ (To explain that last point: if Trump was negotiating sanctions policy with Russia pre-election, he was aiding and abetting Russian crimes by promising a financial benefit at a time he knew—using the legal standard—there was a high likelihood such crimes were being committed.)
6/ (And pre-election sanctions negotiations would of course also violate election law and bribery statutes, and the Logan Act, and even apart from the law would constitute "secret collusion" under literally any definition of the word "collusion" you could ever find in any venue.)
7/ So—all that said—here's a complete list of the EU nations that *opposed* sanctions on Russia during the 2016 election:

ITALY
GREECE
HUNGARY
AUSTRIA

Putin had no other allies but these in the fight to end sanctions against his nation—for Russia, *the* campaign issue of 2016.
8/ As it's illegal to accept anything of value from a foreign national as part of a campaign, negotiate U.S. policy if one hasn't been elected, or aid/abet crimes committed against America by other nations, there was *no reason* for Trump to be in contact with these four nations.
9/ I need to repeat what I just said: there was *no value* and therefore *no reason* for the Trump campaign, *pre-election*, to make *any* covert outreach to Italy, Hungary, Greece, or Austria. Those pro-Russia countries had *nothing* to offer Trump that he could *legally* take.
10/ Foreign diplomats do *not* attend political functions; foreign leaders do *not* endorse U.S. candidates pre-election; foreign nationals *cannot* offer value to a U.S. candidate while they're running. So it'd be suspicious if Trump had *any* covert outreach to foreign nations.
11/ So if we detected a *clear pattern* of Trump aides not *only* secretly reaching out to foreign nations, but *exclusively reaching out to nations working to end sanctions on Russia*, and if we saw that pattern in *pre-election behavior*, it'd be evidence of criminal collusion.
12/ ITALY. In the next series of tweets, I'll recount pre-election facts about the Trump campaign and Italy that suggest covert and illegal sanctions negotiations on the part of the '16 Trump presidential campaign. These intersections are stunning and *all* of them are irregular.
13/ 5 days before Trump announced his presidential campaign, Vladimir Putin made one of his two trips to an EU nation during the U.S. presidential campaign. He went to Italy—with top reps from Russian oil giant Rosneft—to advocate against sanctions before Italy's U.S. ambassador.
14/ Trump's top advisor, Tom Barrack, spends much of his time in Italy. He owns and regularly visits properties there—and not just anywhere in Italy, but on Sardinia's Emerald Coast, famous as a playground for Russian oligarchs. We don't know if Barrack was there while Putin was.
15/ We do know Barrack's top business associate in Italy is of Russian descent. And we know Barrack is under criminal investigation for trying to bilk $200 million—that's *million*—out of Italy by evading taxes there. In short, Italy is *key* to Barrack.
theguardian.com/world/2017/may…
16/ Barrack spends time with Russians in Italy; needs Italy's government to be on his side; and was Trump's top advisor at a time when Italy very much wanted the West's Russia sanctions removed. And Italy's U.S. ambassador was working hand-in-glove with Putin to make that happen.
17/ We'll see if Italy's ambassador pops up again at any point in our story.
18/ In February '16, Flynn—who'll later become Barrack's *business partner*, working on a Middle East energy deal that'd require *Russian sanctions to end* for it to work—joins the campaign officially. Barrack quickly taps pro-Putin foreign agent Manafort to run Trump's campaign.
19/ The very first Trump hire after Manafort and Flynn are both aboard is *energy consultant* George Papadopoulos. Within 10 days, the campaign has sent *energy consultant* Papadopoulos abroad to do work for the campaign. Here's the flag of the nation Trump sent Papadopoulos to:
20/ While in Italy on unspecified Trump campaign business, guess what happens?

A *Kremlin agent* named Josef Mifsud "stumbles"—entirely accidentally!—across Papadopoulos. He "doesn't know" that Papadopoulos is on the Trump campaign, but is "interested" when he "finds that out."
21/ Mifsud wants to establish a backchannel between Russia and the Trump campaign, and he's in Italy—not surprising, given Italy's role in Putin's anti-sanctions push—to do it. But surely there's nothing nefarious about the meeting? Surely Papadopoulos won't later *lie* about it?
22/ In January '17, Papadopoulos will lie to the FBI about his meeting in Italy with Mifsud. His lie will be *very specific*: what he'll lie about is *whether he was working for Trump* when he met Mifsud in Italy, not whether the meeting happened.

Note: he was working for Trump.
23/ About a month later, Manafort schedules his first campaign *event* as Trump's campaign manager. The event is Trump's first foreign policy speech—originally slated to happen at the National Press Club. However, 48 hours before the speech, Manafort suddenly moves its location.
24/ Though the new venue for the speech—the Mayflower Hotel—is smaller and less secure, Manafort says the move is for (a) security reasons, and (b) space reasons. In fact, what the Mayflower offers that the NPC doesn't is numerous private rooms for pre-speech VIP events/meetings.
25/ The one thing longstanding U.S. political custom dictates Manafort *cannot* do is invite foreign diplomats to Trump's foreign policy speech—especially if the speech is preceded by a *VIP cocktail hour with Trump and his top aides*. It's unheard of for such an event to occur.
26/ Instead, Trump's campaign invites just four ambassadors—of all the ambassadors in the world—to Trump's VIP cocktail hour. All of them are breaching diplomatic protocol to attend the event. One of the diplomatic transgressors is Russia's ambassador. Here's the flag of another:
27/ That's right: Trump invites the *same ambassador* who was talking sanctions with Putin in Italy in June '15 to his first foreign policy speech in April '16—in which speech he offers Russia a "good deal" on sanctions. Barrack and Manafort are Trump's top advisors at the time.
28/ Of course, I'm forgetting another top advisor: Cohen. What's he doing as Trump-Russia talks—headed by Papadopoulos—are heating up in Spring '16? Why, preparing for a *vacation*, of course! A vacation he decides to take in the 10 days before the Republican National Convention.
29/ It's impossible to sufficiently underscore how unlikely it is that Cohen—Trump's lawyer—would go on a ten-day vacation in the immediate lead-up to the most important event in his *one* client's life. So let's take a look at the nation Cohen takes his improbable "vacation" to:
30/ The problem isn't just that this vacation *looks* suspicious, it's that it *is* suspicious: Cohen's alibi for where he went and who he was with in Italy has fallen apart—the person he said he was with has said he wasn't with Cohen *at all*, let alone where Cohen says he was.
31/ And what happens as soon as Cohen returns from his Italy "vacation"? Trump aides—I mean a whole *pile* of Trump aides—talk sanctions with Russia's ambassador at the RNC, and indeed Trump orders (per Trump aide JD Gordon) a change of the GOP platform to benefit Vladimir Putin.
32/ GREECE. In the next series of tweets, I lay out how a second EU nation—of only four that supported Putin's anti-sanctions push in '16—intersected in wildly suspicious ways with the Trump campaign. That nation is Greece, and Trump's point-man here is—again—George Papadopoulos.
33/ As the Papadopoulos-Mifsud talks heat up in Spring 2016—Mifsud floats the idea of letting the Trump campaign see materials Russia has stolen—Vladimir Putin makes his *second and final trip to an EU nation*. His stated purpose? Yet *again*, to *push against Western sanctions*.
34/ In early May—just 3 weeks before Putin's trip to the EU—Trump's campaign sends Papadopoulos on a trip that'll be described by the press of that nation as an "incognito" trip. Papadopoulos will tell press there that he's been told to make certain "contacts." The nation's flag:
35/ After making "contacts" with top Greek politicians in early May—including Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, whose think tank has ties to the Kremlin—Papadopoulos goes to Greece again in late May.

Papadopoulos is in Greece *the same days* Putin is. And both meet with Kammenos.
36/ I want to remind everyone that Papadopoulos was one of the first NatSec hires Trump made; he's now a convicted criminal who admits he lied about his work for Trump; he's been cooperating with Mueller for a year; and Trump has lied about Papadopoulos' campaign role repeatedly.
37/ I also want to remind everyone that there was *no reason at all for Papadopoulos to be in Greece*—as there was *no benefit whatsoever to the Trump campaign* in having him there.

Unless—unless!—he was conducting secret negotiations for Trump. Which his conviction says he was.
38/ During the transition, Papadopoulos, back in Trump's orbit, goes to Greece again, telling journalists there that Trump has offered him a "blank check" for any administration job he wants. At the inauguration, he and Trump's Chief of Staff—Priebus—meet with... Panos Kammenos.
39/ In Summer 2017, just before he is arrested, Papadopoulos goes to Greece *again*, and this time his wife Simona Mangiante says that he was approached by *several* spies—apparently from *different countries*—trying to offer him money. It suggests his prior trips had been noted.
40/ HUNGARY. Hungary is the EU HQ of the FSB—formerly the KGB—and it's of so little geopolitical consequence the idea that even a single Trump campaign member would *think* about Hungary pre-election is absolutely laughable. But Hungary was working hand-in-glove with Putin, so...
41/ The other early NatSec hire by Trump-Flynn-Manafort-Barrack—which came as Sessions was being hired to run the NatSec team, and which hire was executed by Trump National Co-Chair Sam Clovis—was Carter Page, who had previously been suspected by the FBI of being a Russian agent.
42/ In Congressional testimony, Page shocked everyone by revealing that not only had he made a foreign trip during the presidential campaign he'd never revealed before, but he'd met an unnamed *Russian* while on that trip. Here's the flag of the nation he was in when it happened:
43/ In the same testimony, Page revealed that *another* member of Trump's national security team, Joseph Schmitz, had *also* made an inexplicable, never-before-revealed trip abroad while working—alongside Page and Papadopoulos—on Trump's NatSec team. Here's the nation he went to:
44/ Shortly after Schmitz went to Hungary, that nation's president—an avowed Putin pal—broke with international protocol and publicly endorsed Trump for U.S. president, a clear signal to his ally Putin that Trump could be relied upon to end sanctions against Russia post-election.
45/ Though it has *no geopolitical significance*, Hungary got yet *another* visit from a Trump NatSec aide—JD Gordon, who ran day-to-day operations on Sessions' NatSec team—in December '16. In short, Trump was obsessive about Hungary—though ostensibly it had nothing to offer him.
46/ AUSTRIA. I'm still looking at Trump-Austria ties. For now, I can say this: it was a tougher lift for Trump to publicly align with or send men to Austria due to the rise of neo-Nazism there. Trump couldn't alienate his pro-Israel supporters, or rich Jewish donors like Adelson.
47/ QATAR. What I *can* do is bring this thread full-circle by talking about Qatar, the Mayflower, the Steele dossier, Thomas Barrack's business interests, and the possible financial benefit in the offing for Trump if he covertly coordinated with Russia on the sanctions question.
48/ The Steele dossier says the purpose of Putin's anti-sanctions shenanigans was to free up Russia's involvement in the energy sector worldwide—a sector that Russia literally depends upon to survive and is worth *trillions* of dollars to the Russian economy in the medium-term.
49/ Steele's dossier says Trump was going to be given a cut of Russia's largest-ever oil deal—the sale of a portion of Rosneft in December 2016—in exchange for pushing pro-Russia sanctions policy during the campaign and after. Page lied repeatedly about his contacts with Rosneft.
50/ The Rosneft deal ties together so many threads I've discussed that it's mind-blowing: Rosneft execs were with Putin in Italy in June '15; the four ambassadors at the Mayflower were all from nations *involved in the Rosneft deal*(!); Page had secret Rosneft meetings in Moscow.
51/ Then there's this: a key player in the Rosneft deal was the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA). Indeed, the QIA was central to the whole exchange—much of which was shrouded in shell corporations.

Here's a picture of a man who does hundreds of millions in business with the QIA:
52/ So Barrack handpicks the foreign agent (Manafort) who—with Sessions and Flynn—shepherds Trump's pro-Russia sanctions policy and covert sanctions negotiations, then goes into business with Flynn in an deal that requires that Russian sanctions end. Meanwhile, he's connected...
53/ ...to the entity that made the Rosneft deal possible—which deal is said to net Trump money for supporting the sanctions policy Barrack, Putin, Manafort and Flynn share. Throughout, Italy—Barrack's home turf—is involved, as are two other nations Trump secretly sends agents to.
54/ And in the context of this damning evidence—evidence that Trump agents had secret contacts with nations involved in the sanctions issue *during the campaign* and then lied about it—discussion of Trump ordering sanctions negotiations during the campaign is considered verboten.
55/ And I haven't even *touched* upon, in this thread, Page's, Gordon's, and Papadopoulos' *immediate boss*—Sessions—repeatedly perjuring himself before Congress to avoid admitting that he directly negotiated sanctions with Kislyak both at the RNC and later at his Senate office.
56/ I'll keep saying it until the media listens: there should be *many* stories on what Thomas Barrack was doing during the election; there should be *many* stories on Joseph Schmitz; the Rosneft and Barrack-Flynn energy deals should be a *major* focus of Trump-Russia coverage.
57/ What is obvious is that *all* of Trump's top aides—not just a few of them—targeted, and not just after the election but *during the election*, making as many covert contacts and having as many covert negotiations with Russia, Italy, Hungary, and Greece as they possibly could.
58/ These contacts—in their timing, high-level nature, and meticulous targeting toward Putin's EU allies and *only those*—were intended to unmistakably send the message to Putin that Trump was willing to back Russia on sanctions and risk illicit election-season meetings to do so.
59/ There's *no* doubt that Trump was negotiating U.S. sanctions policy during the election and—I must add—both before, during, and *after* the revelation of Russian crimes against the United States. This is collusion (frankly even the meetings are collusion) by *any* definition.
60/ Whether Trump also *coordinated* with Russian *hacking* is a separate question—and the jury is still out on that, though the Don Jr.-WikiLeaks secret messages are starting to tell that story. But collusion on sanctions, and thus aiding and abetting Russian crimes? *Yes*. /end
PS/ Please take this thread as just a *piece* of the puzzle this feed—and others—have put together. So yes, I've done long threads on how (per POLITICO) Trump's Mayflower speech was co-written by an agent of Russian energy interests—co-edited by Papadopoulos—and much, much more.
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