So tonight, I'm going to livetweet my reading of Chapter 4 of Seth Abramson's Proof of Collusion. You can find an archive of my tweets through Chapter 3 here:
My livetweet isn't anything resembling a summary; it's just the things I find notable, so go ahead and buy Seth's book!…
Because I'm a weird dude, I'm having fun doing this. :)
Anyway, on to Chapter 4: The Campaign Begins: 2013-2015.
Some important timelining here on p. 80: "Not long after the 2012 Presidential Election, the Russians begin preparations for 2016, dispatching two spies to the United States with the goal of infiltrating the right-wing National Rifle Association (NRA) and ultimately creating..."
"... a back channel between the Kremlin and top leaders in the Republican Party. At the same time, the Kremlin becomes more aggressive in its efforts to reach out to Donald Trump, as the signs that he is going to run for president are, by mid 2013, unmistakable."
The Kremlin is successful in its plans to infiltrate the NRA, as well as in its efforts to push Trump toward a foreign policy more favorable to Russia, by dangling Moscow land-development deals in front of him. It is unclear as of 2015 whether the Kremlin plans..."
"... to simply influence NRA brass into contributing a record amount of money to Trump's 2016 presidential campaign or whether it wants to funnel illegal campaign contributions directly to Trump through the organization."
As I've talked about in the other threads, that timeline is so important. Seth doesn't mention it here, but it's well documented for years that Putin hated Hillary Clinton -- the movie Active Measures does that justice.…
But also, as far back at least as 2013 (2012 is slightly speculative but there's a decent amount of evidence), the Russians decided they wanted Trump to run for President (see my take on Chapter 3), and they kept up with him, obviously, into 2016.
There were really three tracks here, though. One was taking out Hillary. The second was promoting Trump. The third was the general GOP, mostly through the NRA. For people who don't remember, Putin had tried to create a relationship with the GOP beginning in 2001.
That was out in the open; not a secret. Putin decided he needed to co-opt one of the two major American political parties pretty soon after he assumed power in Russia, and he decided the GOP was closer to his ideology, so that would be his target.
He had some fruitful relationships with some parts of the GOP all the way through this timeline -- see my post here:…
... but he really couldn't get the Bush administration himself on board -- I'm not sure why, but they probably hadn't gotten over the Cold War, or perhaps because Condi Rice was a scholar of the Soviet Era. He more or less put that effort on hold in 2007.
Oops. I don't want to break the thread, but three tweets back I meant to link to this post:…
But he certainly found a friend (and pawn) in Trump. Anyway, at the latest, he tried to co-opt the Republican Party itself in 2014. And he was confident he could do it. I believe it was in the Butina indictment that there are e-mails going back to early 2015 between members...
of the official state Russian hacking group, the IRA (no relation to the Irish or your retirement) that outright said one of their goals was to have Butina's boss, Aleksandr Torshin (who I see is on the next page of the book), attend the 2017 Prayer Breakfast in the White House.
They seemed sure that the President would be a Republican, and that they would play a serious hand in making it happen. But I don't think they actually mention Trump in that correspondence. So they may have been looking at Republicans generally...
All that's in the indictments. But I'm not totally sure why they pursued the second and third track simultaneously. Were they hedging on Trump, or did they just want a Republican and Trump happened to be their favorite?
If it's the latter, that's pretty damning toward the entire GOP. That Putin was sure that he would have a willing collaborator at the top of the Party, even if the candidate was not Trump. Mueller could be looking at that.
Anyway, I digress... Back to the book. Abramson details the Torshin/Butina antics, including Butina's "boyfriend," Republican operative Paul Erickson.
So here's the next interesting thing. Page 83: "The assumption that Trump will seek the White House in 2016 is predicated in part on statements made by Trump to Republican leaders in New York in December 2013, at which point he 'predicted he would begin his [presidential run]..."
... in 2015." So the Republicans had an early warning that he was serious (I didn't know he was until a few weeks after he got off the escalator), and they apparently didn't seem to mind. They knew who he was, they had years to stop him, and they didn't lift a finger.
The RNC must've at some point done some research around then. They had to have known of Trump's Russian ties. They apparently didn't care.
Abramson goes into Trump's interactions with Torshin at the NRA conference in 2015, which I know all about so I'm not going to cover. But Seth does note that Torshin, who'd been trying to attend the 2017 Prayer Breakfast since 2015, actually did so in 2017. Mission accomplished.
There's a lot more good stuff here involving Felix Sater and Michael Cohen ("Says who?"), but I'm skipping it because none is new to me.
On pp. 87-88, Seth recounts a story I didn't know about. During the 2016 NRA conference, the Russians and the Trump campaign tried two different tracks to hook up. The second of the two: "At the same time that Torshin approaches [Rick] Dearborn [a Trump campaign aide]..."
"... he also uses Rick Clay, whom the New York Times describes as 'an advocate for conservative Christian causes,' to get the same message to Dearborn: Putin wants to meet with Trump, and Torshin wants to meet with Trump first to set up the meeting."
"Dearborn sends the email from Clay on to Jared Kushner, who nixes the idea, according to two sources interviewed by the New York Times. It is unknown whom else, if anyone, Dearborn pass the email to after reading it, but in fact Torshin does end up dining with..."
"... Donald Trump Jr. at the NRA convention several days later." Now, Seth often says that at the latest, in August 2016, when Trump was first informed by the government that Russia was trying to interfere with the election and didn't say anything about what he knew...
that that was the point that Trump (in the absence of ironclad proof that Trump knew about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting) began to officially commit a crime. Maybe that's true. But it really is May at the latest that Kushner and Trump Jr. became criminals (at least in terms
of Russia) by not reporting those interactions to the FBI. ANYONE would've reported those interactions to the FBI unless 1. they were in on it, or 2. they were being threatened. Anyway, another throughline. That interaction was in May 2016....
... and it was less than a month later that they both got another invite from Russians.
Well, that may kick off @SethAbramson's Chapter 15 in the next edition of his book.
But I'm going to focus back on Chapter 4 while I try not to squeal with glee until I finish this thread. BUT HOLY HELL!
Seriously, Jason, focus. For like 20 more minutes. Another thing I didn't know. p. 89: "On October 4, 2016... Paul Erickson writes an email to an acquaintance that reads... I've been involved in securing a VERY private line of communication between the Kremlin and..."
"... key [GOP] leaders through, of all conduits, the NRA." And Mueller has this email. Jesus, is this a hell of a trail to follow. It's going to take down a lot of people in the end. LIKE JULIAN ASSANGE!!!!!!
p. 91: "According to a May 2018 NPR article, Torshin had spend 'years of travel [dating] back to 2009... cultivat[ing] ties with American conservatives." So another data point that begins pre-2013 and continues, at least, into 2017.
Abramson now goes into more about Sater & Cohen... a couple of choice nuggets, one pretty substantive -- originally shared by Maggie Haberman (GET HER, @Patrickesque!) in September 2017, a letter of intent about Trump Tower Moscow written in October 2015:…
This letter was drafted by Michael Cohen and signed by Andrey Rozov, whom I'm not sure I was familiar with before. Let's look him up.
Oh, hello. This isn't exactly fair because the article was written by @ScottStedman, who is close with Seth, but:…
Well, he's a Russian real estate developer who was a business associate of Felix Sater, but I can't quite tell if he's close with Putin. I mean, he has to be, but nobody seems to have done a deep dive yet, which is ridiculous because even though I somehow....
... never caught the Letter of Intent story, it seems like everyone else did. Talking Points Memo:…
An aside: All of these publications know all of these things. But almost no one in the mainstream media (save for a handful, most notably @JonathanChait) is willing to say -- "THEY DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!" Because this is all out in the open. They cannot put it together.
Argh. Double Argh. They could put together false shit and jump to false conclusions about the Clinton Foundation and #ButHerEmails, but they cannot get to a conclusion here that they can state directly. I want to know... what's up with that?
I've followed the political news media for 20 years, and I have made some decent contacts in the media from time to time, and I understand a lot about *why* the "liberal" media favors Republicans.
There are several reasons, and while they're all maddening (I think @Mr_Electrico is the most maddened by it), I can actually say that I know where they come from. But why can't they do #TrumpRussia? Perhaps, like Facebook, they decided that they just couldn't upset...
Republicans by undermining Russia, or maybe the media thinks this crime is too big for Americans to be exposed to (shades of Lyndon Johnson covering up Nixon's collusion with the Vietnamese), but I can't come close to a solid conclusion. What are your theories?
So, just a couple more pages of Chapter 4 here...
I wouldn't normally go into the "Buddy" letter from Felix Sater to Michael Cohen from 2015, but Abramson puts the meaning of the event into stark terms on p. 96: "... Sater committed to paper that a single real estate deal -- with Trump on one end and, it appears...
... 'Putin's team' on the other -- would allow a presidential election's outcome to be 'engineered.'" Once again, every media outlet has this e-mail, but they can't seem to come to the conclusion that there was absolutely a successful conspiracy to steal an election.
p. 98: "Yulya Alferova [JASON'S NOTE: never heard of her], the organizer of the 2013 Miss Universe pageant and an agent of the Agalarovs.... tweeted at Trump on November 12, 2015, 'Donald Trump, are you going to visit Moscow? Many thing [sic] to discuss."
The Russians clearly knew that had Trump in deep. Seth then mentions that she had posted a picture of herself with Trump and pals in 2013 to Twitter where she said, p. 98: "Waiting for your business to start in Russia, Mr. Trump.'" So, another 2013 data point.
And a follow up on the same page: "Just a few weeks after Alferova's tweet to Trump, Michael Flynn, a Trump adviser, went to Moscow and met with Vladimir Putin." We knew this part already, but having the Alferova message shortly before that tells us something.
And speaking of Flynn, from p. 100, something else of which I was not aware: "Per a March 31, 2017 Guardian article, Flynn went to work for the Kremlin's propaganda outlet, RT, as soon as he left the DIA in 2014." I knew he'd appeared on RT once or twice, but didn't know...
he actually worked for them.
And, Seth closes with talking about this, which I don't think needs any words at this point because this picture tells millions of them:
Thus ends Chapter 4. I'm going to stop for the night, but I'll do at least Chapter 5 tomorrow night, and maybe more if I'm feeling ambitious. You can buy Seth's book here:…
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