Looks like I have an hour and a half to kill... so it's time to take on the next chapter of @SethAbramson's Proof of Colluson, which you can buy here. simonandschuster.com/books/Proof-of…
The previous chapters of my readthrough are here, if you want to catch up:
This has been a really fun endeavor, and though I really started it just for tracking my own thoughts, I'm glad a lot of you seem to be enjoying it. So, on to Chapter 7: The Back Channels -- May to June 2016.
This chapter picks up after the infamous "Mayflower Speech," Trump's first major national security (or insecurity?) speech on the campaign trail in April 2016. My review of Seth's chapter on that is here. thegreatconsolidation.com/2018/11/my-rea…
"George Papadololous now urges the Russians to move forward with back-channel negotiations, which they do. At the same time, Russian hackers and propagandists redouble their efforts with the creation, in June 2016, of the DCLeaks website, the 'Guccifer 2.0' persona...
"... and two election interference plans authored by the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies."
Another aside: Good piece by @ScottMStedman about the sketchiness of Papadapolous's wife, @simonamangiante. observer.com/2018/11/george…
I'm probably going to continue to hit Papadapolous hard for the rest of this project because I find his story a ridiculous combination of fascinating and absurdly stupid.
I'm familiar with these parts of the story, but not how they tie together (warning, long excerpt): p. 142: "In June, Jared Kushner contracts with British firm Cambridge Analytica to institute a domestic 'microtargeting' scheme for Trump's general election campaign..."
"... the data compiled will be left open by Cambridge Analytica for Russian actors to steal and weaponize. That same month, the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS) [which Seth established in the last chapter, via the Washington Post, is tied to Papadopolous]..."
"... drafts two documents outlining Russia's plans for interfering in the U.S. general election. Papadoloplous had by now made a second trip to Athens, this time one scheduled to coincide with a visit to Athens by Putin himself -- the only trip Putin makes to an EU country..."
"... in 2016. Papapdopoplous once again meets with the RISS-connected Kammenos." Pausing here to point out what I didn't know was that Kushner was working with the RISS on one side which Papadopolous was doing so on another. Another coincidence.
Abramson continues: "Meanshile, Nasta Rybka, girlfriend of Russian oligarch and close Putin ally Oleg Deripaska, posts on social media that she too is in Athens... Immediately after Rybka leaves Greece, she posts on Instagram that she is now in the United Arab Emirates --"
"... a country whose crown prince will offer his assistance to the Trump campaign approximately 60 days later." Note that Eric mentions them with Saudi Arabia yesterday here:
Unfortunately, I have to pause here, but hopefully I'll be able to add more to this thread later tonight. Sorry guys!
OK, I'm back! Time to continue...
Another one of those extremely provable lies from the Trump campaign. p. 143: "When. on June 15, 2016, the Washington Post reports that the Democratic National Committee has been hacked, the Trump campaign will immediately issue a statement in response:"
"... 'We believe it was the DNC that did the 'hacking' as a way to distract from the many issues facing their deeply flawed candidate and failed party leader.'" Obvious gaslighting. But once again, the media doesn't call them on it. One side says they're hacked...
... and the other says the other side hacked themselves. Maddening.
Skipping some, but at this point Papadopoulous has gone to Greece (which is acknowledged as a place where Russians meet "Western" contacts) for a *third* time during the campaign.
p. 144: "... in late May Papadopolous meets with -- or, rather, is willing to acknowledge meeting with -- Greek president Prokopis Pavolopoulos, Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, and former prime minister Kostas Karamanlis."
And then there's a fourth trip later in the year. Once again, a not-even-30-year-old who comes from no particular background who has just emerged from an internship lying about his resume meets with Greek government officials FOUR times inside of a year on their own turf.
I don't understand in what world that makes sense. I was just going to ask Simona herself, but it looks like she blocked me today. @SethAbramson, @ScottMStedman, I'm absolutely a nobody and Mangiante can't even take light questioning from me. Another data point...
@GeorgePapa19, your wife can't tell me how the hell you went from someone who really was basically a coffee boy lying about his resume to someone who goes to Greece four times in about a year to meet with leaders in Greek government on behalf of leaders...
... of an American political party. Your block would say so much.
Hey, this silly livetweet just became a little bit eventful!
Well, @GeorgePapa19's wife, who just blocked me, p. 145: "In February 2018, [said to NPR that she can] confirm that her husband's official position is "everything [he] did was authorized by the top levels of the campaign.'"
They apparently don't like it when you get too close to the truth.
Speaking of which, p.145: "When Papadopolous returns to Greece in December, he will '[brag] that he had helped Trump win the presidency]." Oh.
Well, right after his third trip to Greece in June is where Rob Goldstone reaches out to set up the infamous Trump Tower meeting. I imagine there's not much new under the sun here for a bit, but let's see...
Stray thing I remember but no one in the press ever seems to mention much, at least when putting the story together... p. 150: "The Los Angeles Times will report that Ivanka Trump spoke to Veselnitskaya and Akhmetshin after their meeting with Trump Jr., Kushner..."
"... and Manafort ended. Ivanka will not voluntarily reveal her contact with the Russians on June 9th at any point..."
Soon after the Trump Tower meeting, p. 150: "Rob Goldstone again sends an email to Trump's secretary Rhona Graff: 'I am following up... [on[ something I had mentioned to Don [Jr.[ and Paul Manafort... There are believed to be around 2 million Russian-American voters..."
"... living in the USA and more than 1.6 million of these use the Russian 'Facebook'.... As I mentioned to you guys.... they want to create a Vote Trump 2016 promotion aired directly at these users, people who will be voting in November..."
"... At the time Paul [Manafort] said he would welcome it." @ForecasterEnten, I believe you said recently that you don't think the Russians had an effect on the 2016 election, but boy, did they put in a lot of effort into accomplishing nothing.
Lots more Papadopolous, Butina, Erickson, Sessions, and other dreck going on here. But let's get back to Carter Page, p. 153: "It is during this period [June 2016] that Page receives an invitation to speak in Moscow; according to his congressional testimony..."
"... he informs Jeff Sessions, J.D. Gordon, Corey Lewandowski, and Hope Hicks, Trump's personal assistant, about his planned trip, and none of them offers any objection." Yeah, they didn't know anything....
"Page says he informs Sessions of his upcoming trip to Moscow at a dinner at the Capitol Hill Club... this dinner also appears to be one of those to which Sessions invited Alfa Bank advisory board member and Gazprom lobbyist Richard Burt..."
"... Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks will say, "I don't believe Mr. Trump or our policy staff has ever met Mr. Burt."
If you hadn't noticed, there's an awful lot of lying going on by an awful lot of people. In fact, as we know by now, basically everyone in Trump's orbit lies profusely. So either they're lying to cover up #TrumpRussia collusion, or they're lying to cover up something else.
Or, they all just lie because they all just lie. But that'd be silly, right? So why do you think they're all lying?
The next section goes into the Trump campaign's digital strategy, which is pretty well documented... the Cambridge Analytica/Mercer/Mike Flynn/etc connections and the work CA and their parent company SCL did for the Trump campaign.
Here's where I want to skip again, because there's someone here that I can't really do justice to, but I think deserves even more digging -- @parscale -- Brad Parscale (let's see if I can get another Trumper to block me tonight for hitting too close to home.
Back in April, I was working on a post with the help of the amazing @TheRynheart about Brad Parscale, who directed digital media from Trump's 2016 campaign and is now the director of the whole Trump 2020 campaign.
Parscale goes on TV and is swooned upon by pundits as some brilliant genius.
But there were two reasons @TheRynheart and I never finished the post. One was that I simply didn't have time, and the second was that, well, he didn't make for an interesting post.
Sometimes I'll finish writing something even though I'm so exhausted just because there's so much I want to suss out (like the contents of this book), but Parscale's story is hard to follow and really, pretty boring.
I mean, Trump seems to have picked him because "he was good at 'the cyber'" (read: he knows where the power button is on a laptop). He'd done incredible work for Trump like this website for Trump Wines: trumpwinery.com/winery/our-tea…
Which, of course, isn't incredible at all. He worked with also-not-incredible-at-all Jared Kushner on the digital campaign strategy, but apparently really farmed it out to Cambridge Analytica. p. 154: "Kushner's hiring of Brad Parscale was what led to the Trump campaign..."
"... contracting with British firm Cambridge Analytica...." Why did hiring Brad Parscale lead to that? He was about 35 at the time.
I think I'm noticing a pattern. The Russians pick otherwise unremarkable, actually kind of stupid, people on the younger side (Parscale, Papadopolous, Kushner) and use framing of them as wunderkinds, a genre of story that the American press loves to run with...
... to cover up what they're actually doing underneath. Having just done another binge-through of Breaking Bad, this reminds me of the #1 worst plot device (by far) that Breaking Bad used... when Walter Jr. created a primitive equivalent of a GoFundMe page to pay...
... for his father's cancer treatment, and then Saul Goodman took advantage of it to launder hundreds of thousands of dollars. It was so horrendous that if it happened a season earlier I probably would've given up on the show.
Yet, it may be the best explanation I can come up with for the elevation of these characters. Frankly, if it is true that the Russians had been looking at Trump as Presidential material since his 30s (and there's a decent amount of evidence), there's a pattern here.
Looking into this pattern is beyond the scope of what I'm doing here, but there's a thread someone could potentially pick up and run with. Are there equivalents in the other European countries whose elections Russia has interfered? The African ones? Worth exploring.
Closing that loop for now, p. 155: "The Washington Post reported that the original impetus behind the campaign's use of Cambridge Analytica was to secure the unlimited financial support [of the Mercers]." But why did they need Parscale to do it? It doesn't even seem like...
... he was even talented or knowledgeable enough to be a conduit between the campaign and Cambridge Analytica, even if he wasn't doing the work himself.
The next section has to do with the Brexit-Trump campaign connection, which Abramson does good work on. But things move fast, and I think these two articles will give you a better idea of where that stands now: nybooks.com/daily/2018/11/…
... and the presence of Steve Bannon (have I even mentioned his name yet?) here: opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/p…
Just one more thing on Brexit... p. 157: "During his July 2018 visit to England, the British government had to explicitly forbid Trump from meeting with Farage." This appears to be a bit of a pattern: businessinsider.com/france-request…
That closes Chapter 7. I think I'm done for the night, but we're halfway through the book, and it was only released four days ago, so I think that's a good pace. You never know, though... just since four days ago a few things have come up to serve as substantial...
.... addenda to this volume. I hope @SethAbramson is already going on a second book in the series! Anyway, buy the first one, and I'll try to do another chapter or two tomorrow. I might finish by Thanksgiving! simonandschuster.com/books/Proof-of…
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