After a couple of days off, I’m resuming my livetweet of my reading of Seth Abramson’s Proof of Collusion. You can buy a copy of Seth’s book here: simonandschuster.com/books/Proof-of…
Archives of my takes on the first seven chapters can be found here:
A reminder: I’m not trying to summarize or review the book; I’m just sharing the things in the book that I find really consequential, particularly things I didn’t know about #TrumpRussia before.
Chapter 8 is entitled “The Republican National Convention: July 2016.” In broad strokes, this was the convention where Trump painted an extremely dark picture of America, as well as where...
... Paul Manafort and other members of Trump’s team changed the platform of the convention to support Putin’s actions in Ukraine.
p. 162: “As the month begins, it is clear that America’s electoral infrastructure is under significant, sustained attack; by the last week of the month, it is nearly certain that the Russians are behind this attack.”
“The certainty that these attacks are benefitting only the Trump campaign encourages Trump’s team to draw itself still closer to the Russians. In this effort, campaign staffers are emboldened by the candidate himself.:"
p. 163: “On May 16, 2016, Carter Page proposes in an email to Walid Phares and J.D. Gordon [two other members of Trump’s foreign policy team] that Trump make a trip to Moscow in place of Page himself…
Page writes, in part, ‘As discussed, my strategy in order to keep in sync with the media relations guidelines of the campaign has been to make my key messages as low-key and apolitical as possible...."
"... But after seeing the principal’s [Trump’s] tweet, I got another idea. If he’d like to take my place and raise the temperature a little bit, of course I’d be more than happy to yield the honor to him."
Roughly the same time, our friend George Papadapolous proposed something similar.
Paul Manafort wrote to Rick Gates, p. 164: “We need someone to communicate [to the Russians] that DT [Donald Trump] is not doing these trips… It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any ‘signal.’”
They all knew what they were doing was wrong and illegal, which is why they tried to hide it.
p. 165: “Between January and November 2017, Page will maintain that he spoke ‘not one word’ to anyone from the Kremlin when he was in Moscow in July 2017…”
But this was blatantly false: “[In] a July 2016 email he sent to Gordon and Tera Dahl, ‘an ally of Steve Bannon’s,’ according to CNN – in which he discussed the ‘incredible insights and outreach’ from ‘Russian legislators’ and..."
"...‘senior members of the Presidential administration [in Moscow]…” as he was forced to admit to Adam Schiff in testimony before Congress."
Once again, if you believe that a huge story (like Russian collusion) happened, and a principal in the story says he or she didn’t take a particular action that could mostly only be explained if the greater story is true, and...
it turns out that principal lied, that is, at least empirically if not legally, evidence that the gist of the whole story is true.
Just going to digress for a minute, because I’d never heard the name Tera Dahl. Ah, a Breitbart "reporter," who ended up working for the NSC for a few months. Seems qualified... thehill.com/homenews/admin…
Around the same time, Felix Sater is trying to arrange for Michael Cohen to go to Russia with Dmitri Peskov’s [one of Putin’s top confidants] help, and Cohen declines, p. 168 “’… citing the difficulty of attending so close to the GOP convention,’” according to WaPo.
But instead, p. 168: “… Cohen was indeed busy in the twelve days immediately prior to the 2016 Republican National Convention; he was on ‘vacation.’”
“According to Cohen, his pre-convention vacation saw him sunning in Italy with actor and E Street Band guitarist Steven van Zandt."
p.169, “[Cohen] said credit card receipts would prove he stayed in Capri… but he declined to make those receipts available.”
The Little Stevie aspect is one I wasn’t familiar with until very recently, but it makes the story verifiable (or able to be proven wrong).
“Roger Friedman, a longtime Fox News journalist and the founder of the entertainment news website, Showbiz 411, says… ‘Sources tell me that Maureen van Zandt, Steve’s wife, has confirmed that even though she was in Rome with her husband at the time for work..."
"... they know nothing about Cohen or his statement. They weren’t in Capri.’” Wouldn’t that be something if Little Stevie had to testify? This story has everything!
But, why would this matter? “Buzzfeed calls Cohen’s claim that he was in Italy when the Steele dossier says he went to Prague in the summer of 2016 ‘intriguing.”
No one has been able to prove yet that Cohen went to Prague (to meet with Russians), but it’s the one thing that the Trumpers have hung their hats on to try to discredit the Steele dossier.
Well… p. 170, “On April 13, 2018, McClatchy will break the news that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has evidence Cohen did indeed go to Prague in the time frame alleged in the Steele dossier…”
I don’t believe we know what that evidence is, but according to Buzzfeed, p. 170. “’The Steele dossier claims that Cohen was dispatched to Prague to ‘clean up the mess’ left behind by two revelations: that Trump’s former campaign manager..."
"... Paul Manafort had a financial relationship with a politically toxic Ukrainian president and that campaign adviser Carter Page visited top Russian officials [in Moscow in July].’”"
Well, Cohen’s a “fixer,” or at least was one before he apparently flipped on Trump, so this would make sense. And, p. 170, “Cohen entered Italy just a day after Page left Moscow.”
In effect, proving Prague would leave few, if any major holes, in Steele’s account (though even if half of it was true, it’s all huge). @BooMan23 said a while back that if the Prague story is proven, "if Michael Cohen went to Prague, Trump will be removed from office."
I’m not sure I agree, because unless Mueller does actually try to indict Trump, we can be pretty sure that 20-odd Republicans in the Senate will not vote to remove him from office.
But as of January, the Democrats in Congress can start revealing a lot of what they know and subpoenaing Trump’s associates. So, at the very least, we'd have a detail that convinces more of the public that Trump and his cronies committed the crimes of which they’re being accused.
It’s been well established that J.D. Gordon was the one who pushed the RNC to change its language on Ukraine, but this is important, p. 171: “When Diana Denman, the sponsor of the platform language on lethal weaponry in Ukraine resists, Gordon persists, telling her…
"'that he has… spoken to Trump several times and that Trump wants the language changed.'” Trump, of course, has said he had nothing to do with it, but I have a feeling we’re going to see proof he did.
I love the punchline here, p. 175: “Vox contacted all twenty-six members of the Senate Armed Services Committee and not one had met with Russia’s ambassador in 2016; meanwhile, Sessions had encountered the Russian ambassador three times… "
And then the Atlantic’s @juliaioffe asked a senior Republican Senate staffer in June 2017 whether Sessions “was known as a foreign-policy specialist who met regularly with ambassadors during his 20 years in the Senate,’..."
"... the staffer’s incredulous response was, ‘Is that a serious question? He’s clueless.’”
That’s it for Chapter 8. I’m going to get going on Chapter 9 now in a new thread. You can buy Seth’s book here: simonandschuster.com/books/Proof-of…
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