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Thomas A. Fine 🇺🇸 @thomasafine
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This is a really excellent breakdown by @maddow about what a lot of us have believed for months, now with an "official" stamp of approval.
But no, @maddow, Peskov was not the mastermind. He was just another pawn Putin used, in a very, very long list of pawns, longer than anyone knows.

Putin was the mastermind.
There's another thing that's being missed here. It was missed by @maddow. It was missed (or not highlighted) by @a_cormier_ and @JasonLeopold who have done ton of groundwork on the Trump Tower Moscow deal and wrote this excellent review article:…
And that missing fact is this:

Russia was NEVER EVER GOING TO BUILD Trump's tower.
While we keep looking at this from Trump's perspective we need to see Putin's perspective. His plan was to infiltrate America's political infrastructure. Creating an actual building with an above-board business deal doesn't do that at all.
The way you compromise people (the primary way, even better than pee tapes, which I'll get to later in this thread) is with: MONEY. You dirty people up with shady financial deals that they can't disclose.
As @ScottMStedman detailed in a story still yet to hit the mainstream, the Trump Tower Moscow deal involved a mystery loan with the money going... who knows where?…
It's not a rhetorical question. Because Russians knows where that money went. As @maddow pointed out about the sanctions negotiations, it was secret to us, but not to Russia. For them it became leverage.
If the Russians wanted to build an actual tower, the tallest in Moscow based on the plans found by @a_cormier_ and @JasonLeopold, they could have made an above-board deal with the Trump organization which could have taken it over as Trump transitioned to political power.
Imagine foreign investors wanting to build a foreign branded hotel as the tallest building in Manhattan. Maybe slightly taller, but not this phallic monstrosity. No chance of this every happening. It was an appeal Trump's vanity, not reality.
If we take this a step further, what was Putin's plan, when did it start, and how big and complicated was it. The above stuff is a simple Tower-for-sanctions deal. But what about the DNC hack? What about Cambridge Analytica, and the Internet Research Agency, and Miss Universe?
Our view of the case, Mueller's view of Trump's campaign crimes, is tiny compared to the entirety of what happened here. I believe the Magnitsky Act in late 2012 was Putin's last straw, when he decided to directly launch a vast soft attack against our country.
This is why I created this timeline of events from late 2012 up to the Miss Universe pageant. Putin was already targeting Trump by this time.…
No, he probably didn't think he could make Trump president then. But he wanted inroads into our political system. Trump was a juicy target, who already had some Russian links and aspirations, as well as political aspirations (don't forget he ran for president in 2012).
And I'm sure they already know how corrupt Trump was. He was an easy target. How he might be used was irrelevant. Political spoiler? To make further connections and corruptions? It didn't matter.
So I don't think it's a coincidence that in 2013, the Agalarovs made a series of moves to get closer to Trump. They invited Olivia Culpo, 2012 Miss Universe, to their own 2013 Miss Russia competition, which I assume was not a free thing. It got their foot in the door.
Immediately after that, Emin and Rob Goldstone were in Manhattan, two blocks from Trump, at the Miss Universe Organization headquarters (owned by Trump), negotiating for Ms. Culpo to be in a video with Emin. And probably also to host Miss Universe.
Emin was in New York five times just in March of 2013. By June the Agalarovs were in Las Vegas signing the 20 million dollar deal to host Miss Universe. My expectation is that part of this deal already, by June, involved Trump Tower Moscow.
They all publicly announced the Trump Tower Moscow deal immediately after Miss Universe. According to Russian Roulette and other sources, when Trump was in Moscow he met a bunch of bankers, and was toured around town by the Agalarovs to look at possible building locations.
There are those who want to make a clear distinction between the 2013 Trump Tower Moscow proposal and the 2015 Trump Tower deal. To me, it's all part of the same thing. On Trump's side, a continuous effort to make this deal. On Putin's side, an effort to compromise Trump.
If the goal was to compromise, and the tower was never going to be built, then the Agalarovs were always only a weigh-station. Aras is a legitimate builder and developer who deals with real projects. To compromise Trump would have to involve shadier people and shadier deals.
So did the pee tape ever really happen? It may have, but it's almost irrelevant. It works as well as planted intelligence as it does real intelligence. The primary kompromat is all the secret business deals they got Trump involved in using his lust for Trump Tower Moscow.
Regardless of the truth of the pee tape, they wanted public hints out there that such a thing existed. As I detailed in an very little-read article, Organized Russian trolls locked on to Trump immediately after Miss Universe.…
Don't forget other 2013 events. Rykov engaged with Trump in late 2012. Russians began courting Fox News producer Jack Hanick in 2013 to come to Russia to start a TV channel. And Maria Butina hosted NRA president David Keene in Moscow.
These are just the things we know about because they bore fruit.
2014 was relatively quiet. I mean, Russia invaded the Ukraine and accepted their ousted Russian figurehead president in exile (still a possibility for Trump). Ivanka went to Moscow. Butina met many many NRA chiefs and U.S. politicians. Emin visited repeatedly.
They hired Jack Hanick. They accidentally shot down and airline flight. Rykov blogged about Trump repeatedly. And the FSB infiltrated our state department. But things didn't really heat up until 2015, when Trump actually began to appear viable.
2015 onward is a much better-known story and I'll leave those details for others, or for another day. But from Putin's perspective, in 2015 the Trump operation grew into a vast effort involving thousands. Propganda, hacking, Kompromat, money operations.
Putins' view of this entire operation has gotten lost in the past year as we focus on Trump's crimes, but the crimes committed by Trump are only one tiny corner of what Putin did in his assault on our country.

At some point, we're going to have to tell that whole story.
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