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Seth Abramson @SethAbramson
, 51 tweets, 10 min read Read on Twitter
(THREAD) A couple days ago, MSNBC's @maddow presented compelling preliminary evidence that Trump gets intelligence and propaganda from Kremlin sources. Tonight I'll add to her report in a significant way by discussing the meeting pictured below. I hope you'll read on and retweet.
1/ VANITY FAIR has credited this feed with being the first to recognize the significance of the March 31, 2016 meeting Trump convened—at the Trump International Hotel DC—of his "National Security Advisory Committee." I can tell you @NatashaBertrand deserves a lot of credit, too.
2/ It was a single line from an article (below) Bertrand published on March 3, 2017 that caused me to spend hundreds of tweets dissecting all aspects of a meeting media had previously thought unimportant.

It turns out it could be more key than I realized.…
3/ Bertrand's story revealed that, per the number-2 man on Trump's National Security Advisory Committee—J.D. Gordon—Trump personally ordered the Committee to amend the RNC platform on Ukraine to benefit the Kremlin, and issued his orders at a March 2016 national security meeting.
4/ I found that odd—so I tried to figure out what the meeting was and who'd attended. I quickly found the picture now atop this thread, and having spotted a ridiculously young man sitting among Trump's national security advisors, I presumed it was George Papadopoulos. And it was.
5/ Writing PROOF OF COLLUSION gave me the opportunity and impetus to learn more about that March 31, 2016 meeting of Trump's "National Security Advisory Committee" than, well, anybody but Mueller and his team, I imagine. I relentlessly timelined and researched every aspect of it.
6/ But there was one mystery I was never able to resolve, and therefore isn't resolved in PROOF OF COLLUSION—despite the book's thorough accounting of that meeting and why it matters (and what its aftermath was). The mystery: *who the hell put a bug in Trump's ear about Ukraine*?
7/ The question was an important one because here was Trump, at a March '16 meeting, having never yet delivered a foreign policy address, and having virtually no knowledge of foreign affairs, issuing an edict on Ukraine to his team for a convention he might never even make it to.
8/ Trump wouldn't issue his first foreign policy address until 4 weeks later (April 27 at the Mayflower Hotel), and reporting since has revealed that that speech was written in April, not before—and not by Trump. (It was written by three Kremlin agents, but that's another story).
9/ Moreover, Trump's Kremlin agent-penned foreign policy speech *had no Ukraine policy*—Richard Burt, a Kremlin agent, saw to that—so how did Trump have such a forceful and *specific* Ukraine policy on March 31, 2016? One *so forceful* it directed his aides' actions months later?
10/ I think I know the answer—in fact, it's obvious. But let me make two notes first: (1) We know Trump is nervous about that meeting because he and his aides have lied about what happened at it and whether it was substantive; (2) Trump tells friends Paul Manafort could sink him.
11/ NBC reported the latter fact in January '18; Trump privately told friends the Mueller probe wouldn't hurt him *because* Manafort wasn't going to "flip" on him. (The obvious question: about *what*?) The first fact has been recorded repeatedly—in every story about that meeting.
12/ Trump said he didn't remember the meeting and nothing happened at it; Gordon says the meeting directed Trump's position on a key RNC platform plank. Trump, Manafort, and Gordon said Trump had nothing to do with the plank change, but Gordon (and others) have since said he did.
13/ Trump wants us to believe he doesn't remember that meeting at the Trump International Hotel in D.C. He *also* wants us to believe that nothing important happened at the meeting once the press was ushered out. But he's lying—which means he remembers it, and it was *important*.
14/ Here's the part where I remind everyone that Trump hired Manafort—an agent of the Kremlin in Ukraine for many years—96 hours before he held the first meeting of his National Security Advisory Committee. But wait! you say. How do you know Manafort told him to hold the meeting?
15/ Well, here's the thing: the first guy Trump hired to his National Security Advisory Committee was Carter Page, and Page—a once-suspected Russian spy—was so unqualified we can reasonably say his selection for Trump's committee was the best thing that had ever happened to him.
16/ Yet when you look at the pic atop this thread, you don't see Carter Page. That's right—Page *skipped out* on the first-ever meeting of a committee the elevation to which was the *literal highlight* of his entire professional career. Isn't that odd? And where was Page? Hawaii.
17/ Page's Hawaii trip was for business—but not such important business it warranted missing the March 31, 2016 meeting of a committee he was the first man selected to. No—what happened is Trump set up the first meeting of his National Security Advisory Committee on short notice.
18/ We certainly know that the meeting was set up on relatively short notice, as Trump had only *announced* the first few members of his National Security Advisory Committee ten days earlier, and in the ten days between March 21, 2016 and March 31, 2016 selected the rest of them.
19/ But Page not being able to make the meeting suggests the timing of the set-up of the meeting was very short indeed—which would match the very short timing for the scheduling of Trump's first foreign policy speech, which was *officially* an event Manafort was responsible for.
20/ But Manafort was only hired as a "delegate counter" on March 27, 2016. He wasn't hired to manage/direct *any portion* of the campaign's policy agenda. Indeed, he wasn't even supposed to have a purpose until the Republican National Convention in July—if Trump made it that far.
21/ Yet within *96 hours* of Kremlin-agent/Ukraine-specialist Manafort being hired, Trump has:

(1) Suddenly scheduled a national security meeting;
(2) Developed a full Ukraine policy;
(3) Decided to order his team to make a pro-Kremlin amendment to the RNC platform on Ukraine.
22/ So let me now drop the other shoe: when JD Gordon arranged the pro-Kremlin amendment to the RNC platform on Ukraine in July '16—and after Trump, Manafort, and Gordon had *all* lied about the campaign's role in that change—someone *did* take credit for that pro-Kremlin action.
23/ The man who took credit? *Konstantin Kilimnick*—a Kremlin agent who was Manafort's former associate in working for Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska (who's said he considers himself "one with the State [Kremlin]"). Kilimnick ran around Europe saying *he* made the change happen.
24/ Mueller has since *indicted* Kilimnick—and almost no one talks about it. Usually Kilimnick is lumped in with all the other Russians and Russian allies Mueller has indicted. But he's *so much more than that*. He could be the key to an entire sector of Mueller's collusion case.
25/ Manafort made his first entreaty to Trump to hire him (he told Trump pal Thomas Barrack that he "had to get to Trump") at the very end of February 2016. Somewhere in the month between February 27, 2016 and March 27, 2016, Manafort talked his way onto Trump's team. That's key.
26/ It's key because here's what happened between February 27, 2016 and March 27, 2016:

1. Paul Manafort went to visit Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London (Assange would later release Kremlin-stolen materials to help Trump);
2. The Kremlin approached Papadopoulos.
27/ Below is a link to the story on the Manafort-Assange meeting. But just as important as Manafort (who appears likely to have inspired and written the script for the March 31, 2016 meeting at "TIHDC") is Papadopoulos, who *attended* the meeting—and more.…
28/ At the March 31, 2016 meeting Papadopoulos informed Trump he was a Kremlin intermediary trying to set up a secret Trump-Putin summit. I started writing avidly about this meeting because I felt that if they discussed Russia there, Papadopoulos would've *had to* reveal himself.
29/ I turned out to be right—but also wrong. I was right that Papadopoulos made an announcement on that day, but wrong to think the TIHDC meetup was the first time Trump had heard of the Kremlin approaching his aide. Reporting since '16 has revealed Trump *didn't seem surprised*.
30/ The upshot: if @maddow wants to know how early Trump had a Kremlin asset whispering obscure foreign policy advice in his ear, don't just look post-inauguration. The evidence suggests that by March 2016, Trump knew the Kremlin's esoteric agenda *and* was willing to execute it.
31/ Remember that Manafort, who "had to get to Trump"—apparently to get him to order his national security team to execute a Ukraine policy devised by the Kremlin—later offered Deripaska ("one with the State") private briefings. When did he make his offer? 2 weeks before the RNC.
32/ So by March 31, 2016, when he ordered his team to take action to benefit the Kremlin, Trump knew (a) the Kremlin had begun the process of establishing a backchannel with him, and (b) had either sent or simply would be pleased to learn he had a prior Kremlin agent on his team.
33/ It's more likely Trump knew Manafort was a de facto Kremlin mouthpiece—not just a sympathizer—because a) he now says Manafort could sink him, b) we know Manafort was in contact with the Kremlin (Deripaska), and c) a Kremlin agent says the RNC platform change was Kremlin work.
34/ But there's more: we actually *know* Manafort pitched himself to Trump as someone who knew the Kremlin's mind, because public reporting has given us the list of "talking points" Manafort gave to Thomas Barrack to convince Trump to hire him, and they featured his foreign work.
35/ What would remain *obscure* would be Trump's motive for so *quickly* scheduling a National Security Advisory Committee meeting to order a pro-Kremlin Ukraine policy after he hired Manafort...

...*if* we didn't know that he'd just learned about Papadopoulos' Kremlin contacts.
36/ Those contacts confirmed the Kremlin's support for his campaign—Putin wanted a secret summit with him—*at the same time* that Manafort would have been delivering to him information about *WikiLeaks*, the entity that would ultimately work with the Kremlin to get Trump elected.
37/ So when Trump expeditiously scheduled a NatSec meeting after hiring Manafort, and at the meeting executed what he reliably thought was a Kremlin agenda, and—per 3 meeting attendees who spoke to Mueller—let Papadopoulos be encouraged in his Kremlin meetups, it all makes sense.
38/ Moreover, Mueller has *already charged* all three of the key players here—Papadopoulos, Manafort, and Kilimnick—and got *some* cooperation from Papadopoulos, tried but failed to get *full* cooperation from Manafort, and regrettably can't physically access Kilimnick right now.
39/ But what the timeline seems to confirm is that—once the Kremlin reached out to his campaign, and once Manafort spilled the Kremlin's agenda into Trump's ear—Trump *uncritically executed that agenda* as quickly and expeditiously as he possibly could. And he went still further.
40/ Immediately after the March 31, 2016 meeting at Trump International Hotel in DC, Trump *put Papadopoulos on the speech-editing team* for his first foreign policy speech—a speech Manafort (*publicly* a mere "delegate counter") was apparently tasked with setting up, and *ASAP*.
41/ The Trump camp then breached diplomatic protocol—and the Kremlin breached diplomatic protocol—by having the Kremlin's top agent in the US, Sergey Kislyak, attend Trump's Mayflower Speech *and even meet Trump and members of the National Security Advisory Committee beforehand*.
42/ And was Trump *rewarded* for executing a complex Kremlin policy agenda he didn't understand on March 31, 2016? Of course! He and Sessions encouraged Papadopoulos to continue meeting with his Kremlin contact... who in a few weeks revealed the Kremlin had stolen Clinton emails.
43/ And the Kremlin made sure Papadopoulos got that information before the big (Kremlin agent-written and -edited) foreign policy speech Manafort had set up and the Kremlin itself—in the person of Kislyak—was attending. Trump had offered the quid, and Clinton emails were the quo.
44/ It almost makes you think that, as of May 2016, Trump and his team were *expecting* some kind of outreach from a Kremlin agent offering them *illicit Clinton documents* that could help Trump win the election...

...which of course then occurred in the first week of June 2016.
45/ The point is that Trump was knowingly implementing Kremlin policy that he didn't even understand and had had no prior experience with or knowledge of as *late* as March 2016—so, probably earlier—and was doing so at a time when he expected Kremlin assistance with the election.
46/ I think @maddow is therefore *right* to say that Trump has a history of exhibiting obscure knowledge of the Kremlin's agenda entirely out of keeping with his level of knowledge on foreign policy, but wrong to think that that's a recent development. It's been so from the jump.
47/ Understand that what we're speaking of is a "meeting of the minds" on a course of illegal action—Bribery, Conspiracy to Commit Election Fraud, Conspiracy to Defraud the United States, Aiding and Abetting Computer Crimes, and Illegal Solicitation of Foreign Campaign Donations.
48/ This explains why Manafort took the extraordinary step of breaking his cooperation deal, even though doing so could cost him many more years in prison; it explains why Trump has told friends that Manafort could sink him; it explains how/why the Kilimnick indictment is so key.
49/ It also gives the lie to the idea that the Papadopoulos, Manafort and Kilimnick indictments had little to do with Trump-Russia collusion—when it's clear all of them were intended in part to get to key players in a Trump-Russia quid pro quo that occurred almost in plain sight.
50/ When a theory of the case comports with every known piece of evidence—every part of a timeline, every covert meeting and lie told, every mystery that otherwise has no reasonable explanation—you focus on it like a laser as an investigator. Media should start doing so too. /end
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