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(THREAD) Some smart folks in independent and corporate media are being obtuse about whether Trump was in negotiations for *1 Moscow tower or 2* during the period of time such negotiations would be relevant to Mueller's probe. I break it down here. Hope you'll read on and retweet.
1/ First, understand that as both a legal matter *and* a political matter the importance—indeed necessity—of correctly discussing *two* Trump Tower Moscow deals rather than one has nothing to do with the date range some who know better focus on: June 16, 2015 to November 8, 2016.
2/ *Legally*, as a matter of Bribery—a discrete federal crime designated as an impeachable offense in the Constitution—the question is whether Trump participated in a course of conduct that began *anytime* pre-election and had him promising specific policy as POTUS for *payment*.
3/ *Politically*, Trump's tweets denying ties to Russia—a political malfeasance that could contribute in small part to Conspiracy to Defraud the U.S. charges—purposefully didn't specify dates. Trump was just telling us his foreign policy was unaffected by business considerations.
4/ So as an *initial* matter, *any* journalist who focuses your attention on (or restricts facts' "relevance" to) a specific date range (usually, but not always, June 16, 2015 to November 8, 2016) has absolutely *no* legal or political (let alone journalistic) basis for doing so.
5/ Trump lawyer Michael Cohen began preparing for an eventual Trump POTUS run in 2008; Trump adviser Sam Nunberg says Trump decided to run in 2016 in November of 2012; Trump pal/adviser Roger Stone says Trump made an irrevocable decision to run on January 1, 2013 *at the latest*.
6/ So whether we're doing a legal, political, *or* journalistic analysis, we're going to begin—*must* begin—at the point Trump was even *capable* of forming a criminal mens rea, committing a political "crime," or entering a journalist-cognizable scandal: the day he chose to run.
7/ I've been generous to Trump and set January 1, 2013 as that date—even though everyone knows Trump had made up his mind *well* before that. But let's begin our analysis on January 1, 2013, as after that point Trump was open for business in terms of bribery or political scandal.
8/ Between January 1, 2013 and November 7, 2013, Trump did *so* much negotiating for a "Trump Tower Moscow" with business partner (and Kremlin agent) Aras Agalarov he was able to show up at the Miss Universe pageant weekend in Moscow in November 2013 with the deal basically done.
9/ Within *a day* of landing in Moscow, the Trump-Agalarov deal was announced. That tells us when Trump did his negotiating—between June 16, 2013 (when he first met the Agalarovs at the Miss USA pageant) and November 7, 2013, the day before he arrived in Moscow for Miss Universe.
10/ For two high-profile billionaires to announce a *multibillion-dollar, transnational real estate partnership* at an event watched by *tens of millions of people around the world* requires a certain amount of dedicated back-and-forth on the basic contours of such a major deal.
11/ Perhaps it's no surprise, then, that while Trump was in Moscow stories were being written in Russian media establishing the deal's SITE, DESIGN PLANS, and rough details on FUNDING, and—of course—the PLAYERS. These things had to have been worked on before Trump went to Moscow.
12/ In Moscow Trump met with the other PLAYERS in the deal—while later refusing to say who he met with, besides that they were the "top people." Well we now know who they were: Gref, head of a Kremlin bank; Kozhin, the Kremlin's permits man; and Agalarov, the Kremlin's developer.
13/ Let me take a moment here to note how much/little we know about the *other* "Trump Tower Moscow" deal people are hyping. We know the funding for the 2015 "Trump-Rozov" deal, and we know the site—and today we learned about the design plans. The Kremlin's involvement is *iffy*.
14/ I say the Kremlin's involvement is "iffy" because Cohen spent *ten months* on the 2015 Trump-Rozov deal before he got the Kremlin's attention—and even then, it was just Trump's "Russian rainmaker" Felix Sater telling Cohen that Putin's lieutenant might be willing to meet him.
15/ By contrast, the Trump-Agalarov deal was negotiated with a Kremlin banker, Kremlin developer, and Kremlin official—in short, it was a deal *with Kremlin agents* from start to finish. And it had the same features—Letter of Intent, design plans, funding—as the Trump-Rozov deal.
16/ Moreover, public acknowledgment of the Trumps' level of involvement in the Trump-Agalarov deal well outstrips the public evidence we have of the Trumps' involvement in the Rozov deal. Right now all the information we have on the latter comes from two sources—Sater and Cohen.
17/ With Trump-Agalarov, you have numerous acknowledgments by Trump, Aras Agalarov, Emin Agalarov, Don Jr., Ivanka, Sberbank—who announced funding for the project days after Trump left Moscow in 2013—The Moscow Times, Russian construction websites, *many* eyewitnesses, and more.
18/ So how about the *third* time-period we can break down the Trump-Agalarov deal into: November 11, 2013 (Trump's return from Moscow) to June 16, 2015 (the date of his *official* announcement of a run)? Well, *this* was an active time-period for the Trump-Agalarov deal as well.
19/ Donald Trump Jr. acknowledges spending months working on the deal. Ivanka travels to Moscow to look into additional details. Aras and Emin Agalarov are in regular contact with multiple Trumps—Emin in person several times. But there's even more evidence for us to look at here.
20/ In a July 2017 Forbes interview, Emin Agalarov reveals that Trump *announced his run for president*—this would be June 16, 2015—"during" the ongoing negotiations on the Trump-Agalarov tower, which negotiations included either a Letter of Intent, NDA, or (more probably) both.
21/ So Emin is confirming active discussions on the Trump-Agalarov deal from November 11, 2013 through *at least* June 16, 2015—negotiations that included the completion of the funding piece (mid-November '13) and other business actions of a journalistically cognizable character.
22/ Mind you, during this period Trump has *told GOP officials he's running for president* (December '13) and Cohen has *put presidential polls in the field* for Trump. All his advisers agree he was definitely going to run for president during this period when he was negotiating.
23/ The reason journalists don't lay out for you the legal significance of Trump announcing his presidential run is that—well—there isn't any. The Bribery statute doesn't address candidates—one can begin one's criminal course of conduct under the Bribery statute pre-announcement.
24/ Rather, the operative question is whether Trump was in a position to *have something to offer* (i.e. policy positions based not in an Oath of Office, American interests, or anything he ever promised on the campaign trail but rather his own enrichment) in exchange for *money*.
25/ The Trump-Agalarov deal—*far* more documented; *far* more Kremlin-tied; *far* more advanced (as we'll see) in becoming reality than "Trump-Rozov"—was being *actively* negotiated while Trump had policy promises he could make the Kremlin *and* is betrayed by his "no deals" lie.
26/ But wait! you say. Are you suggesting there's *no evidence* the deal remained active in our *fourth* time-period of assessment—June 16, 2015 to November 8, 2016 (Election Day)? Not at all. Not least because Aras Agalarov conspired with the Trumps in crimes during that period.
27/ Aras and Emin Agalarov set up the June 2016 meeting at which multiple Kremlin agents *entered Trump's home* to offer *stolen documents*—an offer every bit as illegal as Don Jr.'s active solicitation/acceptance of it. And the Agalarovs had access to Trump as business partners.
28/ I'm not saying Don Jr. responding to Aras and Emin's entreaties *within minutes* is the best sign that the Trump-Agalarov deal was *active*, i.e. that the Agalarovs were in no sense "ex-partners" of the Trumps—though of course it *is* a sign. No—we have much better than that.
29/ In fact, *Aras Agalarov himself* told a major Russian website (a Russian real estate watchdog/news site) that his deal with Trump—a Letter of Intent with design plans *and* funding for the project via a Kremlin bank—was *active* through February 2017: russianconstruction.com/news-1/26505-r…
30/ Notice Agalarov's language to RIA Novosti (covered by Construction.RU) in February 2017: the deal became "irrelevant" (he doesn't even say "inactive") only "after" Trump was elected on November 8, 2016. And it was only post-inauguration he felt he "couldn't do deals."
31/ (Note: this Construction.RU article used to be freely available in full. I find it interesting, as how could any of us not, that it was suddenly put, at least partially, behind a firewall.)
32/ Journalists who just aren't up on the Agalarov deal now ask us to think that a) the Trump-Agalarov deal ended *at the latest* on June 15, 2015, b) Aras waited *20 months* to say so—then inexplicably attributed it to Trump's *election*, not his *decision to run*. That's silly.
33/ But even if you still had doubt on this, we could go right back to Emin Agalarov's July 2017 Forbes interview to see that in fact Aras *wasn't* calling the Trump-Agalarov deal dead—or, as he said, oddly, "irrelevant"—in February '17. He was just saying *Trump* couldn't do it.
34/ Here's another excerpt from that Forbes interview with Emin Agalarov from July 2017. There are a *number* of things I've highlighted here that demand some additional discussion and consideration. First, the excerpt:
35/ Notice what Emin says here: that right after Election Day, Trump Jr. told him that the Trump-Agalarov deal had to be put on hold *at that point* because "things [were] changing." That *alone* tells us Emin and Don *both* believed the deal was *active* *prior* to Election Day.
36/ Moreover, Emin *acknowledges* that he talked about the deal with Trump Jr. post-election—meaning, there was *a reason to do so* because the deal was still active and the Agalarovs needed to know if the election had "changed" anything on that front. This is a major confession.
37/ But Emin goes further—*acknowledging* that post-election the Agalarovs had "[business] discussions" that were *part of* the Trump-Agalarov deal: specifically, with a Turkish furniture-maker who was supposed to be supplying furniture for the Trump-Agalarov Trump Tower Moscow.
38/ But after he confesses the Trump-Agalarov deal *was* active in our fourth time-period—June 16, 2015 to November 8, 2016—Emin goes *beyond* that to say that he is still "in contact" with Don and Eric about "pick[ing] up those [Trump-Agalarov Trump Tower Moscow] conversations."
39/ Talking with Don and Eric about whether and how they are able to do deals with the Agalarovs—which Emin makes clear in the interview is what he's discussing with Don/Eric—is of *course* part of a process of negotiation, but it's *Trump Jr.'s* words that are most telling here.
40/ What Emin says *Trump Jr.* said is that the only delay on the Trump-Agalarov deal is Don and Eric figuring out "who is handling what, how and when." *That* statement has *nothing* to do with a Trump-Agalarov deal being inactive or "irrelevant"—it's a logistical question only.
41/ Emin was party to the Trump-Agalarov deal from Day 1 (June 2013). He had every ability to say the deal was "dead" if it was dead—as did Jr. (who didn't say it), as did Eric Trump (who didn't say it), as did Aras Agalarov (who didn't say it). Maybe we take "yes" for an answer?
42/ Moreover, we know that Trump has broken every single promise he ever made to voters about (a) divesting from the Trump Organization, or (b) keeping the Trump Organization from doing overseas deals. So the ongoing Trump-Agalarov deal *is* a deal with Trump that can enrich him.
43/ Keep in mind that this is the *barest dip* into the background of the Trump-Agalarov deal and the proof that it was *active* from mid-June 2013 for *at least* four years—through the pre-campaign (when Trump knew he'd run), the campaign, the transition, and post-inauguration.
44/ In this thread I haven't gotten into the pictures of Trump looking at plans in Moscow in 2013 (below), or the tweets from his Moscow entourage about how much he was talking policy, or the social media posts from Ivanka in 2014, or the 2014 Alferova tweets about Trump running.
45/ However much I might wish it, Twitter isn't the venue to *fully* explain why it's *so* damaging to Trump-Russia journalism that those who cut their teeth on *one* Trump Tower Moscow deal are now ignoring or misrepresenting the other. Frankly, that's why I had to write a book.
46/ But don't doubt that Trump was involved in negotiations on *multiple* Trump Tower Moscow deals following the *only* date that matters: the date he knew and could begin representing to others that he had capital to trade in exchange for cash—his future foreign policy as POTUS.
47/ And that's kind of the point here—those who are discussing "the [sic] Trump Tower Moscow deal" aren't just erasing a second (frankly as or more interesting) course of potentially criminal business negotiations, but are *also* falsely setting the dates we should be looking at.
48/ And *that* matters because of all the things Trump was doing from January 1, 2013 through his run announcement—including secretive contact with and surrounding the NRA that just today we learned the Special Counsel is looking at. Why? Because he doesn't set false date ranges.
49/ I urge anyone who sees on social media the false claim that there was only one Trump Tower Moscow deal to correct that claim with this—or any equivalent—thread establishing there were two. And don't forget—Trump has long been quoted saying he *wanted* multiple Moscow towers.
50/ I'm indebted to those—e.g. David Corn—who did good work reporting on the 2013 Trump-Agalarov deal. I was happy—as a curatorial journalist—to matrix overseas (RIA Novosti) and wrongly obscure (Forbes) elements into that narrative. I hope those reporters will speak up now. /end
PS/ Given that many charges relevant to Trump-Agalarov and Trump-Rozov *require* Trump to be trying to perform on a tower-for-sanctions deal *post-inauguration*—and Trump-Rozov has *no* sign of extending post-inauguration while Trump-Agalarov does—the latter may be more critical.
PS2/ Moreover, the Agalarovs *continue offering big value to Trump* throughout the campaign and transition—offering stolen documents, access to Putin, and missives from the Kremlin—whereas Rozov and Trump never (it seems) have any contact. Another sign Trump-Agalarov is critical.
PS3/ What I'm saying is that *non-lawyers* set the terms for when a Trump Tower Moscow deal "counted" based on—and this is amazing to say—whatever *Trump* considered to matter, not on the basis of a legal comparison of the significance of the Trump-Rozov and Trump-Agalarov deals.
PS4/ There's a reason Emin *just today refused to enter the U.S.* for fear of legal and/or investigative consequences for doing so—whereas Rozov's name is *never* part of the Trump-Russia timeline except as a potential partner for Trump. The Agalarovs are *all over* the timeline.
PS5/ So no, this isn't some esoteric spat among different types of journalists (independent and corporate, reporter and curatorial, younger and older, less established and more established) it is the *central* question of whether we can be—or are—discussing Trump-Russia cogently.
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