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(THREAD) Now that Roger Stone, one of Trump's oldest advisers and pals, has been accused of (but not yet indicted for) being a Team Trump-WikiLeaks go-between, it's time to revisit late 2018 allegations that Paul Manafort—Stone's oldest business partner—was too. Read on for more.
1/ We all know Stone faces 7 federal charges that could put him in prison for 20 years or more (though the federal guidelines suggest somewhere between a low of 15 to 21 months and a high of 41 to 51 months is more likely)—but what's as interesting is what he wasn't charged with.
2/ The Stone indictment, which of course contains only a fraction of the evidence Mueller has on Stone, seems to lay the groundwork for additional charges down the line should Stone not cooperate with Mueller—which is likely what Mueller really wants here. cnn.com/2019/01/25/pol…
3/ There are many reasons that Mueller might indicate he could bring conspiracy or other charges against Stone but not charge Stone with those offenses. First, he doesn't have to when he's bringing charges of this sort (obstruction, witness tampering and making false statements).
4/ Second, he might be strategically holding back as part of his upcoming negotiations with Stone about—presumably—Stone being a cooperating witness. Stone admits to speaking with Trump regularly during the president campaign, so we already know he has information to offer there.
5/ Third, he might not want to turn over discovery to Stone—"discovery," a legal term, comprises certain investigative materials a defendant is entitled to see pre-trial—on the subject of a Trump-WikiLeaks conspiracy, either to protect sources and methods or future prosecutions.
6/ Whatever his reasoning, it's clear Mueller has a wealth of information that would be relevant to and probative in a prosecution against Stone for charges beyond what he faces now, so America is faced with *many* questions about who Stone coordinated with at the Trump campaign.
7/ Just taking the indictment on its face, anyone who has been following the Trump-Russia investigation would have assumed that Paul Manafort was Stone's primary contact—besides Trump—at the Trump campaign. The reasons for this are almost too many to name, but I'll mention a few.
8/ Stone and Manafort were business partners for *many* years. Stone *got Manafort his job* with Trump (with help from Trump friend Tom Barrack). Stone is famous for his belief in "political dirty tricks"—and developed that belief as part of a political consultancy with Manafort.
9/ So when the Stone indictment tells us that a "senior campaign official" was in contact with Stone in late July '16 at the "direct[ion]" of someone else in the Trump campaign—necessarily either a more senior campaign official or Trump himself—Manafort and Trump fit those bills.
10/ Manafort was running Trump's campaign until August 19, 2016; the "senior campaign official" contacted Stone around July 22, 2016. Still, many guess that Steve Bannon was the "senior campaign official"—because we know he later emailed Stone in October about his WikiLeaks info.
11/ But whether it was Trump "direct[ing]" Manafort ("senior campaign official") to contact Stone, or Manafort directing Bannon to contact Stone—which he could do, as he outranked Bannon then—the number of people who could have been involved in *any* of this is vanishingly small.
12/ The list of men who could be the "director" would seem to include these seven:

Donald Trump
Jared Kushner
Paul Manafort
Steve Bannon
Rick Gates
Sam Clovis
Eric Trump*

*Only because reports indicate (incredibly) that Eric was one of the men "actually" running the campaign.
13/ Some other people you might think of as the "director" either weren't in official campaign roles (Mike Flynn, Trump Jr.) or hadn't yet reached the heights of the campaign that they subsequently would (Kellyanne Conway) or had by then been demoted or fired (Corey Lewandowski).
14/ Of course the further down that list of seven people you go, the less likely it is that that person is the "director," as they need to—per the Stone indictment—*not* be so low in the senior campaign staff that they don't have a "senior campaign official" left to order around.
15/ Either Trump or Kushner was the director—ordering around someone else on the list—or else we've got a problem, as it's hard to imagine anyone else but Bannon or Manafort being high enough in the staff to order another senior campaign official around (and Bannon is a stretch).
16/ Bannon's October email to Stone ("well done") is being taken as proof that, 3 months earlier, he was the person who contacted Stone, but other evidence from October—an email in which Bannon seems to dismiss the importance of any WikiLeaks foreknowledge—points a different way.
17/ Yet despite all this—and despite Stone and Manafort's long association and Stone's role in getting Manafort his job—you may have noticed that no one is really talking about Manafort as being involved in any way in the July 2016 goings on at the Trump campaign. That's bizarre.
18/ But we actually *know* the reason the media won't talk about Manafort with respect to Assange—because it's *terrified* to do so, as discussing Manafort as a possible Trump-Stone intermediary on WikiLeaks would force discussion of a December 2016 story *no one* wants to touch.
19/ So here's the major story from THE GUARDIAN—a top UK media outlet—that no one wants to touch, even though VANITY FAIR and other US publications have said would be the biggest scoop of 2018 if it's true. I'll break down everything about this story here. theguardian.com/us-news/2018/n…
20/ First, understand that the author of the piece, Luke Harding, is *highly* respected in UK media (feel free to Google it). Moreover, not only did he write an entire *book* on Julian Assange, he also wrote the first significant book (by a *mile*, too) on Trump-Russia collusion.
21/ So Harding has gravitas on Assange and collusion, and not only works for one of the top outlets in the UK but one that's (a) the world's longstanding go-to for Assange news (because it's worked with him before), and (b) broken significant news before in the Trump-Russia case.
22/ So let's see what indicia of reliability we find in this story in THE GUARDIAN—which alleges that Manafort secretly met with Assange in 2013, 2015, and 2016. We have to conduct this assessment because significant doubt has been cast on Harding's reporting (more on that soon).
23/ Beyond Harding's bona fides generally *and* on this subtopic—and the reputation of THE GUARDIAN—we have Harding saying he has "multiple" sources *and* saying that Ecuadorian intelligence has documents listing "Paul Manaford [sic]" as an Assange visitor in 2013, 2015 and 2016.
24/ At least one of Harding's witnesses claims to be a percipient witness of some kind—someone who either saw Manafort at the Ecuadorian embassy in London visiting Assange at the time or who has reviewed the security footage. We know this because Manafort's clothing is described.
25/ Harding also has evidence Manafort regularly flew to London. That's become a point of contention (you'll see why in a moment) but it's worth noting here that Luke Harding has in the past appeared to have contacts in British intelligence. You'll see the relevance of that soon.
26/ The case *against* Harding's story being true:

1. Manafort/WikiLeaks deny it. (They would—and are both proven liars.)
2. Assange flack Glenn Greenwald denies it (Again, he would—for 100 reasons.)
3. Other outlets can't confirm it.
4. Manafort's "three passports."

That's it.
27/ It's on *these* flimsy grounds—I'll show you just how flimsy they are in a moment—that Harding's reporting has been tossed by US media. And the result of that collective decision among US media is that Manafort hasn't been raised with respect to the Stone indictment at *all*.
28/ (This despite the fact that everyone now agrees the Stone indictment gets Mueller closer to Trump himself colluding than anything else—more even than Cohen's charges—and that Trump, for his part, has said, per NBC reporting, that *Manafort* poses the greatest danger to him.)
29/ Let's start with the *worst* reason to toss Harding's reporting—this idea that Manafort, who we know has a damn *drawerful* of passports, didn't go to London in 2013, 2015 or 2016 (on trips he would've had to be *very* secretive about) because his "3 passports" don't show it.
30/ Manafort has more than three passports. Not sure how much more than this needs to be said.
31/ The second-stupidest reason to toss Harding's report is Manafort and WikiLeaks—the first a criminal and liar, the second a criminal entity that has repeatedly lied—deny the story. If you had a dollar for every true Trump-Russia story the principals have denied, you'd be rich.
32/ An equally stupid reason to toss Harding's reporting is Glenn Greenwald—essentially a spokesman for Assange who's gambled his career as a journalist on there being no Trump-Russia collusion whatsoever—says it's *likely* wrong. That's right—he's not even sure. So much for him.
33/ So we're left with the idea that reporting by a top UK media outlet with sources in high places in the UK that no one in US media would have has reported something about events in the UK that US media can't confirm via *its* sources. Do you know how *frequently* that happens?
34/ For my book PROOF OF COLLUSION, I reviewed major-media investigative reports from *many* countries, and the UK was one of them. I can't tell you how many scoops UK media had about Trump-Russia events relevant to the UK (or that occurred in the UK) that US media *didn't* have.
35/ There are *whole Trump-Russia lines of inquiry* reported in the UK that you can't find in the US. Is it because they're minor? No—many have to do with *Russian kompromat on Trump*. It's because US media doesn't have UK media's sources, so they can't confirm all their stories.
36/ But just because US media, which of course *doesn't know the top-notch UK sources UK media has*—and has no background with or access to many of them—can't reproduce UK reporting is no grounds for *baseless conjecture* like what US media did to Harding: politico.com/magazine/story…
37/ That's right! POLITICO has a big article whose title makes you *think* that US media has *evidence* that Harding was duped. But guess what? The article's just an editorial that speculates offhandedly about its subject matter with *no evidence whatsoever* to back up its title.
38/ I'll compare and contrast the POLITICO article to *real* evidence that corroborates Harding's work (because apparently US media is confused about what sort of responsible journalism is even *capable* of corroborating—or else tending to cast doubt on—the work of THE GUARDIAN).
39/ What if I told you that days after Manafort denied meeting with Assange, evidence emerged showing that Manafort has *indeed* made at least one secret trip abroad since 2013 that relates directly to Assange? Wouldn't that be interesting evidence Harding was on the right track?
40/ And what if I told you that the news story in question further implies that Manafort's secret overseas contacts relating to Assange came under the aegis of his ongoing secret connection to Trump following Manafort's "firing"—done purely for PR purposes—in mid-August of 2016?
41/ Here's a NYT report—days after Harding's news in THE GUARDIAN—saying Manafort was secretly negotiating Assange's release to federal authorities in spring '17. Who could possibly have given him authority to negotiate on behalf of Trump's administration? nytimes.com/2018/12/03/us/…
42/ So Manafort has already lied about Assange—as he secretly did things relating to Assange that he hid from everyone for a year and a half. And that's on top of all the other lies he's told. (And remember that when I say "WikiLeaks denies it, too," that's just Assange talking.)
43/ But let's return to Harding's GUARDIAN reporting, which says that Manafort met with Assange in March '16—coincidentally, *right as he was negotiating with Trump* about joining the Trump campaign and *right as Stone was also negotiating with Trump* about Trump hiring Manafort.
44/ So THE GUARDIAN puts Manafort in WikiLeaks' orbit *while* Trump is talking with Stone *about Manafort and what he adds to Trump's campaign*.

Now Mueller has Trump, Manafort, or Bannon either talking with Stone about WikiLeaks or directing someone else to—just 120 days later.
45/ And keep in mind that Stone was certainly talking to *Manafort* in March 2016—and *specifically* talking with Manafort about how to make his pitch to Trump. So if Manafort had WikiLeaks insight, he surely would've shared it with Stone then—and Stone shared it with Trump then.
46/ The millions-in-fees-per-year Manafort was allegedly hired by Trump (for free) in March 2016 as a delegate counter for a convention—the Republican National Convention—Trump didn't yet know he'd be the nominee at. Yet mysteriously, Manafort *took over his campaign* in 2 weeks.
47/ A *big* missing piece in the Trump-Russia timeline is *why* Trump let his "delegate counter" immediately take over his campaign. Who'd convinced Trump that Manafort had *so* much to offer that Trump should turn over his campaign to him immediately? And *how did they do that*?
48/ I'm not suggesting Stone or Manafort knew of Russian hacking in March 2016—it's certain that neither did. I'm saying Stone and Manafort were busy making a case to Trump about Manafort's value at a time THE GUARDIAN says Manafort had access to WikiLeaks. And that's *relevant*.
49/ I'm saying that if—as many assume from the odd use of the passive voice in Mueller's indictment—it was Trump who "directed" a senior campaign official to talk to Stone about WikiLeaks, and did so while Manafort was his campaign manager, Manafort likely knew it was happening.
50/ I'm saying Stone knew earlier than almost anyone that WikiLeaks was willing to be a conduit for dirty tricks—and it was Stone who got [the allegedly WikiLeaks-linked] Manafort his Trump job. And Trump says *Manafort* is his biggest danger. So we need to talk about this. /end
PS/ A longer thread would have discussed in detail that it's Stone and Manafort who have acted the *most* bizarrely of any Trump-Russia defendants, and that both men are angling the *hardest* of anyone for a Trump pardon—as though they can hurt Trump the most and they/he know it.
PS2/ Note, too, that Manafort told Barrack he "had to get to Trump"—as though he knew he'd have value to him well before he was hired. That would be readily explained by 2013 and 2015 trips to visit Assange and ties to Kremlin agents—who began working on their Trump plan in 2013.
PS3/ So media is spending hundreds of hours daily discussing the Stone indictment without giving Americans the context in which it arises—because they don't want to say the name of Stone's closest associate (Manafort) with respect to Stone, due to *vague fears* Harding was wrong.
PS4/ But as there is far more evidence Harding is right than wrong, and as his story was implicitly corroborated days later by a major Manafort-Assange revelation—which also implied Trump was using Manafort as an agent involving Assange—we at least need to *speak* about Manafort.
PS5/ For a year, I've said the *biggest* mystery of all is why Trump was so clear with friends— per NBC—that it was *Manafort* who could end him, and then *Manafort* began making choices no defendant would ever make. And *Manafort* is Stone's second-closest associate after Trump.
PS6/ It's not insignificant here that—per Manafort's lawyers—Mueller thinks Trump is lying about a) his contacts with Manafort and b) secret meetings Manafort attended. The one we *know* of is June '16, but it's little stretch to think there may be others. cnn.com/2018/12/07/pol…
PS7/ Readers of this feed understand what it is—it uses curatorial journalism to try to point the media in the direction of possibly fruitful future research. And this feed has successfully done that many times and with major media outlets. So don't mistake this thread's purpose.
PS8/ When I post a thread like this, those who aren't regular readers say things like, "He's saying he *knows* this or that happened"—in this case, that I *know* THE GUARDIAN is right. I don't. But I know its story fits the evidence, and we should be talking about Manafort/Stone.
PS9/ My experience as an investigator and criminal defense attorney teaches me that when a story has multiple sources, convincing details, and fits perfectly a theory of case that is *already robustly supported* by hundreds of data-points, there's a good chance the story is true.
PS10/ But more than any of that, my experience as a journalist, editor, and professor who teaches journalism tells me that when you have a story of this sort, you don't *pretend it doesn't exist*—you discuss it openly and transparently to analyze it and expose it from all angles.
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