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(THREAD) Paul Manafort and Rick Gates are now indicted. This thread analyzes legal and political aspects of their indictment and surrender.
1/ Draw no conclusion from the two being allowed to surrender rather than being arrested at home/work. It often happens in nonviolent cases.
2/ Here are the charges (via CNN):
3/ CNN also reports the timing of the indictment might have been influenced by the statute of limitations on certain tax crimes running out.
4/ America is getting an education in how prosecutions work: prosecutors charge everything they possibly can that they think they can prove.
5/ That doesn't mean new charges can't be added on these men later, but we can assume this is everything Mueller thinks he can prove *now*.
6/ Don't take anything from the fact that the charges do not immediately, on their face, implicate Trump or campaign collusion with Russia.
7/ In an investigation of this size and scope, the early charges are *mostly* intended to compel defendants to cooperate with investigators.
8/ No one believes Paul Manafort is the final target of the Russia probe, nor even necessarily that these are all the charges he could face.
9/ But these are the charges Mueller has now, and he may have investigated them first because they're—relatively speaking—easier to prove.
10/ To be clear, financial crimes are not easy to prove. But if you can get the records you need, you can proceed. Collusion is testimonial.
11/ What that means is that the evidence most likely to prove a Trump-Russia conspiracy involves words said between persons, not documents.
12/ Because words often have no printed record, you tackle documentable (e.g. financial) crimes first, and then the sexier testimonial ones.
13/ Registration, false statements, and failure to file charges are "easy" to prove assuming basic underlying facts and some key documents.
14/ Just so, assuming access to foreign bank records and perhaps a "black" ledger or two, conspiracy to launder money is *less* testimonial.
15/ So a prosecutor in this situation would follow documented crimes—i.e. less testimonial—in order to compel a defendant to new testimony.
16/ That Mueller is able to start with the President's Campaign Manager—rather than some peon—means he is that much closer to getting Trump.
17/ We mustn't forget that in a case in which evidence is *scarce* a prosecutor would have to start *much* lower on the chain than Manafort.
18/ A big question today is whether the two men will be given a bail they can afford—if not they'll sit in federal lockup until their trial.
19/ If Mueller wants them to squawk, it is *desperately* important he secure a bail on both men that they cannot afford—lockup loosens lips.
20/ With financial crimes, a prosecutor can often force defendants to make a showing that any money they put up for bail wasn't ill-gotten.
21/ Given how much ill-gotten money we believe that Paul Manafort—and possibly Rick Gates—received, that could be a tough showing for them.
22/ It's even harder for Manafort, as he worked for Trump "for free"—so it's not clear he can prove a legitimate source of recent income.
23/ While we don't have the details of the "Conspiracy Against the United States" charge, it's listed first and will be most key for bail.
24/ The federal government is headlining this attention-grabbing charge to better make out its case for an exorbitant bail for both men.
25/ Keep in mind the "aggressive" no-knock, pre-dawn raid on Paul Manafort's house is what tells us—ironically—he is *not* the final target.
26/ Were this just a financial crimes investigation, such tactics wouldn't likely be used. But Mueller wants Manafort for something bigger.
27/ Mueller was obsessive about nailing Manafort on these charges—and will be obsessive about a high bail—because he needs Manafort to talk.
28/ Manafort is a *better* candidate to roll on Trump than Page (ideologue) or Kushner (family loyalty) because he's clearly a venal person.
29/ And by bringing in two *connected* defendants, Mueller can play them off one another—because both will be rushing to cooperate first.
30/ Manafort knows that if Mueller thinks he and Gates have the same info to give on Trump, he can choose to cooperate with either of them.
32/ Understand that "Conspiracy against the United States" *can* just mean a conspiracy to hide taxable income from a federal agency (IRS).
33/ The first thing the indictment tells us is the volume of money Manafort brought in as a foreign agent was huge—$75 million (2006-2015).
34/ Months ago I said that a venal man like Manafort would only work for Trump "for free" if he was getting paid from elsewhere—now we know.
35/ While the indictment's date range ends pre-2016—when Manafort came on the campaign—he may have been paid "in advance" to handle Trump.
36/ Certainly, all these payments occurred while Manafort lived in Trump Tower, was close to Trump associates, and may have known the POTUS.
37/ Secondly, note that this is a "speaking indictment"—Mueller deliberately chose to recite not just the charges but the facts behind them.
38/ This helps us see that Manafort was lobbying the United States, here at home, on behalf of a now-gone Putin-backed Ukrainian government.
39/ Recall, too, Manafort once made a more direct offer to Putin's government to help it advance its interests abroad. Well, he did so here.
40/ I'm telling you now—the chances this work on behalf of Putin's interests isn't in any way related to Manafort's work with Trump is zero.
41/ It was clear to Putin in 2013 that Trump, if he ran, would be pro-Russia (via the Agalarovs). Manafort was indirectly aiding Putin then.
42/ But the connection between these two courses of action is still murky, perhaps—so Mueller gets *hyper-specific* on the financial crimes.
43/ We must consider the Manafort/Gates indictment extraordinarily specific—it lays out its case in detail, which indictments usually don't.
44/ Let me now make a *key* point: Mueller could *easily* get Flynn on the same FARA charges we see here. So why hasn't Flynn been charged?
45/ The answer is that either there's a sealed indictment on Mike Flynn the media doesn't know about—unlikely—or Flynn has already flipped.
46/ Another sealed indictment is unlikely, as why wouldn't the same source who leaked *these* indictments to the media have leaked Flynn's?
47/ Meanwhile, this indictment inadvertently revealing Flynn *has* already flipped is *very* likely—as we know Flynn has *offered* to flip.
48/ So anyone, whether Trump or pundit, who says this indictment proves Mueller has nothing on Trump can be disregarded almost immediately.
49/ Months ago I said "Phase 3" of Mueller's probe would begin in November of 2017. It instead began October 30, 2017. (Pretty darn close.)
50/ I've also said that Phase 3—in which Trump co-conspirators are indicted—would last 2 to 5 months. So that's what we're in for right now.
51/ Between now and March 31, 2018 we can expect more indictments. Almost certainly Carter Page, Jared Kushner, and Mike Flynn—at a minimum.
52/ Today's indictment underscores that Mueller *will* indict for false statements or FARA violations, and those 3 men have such liability.
53/ But we should also look at the *bare implications* of Mueller saying that he believes Manafort willing to lie about his pro-Russia ties.
54/ Manafort claimed he was looking at his phone and not paying attention as Kremlin agents pitched dirt on Clinton at Trump Tower in 2016.
55/ Manafort now claims he never thereafter discussed the June 2016 "Veselnitskaya meeting"—in Trump's house—with Trump, Kushner, or Don Jr.
56/ Manafort claims he had no role in changing the GOP platform at the 2016 RNC—and doing so had nothing to do with his many pro-Putin ties.
57/ One thing I think we can presume, now, is that neither Mueller nor his agents believe *any* of those key Manafort claims to be accurate.
58/ So we can assume that when/as Mueller flips Manafort, he'll want the truth: who told you to change the platform? That'll be a question.
59/ We know from reports that Trump ordered his team to change the platform on March 31, 2016. Did Manafort tell him to? Who told Manafort?
60/ Manafort, Kushner, and Don say they never told Trump that Kremlin agents had reached out to them. But that was almost certainly a lie.
61/ If Manafort confirms he told Trump of the Kremlin outreach—and Trump lied about that repeatedly thereafter—Trump enters the conspiracy.
62/ This is especially true given Papadopoulos had revealed himself to Trump as a Kremlin agent seeking a Trump-Kremlin channel on March 31.
63/ The point here is a Manafort roll almost *immediately* implicates Trump, and it's clear that's what Mueller is after with these charges.
64/ BREAKING: Papadopoulos—the Kremlin agent who revealed himself to Trump March 31, 2016—plead guilty 25 days ago. https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/4163402/Papadopoulos-Statement-Offense.pdf
65/ Reading the Papadopoulos docs now (h/t @anthony). Will continue this thread momentarily. Please share the first tweet in the meantime.
66/ My god...
67/ Papadopoulos almost certainly flipped 10/5. And as I tweeted in this thread in September, it means *everything*:
68/ Papadopoulos met a Russian national to set up a Kremlin channel for Trump on 3/24/16. It now seems clear he told Trump this on 3/31/16.
69/ This means Trump ordered a GOP platform change to benefit Russia *pre-hacking* and *after* being told the Kremlin wanted a relationship.
70/ That is to say, it now seems release of the DNC emails was a quid pro quo from Trump ordering Gordon to change the GOP platform 3/31/16.
71/ 10 days ago I tweeted this and called it "the most damning story ever written on Trump-Russia"—now you know why. http://www.businessinsider.com/jd-gordon-trump-adviser-ukraine-rnc-2017-3
72/ If Trump ordered the GOP platform change after Papadopoulos laid out the Kremlin's interest in him—and he did—collusion has been proven.
73/ I said this before—that the GOP platform change was *provably* collusion—but *now* we know Mueller has that witness in his back pocket.
74/ The Papadopoulos plea is BIGGER than the Manafort indictment—at least for the moment. Anyone who knows about Trump-Russia will say so.
75/ My birthday isn't until tomorrow—but helping break the Papadopoulos story back in September is all I could've asked for. I want to help.
76/ Doing an interview now, but will return momentarily. This thread may well run throughout the day—and today's a *historic* day, everyone.
77/ More soon, but I will say—beyond doubt—today is the beginning of the end of the Trump Administration. The Papadopoulos news is that big.
78/ Hope you'll read this thread—from 10 days ago—in which I lay out how Papadopoulos is the collusion smoking gun:
79/ The thread linked to in the preceding tweet also explains—in postscripts—how the Trump campaign covered up its March 31st, 2016 meeting.
80/ A remaining mystery that will tie Papadopoulos (and Millian) back to Trump is how the former got on the campaign *pre*-Russian contacts.
81/ If Papadopoulos was developed by the Kremlin beginning 3/14/16, how did a kid with no credentials get on the NatSec team *before* that?
82/ Someone recommended Papadopoulos to Trump and/or Clovis (who assembled the NatSec team) and Millian admits to contact with Papadopoulos.
83/ If Papadopoulos was the Trump-Kremlin intermediary, Millian seems to be claiming he was the intermediary between Papadopoulos and Trump.
84/ If so, given Millian's known ties to the Kremlin, it further underscores how *early* in the 2016 campaign Trump knew Russia was helping.
85/ Back to Papadopoulos: if he knew of Russian crimes in April '16, who did he tell? Did he aid/abet concealing these crimes? It matters.
86/ It matters because the reason to think Papadopoulos is a cooperating individual is because the feds appear to have *undercharged him*.
87/ One of the few reasons a prosecutor would knowingly undercharge a defendant—especially in a case like this—is if they're cooperating.
88/ Another reason, of course, would be not having enough information. But then why rush to indict on a lesser charge on October 5th, 2017?
89/ Many interview requests are coming in; I apologize in advance for not being able to respond quickly. I want to cover the story *first*.
90/ So what we know is Papadopoulos is cooperating; we don't know yet exactly what information he is offering. I'm hoping to address that.
91/ First, the "Campaign Supervisor" listed in the plea is likely Clovis, Lewandowski, or Sessions. Clovis did hiring—Sessions headed team.
92/ Lewandowski was the one asked to clear Page's July 2016 trip to Moscow—so we might expect foreign contacts would be cleared through him.
93/ Note that the Papadopoulos plea establishes that *every attendee* of the March 31st, 2016 meeting who spoke to the press lied about it.
94/ So all of the Trump campaign representations made to The Daily Caller in this article are now revealed as lies: http://dailycaller.com/2017/08/17/trump-adviser-proposed-meeting-with-russians-during-campaign-but-was-shot-down-by-sessions/
95/ Those lies increase exponentially the chance Sessions will face perjury charges. It also explains why he hasn't been interviewed yet.
96/ To be clear, if you understand how the Trump NatSec team worked—and didn't work—you now see Sessions is a *target* of the Mueller probe.
97/ AG Jeff Sessions said under oath he hadn't spoken to Mueller yet. Mueller should ask him *now*—as Sessions would likely plead the Fifth.
98/ All of this confirms my reporting from Spring 2017 that the Mayflower speech (April 27, 2016) was intended as a communication to Putin.
99/ I discussed Kushner calling Kislyak to invite him; Sessions lying about the VIP event; Trump ad-libbing to play up his pro-Russia plans.
100/ Media should go back and look at the Reuters report on an April Kushner-Kislyak call that—key—Kushner denies though the IC confirms it.
101/ So *days* after Trump learns Russia wants to meet with him, his son-in-law calls the Russian ambassador? Then he goes to the Mayflower?
102/ I want to make a perhaps obvious point: were Trump not a narcissist, we might expect him to resign the presidency this week. He's done.
103/ He told America for months and months and months he knew of no Russia connections on his campaign. But he *did*—as of March 31st, 2016.
103/ On the same day Papadopoulos told the campaign Putin wanted to meet Trump, Manafort suddenly changed the venue of the Mayflower speech.
104/ I reported in Spring 2017 that all the reasons for the Mayflower venue change (from the NPC) were lies. And this is now *confirmed*.
105/ As I said then, the Mayflower offered space for a VIP event away from the press—where Ambassador Kislyak could meet Trump and Sessions.
106/ From that moment on, Kislyak was in an ongoing conversation with Sessions—with July and September meets—on Trump's sanctions policy.
107/ The chances Trump didn't know his foreign policy head was secretly negotiating Trump's own sanctions policy with the Russians are zero.
108/ Indeed, by the time Trump gave his Mayflower speech, he may have known—per Papadopoulos' plea—Putin wanted to meet with him personally.
109/ There's little doubt that Trump's campaign—contra what the Center for the National Interest said—helped to set up the Mayflower event.
109/ No tweets by Trump since the Papadopoulos news. Want to underscore how close to his political end Trump is now.
110/ Papadopoulos emailing a "high-ranking campaign official" May 4 asking "what do you think?" of a Kremlin meet underscores the lies...
111/ ...the members of the NatSec team told the media about Papadopoulos being aggressively "shut down" on that score on March 31st, 2016.
112/ For those rightly interested in the footnote on pg. 8 of the Papadopoulos plea: that's Manafort. We know from a Washington Post report.
113/ "The Footnote"—another smoking gun—confirms an earlier observation that Page was likely the "private citizen" Clovis later spoke of.
114/ Page was appropriately "low level" in the campaign, and the IC confirms he met with Russian officials during his July 2016 Moscow trip.
115/ A key but easily missed point: when the NatSec team was disbanded—unpaid—in July '16, Papadopoulos was one of the *only* men *kept on*.
116/ As late as September 2016, Papadopoulos was giving interviews with Russian media on Trump's no-sanctions Russia policy. That's telling.
117/ So there's no chance Trump can say Papadopoulos was a brief and/or marginal player—and the unnamed men in his plea are *all* big names.
118/ What's stunning is the Trump camp's willingness to meet Kremin officials face-to-face was *so* strong they sought meets *post-Page*.
119/ So per the IC, Page met Russian officials in July, yet by August—*after* hacking was known—Trump's camp still actively sought meetings.
120/ Understand: Papadopoulos was arrested *over three months ago*, so the volume of information Mueller has we don't know is *staggering*.
121/ Here's what's certain from the Papadopoulos plea: many more indictments are coming—and expect to start seeing White House resignations.
122/ Remember that—as I tweeted a week ago—Trump *elevated* Papadopoulos to a Russia-policy spokesman upon learning he was a Kremlin agent.
123/ By April 7, 2016—7 days after revealing himself—Papadopoulos was in Israel explaining Trump's Russia policy to well-connected Israelis.
124/ This despite the minimal professional qualification Papadopoulos had for being on the NatSec team having to do with Middle Eastern oil.
125/ So every action Trump and his team took in response to Papadopoulos outing himself as a Kremlin intermediary augmented his Russia role.
126/ And every action Trump and his team took once they knew they had a Kremlin intermediary aboard was to seek new secret ties with Russia.
127/ To understand why Trump will be impeached/resign, see a) The "TIHDC" meeting (see earlier in this thread), and b) The Mayflower Speech.
128/ Here is my March 2017 thread on the Mayflower Hotel speech—since confirmed in all particulars by major media. https://storify.com/loriaustex/seth-abramson
129/ So, to sum up: today will be remembered as the beginning of the end of the Trump Administration. Keep thinking otherwise if you prefer.
130/ But today's the day to start preparing ourselves for the reality that what many have been saying about Trump for 10 months now is true.
131/ The Trump campaign colluded with Russia; Trump knew; Trump will be impeached or resign. It was said—and true—in March, and is true now.
132/ Please know that I and others who've been writing about this are *as amazed* as all of you are that all this is true. But it *is* true.
133/ What we're witnessing—and in real time—is the most spectacular and harrowing political and legal news story of any of our lifetimes.
134/ We must cast aside old notions of what sort of behavior is "likely" in a politician and how/whether independent journos can contribute.
135/ Things will get worse in America—very ugly—before they get better. We all must prepare ourselves now with knowledge of the facts. {end}
PS/ Things you'll hear today that are FALSE: Papadopoulos wasn't a top advisor; was with campaign briefly; plead to acts "outside" campaign.
PS2/ As to the last one: *every lie* Papadopoulos told the FBI was either a) about the Trump campaign, or b) to protect the Trump campaign.
PS3/ This can't be stated enough: the Trump/Sessions lunch today is wildly inappropriate and possibly illegal. Both men are FBI targets.
PS4/ They now *must* have outside witnesses present at the lunch, as any discussion of the Russia probe could constitute Witness Tampering.
NOTE/ You can find the POSTSCRIPTS to this thread at this link:
PS5/ Media notices for tonight: I'll be on CNN International (9PM PST), BBC News (recorded for tomorrow AM), then BBC World Service (radio).
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