(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.
31/ Now here's a link to the indictments themselves: nytimes.com/interactive/20…
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. assets.documentcloud.org/documents/4163…
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. businessinsider.com/jd-gordon-trum…
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: dailycaller.com/2017/08/17/tru…
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. storify.com/loriaustex/set…
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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More from @SethAbramson

May 18
America is headed toward permanent rule by approximately 35% of its population. That is unsustainable. We’re getting very close to the point at which Democrats and left-leaning independents have to win about 65% of votes to even get half the representation in this country.
I think what we always have to remember is that the primary project of conservatives over the last 50 years has had nothing to do with any particular policy or even the Supreme Court but simply getting everyone else to give up on politics as hopelessly broken.

Their plan worked.
We often say, speaking of what passes for a GOP agenda, that “the cruelty is the point.”

To an extent that’s true. But the GOP also focuses on creating as much chaos, incompetence and dysfunction at every level of government as possible—so voters will give up on good governance.
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May 18
An administration fighting an information war but unfamiliar with how to counter disinformation creates a counter-disinformation counterterrorism entity that’s quickly annihilated by a disinformation campaign the administration doesn’t know how to counter. washingtonpost.com/technology/202…
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May 18
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May 18
1,600+ retweets for a story I reported to 50,000 subscribers—in great detail—at my media outlet PROOF on June 13, 2021 (and also here on Twitter to millions of readers).


I hope folks will RETWEET this correction and urge people to subscribe to PROOF: sethabramson.substack.com
(PS) Still no update to the article by @washingtonpost, which I know is extremely familiar with my work because it has interviewed me multiple times and employs scores of people who follow the PROOF project and this feed.
(ORIGINAL REPORT) Here is the first of two PROOF reports breaking the news in June 2021 that the Washington Post framed as a Washington Post exclusive today. sethabramson.substack.com/p/breaking-new…
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May 17
Between Trump, Greg Norman, and Jack Nicklaus, I’m done with old rich white golfers.

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May 17
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