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Seth Abramson @SethAbramson
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(THREAD) BREAKING: The Mayflower now returns to prominence as the site of a meet between Flynn co-conspirator Bud McFarlane and Sergey Kislyak, then Russia's ambassador. It turns out Saudi Arabia is almost as key to the Trump-Russia probe as Russia is. Hope you'll read and share.
1/ Robert "Bud" McFarlane is an Iran-Contra villain turned Russian oil-and-gas advocate turned Saudi Arabian nuclear-reactor advocate. He's been investigated for covert communications with hostile governments more than once. Under Reagan, he was K.T. McFarland's boss and mentor.
2/ McFarlane, along with four ambassadors from nations involved in the largest-ever Russian oil sale (the Rosneft deal) was mysteriously invited to Trump's first-ever foreign policy speech—which was held at the Mayflower Hotel on April 27, 2016. No other ambassadors were invited.
3/ It was a major breach of international protocol for ambassadors to attend a political event during the primary season, but these ambassadors—from Russia, Italy, Singapore, and the Philippines—decided the breach was worth it. They attended a VIP cocktail hour before the speech.
4/ Only 24 people were at the cocktail hour, and we know many of them—for instance, Sessions, Kushner, Lewandowski, Trump Jr., Manafort, and Trump himself. Others who attended the event but not the VIP include Gordon and Miller. The Center for the National Interest was the host.
5/ The event was so small one can name half the attendees off the cuff: Kislyak, Sessions, Kushner, Heilbrunn (from the Center for the National Interest), Lewandowski, Don Jr., Manafort, Trump, McFarlane, and three ambassadors. It was not a short event—it lasted at least an hour.
6/ The Center for the National Interest claimed the Trump campaign had no role in picking the VIP attendees, which now seems a laughable dodge in retrospect.

But we do know that McFarlane is very close to the CNI—involved in the organization—and may well have had input on VIPs.
7/ During his speech, with Sergey Kislyak and Bud McFarlane in the front rows, Trump promised Russia "a good deal"—in context, on sanctions—and said that the U.S. could work with Russia to combat terrorism. The speech was co-written by Richard Burt—a Russian pipeline advocate.
8/ After pleading guilty to four misdemeanors in the speaking-with-a-hostile-government scandal known as "Iran-Contra," McFarlane was investigated by federal law enforcement in '13 for covertly speaking with Sudan—a hostile government. Like Burt, he's a Russian pipeline advocate.
9/ Atop this thread, McFarlane is pictured with Kislyak returning to his seat at the Mayflower following the VIP event. This feed was first to identify him as having attended the Mayflower event and VIP hour. What's that ceremonial curved sword someone gifted him? We don't know.
10/ What we *do* know is that McFarlane helped get K.T. McFarland—his mentee and friend—a NatSec job with the Trump administration many at the time thought her under-qualified and ill-equipped for. Here's McFarlane at Trump Tower with Michael Flynn and K.T. McFarland in December.
11/ The Trump Tower meeting occurred the first week of December, as the Rosneft deal—involving players in Russia, Italy, and Singapore, with the Philippines as a beneficiary—was closing. After Flynn was fired, Trump nominated McFarland—Flynn's deputy—for ambassador to Singapore.
12/ We now have a pretty good idea why Bud McFarlane was at Trump Tower in December, and why he wanted his protege in the Trump Administration: along with Flynn and others close to Trump, he was plotting to have Trump give Saudi Arabia nuclear technology.…
13/ I don't have time in one thread to go into all the issues with McFarlane's plan—suffice to say it was more controversial and staggering to career civil servants in government than even the prospect of unilaterally dropping sanctions on Russia (a Trump plan) would have been.
14/ How does Russia fit into the Flynn/McFarlane plot? Well, the U.S. needs Russian help to build reactors—and Russia needs sanctions gone to do it (and agree to). So McFarlane—a Russian pipeline advocate since 2000—had this reason too to oppose sanctions.…
15/ It's no longer possible to think that McFarlane (a surprise VIP) and the Russian ambassador (in a breach of protocol) randomly showed up at the same April '16 event—not when it was Trump's first foreign policy speech, and he planned to offer Russia a "good deal" on sanctions.
16/ Nearly every player in the Trump-Russia case who a) has lied about contact with Russia, or b) helped fire Comey, was at the Mayflower event: Trump, Trump Jr., Manafort, Kushner, Sessions, Gordon, Miller, even Kislyak—who lied about his contacts with the Trump camp when asked.
17/ Below is a choice quote from the ProPublica article I linked to above. It underscores that giving Saudi Arabia nuclear tech was considered an insane idea among government officials, and that a whole lot of clandestine lobbying had to occur for it to be seriously on the table.
18/ Did McFarlane lobby Trump or his aides at the Mayflower? Did someone from an involved Middle Eastern nation give him a ceremonial sword there? Was he discussing nuclear reactors with Flynn and McFarlane as the Rosneft deal closed? We don't know; I suspect Mueller suspects it.
19/ What we know is this: McFarlane *did* lobby Trump—and the lobbying was both covert and improper; what he was lobbying for was insane; what he was lobbying for required a dropping of sanctions on Russia; Russia also wanted this; the whole thing was couched in "anti-terrorism."
20/ Indeed, many Americans have wondered for a long time what Trump meant at the Mayflower—and after—in discussing cooperating with Russia "to fight terrorism." How? Where? Just Syria—or elsewhere?

Well, the pitch McFarlane and Flynn made to Trump on Saudi Arabia involved Iran.
21/ The idea here—which is explosive and nearly traitorous—is gifting nuclear tech to Saudi Arabia would allow Saudi Arabia to act as an even greater counter-weight to Iran, which Trump considers (not unreasonably) the world's biggest sponsor of terrorism. But there's a problem.
22/ The problem is, the U.S. would never gift *military* nuclear tech to Saudi Arabia, only civilian nuclear tech. The two are related but not the same thing. But the second you say giving civilian nuclear tech to Saudi Arabia counter-balances Iran, you're mixing the two spheres.
23/ This is where Erik Prince comes in. McFarlane—see below—is called a "visionary in the oil and securities market," and guess what? That's Prince's area, too. So now take another look at the UAE setting Prince up with a secret meet with a Kremlin agent.…
24/ As the Washington Post first reported, the UAE set up the meeting; Prince represented himself as a Trump agent and someone knowledgeable about energy development; Prince discussed sanctions with the Kremlin agent; they did discuss "fighting terrorism."…
25/ So the Trump campaign telegraphed to the Kremlin as early as April 2016—possibly earlier—it would play ball with a unilateral dropping of sanctions both to aid a new Russian pipeline and permit nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia. Trump knew all this when Russia started hacking.
26/ I was asked on CNN last night why Flynn and others risked years of federal prison by lying about December 2016 sanctions negotiations Trump has called legal. Two reasons: (1) they were illegal Logan Act violations; and (2) they started *well before* the presidential election.
27/ There is *no* reason to think Bud McFarlane and Mike Flynn began lobbying for a dropping of sanctions only during the transition, given what happened at the Mayflower Hotel—incidentally, the first major campaign event Manafort organized upon becoming Trump's campaign manager.
28/ Remember, the Trump campaign lied about the Mayflower event at the time—why it was held at the Mayflower rather than the NPC, where it was supposed to be, for instance (but where a VIP event of the same kind would have been impossible)—and *many* Team Trump attendees did too.
29/ As CNN details, Flynn was working for ACU—the outfit that would've built the reactors—at the time of the Mayflower event, during which time he was also a Trump adviser who Trump was hiding (i.e., using for NatSec advice but *not* naming to his publicly announced NatSec team.)
30/ So McFarlane shows up to an event at which he'll have access to Trump and the Kremlin's top agent in America at a time when he wants these two parties to get together on sanctions so his Saudi Arabia deal can go through. Then Trump gives a speech offering exactly that policy.
31/ Remember that Jared Kushner has a Russian contact (per Reuters) that the intelligence community has confirmed but Kushner *still denies*—and there's only one such contact—and it's a phone call to Kislyak right before the Mayflower event. Was Kushner inviting him to attend it?
32/ Two days ago I did a thread on The Logan Act explaining what it is and why the GOP is so keen to lie about it.

The big reveal—Trump won the election by violating The Logan Act during the campaign. He induced Russian actions by making policy promises.
33/ Notable about this theory of the case—besides that the evidence supports it—is how obvious it is: negotiating away U.S. policy as a way to obtain prior support for a presidential run from a foreign power is *exactly* what a shady international businessman like Trump would do.
34/ It's no coincidence Trump has fawned relentlessly over Putin and tripled his planned meeting time with him every time they've met.

It's no coincidence Trump's first trip abroad began with Saudi Arabia. Trump let these and other nations know his policy promises *in advance*.
35/ Not only are these prior negotiations with foreign governments *over future U.S. policy* illegal, they became *doubly* illegal the moment Trump knew Russia was assisting his campaign through illegal acts against America. At that point he was aiding and abetting those crimes.
36/ Did Russia tell Trump in advance what it would do? Doesn't matter. The Logan Act violations opened the door to a psuedo-contractual relation between Trump and Russia in which he had to interpret—was legally *obligated* to interpret—their acts as "performance" on the contract.
37/ This sort of "pseudo-contractual relation" goes by the name "conspiracy" in the law, and Russia's acts were what we call "acts in furtherance of a conspiracy" that Trump would have reasonably interpreted as such (and had to) given his prior "meeting of the minds" with Russia.
38/ The lies told after the fact by Team Trump—at last count, at least 14 men and women—help establish their "guilty mind," that is, their intent to illegally negotiate U.S. policy under The Logan Act and then have certain actors within the conspiracy commit crimes to further it.
39/ When I first wrote in April about the Mayflower Hotel—calling it the most important event in the Trump-Russia timeline after the RNC—some scoffed. They also scoffed in October when I wrote about the March 31, 2016 NatSec meeting at Trump International. No one is scoffing now.
40/ Those 3 events—and their related sub-events, like the September 8, 2016 sanctions klatch between Sessions and Kislyak—coupled with the meetings abroad I've been writing about (e.g., Papadopoulos in Athens when Putin was there) are the key touchstones in a criminal conspiracy.
41/ I'm thrilled that—after me discussing it with them—POLITICO picked up my discovery that Papadopoulos traveled to Athens at the same time Putin was there *and* met the same people. I'm even *more* thrilled POLITICO says Congress is now investigating it.…
42/ When I was a criminal investigator, I was trained to look for facts that don't fit established patterns. Kislyak shouldn't have been at the Mayflower. It's bizarre Kushner only denies one phone call—to Kislyak pre-Mayflower. McFarlane as a "VIP" in that context is senseless.
43/ And yes, McFarlane's sword sticks out as a possible clue—odd as it sounds. As does Manafort organizing the event and lying—in very obvious ways; see my April thread on the Mayflower—on why he couldn't hold the event at the NPC as planned. So does the choice of 4 ambassadors.
44/ There's a rule I follow in criminal investigations: 1 coincidence—yes; 2 coincidences—yes, maybe; 3 coincidences—likely not; 4 coincidences—no.

"Yes" means a "coincidence" may be just that; "no" means what you think is a coincidence isn't.

This case has *100+ coincidences*.
45/ The struggle in the Trump-Russia case is *not* to find pieces of evidence that fit the theory—the struggle is to find pieces that *don't*.

Not coincidentally, I always say the way to "listen" to Trump is not to hunt for lies, but to hunt for the few times he tells the truth.
46/ This conspiracy *wasn't* excessively sophisticated and *didn't* involve many people—2 hallmarks of *successful* conspiracies being a manageable level of sophistication and a small group—but *did* take awhile to unfold and *did* make coincidences no close observer could miss.
47/ This, as much as any one fact about Pence's words, actions, and movements—though these are telling, too—render it impossible for him not to have acquired knowledge of what Flynn was doing with Kislyak; of McFarlane's lobbying; of Trump aides' deceit on their Russia contacts.
48/ Candidate Trump deliberately surrounded himself with 5 types of people:

(1) Family
(2) Sycophants
(3) Incompetents
(4) Felons
(5) Foreign Agents

The events we've seen unfold are the obvious and predictable result of a man with so few qualms these are his chosen compatriots.
49/ "Felons" includes those with convictions *and* those whose acts could be the subject of criminal allegations—it includes Prince, McFarlane, Sater, Stone, etc. "Sycophants" includes Sessions; "Incompetents" McFarland; "Foreign Agents" Manafort, Flynn, in certain respects Page.
50/ Sixth and seventh categories—admittedly small—we must keep an eye on: ideologues (e.g. Miller/Bannon) and "normal" folks like Clovis, Pence, Priebus. But in terms of indictments, expect to first see various individuals in the 5 categories I listed—they're far easier to catch.
ADDITIONAL SOURCES/ Check out this article, from 72 hours after Trump announced his candidacy in June 2015.…
ADDITIONAL SOURCES 2/ This is from just a few weeks after Papadopoulos traveled to Athens "incognito" (per Greek media) to meet with the same men Putin was meeting with the same week/place he was meeting with them, including one who's a known Kremlin ally.…
ADDITIONAL SOURCES 3/ Bud McFarlane, a criminal, has longtime ties to another Iran-Contra criminal, Oliver North, who's now working with a man whose company was accused of crimes, Erik Prince, to develop a secret Trump Spy Agency (yes, really; it's scary).…
NOTE/ Someone made a great point (in response to The Washington Post piece about this feed) I want to acknowledge: yes—it's true—I don't rehash old threads on this feed. The threads are accretive, and intended as such; what I do is not possible if I have to keep repeating myself.
NOTE2/ I know that makes it harder to read, but again, this work can't be done any other way—the case is too complex and the evidence too voluminous to have threads retread old ground. So yes, that'll always make it easy for scolds, snarks, and cranks to say, "He didn't prove X!"
NOTE3/ My hope is there will always be a few faithful readers around to tell those scolds, snarks, and cranks, "Actually, he did a 200-tweet thread with 25 sources on that subject 3 weeks ago—you can use Google or other tools to find it—and this thread assumes you read that one."
ADDITIONAL SOURCES 4/ Is this related? Don't know. But it a) doesn't fit established patterns and b) involves key players in the theory of the case, and so must be looked at seriously by Mueller and Congress. Maybe Mueller asked Jared about it 2 weeks ago.…
ADDITIONAL SOURCES 5/ By comparison, *this* is *very* related: a UAE national enters the country undetected to talk with Flynn—*who's working the reactor deal*—just weeks before the UAE sets up an Erik Prince meeting with Russia on sanctions/"anti-terror."…
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