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Seth Abramson @SethAbramson
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(THREAD) I've not done a thread about Mueller's indictment of 13 Russians this week, as I'm oddly—for a Trump-Russia analyst—ambivalent about it. I'd like to explain how—while important—it's caused more confusion than clarity in Trump-Russia reporting. Hope you'll read and share.
1/ Polling macroanalyses confirm that Jim Comey's decision to "re-open" the Clinton email investigation in late October 2016 swung more than enough voters away from Clinton—in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, as well as nationally—to give the presidential election to Trump.
2/ Despite this, there's been virtually *no media coverage whatsoever* of DOJ Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz's investigation into—among other matters—whether rogue agents in the FBI's New York field office participated in a plot to coerce Comey to re-open the Clinton case.
3/ Media silence on the Horowitz investigation mirrors media silence on the Trump-Russia investigation in the fall of 2016. (People forget that one reason Twitter feeds like this one first became popular is because for *months* major media refused to adequately cover that probe.)
4/ Trump-Russia coordination is critical for many reasons—it's criminal, a national security threat, one of the broadest and most successful domestic disinformation schemes in U.S. history, and profoundly unpatriotic—but it's Trump-FBI coordination that likely swung the election.
5/ We have ample evidence—audio, video, emails, tweets—suggesting Trump advisors Flynn, Bannon, Trump Jr., Prince, and Giuliani engaged in an illegal effort to coordinate FBI leaks in a way that would coerce FBI Director Comey into taking an action that would swing the election.
6/ By comparison, the utility of the "Russian propaganda campaign" news story is not to explain why Trump won. Mind you, it has many utilities—and they're all critical—but the story is being sold as a primer for understanding Trump's win and even Mueller doesn't think it's that.
7/ This week's indictments matter—long-term—for *many* reasons:

1. They confirm the accuracy of Steele's dossier.
2. They underscore that Putin will keep meddling in our elections to undermine our confidence in their results.
3. They underscore Trump's exploitation of fake news.

4. They underscore that Trump is doing nothing to protect American democracy—deliberately—and social media mavens far too little.
5. They start the process of media—and Mueller—considering whether Trump's 2016 campaign was involved in helping the Russians micro-target voters.

6. They establish how well-funded, and imply how profoundly Kremlin-backed, the Russian disinformation campaign was.
7. They buy Mueller more time before Trump tries to fire him, and indeed make it harder for Trump to fire him at all.
8. They decimate Trump's "hoax" argument.

9. They start a conversation about Trump's use of fake news *pre-election*, as it was the "True Pundit Hoax" that brought to light Trump campaign-FBI coordination *before* Election Day in 2016.
10. They underscore how hard Mueller is working and how much he's accomplishing.
11/ But what Mueller's indictments of 13 Russians this week do *not* do—or aim to do—is explain how Trump won the election through illicit conduct.

And they do *not*—and do not intend to—establish how, why, when, where, and to what end Trump's campaign coordinated with Russia.
12/ Public confusion on these points—fueled, deliberately, but Trump supporters, and entirely inadvertently (or perhaps by gross negligence) by the national media—has led many on the far right to imply that these indictments (their language and their particulars) exonerate Trump.
13/ That's bunk: just because these indictments don't seek to establish witting Trump-Russia coordination doesn't mean that that can't and won't be established—or, arguably, hasn't *already* been established by numerous 2016 events helpfully cast as non-coordination by the media.
14/ But the Trump-Russia scandal is not, *as such*, about the "Russia-Russia" side of things—how the Kremlin coordinated with its *own* intelligence apparatus to meddle in our electoral process and try to tamper with our elections infrastructure. That's a key—but different—story.
15/ No, the Trump-Russia scandal is about Trump a) selling US foreign policy toward Russia for money before the campaign (and for unspecified/specified Russian assistance during it), and b) Trump for similar reasons doing nothing to protect us from Russian meddling going forward.
16/ There's also a *chance*—though it's by no means necessary to the Trump-Russia story being a scandal, or illuminating impeachable offenses—that Trump's campaign actively coordinated with Russia's hacking, propaganda, or voter micro-targeting campaigns during the 2016 election.
17/ What misreporting of this week's indictments has done, however, is conflate the "Trump-Russia scandal" with a "Russia-Russia" story; made a tertiary Trump-Russia coordination angle the primary—indeed only—one; and continued to obscure the election-swinging Trump-FBI scandal.
18/ Moreover, the media has insufficiently pushed back on Trump/Trump ally misstatements regarding the indictments themselves, thus playing into Trump's ongoing fallacious reasoning: until the moment Mueller alleges direct Trump-Russia coordination, he's saying there wasn't any.
19/ For all these reasons, I didn't obsess over this week's indictments of 13 Russians by Bob Mueller. The indictments are important—but over-focusing on them does far more damage than good. And honestly, I think any committed Trump-Russia analyst should've been able to see that.
20/ We *knew* Russia attacked us by mid-July 2016, and this was confirmed for Trump—critically, for legal purposes—via formal security briefing on August 17, 2016. Any implication that it's only *this week* that that was confirmed is deeply wrong—indeed, Trumpist disinformation.
CONCLUSION/ We should feel free to see this week's indictments as critical. We should feel equally free to see them as—in a certain view—beside the point of two key questions: (1) how did Trump conspire to steal an election; (2) how did Trump betray the nation he now leads. {end}
NOTE/ I'd be remiss if I didn't note that—while they actually go *directly* to this question—coverage of this week's indictments has thus far done far too little to illuminate a critical third issue: (3) how Putin plans to destroy America by destroying our faith in our elections.
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