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Seth Abramson @SethAbramson
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(THREAD) BREAKING: In a stunning development in the Trump-Russia investigation, former top Trump aide Sam Nunberg says he will defy a Mueller subpoena, thereby risking incarceration. I discuss the context and implications of this development here.

Hope you'll read on and share.
1/ Nunberg has become a well-known figure in the Trump-Russia saga due to him acknowledging that he's intentionally lied to the media in the past—requiring journalists to issue caveats whenever they cite him—and saying Don Jr. told his dad about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting.
2/ The importance of this second point can't be overstated—as Nunberg is the second top Trump aide (with Bannon) to publicly express certainty Don Jr. told his dad of the campaign's secret meeting with Kremlin agents at Trump Tower on or around the time it happened. This matters.
3/ If Trump knew of the Trump Tower meeting with Kremlin agents at the time it happened, Trump may be responsible for a series of federal offenses relating to how he worked to cover up the nature of the meeting afterward and his knowledge of Russian ambitions/actions post-June.
4/ More importantly, Sam Nunberg just said on MSNBC that he believes "Trump may have done something [illegal]" during the presidential campaign, but he doesn't know what yet. He bases his opinion on interactions with the Trump campaign after he and Roger Stone were fired from it.
5/ Nunberg met with Mueller a week ago, and it's clearly that meeting that led to Mueller issuing a subpoena for any and all emails between Nunberg and certain Trump aides—basically, any Trump-Russia figure you could think of, including the president himself—since November 2015.
6/ Nunberg told MSNBC his meeting with Mueller focused on whether he (Nunberg) heard discussions of Trump Tower Moscow plans during the presidential campaign, and/or whether he saw any signs that Trump was developing U.S.-Russia policy on the basis of his ongoing business deals.
7/ During the course of his interview with MSNBC, Nunberg revealed that he did think that Trump was constantly aware throughout the presidential campaign of how his policies could affect his business—as he didn't expect to win. I and others have been saying this for many months.
8/ Nunberg also said Mueller wants him to testify for a grand jury Friday to incriminate Trump advisor/confidant Roger Stone, who I wrote days ago—see below—can now be indicted at a time of Mueller's choosing for lying to Congress. Looks like I was correct.
9/ Nunberg is a Stone mentee, and his reasons for not wanting to cooperate with Mueller's subpoena are clearly pretextual—meaning, he's suddenly realized that while he can *say* what he wants to Mueller, his *emails* may, if he's compelled to produce them, tell a different story.
10/ Why do I say his excuses are pretextual? A week ago he told MSNBC the Mueller probe *isn't* a "witch hunt," and now that he's being asked to produce his correspondence on the question, he suddenly says that it *is* a "witch hunt." So clearly he has something he wants to hide.
11/ Why else do I say his excuses are pretextual? Because he's disregarding his attorney's advice. (He says his lawyer is likely to "fire" him.) Why else? Because his main reason for not complying—he says—is *it'd take too long to find all the emails requested*.

Yes, seriously.
12/ Why else do I say Nunberg is refusing to produce documents for clandestine reasons? Because he's not just objecting to producing emails that could hurt Stone or be professionally embarrassing—he's *also* saying him having to produce emails to the president is "over the line."
13/ So Nunberg is worried about his emails to Stone, and also, apparently, worried about his emails to and from Donald Trump—a man he now admits he believes "did something wrong [illegal]" during the 2016 presidential campaign. Perhaps his emails reflect that knowledge or belief?
14/ There's more—and it's also stunning. Nunberg has perhaps inadvertently given us a view into exactly *what* he thinks Trump may have done wrong, as he told MSNBC repeatedly (and he brought this up voluntarily) that it'd be "fine" if Trump wanted Russia to release Clinton dirt.
15/ To be clear, it would *not* be fine.

It would likely be Conspiracy to Commit Computer Crimes or Aiding and Abetting Computer Crimes or some sort of Bribery charge if Trump communicated directly or indirectly with the Russians about releasing their *stolen* Clinton materials.
16/ Take all Nunberg said and a scenario emerges: Nunberg said Trump knew of the June 2016 meeting because subsequent correspondence with the president or someone else confirmed to Nunberg that Trump knew of it and—after—tried to secretly facilitate Russia releasing Clinton dirt.
17/ Nunberg, in this view, is refusing to comply not just because he doesn't want to hurt Stone—though that may be so—or because complying with the subpoena could hurt him (though that may be so), but because he thinks his emails may lead toward the discovery of some larger plot.
18/ In his interview with MSNBC, Nunberg took the disconcerting tack of implying that he will be, he hopes, just "the first" of many former Trump aides to decide that the Mueller investigation is illegitimate and they shouldn't comply with it. That is dangerous, lawless rhetoric.
19/ Yet Nunberg is unsophisticated enough that he "doesn't think [Mueller] will do anything" if he refuses to comply with a federal subpoena (spoiler—he will) and publicly says Carter Page colluded with the Russians—see below—so who knows what his deal is.
20/ The upshot: Nunberg will produce these emails or be held in Contempt and go to jail. He has no valid legal defense against production and—with each word he says—underscores why Mueller wants this evidence: because it *could* reveal a smoking gun. Per—it seems—*Nunberg*. {end}
PS/ No one thread can capture how strange these events are. For instance, at one point Nunberg tells MSNBC his proof no one is tampering with him is that he looked at "no emails" before deciding not to comply with Mueller's subpoena. Minutes later, he says "I reviewed my emails."
PS2/ I've represented enough defendants to recognize BS intended to cover a crime, so it was clear to me days after we learned of the June '16 Trump Tower meeting—where top Trump aides met Kremlin agents—that Trump knew of it. Do Nunberg's emails prove it?
PS3/ Was excited to hear John Harwood (NBC) use the phrase "collusion in plain sight" to describe Trump's public remarks encouraging Russia to release Clinton dirt. The "collusion in plain sight" theory (quid pro quo by private/public statements) is one I put forward a year ago.
UPDATE/ An audio drop-out on the MSNBC feed briefly made it seem that Nunberg was saying the atmosphere *within the Trump campaign* convinced him Trump may have done something illegal.

In fact, it appears he meant the atmosphere *inside the interview room with Bob Mueller*. FYI.
PS4/ Fun fact, given that today the big Trump-Russia focus is on federal subpoenas (NB: this observation is a personal point of privilege, if that's all right): I served my first federal subpoena in a federal criminal case when I was a teenager.

And my second, third, tenth...
PS5/ Anyway, point being, I know firsthand the consequences of the folks I was serving federal criminal subpoenas to as a teenager not complying with those subpoenas: if a subpoena for documents, Contempt; if a subpoena for testimony, the marshals come and take you into custody.
PS6/ Another key point: Nunberg worked for Trump from 2011 through August 2015, so Mueller's interest in him dovetails with the news last week Mueller wants to know more—much more—about Trump's Russia contacts, policy, and deals pre-announcement. Nunberg knows a *lot* about that.
PS7/ Moreover, given Flynn came aboard the Trump campaign—and Trump began solidifying his Russia policy in his public statements—in August 2015, I should note that some are speculating that Stone/Nunberg were "let go" so they could operate "off the books" on clandestine schemes.
PS8/ This thread continues here:
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