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Seth Abramson @SethAbramson
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(THREAD) This thread discusses the most significant passages in the just-released Comey Memos. I hope you'll read and share.
1/ You can find the Comey Memos here (and everything I discuss in this thread is taken from these memos): documentcloud.org/documents/4442…
2/ In evidentiary terms, the first memo—written after Comey informed Trump of the Steele dossier—is a home run: written *less than five minutes* after the event, which would place its reliability very high in the view of most jurors, whether laypeople or (down the line) Senators.
3/ Comey writes that Trump "quickly" decided he wanted to meet with Comey alone to get the additional briefing—even though Priebus seemed to want to be there with Pence. I find that odd. But what's odder is the very first reaction Trump had to hearing of the Dossier's existence.
4/ The *very first thing Trump said* on hearing of the Dossier was this: "There were no prostitutes; there were never prostitutes." What's odd is we have a lot of evidence—via the BBC and others—there were women sent up to Trump's room, but little evidence they were prostitutes.
5/ Trump doesn't say, "Nonsense!" or "I've no idea what you're talking about!" or even "What? There were never any women in my room!" Instead: "There were no prostitutes; there were never prostitutes." To *many* that'll suggest Trump had women up didn't consider them prostitutes.
6/ Given that the allegation in the Steele dossier *isn't* that Trump engaged in any sexual conduct with the women, merely that he watched them urinate on a bed Obama had slept in, Trump's reaction is actually entirely consistent with what the evidence says happened in that room.
7/ A prosecutor—and most juries—would consider Trump's second and third responses bizarre also: first, Trump noted he didn't *need* prostitutes (a very strange way to deny the allegation Comey cited); second, Trump brought up all the women who'd made allegations against him. Why?
8/ During Trump's second meeting with Comey—1/28/17—he again detailed the allegations against him by women he'd known. Given that Trump conjoined this with implying Comey keeping his job would be some kind of favor, did he think the FBI planned to *investigate* these allegations?
9/ Trump also, during the same 80-minute chat, mentioned the way that an FBI Director (perhaps another one he might select) *could* come to be "reliable" in the "political" sense—presumably, as opposed to the law enforcement sense. A good chance Trump was thinking of the Dossier?
10/ Trump's *first* question about the FBI to his FBI Director was this: "Does the FBI leak?" And his second question was: I need and expect loyalty from my FBI Director—will you give it to me?

What *exactly* did Trump think the FBI was going to be doing or needed by him for?
11/ I think it's wise to see every Trump-Comey interaction as being about the Steele dossier whether Trump said so or not. Why would a president-elect already be worried about FBI leaks? Why would he need total loyalty? Why would he need his Director feeling thankful for his job?
12/ A typical president would have no clear idea what major cases the FBI was working on when he came into office—and would simply want a competent FBI Director. Trump knew two things about Comey and the FBI: they were working the Trump-Russia case and knew of the Steele dossier.
13/ So what a criminal investigator would do is consider what sort of behavior you'd expect from the suspect; what behavior you actually witnessed; and what known circumstances could have produced that behavior, assuming that the suspect's personality couldn't explain all of it.
14/ While Trump did know Comey had worked the Clinton email investigation, his "review" of Comey's work on that investigation was—predictably, given his election win—glowing, so it wouldn't have been that case weighing on Trump's mind. But Russia and the Dossier? Absolutely, yes.
15/ That said, Trump was aware Comey had briefly done something during the Clinton case that displeased him—exonerated Clinton. He quickly revealed that he'd been told there was a "revolt" within the FBI after July 7, 2016. He would've gotten this from Giuliani, almost certainly.
16/ I must say, Comey's response is revealing: he tells the President of the United States, who he's just promised honesty to, that it's "nonsense" to say there was a "revolt" within the FBI. But in fact he knew or should have known a *lot* of agents were unhappy—and admitted it.
17/ It's clear one of Comey's greatest weaknesses—which he remains blind to—is that he doesn't realize there are higher loyalties to the country than ensuring that the reputation of the FBI remains intact. Sometimes the truth about something happening within the FBI must be told.
18/ Comey's statement on McCabe—"he's a true professional"—underscores what I've said on this feed, which is that the "McCabe conspiracy theory" of McCabe sitting on the Clinton emails *can't be squared* with Comey's glowing review of him, as it'd require McCabe *lying* to Comey.
19/ We now know that Comey concedes McCabe told him of the "new" Clinton emails as soon as they were found, and doesn't appear to blame McCabe for nothing being done on the emails from October 3 to October 26—which makes me think he blames *others*. Was it rogue pro-Trump agents?
20/ I agree with Comey that it's odd Trump thought there was even a "1% chance" Melania believed he was cavorting with strange Russian women urinating on a bed in Moscow.

On the other hand, it's not odd at all—given that Melania surely knew there was a 90%+ chance he'd done it.
21/ It's telling that, *even as he was claiming to be innocent of the allegations in the Steele dossier*, Trump *lied to Comey's face* about whether he had stayed at the Ritz Moscow overnight (he had) *and* whether he'd spoken to compatriots who'd told him he hadn't (he had not).
22/ I'll say again that the media *misreported* whether Trump asked Comey to investigate the Dossier. He *didn't*. Per Comey, Trump said he was "thinking of" asking Comey to do so, then said "maybe you're right" when Comey advised against it—a transparent ploy to *seem* innocent.
23/ One new piece of information is that Trump was a bit fixated on Andrew McCabe—which perhaps isn't surprising, given that McCabe had been the FBI agent who (it seems) Trump's rogue agents in the NYC field office had screwed over by sitting on the Clinton emails for 24 days.
24/ The Trump narrative—which we have a hint of from Giuliani—is that the NYC field office thought McCabe would reopen the Clinton probe the moment the "new" emails were found (10/3/16), and when that didn't happen they complained to Giuliani, who told Trump McCabe was a problem.
25/ That would also explain Trump's attacks on McCabe—he believed, per Giuliani, McCabe was holding up the Clinton case being reopened. That'd also explain why Bannon, Prince and others plotted to up the pressure on McCabe—and thus Comey—to reopen the case as Election Day neared.
26/ Another possibility: Trump was thinking of Russia and the dossier again. If Giuliani had led him to believe McCabe was pro-Clinton, Trump might have worried that if McCabe oversaw the Russia probe as he had the Clinton investigation, it might be bad news for him and his team.
27/ Breaking in on the thread: here's what Republicans are saying about the memos. Not surprisingly, their claims don't track at all with the memos, and as the GOP well knows, whether Comey "felt" obstructed—he's said he felt ordered—is legally irrelevant.
28/ It's key that—just as Trump sent Priebus away when Comey was going to brief him on a sensitive Russia topic—he told Comey Priebus didn't know he (Trump) had asked Comey to dinner [to demand loyalty]. This suggests Trump was keenly aware Priebus wasn't a Russia co-conspirator.
29/ @Anthony suggests the person who called Trump to congratulate him who Flynn took six days to tell him called was... Vladimir Putin. Striking that Trump was so upset about failing to give Putin a timely callback, and that Flynn hid the call for a week.
30/ To be clear, if indeed Flynn did that it's bad—and Trump was right to be upset. But the way he framed it to Comey was that he was partly upset because it was *Putin*—as opposed to a world leader he considered less important. So Trump's "Putin fetish" appears to be part of it.
31/ Comey's February 8, 2017 memo (apologies if I wrote "2016" in any earlier tweets when I meant, of course, "2017") is interesting because it seems Priebus wanted to complain about how the "Steele dossier" ended up as part of the initial Russia briefing of the President-elect.
32/ Comey saying the [redacted, but seems to be Steele's dossier in context] was "corroborated by other intelligence" confirms what we know—Comey/the FBI trusted Steele as a source because of his background, track record and experience but *also* felt his work had corroboration.
33/ Comey appears to have told Priebus "much of [the Steele dossier]" was corroborated by evidence held by the FBI. If that's what he was indeed saying, it means the president and his staff repeatedly lied and contradicted the evidence they knew existed in attacking the dossier.
34/ It's clear Priebus was obsessed with FBI leaking, and Comey obsessed (as ever) with insisting whenever possible the FBI had not leaked. What's *also* clear is that Comey's comment (we don't usually catch leakers unless we go after reporters' records) *won't* protect Giuliani.
35/ That Priebus asked Comey if he had a FISA warrant on—i.e., was monitoring communications by—Flynn is startling. One, that he thought it OK even to ask if Comey considered the question appropriate; two, that he must have wanted to know if Flynn had gotten them all in trouble.
36/ One has to wonder if Priebus was asking about the Flynn FISA of his own accord, or if Trump had him ask; one also now has to go back and look at all the White House comments after this conversation—because as of February 8 the White House knew Flynn was under federal warrant.
37/ Comey's understanding of the Clinton case is surprisingly... off. For him to tell Priebus, "It's not my fault Huma Abedin forwarded her emails to Anthony Weiner," when that's not at all an accurate description of what occurred or who controlled the device, is disconcerting.
38/ Wow, many may miss this, but Priebus interjecting to say Kellogg—Flynn's eventual replacement—and not Flynn was investigating the national security leaks of the President's calls with Australia and Mexico means that the White House knew as of then *they couldn't trust Flynn*.
39/ That Trump brings McCabe and the golden showers up in every conversation with Comey is legitimately insane—100% abnormal. That Putin and he discussed hookers—repeat, *Putin and Trump discussed hookers*—is shocking in part because we don't know when that conversation occurred.
40/ Remember that there's a pending allegation that Trump and Putin talked either by cell or by speakerphone while Trump was in Moscow (the trip he lied about in every single early conversation with Comey), and *that's* when it would've made sense for Putin to be talking hookers.
41/ Regarding the March 30 memo: the information I have from The Guardian is that the British press has a Trump Org employee who saw women arguing in the Ritz lobby about going up to Trump's room without signing in. So Trump saying he has witnesses is almost certainly a lie.
42/ The BBC also has at least two witnesses seeing the same row described by the Trump Org employee, so again this idea that Trump has a secret stash of witnesses who support his account is almost certainly false. Even *Schiller* wouldn't confirm there were no women in the room.
43/ In the same exchange in which Trump lied about not knowing Millian—thought to be a key Steele source, which means Trump was obsessively looking into whether Comey would be able to prove the dossier true—he acknowledges someone connected to him *could've* done something wrong.
44/ Trump's obsession with McCabe is as bizarre as his obsession with the hookers. But it *could* be explained by Giuliani whispering poison in Trump's ear about how all the agents in Trumplandia—the New York field office of the FBI—hated McCabe and considered him pro-Clinton.
45/ The first April 2017 memo is striking because Trump makes *absolutely clear* that the Russia "cloud" he is upset about is the one Democrats are using as an "excuse for losing the election." So the GOP is *100% wrong* when they say the "cloud" was the hooker allegation. Nope.
46/ These memos—in sum—are terrible for Trump. While hearsay, they'd certainly be used in a prosecution of Trump—or impeachment—once Trump's lawyers had tried to impeach Comey by alleging he fabricated his accounts of his Trump meetings. The memos would be rehabiliation evidence.
47/ And there are damning *new* facts in here—like a previously unknown Trump-Putin conversation about hookers, Priebus confirming the White House knew Flynn was a liability long before he was fired, and Trump seeming to have some inside info from the NYC field office of the FBI.
48/ Trump repeatedly lied about whether he slept at the Ritz, repeatedly lied about having corroborating witnesses, repeatedly lied about his level of caution (Miss Hungary Kata Sarka confirms Trump propositioned her for sex in his room the night he "wasn't there"/was cautious).
49/ And Trump—who's cheated on Melania again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again—is *really* sick to repeatedly use *not wanting to hurt her* as the *main reason* Comey needed to exonerate him as to the hooker issue.
50/ So I maintain what I've said since January 2017: barring a major change, this is a massive, complex, international federal criminal investigation *without any exculpatory evidence whatsoever*—which *should* be a logical impossibility, but here we are. Trump's in trouble. /end
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