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Seth Abramson @SethAbramson
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(THREAD) There are bombshell revelations deeply damaging to Trump in the just-released HPSCI report written by Trump's allies and agents in the House. This thread discusses them via a deep dive into the timeline of events the GOP now seeks to obscure. Hope you'll read and share.
It's now clear that Trump NatSec chief Jeff Sessions received—with Trump—the US intelligence community's August 17, 2016 briefing calling Russia a "threat." 22 days later, Sessions secretly met with the Russian ambassador. No other Armed Services Senator met with Kislyak in 2016.
Sessions' testimony confirms he discussed Ukraine (sanctions) with Kislyak in his secret meeting of September 8, 2016—the one he lied to Congress about. But we didn't know until now that the intelligence community had told him 22 days earlier that Russia was an *active* threat.
So Trump's top national security advisor was told Russia was an *active* threat against the US and *almost immediately thereafter* set up a secret meeting with the Russians, which he later lied about under oath. During the secret meeting he discussed sanctions policy with Russia.
George Papadopoulous told a major Greek newspaper, Kathimerini, that he had a private meeting with Trump before he was named to Trump's NatSec team on March 21, 2016. We now know, thanks to the HPSCI report, that Papadopoulos was already on the team by March 14—a critical date.
Trump choosing Papadopoulos to be the only member of his new NatSec team he personally vouched for bolsters Papadopoulos' claim that a pre-March 21, 2016 meeting occurred between Trump and Papadopoulos—but that fact now presents a major (in fact bombshell-level) danger for Trump.
If the Trump-Papadopoulos one-on-one meeting happened after March 14, 2016 but before March 21, the chances are *extremely* high that Papadopoulos told Trump that he had made contact with a Kremlin agent—Joseph Mifsud—and that this is why Trump personally praised him on March 21.
We already know Papadopoulos was willing and eager to talk with Trump and the NatSec team about his contact with Russia; after several members of the team lied to the press about it, it was revealed that Papadopoulos did in fact make this revelation to the team on March 31, 2016.
We know that Trump exhibited *no surprise* when he "learned" on March 31, 2016 that Papadopoulos had made contact with the Russians. That, along with the other evidence, suggests a meeting between the two men between March 14 and March 21 had already given Trump this information.
That the HPSCI report says a top Trump aide praised Papadopoulos—right after his Mifsud meeting—for making contact with Russia further suggests the information was passed on to Trump. So Trump knew of contact between his campaign and Russia earlier than anyone has ever reported.
The timing of the aide's praise of Papadopoulos suggests Trump received notice of the Papadopoulos-Mifsud contact—whether or not Trump met with Papadopoulos—pre-March 21. So post-notice he deliberately kept Papadopoulos on a team he hadn't announced yet—even praised him publicly.
Moreover, Trump choosing not to *remove* Papadopoulos from a national security team he hadn't announced yet once he learned Papadopoulos had—likely without orders—met with the Russians would have served as a public signal to the Russians that Trump was willing to deal with them.
Keep in mind that we already know that, post-March 31, Papadopoulos was elevated within the NatSec team to a Russia policy position (not his area of expertise) *and* put on the team editing Trump's first foreign policy speech—in which he offered Russia a "good deal" on sanctions.
The HPSCI report says Papadopoulos met with Mifsud in Italy. Strikingly, when the Trump campaign was deciding who'd get to meet with Trump at a VIP event right before his first foreign policy speech, only 4 ambassadors in the world were selected. One was Russia—another was Italy.
But there's a problem—Papadopoulos lives in London; says every trip he took during the campaign was with campaign approval; was on the campaign on March 14, 2016, when he met Mifsud in Italy; got praised by the campaign for the meeting. Why did he take a new job—then go to Italy?
Papadopoulos was woefully under-qualified for the position HPSCI says he had on March 14, 2016, when he met Mifsud: member of the Trump NatSec team. There is *zero* chance he went on vacation to Italy just days after getting the most important gig of his entire professional life.
So either HPSCI is wrong—and Papadopoulos was unemployed when he met Mifsud—or else he was on Team Trump and in Italy at the campaign's direction and with its approval. In which case the meetup with Mifsud wasn't an accident—but planned. Papadopoulos will have told Mueller which.
According to HPSCI, Flynn contacted Russia to illegally negotiate Russia's position on a UN resolution—under color of an authority neither he nor Trump had, as we have one government at a time—within a day of the resolution being filed. Which means Kushner told him it was urgent.
It's no secret why Kushner felt so comfortable ordering Flynn to illegally contact Russia, and why he felt so comfortable expediting that command—just 20 days earlier he'd slipped Kislyak into Trump Tower via a back door to discuss creating an illegal back-channel to the Kremlin.
So we now know that the secret Kushner-Kislyak meeting of approximately December 2, 2016 yielded fruit within 20 days—a backchannel to the Kremlin, via Kislyak, that Kushner was able to order Flynn to exploit within a day of the Trump transition needing and wanting it to go live.
Why did Kushner sneak Kislyak in the back door? Likely, a) he didn't want the press to know the transition was negotiating with Russia, b) he planned on doing something illegal, and c) he wasn't going to bring the Russian ambassador into Trump Tower without bringing Trump Sr. in.
Thanks to the HPSCI report, we know Kushner planned on using his Russian backchannel to negotiate with Russia in December 2016—when it was illegal—and he seemed aware of the illegality in choosing to sneak Kislyak into Trump Tower. The chances Trump wasn't in the meeting are nil.
When Trump was a candidate, he met Kislyak in DC on April 27, 2016, and had at least 6 aides make contact with him between April and September. After he was sworn in, he brought Kislyak into the Oval Office to leak classified intel—after forbidding any Americans from the meeting.
So what *possible* reason would Trump have for *avoiding* meeting Kislyak on December 2, 2016—post-election? And what *possible* reason would Kushner have for keeping the meeting secret—then risking felony charges by lying about it on his SF-86 form—except that Trump was there?
The reason House Republicans now want to *repeal* the Logan Act is because their own report suggests—along with the other facts we know—that Trump was likely part of a conspiracy to violate that act for the entire month of December in 2016. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.
We now know—from the HPSCI report and the Democratic response it compelled—that Russian nationals reached out to the transition to continue negotiating sanctions relief in December 2016, including Natalia Veselnitskaya. So the events of December were part of a pattern of conduct.
Trump's claim that the only reason contact was made with Russia in December 2016 was because Flynn was told to reach out with friendly calls to many nations is therefore clearly and demonstrably false—the transition knew the Kremlin wanted to spend December negotiating sanctions.
The problem: the Trump transition *couldn't legally negotiate sanctions with the Russians* in December 2016 not just because of the Logan Act, but because Obama's threat of new economic penalties for Russian election interference meant Trump's negotiating was aiding and abetting.
Republicans want to repeal the Logan Act *and* claim Trump's team began sanctions negotiations in December 2016—post-election. But it's almost certain, as we've seen, that Trump had known of and encouraged negotiations on this topic beginning in mid-March of 2016. That's a crime.
Not only was Trump holding out an economic benefit to Russia beginning with his Papadopoulos-edited speech on April 27, 2016—a day after Papadopoulos learned Russia was committing crimes against America—he was holding out the additional benefit of undoing Obama's *new* sanctions.
So when you see House Republicans using their report as a justification for ending the Logan Act, see it for what it is: a desire to make sure that, by the time Mueller tells his tale—which will involve the Logan Act—the conduct covered by the Logan Act will have been made legal.
Early March—Big break: hired by campaign
Mid-March—Unexpectedly goes to Italy
March 14—happens to meet Kremlin agent in Italy
March 14-21—likely meeting w/ Trump
March 21—Named to NatSec team; Trump says "great guy"
Late March—second meeting w/ Kremlin agent
March 31—Tells Trump of Russia contacts for the first time (likely Team Trump lie)
April 1—promoted to Russia policy role
Early April—promoted to editing Trump's first foreign policy speech
April 26—learns Russia is committing crimes against the U.S.
April 27—Trump promises Russia "good deal" on sanctions
March-June—GP tells NatSec team of Russia contacts and is praised
June 2016—Per HPSCI, GP still working on setting Trump campaign-Russia meetings
July 2016—Tons of Trump campaign-Russia meetings
As you see in this timeline, HPSCI is confirming that Papadopoulos' work on getting Trump campaign aides in touch with Kremlin agents *preceded* Trump aides Sessions, Page, and Phares (and maybe Gordon) receiving protocol-breaching meetings with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Remember that Kislyak busted protocol by *not* going to the DNC event that corresponded to the RNC one he went to—where he met Trump aides—contrary to claims by Trump's NatSec team that their meetings *weren't* extraordinary. So Papadopoulos worked on meetings—then they happened.
All of this may explain why Papadopoulos' wife-to-be has said several times that Papadopoulos had a bigger role in the campaign than the Trump campaign says. After all, how did Trump's campaign *ensure* that Kislyak would go to an event whose DNC equivalent he had no interest in?
By the same token, Kislyak broke with protocol by attending Trump's first foreign policy speech—the one Papadopoulos edited. And who called Kislyak, per Reuters, prior to him making the *extraordinary* decision to attend a VIP campaign event at the Mayflower Hotel? Jared Kushner.
HPSCI reveals that—a day before Trump was to deliver a major policy speech Papadopoulos helped edit—Papadopoulos wasn't with the rest of the NatSec team in DC to hear Trump speak. Instead he was again in a spot you wouldn't have expected—home in London. Who pops up there? Mifsud.
A pattern emerges: Papadopoulos got a U.S. job that's the biggest break of his life? OK, so he'll be in Amer—wait, he's in Italy. And there's Mifsud. Papadopoulos just edited a historic policy speech? OK, so of course he'll be there in Amer—no, he's in London. And there's Mifsud.
In other words, Papadopoulos wasn't where you would've expected his job to have *wanted* him to be on March 14—and Mifsud *was* where Papadopoulos ended up. April 26—Same thing. An investigator would suspect that in both cases he was *exactly* where the campaign wanted him to be.
You might well wonder, how would the Russians have know where Papadopoulos was going to be? In other words, who coordinated Papadopoulos meeting Mifsud for the first time—or even the second? One possibility: the one person Trump inexplicably left *off* his national security team.
This is—necessarily—a subject in which speculation is the best we can do:

1) Trump inexplicably left Mike Flynn off his NatSec team.
2) Mike Flynn was the one person in touch with Russia pre-Papadopoulos.
3) Trump keeping Flynn off his NatSec team helped Flynn operate covertly.
By the same token, we might well ask, if the RNC event where Kislyak met many members of Trump's NatSec team—Papadopoulos' goal from the jump—was one Papadopoulos wasn't at, was there a liaison between Papadopoulos and the rest of the NatSec team or did he stay in touch directly?
One possible answer—should there indeed have been such a liaison—would be the man who ran the RNC for Trump and was in charge of the platform change at the RNC that Kislyak wanted and Trump's NatSec team directly facilitated (then lied about facilitating). His name is Rick Gates.

I find it very odd HPSCI says Mike Flynn began advising Trump in February 2016—as it was definitely fall of 2015. It seems Nunes wanted to put Flynn's December 2015 Moscow trip outside the scope of his work for Trump. Unfortunately, Nunes didn't move the date far enough forward.
HPSCI reports that Tom Barrack magically got the idea that *Paul Manafort*—a man long out of U.S. politics and suspected by most to be a criminal—should manage Trump's campaign on February 15, 2016. Within two weeks, Manafort had mailed a series of introductory memos to Trump.
Wouldn't it be interesting if there was a proven tie between Flynn and Barrack?

Wouldn't it be bizarre if Flynn went to Moscow to dine with Putin, came back and joined the Trump campaign, and is *also* good friends with the guy who put Manafort at the helm of Trump's operation?
Mike Flynn and Tom Barrack worked together on a secret lobbying project ultimately intended to benefit Russia.…
The benefit to Russia in the secret deal Flynn and Barrack were working on was that if the U.S. gave nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, Russia stood a good chance of getting the contract to build *every single new nuclear reactor in Saudi Arabia*. So now we're getting somewhere.
A "winter conspiracy" (Flynn, Barrack, and Manafort) would be enough to explain why, after an unknown kid—George Papadopoulos—gets inexplicably hired by Trump in early March, he ends up meeting a Kremlin agent in (of all places) Italy by March 14, then goes to a Trump debriefing.
Remember, when Papadopoulos was hired, he—and Carter Page—were the first members of a national security team *that didn't exist yet*. Trump's whole NatSec apparatus at that time was run by two men: Mike Flynn and Jeff Sessions, with human resources-like assistance by Sam Clovis.
So did you ever wonder why George Papadopoulos was the first man to fold, and almost immediately after his deal was made public, the whispers started that the feds were now pressuring *Mike Flynn* to fold? It seems certain that Papadopoulos reported to the feds on his first boss.
Of course, Flynn had tried to cooperate with the feds many months earlier, but apparently that overture was deemed premature until the feds had more information about what Flynn had done and what his exposure was. But once they had Papadopoulos, suddenly they were ready to move.
I always wondered why the first-ever meeting of Trump's NatSec team seemed to have been so *hastily* convened—so hasty that Carter Page, the first or second man on the team, couldn't attend.

That meeting was on March 31, 2016. Manafort became Campaign Manager on March 29, 2016.
You might ask, what would Manafort care about the NatSec team being convened? Well, Sessions' right-hand man at the time—J.D. Gordon—might have something to say about that: he says Trump ordered him to change the RNC platform (a change that would benefit Russia) at that meeting.
Indeed, the Trump team put out—falsely—that the meeting was a photo op only, but four months later Gordon revealed that *in fact* the meeting had featured a substantive discussion among the NatSec team about Trump's Russia policy. Which—oddly—already seemed pretty well formed.
I always wondered how Trump had a fully formed Russia policy—even on highly technical points, like arming Ukraine with lethal weapons—before the *first meeting* of his foreign policy/NatSec team. Well, HPSCI now confirms Flynn was the *actual* first member of Trump's NatSec team.
Sessions endorsed Trump on the last day of February 2016 and was named head of the foreign policy/NatSec team on March 3—right before Papadopoulos' hire. Why did Trump need Flynn to stay in the shadows—rather than run the team dedicated to the issue he'd been manning in February?
And are we really to believe that Sessions joined the NatSec team on March 3 and was ready to hire Papadopoulos within a matter of 72 hours or so? One wonders if Flynn didn't have to be in on those early hiring decisions as well, during the period Sessions was being on-boarded.
So Mike Flynn and Tom Barrack are known secret lobbying partners; Barrack, with an assist from Jared and Ivanka—who touted Manafort—got Manafort atop the Trump campaign; and meanwhile Flynn orchestrated Sessions, Papadopoulos, and Page as the first three members of a NatSec team.
Obviously Sam Clovis was assisting with this throughout as Trump's National Co-Chair. And I wouldn't be so suspicious of Clovis except that his lawyers are—wait for it—Victoria Toensing and Joe DiGenova, who tried to represent Trump and (best part) are also Erik Prince's lawyers.
Prince, Flynn, and DiGenova appear to all have been involved in preparing, executing, and/or disseminating the "True Pundit Hoax" that helped Trump win. In other words, Clovis doesn't end up with Erik Prince's lawyers accidentally, and Prince isn't accidentally in Flynn's orbit.
The reason Nunes can't have Flynn working for Trump in 2015—though he *was*—is that in November 2015 Flynn asked to have a secret meeting with the Russian ambassador. And that was while Trump and Michael Cohen were trying to close with Russian power-brokers on Trump Tower Moscow.
That Flynn asked to meet (along with his son) with Kislyak in November 2015—at the latest, the first 72 hours or so of December—is a fact we have thanks to HPSCI. Which is why they *must* make the bizarre notation (which they do for few others) of when Flynn began advising Trump.
The HPSCI report also helps us to understand that Michael Cohen was more involved with the 2013 Moscow pageant than we may have realized, given that he was able to testify to Congress about the financial details of an operation that was nominally run by the Miss Universe outfit.
This matters because Cohen spent fall '15 working on a Trump Tower Moscow deal, but—though we knew Trump spent the '13 pageant also working on a Trump Tower Moscow deal—we didn't know that Cohen had any involvement in that event. If he did, it changes the narrative significantly.
If Congress got valuable information from Michael Cohen about what deals Trump was trying to make in Moscow in 2013—and therefore, presumably, what representations he was making—given that we know Cohen was behind Trump's aborted 2012 run, we can guess that the feds want him bad.
I've long said that all the evidence suggests Trump dangled a pro-Russia presidential run before Putin as a negotiating chit during his 2013 Trump Tower Moscow negotiations. Michael Cohen is (besides Trump) the key link between Trump Tower Moscow and the presidential run in 2016.
Rob Goldstone, per HPSCI, set the Moscow pageant in motion—just as he set the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting in motion. HPSCI reports that Emin Agalarov (Goldstone's client) was familiar with how one gets Putin to an event and seemed to be in a position to learn whether he'd come.
HPSCI leaves out the entire story of the 2013 pageant. There's no explanation for why Putin had to have his press secretary call Trump (because HPSCI doesn't explain that Putin originally promised to go to the event), nor does it mention that Trump and Putin did (per Trump) talk.
HPSCI doesn't mention that Putin sent his permits man (Vlad Kozhin) to the pageant in his stead, and that this—along with Agalarov being Putin's developer and Putin's banker being at the pageant—made possible the signing of a letter-of-intent in Moscow for the tower Trump wanted.
If Cohen was in Moscow also, it's telling—given that he'd spent the time between Trump agreeing to bring the pageant to Moscow (January 2013) and the Moscow trip (November 2013) putting polls in the field on a 2016 Trump presidential run, according to The New York Post and Cohen.
The chance Trump didn't talk about a presidential run in Moscow is zero. He had polling data; he was registering campaign slogans; and members of his entourage right after his trip seemed to know he was running. And Jesus Christ it's Trump—he can't keep that sort of stuff secret.
What we know for certain is that Don Jr. said the 2013 Trump Tower deal "fizzled out after a few months" in his testimony to Congress—and yet Aras Agalarov, the man who actually inked the letter-of-intent with Trump, said that it was active through February of 2017 (not a typo).
HPSCI seems to aver that Michael Cohen was involved in the 2013 pageant, yet had *no* involvement in the chief (indeed only, besides the pageant) activity Trump was there to focus on: inking a tower deal with the Agalarovs. When the feds get hold of Cohen, he may sing a new tune.
Here a bombshell comes in: Trump's aide Cohen spent November '15—per HPSCI—regularly texting Sater about how he could get a hold of the *right* Russian nationals to get a tower deal done. Meanwhile Trump's aide Flynn was *asking to meet the Russian ambassador*. But it gets worse.
According to HPSCI, Sater's high-level Russian contacts apparently wanted Trump to go to Moscow in December 2015. And what do you know—after talking with a high-level Russian contact, Trump's advisor Mike Flynn went to Moscow. It was pre-planned, but *also* obviated a Trump trip.
A key fact: HPSCI says Sater was trying to facilitate a Trump-Putin meeting in December 2015 because he believed it would aid a tower deal. So who dines with Putin in December? Trump's "shadow" advisor Flynn—who Trump steadfastedly keeps off his NatSec team for no evident reason.
We also now know—thanks to HPSCI—a fact Cohen, Sater, and Trump previously concealed: that the reason Cohen emailed Putin's right-hand man in January 2016 was *not* as some shot in the dark but because *Sater had told Cohen that Vladimir Putin himself was behind the tower deal*.
Cohen told HuffPost that he spent "a grand total of 4 minutes" talking to Trump about the 2015 tower deal—*never* substantively. Well, we now know that's a lie—because the chance Sater told Cohen that Putin was personally involved in the deal and *Cohen never told Trump* is zero.
So thanks to HPSCI, we know that Trump—in the middle of the presidential campaign—had reason to believe that Vladimir Putin *personally was going to guarantee him a tower in Moscow*. Read that sentence over again—Trump believed Putin was getting him a tower. While he was running.
And the bombshells keep coming: in January 2016, Cohen wrote the Kremlin saying he wanted to set up a "meeting with the appropriate individuals" about the tower—after he'd been told Putin was the final decider and Trump had signed off on the deal. See now why the feds want Cohen?
So when Papadopoulos told Trump on March 31, 2016—and/or ten days before—that Putin wanted a meeting, which is information he had from a Kremlin agent, it was *directly responsive* to the query Cohen had made just seven or eight weeks earlier implying Trump wanted such a meeting.
HPSCI *explicitly* asserts that not a *single person* in the Trump campaign knew about what Papadopoulos had done on March 14, 2016—i.e., met Mifsud—when Trump announced him as a "great guy" on March 21. The (likely false) claim is Papadopoulos went rogue and kept it under wraps.
So, a question: why did—allegedly—Papadopoulos not tell anyone what happened with Mifsud until March 31? Given that Papadopoulos worked for Trump between March 14 and March 31, why was the campaign not upset that Papadopoulos sat on an entreaty from a foreign leader for 17 days?
We learned from the Comey Memos that Trump was *livid as hell* that Flynn didn't tell him for 6 days that Putin had called. So why, in March 2016, did Trump campaign officials apparently have *no problem* with Papadopoulos holding back an entreaty from the Kremlin for *17 days*?
This was a 28 year-old schlub who'd just gotten the break of his life. You think he sat on the hottest intelligence that'd ever come his way for 17 days? Hiding it from his employer? When it was the biggest thing he could ever offer the campaign? No. And *Papadopoulos* says "no."
All of this bolsters George Papadopoulos' claim: I met with Trump before March 21. And I'm telling you that if the Kremlin had a message for Trump and Papadopoulos met Trump before March 21—as he says he did—there's no way in hell Papadopoulos didn't share the message with Trump.
A few final thoughts: (1) Lewandowski telling Congress he made no attempt to vet Manafort seems to confirm Manafort's hire was a family decision: Ivanka, Jared, maybe Don Jr., and Trump. So the reasons for his hiring were kept within the family (plus Tom Barrack and maybe Flynn).
(2) Walid Phares told Congress the March 31, 2016 meeting was a photo op and without substance; meanwhile, J.D. Gordon—also at the meeting—said Trump made policy statements on Russia and the Ukraine that were *so clear* Gordon felt guided by them in a plank fight 4 months later.
Either Gordon is telling the truth—in which case Trump's NatSec people lied about what happened at the meeting and Trump's fervor on the Russia/Ukraine issue comes from some policy advisor we don't know—or Gordon is lying in order to cover up where/how he got his marching orders.
And (3) HPSCI found Papadopoulos never told anyone the content of his April 26, 2016 meeting with Mifsud—yet another key piece of intel he acquired and allegedly decided to hide from his bosses.

HPSCI can only pull this nonsense because Papadopoulos wasn't free to speak to them.
HPSCI concedes that Mueller has a "different focus" from them, and he does—that's why they can play political games by crafting an actually insane narrative for Papadopoulos (and Flynn) while Mueller, by contrast, has Papadopoulos and Flynn in his pocket. And—thus—the truth. /end
Note that I may add to this thread sometime tomorrow, depending on how things go. I know there are things yet to discuss—including Flynn's July 15, 2016 email indicating knowledge of upcoming "cyber operations" and statements by Trump aides about their meetings with the Russians.
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