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Seth Abramson @SethAbramson
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(THREAD) BREAKING: A new look at intersections between Trump's campaign and key Israelis reveals a startling possibility: that Michael Flynn was behind George Papadopoulos joining Trump's campaign—and Papadopoulos' meetup with Kremlin agent Josef Mifsud. I hope you'll read/share.
1/ News that Trump's son met secretly with an Israeli entrepreneur involved in private intelligence-gathering in August 2016—at the direction of longtime "shadow" Trump advisor Erik Prince—has journalists looking afresh at the Trump campaign's positioning with respect to Israel.
2/ This new consideration of how key Israeli figures fit into the Trump-Russia narrative arises alongside two ongoing—and critical—mysteries: why Donald Trump put George Papadopoulos on the Israel beat in April '16, and how/why Papadopoulos' plea deal helped Mueller snatch Flynn.
3/ But there are two *other* ongoing Trump-Russia mysteries that dovetail with these questions, and new evidence suggests all five issues could be related: (1) How and why Paul Manafort was hired by Donald Trump; (2) how and why (and when) George Papadopoulos was hired by Trump.
4/ We know Michael Flynn dined with Putin in December 2015—at a time he was advising Trump's campaign. We learned this week that federal law enforcement began investigating Flynn at that point. And we know Flynn "formally" joined Trump's presidential campaign in February of 2016.
5/ Shortly after Flynn—who'd just met personally with Putin—joined the campaign, two key things happened: 1) On February 14, Flynn's business partner Tom Barrack met with Manafort and convinced him to write Trump about becoming Trump's campaign boss; 2) Clovis hired Papadopoulos.
6/ Manafort had been out of politics for years, and on February 14, 2016 the Trump campaign *didn't*—contrary to Trump Jr.'s claims—have the GOP nomination locked up, so Manafort was *not* (as Trump Jr. says) hired to help with a brokered GOP convention. There was another reason.
7/ The reason was that Trump friend and Flynn business partner Barrack—who has since secretly lobbied Trump on many *other* issues now being looked at by Mueller (e.g., Trump potentially giving nuclear tech to Saudi Arabia)—vouched for Manafort. Which means Flynn likely did, too.
8/ But the media has assumed that Papadopoulos not only joined the Trump campaign much *later* than Manafort, but also that he was hired simply because he'd previously been a low-level aide for *Ben Carson*—a dubious connection with Trump that never really made any logical sense.
9/ One clue Papadopoulos came to Trump's campaign by other means than we thought—just as Manafort did, given that the Trump campaign's original story that he was hired only after they knew there'd be a brokered convention turned out to be false—is that he had no real credentials.
10/ But another clue is a little-known observation that appears as a minor note in many media reports on Papadopoulos' role in the Trump campaign: that Papadopoulos *was already part of the Trump campaign on March 14, 2016*—the day that he met Kremlin agent Josef Mifsud in Italy.
11/ We also know that George Papadopoulos has said—through his wife-to-be Simona—that *all* his foreign trips post-hire were authorized. That means that Papadopoulos was (a) hired by Trump well before March 14, as (b) time was needed for the campaign to arrange his trip to Italy.
12/ It also means Trump's campaign sent Papadopoulos to Italy for a reason—that it wasn't, as the campaign would have it, Papadopoulos choosing to take an *insanely stupidly timed Italian vacation* just days or weeks after being given the *biggest professional break of his life*.
13/ (As I noted recently, Papadopoulos' supposed Italian "vacation"—insanely timed—is the *second* insanely timed Italian vacation taken by a top Trump aide that looks to have been no vacation at all. Cohen's pre-RNC Italy "vacation" story fell apart once his "Capri alibi" did.)
14/ So it's clear Papadopoulos had to have been hired by the Trump campaign not just days but *weeks* before March 14, 2016—as the campaign wouldn't have entrusted him with a Kremlin meetup in Italy unless and until it had time to set up the meet and fully pre-brief Papadopoulos.
15/ That places the ridiculously young, ridiculously lightly qualified Papadopoulos' inexplicable hire by the Trump sometime in February 2016—the same month secret (Turkish and possibly Russian) foreign agent Flynn joined the campaign and apparently had Barrack recruit Manafort.
16/ What if I told you that the man who connects Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos is...

...Josef Mifsud?

It seems like that'd explain everything—why Papadopoulos was hired; how Mifsud knew Papadopouos would be in Italy; why Mifsud was the man the Kremlin chose to meet him.
17/ In November, BUZZFEED reported what it called at the time a "possible coincidence": "Papadopoulos attended conferences that included the same energy firm that was a source of funding for a controversial lobbying contract with former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn."
18/ This is where things get quite confusing, so I'm just going to link to the November 2017 BUZZFEED article now being discussed here and then break it down in the next few tweets:…
19/ When Papadopoulos was hired by Clovis, one of his few professional credentials was expertise on Israeli/Middle East oil-and-gas exploration, specifically relating to the "Leviathan" gas field off Israel's coast. The first formal trip Trump sent Papadopoulos on was to Israel.
20/ That April 2016 trip to Israel was itself suspicious, as Trump sent Papadopoulos on it 48 hours after Papadopoulos revealed to Trump—on March 31, 2016, at the Trump International Hotel in DC—that he was a Kremlin intermediary. What did Papadopoulos discuss in Israel? Russia.
21/ Here's a story on Papadopoulos' April 2016 Israel trip, which a) he was sent on while Trump knew he was acting as an agent of the Kremlin, b) he was sent on while Trump knew he'd opened negotiations with Russia, and c) he was sent on to praise Russia:…
22/ So Papadopoulos being sent to Tel Aviv to be on a panel with the CEO of a company called Ratio, and Ratio having a key business relationship with a *Mueller witness possibly involved in Flynn's crimes*, is unlikely to be coincidence. See this excerpt from the BUZZFEED story:
23/ As you process the preceding tweet, remember two key facts:

(a) It's clear Papadopoulos' plea deal cleared the way for Mueller snatching Michael Flynn with *maximum inculpatory evidence*.

(b) There's ample reason to think Flynn was behind Trump's February 2016 NatSec hires.
24/ But the fact Flynn (as Trump's co-NatSec chief) would definitely have had a say in Papadopoulos' inexplicable hire, and that the plea deals of the two men appear connected in some way, and that Papadopoulos was put in touch with men in Flynn's (criminal) orbit, isn't enough.
25/ What seems to take the coincidences a step too far—that is, what seems to transcend coincidence—is Flynn's NatSec team sending Papadopoulos to Israel to be on a panel with Alptekin's business partner, and Alptekin being part of the *same organization* as Kremlin agent Mifsud.
26/ Skeptics will say it's an organization of several hundred people—let's put aside for a moment that that's actually a *very* small international organization—but I'm not so sure about that. The organization's website lists only *thirty-eight* "experts."
27/ Even if we include "associated researchers"—usually the sort of names an organization adds to its website, a bit fancifully, to artificially expand its scope and reach in the eyes of outsiders—we get a total of only *sixty-nine* experts and researchers. But let's dig deeper.
28/ Even if we assume those 69 experts aren't part of the ~270 members of the ECFR, there are 2 points to make:

1) The ECFR had 50 members in 2007 and ~270 in 2018, so who knows how many it had in 2014 or 2015, when Alptekin would've met Mifsud?
2) Look at the *research groups*.
29/ ECFR has 4 regions of focus, and Alptekin/Mifsud would've intersected in both focusing on Russian-Middle Eastern issues rather than—for instance—China or Europe. The ECFR—assuming steady growth—had 190 or so total members in 2014. Mifsud/Alptekin contact is a reasonable bet.
30/ We know from the information Papadopoulos pled to that the specific point he wanted to lie to the FBI about was whether he was a member of the Trump campaign when he met Mifsud in Italy. But that lie *also* helped to obscure *how and why he became part of the Trump campaign*.
31/ Investigators look for Occam's Razor explanations—the simplest ones—when possible, not Byzantine ones. Papadopoulos being a Flynn hire—and Flynn being the reason Mifsud knew Papadopolous was on the Trump campaign and had been sent to Italy—answers two mysteries in one swoop.
32/ But it gets better—as one of the biggest lies that *Trump and his campaign* have told about *Papadopoulos* is how long he worked for the campaign. I've said (and provided evidence establishing) Papadopoulos was on the Trump campaign through the inauguration, and it *matters*.
33/ Here's Papadopoulos, *after Trump's inauguration*, meeting *on video* with one of Israel's top far-right-wing activists *as a representative of the Trump campaign*.
34/ Per his December '16 interviews with Greek media—which I've reported on extensively on this feed, after being the first American journalist to translate them—Trump told Papadopoulos post-election that he (Papadopoulos) had a "blank check" for any administration job he wanted.
35/ Sometime after the inauguration—and after Papadopoulos met (for what appears to be at least the fourth time) with Israeli agents as a Trump representative—that "blank check" job offer disappeared. Not only did it disappear, but Papadopoulos was essentially let go altogether.
36/ Well you might wonder, what exactly was the precipitating event for Papadopoulos going from a blank-check job offer to no Trump association at all? And why would Trump take such a big risk—alienating Papadopoulos—after we now know that Papadopoulos had info damaging to Trump?
37/ The answer is that Trump jettisoned Papadopoulos right as the Flynn scandal broke.

The temporal association between Papadopoulos' fall from grace in Trumpworld and Flynn's matches up *just as their plea deal timings appear to be coordinated*. Both had to go at the same time.
38/ Ever wonder what Mueller has on George Nader—the man who brought the Israeli to Trump Tower in August 2016—that Nader is cooperating without having been charged with anything? Doesn't it seem likely that Mueller used intel from people who *are* in his pocket to "turn" Nader?
39/ My research found ties between Israel's Begin-Sadat Center—which Trump sent Papadopoulous to (to talk about Russia) in April 2016—and Wikistrat, the outfit run by Joel Zamel (Nader's Israeli connection). That includes men *simultaneously working for both places at the time*.
40/ So we have Papadopoulos—whose only arguable expertise is Israeli gas—being sent by the campaign repeatedly to Israel or to meet with Israelis from his *first two weeks* on the job to his very last days before being silently let go. And then we have an Israeli in Trump Tower.
41/ We have Papadopoulos being told by Trump he's so critical to Trump's campaign that he has a blank-check job offer—and we have Papadopoulos seemingly having *both* his hiring *and* firing tied to Michael Flynn. The Papadopoulos-Israel story involves—I think—Mifsud and *more*.
42/ When you look at what Papadopoulos lied to the FBI about; when you look at the timing of his/Flynn's pleas; when you look at the topics on which Trump's campaign lied about Papadopoulos; it looks like Papadopoulos might've delivered Flynn and helped deliver Nader to Mueller.
43/ The FBI clearly thought Flynn's December 2015 Putin meeting was significant—as Flynn was a Trump advisor at the time, as well as a secret foreign agent. What if—as it appears—Manafort and Papadopoulos were Flynn's first "hires," and both were hired to coordinate with Russia?
44/ Both Manafort and Papadopoulos—*bizarre hires, in context*—were hired during the same week (last days of February and first days of March 2016). And certainly both were people Flynn would've had some input on after formally joining Trump's campaign just a couple weeks before.
45/ If indeed Flynn helped bring Papadopoulos aboard, and did so specifically—as Papadopoulos' criminal charge and his own statements seem to aver—to meet with a man connected to Flynn through a business partner, one of the next men we'd think would be in trouble is *Sam Clovis*.
46/ Given that Clovis hired Papadopoulos, he presumably would've been told *why* Papadopoulos was being hired and would've—with Manafort—been the person to give him his Italy (i.e. Mifsud) marching orders. And Papadopoulos and Flynn are in Mueller's pocket and can give Clovis up.
47/ I find it interesting that Clovis recently quit the job Trump gave him (that he wasn't qualified for). I find it interesting that—despite *clear* conflicts—Trump tried to hire *Clovis' lawyers to be his*. I find it interesting that new rumors say Clovis will soon be indicted.
48/ American media should now look at *every* Israeli connection in the Trump campaign—not just Joel Zamel and Trump leaking classified Israeli intel to the Russians in the Oval Office. And when you look for covert Trump-Israel connections, it *always* comes back to Papadopoulos.
49/ I've only scratched the surface of the Papadopoulos-Trump-Israel nexus here—e.g., Papadopolous has implied that his first (still undisclosed by Trump) meetup with Trump may have been the same day as an AIPAC event. But here's a bit more on the subject:…
50/ Trump is lying about what Papadopoulos did for him—and there's a reason. Mueller has treated Papadopoulos as key to beginning to unlock the Trump-Russia scandal—there's a reason. Papadopoulos lied about how he came to meet Mifsud—there's a reason. Look into this, media. /end
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