The Smallest Fish Pose the Biggest Threats to Trump

I Love It When You Call Me Little Papa

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The Smallest Fish Pose the Biggest Threats to Trump

We’re five months into the Mueller investigation and we know the following people knew the Trump campaign was trying to coordinate with the Russian government, and vice versa:

Paul Manafort
Jared Kushner
 Donald Trump Jr.
Richard Gates
Carter Page
George Papadopoulos
Sam Clovis
Corey Lewandowski
Michael Flynn

The following people didn’t know:

  Donald Trump  

This week, two members of the Trump campaign got indicted: Paul Manafort and Richard Gates. On Monday a D.C. court also revealed that George Papadopoulos pled guilty on October 5 to lying to the FBI, part of a deal he struck with Special Counsel Robert Mueller to provide information about the campaign’s efforts to conspire with the Russian government to cheat in the election and undermine our democracy.

If you still think this is all bullshit, you’ve been undermined.

And just yesterday, we learned the names of some of the campaign officials who guided Papa Dop’s efforts to conspire with the Kremlin: Sam Clovis (a foreign policy adviser); Corey Lewandowski (one-time campaign manager); and yes, Paul Manafort. Mueller now has nine people dead to rights and has flipped two of them: Papadopoulos, who possibly wore a wire; and Clovis, who brought Papadopolous and reportedly Carter Page into the campaign.

Plus, there are four more indictments still sealed in the D.C. court between Papadopoulos’s and Manafort’s.

Here’s President Trump’s explanation about why this doesn’t matter:

why this doesnt matter-min.png

why this doesnt matter 2-min.png

Well.

1. Some events in the Manafort indictment happened in 2016 and 2017.

2. Trump’s defense is that it’s okay that, without ever knowing it, he hired a high-profile international criminal who (unknown to Trump?) had promoted a pro-Russia candidate in Ukraine for years, and then he appointed this guy to run his campaign and author the RNC’s pro-Russia platform.

3. As for those events Trump says happened “long before the campaign,” going as far back as 2006, it turns out that Manafort bought a Trump Tower condo for $3 million. In cash. In 2006. With a company that was named in the recent indictment as one of Manafort’s money laundering vehicles.

money laundering vehicles-min.pngIn other words, Trump’s admitting he’s a total dotard who didn’t know what was happening in his own campaign, and now he’s in charge of the country.

4. The Papadopoulos documents clearly show a concerted and continuing effort to collude at the highest levels of the campaign, and that Manafort was central to the efforts.

5. As for the “few people knew” part, the following people knew Papa was trying to coordinate with Russia:

Manafort
Carter Page
Sam Clovis
Corey Lewandowski; and yes,
Donald Fucking Trump also knew.

So yes, Trump is right that the thirty-year-old Papadopolous was a low-level adviser, but that doesn’t mean he’s a low-level suspect. Let’s put it all in perspective. All it takes is a timeline.

Little Papa

First we need to address Trump’s him just a liddle guy defense.

Answer: Of course they’d use the little guys. You wouldn’t want high-profile officials to stick their neck out. You move your pawns first; not the queen or the rooks. That’s how the board is set up to begin with. So we’ve got to acknowledge that though Papadopoulos couldn’t make decisions, that doesn’t mean he couldn’t have played a decisive role.

There’s another reason: Plausible deniability. The further the actors are from the core of the campaign, the easier it is for Trump to say exactly what he tweeted yesterday. Here’s a clip from Papadopoulos’s plea agreement about an email Clovis sent up the chain to Manafort.

sent up the chain to manafort-min.png

Onward.

The Election Year Timeline

March 6, 2016: Sam Clovis asks Papadopoulos to join the Trump campaign as a foreign policy (energy) adviser. At the time, Papa was living in London. According to the documents released with the plea agreement, Clovis told Papa Dop a main focus of the campaign would be improving the U.S.-Russia relationship.

March 14, 2016: When Papadopolous first spoke to the FBI (Jan. 27, 2017) he told them that before he joined the campaign he’d contacted a man in London (identified awesomely as “the Professor”) who had several contacts in the Russian government. This was a lie. Here’s a paragraph from Papadopolous’s plea agreement. (Emphasis mine.)

PAPADOPOULOS met the Professor for the first time on or about March 14, 2016, after defendant PAPADOPOULOS had already learned he would be a foreign policy advisor for the Campaign; the Professor showed interest in defendant PAPADOPOULOS only after learning of his role on the Campaign.

They met in person, in Italy.

But what’s a professor, right? In January, Papa told the FBI exactly what you’d think: The Professor was “a nothing” and “just talking up his connections.” (Hmm, where have we heard that line before?) Turns out this was another lie: Papa’s plea agreement says he knew the Professor had “substantial” connections to the Russian government.

Papa and the Professor both lived in London.

Papa Dop also admitted he “repeatedly sought to use the professor’s Russian connections in an effort to arrange a meeting between the Campaign and Russian government officials.” In other words, Papa did what his supervisor, Sam Clovis, asked of him on day one.

March 16, 2016: WikiLeaks launches a searchable archive of more than 30,000 emails found on the private server Hillary Clinton used as Secretary of State. These emails had been obtained from the U.S. government legally in a Freedom of Information request.

March 22, 2016: Russians hack the gmail account of a member of the Democratic National Committee. Here’s that email:

heres that email-min.pngDon’t ever trust these without verifying they’re actually from your email provider. This one was a phish, a trick. The target clicked the link, reset his password, and gave access to the Russians.

March 24, 2016: The Professor invites Papadopolous to meet with a “female Russian national,” telling Papa she had connections to the Russian government. Papa was under the impression this woman was Putin’s niece (she wasn’t), but Papa wanted her to set up a meeting between the campaign and Russian officials. (Papa lied to the FBI about this, too.) He told Clovis about these connections and their offers, and Clovis responded he would “work it through the campaign,” adding “great work.”

March 31, 2016: Trump posts this photo on Instagram.

posts this photo on insta-min.jpg
Whoops a daisy!

To be perfectly clear here:

*According to Papa’s plea agreement, he introduced himself in this meeting to Trump by saying he had Russian connections and could set up a meeting between Trump and Vladimir Putin.*

Again: This guy told Donald Trump to his face that he had connections to Russia and could use them to set up a meeting between Trump and Putin. Trump and his advisers decided against it after debating it in the room. Did Trump just forget about the opportunity? “Russia, if you’re listening…”

Early April, 2016: Papa Dop gets introduced to someone connected to the Russian Foreign Ministry and keeps the campaign posted. On April 25 Papa is told that Putin is ready to meet when Trump is.

April 26, 2016: The Professor and Papa have breakfast. The Professor tells Papa he’d just been to Moscow, where Russian government officials told him they have dirt on Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.” Papa tells this to unidentified campaign officials. Later that year, the Russians, through WikiLeaks, publish thousands of emails they’d stolen from the DNC and top Clinton aide John Podesta.

April 27, 2016: Trump gives a pro-Russian foreign policy speech at the Mayflower Hotel in Philadelphia in front of the Russian Ambassador, whom he meets. Jeff Sessions, a senior policy adviser to the Trump campaign, is also there. Sessions will later lie to Congress about meeting Kislyak. Corey Lewandowski, campaign manager at the time, was also at the Mayflower event. On this date, Papa Dop tells Corey Lewandowski via email that he’d been getting a lot of calls about setting up a meeting with Trump. That day Papa writes a similar email to Manafort, who was, ding ding ding!, also at the Mayflower.

Late April – early June, 2016: Papa forwards emails from his Russia Foreign Ministry connection to campaign advisers, including Manafort.

June 3, 2016: Rob Goldstone emails Donald Trump Jr., saying he’d received an offer on dirt on Clinton “as part of the Russian government and its support for Mr. Trump.”

June 9, 2016: The Trump Tower meeting goes down, featuring Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Manafort. Today we know, thanks to Papa Dop, that Manafort had known Russia was dangling Clinton emails in front of the campaign for months.

June 19, 2016: Papa tells Manafort that the Russian ministry of foreign affairs invited a “campaign rep” to make a trip to Russia if Trump was unable. Papa offers to make the trip off-the-record. Around that time Carter Page emails Lewandowski and Hope Hicks to ask permission to make an off-the-record trip to Moscow in July. He gets the okay. Also around this time Lewandowski steps aside and Manafort takes over as campaign manager.

July 7, 2016: Page goes to Moscow, where he gives a startlingly pro-Russia, anti-U.S. speech. While there he reportedly meets with, shocker, the Russian ministry of foreign affairs, including the Foreign Minister. Page denies this.

(This Monday, Page went on TV to admit bewilderingly that Russia “may have” come up in his campaign email exchanges with Papadopolous.)

August 14, 2016: The New York Times publishes a “black ledger” from Ukraine alleging Paul Manafort took $12.7 million in cash from pro-Russian party officials he had represented in Ukraine.

August 15, 2016: Sam Clovis tells Papa “I would encourage you” (and another, unnamed foreign policy adviser) to “make the trip, if it is feasible.”

Again: A senior Trump adviser approved and encouraged a meeting between the campaign and Russian government officials. Also note that this other foreign policy adviser is unnamed, though the prosecutors have this email and clearly know his name. (In other words, it may be Carter Page.)

August 17, 2016: Trump receives his first security briefing as a candidate, during which he is told the U.S. knows Russia hacked the DNC. Michael Flynn was with him, and got angry when the intel officers told them this information, saying it was “bullshit.”

August 19, 2016: Paul Manafort resigns as Trump’s campaign manager.

Mid-August, 2016: Carter Page resigns.

Which Brings Us To 2017: It’s bigger than Papa Dop…

January 10, 2017: Senator Al Franken asks Jeff Sessions under oath about the campaign’s Russia connections: ”...If it’s true, it’s obviously extremely serious and if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?”

Sessions, despite meeting with Kislyak twice (and being the only Senator to meet one-on-one with Kislyak in all of 2016) denies contact: “Senator Franken, I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I didn’t have—did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.”

January 24, 2017: The FBI interviews Mike Flynn about his contacts with the Russian Ambassador. Flynn lies, says they didn’t discuss sanctions.

January 26, 2017: Sally Yates tells White House counsel Don McGahn about the interview. The White House later says McGahn briefed Trump. Yates said she was never told Trump had been briefed.

January 27, 2017: The FBI interviews Papadopoulos about his connections to Russia during the campaign. As detailed above, Papa lies repeatedly to the FBI.

January 27, 2017: Yates and McGahn meet again to discuss Flynn’s interview. Yates strongly suggests Trump should fire Flynn.

ALSO on January 27, 2017: President Trump invites FBI Director James Comey to dinner, where he asks for Comey’s loyalty. We originally only knew of this ask in the context of Flynn, but Papa’s interview on the same day throws that dinner into a new light.

February 13, 2017: Michael Flynn resigns as National Security Adviser. The next day Trump asks Comey in the Oval Office if he can “see his way to letting Flynn go.”

February 16, 2017: Two days after that, the FBI interviews Papa again. He says he’s willing to cooperate. The next day Papa Dop deactivates his Facebook account, which for some really stupid reason still had information about meeting with Russian officials. He opens a new account.

February 23, 2017: Papa deactivates his cell phone number. He gets a new number. One week has passed since he told the FBI he’d cooperate. It’s unclear what happened during that week, or between his getting a new number and July 27.

July 26, 2017: The FBI executes a “no-knock” warrant on Paul Manafort’s home in the middle of the night.

July 27, 2017: The FBI arrests Papa Dop at Dulles International Airport when he steps off a plane after a trip to Europe. He cooperates with the government for the next two months, and perhaps wears a wire.

October 5, 2017: Papa pleads guilty to lying to the FBI and continues to cooperate with the government for the next few weeks.

October 30, 2017: Paul Manafort and his associate Richard Gates are indicted. Papa’s October 5 plea agreement is unsealed.

The End?

No fucking way.

A USA Today investigative reporter has noted that there are four more sealed indictments still out with numbers between Manafort’s and Papadopoulos’s.

between manaforts and papa-min.png

We also know that quite a few names haven’t been revealed. For instance, the FBI reportedly had a FISA warrant on Carter Page last summer. He and Papa both answered to Clovis, who is cooperating, so I expect we’ll soon find out more about Page.

Jeff Sessions also worked closely with Clovis.

Most legal experts agree this is just the beginning. Susan Hennessy and Ben Wittes note on Lawfare that Mueller now has “a cooperating witness from inside the campaign’s interactions with the Russians. And he is alleging not mere technical infractions of law but astonishing criminality… Any hope the White House may have had that the Mueller investigation might be fading away vanished…Things are only going to get worse from here.”

As for the Russian government, it says this is all a load of baloney. The spokesperson for Russia’s foreign ministry, Maria Zakharova, pointed out the Manafort indictment says Yulia Tymoshenko was the former president of Ukraine. Turns out the Mueller team got that detail wrong: Tymoshenko was the country’s prime minister. She was jailed in 2011 for embezzlement. Zakharova says this undermines the entirety of Mueller’s 31-page indictment of Manafort.

And here we are, five months into the Mueller investigation and we know the following people knew the Russian and the Trump campaign were continually in communication about efforts to coordinate:

Paul Manafort
Jared Kushner
 Donald Trump Jr.
Richard Gates
Carter Page
George Papadopoulos
Sam Clovis
Corey Lewandowski
Michael Flynn

The following people didn’t know:

  Donald Trump  

Right.

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