Important Fact About Mueller’s Investigation
From Blue Dot Daily:
Seth Abramson, a journalist, lawyer and prolific Twitter user, has a recent thread discussing what he says is the most important aspect of the Trump/Russia collusion investigation, that no one is discussing.
After you take time to read through the thread, you will not only see that Abramson is right, but you will also see why it’s taking Robert Mueller longer than most people would like to get through his investigation. He has to put hundreds of pieces of the puzzle together and only has one shot to get it right.
From Blue Dot Daily – an aggregation of the Twitter thread posted by Abramson
- Investigators are now trying to determine *exactly* when every member of the Trump campaign found out Russia was working to elect Trump.
- These dates are of legal importance because they establish a “mens rea” (mental state) for possible crimes committed by Trump and others.
- Once Trump, his family, and/or his campaign aides knew Russia was committing crimes to assist Trump, certain actions became *prohibited*.
- For instance, once Trump had this knowledge, he could not publicly deny it without running afoul of federal Aiding and Abetting statutes.
- For instance, once Don Jr. had this knowledge he couldn’t take any action in furtherance of a plan to benefit from Russia’s illegal acts.
- Knowledge of Russian illegalities – even broadly – is a necessary precursor to what we colloquially call “collusion” (not a legal term here).
- This is why *all* of Trump’s most audacious lies – and his family’s, and his aides’ – center on their *knowledge* of what Russia was doing.
- Paul Manafort’s excuse for not knowing Russia was working to elect Trump? (a) he didn’t check his email; (b) he was looking at his phone.
- Jared Kushner’s excuse for not knowing Russia was working to elect Trump? (a) he left a big meeting early; (b) he didn’t check his email.
- What do the Trump aides who changed the GOP platform last July say in response to charges they were executing a quid pro quo for Russia.
- They say (a) they were executing orders Trump gave March 31, 2016; (b) but don’t blame Trump, because he didn’t know what we were doing.
- What’s *Trump’s* excuse as to Russia working to elect him – after *admitting* he knew and then *getting briefed on it* on August 17, 2016.
- Why, he just didn’t *believe* what U.S. intel agencies said, of course! He just didn’t *believe* the mountains of evidence we all saw.
- Now ask yourself: does Bob Mueller believe any of these lies? Does the FBI? Does the DOJ? Do American voters? Would a duly-seated jury.
- FACT: Don was directly told by a trusted friend that Putin was working to elect his dad. He knew this as of the first week of June 2016.
- Now consider: despite the way the Russia issue blew up after June 2016, Don says he *never told his dad* Putin was working to elect him.
- Don, Jared, and Manafort say they *never* discussed the issue again – with *anyone* – and deliberately plotted to keep this info from Trump.
- Do *you* believe that? Do you think Mueller does? Or the FBI? The DOJ? Most American voters? Most American Congressmen? Future jurors.
- You think Don sat there watching Russia news every single day for *months*, yet never told daddy Putin was confirmed as “in his corner”.
- Do you believe that – once the Russia news broke shortly after June 2016 – Kushner and Manafort *never went back to look at their emails*.
- Do you think Kushner and Manafort were – start to finish – in the dark about who Veselnitskaya was, who she worked for, and what she wanted.
- Do you believe *none* of the Russia news between June 2016 and this summer caused Kushner *or* Manafort to reflect back on that meeting.
- Why did Trump witness-tamper with his son – exposing himself/Don to *prison* – with false statements on the meeting? Why? Knowledge matters.
- This explains fantastical tales of phone-checking/email-ignoring at the *exact* moments knowledge – legally speaking – could be established.
- This explains Trump’s increasingly grotesque and deranged denials of reality on Russian interference: if he says otherwise, *knowledge*.
- This is why the news that Don and Ivanka were about to be charged with felony fraud matters. It goes to their honesty – which is now key.
- Don/Ivanka *repeatedly lied to consumers* about how many Trump SoHo units had sold. So do you think they’d lie to save dad’s presidency.
- And this is why every single lie Trump tells is legally relevant on the question of his reputation/propensity for honesty versus deceit.
- Trump admitted Russia was helping – then was briefed on it – then reversed course and said otherwise when he saw the danger of an admission.
- But his reputation for deceit – it’s legendary – would prompt an investigator or juror to presume his initial briefing sealed his knowledge.
- The danger *now* is non-attorney journalists confusing evidence of Aiding and Abetting with “evidence of a cover-up.” They’re different.
- There’s evidence of a cover-up – Mueller could get Trump on Obstruction with a jury right now – but also Aiding and Abetting a Russian plot.
- The evidence of a cover-up overlaps in many particulars with the evidence Trump and his team knew Russia was interfering, then aided it.
- For instance, it *isn’t* legal for Trump to learn on August 17th, 2016 that Russia was committing crimes against the U.S., and *then*…
- …send his chief foreign policy aide – Sessions – to negotiate *unilateral sanctions-lifting* with Russia’s ambassador three weeks later.
- So let’s stop talking collusion – a vague and meaningless term in this legal scenario – and instead discuss “knowledge of illegal activity..
- Don, Jared, and Manafort were on *legal notice* that Russia was illegally stealing information from June 9, 2016 onward – at the *latest*
- So no, Don wasn’t entitled to take that meeting – given what he’d been told. And Manafort couldn’t push a GOP platform change weeks later.
- Indeed, arguably, the *entire campaign* was on notice Russia aimed to secretly negotiate with and aid Trump from March 24, 2016 onward.
- On that date, Papadopoulos told seven senior Trump staffers that Putin wanted to meet with Trump – and felt Trump could improve relations.
- On that basis, *any* subsequent revelation that Russia was committing crimes should’ve been read by the campaign as a pro-Trump proffer.
- Note that, in this analysis, I’m approaching this as a former criminal attorney and former criminal investigator – we *do* think this way.
- The media can’t – it feels – call Trump a liar when he lies to (dis)establish his legal knowledge. But as an attorney, I see it differently.
- But as we enter the intermediate stages of the Mueller probe, we *all* must be thinking in legal terms – as we’re in the legal sphere now.
- So if you want to talk Russia on social media, I’d suggest focusing on the date each actor had knowledge of Russia’s illegal acts.
If Abramson is right, it’s more bad news for Trump and company. Trump’s knowledge about the whole situation is going to implicate him deeply in the crimes committed here.