I've been spending so much time on Vol. 1 of the Mueller Report that I'm only now giving Vol. 2 a full read. Can someone tell me why America isn't discussing what Trump said to Christie the day after he fired Flynn—which is that he fired him because Flynn "MET" with the Russians?
1/ No one was then accusing Flynn of "MEETING" with the Russians—yet Trump, in a meeting he would've thought was private, told his pal Chris Christie that he fired Flynn *not* because Flynn lied to anyone or talked on the phone with Kislyak but because he "MET" with the Russians.
2/ What the hell "MEETING" between Flynn and the Russians was Trump talking about? It couldn't have been the transition-period Flynn-Kushner-Kislyak meeting—because that wasn't known about at the time and Kushner was there and Trump wasn't upset with him. So which meeting was it?
3/ The only Flynn "MEETING" with the Russians that would've caused Trump a problem would've been a *pre-election* meeting—and indeed we have major-media reporting suggesting there *was* such a meeting between Flynn and the Russians pre-election. Did they talk sanctions *then*?
4/ The Mueller Report says Trump had *better* recall of the dates Flynn had spoken to the Russians than even Flynn did. So did Trump *know* of a pre-election Flynn-Russia meeting at which sanctions were discussed? And if this was after August 17, 2016...
...isn't that a *crime*?
5/ The picture Mueller paints is actually pretty clear: Trump knows all about the Flynn-Russia contacts; he knows about the December 29, 2016 Flynn-Kislyak call, but *doesn't* fire him for that—firing him, rather, for some "meeting" no one else is talking about that is a problem.
6/ Sure, it's possible Trump misspoke and called a "phone call" a "meeting"—but notice that Trump also says "the Russians" rather than just one Russian, which makes his statement even more odd and (seemingly) wrong if he's discussing the December 29, 2016 call he already knew of.
7/ Remember, media has reported Flynn *did* meet with Kislyak pre-election—so it's *wholly* plausible Trump was speaking about that. But if it happened after August 17 but before Election Day; and if it involved sanctions talk; and if Trump knew of it; that's aiding and abetting.
8/ So then why the *hell* didn't Mueller *clarify* that part of the Report, given that it could have been evidence of an impeachable crime? The only plausible explanation is that explaining what Trump was referring to would have required revealing counterintelligence information.
9/ That scenario is plausible—as a few pages earlier in Vol. 2, Mueller writes that Flynn was under counterintelligence investigation...*for his Russia contacts*. *Prior* to Election Day. If Trump caught wind of that, *yes*, he would've been referring to a pre-election "meeting."
10/ Would love to see someone follow up on this—as for my money it's one of the single strangest, most potentially explosive moments in Vol. 2. And no one is talking about it. @AshaRangappa_ @NatashaBertrand @neal_katyal @Mimirocah1 @JoyceWhiteVance @juliettekayyem @JeffreyToobin
CITATION/ Vol. 2, pg. 38.
NOTE/ My thesis on why no one's discussing this: I've been reading *everything* for its counterintelligence implications—including Vol. 2—whereas I think the common practice (and totally understandably) has been to read Vol. 2 for its *obstruction* implications. Could that be it?
NOTE2/ Most people reading this know that Flynn dined with Putin in early December 2015—and arguably he told some lies about that trip and therefore Trump could've thought that "meeting" was a problem. But—but—this was February 2017, *14 months* after that 2015 RT gala in Moscow.
NOTE3/ Frankly, if Trump *was* referring to that December 2015 dinner it's even *worse* for both him and Flynn, because it means that he knows *something happened* in Moscow in December 2015 that qualified it as (a) a "meeting," and (b) something Flynn had to be fired because of.
NOTE4/ The more I think on this, the more I'm convinced Trump couldn't have been speaking of Flynn's call with the Russian ambassador. Everyone—even Trump's critics—agree Flynn just speaking on the phone to Kislyak wasn't a problem. There's no way Trump would have implied it was.
NOTE5/ For anyone who thinks Trump simply misspoke, keep in mind that that would be such a *legally and factually significant* misstatement of the facts that Mueller would need to drop a footnote to say Trump was referring to a call, not a meeting. Has to be a *reason* he didn't.
You can follow @SethAbramson.