Seth Abramson @SethAbramson @Newsweek columnist. Analyses @BBC. NYT bestselling author of Proof of Conspiracy ( Next: Citizen Journalist (Macmillan). Professor. Attorney. Sep. 22, 2019 2 min read

Hi James, happy to explain criminal law to you.

As I wrote in the thread you're responding to, Trump/Giuliani solicited/induced—aiding and abetting—acts by Ukraine that constituted an "attempted bribe" (intent and conduct toward completion). Ukraine doesn't have to "move first."

1/ I understand you may just be studying up on Giuliani now; I was writing about his clandestine election-related activities as a political columnist beginning in 2016. His Ukraine engagement began long ago, and this is all one course of criminal conduct: 

2/ Trump's negotiations with Ukraine, via Giuliani and Cohen and others, have focused on investigations into Manafort, Clinton, and Biden—and possible sanctions relief for Putin—and have always been connected to Ukraine policy. That was even true in summer 2016, *pre-election*.

3/ The news we got this week is simply the first time anyone in the FBI has been willing to blow the whistle on an *iceberg* of major-media-reported clandestine conduct between Trump and Ukraine. Your "Ukraine didn't move first" comment suggests you're unaware of this background.

4/ Do you realize, James, that Trump and Giuliani worked for months and months and months to stop Ukraine's Trump-endangering Manafort investigation, provoke a Clinton investigation, and provoke a Biden investigation, all while Trump was in control of America's Ukraine policy?

5/ As soon as Trump was elected, Ukraine's government began paying Cohen to get them access to Trump, and Trump's ask was simple: *end the Manafort investigation*, because the more chance he could be extradited to Ukraine, the better chance he "flips" here. And Trump got his way.

6/ Trump's Biden negotiations, mediated by Giuliani, were a continuation of a course of bribery—by Ukraine of Trump—that'd been solicited and induced by Trump beginning in 2017, and which involved co-conspirators such as Giuliani and Cohen. Major media has documented all of this.

7/ So I don't know what understanding of criminal law you're working from—or what benighted sense of the years-long fact-pattern undergirding these events you've adopted—but there's no who-shot-first game here: criminal law is much more complicated than that in cases like these.

8/ Ukraine agreed—in '17—to pay cash to get access to Trump, and it dropped the Manafort probe. It also agreed to hold talks with Giuliani and other intermediaries about Clinton and Biden—talks it knew were intended to end in U.S. policy shifts—and so acted toward a criminal end.

9/ If any of this factual background, or any of this law, or any of this geopolitical horse-trading, is unclear to you—if you think this week's Ukraine scandal was sui generis—you need to let others with a stronger background in this do the work on it, or catch up *quickly*. /end

PS/ Ah, yes, the old "discussing procedure hypothetically" defense to a years-long course of bribery, credulously accepted by US reporters who wouldn't give the time of day to this sort of implausible pap in a street-crime trial. I'm so tired of this game.

You can follow @SethAbramson.


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