Seth Abramson @SethAbramson @Newsweek columnist. NYT bestselling author of Proof of Collusion (Simon & Schuster) and Proof of Conspiracy (Macmillan, bit.ly/2kP6FkZ). Professor. Lawyer. Oct. 29, 2019 2 min read

The more you investigate the Trump-Ukraine scandal, the more you realize it's about the *2016* election—not because anyone wants it to be, but because that's what it was primarily about for *Trump*. The Biden aspect is significant, but no more so than the Manafort/DNC components.

1/ Trump felt he had to exculpate Russia for its 2016 election interference. Why?

(1) To please Putin;
(2) to legitimize his presidency;
(3) to get revenge on his enemies in U.S. intelligence;
(4) to please Manafort, who he needs to stay quiet;
(5) to justify a Manafort pardon.

2/ *By comparison*, Giuliani's laughably baseless allegations about Hunter Biden—and I mean *laughable*, as Shokin actually *aided* Burisma (so he wasn't fired for investigating it), and Hunter Biden wasn't there during the period of alleged criminal activity—do little for Trump.

3/ There were 24+ Democrats running during the Trump/Giuliani plot to shake down Ukraine. While Biden posed the biggest threat to Trump, his Burisma play had no hope of success—and even if it *had* worked would only have knocked out one (somewhat unimpressive) candidate for 2020.

4/ Democrats don't want to say this is about 2016 because they worry people will think it's a rehashing of old events. But in fact it's about 2016 because (a) Trump is obsessed with 2016, and (b) he's probably obsessed with it because he did *all* the criming most believe he did.

5/ To understand the Ukraine scandal you must understand and accept that *the 2016 election scandals pose an ongoing—indeed growing—threat to Trump, and he knows it*. So if you don't understand how damning the Mueller Report is, you're not going to understand the Ukraine scandal.

6/ Reducing the Ukraine scandal to bogus claims about Biden is heresy from an investigative standpoint. The Ukraine scandal is about—it turns out—Putin, Trump-Russia collusion, and the likelihood that the information Manafort lied to the feds about would establish a *conspiracy*.

7/ Media's focus on the 2020 horserace is leading it to focus on the Burisma angle in the Ukraine scandal, but in fact the evidence shows Trump and Giuliani were as or *more* concerned with the 2016 investigation into Manafort. Why? How is Manafort still a threat to Donald Trump?

8/ Mind you, I and everyone who read the Mueller Report knows the answer to this: the key lies in what Trump knew about Manafort's actions and when—which is exactly what Trump convinced Manafort to lie to the feds about, per the obstruction charges detailed in the Mueller Report.

9/ Just so, all the evidence suggests Putin *does* have leverage over Trump. So when I say Trump shook down Ukraine to please Putin and (in a sense) please (and aid) Manafort, it's a sign that Trump sees the danger as coming from *those two men* far more than it comes from Biden.

10/ Democrats are working on a tight schedule, and the Biden angle is easier for media to report and Democrats to soundbite, so we'll get a (rather false) focus on that. But the larger story is *so* much darker and more interesting—and it's all supported by major-media reporting.


You can follow @SethAbramson.



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