(THREAD) MAJOR BREAKING NEWS (CNN): Convicted Kremlin agent Maria Butina's longtime boyfriend confirms that Don Jr. met secretly with Kremlin agents for an hour during the 2015 NRA Conference in Knoxville; Don Jr. therefore lied to Congress about collusion. Please RT and read on.
6:44 PM - 22 Aug 2019
1/ This story is still developing—and confusing enough that only those who've researched the Trump-Russia case for years understood its import when it first broke; many others are currently misreporting it. I'm going to do my best to get this 100% right for you—as it's huge news.
2/ SUMMARY: All agree Butina was a Kremlin agent working for a Kremlin official—Torshin; all agree she used sex to access targets; all agree she infiltrated the NRA and aimed to infiltrate Team Trump; all agree her job was to end sanctions. We *didn't* know Jr. met with her team.
3/ BACKGROUND (all taken from PROOF OF CONSPIRACY, the Mueller Report, and major-media sources): in early 2015, the future top Trump adviser on Russia, Dmitri Simes, met with Putin; thereafter, he helped Alexander Torshin and Butina gain access to top federal banking officials.
4/ Torshin and Butina wanted access to banking officials as part of what is now confirmed as a Russian intelligence operation aimed at—among other things—gaining confidential data about the Ziff Brothers, whose Clinton donations the Kremlin thought could be used against Hillary.
5/ During the period Simes—the former top Trump adviser on Russia who now makes $500,000/year working for the Kremlin's TV network, RT—was aiding Torshin/Butina, he was trying to Torshin's aid for the top funder of his pro-Kremlin think tank, the Center for the National Interest.
6/ Filings in the Butina case confirm that—in early 2015—Butina/Torshin aimed to infiltrate the NRA and, if possible, Trump's campaign. Butina's ex-boyfriend, Patrick Byrne, has now confirmed Butina *spoke* of infiltrating four campaigns, but in fact only focused on one: Trump's.
7/ We don't know exactly who puts the FBI onto Russia's activities—though to be clear both the hacking and propaganda operations run by the Kremlin in 2016 had *already begun* by Spring 2015. We also know the FBI was investigating George Papadopoulos as a possible Israeli agent.
8/ Given that it later prosecuted Butina, made Torshin an unindicted co-conspirator, got warrants on Papadopoulos, and turned Simes into the shocking "star" of Volume 1 of the Mueller Report, there's a reasonable chance—but we don't know—that the FBI was long tracking all four.
9/ The upshot to this part of the story is this: FBI agent Peter Strzok was running an FBI probe in early 2015 that believed—it turns out, 100% correctly—that Kremlin agents under Putin's control sought to infiltrate Trump's 2016 campaign. Tonight we got *major* new news on this.
10/ Butina's ex-boyfriend—businessman Patrick Byrne—tonight *confirmed* to CNN that Butina said she had "close ties" to "four of the top seven oligarchs in Russia" and that she was in a position to orchestrate him (Byrne) meeting *one-on-one with Putin himself*. This is 100% new.
11/ Byrne further *confirms* to CNN that Butina said she was working for Torshin, a Kremlin official, and that she'd been tasked with infiltrating Trump's campaign. She said the purpose was "peace"—which is the term the Kremlin uses (systematically) to refer to sanctions relief.
12/ We've long known that at the spring 2015 NRA Conference in Knoxville, Donald Trump Jr. made contact with Torshin; both men claimed that they randomly found themselves near one another and spoke only briefly of inconsequential things—and that's what Don Jr. told Congress, too.
13/ We don't know Torshin's full story—as he fled to Russia. Likewise, we don't know Simes's full story—as he took a job for the Kremlin in Moscow. But in my 2018 book PROOF OF COLLUSION, I wrote of a major-media story that hinted Don Jr. *might* have been lying about Knoxville.
14/ CORRECTION: I mean Nashville, Tennessee, not Knoxville, Tennessee. My sister went to University of Tennessee in Knoxville, so it's more on my brain than it is with most people. Wherever I wrote Knoxville above, I'm speaking of Nashville. OK, to continue with this major story:
15/ PROOF OF COLLUSION offered major-media reporting that a) Torshin's meeting with Don Jr. wasn't accidental; b) they discussed more than pleasantries; c) Torshin had been tasked to get Don Jr. to come with him to a second location for a secret meeting. That's what I had *then*.
16/ According to Byrne, Butina told him that—at a time when she was connected to "four of the top seven oligarchs in Russia" and could orchestrate *face-to-face meetings with Putin*—she and Torshin successfully got Don Jr. to go to a second location for a one-hour secret meeting.
17/ This secret meeting in Nashville took place in April 2015, per Butina, just 60 days before Trump announced his presidential run. At *any* meeting between Torshin, Butina, Trump Jr., and other Kremlin agents, the topic Torshin and Butina were assigned to discuss was sanctions.
18/ By 30 days after Trump announced his run in June 2015, he *still* had not made a major official declaration of his policy on Russia sanctions. Then he went to FreedomFest in Las Vegas in July 2015. Butina was there and Byrne was there. Butina was posing as a young journalist.
19/ The event was televised, so any statement by Trump was certain to be seen by Putin and other leaders. Butina, posing as a journalist, asked Trump to state his position on sanctions. Trump—whose son had apparently secretly met with Butina and her boss—said he wanted them gone.
20/ It was at the 2015 Las Vegas event that Butina first approached Byrne; at the time she was in a relationship with GOP operative Paul Erickson, who's since been indicted on multiple charges. Butina, the Kremlin agent, seduced Byrne, and they soon began a romantic relationship.
21/ Byrne is unclear on whether he contacted the FBI about Butina before or after their romantic relationship began. In any case, Byrne is clear he *wasn't* acting as an FBI CI in Las Vegas; he was there as a *speaker*, but had worked with the FBI previously on unrelated matters.
22/ In any case, Butina's conduct in trying to recruit Byrne is so suspicious that he alerts the FBI because he has prior—unrelated—contacts in the organization. The FBI, which has already—it turns out, 100% correctly—begun investigating Butina, asks Byrne to continue to see her.
23/ Byrne now says federal officials have told him that the order for him to keep seeing Butina came from Peter Strzok, James Comey and one other person—which would make sense, given that these are the men who were heading up the Russian election-interference probe at that point.
24/ In the months after Butina—following a meeting with Trump Jr.—gets Trump to oppose sanctions on TV, Butina so infiltrates the NRA that she's able to arrange a trip by the NRA's top brass to Moscow to meet Putin at the same time Trump adviser Flynn is in Moscow to meet Putin.
25/ Just over a year after meeting with Putin—who has called Simes a "friend"—and during a period he's still in contact with Torshin and Butina, Simes manages to insinuate himself into the Trump during a March '16 Center for the National Interest event that Jared Kushner attends.
26/ Thereafter, Simes becomes the "Russia whisperer" of the Trump campaign—involving himself in every major Russia-related foreign policy event and policy paper Trump's campaign constructs between March and November 2016. Shortly after Butina is arrested, Simes *flees to Moscow*.
27/ Don Jr. testifies to Congress that he had no significant contacts with Torshin. But media reports suggest that not only—if Butina's claims are true—did Don Jr. meet with Torshin, but *so did Trump himself*. Torshin ultimately tweets out that he met Trump at an NRA conference.
28/ Live television, folks. Going to correct one or two things that don't change the story but more properly align events and dates.
29/ In late 2015, Alexander Torshin claimed on Twitter that he knew Trump from the NRA and could speak to his character. Torshin and Trump both attended the April 2015 NRA Conference in Nashville, so the assumption has been that they met at that time.
30/ The secret Torshin/Trump Jr. meeting occurred, per Butina's statements to Byrne, at *either* the Nashville NRA Conference in spring 2015 *or* the Louisville NRA Conference in spring 2016 *or* both. Byrne, in speaking to CNN, was not clear on this. But Byrne has corroboration.
31/ We already know that prosecutors investigating Torshin abroad have intimated that Trump Jr. is lying about his contacts with Torshin, which (as I wrote in PROOF OF COLLUSION) is further suggested by Trump Jr.'s lies about the meeting and Torshin's plans for an off-site event.
32/ Here's the 2018 YAHOO NEWS article (from Michael Isikoff, the author—with David Corn—of the New York Times bestseller RUSSIAN ROULETTE) about wiretaps that apparently incriminate Trump Jr. with respect to him lying to Congress about Alexander Torshin:
33/ Earlier in the thread, I indicated that we *knew* Patrick Byrne was saying the Trump Jr.-Butina-Torshin meeting happened in 2015; reviewing his interview, it's more accurate to say that he indicates the meeting could have occurred in 2015 in Nashville *or* 2016 in Louisville.
34/ By the way, between those two events Torshin tweeted this:
35/ It's *marginally* more likely the secret Trump Jr.-Butina-Torshin meeting happened in 2016 in Louisville, as we *know* the two men interacted at that event. But that said, it seems Torshin and Trump Sr. interacted in 2015 in Nashville—and *we know Trump Jr. was in Nashville*.
36/ We know Trump Jr. was in Nashville in 2015 because his father said so during his speech:
37/ NOTE: I'm going to say something now that I can't believe I'm going to say... but the next tweet is really one that *everyone* needs to read *carefully* and understand because it could point toward the most important revelation in the entire Trump-Russia investigation so far.
1) Trump and Don Jr. were both in Nashville and both in Louisville.
2) Torshin—by 7 months after Nashville—says he knows Trump via the NRA.
3) Butina says Don Jr. attended a secret meeting with Torshin in either Nashville or Louisville.
4) Why wouldn't *Trump* have gone too?
5) SCENARIO #1: If Kremlin agent Torshin met Trump in Nashville in 2015 as he implies—and if the secret meeting was in Nashville—why would Don Jr. have gone in his father's place, and how would Torshin be able to say he met *Trump* if *Trump* didn't also attend that meeting?
6) SCENARIO #2: If Butina is saying the secret Torshin-Don Jr. meeting was in *Louisville*, that's months *after* Torshin says he already knows Trump—and media reports say Torshin wanted to see Trump in Louisville. So why wouldn't Trump have attended *that* secret meeting?
41/ In any case, what we have now is Don Jr. meeting secretly with Kremlin agent Torshin in—most likely—Louisville in spring '16, and later lying about it to Congress. Torshin is—at the time—apparently connected to an op looking to get dirt on Clinton involving the Ziff Brothers.
42/ When Jr. gets contacted a few weeks later—in early June—and learns the Kremlin has dirt on Clinton it wants to give him, guess what the dirt is about? As confirmed by US media's publication of the Kremlin talking points for that meeting, the info involves...the Ziff Brothers.
43/ Trump and Don Jr. thereafter lie about the meeting in which Jr. learned of the HRC "dirt" Torshin had been connecting to uncovering. And they *also* lie about the *other* topic of that June 2016 meeting: the "peace" Butina was working for, that is to say... sanctions relief.
44/ SUMMARY: So there's now a clear throughline establishing a Kremlin operation involving Putin, his top four oligarchs, Butina, Torshin and Simes—one that involves infiltrating the Trump campaign through the NRA and specifically Don Jr.
Both Don and his dad then lied about it.
45/ To me, the craziest part of all this is that when it hit media this evening, those who picked it up didn't know enough about the Trump-Russia timeline to know what they were hearing. So they fell into a trap laid by the far-right "journalist" who spoke to Byrne—Sara Carter.
46/ Carter falsely claims the *real* story here is... the FBI asking Byrne to keep seeing Butina. I've no idea why that'd be a story, or why it'd be a story if—as Byrne says—Strzok and Comey issued that order. They were...*investigating Russia*. Of *course* they issued the order.
47/ The three Russian election-interference campaigns—hacking, propaganda, and infiltration—began in 2014 and 2015. It was always my assumption—it should've been everyone's—that the best intelligence agencies in the world (ours) were on to the Russians' activities not long after.
48/ That's why, when the story came out that Mueller was looking into Papadopoulos' overseas activities *before* he approached the Trump campaign the first time—in summer *2015*—it made sense: because the multinational collusion(s) PROOF OF CONSPIRACY details had started by then.
49/ I won't rehash the whole Red Sea Conspiracy here—as that's what PROOF OF CONSPIRACY will do when it's published September 3. Suffice to say that activities in Israel, Russia, and the UAE in *2014* communicated to U.S. intelligence that a strange new alliance was being formed.
50/ The FBI, when it's investigating a major national security issue—an attack by a hostile foreign power on our infrastructure, which was being investigated beginning in summer '15 at the *latest*—*absolutely* is going to use a new resource like Byrne if he drops into their lap.
51/ Byrne maintains that the FBI agents he spoke to were honorable, were apologetic about asking him to falsely keep up a Butina relationship, and represented that they were pursuing key law enforcement duties. It's the *last* portion of Byrne's interview that's sowing confusion.
52/ Byrne—citing no evidence at all—now says that he feels he was used to conduct "political espionage." And even odder, he says that espionage was being conducted against *both* the Trump *and* Clinton campaigns. But his view on this seems to all stem from a single name: Strzok.
53/ That is, people like Sara Carter have convinced a certain brand of conspiracy theorist that just because Strzok didn't like Trump—just like *150 million Americans don't*—it *automatically* means he was willing to throw away his FBI career to try to frame him and stage a coup.
54/ Mind you, Mueller did a thorough review of Strzok's work and found *no* fault with it. Strzok got in trouble due to private texts—not his professional responsibilities. But because Byrne has become convinced—without evidence—that Strzok framed Trump, he feels Strzok used him.
55/ The result of all this is media is reporting the biggest breakthrough in the Trump-Russia investigation so far as though it confirms some sort of "deep-state" conspiracy—rather than just that Byrne isn't happy about what he was asked to do now that he knows Strzok ordered it.
56/ As we've seen, Byrne's revelations in fact have nothing to do with Strzok; rather, they're about: (1) Donald Trump Jr.'s secret meetings and lies to Congress, (2) Maria Butina's much-higher-than-known level of access to Putin and his oligarchs, and (3) the Trump-Torshin link.
57/ Here's what absolutely has to happen now:
(1) Byrne has to be called before Congress.
(2) Donald Trump Jr. has to be called back before Congress.
(3) Trump has to be asked about every meeting he ever had with Alex Torshin, Maria Butina, or any agents of either Kremlin agent.
(4) Media must clean up its reporting from tonight. Byrne is offering *no evidence* he was used for "political espionage"; he's merely angry at Strzok—and therefore upset that Strzok apparently urged him to keep seeing Butina. His story is important for *other* reasons.
59/ But I also want underscore that Patrick Byrne's story isn't *legible* to anyone who hasn't been researching the Trump-Russia case for years. I've been doing that—and have written two books on the subject—and even *I* had to listen hard to understand what Byrne was revealing.
60/ I don't say that to be self-aggrandizing; I believe that *anyone* who fully understands the timeline and players in the Trump-Russia case would see and can confirm all I've said—so I'm not special for having "figured something out." I'm just explaining why US media missed it.
61/ As for Carter, I don't know why she misrepresented this. There's an obvious potential reason—a political agenda—and a less-obvious reason: that some on the right are trying to "launder" bad information for Trump by reframing it falsely. But I don't know if that happened here.
62/ It must be underscored that Byrne is a problematic witness—just not in a way that would necessarily undercut *this* story [i.e., in the way it's important]. He clearly still has feelings for Butina; he deeply admires her; he even thinks that she should be President of Russia.
63/ Byrne's story is significant exclusively because of statements his girlfriend made to him at a time those statements were either (1) against her interest, or (2) corroborated subsequently by other means. Let me explain what I mean by that, as it's important.
64/ Federal filings confirm that Torshin and Butina were running an intelligence op to infiltrate the NRA and Trump's campaign.
65/ It would have been *entirely detrimental to that intelligence op* for either of the two Kremlin agents to falsely claim to have had contact with anyone in the Trump family.
66/ Doing so would risk arousing the ire of their marks and diminishing their credibility and therefore potentially compromising their entire operation. So there are indicia of reliability in what Butina said to Byrne about Trump Jr. It's also consistent with major media reports.
67/ Those news reports place the relevant parties at the relevant locations and with the stated intent to establish communications. We even had prior reporting that Torshin wanted an off-site meeting with Trump Jr. and that wiretaps would prove Trump Jr. lied about what happened.
68/ It's clear Byrne believed his story was helping Butina *and moreover* it is clear from Carter's reporting and Byrne's CNN interview that Butina's *U.S. lawyers* also thought so. So there's no sense *anyone* here realized this would actually sink Butina, or wanted that result.
69/ One would have to be an idiot to hear or see the interview Patrick Byrne gave with CNN and *not* wonder about his reliability. The problem is that media reports also say that the FBI believed his story and, again, the relevant parts aren't really touched by Byrne's weirdness.
70/ And of course I'm leaving out entire swaths of corroboration for the sake of brevity. For instance, we already know that Donald Trump Jr. has lied under oath about these *very matters* (and others), and that Torshin and Simes both fled the country *when Butina was arrested*.
71/ The boasts Butina made about her extraordinarily well-placed Kremlin contacts were *confirmed* when she invited to Moscow, and then hosted in Moscow, top NRA brass, who were then ushered into meetings with top Kremlin officials. So she wasn't lying to Byrne about any of that.
72/ I could go on (for instance regarding the telling synchronicity of Flynn being in Moscow while Butina was hosting the NRA brass, as we know what Flynn was in Moscow to do and who he was there to meet with) but the broader point is that weird people *aren't* necessarily liars.
73/ I can readily understand, given the foregoing, why DOJ (presumably attorneys with the IG) believed Byrne. The question is whether they *only* looked at the Strzok angle, because that's the only thing *they* are tasked with looking at right now. Mueller is [prematurely] gone.
74/ When Bob Mueller, to the shock of everyone except (oddly) the husband of Trump's communications director, closed up shop almost immediately after Trump's handpicked AG, Bill Barr, was confirmed, I was one of those saying, "What happens if new info comes out? Who handles it?"
75/ The one thing Carter may have gotten *right*, albeit inadvertently, is that at present the entirely silly and unimportant Strzok angle *is* the only one being looked at, because Byrne chose to go to DOJ, and therefore the IG looking at *just* that narrow (GOP-invented) issue.https://twitter.com/SethAbramson/status ... 5944974336