We are deep in the worst-case scenarios. As the new sentencing notes for Trump colleagues Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen make clear, the only question is how bad the worst scenario will be.
The potentially innocent explanations for Donald Trump's behavior over the past two years have been diminishing little by little. Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller and the investigative reporters have discovered a picture of a presidential campaign and transition seemingly infected with unprecedented deceit and criminality, and regular, almost merciless contact with America's leading foreign opponent.
A year ago, Lawfare Benjamin Wittes and Quinta Jurecic outlined seven possible scenarios about Trump and Russia, which were ordered from innocent to guilty. Fifth place on the list was: "The Russian secret service was actively penetrating the Trump campaign ̵
According to the latest disclosures, we are constantly in scenario 5 and can easily imagine the number 6.
The court documents of Cohen and Manafort provide all the new details, revelations, and clues to come more. They also recall that Müller's investigation, along with prosecutors' investigations in the southern district of New York, clearly states that Donald Trump had participated in a crime, and instructed Cohen to violate election campaign laws to cover up extramarital affairs. 19659003] With his earlier charges against the Russian military intelligence service and the Russian Internet Research Agency, Mueller has set up a criminal conspiracy and spy campaign authorized by Vladimir Putin himself, according to US intelligence. More recently, Mueller has started to point out the long arm of this intelligence operation and how it is connected to the core of the Trump campaign itself.
Points of Contact
In fact, the remarkable thing about the unthinkable conclusions From the investigations of the Special Lawyer to date, it seems as if the normal Russian intelligence operation had targeted Trump's campaign and the presidential elections of 2016. What secret service agents would call the appraisal and recruitment phase seems to have unfolded almost with the accuracy of the textbook, with few stumbling blocks and much encouragement from the Trump side.
Mueller's court records, when coupled with other investigative reports, show a picture of how the Russian government conducted a series of "approaches" over the course of spring 2016 through various trustworthy but repudiant mediators to determine, as Wittes says, "Whether this is a man to do business with."  The Answer of Everyone in Trumpland – by Michael Cohen in January 2016, by George Papadopoulos in the spring of 2016, by Donald Trump Jr. in June 2016 by Michael Flynn in December 2016 – seems to have been a clear "yes". "
Mueller and various reports have shown that the lieutenants in Trump's orbit rebounded exactly zero of the known Russian overtures. On the contrary. Each approach was met with enthusiasm and a request for more.
On every occasion, most Trump employees – from Paul Manafort to Donald Trump Jr. to George Papadopoulos – not only used every meeting offered and returned any email or e-mail call, but seemed to take obvious measures to promote further contact. None of them informed the FBI about the contacts.
For years, Russia has known compromise material about the president's business empire and its main lawyer.
And it seems possible that there is more to it than being in the public eye earlier than we may have known. As Mueller's report in Cohen's case says, "The defendant also provided information about attempts by other Russian citizens to reach the campaign." For example, in November 2015, Cohen received contact information for a Russian citizen who claimed to be a "trustworthy person" in the country The defendant recalled that this person had repeatedly proposed a meeting between Individual 1 [aka Donald Trump] and the President of Russia, the person said Cohen said such a meeting could have a "phenomenal impact" not only "politically but also commercially", according to the Moscow project, as there is no greater guarantee in any project than the approval of [the President of Russia].
A footnote then makes it clear that the reason why Cohen did not accept the invitation was "because he was working with another person on the Moscow project that Cohen knew had some connections with the Russian government." In other words, the only reason Cohen did not want a Kremlin connection was because he did not need a Kremlin connection – he already had one.
Much of the Friday Request by the Special Lawyer on Paul Manafort In the meantime, it is explained in detail how he allegedly lied in Mueller's office about his contact as well as the content of these contacts with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian political adviser according to the US secret service is bound to the Russian secret service.  More phrases in Cohen's document indicate that much more is coming – and that the Trump campaign, the Trump organization, and even the White House are likely to be at serious risk in the current investigation. As Muller writes, "Cohen provided the SCO with useful information on certain discrete matters relating to Russia that were relevant to his investigation, which he obtained due to his regular contact with company executives during the campaign."
What exactly are these "discrete Russia-related issues", we do not yet know, but the well-known behavior of Trump campaigners and family members is damaging.
Last but not least, Don Jr.'s infamous e-mail, On a proposal of support from Russia: "If you say I love it especially in the summer," exactly when Russia filed the stolen Clinton campaign emails and directed them through WikiLeaks, another organization at the There seemed to be no shortage of Trump's contact and encouragement from a team that included Roger Stone, Randy Credico and Jerome Corsi, conversations with their "friend at the embassy," WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange  003] It was a pattern As Flynn's condemnation note reminds us this week, Trump's team was only too willing to build back channels and talk about their contacts with Russian B's to mislead or even to lie. There is still much of the unexplained demand from Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, for establishing secure back-channel communications with the Russian government free of US wiretaps during the transition.
Almost every Trump orb experienced massive amnesia All of these contacts during the campaign, including Kushner and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, both of whom "reworked" their memories to hold meetings with Russian officials during the campaign and transition ,
The lies of Trump's team would have given Russia an immense potential leverage. Michael Cohen's calls and efforts in the spring of 2016, when seeking help for the Trump Tower Moscow project, were publicly denied until last week.
But the Russians knew that Trump had lied.
For years, Russia has known compromise material about the business empire of the president and his chief advocate.
Similarly, during the transition, Michael Flynn called for sanctions to be discussed with the Russian ambassadors – in fact, do not be worried about Obama, be patient, we'll undo it – and then talk to the investigators hushed up by the federal government and the public.
But the Russians knew that Flynn is lying.
During the first weeks of the Trump administration in January 2017, Attorney General Sally Yates, acting as Plenipotentiary, rallied about warning the West Wing that Russia had had compromising material on the President's top national security adviser.
While Trump has been attempting to project the Trump Tower Moscow since Cohen's plea agreement as "[194590″abzuschneiden13] very legal and very cool ," the easiest way to know that they do not believe that they have lied for years
"The fact that 19459027 lied to Americans doing business in Russia, and that the Kremlin knew he was lying, gave the Kremlin a stop," said the incoming House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday "One of the questions we have now is whether the Kremlin is still in control of him for other lies he knows?"
The most obvious scenario is the most likely scenario.
As Mueller put it in the Cohen court documentary on Friday: "The defendant's false statements obscured the fact that the Moscow project was a lucrative business opportunity that received the support of the Russian government aspired and probably required. When the project was completed, the company might have received hundreds of millions of royalties and other revenue from Russian sources. The fact that Cohen continued to work on the project and discussed beyond the campaign with Individual 1 [aka Donald Trump] was essential to the ongoing Congressional and SCO investigations, especially as this occurred in a period of sustained efforts by the Russian government meddle the US presidential election. Similarly, it was important for Cohen to have made a substantive phone call on the project with a spokesman for the President of Russia during the campaign.
Legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin put it somewhat differently to Cohen's plea agreement: "It would have been extremely relevant to the public to learn that Trump was doing business with at the same time as he proposed to change American policy toward that country Russia negotiated. "
The SDNY verdict on Cohen's conviction While combative and calling for significant prison terms, he envisages meaningful cooperation in seven meetings between Cohen and the Special Representative's office. He said, "His statements were credible and he was careful not to exaggerate his statements or the role of others in the behavior under investigation. "
That means something concrete in the way prosecutors speak and how ethics compels them to review statements before they can be admitted to court. It is clear that Müller's team and South District Prosecutors do not simply appreciate the words of someone guilty of lied to investigators, banks and tax authorities.
They probably have significant evidence that Cohen's claim is true and, as the prosecutors say, "Cohen co-ordinated his actions with one or more members of the campaign, including through meetings and telephone calls, about the fact the species and the time of payments. In particular, and as Cohen himself admitted, he has acted in relation to both payments in concert with and at the direction of Individual-1 [Donald Trump]. "
Creeping Records of Cohen cited in the document It is possible that the prosecution even has records of Trump's order to convict his offender to a crime.
Müller does not say exactly what he has, but the new documents are littered with breadcrumbs – travelogues, testimonials, e-mails, draft documents, recordings, and more. And he has both a very helpful Cohen and, at least in part, Manafort. While the former election campaign chair was not cooperative, in recent weeks, according to a new application, he has twice pronounced before a grand jury, meaning that his testimony will be used in a criminal case against someone else.
Meanwhile The last few sections have highlighted one of the most interesting aspects of the Manafort document, in which Mueller's team points out that the former election chairman had been in contact with various administrative officials until 2018. "A review of the documents found during a search of Manafort's electronic material Documents show additional contacts with administrative officials," the report said. What – and who – Müller does not indicate, but it is certainly part of the huge iceberg, which rests directly below the surface of this case.
All evidence collected, and Occams Razor recalls: The most obvious scenario is the most likely scenario . The most likely scenario now is that there was no separation between the obvious Russian Trump agreement on business matters and the election. The coincidences are piling up. The talks pile up.
And Mueller's evidence is also much more common.
Garrett M. Graff ( @vermontgmg ) is a contributing editor for WIRED and co-author of Dawn of the Code War: America's fight against Russia, China and the growing global threat of cyberattacks. It can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.