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David Kurtz

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.

Articles by David

To be absolutely clear, we can’t know the precise significance of Team Mueller abruptly ending the timeline it recites in the charges against Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, on July 22, 2016, the same day Wikileaks published the hacked DNC emails. Tierney Sneed does a great job carefully running through the most likely possibilities.

But let’s be honest.

There is every reason in the world to think that rather than coming to an abrupt halt the communications in Trump World would have ramped up dramatically. This was the day after the Republican National Convention had ended. The Democratic National Convention was set to start in just a few days. Hacked emails from Guccifer 2.0 had already been leaked to The Hill on July 18, 2016, priming the pump. Just a few days later, on July 27, 2016, Trump himself said in public that he hoped Russia would find Hillary Clinton’s missing “33,000” emails. This was top of the mind.

Papadopoulos stayed with the campaign, by his own admission, all the way through the transition. So he didn’t go anywhere. It’s hard to believe that his communications with his Russia connections–and his dutiful relaying of those communications to other campaign officials–merely ceased right as the hacking took center stage in the election.

It is much more plausible that Mueller is holding things back, for a variety of sound strategic reasons. He’s building a case. A lot of attention has focused on what Papadopoulos did after his arrest in July 2017, when he began cooperating with Mueller. Did he wear a wire? Did he snag more Trump officials in Mueller trap? Perhaps. We don’t know. But the far more interesting period for me came a year earlier.

What did Papadopoulos do and say–and with whom did he share his doings–between July 22, 2016 and Inauguration Day? Mueller doesn’t want us to know yet.

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One interesting backstory to the Manafort-Gates indictment: the pre-indictment fight over whether they could invoke attorney-client privilege to block their lawyer from having to testify to the Mueller grand jury. The details of that skirmish–which Manafort and Gates lost–emerged when the case was unsealed this week. Tierney Sneed explains the significance.

 

While the world was marveling at Trump’s crowd size fetish during that fateful first week of his presidency, George Papadopoulos and allegedly Mike Flynn were lying to the FBI, Sally Yates was scrambling to warn the White House, and Donald Trump himself was pressing Jim Comey for personal loyalty in a private dinner. Notably, the seeds of what would become the first charges in the special counsel probe came four months before Robert Mueller arrived on the scene. Sam Thielman reviews the newly updated timeline for the last week of January.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s first charges are reportedly against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, who were told to surrender Monday morning, according to the New York Times.

Late Update: Everything we know so far.

At almost exactly the same moment that Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters in the White House briefing room that President Trump opposes the Alexander-Murray deal to stabilize Obamacare, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) himself was telling reporters, including TPM’s Alice Ollstein, that he didn’t think Trump opposed the deal, based on their phone call Wednesday morning. Story coming soon.

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