When attorney and pundit Seth Abramson put together a Twitter thread yesterday on the latest developments in the Trump-Russia investigation, his primary focus was the players directly connected to the Trump Gang, to the transition team, to the administration, like former Governor Chris Christie, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
But Abramson could not complete his jigsaw of Russian connections without mentioning one British name, and that name was Arron Banks. Banksy has been linked to Russia before - his wife is believed to be a Russian asset - but this time it is not only different, but damningly so. And the likelihood of more legal action is remote.
First, Abramson gives a little background. “For 72 hours after the 2016 election, Chris Christie was still running the Trump transition team. We know two things about Christie's plans for the transition: he didn't want Michael Flynn in the administration, and he was hoping to be AG. Then Kushner fired him November 11th”. Then comes Banksy.
“We now know that, *less than 24 hours* after Christie was fired, the Kremlin's man in London was pumping a man who'd just met with Trump at Trump Tower - Arron Banks - to find out what administration role one person in particular would have: Jeff Sessions. It wasn't a coincidence”. Banks a conduit? Well, well.
More background before we get back to Banksy. “First, know that Sessions' campaign role was to secretly negotiate sanctions with Russia's man in DC, [Ambassador] Kislyak. Second, know that Sessions wanted to be AG - the role Christie wanted. Third, know that Sessions was the public face of Trump's NatSec team - which, privately, Flynn ran”.
Here he comes again. “Fourth, know what the NYT reported today: Arron Banks looks to have been Russia's man, too - a witting agent of Kremlin designs here and Europe who'd been promised riches by Putin. Now ask yourself: what message would the Kremlin have had for Trump in the 72 hours post-election?” What indeed.
“It seems clear the Kremlin knew Banks and Trump would talk personnel - Russia’s man in London was primed to ask Banks about personnel when they met the day after Christie's firing. So who was at the Banks meeting? Did Banks pass a message from his/Trump's mutual Kremlin friends?” And his conclusion?
“I think the chances that Putin had a say in Christie's firing - that it wasn't simply about Kushner's daddy issues (Christie prosecuted Jared's dad) - just went up 500%. Banks was well placed to be sending along to Trump [the] Russian angst over Christie's handling of Sessions and Flynn”. Plus the Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr has more.
“[Banks’] business partner, Jim Mellon … TOOK one of the sweetheart deals the Russian ambassador offered up. He's a major Brexit donor. And he made £££ off the back of the Russians' interest in the referendum … Offshore Brexit donor WHO COULDN'T EVEN VOTE IN THE REFERENDUM makes a pot of £££ from sweetheart diamond deal with the man Mueller named as high-level conduit between Kremlin & Trump. This is where we're at”. Banks is claiming he took no part in those deals. And we still need an answer to where all those millions of Brexit bankrolling came from. Which we will get. More to come.