A “Russia-gate” Timeline.
This is a bit of a read, but a careful reading of it is very disturbing.
2007–2012 (at least): Future Trump Campaign head Paul Manafort engages in lobbying efforts on behalf of pro-Russia parties and interests in Ukraine. These organizations later destabilized the country and are believed to be closely tied to Russian intelligence operations. These activities legally obligated to Manafort to register as a foreign agent, but he did not do so.
July 2012: Pursuant to Obama appointment Michael Flynn becomes the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
April 2014: Flynn announces retirement as Director of the DIA about a year earlier than expected. Reports indicate he was forced out due to an abusive management style.
Mid-2014: FBI begins investigation of Paul Manafort for potential criminal activity related to representation of Russian interests in Ukraine.
August 2014: Flynn retires from the military. He and his son subsequently set up the Flynn Intel Group, a consulting firm providing intelligence services for business and governments.
December 2015: Flynn is paid $45,000 to speak at a gala dinner for Russia Today, an often virulently anti-American propaganda arm of the Russian government. Flynn is a guest of honor sitting at the same table as the Chief RT Editor and Putin. Afterwards, Flynn continues to make semi-regular appearances on RT as a guest commentator often favoring closer American cooperation with Russia. In 2015 Flynn also received over $11,000 in payment from a Russian cybersecurity company in 2015 that U.S. intelligence experts believe is involved Russian espionage.
February 2016: Flynn becomes an adviser to the Trump Campaign.
Early March 2016: George Papadopoulos is appointed as a Foreign Policy Advisor to the Trump Campaign. He is quickly contacted (on March 14th) by a “Russian Professor” later shown to have high connections to the government. The professor arranges a meeting with a Russian woman identified as Putin’s niece. She promises to provide the Trump Campaign with thousands of Hillary Clinton emails damaging to her campaign. Papadopoulos spends much of the Summer attempting to arrange meetings between the Trump Campaign and these Russians for this purpose.
March 2016: Paul Manafort joins Trump campaign to coordinate delegates for the upcoming Republican National Convention. It is later learned that at various times in 2016, both before and after the election, Manafort was under FBI surveillance pursuant to a FISA warrant (See September 18, 2017 entry below). Carter Page, who is also the subject of a FISA warrant, joins Trump campaign as a foreign policy advisor. A FISA warrant means a Federal judge has found probably cause that individual is acting as an agent of foreign power in a way hostile to the United States.
March 24, 2016: Trump Foreign Policy Advisor George Papadopoulos first meets with “Russian Professor” and female Russian identified as a relative of Putin. Papadopoulos emails the Trump Campaign Supervisor stating the meeting with “Putin’s niece” was to “to arrange a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss U.S.-Russia ties under President Trump.” While not making a commitment to meet, the Campaign Supervisor responded “great work.”
March 31, 2016: Papadopoulos attends a National Security Meeting led by Donald Trump. At the meeting Papadopoulos informs the group he has made connections to facilitate a meeting with Putin. Trump tweets a picture of the meeting that includes Papadopoulos (second chair to the left of Jeff Sessions).
April 2016: Trump Former Policy Advisor George Papadopoulos has a series of emails with the Russian Professor and “Putin’s niece” Papadopoulos requests the Professor set up “a potential foreign policy trip to Russia.” The Professor responds “This is already been agreed. I am flying to Moscow on the 18th for a Valdai meeting, plus other meetings at the Duma,” the Russian legislature. “Putin’s niece” responds “I have already alerted my personal links to our conversation and your request. … As mentioned we are all very excited by the possibility of a good relationship with Mr. Trump. The Russian Federation would love to welcome him once his candidature would be officially announced.”
April 26, 2016: Trump Former Policy Advisor George Papadopoulos meets the Russian Professor for breakfast at a London hotel. During this meeting, the Professor told Papadopolous that he had just returned from a trip to Moscow where he had met with high level Russian government officials. The Professor tell Papadopoulos that on that trip he (the Professor) learned the Russians had obtained “dirt” on then-candidate Clinton. The Professor tells Papadopoulos “They [the Russians] have dirt on her”; “the Russians had emails of Clinton”; “they have thousands of emails.”
May 2016: George Papadopoulos meets with an Australian ambassador in a bar and over drinks tells him the Russians have thousands of hacked emails of Hilary Clinton damaging to her campaign. The Aussie diplomat later passes the story to American officials providing another basis to investigate potential Trump Campaign collusion with the Russians other than the Steele Dossier.
Late May 2016: Trump clinches enough delegates to secure the Republican nomination.
May 21, 2016: Papadopoulos emails Paul Manafort, informing him “Russia has been eager to meet Mr. Trump for quite sometime and have been reaching out to me to discuss.” Manafort forwards the email to future co-indictee Rick Gates (see October 30, 2017 entry). “We need someone to communicate that [Donald Trump] is not doing these trips. It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal.”
May through Mid-August 2016: George Papadopoulos pursues what his Statement of Charges he will later plead guilty to describes as an “off the record” meeting between one or more Campaign representatives and “members of President Putin’s office.”
June 9, 2016: Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump, Jr., meets with a Russian lawyer. The person who helped set up the meeting, Rob Goldstone, told Trump Jr., in an email that the Russian government wanted to provide him damaging information on Hillary Clinton to help his father’s campaign. Trump Jr., attended the meeting anyway. Trump’s soon to be Campaign Chairman, and later to be Mueller indictee, Paul Manafort and Trump’s son-in-law (and future Senior White House Advisor in the Administration) Jared Kushner also participated in the meeting. Kushner originally failed to include the meeting in his security clearance disclosure form but later amended it to include the existence of the meeting. It is later revealed Trump Jr., specifically requested from the Russians financial documents showing money went into Clinton Campaign coffers that dodged tax laws. Trump Jr., suggested the possibility of more favorable treatment for Russia under a Trump administration in exchange. As news of the meeting began to leak, Trump Jr. originally claimed the meeting was solely about assisting Russian orphans. The next day he admitted he had been enticed to the meeting by promises of dirt on Hillary Clinton but claimed the Russian attorney had none and was really there to discuss Russian orphans. Trump Jr. would later repeatedly deny having any meeting with Russians that were set up, or represented the campaign in anyway (see below).
June 9, 2016: Later in the day after his son met with the Russian lawyer Donald Trump tweets to Hillary Clinton: “Where are your 33,000 emails that you deleted?”
June 14, 2016: Rod Goldstone emails a client (who was in the June 9 meeting) a CNN article about Russian hacking of Democratic National Committee emails describing it as “eerily weird” considering what was discussed in the June 9 meeting with Trump Jr. (see above). Yet Trump Jr., denies there was any discussion at the meeting regarding hacked emails. The Washington Post first reports that Russians hacked Hillary Clinton’s emails.
June 19, 2016: after several email and Skype exchanges with the Russian Connection, George Papadopoulos emails a High Ranking Trump Campaign Official (later identified as Campaign Chairman Corey Lewandowski), with the subject line “New message from Russia” The emails state: “The Russian ministry of foreign affairs messaged and said that if Mr. Trump is unable to make it to Russia, if a campaign rep (me or someone else) can make it for meetings? I am willing to make the trip off the record if it’s in the interest of Mr. Trump and the campaign to meet specific people.”
June 20, 2016: Corey Lewandowski is fired as Trump Campaign Manager and replaced by Paul Manafort, who is later indicted for being a major international finance criminal (see multiple entries below).
July 2016: It is reported that Flynn is one of those being considered as Trump’s Vice-Presidential candidate. Flynn later confirms he submitted vetting documents to the campaign for the potential appointment.
July 2016: In a visit approved by the Trump Campaign, Carter Page travels to Russia to give a Putin friendly speech criticizing United States policies towards Russia. Endorsing Russia’s own propaganda points, Page condemned the United States for its “often hypocritical focus on ideas such as democratization, inequality, corruption, and regime change.” It is believed Page had meetings with high ranking Russian officials that he did not disclose. The nature of those meetings remain under investigation by the FBI and Department of Justice. The controversial Steele Dossier claims Page met with Russians who offered compromising material on Clinton for the Trump Campaign.
July 11 and 12 2016: Trump campaign staffers compel removal from Republican Party Platform a provision calling for arming Ukraine against Russian aggression.
July 18, 2016: Flynn is a keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention, delivering a fiery speech and leading a chant to “lock her up” in regards to Hillary Clinton.
July 19, 2016: Donald Trump is formally made the Republican nominee for President.
July 19, 2016: Trump promotes Paul Manafort to Head Campaign Manager.
July 22, 2016: In a Florida press conference Donald Trump states: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” In fact, Wikileaks releases 20,000 sometimes embarrassing Clinton emails. Wikileaks is believed to have gotten these emails from Russian Intelligence. The leaks, just three days before the Democratic National Convention, are weaponized to disrupt the party. They include evidence the DNC favored Clinton over Bernie Sanders, creating a split in the party just as it was attempting to unite. DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is quickly compelled to resign and ramifications blister the party and Clinton Campaign throughout the election.
July 23, 2016: Flynn retweets an anti-semitic tweet. He later apologizes.
July 24, 2016: Donald Trump Jr. appears on CNN’s “State of the Union” and strongly attacks the “moral compass” of anyone suggesting the Russians sought to help the Trump campaign, calling such assertions “lie after lie.” He apparently did not remember his meeting just the month before set up for exactly that purpose.
Late July 2016: According to testimony from FBI Director James Comey, the FBI begins an investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
August 15, 2016: The NY Times reports potentially illegal off-book secret payments to Manafort from pro-Russia groups in Ukraine. The Campaign Supervisor (later identified as Sam Clovis) tells Papadopoulos that “I would encourage you” and another foreign policy advisor to the Campaign to “make the trip, if it is feasible.” That would be the secret trip described by Papadopoulos in June. Notwithstanding this approval, the trip is never taken.
August 19, 2016: Trump abruptly fires Manafort who had become his campaign manager only the month before. He hires Steve Bannon, the head of the racist alt-right Breitbart.com, to replace him to replace him. After Trump’s election Bannon would be retained in the Trump Administration as Chief Strategist.
August 2016: Trump campaign drops Carter Page as a foreign policy advisor. An FBI investigation of him includes issuance of FISA warrant which requires that a Federal judge conclude there is probable cause Page acted on behalf of another nation against the security interests of the United States.
September 2016: Flynn’s consulting company is hired by a company owned by the Chair of the Turkish-American Business Council, which is an arm of the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey, to do lobbying work. Flynn’s company is paid over $500,000. This makes Flynn a foreign agent but he does not register as one as required by law.
September 8, 2016: Jeff Sessions meets with Russian Ambassador (and suspected spy) Kislyak. He later claims to have not had any meetings with Russians.
September 14, 2016: An email is sent to Trump, his son and other in the campaign purporting to provide a link to a website and decryption key to access Russian hacked Clinton emails.
September 20, 2016: As later reported by The Atlantic, WikiLeaks contacts Donald Trump Jr., by Twitter Direct Message warning of an anti-Trump PAC and offering information on who it is behind it.
September 21, 2016: Trump Jr., responds to the WikiLeaks contact thanking them and saying he will ask around about it. This starts 10 months of back and forth between WikiLeaks and Trump Jr.
October 2, 2016: Trump Campaign Advisor Roger Stone tweets “Wednesday@HillaryClinton is done. #WikiLeaks.” The message is widely seen as reflecting Stone’s advance knowledge of the October 7 release of Clinton emails by WikiLeaks.
October 3, 2016: WikiLeaks again contacts Trump Jr., asking him to push a story about Clinton saying she wished WikiLeaks could get drone struck. Trump Jr. responds saying “Already did that earlier today. It’s amazing what she can get away with.” Trump Jr., further asks “What’s behind this Wednesday leak I keep reading about?”
October 5, 2016: Roger Stone tweets that a “payload” is coming from WikiLeaks.
October 7, 2016: The director of national intelligence and the head of the Homeland Security release a joint statement warning of Russian efforts to meddle in the election and that WikiLeaks is part of that effort, describing WikiLeaks as essentially an agent of the Russian government.
Also October 7, 2016: WikiLeaks releases thousands of emails hacked from John Podesta.
October 10, 2016: At a rally Donald Trump proclaims “I love WikiLeaks.”
October 11, 2016: Donald Trump’s son, Trump Jr., delivers a paid speech in Paris to a group supporting Russian interests.
October 12, 2016: WikiLeaks messages Donald Trump Jr., stating: “Hey Donald, great to see you and your dad talking about our publications. Strongly suggest your dad tweets this link if he mentions us,” Linking wlsearch.tk, claiming it would provide a trove of stolen documents. “There’s many great stories the press are missing and we’re sure some of your follows will find it, Btw we just released Podesta Emails Part 4.” Trump Jr., promptly tweeted to the world “Very little pick-up by the dishonest media of incredible information provided by WikiLeaks. So dishonest! Rigged system!”
October 14, 2016: Trump Jr., tweets out the link WikiLeaks provided him two days earlier:
Also on October 14th Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence is directly asked if the Trump Campaign is “in cahoots” with WikiLeaks. Pence replies “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
November 8, 2016: Donald Trump is elected President. Clinton decisively wins the popular vote, by almost 3 million total votes and by 2.1%, but Trump decisively wins the electoral college 304 votes to 227.
November 10, 2016: In a post-election meeting President Obama warns President-elect Trump against hiring Michael Flynn.
November 11, 2016: Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks flatly and broadly denies any foreign contacts at all during the Trump campaign. She sweepingly states “It never happened. There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign.” This broad denial has been disproven many times over as the list of proven Trump campaign officials who met with Russians is now known to include Donald Trump Jr., Jeff Sessions, Paul Manafort, Carter Page, Roger Stone and Michael Flynn. Even more on point, George Papadopoulos (as discussed above) was secretly meeting with Russians to discuss getting dirt on Hillary Clinton related to her emails and he was diligently informing his superiors in the Trump Campaign of his activities.
November 18, 2016: Ignoring Obama’s warning, Trump offers and Flynn accepts to serve as National Security Advisor in the new administration.
November 28, 2016: President elect Trump tells Time Magazine that he does not believe the Russians meddled in the election at all. He states: “I don’t believe they interfered. That became a laughing point, not a talking point, a laughing point. Any time I do something, they say ‘oh, Russia interfered.’” He belittles U.S. intelligence conclusions regarding DNC hacking: “It could be Russia. And it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey.”
December 1, 2016: Jared Kushner meets with Russian Ambassador/spy Kislyak to ask about setting up a secure communications line between the Trump camp and the Russian Embassy in Washington. The meeting is not initially disclosed on Kushner’s Security Clearance application forms.
December 13, 2016: Jared Kushner meets with the Chairman of a Russian owned bank that is under sanction by the United States Government. The meeting is arranged by Russian Ambassador/spy Kislyak. The meeting is not initially disclosed on Kushner’s Security Clearance application forms.
December 18, 2016: Kellyanne Conway appears on “Face the Nation” and flatly denies any contacts by the Trump campaign with any Russians seeking to meddle in the campaign, going so far as to declare any such claims “undermine our democracy.” [Edited to eliminate interruptions but not substantive content].
JOHN DICKERSON: Did anyone involved in the Trump campaign have any contact with Russians trying to meddle with the election?
KELLYANNE CONWAY: Absolutely not. And I discussed that with the president-elect just last night. Those conversations never happened. I hear people saying it like it’s a fact on television. That is just not only inaccurate and false, but it’s dangerous. And — and it does undermine our democracy.
Conway’s broad denial is now known to be false because of Trump Jr.’s June 9, 2016 meeting with Russians set up with the promise of damaging information on Hillary Clinton to be provided because the Russian government wanted to help his father’s campaign. It is also false because George Papadopoulos had extensive contacts with Russians on behalf of the campaign with the intent of getting damaging emails on Hillary Clinton. Further, Papadopoulos diligently kept his superiors informed of his efforts and they encouraged him to continue them.
December 28 2016: As rumors of sanctions swirled, Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak contacted Flynn and they discussed Russian sanctions under a Trump administration. Flynn later denied the conversation even happened. Then he denied it discussed sanctions. Both were lies, the call was recorded because Kislyak, being a Russian spy, was under United States surveillance.
December 29 2016: In response to Russian hacking of the DNC, and other meddling in the U.S. election, Obama imposes sanctions on Russia that included expelling 35 Russian diplomats. A Russian reprisal is expected. Senior Trump Transition Advisor K.T. McFarland responds quickly coordinating transition team efforts to undermine the sanctions with the Russians. She sought to ease tensions with the Russians on who (in an email) she said “has just thrown the U.S.A. election to him [Trump].” The email, forwarded to other key transition team members, urged contacting the Russians to deescalate Russian response to the sanctions to prevent a tit-for-tat exchange that would prevent President Trump from improving Russian relations. That day Flynn has at least five more calls with Sergey Kislyak aimed at muting the expected Russian retaliation. Flynn later denied the conversations even happened. Then he denied they discussed sanctions. Both were lies, the calls were recorded because Kislyak, being a Russian spy, was under United States surveillance. These calls arguably violated the Logan Act.
December 30, 2016: Putin announces (surprisingly at the time) that there will be no Russian retaliation for the U.S. sanctions.
December 31, 2016: Trump casts doubt on the Russia hacking story accepted by U.S. intelligence stating “it could be somebody else.” Over the next week Trump continues to cast aspersions at U.S. intelligence conclusions regarding the Russia hacking at one point stating in a Tweet that it might have been done by a 14 year old.
January 10, 2017: Attorney General nominee (previously Trump campaign surrogate) Jeff Sessions testifies at his confirmation hearings that “I did not have communications with the Russians.” Senator Leahy asked the following question: “Have you been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day?” Sessions directly answered “No.”
January 11, 2017: Trump is directly asked in a press conference the following question. “Can you stand here today, once and for all, and say that no one connected to you or your campaign had any contact with Russia leading up to or during the presidential campaign?” Trump directly answers “no.” We now know this denial was false because Trump’s son would later admit he met with Russians on June 9, 2016 in a meeting where he was enticed to go by promises of dirt from the Russian government on Hillary Clinton. It is also false because George Papadopoulos had extensive contacts with Russian agents on behalf of the campaign and with the encouragement of high ranking Trump Campaign officials.
Around January 11, 2017: Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater and associate of Donald Trump, secretly meets in the Seychelles islands with Russian officials close to Putin to set up a back channel for communications between the Kremlin and the Trump Transition Team. The UAE apparently arranged the meeting with Lebanese businessman George Nader. Prince later testifies to the House Intelligence Committee that this planned meeting was by chance, over a few beers, and discussed matters unrelated to the Trump Administration. This story begins to break a year later when Nader is questioned by, and cooperates with, Mueller’s team.
January 12, 2017: The Washington Post breaks the story of the late December phone calls between Flynn and Kislyak.
January 13, 2017: Trump tells the Wall Street Journal he is open to lifting the sanctions against Russia. Sean Spicer is asked about the WaPo article and says there was but one call between Flynn and Kislyak, on the 28th of December, that was merely an exchange of Christmas greetings and logistical coordination for an upcoming call with President-elect Trump.
January 15, 2017: Vice President-elect Mike Pence appears on Face the Nation to strongly deny that sanctions had ever been discussed, in what Pence claimed was the one and only one call between Trump and Kislyak:
MIKE PENCE: I talked to General Flynn about that conversation and actually was initiated on Christmas Day he had sent a text to the Russian ambassador to express not only Christmas wishes but sympathy for the loss of life in the airplane crash that took place. It was strictly coincidental that they had a conversation. They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia.
JOHN DICKERSON: So did they ever have a conversation about sanctions ever on those days or any other day?
MIKE PENCE: They did not have a discussion contemporaneous with U.S. actions on —
JOHN DICKERSON: But what about after —
MIKE PENCE: — my conversation with General Flynn. Well, look. General Flynn has been in touch with diplomatic leaders, security leaders in some 30 countries. That’s exactly what the incoming national security advisor —
JOHN DICKERSON: Absolutely.
MIKE PENCE: — should do. But what I can confirm, having spoken to him about it, is that those conversations that happened to occur around the time that the United States took action to expel diplomats had nothing whatsoever to do with those sanctions.
JOHN DICKERSON: But that still leaves open the possibility that there might have been other conversations about the sanctions.
MIKE PENCE: I don’t believe there were more conversations.
JOHN DICKERSON: Okay. Okay. Okay. Let’s move on. Okay. Got it —
MIKE PENCE: I can confirm those elements were not a part of that discussion.
January 20, 2017: Trump is sworn in as President.
January 22, 2017: Wall Street Journal reports Flynn is under investigation by counterintelligence officials for his communication with Russian officials.
January 24, 2017: Flynn is interviewed by the FBI. If he told the FBI the same story he previously told the Vice President, and the same story he publicly said two weeks later on February 8, then Flynn committed a felony, see e.g. 18 U.S.C. 1001.
January 26, 2017: Acting Attorney General Sally Yates gives a “forceful warning” to the White House Counsel that Flynn lied about his conversations with Russians, that he did discuss the embargo with them, and that Flynn was a significant security risk because the Russians could use those lies to blackmail him. Yates told the administration this information was being provided so appropriate action could be taken. She tells White House Counsel Don McGahn that two days earlier Flynn was interviewed by the FBI regarding this. White House Counsel asks how the interview went, and she declines to answer (but connect the dots). McGahn almost immediately informs President Trump that the Flynn has been caught lying to the FBI.
January 27, 2017: White House Counsel meets with Yates again claiming to be perplexed why DOJ would care about members of the executive branch lying to each other. Yates again emphasizes that Flynn is a security risk. White House Counsel asks to review evidence against Flynn at DOJ. Yates says she will check to see if that can be done.
January 27, 2017: Former Trump Campaign Foreign Policy Advisor George Papadopoulos is interviewed by the FBI. He lies during this interview and later pleads guilty to doing so (see October 30, 2017 entry). Papadopoulos falsely tells the FBI that he met the “Russian Professor” before joining the Trump team. The first meeting was after and was because Papadopoulos told the Professor he joined the Trump team. Papadopoulos falsely told the FBI the Russian Professor was a nothing even though he knew when he said it that the Russian Professor had high connections to the Russian Government. He falsely stated he never met other Russian officials the Professor introduced him to. He falsely stated he met “Putin’s niece” before starting to with the Trump Campaign and falsely characterized their emails as amounting to “Just, “Hi, how are you?” “That’s it.”
January 27, 2017: The day after Sally Yates first warned White House Counsel about Flynn Trump requests and has dinner with FBI Director Comey. During the dinner Trump demands a pledge of loyalty from Comey. Comey refuses but does promise to be honest with him. Trump will later fire Comey.
January 30, 2017: Yates has her third conversation with White House Counsel regarding Flynn, advising him he can look at the evidence the DOJ has and inviting him to come over to look at it. He apparently never does. That night Trump fires Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, supposedly for refusing to defend his travel ban.
February 8, 2017: When questioned by the media, Flynn twice directly denies having any conversations regarding sanctions with Russian officials.
February 9, 2017: WaPo reports intelligence sources confirm Flynn discussed sanctions with the Russians. A Flynn spokesman now says that while Flynn “had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.”
February 10, 2017: Trump says he is unaware of any reports that Flynn discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador. The statement is a lie. As reflected above, Trump was advised that Flynn lied about these conversations to the FBI by White House General Counsel McGahn on January 26th. White House officials declare that Flynn has Trump’s full confidence.
February 13, 2017: In an MSNBC interview, Kellyanne Conway twice emphatically declares that “General Flynn does enjoy the full confidence of the president.” A few hours later Trump requests Flynn’s resignation and gets it. The NY Times reports there are separate investigations into the payments to Flynn associated with the Russian Times gala speech.
February 14, 2017: Per a May 16 NY Times Report Trump meets with Comey and asks Comey to drop the investigation related to Flynn saying “I hope you can let this go.” The Times says Comey wrote a memo memorializing the conversation shortly after the meeting as “part of a paper trail Mr. Comey created documenting what he perceived as the president’s improper efforts to influence a continuing investigation.”
February 15, 2017: Trump describes Flynn as “a wonderful man” who was “treated very, very unfairly” by the “fake media.”
Feb. 16, 2017: George Papadopoulos is interviewed by the FBI again. His attorney attends the meeting with him and pledges his client’s cooperation.
Feb. 17, 2017: Papadopoulos deactivates his Facebook account. It had included information about his conversations with the Russians. The FBI undoubtedly viewed this as a betrayal of his promised cooperation the day before.
March 1, 2017: Sessions makes a statement responding to reports he met with the Russian ambassador in his office, relevant because he indicated in his confirmation hearings (see January 10th above) that he had not spoken to Russians at all. Sessions acknowledges meeting with Russian ambassador Kislyak but says it had nothing to do with the campaign, that it was solely in his capacity as a Senator. He directly states “I have never met with any Russian to discuss issues of the campaign.” At around this time the NY Times subsequently reports that President Trump ordered his top lawyer (Donald McGahn) to direct Attorney General Sessions to no recuse himself from the Russia investigation. When McGahn was unsuccessful Trump erupted in anger because he wanted Sessions to protect him from the investigation.
March 2, 2017: Attorney General Jeff Sessions recuses himself any decisions related to investigation of the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia to interfere in our election.
March 7, 2017: Flynn files a request to retroactively be identified as a foreign agent. Flynn will later stipulate this application included numerous lies (see December 1, 2017 entry).
March 9, 2017: Sean Spicer denies Trump knew Flynn acted as a foreign agent before hiring him (note: Obama’s warning to Trump prior to Trump’s hiring him discussed above). VP Mike Pence says the revelations are “an affirmation of the president’s decision to ask General Flynn to resign.”
March 20, 2017: FBI Director Comey testifies before Congress that the FBI is investigating possible collusion between the Trump Campaign and Russia in regards to Russian interference in the United States elections. When Senator Stalwell asks whether FBI review of Trump’s tax returns would be relevant to the investigation, Comey refuses to answer.
March 2017: Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., tells the NY Times that he never met with Russians as a representative of the Trump campaign. Trump Jr. told the Times:
“Did I meet with people that were Russian? I’m sure, I’m sure I did. But none that were set up. None that I can think of at the moment. And certainly none that I was representing the campaign in any way, shape or form.”
This statement was a lie. As discussed above Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer in June. The meeting was set up in advance, and Trump Jr. was told in advance the meeting was to pass on information from the Russian government damaging to Hillary Clinton because the Russian government wanted to help his father’s campaign. When further asked if he had any discussions related to American policy Trump Jr. said “A hundred percent no.” That statement was also false. Even accepting his account of the meeting as completely true, Trump Jr. now says they discussed American policy issues that complicated Russian adoptions.
March 30, 2017: WSJ reports that Flynn has offered to testify in exchange for immunity.
March 31, 2017: Trump again defends Flynn in a tweet describing the investigations as a “witch hunt” against Flynn. The tweet also supports Flynn’s request for immunity even though with regards to the Hillary Clinton investigation Trump suggested immunity was only sought by guilty people.
April 27, 2017: The Pentagon announces an investigation into whether Flynn improperly accepted money from foreign governments without the required approval.
April 28, 2017: Attorney General Sessions specifically extends his recusal to the investigation of Flynn.
May 3, 2017: FBI Director Comey again testifies before Congress that the FBI is investigating possible collusion between the Trump Campaign and Russia in regards to Russian interference in the United States elections and that nothing has changed. When Senator Franken asks if Trump’s tax returns would be material to the investigation, Comey responds “that’s not something Senator that I’m going to answer.”
May 8, 2017: Yates testifies to Congress disclosing for first time that Flynn was interviewed by the FBI on January 24th. She also states she cannot comment how that interview went but at the time Flynn was lying to the Vice-President, Sean Spicer and to the American public about the matter. If he told those same lies to the FBI he committed a felony. Just after Yates’ testimony Trump goes on a four tweet rampage. Trump’s tweets, among other things declares “the Russia-Trump collusion story is a total hoax.” That would be the story the FBI Director had twice told Congress was under an active FBI investigation, the second time less than a week before.
May 9, 2017: Trump fires the FBI Director, Comey, who is investigating Trump. Trump’s termination letter claims Comey told him three times that he was not under investigation. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is involved in firing the man heading the Russia investigation despite recusing himself from decisions related to that investigation. Sessions will also be primarily responsible for finding a replacement to lead the investigation that he has supposedly recused himself from participating in. CNN Reports federal prosecutors have issued grand jury subpoenas to associates of Flynn.
May 10, 2017: Whitehouse spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders states Comey was fired because the FBI had lost confidence in him claiming “countless” members had so advised the Whitehouse.
May 10, 2017: In a meeting a group of Russians Trump states that he fired Comey because “he was crazy, a real nut job.” He also tells the Russians “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.” This representation of the conversation reportedly comes from the White House’s own document summarizing the conversation.
May 11, 2017: New Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe in sworn testimony before the Senate contradicts the Whitehouse claim of widespread disenchantment with Comey within the FBI. McCabe stating “I hold Director Comey in the absolute highest regard. I have the highest respect for his considerable abilities and his integrity” and asserting that Comey enjoyed “broad support within the FBI and still does to this day” so “the vast majority of FBI employees enjoyed a deep, positive connection to Director Comey.”
May 11, 2017: Trump contradicts repeated statements from his staff and Vice President Pence on the reasons and process behind firing Comey that Trump fired Comey based on recommendations from his Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General rooted in Comey’s handling of the Clinton investigation. In an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt Trump stated he decided to fire Comey before receiving those recommendations and cited the “Russia thing” as a reason for firing Comey.
I was going to fire Comey knowing there was no good time to do it. And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself — I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.
This is the second statement from Trump suggesting he fired Comey to stop the Russia investigation, a reason that suggests obstruction of justice.
May 12, 2017: Trump tweets “James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” The tweets sets of a firestorm of questions of whether such tapes exist, which Trump refuses to answer for six weeks. The tweet prompts Comey to leak contents of his meetings with Trump where Trump sought a loyalty oath and urged Comey to drop the Flynn investigation.
May 2017: Shortly after designating him Acting Director of the FBI Trump asks Andrew McCabe who he voted for. McCabe answers that he didn’t vote but later describes the conversation as “disturbing.” Trump would later heavily criticize McCabe because his Democrat wife in 2015 accepted money for her Virginia state office legislature campaign from a PAC run by a close friend of Hillary Clinton.
May 16, 2017: The NY Times reports that on the day after Flynn was fired Trump met with Comey and asks Comey to drop the investigation related to Flynn saying “I hope you can let this go.” The Times says Comey wrote a memo memorializing the conversation shortly after the meeting as “part of a paper trail Mr. Comey created documenting what he perceived as the president’s improper efforts to influence a continuing investigation” and that he shared the memo with close associates in the FBI. The Times reports it has not seen the memo but that a Comey associate read parts of it to their reporter.
May 17, 2017: The Department of Justice announces that former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been appointed as a Special Prosecutor to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump.” Trump is told of the appointment in a meeting that includes his Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump blows up at Sessions calling him an “idiot” for recusing himself from the Russian investigation and suggests he should resign. Sessions drafted a resignation but Trump rejected it, convinced by aides it would cause more problems fresh after firing Comey. Even so, stinging criticism by Trump of his Attorney General would continue for many more weeks.
May 18, 2017: Trump describes Mueller’s appointment as Special Prosecutor, made by his own Deputy Attorney General, as the “greatest witch hunt in history.” It is a term he will repeat many times in the coming weeks and months.
June 8, 2017: Comey again testifies to Congress. He testifies that in a January 27 meeting the President excused others from the room (to include the Vice President and Head of the DOJ) and demanded a pledge of loyalty to him. Comey testified he dodged making that pledge. Comey also testifies that in a February 14 meeting Trump asked him to drop the Flynn investigation. Comey describes being so uncomfortable with the President’s conversations, and so uncertain as to the President’s honesty, that he began keeping contemporaneous meetings of their conversations. Comey acknowledges providing the contents of one of those memos to a friend to leak to the press. Comey confirms that he did tell Trump that he personally was not a target of the investigation, though members of his campaign clearly were.
June 2017: Only about a month after his appointment President Trump tries to fire Special Prosecutor Mueller. Trump ordered White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller. McGahn refused, arguing it would be disastrous to Trump’s Presidency and threatened to resign if pushed. The President backed down. As discussed below, Trump and his people would later repeatedly deny that the President even ever considered fired Mueller.
June 27, 2017: Paul Manafort finally files to retroactively be recognized as a foreign agent.
July 8, 2017: NY Times reports that Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer known for opposing the Magnitsky Act which blacklists Russian human rights abusers. Putin countered by banning adoptions of Russian children by Americans. The meeting was not previously disclosed. Trump Jr., responded by claiming the meeting was all about the adoption issue. This dishonest response would later become the focus of investigation itself as questions arose as to who wrote it. It would later be reported that President Trump himself dictated it (see July 31 entry below) overruling recommendations of White House counsel for a more forthcoming response. It would later be reported (see February 1, 2018 entry below) that White House Counsel urged Mark Corallo urged are more forthcoming response arguing the emails between Trump Jr, Kushner and the Russians would eventually come out. In a conference call Hope Hicks allegedly said the emails“will never get out.” This left Corallo with the belief that Hicks may be obstructing justice, so he made contemporary notes about it and resigned less than two weeks later (see July 20 entry).
July 9, 2017: Trump Jr. admits that before the meeting he was told it was to discuss negative information the Russians wanted to pass on about Hillary Clinton. He claims they did not actually have such information, but wanted to talk about adoptions instead. He describes the meeting being “set up” by others even though he previously denied any meetings with any Russians that had been set up or that had anything to do with the campaign. Trump Jr. admits to being interested in getting negative information about Clinton from the Russians, but says he didn’t actually get any.
July 10, 2017: The NY Times Reports Trump Jr. received an email from the person setting up the meeting stating the purpose of the meeting was to get material as part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy, by damaging Hillary Clinton.
July 11, 2017: Trump Jr. tweets what he claims is a complete record of the emails setting up the meeting. Even though the move was clearly aimed at preempting an identical release by the NY Times, the contents are shocking. They show that before the DNC hack of Clinton emails were widely known (though it had happened) that Russians seeking to help the Trump campaign. One email said: “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
July 14, 2017: In yet another leak related to the Trump Jr., meeting with Russians it is revealed the meeting also included a “former” Russian counter-intelligence agent. There really are no such “former” agents. For all practical purposes the meeting included a Russian spy. Again, this did not come from a Trump camp taking credit for belated transparency, but rather from investigative reporting.
July 16, 2017: President Trump’s personal attorney, Jay Sekulow appears on ABC’s “This Week” and attempts to the blame Kushner’s and Trump Jr’s meeting on the Secret Service saying “if this was nefarious, why the Secret Service allowed these people in.” The Secret Service responds basically by calling Sekulow a liar stating “Donald Trump, Jr. was not a protectee of the USSS in June, 2016. Thus we would not have screened anyone he was meeting with at that time."
July 19, 2017: In an interview with the NY Times Trump attacks even his own appointments who are associated with the investigation, continuing his intimidation tactics and smears at whoever crosses him regarding the Russian investigation. He first throws Attorney General Jeff Sessions under the bus saying that he should not have recused himself from the Russian investigation and that “if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else.” Trump goes on to suggest that Sessions recused himself because he gave “bad answers” at his confirmation hearing (as discussed above Sessions lied about not meeting with Russians). Trump expresses anger the decision to appoint a Special Prosecutor then went to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Trump belittled Rosenstein because he’s “from Baltimore” and “there are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any.” In May Trump gushed at his wisdom in appointing Rosenstein saying “he’s highly respected. Very good guy, very smart guy. And the Democrats like him. The Republicans like him.” Perhaps Trump’s most chilling statements came in regards to Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. Trump agreed Mueller investigating his personal and business finances was a “red line” Mueller had better not cross. When asked directly if he would fire Mueller if he crossed that line, Trump stated “I can’t answer that question because I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
July 20, 2017: Media sources report that Special Prosecutor Mueller is running across that “red line” and is investigating Trump’s finances. Other media reports indicate Trump’s attorneys are researching Trump’s ability to pardon members of his family and even himself. In a move widely seen as appeasing Russia, it is reported that Trump has ordered an end to U.S. support for anti-Asaad rebels. In other news, White House Counsel Mark Corallo, who was overruled in attempting to get a more forthcoming response to the Kushner/Trump Jr meetings with Russians resigns citing concerns over whether the Trump team was telling him the truth. Robert Mueller would later seek to interview Corallo (see February 1, 2018 entry below).
July 21, 2017: Trump attorneys are reported to be investigating means to attempt to discredit attorneys hired by Special Prosecutor Mueller by alleging conflict of interests. The conflict of interests suggested, such as having privately donated to the Clinton campaign, are not legally conflicts of interests. Sean Spicer resigns as White House Press Secretary because Trump decided to hire Anthony Scaramucci to the job.
July 22, 2017: The Washington Post reports U.S. intelligence intercepted communications between Russian Ambassador Kislyak and his superiors in Moscow describing conversations with Jeff Sessions where they discussed campaign related matters. This contradicts Sessions’ claims first that he never met with any Russians, and afterwards that no meetings discussed any campaign related matters (see January 10 and March 1 above). Trump responds on Twitter condemning the leak of this information while contradicting himself by claiming it is “fake news.” The tweet also confirms (the previously deemed fake news) report that Trump has been researching the Presidential pardon power declaring “all agree the U. S. President has the complete power to pardon.” For the record, not all agree with that.
July 24, 2017: Trump’s son in law, Jared Kushner releases a statement before participating in a closed door meeting with Congress about the Russia issue. His statement claims he didn’t read the part of the email stating the purpose of the June 9, 2016 meeting was to get highly sensitive information from the Russian government damaging to Clinton’s campaign as part of a Russian government effort to help the Trump campaign. However, he claims to have arrived late, and was so bored with the actual discussion of Russian adoptions, that he emailed his Secretary asking her to call him to give him an excuse to leave. Kushner’s statement also says “I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government. I had no improper contacts. I have not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector. I have tried to be fully transparent.” His claim to have not relied on Russian funds for to finance his business is later proven false by the release of additional documents related to the “Paradise Papers” (See November 5, 2017 entry). These connections were also not disclosed on Kushner’s Security Clearance applications.
July 25, 2017: Former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort voluntarily testifies behind closed doors to the Senate Intelligence Committee. He provides contemporaneous notes he made regarding the June 2016 meeting with Trump’s son, Trump’s son-in-law and Russians who said they set the meeting up to help the Trump campaign get dirt on Clinton.
July 26, 2017: The FBI conducts a predawn raid on Paul Manafort’s home executing a search warrant. In a pair of tweets a few hours after the raid, Trump criticizes his Attorney General Jeff Sessions for not firing the Acting Director of the FBI.
July 27, 2017: By an overwhelming 98–2 vote the Senate passes a bill to prevent President Trump from unilaterally reversing sanctions against Russia. The same bill had previously passed the House by an incredible 419–3 vote. A more clear statement that Congress does not trust the President in regards to foreign policy, particularly in regards to Russia, is not possible. Former Trump Campaign Foreign Policy Advisor George Papadopoulos is arrested at Dulles Airport. He later pleads guilty to lying to the FBI regarding the Russia investigation.
July 28, 2017: Trump fires Reince Priebus as his Chief of Staff replacing him with the former Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. Priebus was probably Trump’s primary connection, in terms of personal relationships, with Congress. The firing comes shortly after newly hired White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci called a reporter launching tirade of unbelievably obscene criticism of Priebus and White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. Scaramucci described Priebus as “a fucking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac.” Bannon probably got the worst of it though, as in regards to him Scaramucci said “I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock.”
July 31, 2017: The Washington Post reports President Trump dictated the initial false statement from his son, Trump Junior, that his June 9, 2016 meeting with Russians was about the adoption of Russian children. The report states President Trump overruled advisors who recommended a more forthcoming (and honest) statement to get ahead of the story. Trump’s attorney had previously flatly denied that the President had any role in drafting the statement saying “I wasn’t involved in the statement drafting at all, nor was the President.” In other news, Trump fires newly appointed Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci after only ten days on the job. To get the job Scaramucci had divested himself from his business and taking it destroyed his marriage with his wife filing for divorce. That night a giddy Trump tweeted “A great day at the White House!”
August 3, 2017: Media reports that Special Prosecutor Mueller has empaneled a grand jury for his investigation of Russia meddling in the election. Reuters reports the grand jury has subpoenaed information related to Trump Jr’s June 2016 meeting with Russians set up to collude with Russians regarding dirt on Hillary Clinton. CNN reports the investigation is focusing on financial ties between Trump, and his associates, with Russians connected to Russian “spy agencies.” This would cross the “red line” against Mueller’s investigation Trump declared on July 19th (see above). A bipartisan group of Senators submitted a bill to limit Trump’s ability, either directly or through surrogates, to fire Special Prosecutor Mueller. At a rally to a crowd of his personality cult in West Virginia Trump declares the investigation is “totally made up” and a “complete fabrication” designed to be an excuse for Hillary losing the election.
August 8, 2017: The President’s attorney, John Dowd denies that the President ever considered firing Mueller. Dowd declares “that’s never been on the table, ever.”
August 9, 2017: The Washington Post reports the FBI conducted a predawn raid at former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort’s home on July 26th. The agents came with a search a warrant to seize documents and other materials.
August 10, 2017: Trump denies he ever considered firing Mueller stating “I haven’t given it any thought.”
August 22, 2017: Glenn Simpson, the CEO of Fusion GPS (the company which sponsored the Steele Dossier research) testifies to the Senate Judiciary Committee behind closed doors. The transcript of the testimony is finally released to the public on January 9, 2018 (see entry below for that date below).
August 25, 2017: Trump pardons Sheriff Joe Arpaio who had been criminally convicted for contempt of court because he defiantly refused to end racist profiling practices the court had ordered he stop. Many argued the purpose of the pardon included sending a message to witnesses who might be flipped against the President in the Russian investigation to stay with him because he will protect them with the pardon power.
September 7, 2017: Trump Jr., is interviewed by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He reportedly told the committee he met with Russians to get information regarding Hillary Clinton’s fitness to be President. When explicitly asked he denied taking any participants in the meeting to see his father. When asked why his father the very next day said dirt was coming out soon on Clinton he claimed that’s just the way his father talks. This is part of a growing trend of using President Trump’s irresponsibility and lack of credibility as a defense for statements he made implicating himself. CNN Reports Special Prosecutor Mueller seeks to interview White House staffers regarding inconsistent statements made regarding the President’s contribution to initial explanations for his son’s meeting with the Russians (see July 31, 2017 entry above).
September 18, 2017: CNN Reports that at various times from 2014 to early 2017, former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort was under electronic surveillance pursuant to a FISA warrant due to his suspicious ties to Russians. The surveillance was suspended for part of 2016 due to lack of evidence, but started again later. Manfort’s communications, and those of Russians also being surveilled, raised concerns among investigators that “Manafort had encouraged the Russians to help with the campaign.” This is clearly related to the investigation of collusion by the Trump campaign with Russians that former FBI Chief Comey said started in late July 2016, not much more than a month after the June 9, 2016 secret meeting (see above entries), including Manafort and Trump Jr, with Russians to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. The period included when Manafort was known to be still talking to President Trump even after no longer being formally involved in the campaign, but CNN did not know if the surveillance included conversations between Manafort and Trump. Manafort’s home was also the subject of a Mueller investigation search warrant (see July 26 entry above). Approval of FISA warrants means a Federal judge determined there was probable cause that Manafort was knowingly assisting a foreign power in a way hostile to the United States.
September 19, 2017: The NY Times reports that Federal Prosecutors have advised Paul Manafort to expect an indictment.
September 24, 2017: The media reveals Jared Kushner used private email for White House business, the same thing Trump Campaigners were shouting “lock her up” for about Hillary Clinton. Sarah Huckabee Sanders later dismisses the violation as “very limited” only about 100 times. The “lego porn” story of how the media discovered the private email account may be the most hilariously entertaining part of Russia Gate.
September 28, 2017: The House Select Committee on Intelligence sends Jared Kushner an angry letter expressing concern that it found out about Kushner’s private email account from the news media rather than from Kushner in his closed interview with the Committee. The letter asks Kushner to confirm he has provided all responsive documents to the Committee.
October 5, 2017: George Papadopoulos accepts a plea agreement wherein he pleads guilty to the Statement of Offense prepared by the government. He agrees the Statement of Offense “fairly and accurately” describes his conduct related to the alleged offenses. The plea agreement is not revealed until October 30th.
October 10, 2017: Asked directly if he is considering firing Robert Mueller Trump says “no, not at all.”
October 27, 2017: As the week closes CNN Reports that the grand jury Mueller convened is about to indict on criminal charges. The report suggests someone could be in custody as early as Monday, October 30th.
October 30, 2017: Paul Manafort, and his associate Rick Gates, are directed to surrender themselves at the FBI Headquarters in Washington D.C. Manafort does so early in the morning with Gates coming later. A 12-count indictment against Manafort and Gates is released charging them with conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, false statements, and multiple counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts. The indictment alleges Manafort and Gates acted as agents for pro-Russian parties and elements of the Ukrainian government (tied to former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych). They received millions in payments from the pro-Russia elements and then “in order to hide the Ukraine payments from United States authorities . . . laundered the money through scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships and bank accounts.” They then lied about it to investigators as recently as February of this year and did not report the income on their taxes. The indictment lists the specific corporations and other entities created to facilitate the money laundering scheme and lists numerous specific transactions alleged to constitute the money laundering. In addition to criminal charges the indictment seeks civil forfeiture of the ill gotten gains. While Manafort left the Trump campaign last Fall, his alleged co-conspirator Rick Gates continued working with the Trump Administration until at least this Spring.
Trump responds quickly to the news with a pair of tweets arguing the indictments have nothing to do with the election and (as is typical) attempting to deflect attention to Hillary Clinton.
Manafort and Gates are arraigned before a Federal judge and enter not guilty pleas.
Also October 30, 2017: News breaks that former Trump foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos secretly pled guilty to charges of lying to the FBI during Mueller’s investigation (see January 27, 2017 entry). Papadopoulos is known to have encouraged Trump to meet with high ranking Russian officials during the campaign. The DOJ releases the Statement of Offense to which Papadopoulos pled guilty. The Statement of Offense details Papadopoulos repeatedly meeting with and communicating with a Russian Professor and “Putin’s niece” to get thousands of emails containing dirt on Hillary Clinton. The Statement of Charges also detail Papadopoulos’ months long communications with high ranking officials of the Trump Campaign to arrange a meeting with Trump Campaign officials (including Donald Trump himself). They also show the Trump Campaign approved the idea of Papadopoulos secretly meeting with Russian Government officials on behalf of The Campaign, even if such meetings never happened. For a timeline specific to Papadopoulos click HERE.
November 5, 2017: NBC Reports Mueller’s investigation of Michael Flynn includes potential money laundering and conspiracy for kidnapping against him and his son. The report cites sources claiming Flynn met with Turkish officials regarding plans to forcibly remove Turkish dissident Fethullah Gulen from the United States in September 2016. Turkey’s President Erdogan blames Gulen for a failed coup attempt against him and has unsuccessfully sought his extradition from the United States. A variety of media sources report on the “The Paradise Papers,” a review of documents showing that Trump’s Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, has connections with Russians business that he misleadingly did not disclose during his confirmation process. The papers also detail business connections with Russians not disclosed by, and previously denied by, Jared Kushner.
November 6, 2017: An interview with Natalia Veselnitskaya, one of the Russians at the June 9 2016 meeting with Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner, reveals Trump Jr., specifically requested from the Russians financial documents showing money went into Clinton Campaign coffers that dodged tax laws. Trump Jr., suggested the possibility of more favorable treatment for Russia under a Trump administration in exchange.
Early November 2017: Jared Kushner is interviewed by Mueller’s team. The questions are thought to focus on communications related to Michael Flynn’s late December 2016 contacts with the Russian Ambassador. Flynn will later be convicted for lying about those communications (see December 1, 2017 entry below).
November 13, 2017: A report from The Atlantic details contacts between Donald Trump Jr., and WikiLeaks even as the campaign was denying any such connections (see September/October 2016 entries above).
November 14, 2017: Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies to Congress. He had previously said under oath that he did not believe any surrogates for the Trump campaign had contacts with Russians. His statement then was “I did not, and I’m not aware of anyone else that did, and I don’t believe it happened.” He was confronted with the March 2016 meeting he attended where George Papadopoulos discussed his contacts with Russians. He now suddenly remembers the meeting, but doesn’t remember any details, except the detail that he “wanted to make clear to him that he was not authorized to represent the campaign with the Russian government, or any other foreign government, for that matter.” He said he would have happily have reported the meeting had he remembered it previously.
November 23, 2017: Media reports indicate Michael Flynn’s attorneys have notified President Trump’s attorneys that they can no longer share information regarding the investigation. This strongly suggests Flynn is cooperating with the investigation and potentially coming to a plea agreement. It also suggests Trump is a target of the investigation.
December 1, 2017: Former Trump Campaign Advisor and Director of National Intelligence Michael Flynn is indicted and pleads to guilty to making false statements to the FBI in the course of its investigation of potential Trump Campaign collusion with the Russians to interfere in the election. Flynn is convicted of two counts of knowingly making false statements to the FBI as he simultaneously enters into a plea agreement. The plea agreement includes a stipulation that government drafted representations of fact in a Statement of Offense are true. The stipulations include that Flynn UNDER THE DIRECTION of an unnamed “senior official of the Presidential Transition Team” had contacts with Russian Ambassador and spy Kislyak (see late December 2016 entries). The nature of these contacts were to secretly negotiate deals between the United States and Russia on immediate foreign policy without the consent or knowledge of the administration still in power. They were direct negotiations with the Russians to not respond to Obama’s sanctions and to delay a vote or vote against a UN Security Council resolution regarding Israel, decisions Russia secretly agreed with the Trump Transition Team to do. This was a direct impact on the foreign policy of the administration in power. Flynn called this unnamed “senior official” of the transition team more than once, and received instructions for further requests to make of the Russians. Per the stipulations, Flynn called this “senior official” at Mar-a-Lago and that this “senior official” was “with other senior members of the Presidential Transition Team.” Media reports indicate the “senior official,” with other senior officials at Mar-a-Lago, is Jared Kushner who was interviewed by Mueller’s team just a few weeks prior. He also previously answered questions to Congressional committees under oath. Mueller has effectively connected the dots I discussed 6 1/2 months ago. Flynn’s plea agreement requires his full cooperation with Mueller’s investigation as it includes this statement:
[Flynn] shall cooperate fully, truthfully, completely and forthrightly with this Office and other Federal, state and local law enforcement authorities identified by this Office in any and all matters to which this Office deems cooperation relevant.
December 2, 2017: The NY Times reports on emails sent on December 29, 2016 by Senior Trump Transition Advisor K.T. McFarland coordinating transition team efforts to undermine the sanctions with the Russians. She sought to ease tensions with the Russians on who (in an email) she said “has just thrown the U.S.A. election to him [Trump].” The email, forwarded to other key transition team members, urged contacting the Russians to deescalate Russian response to the sanctions to prevent a tit-for-tat exchange that would prevent President Trump from improving Russian relations. Flynn would make those contacts and then lie to the FBI about them. In sworn testimony to Congress for her confirmation as Ambassador to Singapore, McFarland claimed she could not recall ever being involved with communications with Flynn about talking to Russians.
Also December 2, 2017: Trump tweets that he had to fire Flynn because he lied to the FBI.
The tweet suggests possible obstruction of justice if Trump knew Flynn lied when he pressured Comey to “let it go” regarding the investigation of Flynn the day after Trump fired Flynn. Put simply, Trump was pressuring the FBI to end an investigation of man Trump knew had committed a felony.
December 4, 2017: White House counsel Donald McGahn acknowledges telling President Trump that Flynn told the same story to the FBI that he told to Pence and Spicer. Thus, Trump knew when he pressured Comey to drop the investigation that Flynn had lied to the FBI. Trump’s personal attorney John Dowd falsely claims it is impossible for the President of the United States to obstruct justice.
December 17, 2017: Asked directly if he is considering firing Robert Mueller Trump says “no, I’m not.”
December 20, 2017: White House lawyer Ty Cobb releases a statement saying that “for five months the White House has persistently and emphatically there is no consideration of firing Special Counsel (as Trump at the secretly tried to do in June).
December 23, 2017: Trump tweets these two not so veiled threats at Andrew McCabe, the Deputy Director of the FBI. At this time McCabe was scheduled to retire in March, but Trump would have him fired at the end of January (see below).
December 27, 2017: The Washington Post reports on plans by Trump Administration lawyers to attack the credibility of Michael Flynn, by branding him a liar, if he makes accusations getting to close to the President as part of his plea agreement deal to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation. If so, this would awkwardly conflict with Trump’s repeated defenses of Flynn’s character describing him as a “wonderful man” treated unfairly by the “fake media” (see e.g. February 15 and March 31, 2017 entries above).
December 30, 2017: The New York Times reports that in May 2016 Trump Campaign advisor George Papadopoulos met in a London bar with an Australian diplomat and over drinks bragged that the Russians had thousands of hacked emails from Hillary Clinton that would be damaging to her campaign. Two months later those emails leaked on Wikileaks. The story suggests a source of evidence for Trump Campaign collusion with the Russians other than notorious Steele Dossier which Trump has repeatedly labeled as bogus. Simply put the FBI had other sources of information justifying their opening the investigation of the Trump Campaign.
January 2, 2018: In a day filled with bizarre and dishonest tweets, some of which themselves call into question Trump’s mental fitness to be President, Trump also Tweets a demand that the Department of Justice prosecute and jail former Clinton aide Huma Abedin and former FBI Director James Comey.
James Comey is a potential witness against Trump having accused him of demanding a loyalty pledge and urging Comey to drop the investigation of Flynn even though Trump knew Flynn was guilty. Trump’s demand that the Comey be jailed smacks of witness tampering/intimidation. The reference to right wing nut job “deep state” conspiracy theories is also a concerning comment on his mental fitness to be President.
January 3, 2018: The Guardian Reports that it obtained a copy of Michael Wolff’s upcoming book Fire and Fury that includes an interview with former Chief White House strategist Steve Bannon where Bannon describes the June 9, 2016 Kushner/Trump Jr., meeting with Russians as “unpatriotic” and “treasonous.” Bannon argues they should have contacted the FBI when the meeting was being arranged stating:
“The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor — with no lawyers. They didn’t have any lawyers.
Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.”
Even more significantly, Bannon also said there was “zero chance” that Kushner and Trump Jr., did not walk the Russians up to the next floor to meet Donald Trump. If Bannon is to be believed Trump met with those Russians on June 9, 2016 and Trump, his son and son-in-law have been lying about it since.
Later in the day Trump releases a statement blasting his former friend and Chief Strategist stating that when Bannon “was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.” Trump belittled Bannon’s role in his campaign and his Presidency, saying Bannon “had very little to do with our historic victory and was rarely in one-on-one meetings with the President. He also said Bannon as Trump’s Chief Strategist “spent his time at the White House leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was.”
One thing Trump didn’t do was deny any of the specifics of what Bannon said to include that Kushner and Trump Jr., likely had the June 19, 2016 Russians meet the future President.
Contrast this with Trump’s parting comments about Bannon when he left the Administration in August.
January 4, 2018: Trump sends cease and desist letters to Steve Bannon, author Michael Wolff, and the publisher of his book and Henry Holt & Co., to stop publication of the book Fire and Fury: Inside The Trump White House. The letters also demand they issue an apology to President Trump for the supposedly untrue and defamatory comments in the book.
January 9, 2018: For weeks Trump and some Republican lawmakers (and conservative media such as Fox News) have claimed that the “fake” Steele Dossier prompted the FBI’s Russia investigation. The smearing of Fusion GPS, which funded the Steele’s research, led its representatives to beg that Congress release the full transcript of Fusion CEO Glenn Simpson’s August 22, 2017 testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee about the matter. Senator Dianne Feinstein released a lightly redacted full transcript today stating:
“The American people deserve the opportunity to see what he said and judge for themselves. The innuendo and misinformation circulating about the transcript are part of a deeply troubling effort to undermine the investigation into potential collusion and obstruction of justice.” — Senator Feinstein.
In the transcript Simpson recounts how Steele insisted on going to the FBI with his research because they feared Donald Trump was being blackmailed by the Russians. They viewed it as a national security issue and described the desire to tell the FBI as a matter of “citizenship” outside their contract to research (see generally linked transcript pp. 158–176). The possibility of a major American Presidential candidate being blackmailed by the Russians was obviously a huge concern. However, when Steele contacted the FBI he discovered they were already aware of the concern because the FBI had other intelligence about this matter from an “internal Trump campaign source.” The FBI believed Steele’s “information might be credible because they had other intelligence that indicated the same thing and one of those pieces of intelligence was a human source from inside the Trump organization.” While Simpson did not reveal that human source during his testimony he did say it was someone other than one of Steele’s sources. CNN reports the “human source” was George Papadopoulos and his bragging in a bar to an Australian diplomat (See December 30, 2017 entry above). Simpson also said Steele severed his relationship sometime shortly after October 31, 2016 because “out of concern that he didn’t know what was happening inside the FBI and there was a concern that the FBI was being manipulated for political ends by the Trump people.” This concern was rooted in the announcement by Comey that the FBI was reopening the investigation against Clinton. For all of Trump’s allegations, the FBI was investigating potential Russia collusion before Steele went to him with his dossier. George Papadopoulos’ drunken bragging to an Australian diplomat was the trigger for the investigation.
January 16, 2018: Having accepted an invitation to voluntarily testify to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Steve Bannon attends the closed meeting and refuses to answer any relevant questions. The Committee then issued a subpoena converting the testimony from voluntary to compulsory. Under attorney advice Bannon continued to refuse to answer any relevant questions. Bannon’s attorney claimed he was refusing to answer under an order from the White House that one lawmaker described as a White House gag order. Bannon cited no specific privilege for his refusal to testify setting the stage for potential referral for criminal Contempt of Congress charges. Separately, Bannon acknowledged he has been served a different subpoena to testify to Special Prosecutor Mueller’s Russia investigation grand jury. The next day it is reported that Bannon has struck a deal with Mueller’s team whereby he will be voluntarily interviewed rather than testifying before a grand jury. This indicates that Bannon has agreed to cooperate with the Mueller investigation.
January 23, 2018: Many news sources report Mueller seeks to interview President Trump. Many believe this suggests the investigation is entering a final phase. There are rumors that the indicted Rick Gates is looking to cut a deal with Mueller. The Washington Post reports that in May 2017 Trump asked then newly appointed acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe who he voted for in the 2016 election. McCabe answered that he did not vote but found the conversation “disturbing.” A week after this report Trump has McCabe fired (see below). Sarah Sanders did not deny that Trump asked the question but characterized it as just making small talk. Trump first denied asking the question before later saying it was a “very unimportant question.”
January 25, 2017: The NY Times Reports (and is quickly confirmed by numerous other media outlets include Fox News) that in June 2017 (see entry above) Trump tried to fire Mueller. Trump ordered White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller but backed down when McGahn refused and threatened to resign. Trump promptly dismissed the report as “Fake News” and “typical New York Times fake stories.” He said this even though every other major media outlet confirmed the story. As detailed above the report contradicts numerous prior statements by Trump has his spokespeople flat saying that President never considered firing Mueller.
January 29, 2017: Per CNN Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe is removed from office. He was scheduled to retire in March but uses accumulated leave time to leave early and still qualify for retirement. McCabe was long criticized by Trump (see entries above) because his wife took money from a PAC run by a friend of Hillary Clinton’s for her own political campaign for a state legislative seat in Virginia in 2015 and because McCabe may have been involved in some of the decisions related to starting the FBI’s Russia investigation. Also on this day, Trump refuses to impose sanctions mandated by Congress (see July 27, 2017 entry above).
January 30, 2018: The House votes to release the “Nunes Memo.” The memo is a four paged classified partisan document put together by Republicans. It accuses the FBI of abusing FISA warrant procedures by using the Steele Memorandum to justify a warrant against Carter Page. Among other problems with this claim is that FISA warrants against Page predate the Steele Dossier, going back to as early as 2014.
January 31, 2018: The FBI releases a report criticizing the “Nunes Memo” for “material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.” Both the FBI Director, Trump appointed Christopher Wray, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, have requested Trump to not release it because of the precedent it would set for releasing classified information and because they claim it makes false attacks on the FBI. In December, when Rosenstein asked Trump to not release the memo Trump demanded to know where the investigation was going and asked are you “on my team?”
February 1, 2018: The New York Times reports that Mueller is seeking to interview former White House Counsel Mark Corallo regarding conversations related to the Trump Team response to news leaking of the Kushner/Trump Jr, June 9, 2016 meeting with Russians offering to share dirt from Hillary Clinton’s emails. The initial response was a dishonest claim that the meeting was just to discuss the Russian adoption issue (see July 8, 2017 entry above). Corallo urged a more forthcoming response arguing the more indicting emails would come out (unknown to Team Trump the NY Times already had them). Hope Hicks allegedly responded that the emails “will never get out.” Corallo immediately feared this suggested obstruction of justice on Hicks’ part. He made contemporaneous notes and resigned less than two weeks later (see July 20, 2017 entry).
February 2, 2018: The Nunes Memo is released. Its primary allegation is that the FBI and DOJ used the Steele’s information as part of the basis to get FISA warrants against Carter Page without informing the court of the Steele’s supposed political bias against Trump. The most significant note of the memo might be its acknowledgement that the FBI opened its investigation of the the Trump Campaign, not because of the Steele Dossier, but because it received word of the George Papadopoulos’ bragging to an Australian diplomat about getting hacked Clinton email dirt from Russians on behalf of the Trump Campaign. While the response by most to the memo’s release is a collective yawn, Trump treats it as definitive proof of his persecution declaring:
“I think it’s a disgrace. What’s going on in this country, I think it’s a disgrace. A lot of people should be ashamed of themselves and much worse than that.”
The Memo describes Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as only having a minor role in the chain of approval for the Carter Page FISA warrant, but Trump nonetheless starts hinting the Memo may be a basis to fire Rosenstein. When asked if he would use the Memo to dismiss the top DOJ official overseeing the Russian investigation Trump responded “You figure that one out.”
February 3, 2018: In a development largely overshadowed by fallout from the Nunes Memo, K.T. McFarland, who coordinated Flynn’s response to suppress the Russian sanctions (that Flynn was later convicted for lying about) withdraws her name to be Ambassador to Singapore. [See December 29, 2016 and December 2, 2017 entries above]. While very actively involved in coordinating Flynn’s communications, in her sworn confirmation hearings she claimed she could not recall being doing so. This duplicity made the Senate unwilling to confirm her unless she submitted to additional questioning and she withdrew her nomination rather than face a new round of questions from the Senate.
The Washington Post, the New York Times and Adam Schiff (the ranking minority member on the House Intelligence Committee) all contradict the central allegation of the Nunes Memo. The central allegation was that the FBI and DOJ failed to inform the FISA court of Steele’s political motivations when seeking the warrant against Carter Page. WaPo reports that its sources make clear:
The Justice Department made “ample disclosure of relevant, material facts” to the court that revealed “the research was being paid for by a political entity.”
Similarly, Schiff states the Nunes Memo claim in this regard is “not accurate” and that the FISA court was advised that “the research was being paid for by a political entity.”
FBI Director Christopher Wray sends a letter to the rank and file that in part says:
“Talk is cheap. The work you do is what will endure.
We speak through our work. One case at a time. One intelligence product at a time. One decision at a time . . . I’m determined to defend your integrity and professionalism every day.
Remember: keep calm and tackle hard.”
February 9, 2018: In a surprise move Trump refuses release the Democratic Memo rebutting the Nunes Memo. The Democratic Memo had unanimously passed the House Intelligence Committee, but Trump claimed it compromised intelligence to release it.
February 16, 2018: Mueller’s grand jury returns indictments against 13 Russians and 3 Russian organizations for interfering in the American Presidential election. The indictment alleges the Defendants’ “operations included supporting the presidential campaign on then-candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaging Hillary Clinton.” The indictment also stated the Defendants “communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign” without revealing they were Russians. The indictment alleges specific violations of FARA, wire and bank fraud, and identity theft (to allow them to pose as real Americans). One of the Russian social media accounts was Twitter account @Tenn-GOP which claimed to be the “Unofficial Twitter account of Tennessee Republicans.” Both Kellyanne Conway and Trump Jr. followed that Russia meddling account and retweeted it. Trump Jr., retweeted from it at least three times (before Twitter suspended the account) to include retweeting Russian propaganda of voter fraud in Florida. The Russian organized pro-Trump efforts included campaign rallies on Trump’s behalf and creating fake accounts feigning to be enemies of Trump (such as one called “Blacktivist”) making posts that served as a basis to attack Antifa and the left. Mueller also secured the conviction by guilty plea of a California man who helped the Russians steal identities.
February 18, 2018: Word breaks that Manafort former assistant and co-indictee Rick Gates will plead guilty and agree to testify against former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort. This would be the fourth conviction Mueller has secured in his investigation. Notwithstanding the convictions Trump, launches into a bizarre Twitter storm meltdown that includes exploiting the tragedy of the mass school shooting in Parkland Florida to tweet that the FBI should stop investigating him.
February 20, 2018: Mueller indicts Alex Van Der Zwaan, a lawyer who worked with Paul Manafort and Rick Gates on behalf of pro-Soviet interests in the Ukraine. The indictment charges Van Der Zwaan of lying to the FBI regarding communications he had with Gates and an unidentified “Person A” that included secretly recorded calls with Gates and Person A. The indictment also alleges Van Der Zwaan deleted emails sought by the Special Counsel. The communications at issue were in September 2016 just after Manafort left the Trump Campaign and while Gates was still with the Trump Campaign. The indictment and cooperation of Van Der Zwaan, combined with the expected cooperation of Rick Gates, suggests a tightening of the noose around former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort.
February 22, 2018: Mueller releases a new 32 count indictment alleging and detailing additional counts of tax fraud, money laundering and bank fraud totaling tens of millions of dollars.
February 23, 2018: As widely anticipated Rick Gates strikes a plea agreement and pleads guilty to multiple counts for conspiracy to defraud the United States and making false statements. Manafort’s long term right hand man who stayed with the Trump Campaign and the administration after Manafort left. Gates agrees that a government drafted Statement of Criminal Information spells out facts and allegations that are true. The Criminal Information Gates stipulates to completely sells out Manafort as it details wide ranging schemes to defraud the United States, money launder, bank fraud and tax fraud. Gates admits to making false statements even after originally indicted in late October 2017 and the Criminal Information seems to indicate Manafort did too. The criminal enterprises detailed in the Criminal Information, and in the Superseding Indictment filed the day before, include many instances of these crimes being committed while Gates and Manafort were working for the Trump Campaign and while Gates was working in the Trump Administration. As is typical, the plea agreement requires that Gates “shall cooperate fully, truthfully, completely and forthrightly with this Office and other Federal, state and local law enforcement authorities identified by this Office in any and all matters to which this Office deems cooperation relevant.”
Just a couple of hours after Rick Gates pleads guilty (see above) Mueller issues yet another superseding indictmentagainst Manafort detailing additional allegations of money laundering, bank fraud and sponsoring foreign lobbyists without the required disclosures.
February 24, 2018: The heavily redacted “Schiff Memo,” the Democratic rebuttal to the Nunes Memo, is released. As I have done before, the Schiff Memo details numerous justifications for the FISA warrants on Carter Page unrelated to the Steele Dossier. It also notified the judge of Steele’s potential bias stating that the person hiring Steele was “likely looking for information that could be used to discredit” Trump. The Schiff Memo also points out that the FBI’s investigation of Carter Page started before the FBI received the Steele Memo and the FISA warrant was not requested until two months after Page stopped working for the Trump Campaign. The Schiff Memo states that in subsequent FISA warrant extensions the DOJ provided the judge “multiple independent sources that corroborated Steele’s reporting,” but the specifics of that are so redacted as to be worthless. Trump nonetheless has the hutzpah to claim the Schiff Memo vindicates him.
February 27, 2018: Jared Kushner’s top secret security clearance is revoked, downgraded to a lower level. The Washington Post reports at least four nations (including China) sought to manipulate Kushner via his “business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience.” WaPo further reports that “H.R. McMaster, President Trump’s national security adviser, learned that Kushner had contacts with foreign officials that he did not coordinate through the National Security Council or officially report.” CNN Reports that Mueller’s investigation includes potentially compromising business relations Trump had with Russia during his campaign. In closed testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, Hope Hicks refuses to answer questions related to events after Trump became President, but does acknowledge telling “white lies” to the American people. For an example of some of Hicks lies see November 11, 2016 entry.
February 28, 2018: The day after admitting to telling “white lies” on behalf of the President, White House Communications Director Hope Hicks resigns.
March 3, 2018: The New Yorker publishes a wide ranging article providing detail into how Chris Steele did the work associated with his controversial dossier. The article also reports that Steele prepared a second dossier that asserted Trump rejected Mitt Romney for Secretary of State because the Russians made clear they didn’t want it to be Romney.
March 5, 2018: Former Trump Campaign aide and Roger Stone protege Sam Nunberg declares that he has received a subpoena from Mueller’s Grand Jury but that he will refuse to appear. Numberg goes so far as to declare “Let them arrest me.” Nunberg says the subpoena requests emails and any other correspondence related to Donald Trump, Hope Hicks, Steve Bannon, Michael Cohen, Corey Lewandowski and Roger Stone. Declaring the subpoena “ridiculous,” Nunberg tells MSNBC that “Trump may have done something during the election. I don’t know what it is.” In later interviews Nunberg would say he believes Mueller has something on Trump on issues related to Trump’s businesses. He also directly said he believes Carter Page colluded with Russians.
March 6, 2018: Trump finally acknowledges the Russians meddled in the 2016 election and pledges to stop it for the next election.
March 7, 2018: The New York Times Reports that Trump has been talking to witnesses interviewed by Mueller’s team about their testimony, acts which raise questions about witness tampering.
March 8, 2018: The Washington Post Reports that Mueller is gathering evidence that Erik Prince secretly met with Russians in the Seychelles islands around January 11 2017 (see entry above) as part of planned meeting to arrange a back door communications channel between Russia and the Trump Transition Team. This would conflict with testimony by Prince before the House Intelligence Committee that the meeting was coincidental and just discussed trivial matters over a few beers. Key information is provided by George Nader, a Lebanese business man who helped arrange the meeting and is cooperating with Mueller’s investigation.
March 9, 2018: The judge in Paul Manafort’s case orders him to be confined to his house and monitored by GPS bracelets. The judge states:
“The Defendant is a person of great wealth who has the financial means and international connections to flee and remain at large, as well as every incentive to do so. Specifically, given the nature of the charges against the defendant and the apparent weight of the evidence against him, defendant faces the very real possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison”
March 12, 2018: Republicans running the House Intelligence Committee investigation ends its investigation declaring there is no evidence of collusions. Texas Republican Representative Mike Conway, leading the investigation states “We found no evidence of collusion, and so we found perhaps some bad judgment, inappropriate meetings . . . or just inadvertently being in the same building.” Seriously. The Republicans defy the entire intelligence community, and the Mueller indictments, in stating that while the Russians sought to create chaos in our elections they did not seek specifically to favor Donald Trump.
March 13, 2018: Mere hours after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson strongly condemns Russia for a chemical attack on British soil, Trump fires him. In another demonstration of his characterless nature, Tillerson is advised of the firing by public tweet. Trump appoints CIA Director Mike Pompeo as the new Secretary of State.
March 15, 2018: Trump finally imposes some sanctions on Russia for meddling in the election, to include the Russians indicted by Mueller. The NY Times reports that Mueller has subpoenaed records from the Trump Organization related to Russia.
March 17, 2018: As Trump had frequently urged, the Department of Justice fires formers FBI Director Andrew McCabe just 26 hours before his retirement. McCabe had already effectively fired by taking terminal leave (see above). The effect of the hurried firing was to deny McCabe any pension for his 21 years of service. Trump giddily tweets about the firing while again leveling allegations at the FBI’s leadership.
McCabe fires back with a strong statement describing his firing as his firing part of a larger effort “to taint the FBI, law enforcement, and intelligence professionals” as “part of this Administration’s ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the Special Counsel investigation.” As discussed above, McCabe had committed the sin against Trump of backing James Comey’s accounts and attracted Trump’s ire because McCabe’s Democrat wife in 2015 accepted money for her unsuccessful Virginia state office legislature campaign from a PAC run by a close friend of Hillary Clinton. Trump’s personal lawyer, John Dowd, took McCabe’s firing as an argument to fire Mueller stating, “I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia Collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt Dossier.” Dowd first says he made that statement officially, on behalf of Trump, but then later claims it was just a personal statement. It should be noted that both Comey and McCabe are potential witnesses in the Mueller investigation and that one interpretation of this is that Trump is attempting to intimidate them.
March 18, 2018: Shortly after receiving a list of questions from Mueller Trump launches a Twitter storm attacking the Mueller investigation, saying it should never have started and falsely claiming Mueller’s team are all “hardened Democrats.” Mueller himself is a life long Republican, as is Rosenstein who appointed him.
Other tweets continued to attack McCabe. Republicans in Congress begin expressing concern that Trump may fire Mueller. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham says Trump’s doing so would “would be the beginning of the end of his presidency.” Also, The Washington Post reports that Trump required senior staff members to sign broad non-disclosure agreements, going so far as to extend past Trump’s term of Presidency, and stipulating liquidated damages of $10 million for each violation.
March 22, 2018: Trump’s lead attorney for the Russia investigation, John Dowd, resigns.
EDIT AND NOTE: I shall continue to update this timeline as events unfold. Check back for the latest.