President Trump, a phrase most Americans never thought would leave their lips, lest it be in jest. Like him or not, Donald J. Trump is now our sitting President. This is a fact.
There are, however, still many looming questions many Americans still have, regarding our President and his personal and business ties to Russia, and other foreign states. This post, is a comprehensive list of what, other reporters (far more professional than this reporter) have dug up so far. The aim here, is to keep a list of facts of everything that has been uncovered thusfar.
Stay tuned, as this is still a developing story, this post will be updated as often as possible to keep in time with any new information uncovered and released to the public. Now for the timeline itself (many entries will be directly copied from one of two existing timelines, the purpose here is to gather the information from as many places as possible, some sources have different tidbits of information in them that others do not, while they all are largely the same. Sources listed at bottom of the page):
January 1987: A Soviet Tourism group expresses interest in meeting with Trump.
July 1987: A Trump spokesman interviews with The Washington Post on Trump and then-wife Ivana’s trip to Moscow to scout hotel sites.
December 1, 1988: The Soviets announce that Gorbachev is going to visit with Trump to talk about his Hotel chain during a visit to New York.
December 7, 1988: Trump welcomes the wrong Gorbachev to New York—shaking hands with a renowned Gorbachev impersonator outside his hotel.
1996: Trump applies for his trademark in Russia.
January 23, 1997: Trump meets with retired Soviet general, Alexander Lebed at Trump Tower. Trump boasts of building “something major” in Moscow.
October 1998: Demolition of a vacant office building near the United Nations headquarters was making way for Trump World Tower. Donald Trump began selling units in the skyscraper, which was scheduled to open in 2001 and became a prominent depository of Russian money. By 2004, one-third of the units sold on the 76th through 83rd floors of Trump World Tower involved people or limited liability companies connected to Russia or neighboring states. Assisting Trump’s sales effort was Ukrainian immigrant Semyon “Sam” Kislin, who issued mortgages to buyers of multimillion-dollar Trump World Tower apartments. In the late 1970s, Kislin had co-owned an appliance store with Georgian immigrant Tamir Sapir and they had sold 200 television sets to Donald Trump on credit. By the early 1990s, Kislin had become a wealthy commodities trader and campaign fundraiser for Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who in 1996 appointed him to the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Meanwhile, Sapir had made a fortune as a New York City real estate developer.
2000: Roger Stone sits on advisory team for Trump’s exploration into candidacy.
2000: Michael Caputo, who later runs Trump’s primary campaign in New York during the 2016 race, secures a PR contract with the Russian conglomerateGazprom Media to burnish Russian President Vladimir Putin’s image in the United States.
2002: Russian-born Felix H. Sater and his company, Bayrock Group — a Trump Tower tenant — began working with Trump on a series of real estate development deals, one of which became the Trump SoHo. Another development partner in Trump SoHo was the Sapir Organization, founded by Tamir Sapir.
Also in 2002: Efforts to sell Russians apartments in Trump World Tower, Trump’s West Side condominiums, and Trump’s building on Columbus Circle expanded with presentations in Moscow involving Sotheby’s International Realty and a Russian realty firm. In addition to buying units in Trump World Tower, Russians and Russian-Americans flooded into another Trump-backed project in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida. In South Florida alone, members of the Russian elite invested more than $98 million in seven Trump-branded luxury towers.
2005: Trump reportedly signs a development deal with Bayrock Group, a real estate firm founded by a former Soviet official from Kazakhstan, to develop a hotel in Moscow and agrees to partner on a hotel tower in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Trump works on the projects with Bayrock managing partner Felix Sater, a Russian American businessman. The New York Times will later publish a story revealing Sater’s criminal record, which includes charges of racketeering and assault.
June 2005: Paul Manafort, later Trump’s campaign chairman, pens a strategy memo to Russia oligarch and Putin confidant Oleg Deripaska, with whom he would sign a $10 million lobbying contract the following year. “We are now of the belief that this model can greatly benefit the Putin Government if employed at the correct levels with the appropriate commitment to success,” Manafort writes, noting that the effort “will be offering a great service that can re-focus, both internally and externally, the policies of the Putin government.” (Manafort later denies working to advance Russian interests as part of this contract, first reported by the Associates Press. Deripaska later calls the AP story a “malicious…lie” and says, “I have never made any commitments or contacts with the obligation or purpose to covertly promote or advance ‘Putin’s Government’ interests anywhere in the world.”
February 2006: Two of Trump’s children, Don Jr. and Ivanka, traveled to Moscow. According to Sater, Donald Trump Sr. asked him to show them around: “He asked if I wouldn’t mind joining them and looking after them while they were in Moscow.” He summarized the attitude of Trump’s children as “nice, big city, great. Let’s do a deal here.” Ten years later — October 2016 — Trump Organization general counsel Alan Garten told Forbes that the presence of Sater and Trump’s adult children in Moscow at the same time had been a coincidence.
Oct. 15, 2007: In an interview with Larry King, Trump said: “Look at Putin — what he’s doing with Russia — I mean, you know, what’s going on over there. I mean this guy has done — whether you like him or don’t like him — he’s doing a great job.”
November 22, 2007: Trump Vodka debuts in Russia, at the Moscow Millionaire’s Fair. As part of its new marketing campaign, Trump Vodka also unveils an ad featuring Trump, tigers, the Kremlin, and Vladimir Lenin. At the Millionaires’ Fair, Trump meets Sergey Millian, an American citizen from Belarus who is the president of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce in the USA (RACC). Subsequently, Millian later recounted, “We met at his office in New York, where he introduced me to his right-hand man—Michael Cohen. He is Trump’s main lawyer, all contracts go through him. Subsequently, a contract was signed with me to promote one of their real estate projects in Russia and the CIS. You can say I was their exclusive broker.” According to Millian, he helped Trump “study the Moscow market” for potential real estate investments.
December 17, 2007: The New York Times publishes a story about Felix Sater’s controversial past, which includes prison time for stabbing a man with a margarita glass stem during a bar fight and a guilty plea in a Mafia-linked racketeering case. The article characterizes Sater as a Trump business associate who is promoting several potential projects in partnership with Trump.
December 19, 2007: In a deposition, Trump is asked about his plans to build a hotel in Moscow. He says, “It was a Trump International Hotel and Tower. It would be a nonexclusive deal, so it would not have precluded me from doing other deals in Moscow, which was very important to me.”
April 2008: Trump announces he is partnering with Russian oligarch Pavel Fuks to license his name for luxury high-rises in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Sochi, the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics. But Fuks ultimately balks at Trump’s price, which the Russian business newspaper Kommersant estimated could have been $200 million or more.
July 2008: Billionaire Dmitri Rybolovlev, a Russian oligarch, buys a Palm Beach mansion owned by Trump for $95 million, despite Florida’s crashing real estate market and an appraisal on the house for much less. Trump bought the property for $41.35 million four years earlier. Rybolovlev goes on to give conflicting explanations for why he bought the property.
September 15, 2008: Donald Trump Jr. speaks at a real estate conference in Manhattan, where he says “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets…We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”
Date unknown 2008: Trump’s team reportedly invites Sergei Millian to meet Trump at a horse race in Florida, where, according to Millian, they sit in Trump’s private suite at the Gulfstream race track in Miami. “Trump team, they realized that we have a lot of connection with Russian investors. And they noticed that we bring a lot of investors from Russia,” Millian told ABC News in a 2016 interview. “And they needed my assistance, yes, to sell properties and sell some of the assets to Russian investors.” Millian says that following this meeting with Trump, he works as a broker for the Trump Hollywood condominium project in Miami, selling a “nice percentage” of the building’s 200 units to Russian investors.
May 10, 2010: Jody Kriss, a former finance director at Bayrock, files a lawsuit against the company. The suit alleges that Bayrock financed Trump SoHo with mysterious cash from Kazhakstan and Russia and calls the building “a Russian mob project.” (The complaint notes that “there is no evidence that Trump took any part in” Bayrock’s interactions with questionable Russian financing sources.)
Date unknown 2010: Bayrock’s Sater becomes a senior adviser to Trump, according to his LinkedIn profile. Though Trump later claims he would not recognize Sater, Sater has a Trump Organization email address, phone number, and business cards.
January (date unknown) 2013: At an energy conference in New York, energy consultant Carter Page meets Victor Podobnyy, a Russian intelligence operative who in 2015 will be charged with being an unregistered agent of a foreign government, along with two other Russians. Until June 2013, Page will continue to meet, email, and provide documents to Podobnyy about the energy business, thinking that he is an attaché at the Russian mission to the UN who can help broker deals in Russia. Meanwhile, Podobnyy and one of his colleagues discuss efforts to recruit Page as an asset.
May 29, 2013: Emin Agalarov, a Russian pop star and the son of billionaire real estate developer Aras Agalarov, releases a music video for his song “Amor.” In the video, he pursues Miss Universe 2012, Olivia Culpo, through dark, empty alleys with a flashlight. Following the video’s release, representatives of Miss Universe, which Trump at the time owns, discuss with the Agalarovs holding the next pageant in Moscow. The Agalarovs persuade them to host Miss Universe at a concert hall they own on the outskirts of Moscow.
June 18, 2013: Trump announced that the 2013 Miss Universe beauty pageant, which he owned, will take place in Moscow. The next day, he tweeted: “Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow — if so, will he become my new best friend?” While preparing for the pageant, Trump said, “I have plans for the establishment of business in Russia. Now, I am in talks with several Russian companies to establish this skyscraper.”
June 21: Vladimir Putin awards Rex Tillerson, now Trump’s secretary of state, with Russia’s Order of Friendship. As the CEO of Exxon Mobil, Tillerson had developed a long-standing relationship with the head of Russia’s state-owned oil company, Rosneft, dating back to 1998.
July 8, 2013: After a BBC reporter questioned Trump about Felix Sater’s alleged prior connections to organized crime, Trump ended the interview.
October 17, 2013: In an interview with David Letterman, Trump says, “I’ve done a lot of business with the Russians,” noting that he once met Putin.
Nov. 5, 2013: In a deposition, an attorney asked Trump about Felix Sater. “If he were sitting in the room right now, I really wouldn’t know what he looked like,” Trump answered. When asked how many times he had ever spoken with Sater, Trump said, “Not many.” When asked about his July 2013 BBC interview during which he was questioned about Sater’s alleged connections to organized crime, Trump said he didn’t remember it.
November 8, 2013: Trump, in Russia for the Miss Universe pageant, meets with more than a dozen of Russia’s top businessmen at Nobu, a restaurant 15 minutes from the Kremlin. The group includes Herman Gref, the CEO of the state-controlled Sberbank PJSC, Russia’s biggest bank. The meeting at Nobu is organized by Gref—who regularly meets with Putin—and Aras Agalarov, who owns the Nobu franchise in Moscow.
According to a source connected to the Agalarovs, Putin asks his spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, to call Trump in advance of the Miss Universe show to set up an in-person meeting for the Russian president and Trump. Peskov reportedly passes on the message and expresses Putin’s admiration for Trump. Their plans to meet never come to fruition because of scheduling changes for both Trump and Putin.
November 9, 2013: Trump spends the morning shooting a music video with Emin Agalarov.
-The Miss Universe pageant takes place near Moscow. A notorious Russian mobster, Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, attends the event as a VIP, strolling down the event’s red carpet within minutes of Trump. At the time, Tokhtakhounov was under federal indictment in the United States for his alleged participation in an illegal gambling ring once run out of Trump Tower. Emin Agalarov performs two songs at the pageant.
November 11, 2013: Trump tweets his appreciation to Aras Agalarov, the Russian billionaire with whom he partnered to host Miss Universe, also complimenting Emin’s performance at the pageant and declaring plans for a Trump tower in Moscow.
November 12, 2013: Trump tells Real Estate Weekly that Miss Universe Russia provided a networking opportunity: “Almost all of the oligarchs were in the room,” he says. The same day, two developers who helped build the luxury Trump SoHo hotel meet with the Agalarovs to discuss replicating the hotel in Moscow. Aras Agalarov, whose real estate company secured multiple contracts from the Kremlin and who once received a medal of honor from Putin, later claims he and Trump signed a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow following the pageant. (The deal never moved past preliminary discussions.)
November 2013: At the Miss Universe pageant, Trump said: “I do have a relationship [with Putin] and I can tell you that he’s very interested in what we’re doing here today… I do have a relationship with him… He’s done a very brilliant job in terms of what he represents and who he’s represented.” While Trump was in Moscow for the pageant, he and Alex Sapir (whose family’s company was one of the co-developers of Trump SoHo with Trump and Felix Sater) met with the Russian real estate developer who had facilitated Trump’s $20 million deal to host the Miss Universe contest in Moscow. They discussed plans for a new Trump project in Russia. “The Russian market is attracted to me,” Trump told Real Estate Weekly upon his return. “I have a great relationship with many Russians, and almost all of the oligarchs were in the room.”
November 20, 2013: Emin Agalarov releases a new music video featuring Trump and the 2013 Miss Universe contestants.
March 6, 2014: Trump gives a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference and boasts of getting a gift from Putin when he was in Russia for the 2013 Miss Universe pageant. “You know, I was in Moscow a couple months ago, I own the Miss Universe pageant, and they treated me so great,” Trump said. “Putin even sent me a present, beautiful present, with a beautiful note.” On the same day, President Obama signed an executive order imposing sanctions on Russia for its unlawful annexation of Crimea.
May 27, 2014: At a National Press Club luncheon, Trump says, “I was in Moscow recently and I spoke, indirectly and directly, with President Putin, who could not have been nicer.”
October 8, 2014: The counsel’s office of the Defense Intelligence Agency responds to an inquiry from Michael Flynn about ethics restrictions that will apply to him after his Army retirement. The office explains in a letter that he can not receive foreign government payments without prior approval, due to the constitution’s emoluments clause. “If you are ever in a position where you would receive an emolument from a foreign government or from an entity that might be controlled by a foreign government, be sure to obtain advance approval from the Army prior to acceptance,” the letter states.
June 16, 2015: Trump announces he is running for president.
Aug. 21, 2015: Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions made a surprise appearance at a Donald Trump rally and donned a “Make America Great Cap.”
September 2015: FBI special agent Adrian Hawkins contacts the Democratic National Committee, saying that one of its computer systems has been compromised by a cyberespionage group linked to the Russian government. He speaks to a help desk technician who does a quick check of the DNC systems for evidence of a cyber intrusion. In the next several weeks, Hawkins calls the DNC back repeatedly, but his calls are not returned, in part because the tech support contractor who took Hawkins’ call does not know whether he is a real agent. The FBI does not dispatch an agent to visit the DNC in person and does not make efforts to contact more senior DNC officials.
Sept. 21, 2015: On Hugh Hewitt’s radio program, Trump said, “The oligarchs are under [Putin’s] control, to a large extent. I mean, he can destroy them, and he has destroyed some of them… Two years ago, I was in Moscow… I was with the top-level people, both oligarchs and generals, and top-of-the-government people. I can’t go further than that, but I will tell you that I met the top people, and the relationship was extraordinary.”
September 29, 2015: Trump praises Putin during an interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly: “I will tell you, in terms of leadership he is getting an ‘A,’ and our president is not doing so well.”
November 10, 2015: At a Republican presidential primary debate, Trump says of Putin that he “got to know him very well because we were both on 60 Minutes, we were stablemates.”
November 11, 2015: The Associated Press, Time, and other media outlets report that Trump and Putin were never in the same studio. Trump was interviewed in New York, and Putin was interviewed in Moscow.
Nov. 30, 2015: When an Associated Press reporter asked Trump about Felix Sater, he answered, “Felix Sater, boy, I have to even think about it. I’m not that familiar with him.” Trump referred questions about Sater to his staff.
Dec. 10, 2015: Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who would become Trump’s national security adviser, sat at Putin’s table for the 10th anniversary gala of Russia’s state-owned television propaganda network, RT. Flynn had made a paid appearance on the network. For his December speech, he netted $33,500 of the $45,000 paid to his speakers’ bureau. For all of 2015, Flynn received more than $65,000 from companies linked to Russia.
December 17, 2015: Putin praises Trump in his year-end press conference, saying that he is “very talented” and that “he is an absolute leader of the presidential race, as we see it today. He says that he wants to move to another level relations, a deeper level of relations with Russia…How can we not welcome that? Of course, we welcome it.” Trump calls the praise “a great honor” from “a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond.” He adds, “I have always felt that Russia and the United States should be able to work well with each other toward defeating terrorism and restoring world peace, not to mention trade and all of the other benefits derived from mutual respect.”
Feb. 17, 2016: As questions about Russia swirled around Trump, he changed his story: “I have no relationship with [Putin], other than he called me a genius.”
Feb. 28, 2016: Jeff Sessions formally endorsed Donald Trump’s candidacy for president. Three days later, Trump named Sessions chairman of his campaign’s national security advisory committee.
Feb. 29, 2016: Paul Manafort submits a five-page, single-spaced, proposal to Trump. In it, he outlines his qualifications for helping Trump secure enough convention delegates to win the Republican presidential nomination. Manafort describes how he had assisted rich and powerful business and political leaders, including oligarchs and dictators in Russia and Ukraine: “I have managed presidential campaigns around the world.”
March 17, 2016: Jeff Sessions discussed Trump’s foreign policy positions, saying, “I think an argument can be made there is no reason for the US and Russia to be at this loggerheads. Somehow, someway we ought to be able to break that logjam. Strategically it’s not justified for either country.”
March 21, 2016: In a Washington Post interview, Trump identified Carter Page as one of his foreign policy advisers. Page had helped open the Moscow office of investment banking firm Merrill Lynch and had advised Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom, in which Page is an investor. He blamed US 2014 sanctions relating to Russia’s annexation of Ukraine for driving down Gazprom’s stock price.
March 30, 2016: Bloomberg Businessweek reports on Page’s past advising of Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned gas company. Page tells Bloomberg Businessweek that after Trump named him as an adviser, positive notes from his Russian contacts filled his inbox. “There’s a lot of excitement in terms of the possibilities for creating a better situation” in terms of easing US sanctions on Russia, Page explained.
April 20, 2016: Paul Manafort became Trump’s campaign manager. Reports surfaced about his 2007 to 2012 ties to Ukraine’s pro-Putin former president, whom Manafort had helped to elect.
April 26, 2016: The Washington Post reports that Paul Manafort, then Trump’s convention manager (who would later be promoted to campaign chairman), has long-standing ties to pro-Putin Ukrainian officials. Between 2007 and 2012, Manafort worked as a political consultant to Putin ally Viktor Yanukovych and his pro-Russia part. He helped Yanukovych remake his image following the Orange Revolution and mount a successful bid for the Ukrainian presidency.
April 27, 2016: Trump gives his first foreign policy speech at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC. During the speech, he calls for an “easing of tensions” and “improved relations” with Russia. The Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak is in attendance, as well as Sen. Jeff Sessions. According to the Wall Street Journal, before Trump’s remarks, he “met at a VIP reception with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Ivanovich Kislyak. Mr. Trump warmly greeted Mr. Kislyak and three other foreign ambassadors who came to the reception.”
Late April 2016: The Democratic National Committee’s IT department noticed suspicious computer activity, contacted the FBI, and hired a private security firm, CrowdStrike, to investigate.
May 2016: CrowdStrike determined that highly sophisticated Russian intelligence-affiliated adversaries — denominated Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear — had been responsible for the DNC hack. Fancy Bear, in particular, had indicators of affiliation with Russia’s Main Intelligence Department (also know as the GRU).
Early June 2016: At a closed-door gathering of high-powered foreign policy expertsvisiting with the prime minister of India, Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page hailed Vladimir Putin as stronger and more reliable than President Obama and touted the positive effect that a Trump presidency would have on US-Russia relations.
June 14, 2016: The Washington Post reports that Russian hackers penetrated the DNC’s computer network.
June 15, 2016: Guccifer 2.0, an online persona that US intelligence officials link to Russia’s military intelligence service, takes credit for the DNC hack and posts hacked DNC documents. Guccifer will go on to post additional hacked documents—from the DNC, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), and purportedly from the Clinton Foundation—at least nine more times in the months leading up to the election. (Some reports contest that the documents came from the Clinton Foundation itself.)
May 19, 2016: Paul Manafort became Trump’s campaign chairman and chief strategist.
June 2016: The Moscow-based Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS), a government think tank run by retired foreign intelligence officials appointed by Vladimir Putin, drafts and circulates a strategy paper among top Russian government officials. According to Reuters, it recommends that the Kremlin help spur a propaganda campaign—via social media and state-controlled news outlets—that would help elect a more pro-Russia US president. This is based on information provided to Reuters by seven current or former US officials in April 2017. (
July 6, 2016: Another batch of hacked DNC documents appeared on the Guccifer 2.0 website.
July 7, 2016: Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page criticizes US sanctions against Russia during a speech at the New Economic School in Moscow. Politicolater reports that Page asked for and received permission from Trump’s then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to speak at the Moscow event. Page’s trip spurs the FBI—which has had an interest in the investor since discovering in 2013 that a Russian operative had tried to recruit him—to begin investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
July 14, 2016: Another batch of hacked DNC documents appeared on the Guccifer 2.0 website.
July 18, 2016: The Washington Post reports that the Trump campaign worked with members of the Republican Party platform committee in advance of the Republican National Convention to soften the platform’s position related to Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. The platform reportedly included a provision that promised to provide arms to Ukraine in its fight against Russia, but Trump campaign staffers encouraged the committee to jettison this language.
– Trump surrogate Sen. Jeff Sessions meets with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, on the sidelines of a Republican National Convention event put on by the conservative Heritage Foundation.
Also during the July 2016 Republican Convention: Carter Page and J.D. Gordon, national security advisers to the Trump Campaign, met with ambassador Kislyak. They stressed that Trump would like to improve relations with Russia.
July 20, 2016: New Yorker reporter Ryan Lizza asks Sam Clovis, Trump’s top policy adviser, about allegations that the Trump team worked with the Republican party to soften the party platform’s position on Russia in advance of the RNC. Clovis responds with “I can’t talk about” and walks away.
July 22, 2016: WikiLeaks publishes nearly 20,000 hacked DNC emails, in advance of the Democratic National Convention. Some of the emails indicate that DNC officials favored Clinton over Sen. Bernie Sanders.
July 24, 2016: Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman, appears on ABC’s This Week, where he is asked whether there are connections between the Trump campaign and the Putin regime. Manafort says, “No, there are not. And you know, there’s no basis to it.”
July 25, 2016: Trump tweeted, “The new joke in town is that Russia leaked the disastrous DNC emails, which should never have been written (stupid), because Putin likes me.”
July 26, 2016: US intelligence agencies tell the White House they now have “high confidence” that the Russian government was behind the DNC hack. This is reported by media outlets but not publicly confirmed by intelligence agencies.
– In an interview with NBC News, Obama says hacks are being investigated by the FBI, but that “experts have attributed this to the Russians.” He notes, “What we do know is that the Russians hack our systems. Not just government systems, but private systems. But you know, what the motives were in terms of the leaks, all that—I can’t say directly. What I do know is that Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed admiration for Vladimir Putin.”
July 27, 2016: Trump encourages Russia to hack Clinton’s emails, saying during a news conference, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you’ll probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” At the same event, he declares, “I never met Putin. I don’t know who Putin is.” (Quoted direct from source1)
July 31, 2016: On ABC’s This Week, Trump again denies knowing Putin, saying, “I have no relationship with him.” Trump also denies that his campaign played any role in getting the Republican Party to soften its platform on arming Ukraine.
– On Meet the Press, Manafort denies that he or anyone within the Trump campaign worked to change the platform.
– Sen. Jeff Sessions defends Trump’s efforts to cultivate a friendship with Russia during an appearance on CNN: “Donald Trump is right. We need to figure out a way to end this cycle of hostility that’s putting this country at risk, costing us billions of dollars in defense, and creating hostilities.”
– Manafort denied knowing anything about the change in the Republican platform. That afternoon, Boris Epshteyn, Trump’s Russian-born adviser, spouted the Kremlin’s party line telling CNN: “Russia did not seize Crimea. We can talk about the conflict that happened between Ukraine and the Crimea… But there was no seizure by Russia. That’s an incorrect statement, characterization, of what happened.”
Late July 2016: The FBI launches a counterintelligence investigation into contacts between Trump associates and Russia. There is no public confirmation of this investigation at the time, but FBI Director James Comey later confirms the investigation in a March 2017 hearing before the House intelligence committee.
August 5, 2016: Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks, asked by the Washington Post about Carter Page’s July speech in Moscow, downplays his role as a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, saying he “does not speak for Mr. Trump or the campaign.”
– Longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone writes an article for Breitbart in which he denies that Russia was behind the DNC hack. He argues that Guccifer 2.0 has no ties to Russia.
August 6, 2016: NPR confirms the Trump campaign’s involvement in encouraging the Republican Party to soften its platform’s pro-Ukraine position on Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
Aug. 12, 2016: A batch of hacked Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) documents appeared on the Guccifer 2.0 website.
Aug. 13, 2016: After receiving complaints about the publication of private information, Twitter and wordpress.com (host for the Guccifer 2.0 website) suspended the Guccifer 2.0 accounts.
August 14, 2016: The New York Times reports that Ukraine’s anti-corruption bureau has discovered Manafort’s name on a list of “black accounts” compiled by ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, a Putin ally. The tallies show undisclosed payments designated for Manafort totaling $12.7 million between 2007 and 2012, the years that Manafort worked for Yanukovych as a political consultant. (Manafort denies receiving any illicit payments.)
– Roger Stone tweeted, “[N]ow Guccifer 2.0 — why are those exposing the truth banned?” Without explanation, Twitter reinstated the Guccifer 2.0 account. In a private message to Guccifer 2.0, Roger Stone wrote “Delighted you are reinstated. Fuck the State and their MSM lackeys.”
Aug. 15, 2016: Continuing their private exchange, Guccifer 2.0 responded to Stone: “wow thank u for writing back and thank you for an article about me!!! do u find anything interesting in the docs I posted?”
Also on Aug. 15, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 released hacked DCCC documents on primaries in Florida.
Aug. 16, 2016: Stone published an article in The Hill and asked Guccifer 2.0 to retweet it, “PLZ RT: How the election can be rigged against Donald Trump — thehill.com/blogs/pundits-…” Guccifer 2.0 responded: “done” and “I read u’d been hacked”
August 17, 2016: Trump receives his first classified intelligence briefing as the GOP nominee for president. He brings Michael Flynn with him to the meeting, which includes discussion of the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia was interfering in the US election.
– Guccifer 2.0 sent another private message to Stone: “I’m pleased to say that u r great man and I think I gonna read ur books” “please tell me if I can help u anyhow it would be a great pleasure to me.”
August 19, 2016: Manafort resigns from the Trump campaign.
Aug. 21, 2016: Trump surrogate Roger Stone tweeted, “Trust me, it will soon the Podesta’s time in the barrel. #CrookedHillary”
Also on Aug. 21, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 posted hacked DCCC documents on Pennsylvania’s congressional primaries.
August 29, 2016: Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pens a letter to the FBI, asking the bureau to investigate the possibility of election-tampering by Russia in the upcoming presidential election. “I have recently become concerned that the threat of the Russian government tampering in our presidential election is more extensive than widely known,” Reid writes. “The prospect of a hostile government actively seeking to undermine our free and fair elections represents one of the gravest threats to our democracy since the Cold War and it is critical for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to use every resource available to investigate this matter thoroughly.”
August 30, 2016: House Democrats send a letter to FBI Director James Comey calling on the bureau to investigate ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials and any impact these ties may have had on the hacking of the DNC and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Aug. 31, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 posted documents hacked from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s personal computer.
September 5, 2016: The Washington Post reports that US intelligence agencies, including the FBI, are investigating possible plans by Russia to disrupt the presidential election.
– Putin and Obama have a tense meeting at the G20 summit in China, where they discuss Syria, Ukraine, and cybersecurity. In December, Obama will tell reporters that he confronted Putin about Russia’s alleged interference in the election and told him to “cut it out.”
September 7, 2016: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper suggests publicly for the first time that Russia may be responsible for the DNC hack, pointing to Obama’s July statement that “experts have attributed this to the Russians.” Clapper adds that “the Russians hack our systems all the time.”
September 8, 2016: Trump responds to Clapper’s comments in an interview with RT, the English language arm of a Russian state-controlled media conglomerate, casting doubt on whether Russian hackers were responsible for the DNC hack. “I think maybe the Democrats are putting that out,” Trump says. “Who knows, but I think it’s pretty unlikely.”
– Jeff Sessions meets with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in his Senate office. He is the only one of the Senate armed services committee’s 26 members to meet with the ambassador in 2016. The meeting occurs days after Putin and Obama’s tense G20 meeting.
Sept. 9, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 sent Roger Stone a link to a blog post about voter turnout, along with this message: “hi what do u think of the info on the turnout model for the democrats entire presidential campaign? Basically how it works is there are people who will vote party line no matter what and there are folks who will actually make a decision. The basic premise of winning an election is turnout your base (marked turnout) and target the marginal folks with persuadable advertising (marked persuadable). They spend millions calculating who is persuadable or what we call a ‘soft democrat’ and who is a ‘hard democrat.’”
Sept. 15, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 posted hacked DCCC documents on New Hampshire, Ohio, Illinois and North Carolina.
September 22, 2016: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), vice chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House intelligence committee, release a statement about Russia’s interference in the US election. “Based on briefings we have received, we have concluded that the Russian intelligence agencies are making a serious and concerted effort to influence the U.S. election,” they said. “We believe that orders for the Russian intelligence agencies to conduct such actions could come only from the very senior levels of the Russian government.”
September 23, 2016: Yahoo News reports that US intelligence officials are investigating whether Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page discussed the possible lifting of US sanctions on Russia and other topics during private communications with top Russian officials, including a Putin aide and the current executive chairman of Rosneft, who is on the Treasury Department’s US sanctions list. Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller claims that Page “has no role” in the Trump campaign and says that “we are not aware of any of his activities, past or present.”
– Guccifer 2.0 posted hacked DCCC documents on chairman Rep. Ben Ray Lujan.
September 25, 2016: In a CNN interview, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway denies that Page is affiliated with the Trump campaign. “He’s certainly not part of the campaign that I’m running,” she said.
In response to a question about Page’s possible connections to Russian officials, Conway says, “If he’s doing that, he’s certainly not doing it with the permission or knowledge of the campaign,” She adds, “He is certainly not authorized to do that.”
September 26, 2016: Page takes a leave from the campaign.
– During the first presidential debate, Clinton brings up the allegations that Russia orchestrated the DNC hack. Trump responds: “I don’t think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC. She’s saying Russia, Russia, Russia. I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, okay?”
Oct. 1, 2016: Six days before WikiLeaks released emails that Russian hackers had acquired from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s email account, Trump’s informal adviser and surrogate Roger Stone tweeted: “Wednesday@HillaryClinton is done. #Wikileaks.”
Oct. 4, 2016: Trump tweeted: “CLINTON’S CLOSE TIES TO PUTIN DESERVE SCRUTINY.”
Also on Oct. 4, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 posted documents hacked from the Clinton Foundation.
October 7, 2016: US intelligence agencies issue a joint release saying they are “confident” the Russian government interfered in the US election, in part by directing the leaking of hacked emails belonging to political institutions like the DNC. This is the first official government confirmation that Russia orchestrated the hacking and leaks during the election.
-Late on Friday afternoon, a leaked video of Trump boasting of groping and kissing women without their consent is published by the Washington Post. Half an hourlater, WikiLeaks begins to release several thousand hacked emails from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
October 9, 2016: During the second presidential debate, Clinton accuses Trump of benefiting from Russian hacking and other interference in the election. Trump responds, “I don’t know Putin. I think it would be great if we got along with Russia because we could fight ISIS together, as an example. But I don’t know Putin.”
October 11, 2016: The Obama White House promises a “proportional” response following the US intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia was responsible for hacking the DNC and other groups.
October 12, 2016: Sources briefed on the FBI examination of Russian hacking say the agency suspects that Russian intelligence agencies are behind the hacking of the emails of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and a Florida election systems vendor.
– Roger Stone says he has “back-channel communications” with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, through a mutual friend.
October 19, 2016: During the final presidential debate, Trump casts doubt on the US intelligence community’s conclusion that the Russian government interfered in the election. He also denies having ever met or spoken to Putin, despite his previous statements to the contrary. “I never met Putin,” Trump says. ” I have nothing to do with Putin. I’ve never spoken to him.”
October 30, 2016: The plane belonging to Dmitri Rybolovlev, the Russian oligarch who purchased Trump’s Florida mansion in 2008, is in Las Vegas the same day Trump holds a rally there.
– Outgoing Senate Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) sends a letter to FBI Director James Comey calling on him to release what Reid calls “explosive” information about Trump’s Russia ties. “In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government,” Reid writes. “The public has a right to know this information.”
Oct. 31, 2016: Asked about news reports that the FBI was investigating connections between the Trump campaign and Russia, former campaign manager Manafort said, “None of it is true… There’s no investigation going on by the FBI that I’m aware of.”
October 2016: Russian government think tank RISS drafts and circulates a document among top Russian officials warning that Hillary Clinton is likely to win the US presidential election. According to Reuters, the memo advises the Kremlin to revise its strategy for influencing the election: Instead of focusing on pro-Trump propaganda, it should instead seek to undermine Clinton’s reputation and the legitimacy of the US electoral system by stoking fears about voter fraud.
Date unknown 2016: Prior to Election Day, Flynn contacts Kislyak. It’s unknown how often the pair communicated or what they talked about.
November 1, 2016: NBC News reports that the FBI is conducting a preliminary inquiry into Paul Manafort’s business ties to Russia and Ukraine. Manafort tells NBC, “None of it is true.” He denies having dealings with Putin or the Russian government and says any allegations to the contrary are “Democratic propaganda.”
November 3, 2016: Dmitri Rybolovlev’s plane lands in Charlotte, North Carolina, about 90 minutes before Trump’s plane lands at the same airport in advance of a Trump rally to be held that day in nearby Concord.
November 9, 2016: Trump wins the presidential election, Russia’s Parliament erupted in applause.
November 10, 2016: Interfax news agency reports that the Russian government had contact with the Trump campaign during the campaign. Referring to Trump campaign staffers, Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, says, “A number of them maintained contacts with Russian representatives” in the Russian Foreign Ministry. And he adds, “There were contacts. We continue to do this and have been doing this work during the election campaign.”
– Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tells the Associated Press that Russian foreign policy experts have been in contact with the Trump campaign. “And our experts, our specialists on the U.S., on international affairs…Of course they are constantly speaking to their counterparts here, including those from Mr. Trump’s group,” Peskov said.
November 11, 2016: Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks tells the Associated Press that the allegations of contact between the Trump campaign and Russian officials are false. “It never happened,” she says. “There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign.”
November 16, 2016: The director of the National Security Agency, Admiral Michael Rogers, implies that he believes Russia interfered in the US election. In response to a question about WikiLeaks hacks during the election, Rogers says, “This was a conscious effort by a nation-state to attempt to achieve a specific effect.”
November 17, 2016: Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the House oversight committee, sends a letter to Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the committee’s top Republican, calling for an investigation into Russia’s interference in the election.
November 23, 2016: The Wall Street Journal reports that in October 2016, Donald Trump Jr. spoke at a meeting of a French think tank run by a couple, Fabien Baussart and Randa Kassis, who have “worked closely with Russia to try to end the conflict” in Syria. Kassis is the leader of a Syrian group endorsed by the Kremlin that seeks to cooperate with Moscow ally President Bashar al-Assad.
November 29, 2016: Seven members of the Senate intelligence committee write a letterto Obama asking him to declassify relevant intelligence on Russia’s role in the election.
Early December 2016: Two Russian intelligence officers who worked on cyber operations and a Russian computer security expert are arrested in Moscow and charged with treason for providing information to the United States. (There is no indication of whether the arrests are related to the Russian hacking of the 2016 campaign.)
Also in December 2016: Russian ambassador Kislyak met at Trump Tower with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Trump’s NSA-designate Michael Flynn. December 8, 2016: Carter Page, no longer a foreign policy adviser to Trump, visits Moscow, where he tells a state-run news agency that he plans to meet with “business leaders and thought leaders.”
December 9, 2016: The Washington Post reports that a secret CIA assessment concluded that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Trump win the presidency. In response, the Trump transition team issues a statement attempting to discredit the CIA’s conclusion: “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The election ended a long time ago…It’s now time to move on and ‘Make America Great Again.'”
December 11, 2016: In an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Trump again casts doubt on the US intelligence community’s findings on Russia’s interference in the election. “They have no idea if it’s Russia or China or somebody,” Trump says of the CIA’s findings. “It could be somebody sitting in a bed some place. I mean, they have no idea.”
– Trump praised Rex Tillerson, chairman of ExxonMobil and recipient of Russia’s “Order of Friendship” Medal from Vladimir Putin in 2013, as “much more than a business executive” and a “world-class player.” Trump said Tillerson “knows many of the players” and did “massive deals in Russia” for Exxon. Two days later, Trump nominated him to be secretary of state.
Dec. 12, 2016: While in Moscow, Trump’s former campaign surrogate Jack Kingston met with Russian businessmen to discuss what they might expect from a Trump administration. “Trump can look at sanctions,” Kingston said. “They’ve been in place long enough.”
Dec. 13, 2016: NBC News’ Richard Engel reports from Moscow on Trump’s secretary of state pick, Rex Tillerson. Former Russian Energy Minister Vladimir Milov told Engel that Tillerson was a “gift for Putin.”
December (date unknown), 2016: Michael Flynn and Jared Kushner meet with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at Trump Tower. Kislyak was not caught on tape entering the building, suggesting that he may have been brought in through a back entrance.
December (date unknown), 2016: Kislyak requests another meeting with Kushner. Kushner sends a deputy, Avrahm Berkowitz, to meet with the Russian ambassador in his stead. At that meeting, Kislyak requests that Kushner meet with Sergey N. Gorkov, the chief of Vnesheconombank, Russia’s state-owned development bank. Kushner meets with Gorkov later that month.
December 29, 2016: Obama announces sanctions against Russia for the country’s alleged interference in the presidential election. The measure includes the ejection of 35 Russian diplomats from the United States; the closure of Cold War-era Russian compounds in Long Island, New York, and in Maryland; and sanctions against the GRU and the FSB (Russian intelligence agencies), four employees of those agencies, and three companies that worked with the GRU.
– Michael Flynn holds five phone calls with Kislyak, during which they at some point discuss US sanctions on Russia. (White House press secretary Sean Spicer later claims falsely that they held just one call, in which they merely discussed “logistical information.”)
Dec. 30, 2016: After Putin made a surprise announcement that Russia would not retaliate for the new sanctions, Trump tweeted, “Great move on delay (by V. Putin) — I always knew he was very smart.”
Jan. 6, 2017: The CIA, FBI and NSA released their unclassified report, concluding unanimously, “Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election.” The three intelligence agencies agreed that “the Russian government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible.” The report also stated that WikiLeaks had been Russia’s conduit for the effort, writing “We assess with high confidence that Russian military intelligence (General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate or GRU) used the Guccifer 2.0 persona and DCLeaks.com to release US victim data obtained in cyber operations publicly and in exclusives to media outlets and relayed material to WikiLeaks.”
Early January 2017: Concerned that classified material relating to Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election might disappear once the Trump administration took office, Obama administration officials create a list containing the serial numbers of key documents. An administration official hand-delivers this list to senior members of the Senate intelligence committee.
January 10, 2017: CNN reports that Obama and Trump received classified briefings that covered allegations contained in the Russia-Trump memos authored by the Western intelligence official that Russian intelligence possessed compromising material on Trump.
– BuzzFeed publishes the Trump-Russia memos in full.
– Trump calls the Russia memos story “#fakenews” on Twitter.
– During his Senate confirmation hearing, Jeff Sessions responds to questions about alleged contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia by saying, “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.”
– FBI Director James Comey testifies at a Senate intelligence committee hearing. He is asked whether the FBI is investigating Trump campaign staffers’ ties to Russia. Comey declines to answer the question.
January 11, 2017: Trump again denies the allegations in the Russia memos in a series of tweets. Also in reference to the Russia allegations, he asks, “Are we living in Nazi Germany?”
– At his first news conference since being elected, Trump acknowledges that Russia was behind the hacks, saying, “As far as hacking, I think it was Russia. But I think we also get hacked by other countries and other people.”
Around January 11 2017: A secret meeting takes place in the Seychelles between Blackwater founder Erik Prince, a major Trump campaign donor and brother of education secretary Betsy DeVos, and a Russian close to Vladimir Putin in an effort to establish an unofficial back channel between Moscow and Donald Trump. According to sources who would later speak to the Washington Post, the meeting was allegedly coordinated by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, and his brother. It occurred shortly after a December visit to the US by Zayed, which the UAE did not disclose to the Obama administration.
January 13, 2017: Trump again calls claims about his Russian connections “fake news.” His tweet refers to a comment by a Kremlin spokesman earlier in the month that called the US intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the US election “absolutely unfounded.”
– In response to The Washington Post’s article about Flynn’s Dec. 29 conversations with the Russian ambassador, press secretary Sean Spicer said it was only one call. They “exchanged logistical information” for an upcoming call between Trump and Vladimir Putin after the inauguration.
January 15, 2017: In an appearance on Face the Nation, Vice President-elect Mike Pence says Michael Flynn told him that he did not discuss US sanctions during his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
– “We should trust Putin,” Trump told The Times of London. Expressing once again his skepticism about NATO, Trump lambasted Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel.
January 19, 2017: The New York Times reports that the FBI, the NSA, the CIA, and the Treasury Department’s financial crimes unit are investigating Paul Manafort, Carter Page, and Roger Stone for their possible contacts with Russia during the campaign. As part of their investigation, the Times reports, these agencies are examining intercepted communications and financial transactions.
Jan. 20, 2017: Trump is inaugurated.
Jan. 22, 2017: Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn was sworn in as national security adviser, a position that does not require Senate confirmation.
Jan. 23, 2017: At Sean Spicer’s first press briefing, Spicer said that none of Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador touched on the Dec. 29 sanctions. That got the attention of FBI Director James Comey. According to The Wall Street Journal, Comey convinced acting Attorney General Sally Yates to delay informing the White House immediately about the discrepancy between Spicer’s characterization of Flynn’s calls and US intelligence intercepts showing that the two had, in fact, discussed sanctions. Comey reportedly asked Yates to wait a bit longer so that the FBI could develop more information and speak with Flynn himself. The FBI interviewed Flynn shortly thereafter.
Jan. 24, 2017: According to a subsequent article in The Washington Post, Flynn reportedly denied to FBI agents that he had discussed US sanctions against Russia in his December 2016 calls with the Russian ambassador.
January 26, 2017: Sally Yates, the acting attorney general, informs White House counselDon McGahn that Flynn had discussed US sanctions on Russia with the Russian ambassador, despite Flynn’s claims to the contrary in his FBI interview.
– McGahn informs Trump of Yates’ report that Flynn had a conversation with the Russian ambassador in December that included a discussion about US sanctions. This reveals that Flynn misled Pence when he said he had not had substantive conversations with the Russian ambassador.
January (date unknown), 2017: Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney, meets at a Manhattan hotel with Felix Sater and a pro-Putin Ukrainian lawmaker to discuss a potential peace plan for Ukraine and Russia. The New York Times reports that Cohen delivered this plan to Flynn. Cohen confirms he met with Sater and the Ukrainian lawmaker, but denies that they discussed a Ukraine-Russia peace plan or that he delivered such a plan to Flynn or the White House.
Jan. 30, 2017: Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates. According to his statement, the reason was that she had “betrayed the Department of Justice” by refusing to defend Trump’s travel ban in court.
February 7, 2017: Trump tweets: “I don’t know Putin, have no deals in Russia, and the haters are going crazy – yet Obama can make a deal with Iran, #1 in terror, no problem!”
Feb. 8, 2017: Flynn told reporters at The Washington Post he did not discuss US sanctions in his December conversation with the Russian ambassador.
– Jeff Sessions, the first senator to endorse Trump’s candidacy and the former chair of the Trump campaign’s national security advisory committee, became attorney general. Every Republican senator and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia voted to confirm him. During the confirmation process, Sessions had said he was “not aware of a basis to recuse myself” from the Justice Department’s Russia-related investigations of Trump.
Feb. 9, 2017: Through a spokesman, Flynn changed his position: “While [Flynn] had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.”
February 10, 2017: Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One, Trump says he is not aware of reports that Flynn has discussed US sanctions with the Russian ambassador. He has in fact been aware of Flynn’s contacts with Kislyak since late January.
– Dmitri Rybolovlev’s plane lands in Miami, the day before Trump is set to arrive at Mar-a-Lago for the weekend.
Feb. 13, 2017: The Washington Post broke another story: Then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates had warned the White House in late January that Flynn had mischaracterized his December conversation with the Russian ambassador, and that it made him vulnerable to Russian blackmail. Later that evening, Flynn resigned.
February 14, 2017: The New York Times reports that American intelligence and law enforcement agencies have intercepted repeated communications between Trump campaign officials and other Trump associates and senior Russian intelligence and government officials.
– Spicer denies that Trump or his campaign had any contacts with Russia during the election.
– Meanwhile, advisers to Attorney General Jeff Sessions reiterated his earlier position: Sessions saw no need to recuse himself from the ongoing Justice Department investigations into the Trump/Russia connections.
February 15, 2017: During a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump does not answer a question about potential connections between his campaign and Russia during the election. He blames Flynn’s ouster on leaks. This is a different position than the one taken by the White House previously: that Flynn was asked to resign because he misled Pence about his communication with the Russian ambassador.
– Reince Priebus, Trump’s chief of staff, asks the FBI to publicly knock-down media reports that the US intelligence community was investigating the Trump campaign’s alleged contacts with Russia intelligence operatives during the election. The FBI refuses to do so. The administration then enlists the help of the intelligence community and several members of Congress, including Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.)—the chairmen of the Senate and House intelligence committees, both of which are conducting investigations into Trump’s Russia connections—to call media outlets to counter stories about contacts between Trump staffers and Russians.
– In an appearance on PBS Newshour, Carter Page denies that he had any meetings with Russian officials in 2016.
– Trump tweeted a series of outbursts attacking the Trump/Russia connection as “nonsense,” diverting attention to “un-American” leaks in which “information is illegally given out by ‘intelligence’ like candy.” Shortly thereafter, Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz and other congressional Republicans formally asked the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate the leaks, but they and their GOP colleagues resisted the creation of an independent bipartisan commission with the power to convene public hearings and discover the truth about the Trump/Russia connections.
Feb. 16, 2017: Trump continued his diversionary twitter assault on the intelligence leaks that were fueling intensified scrutiny of his Russia connections. At Trump’s afternoon press conference, he said: “I own nothing in Russia. I have no loans in Russia. I don’t have any deals in Russia… Russia is fake news. Russia — this is fake news put out by the media.” Reporters asked repeatedly about anyone else involved with Trump or his campaign. “No,” Trump said. “Nobody that I know of.”
Feb. 17, 2017: FBI Director Comey met privately with members of the Senate Intelligence Committee to discuss the Russia investigation. Immediately thereafter, the Committee sent a letter asking more than a dozen agencies, organizations and individuals — including the White House — to preserve all communications related to the Senate panel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
– The Senate Intelligence Committee sent Roger Stone a letter asking him to preserve any records he had in connection with the Committee’s inquiry into Russia’s interference in the US election.
February 19, 2017: During an interview on Fox News, Priebus denies that the Trump camp had any contact with Russia.
Feb. 25, 2017: Nigel Farage, ex-leader of the UK Independence Party, key Brexit campaigner and one of Donald Trump’s most visible foreign supporters during and after the presidential campaign, dined with Trump, daughter Ivanka, son-in-law Jared Kushner and Florida Gov. Rick Scott at the Trump International Hotel in Washington.
Feb. 26, 2017: NBC’s Chuck Todd noted a pattern: Trump’s attacks on the press followed immediately after a new and unflattering Trump/Russia story breaks.
February 28, 2017: Republicans on the House judiciary committee vote down a Democrat-sponsored resolution that would have required the Trump administration to disclose information about Trump’s ties to Russia (and his possible financial conflicts of interest).
– White House lawyers ask Trump staffers to preserve any materials related to possible Russian interference in the 2016 election.
March 1, 2017: In response to reports in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times about Jeff Sessions’ pre-election contacts with the Russian ambassador, Sessions issued a statement saying he “never met with any Russian officials to discuss any issues of the campaign.”
March 2: Facing criticism over the revelations that he withheld information regarding his meetings with the Russian ambassador during his confirmation hearings, Sessions announces that he will recuse himself from any investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
– On NBC, Sessions denies that he ever discussed the Trump campaign with Russians. “I have not met with any Russians at any time to discuss any political campaign and those remarks are unbelievable to me and are false,” he said. “And I don’t have anything else to say about that.”
– Alex Oronov, a Ukrainian billionaire businessman who was connected by marriage to Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime lawyer and associate, dies unexpectedly. Oronov’s daughter was married to Cohen’s brother. Oronov reportedly set up a January 2017 meeting between Cohen and Russian officials to discuss a possible “peace plan” between Russia and Ukraine that would have formalized Putin’s control over Crimea. The New York Times reported that this peace proposal was hand-delivered to Michael Flynn prior to his forced resignation.
– The Wall Street Journal reports that Donald Trump Jr. was paid at least $50,000 for his October 2016 appearance before a French think tank run by a couple allied with Russia on ending Syrian conflict.
– USA Today reports that two other Trump advisers, Carter Page and J.D. Gordon, met with Sergey Kislyak during the Republican National Convention.
– In an MSNBC appearance, Page says he doesn’t deny that this meeting took place.
– J.D. Gordon tells CNN that during the Republican National Convention, he did in fact push to alter the Republican platform’s draft policy on Ukraine to align it with Trump’s views on Russia.
March 4, 2017: Trump is reportedly furious that Jeff Sessions had recused himself from the Trump/Russia investigation. He unleashes a tweet-storm, claiming that President Obama had wiretapped his phones during the presidential campaign. Stunned by Trump’s outburst, White House staffers begin searching for evidence to support his false wiretap claim. Among those reportedly involved in the effort are White House Counsel Donald McGahn II and Ezra Cohen-Watnick, a 30-year-old Trump transition team member whom former national security adviser Mike Flynn had brought to the White House as senior director for intelligence programs.
March 5, 2017: FBI Director Comey asked the Justice Department to rebut publicly Trump’s assertion that President Obama had ordered the wiretapping of Trump’s phones. Meanwhile, Sean Spicer announced that neither Trump nor the White House would comment further on Trump/Russia matters until Congress completed an investigation into whether President Obama’s executive branch abused its powers during 2016 election.
– Press Secretary Sean Spicer says the White House is requesting that the congressional intelligence committees examine Trump’s allegations that Obama wiretapped Trump during the campaign as part of their investigation into Russia’s election activity. Spicer also says the White House will not comment further on the wiretapping allegation until the completion of this investigation.
March 7, 2017: WikiLeaks released a trove of alleged CIA documents relating to the agency’s hacking tools for smartphones, computers, and internet-connected devices.
– Michael Ellis, 32-year-old general counsel to Nunes’ intelligence committee, joins White House Counsel McGahn’s office as “special assistant to the president, senior associate counsel to the president and deputy National Security Council legal adviser.”
March 8, 2017: Nigel Farage met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, at the Embassy of Ecuador in London, where Assange had found sanctuary since 2012.
March 9, 2017: In an online press conference, Assange threatened to release more documents relating to CIA’s hacking capabilities and methods.
– When reporters asked Sean Spicer about Nigel Farage’s meeting with Julian Assange and whether Farage was delivering a message from Trump, Sean Spicer said, “I have no idea.”
March 10, 2017: Trump adviser Roger Stone acknowledges that during the 2016 campaign he exchanged direct messages on Twitter with Guccifer 2.0, the online persona that US intelligence agencies believe was a front for Russian intelligence. Stone claims the conversations were so “perfunctory” and “banal” that he had forgotten about them.
– The yacht belonging to Russian billionaire Dmitri Rybolovlev anchors in a cove in the British Virgin Islands. Another yacht anchors next to Rybolovlev’s—the Sea Owl, owned by Robert Mercer, one of Trump’s biggest donors during the 2016 election and an investor in the conservative Breitbart News.
– Mike Flynn’s replacement as NSA, H.R. McMaster, told Ezra Cohen-Watnick that he was reassigning him. Unhappy with the decision, Cohen-Watnick appealed to Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner. They intervened and took the issue to Trump, who ordered that Cohen-Watnick should remain in his position.
March 12, 2017: John McCain told CNN’s Jake Tapper that former Trump adviser and surrogate Roger Stone “obviously” needed to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee concerning his communications with Guccifer 2.0. McCain said that Stone should also explain fully his involvement matters relating to Ukraine’s pro-Putin former president.
March 13, 2017: Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr said Roger Stone’s communications with Guccifer 2.0 were part of the Committee’s ongoing investigation and that Stone could be called to testify.
March 14, 2017: House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes and ranking member Adam Schiff invite former acting Attorney General Sally Yates to testifybefore their committee at an open hearing on March 28, 2017.
March 15, 2017: Asked about his decision to accuse Obama of wiretapping him without evidence, Trump hints that information will soon emerge to back up his claims. “I think you’re going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.”
– Roger Stone was riding in the front passenger seat of a car near Pompano Beach, Florida, when another car broadsided his, shifted gears, backed up and sped away. In January, Stone had claimed that he was poisoned in late 2016 with polonium, a radioactive material manufactured in a nuclear reactor and used to kill former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko in 2006. Litvinenko had defected to Britain and become an outspoken critic of Putin. As he lay in a hospital bed, he said that Putin had been responsible for his impending death. On Jan. 21, 2016, retired British High Court Judge Sir Robert Owen concluded a House of Commons inquiry and issued a 328-page report finding that Litvinenko’s accusation was probably correct.
– The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, said the committee had no evidence to support Trump’s March 4 wiretapping claim. “I don’t think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower,” Nunes said. “Are you going to take the tweets literally? If you are, clearly the president is wrong.”
March 16, 2017: Senate Intelligence Committee leaders issued a joint statementrebutting Trump’s unfounded assertion that President Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower: “Based on the information available to us, we see no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016.”
March 17, 2017: Roger Stone said he had only just received the letter from the Senate Intelligence Committee, dated Feb. 17, asking him to preserve his records relating to Russian election interference. Quoted in The New York Times, Stone said, “I had never heard allegations that Guccifer 2.0 was a Russian asset until now, and am not certain it’s correct.” He said that his 16 interactions with Guccifer 2.0, which included public Twitter posts and private messages, were all part of “exchanges,” not “separate contacts.”
March 20, 2017: Shortly before the House intelligence committee holds its first public hearing on its investigation into Russia’s interference in the US election, a senior White House official tells the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza, “You’ll see the setting of the predicate. That’s the thing to watch today.” Lizza later reports:
‘He suggested that I read a piece in The Hill about incidental collection. The article posited that if “Trump or his advisors were speaking directly to foreign individuals who were the target of U.S. spying during the election campaign, and the intelligence agencies recorded Trump by accident, it’s plausible that those communications would have been collected and shared amongst intelligence agencies.”’
The White House clearly indicated to me that it knew Nunes would highlight this issue. “It’s backdoor surveillance where it’s not just incidental, it’s systematic,” the White House official said. “Watch Nunes today.”
– In his opening statement at the hearing, Nunes asks, “Were the communications of officials or associates of any campaign subject to any kind of improper surveillance?” The day’s biggest news, however, comes from FBI Director James Comey who testifies the hearing that the bureau has since July been “investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.” Both Comey and NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers dismiss Trump’s claim that Obama wiretapped him during the election.
– In response to questions from Mother Jones‘ David Corn, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chair of the House intelligence committee, tells reporters he has never heard of key figures connected to the Trump-Russia scandal, including Carter Page and Roger Stone.
– Spicer tells reporters that Paul Manafort, who ran Trump’s campaign from April 2016 to August 2016, “played a limited role” on the campaign “for a very limited amount of time.”
March 21, 2017: In his daily press briefing, Sean Spicer said that, with respect to the Trump campaign, Paul Manafort had “played a very limited role for a very limited period of time.”
March 22: The Associated Press reports that, starting in the mid-2000s, Manafort worked on behalf of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska to “influence politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe and the former Soviet republics to benefit the Putin government.” The news service quotes a 2005 strategy memo authored by Manafort, who writes, “We are now of the belief that this model can greatly benefit the Putin government if employed at the correct levels with the appropriate commitment to success.” Manafort denies working on behalf of Russian interests.
– Mother Jones reports that Manafort tried to help Deripaska secure a visa to the United States. The aluminum magnate had been denied entry to the United States at various points because of suspected ties to the Russian mafia.
– Rep. Devin Nunes, without briefing Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), his Democratic counterpart on the intelligence committee, or other members of the panel, calls a surprise press conference, announcing that he has seen evidence that the intelligence community “incidentally” picked up communications by Trump transition officials in the course of lawful surveillance on foreign parties. He claims that the names of Trump officials were “unmasked” and that “none of this surveillance was related to Russia.”
– In a remarkable departure from intelligence committee norms, Nunes visits the White House to brief Trump on his findings. The president later says he feels “somewhat” vindicated by the information Nunes shared.
– Schiff releases a statement expressing “grave concerns” about Nunes’ actions and casting doubt about whether a “credible investigation” can be conducted under these circumstances.
– Schiff tells MSNBC’s Chuck Todd that there is “more than circumstantial evidence now” of potential collusion between Trump officials and Russian operatives.
– CNN, citing “US officials,” reports that the “FBI has information that indicates associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.”
March 23: The Associated Press reports that US Treasury Department agents have obtained records of “offshore financial transactions” by Paul Manafort, in conjunction into an ongoing anti-corruption investigation into his work in Eastern Europe. According to the new service, “As part of their investigation, U.S. officials were expected to look into millions of dollars’ worth of wire transfers to Manafort. In one case, the AP found that a Manafort-linked company received a $1 million payment in October 2009 from a mysterious firm through the Bank of Cyprus. The $1 million payment left the account the same day—split in two, roughly $500,000 disbursements to accounts with no obvious owner.”
– Trump tweets: “Just watched the totally biased and fake news reports of the so-called Russia story on NBC and ABC. Such dishonesty!”
– Rep. Nunes apologizes to Democratic members of the intelligence committee for failing to brief them on the new information he obtained and instead taking it straight to the White House, but he won’t explain why he took this unusual action.
– In a letter to acting Assistant Attorney General Samuel R. Ramer, Sally Yates’ lawyer disagrees with the Justice Department’s objections to Yates’ anticipated congressional testimony. Associate Deputy Attorney General Scott Schools responds that Yates’ testimony is “likely covered by the presidential communications privilege and possibly the deliberative process privilege.” But Schools adds that Yates needs only the consent of the White House, not the Justice Department, to testify.
March 24, 2017: Rep. Devin Nunes holds a press conference, where he announces that Paul Manafort has volunteered to testify before the House intelligence committee. He also announces that the committee will be delaying its next open hearing, which had been planned for March 28.
– Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Roger Stone volunteered to be interviewed by the House Intelligence Committee.
– Yates’ lawyer writes to White House Counsel McGahnabout Yates’ upcoming testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. He notes that unless McGahn objects before 10 a.m. on March 27, Yates will appear and answer the committee’s questions.
March 26, 2017: In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Roger Stone said, “I reiterate again, I have had no contacts or collusions with the Russians. And my exchange with Guccifer 2.0, based on the content and the timing, most certainly does not constitute collusion.”
March 27, 2017: The New York Times reports that in early December 2016, Jared Kushner met with Sergey Gorkov, the chief of Russia’s state-owned development bank at the request of Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The paper also reports that the Senate intelligence committee has informed the White House that it will seek to question Kushner about this meeting and his interactions with the Kislyak.
– The New York Times reports that on the evening of March 21, Rep. Nunes met with a source on the grounds of the White House grounds. The source reportedly showed Nunes “dozens” of classified intelligence reports. The next day, Nunes announced he had viewed evidence that showed that US intelligence agencies had “incidentally” collected communications among Trump transition team members while surveilling other parties.
– House Democrats, including minority leader Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff, call on Devin Nunes to recuse himself from the House intelligence committee investigation into Russia’s election interference.
– Trump tweets: “Why isn’t the House Intelligence Committee looking into the Bill & Hillary deal that allowed big Uranium to go to Russia, Russian speech…….money to Bill, the Hillary Russian “reset,” praise of Russia by Hillary, or Podesta Russian Company. Trump Russia story is a hoax.
March 28, 2017: The Washington Post reports that the Trump administration has tried to prevent former acting Attorney General Sally Yates from testifying before the House intelligence committee. Yates—who was fired by Trump in January after she instructed Justice Department lawyers not to defend the administration’s executive order temporarily blocking immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries—was scheduled to testify before the committee in a public hearing that was canceled by Nunes. The White House denied that it had tried to block Yates from testifying, calling the Post‘s story “entirely false.”
– Adam Schiff tweets: “Was today’s open hearing cancelled because WH did not want Sally Yates to testify re Gen Flynn’s deception? Didn’t want to assert privilege?”
– NBC reports:
“A bank in Cyprus investigated accounts associated with President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, for possible money-laundering, two banking sources with direct knowledge of his businesses here told NBC News.
Manafort — whose ties to a Russian oligarch close to President Vladimir Putin are under scrutiny—was associated with at least 15 bank accounts and 10 companies on Cyprus, dating back to 2007, the sources said. At least one of those companies was used to receive millions of dollars from a billionaire Putin ally, according to court documents.
Banking sources said some transactions on Manafort-associated accounts raised sufficient concern to trigger an internal investigation at a Cypriot bank into potential money laundering activities. After questions were raised, Manafort closed the accounts, the banking sources said.”
According to a Manafort spokesman, “All were legitimate entities and established for lawful ends.”
March 29, 2017: Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), respectively the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, hold a press conference. They vow a tough, bipartisan investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. “This investigation’s scope will go wherever the intelligence leads,” Burr says. According to Burr, seven committee staffers have been assigned to the probe and the committee has begun to schedule the first of 20 interviews.
March 30, 2017: The Senate intelligence committee convenes its first hearing into Russian interference in the presidential election.
– The New York Times reports that two White House officials, Ezra Cohen-Watnick and Michael Ellis, “played a role in providing” Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) access to intelligence reports showing that “President Trump and his associates were incidentally swept up in foreign surveillance by American spy agencies.” Cohen-Watnick was brought on to the National Security Council by Michael Flynn, for whom he had worked at the National Security Council. After Flynn’s ouster, his replacement, national security adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, attempted to “sideline” Cohen-Watkins, according to Politico. Jared Kushner and White House strategist Stephen Bannon intervened on the NSC staffer’s behalf, taking the matter all the way to Trump. Ellis worked for Nunes before taking a job in the White House as a lawyer working on national security matters.
-The Wall Street Journal reports that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has told the FBI and the congressional committees investigating ties between the Trump campaign and Russia that he will agree to be interviewed in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Flynn’s attorney says in a subsequent statementthat the retired general “certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should the circumstances permit.”
March 31, 2017: NBC reports that the Senate intelligence committee has denied Flynn’s request for immunity, telling Flynn’s lawyer the request was “wildly preliminary” and currently “not on the table.”
– Trump tweets, “Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!”
– During an appearance with Bill Maher, Roger Stone denies that Guccifer 2.0 was an arm of Russia. “I’ve had no contacts with Russians,” he insists.
March (date unknown) 2017: Weeks after its former CEO, Rex Tillerson, becomes Secretary of State, Exxon Mobil files an application with the Treasury department for a waiver from US sanctions on Russia. Exxon seeks the waiver in order to resume an exploration and drilling project with Russian-state oil giant Rosneft. Tillerson has said that he will recuse himself from State Department decisions that could benefit Exxon for one year.
April 4, 2017: The Pentagon launches an investigation into Michael Flynn for accepting payments from a foreign government without prior approval, in potential violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause.
April 5, 2017: In an interview with The New York Times, Trump says, “The Russia story is a total hoax.”
April 6, 2017: The House ethics committee announces that it is investigating Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House intelligence committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, due to allegations that he made “unauthorized disclosures of classified information.” In a statement, Nunes says that he will temporarily remove himself from the House intelligence committee’s Russia investigation into Russian interference while the House ethics committee investigates, “despite the baselessness of the charges” against him. Texas Rep. Mike Conaway assumes control.
April 11, 2017: In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Eric Trump says that the Trump administration’s decision to launch missiles at a Syrian military target shows that there is no connection between President Trump and the Russian government, which backs the Assad regime.
-The Washington Post reports that in the summer of 2016, the FBI and DOJ obtained a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant to monitor the communications of Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page. “This is the clearest evidence so far that the FBI had reason to believe during the 2016 presidential campaign that a Trump campaign adviser was in touch with Russian agents,” notes the Post.
April 12, 2017: The Associated Press confirms that at least $1.2 million in payments listed next to Paul Manafort’s name on a “black accounts” ledger in Ukraine that was uncovered in August 2016 were in fact received by Manafort’s consulting firm. Manafort had initially denied receiving illicit payments, and told the AP that “any wire transactions received by my company are legitimate payments for political consulting work that was provided. I invoiced my clients and they paid via wire transfer, which I received through a U.S. bank.”
–CNN reports that both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have reviewed documents related to allegations that Obama administration national security adviser Susan Rice had improperly requested the “unmasking” of Trump transition team members in intelligence reports. The lawmakers who reviewed these reports “have so far found no evidence that Obama administration officials did anything unusual or illegal,” CNN reported, though Trump had previously called the allegations a “massive story.”
-In an interview on the Fox Business Network, Trump says that it is “not too late” to fire FBI director James Comey, but also says that he still has confidence in him.
April 13, 2017: House Democrats send a letter to FBI Director James Comey and the head of the National Background Investigations Bureau, calling for the suspension of Jared Kushner’s security clearance. Kushner, they write “failed to disclose key meetings with foreign government officials during his application process,” including Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak and Sergei Gorkov, the head of Vnesheconombank, a Russian state-owned development bank. “Knowingly falsifying or concealing information on a SF-86 questionnaire is a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison,” the lawmakers write.
April 14, 2017: Legistorm reports that Andrii Artemenko, the pro-Putin Ukrainian lawmaker that in January met with two Trump associates to discuss a possible peace plan for Ukraine and Russia, is paying $30,000 a month to a pro-Trump preacher in Pennsylvania who has ties to Russia and Ukraine. According to Legistorm, the funds were for “strategic counseling and representation to advance US-Ukraine relations, including engagement with public officials, legislators and government agencies” and a filing from Armstrong’s LLC notes the payments were not financed by a foreign government. The preacher, Dale Armstrong, helps run two groups focused on bringing biblical values to Ukraine and other former Soviet republics.
April 19, 2017: Reuters reports that Russian government think tank RISS, described by officials as the Kremlin’s in-house foreign policy think tank and staffed by Putin-appointees, had developed plans to interfere with the US election. Seven current or former US officials describe documents produced and circulated by RISS in June and October 2016, first calling on the Kremlin to mount a propaganda campaign to help elect a pro-Russia president and later to stoke concerns about Hillary Clinton and voter fraud.
-The Justice Department confirms that Mary McCord, the acting assistant attorney general in the department’s national security division, will leave the department in May 2017. McCord heads the department’s investigation into Russia interference in the presidential election.
April 21, 2017: CNN reports that in the summer of 2016, at the height of the presidential campaign, US and European intelligence found that Russian intelligence operatives were attempting to infiltrate the Trump campaign through Trump advisers, including Carter Page. Citing US officials, the network reports that Page and several other Trump advisers were repeatedly in contact with Russian officials and other Russians on the radar of intelligence agencies.
April 23, 2017: The Daily Beast reports that the committee’s investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia is floundering. More than three months after the probe was launched, none of the seven staffers assigned to the investigation are working on it full-time, none have investigative or legal experience, and most have no Russia expertise.
April 25, 2017: Leaders of the House Oversight Committee tell reporters that Michael Flynn may have broken the law by failing to disclose a $34,000 payment from RT, a Russian state-owned media outlet, on his 2016 application to renew his security clearance. Flynn received the fee for speaking at 2015 gala hosted by RT, where he was seated beside Vladimir Putin.
“As a former military officer, you simply cannot take money from Russia, Turkey or anybody else,” Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said. “And it appears as if he did take that money. It was inappropriate. And there are repercussions for the violation of law.”
The revelation comes after Chaffetz, the committee’s chairman, and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), its ranking member, asked the White House and other federal agencies to provide documents related to Flynn’s foreign communications and payments, including his security clearance application. The Defense Intelligence Agency provided documents to the committee, according to Chaffetz and Cummings, but the White House has declined to comply with the document request.
-Flynn’s attorney issues a statement implying that Flynn obtained all necessary permissions related to his appearance at the RT event: “General Flynn briefed the Defense Intelligence Agency, a component agency of the Department of Defense, extensively regarding the RT speaking event trip both before and after the trip, and he answered any questions that were posed by DIA concerning the trip during those briefings.”
April 27, 2017: The Department of Defense confirms that Michael Flynn has been under investigation by the Pentagon since April 4, for accepting payments from a foreign government, allegedly without informing the appropriate Defense officials.
-Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) the ranking Democrat on the House oversight committee, releases documents showing that in October 2014, Flynn was warned by the Defense Intelligence Agency about accepting payments from foreign governments. The documents released by Cummings show that the DIA counsel’s office responded to an inquiry from Flynn with a letter explaining that he could not receive foreign government payments without prior approval, due to the constitution’s emoluments clause.
-The DIA documents released by House oversight also state that, contrary to the implication of Flynn’s attorney on April 25, the DIA has no record of Flynn seeking permission to receive payments from a foreign source.
April 30, 2017: Trump claims at Pa. rally that China could be behind DNC email hacks, contrary to the U.S. intelligence community’s previous statments.
May 1, 2017: During an Oval Office interview with CBS’ John Dickerson, Trump says “I don’t stand by anything” when asked about his claims that President Obama tapped his phones during the 2016 election. Trump then proceeds to double down on the wiretapping accusation: “I think our side’s been proven very strongly and everybody’s talking about it and frankly, it should be discussed.” Trump cuts the interview short when Dickerson presses him on his claims. [Updated 05/06/17]
May 2, 2017: During a Q&A, Hillary Clinton blames her election defeat on Russian hacking and FBI director James Comey’s October 28 letter to Congress stating that the bureau was examining newly discovered emails possibly related to its investigation of Clinton’s use of a private email server. “I was on the way to winning until the combination of Jim Comey’s letter on October 28 and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me but got scared off—and the evidence for that intervening event is, I think, compelling [and] persuasive,” she said. [Updated 05/06/17]
“FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds! The phony……Trump/Russia story was an excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election. Perhaps Trump just ran a great campaign?
– Sally Yates confirmed to testify Monday, May 8. She is expected to contradict Trump administration about Flynn. [Updated 05/06/17]
May 3, 2017: FBI director James Comey testifies before the Senate judiciary committee, saying, “It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election. But honestly, it wouldn’t change the decision.” [Updated 05/06/17]
May 5, 2017: The Washington Post reports that the Trump Transition team warned Flynn about having contact with Russian Ambassador. [Updated 05/06/17]
– Senate requests Russian contacts from Carter Page [Updated 05/06/17]
– Page opposes giving the information requested by Senate [Updated 05/06/17]
– In an interview with Boston radio station WBUR, golf journalist James Dodson says Eric Trump told him that funding for Trump golf courses came from Russia.
“So when I got in the cart with Eric,” Dodson says, “as we were setting off, I said, ‘Eric, who’s funding? I know no banks—because of the recession, the Great Recession—have touched a golf course. You know, no one’s funding any kind of golf construction. It’s dead in the water the last four or five years.’ And this is what he said. He said, ‘Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.’ I said, ‘Really?’ And he said, ‘Oh, yeah. We’ve got some guys that really, really love golf, and they’re really invested in our programs. We just go there all the time.’ Now that was three years ago, so it was pretty interesting.”
Eric Trump later denies saying this. [Updated 05/13/17]
May 8, 2017: Donald Trump issues a pair of tweets ahead of a hearing where former acting attorney general Sally Yates is expected to testify that she warned the Trump administration that Michael Flynn had lied about his interactions with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak weeks before Trump ultimately fired his national security adviser. [Updated 05/13/17]
– Hours after Trump took to Twitter to imply that his hiring of Flynn was Obama’s fault, NBC News reported that Obama had warned Trump against hiring Flynn during their meeting in the Oval Office on November 10—two days after Trump was elected and months before Trump appointed Flynn as his national security adviser. [Updated 05/13/17]
– FBI Director James Comey requests from key senators more resources for the investigation into the Trump transition team’s possible collusion with Russia. [Updated 05/13/17]
May 9, 2017: Donald Trump fires FBI director James Comey, following recommendations to do so from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Rosenstein’s memo recommending Comey’s firing explains that his recommendation is the result of Comey’s mishandling of the Clinton email investigation during the 2016 presidential campaign. Read Trump’s letter firing Comey, along with Sessions and Rosenstein’s memos recommending Comey’s termination, with the White House press release by clicking here. [Updated 05/13/17]
-Following Comey’s firing, CNN reports that the US attorney’s office in Alexandria, Virginia has issued grand jury subpoenas to associates of Michael Flynn’s, marking an escalation of the FBI’s investigation into Russia. [Updated 05/13/17]
-Within hours of Comey’s firing, more than 100 lawmakers, including several Republicans, have called for an independent investigator or special prosecutor to be assigned to the FBI’s investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia, particularly now that the new FBI head will be chosen by Trump himself. “It is critical that the FBI can continue all of its pending work with independence and integrity – especially the investigation into the Russian government’s efforts to influence our last election and undermine American democracy,” said Republican congressman from Florida Rep. Curbelo. [Updated 05/13/17]
May 10, 2017: Early in the morning, Trump takes to Twitter to defend his firing of James Comey. “Comey lost the confidence of almost everyone in Washington, Republican and Democrat alike. When things calm down, they will be thanking me!” he writes. [Updated 05/13/17]
-CNN reports that a source claims that Roger Stone urged Trump to fire Comey. Within minutes, Trump responds to the report on Twitter, calling out CNN and saying the report is “fake news.” [Updated 05/13/17]
-As controversy swirls surrounding Trump’s firing of Comey, the White House announces the Press Secretary Sean Spicer will be gone for the rest of the week fulfilling his US navy reserve duty and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the principal deputy press secretary, will cover for him, including running the first press briefing since Trump’s firing of the FBI director. [Updated 05/13/17]
-Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrives in Washington for meetings with top officials, including Trump himself. At a press conference with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson welcoming the Russian Foreign Minister, a reporter asked a question about the Comey firing. Lavrov responded, ironically “Was he fired? You are kidding, you are kidding!” before walking away. [Updated 05/13/17]
-In remarks on the Senate floor, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell rejects calls for a special prosecutor to take over the Russia probe. “Today we’ll no doubt hear calls for a new investigation, which could only serve to impede the current work being done,” he said. [Updated 05/13/17]
– Russian media allowed into Trump-Lavrov meeting in the Oval Office, American media barred. Due to this, it is discovered that Sergey Kislyak was also at this meeting, which the majority of the public was unaware of. [Updated 05/13/17]
May 11, 2017: Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe testifies in a Senate hearing that the White House has misled the public about the FBI’s Russia investigation and regard for Comey at the agency. He says the Russia probe is “highly significant” and that “Comey enjoyed broad support within the FBI and still does to this day.” [Updated 05/13/17]
-The New York Times and CNN each report via sources close to James Comey that part of President Trump’s motivation for firing Comey was the FBI director’s refusal to swear political loyalty to the president. The Times details a conversation between Trump and Comey during a one-on-one dinner that took place at the White House on January 27—just one day after former acting Attorney General Sally Yates warned the Trump White House that then National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was vulnerable to blackmail by the Kremlin. Three days before the dinner, on Jan. 24, Flynn had been interviewed by the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador. In the conversation with Yates the day before the Comey dinner, White House Counsel Don McGahn asked Yates how Flynn did in the FBI interview, and Yates declined to answer. [Updated 05/13/17]
-Trump says in an NBC interview that he asked Comey three times whether he is personally under investigation by the FBI for possible Russia ties—twice on the phone, and once at the January 27 dinner. Trump claims that Comey reassured him that he is not under investigation. (Sources close to Comey say this never happened.) [Updated 05/13/17]
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