The Trump-Russia scandal—with all its bizarre and troubling twists and turns—has become a controversy that is defining the Trump presidency. The FBI recently disclosed that since July it has been conducting a counterintelligence investigation into possible coordination between Trump associates and Russia, as part of its probe of Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 election. Citing “US officials,” CNN reported that the bureau has gathered information suggesting coordination between Trump campaign officials and suspected Russian operatives. Each day seems to bring a new revelation—and a new Trump administration denial or deflection. It’s tough to keep track of all the relevant events, pertinent ties, key statements, and unraveling claims. So we’ve compiled what we know so far into the timeline below, which covers Trump’s 30-year history with Russia. We will continue to update the timeline regularly as events unfold. (Click here to go directly to the most recent entry.) If you have a tip or we’ve left anything out, please email us at email@example.com.
1986: Donald Trump is seated next to Russian Ambassador Yuri Dubinin at a lunch organized by Leonard Lauder, the son of cosmetics scion Estée Lauder, who at the time is running her cosmetics business. “One thing led to another, and now I’m talking about building a large luxury hotel across the street from the Kremlin” in partnership with the Soviet government, Trump later writes in his 1987 book, The Art of the Deal. Also present at the event is Russian diplomat Vitaly Churkin, later the Russian ambassador to the United Nations. (Churkin died in February 2017 at age 64.)
January 1987: Intourist, the Soviet agency for international tourism, expresses interest in meeting with Trump.
July 1987: Trump and his then-wife, Ivana, fly to Moscow to tour potential hotel sites. Trump spokesman Dan Klores later tells the Washington Post that during the trip, Trump “met with a lot of the economic and financial advisers in the Politburo” but did not see Mikhail Gorbachev, then the USSR’s leader.
December 1, 1988: The Soviet mission to the United Nations announces that Gorbachev is tentatively scheduled to tour Trump Tower while the Soviet leader is visiting New York, and that Trump plans to show him a swimming pool inside a $19 million apartment.
December 7, 1988: Trump welcomes the wrong Gorbachev to New York—shaking hands with a renowned Gorbachev impersonator outside his hotel.
December 8, 1988: President Ronald Reagan invites Donald and Ivana Trump to a state dinner, where Trump meets the real Gorbachev. According to Trump’s spokesman, the real estate mogul had a lengthy discussion with the Soviet president about economics and hotels.
November 5, 1996: Media reports note that Trump is trying to partner with US tobacco company Brooke Group to build a hotel in Moscow.
January 23, 1997: Trump meets with Alexander Lebed, a retired Soviet general then running to be president of Russia, at Trump Tower. Trump says they discussed his plans to build “something major” in Moscow. Lebed reportedly expressed his support, joking that his only objection would be that “the highest skyscraper in the world cannot be built next to the Kremlin. We cannot allow anyone spitting from the roof of the skyscraper on the Kremlin.”
2000: Michael Caputo, who later runs Trump’s primary campaign in New York during the 2016 race, secures a PR contract with the Russian conglomerate Gazprom Media to burnish Russian President Vladimir Putin’s image in the United States.
Date unknown: 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: 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 Associated 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.”
November 22: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 worked 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: 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: 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): 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 United Nations who can help broker deals in Russia. Meanwhile, Podobnyy and one of his colleagues discuss efforts to recruit Page as an asset.
May 29: 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 the option of 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: Following the Miss USA contest in Las Vegas, Trump announces he will bring the Miss Universe pageant to Moscow.
The Miss Universe Pageant will be broadcast live from MOSCOW, RUSSIA on November 9th. A big deal that will bring our countries together!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 19, 2013
He also wonders if Putin will attend the pageant, and if Putin might “become my new best friend?”
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?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 19, 2013
June (date unknown): Defense Intelligence Agency head Michael Flynn visits Moscow at the invitation of Igor Sergun, the chief of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency. During his visit, Flynn gives an hourlong lecture on leadership and intelligence to a group of GRU officers at the agency’s headquarters. He is reportedly the first US intelligence officer ever allowed inside the headquarters.
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.
October 17: In an interview with David Letterman, Trump says, “I’ve done a lot of business with the Russians,” noting that he once met Putin.
November 5: In a deposition, Trump is asked about a 2007 New York Times story outlining the controversial past of Felix Sater. Trump replies that he barely knows Sater and would have trouble recognizing him if they were in the same room.
November 8: 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: 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: 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.
@AgalarovAras I had a great weekend with you and your family. You have done a FANTASTIC job. TRUMP TOWER-MOSCOW is next. EMIN was WOW!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 11, 2013
November 12: 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 20: Emin Agalarov releases a new music video featuring Trump and the 2013 Miss Universe contestants.
March 6: 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.”
May 27: 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: 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.
September: 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.
September 21: On a conservative radio show, Trump says, “I was in Moscow not so long ago for an event that we had, a big event, and many of [Putin’s] people were there…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: 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: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange writes to a private Twitter group stating his organization’s preference for a Republican victory in the 2016 election: “We believe it would be much better for GOP to win. Dems+Media+liberals woudl then form a block to reign in their worst qualities. With Hillary in charge, GOP will be pushing for her worst qualities., dems+media+neoliberals will be mute.” He adds, “She’s a bright, well connected, sadistic sociopath.”
November 10: At a Republican presidential primary debate, Trump says he “got to know [Putin] very well because we were both on 60 Minutes, we were stablemates.”
December 10: Retired General Michael Flynn, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency who was reportedly forced out in 2014, attends and is paid more than $30,000 to speak at Russia Today’s 10th-anniversary dinner in Moscow, where he is seated next to Putin.
December 16: Then-CIA Director John Brennan writes in an internal memo that some members of Congress don’t “understand and appreciate the importance and gravity” of Russian interference in the presidential election. The criticism is reportedly directed at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), according to a BuzzFeed article published in August 2017. Brennan’s memo also says then-FBI Director James Comey and then-National Intelligence Director James Clapper agree on the scope of Russian involvement.
December 17: 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.”
February 17: At a rally in South Carolina, Trump says of Putin, “I have no relationship with him, other than that he called me a genius.”
March 14: While traveling in Italy, George Papadopoulos, a member of the Trump campaign’s foreign policy team, meets London-based professor Joseph Mifsud. The professor claims to have connections to Russian government officials, which piques Papadopoulos’ interest.
March 21: In an interview with the Washington Post, Trump identifies Carter Page as one of his foreign policy advisers. He also names George Papadopoulos, whom he describes as “an energy and oil consultant, excellent guy.”
March 24: George Papadopoulos sends an email to Trump campaign officials saying he “just finished a very productive lunch with a good friend of mine”—Joseph Mifsud. This professor, he says, introduced Papadopoulos to a female Russian national that Papadopoulos describes as “Putin’s niece” and Russia’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, who also functions as the country’s deputy foreign minister. Papadopoulous writes that the main discussion at lunch was the possibility of setting up a meeting between the Trump campaign and members of Russian leadership “to discuss US-Russia ties under Trump.”
March 30: 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.
March 31: George Papadopoulos attends a national security meeting with Trump and his foreign policy advisers, including Jeff Sessions. There he says he has connections who can help arrange a meeting between Trump and Putin.
April 18: Joseph Mifsud emails George Papadopolous to introduce him to Ivan Timofeev, the director of programs at the Russian International Affairs Council, a think tank with ties to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, based in Moscow. Over the next few weeks, Papadopolous and Timofeev speak several times over Skype. In subsequent email exchanges, Timofeev will tell Papadopolous that he has access to Russian government officials.
April 22: Timofeev emails Papadopolous to thank him for “an extensive talk” and proposes that they meet in London or Moscow. Papadopolous replies to suggest that they set up the meeting in London.
April 25: Papadopolous emails a senior policy adviser for the Trump campaign to say that the Russian government has an “open invitation” from Putin to meet with Trump.
April 26: 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 party. He helped Yanukovych remake his image following the Orange Revolution and mount a successful bid for the Ukrainian presidency.
– Papadopolous meets Mifsud for breakfast at a London hotel. Mifsud tells Papadopolous that he’s just returned from Moscow, where he met with Russian government officials. The professor says he learned that the Russian government has “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, in the form of “thousands” of emails.
April 27: 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. Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak is in attendance, as is 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.”
– Papadopolous emails a senior policy adviser for the Trump campaign. He writes, “Have some interesting messages coming in from Moscow about a trip when the time is right.”
– Papadopolous emails a high-ranking member of the Trump campaign “to discuss Russia’s interest in hosting Mr. Trump. Have been receiving a lot of calls over the last month about Putin wanting to host him and the team when the time is right.”
April 30: Papadopoulos thanks Mifsud, the professor, for his “critical help” in arranging a possible meeting between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
April and May: The DNC’s IT department contacts the FBI about unusual computer activity and hires cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike to investigate. In May, Crowdstrike determines that hackers affiliated with Russian intelligence infiltrated the DNC’s network.
May 4: Timofeev emails Papadopoulos to say that he’s spoken to his colleagues at the “MFA”—Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs—and they are “open for cooperation.” Timofeev offers to set up a meeting with them in Moscow. Papadopoulos replies that he is “[g]lad the MFA is interested” and forwards Timofeev’s email to Corey Lewandowski, then the campaign manager for the Trump campaign, asking, “Is this something we want to move forward with?”
May 5: Papadopoulos has a phone call with Trump campaign policy adviser Sam Clovis and then forwards Timofeev’s email to him.
May 13: Mifsud emails Papadopolous, writing, “We will continue to liaise through you with the Russian counterparts in terms of what is needed for a high level meeting of Mr. Trump with the Russian Federation.”
May 14: Papadopolous tells the campaign’s Lewandowski that the “Russian government” has relayed to him that “they are interested in hosting Mr. Trump.”
May 21: Papadopolous emails Paul Manafort, then a high-ranking staffer for the Trump campaign, with the subject line: “Request from Russia to meet Mr. Trump.” The email includes the May 4 email from Timofeev, and Papadopolous adds, “Russia has been eager to meet Mr. Trump for quite sometime and have been reaching out to me to discuss.”
June: 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.
June 1: George Papadopolous emails Corey Lewandowski, a high-ranking Trump campaign official, to ask about Russia. The official refers Papadopolous to the campaign supervisor. Papadopolous then emails the campaign’s Sam Clovis, writing, “I have the Russian MFA asking me if Mr. Trump is interested in visiting Russia at some point. Wanted to pass this info along to you for you to decide what’s best to do with it and what message I should send (or to ignore).”
June 3: Rob Goldstone, the publicist for Emin Agalarov, emails Donald Trump Jr. to say that Russia’s crown prosecutor met with Aras Agalarov—Emin’s dad and a Russian oligarch—and told him that he possessed “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary” and that could be shared with the Trump campaign. Goldstone adds that the information, “is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” Trump Jr. responds by asking to speak to Emin about the material described in Goldstone’s email, and he adds, “If it’s what you say I love it.”
June 6: Goldstone tries to coordinate a phone call between Trump Jr. and Emin over email.
June 7: Goldstone emails Trump Jr. to say that Emin asked that Trump Jr. meet with a “Russian government attorney” in New York. They set a time over email for June 9, and Trump Jr. responds that Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, will also likely sit in on the meeting.
June 8: Trump Jr. forwards the email with the updated meeting time to Kushner and Manafort.
June 9: Promised damaging information on Clinton, Trump Jr., Manafort, and Kushner meet with a Kremlin-tied Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya. She says she has evidence that individuals linked to Russia are funding the DNC. Trump Jr. will later characterize her statements on this topic as “vague” and “ambiguous” and will claim that the discussion turned to the Magnitsky Act and Russia’s policy on US adoptions of Russian children.
June 14: The Washington Post reports that Russian hackers penetrated the Democratic National Committee and stole opposition research on Donald Trump.
June 15: 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 and 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.)
– During a private meeting, Republican leaders discuss the DNC hack. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy remarks, “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.” (Rorhbacher is California Republican Dana Rohrbacher, a steadfast defender of Putin and Russia.) When his colleagues laugh, McCarthy adds, “Swear to God.” (McCarthy later says he was joking.)
June 19: George Papadopolous emails a Trump campaign supervisor with the subject line “New message from Russia.” In his email, Papadopolous says the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs had asked if a representative of the Trump campaign might be willing to make the trip to Russia if Trump couldn’t. Papadopolous volunteers to make an “off the record” trip himself.
July 7: Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page criticizes US sanctions against Russia during a speech at the New Economic School in Moscow. Politico later 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 18: 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.
July 20: 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, “I can’t talk about,” and walks away.
I just asked Sam Clovis, top policy adviser to Trump, about platform language on Russia. “I can’t talk about,” he said and walked away.
— Ryan Lizza (@RyanLizza) July 20, 2016
July 24: 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: Trump tweets about the hacked DNC emails:
The new joke in town is that Russia leaked the disastrous DNC e-mails, which should never have been written (stupid), because Putin likes me
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2016
July 26: 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, President Barack 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.”
– Trump tweets, calling the Russia allegations “crazy”:
In order to try and deflect the horror and stupidity of the Wikileakes disaster, the Dems said maybe it is Russia dealing with Trump. Crazy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2016
July 27: 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.”
July 31: 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.”
Late July: 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 4: In a phone call with Alexander Bornikov, the head of Russia’s FSB, an intelligence agency, CIA Director John Brennan puts his counterpart on notice about further interference in the US election. Bornikov denies efforts targeting the election.
August 5: 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: 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.
August 14: 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.)
August 15: After communicating about a possible “off the record” trip to Moscow for weeks, a campaign supervisor encourages George Papadopolous and another foreign policy adviser to “make the trip” to Russia, “if feasible.” (The trip never happens.)
August 17: 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.
August 19: Manafort resigns from the Trump campaign.
August 21: Roger Stone tweets:
Trust me, it will soon the Podesta’s time in the barrel. #CrookedHillary
— Roger Stone (@RogerJStoneJr) August 21, 2016
August 29: 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: 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 the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
September 5: 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 G-20 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: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper suggests publicly for the first time that Russia may have been 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: 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 G-20 meeting.
September 20: WikiLeaks’ Twitter account sends a private direct message to Donald Trump Jr., the Republican nominee’s oldest son and campaign surrogate. “A PAC run anti-Trump site putintrump.org is about to launch,” the message reads. “The PAC is a recycled pro-Iraq war PAC. We have guessed the password. It is ‘putintrump.’ See ‘About’ for who is behind it. Any comments?”
September 21: Donald Trump Jr. responds to the message from WikiLeaks: “Off the record I don’t know who that is, but I’ll ask around, Thanks.” Trump Jr. then proceeds to act on his promise: he emails senior Trump campaign officials, including Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Brad Parscale, and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, to tell them about the note from WikiLeaks. Kushner then forwards the email to campaign communications staffer Hope Hicks.
September 22: 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 wrote. “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: 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 Page “has no role” in the Trump campaign and says that “we are not aware of any of his activities, past or present.”
September 25: 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: 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?”
October 1: Roger Stone tweets:
Wednesday@HillaryClinton is done. #Wikileaks.
— Roger Stone (@RogerJStoneJr) October 2, 2016
October 3: Roger Stone tweets:
— Roger Stone (@RogerJStoneJr) October 3, 2016
October 7: 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 hour later, WikiLeaks begins to release several thousand hacked emails from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
October 9: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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.”
October 31: Mother Jones reports that a veteran of a Western intelligence service has given the FBI memos saying that Russia had mounted a yearslong operation to co-opt or cultivate Trump and that the Kremlin had gathered compromising information on Trump during his visits to Moscow that could be used for blackmail. The article notes that the FBI has requested more information from this source.
October: 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: Prior to Election Day, Flynn contacts Kislyak. It’s unknown how often the pair communicated or what they talked about.
November 1: 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: 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: Trump wins the presidential election.
November 10: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 Assad.
November 29: Seven members of the Senate Intelligence Committee write a letter to Obama asking him to declassify relevant intelligence on Russia’s role in the election.
Early December: 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.)
December 8: 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: 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: 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 someplace. I mean, they have no idea.”
December 13: Trump names Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon Mobil, as his secretary of state nominee. Tillerson has long-standing ties to Russia and Putin. Tillerson helped Exxon cut several oil-drilling deals with Rosneft, Russia’s state-owned oil company, and in 2013 Putin awarded Tillerson the Russian Order of Friendship.
December (date unknown): 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): 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: 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.”)
January 4: According to the New York Times, Flynn tells Don McGahn, who at the time was the transition team’s top lawyer, that he is under investigation for failing to disclose his work as a lobbyist for Turkey during the campaign.
January 5: President Obama meets with FBI Director James Comey and other national security officials, and they discuss how much information concerning Russia they should share with Trump’s transition team. According to notes of the meeting taken by national security adviser Susan Rice, Obama stated that he wanted the Trump-Russia probe handled “by the book.”
January 6: Flynn’s attorney and transition team lawyers hold another discussion about the investigation involving Flynn.
–Top intelligence officials, including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan, FBI Director James Comey, and National Security Agency head Mike Rogers, brief Donald Trump at Trump Tower on the highly classified intelligence supporting the case that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. After the meeting, Comey privately briefs Trump on the Steele dossier.
– The Office of the Director of National Intelligence releases a report saying that the CIA, the FBI, and the NSA believe there is evidence that Russia actively tried to help Trump win the election. They also conclude with “high confidence” that Russian military intelligence used the Guccifer 2.0 persona and a website called DCLeaks.com to release the hacked documents and that Russia’s military intelligence branch channeled hacked material to WikiLeaks.
Early January: Concerned that classified material relating to Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election might disappear once the Trump administration takes 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: 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.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2017
– 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.
– According to McClatchy‘s reporting in May 2017, Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, informs Michael Flynn of the Pentagon’s plan to use Syrian Kurdish forces to retake the Islamic State’s de facto capital, Raqqa. Flynn asks Rice to delay the operation, a position that “conformed to the wishes of Turkey.”
January 11: 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?”
Russia just said the unverified report paid for by political opponents is “A COMPLETE AND TOTAL FABRICATION, UTTER NONSENSE.” Very unfair!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2017
Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2017
I win an election easily, a great “movement” is verified, and crooked opponents try to belittle our victory with FAKE NEWS. A sorry state!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2017
Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to “leak” into the public. One last shot at me.Are we living in Nazi Germany?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2017
– 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: 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 Putin in an effort to establish an unofficial back channel between Moscow and 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 United States by Zayed, which the United Arab Emirates did not disclose to the Obama administration.
January 13: 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.”
Totally made up facts by sleazebag political operatives, both Democrats and Republicans – FAKE NEWS! Russia says nothing exists. Probably…
— Donld J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 13, 2017
January 15: 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.
January 19: 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.
January 20: Trump is inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States.
January 23: White House press secretary Sean Spicer holds his first White House press briefing. He insists that national security adviser Michael Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador included no discussion of US sanctions.
January 26: Sally Yates, the acting attorney general, informs White House counsel Don 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 27: In a one-on-one dinner at the White House, Trump reportedly asks FBI Director James Comey whether he is personally under investigation by the FBI for possible Russia ties, according to a May 2017 NBC interview with Trump. Trump claims that Comey reassured him that he was not under investigation. Two of Comey’s associates who speak to the New York Times in May 2017 have a different account of the dinner: They say that Trump asked Comey for loyalty. Comey reportedly declined but offered “honesty.”
– Former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopolous is interviewed by FBI agents. He makes a number of materially false statements: He lies about the timeline of his communications with professor Josef Mifsud and the female Russian national, saying that both relationships began before he joined the Trump campaign.
January (date unknown): 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.
February 7: 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 7, 2017
February 8: In an interview with the Washington Post, Flynn denies discussing US sanctions with the Russian ambassador.
February 9: A spokesman for Flynn softens the national security adviser’s denial, telling the Washington Post that “while he had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.”
February 10: 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.
February 13: Flynn resigns following reports that the Justice Department warned the White House that Flynn had misled senior members of the administration, including Pence, about whether he discussed US sanctions with the Russian ambassador.
February 14: 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.
February 15: 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.
February 16: At a news conference, Trump is asked whether anyone in his campaign had been in contact with Russia. He replies, “Nobody that I know of.” He also denies having any contact with Russia, saying, “Russia is a ruse. I have nothing to do with Russia.”
February 17: FBI Director James Comey meets with members of the Senate Intelligence Committee. That same day, the committee sends letters to more than a dozen agencies, groups, and individuals, asking them to preserve all communications related to the committee’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
February 19: During an interview on Fox News, Priebus denies that the Trump camp had any contact with Russia.
February 28: 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: The Washington Post reports that Jeff Sessions, Trump’s attorney general, did not disclose in his January confirmation hearings that he twice met with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador. Sessions had said during a confirmation hearing that “I did not have communications with the Russians.” Sessions’ Justice Department spokeswoman says Sessions met with Kislyak in his capacity as a senator on the Armed Services Committee, and that the question during the confirmation hearing was about the Trump campaign’s Russian connections.
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 3: Trump dresses down senior staffers in a meeting in the Oval Office over Jeff Sessions’ recusal and over news reports connecting the Trump administration to Russia.
March 4: Without providing any proof, Trump alleges that President Obama wiretapped his phones during the election.
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
March 5: 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 10: 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.
March 15: 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.”
March 20: 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 at 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 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.
Today, Chairman Nunes shared information with WH still withheld from our committee. He cannot conduct a credible investigation this way. pic.twitter.com/wwrp7H7JWC
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) March 22, 2017
– 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 23, 2017
– 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.
March 24: 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.
March 27: 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 Kislyak.
– The New York Times reports that on the evening of March 21, Rep. Nunes met with a source on 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 Nunes to recuse himself from the House Intelligence Committee investigation into Russia’s election interference.
After much consideration I believe Chairman should recuse himself from involvement in investigation/oversight of Trump campaign & transition pic.twitter.com/jpfA1x80Si
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) March 27, 2017
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) March 27, 2017
– 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….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2017
…money to Bill, the Hillary Russian “reset,” praise of Russia by Hillary, or Podesta Russian Company. Trump Russia story is a hoax. #MAGA!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2017
March 28: 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 it had tried to block Yates from testifying, calling the Post‘s story “entirely false.”
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? pic.twitter.com/qO63IfPtAP
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) March 28, 2017
– NBC reports:
A bank in Cyprus investigated accounts associated with 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: 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: 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. General 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 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 statement that the retired general “certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should the circumstances permit.”
March 31: 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.”
March (date unknown): 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 he will recuse himself from State Department decisions that could benefit Exxon for one year.
April 4: 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 6: 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 he will temporarily remove himself from the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation while the House Ethics Committee investigates, “despite the baselessness of the charges” against him.
April 11: In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Eric Trump says the Trump administration’s decision to launch missiles at a Syrian military target shows 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 the Justice Department 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: 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 it is “not too late” to fire FBI Director James Comey, but also that he still has confidence in him.
April 13: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 a 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 Committee 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: 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 because of the Constitution’s emoluments clause.
– The DIA documents released by the House Oversight Committee 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.
May 1: During an Oval Office interview with CBS’s John Dickerson, Trump says, “I don’t stand by anything,” when asked about his claims that President Barack 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.
This exchange between Trump and Dickerson on Trump’s false wiretapping claims is stunning. Must-watch. pic.twitter.com/SJRSwN1rcE
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 1, 2017
May 2: 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.
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…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2017
…Trump/Russia story was an excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election. Perhaps Trump just ran a great campaign?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2017
May 3: 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.”
FBI Director Comey: “It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact” on election; says he wouldn’t change decision. pic.twitter.com/966VZoydLI
— ABC News (@ABC) May 3, 2017
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.
May 8: 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.
General Flynn was given the highest security clearance by the Obama Administration – but the Fake News seldom likes talking about that.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2017
Ask Sally Yates, under oath, if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers soon after she explained it to W.H. Council.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2017
– 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.
May 9: 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, below:
– 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, marking an escalation of the FBI’s investigation into Russia.
– 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 Rep. Curbelo, a Republican congressman from Florida.
May 10: 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.
The Democrats have said some of the worst things about James Comey, including the fact that he should be fired, but now they play so sad!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 10, 2017
James Comey will be replaced by someone who will do a far better job, bringing back the spirit and prestige of the FBI.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 10, 2017
Comey lost the confidence of almost everyone in Washington, Republican and Democrat alike. When things calm down, they will be thanking me!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 10, 2017
Watching Senator Richard Blumenthal speak of Comey is a joke. “Richie” devised one of the greatest military frauds in U.S. history. For….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 10, 2017
– CNN reports that a source claims 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.”
The Roger Stone report on @CNN is false – Fake News. Have not spoken to Roger in a long time – had nothing to do with my decision.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 10, 2017
Stone says on Twitter that he “never made such a claim” but supports Trump’s decision “100%.”
– As controversy swirls surrounding Trump’s firing of Comey, the White House announces that 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.
– Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrives in Washington for meetings with top officials, including Trump. At a press conference with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson welcoming the Russian foreign minister, a reporter asks a question about the Comey firing. Lavrov responds, ironically, “Was he fired? You are kidding, you are kidding!” before walking away. On May 15, the Washington Post will report that while meeting with Lavrov at the White House, Trump shares highly classified information with him and the Russian ambassador.
Here’s video of Lavrov-Tillerson—>
Q: “Does Comey cast a shadow over your talks?”
Lavrov: “Was he fired? You are kidding, you are kidding” pic.twitter.com/8yJb2DkZnd
— Tom Namako (@TomNamako) May 10, 2017
– 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.
May 11: 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.”
– The New York Times and CNN each report via sources close to Comey that part of Trump’s motivation for firing him 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 January 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.
– 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 Comey reassured him that he was not under investigation. (Sources close to Comey say this never happened.)
May 15: The Washington Post reports that Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in their White House meeting on May 10. A US official tells the Post that the information had one of the highest available classification levels. “This is code-word information,” the official tells the Post, adding that Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.”
– White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster reads a statement to the press denying the Washington Post’s report while mischaracterizing the substance of it. He says, “The story that came out tonight, as reported, is false. The president and the foreign minister reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries, including threats to civil aviation. At no time—at no time—were intelligence sources or methods discussed.” The Post didn’t report that sources and methods were disclosed; the paper reported that the information discussed could be used to discern intelligence sources or methods. After reading his statement, McMaster refuses to take questions.
May 16: Trump defends himself on Twitter without denying that he shared highly classified material with Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador.
As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2017
…to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2017
– A senior European intelligence official tells the Associated Press that his country may stop sharing intelligence with the United States if it is confirmed that Trump shared classified information with Russian officials.
– In a press briefing, H.R. McMaster clarifies that in calling the Washington Post‘s reporting “false,” he was disputing the “premise” of the article: that Trump had done “anything inappropriate” or that he had compromised national security by revealing information to Russian officials. In response to multiple questions, McMaster refuses to confirm whether or not the information the president revealed was classified. McMaster also refuses to clarify why White House officials called the NSA and the CIA after Trump’s conversation with Lavrov and Kislyak. McMaster says it was “wholly appropriate” for Trump to discuss the material.
– The New York Times reports that during an Oval Office meeting in February, Trump asked then-FBI Director James Comey to drop the agency’s investigation into Michael Flynn, who had resigned the day before amid controversy over his discussions of US sanctions with the Russian ambassador. “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Trump said to Comey, according to a two-page memo Comey drafted after the meeting. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” The Washington Post and Politico subsequently confirmed the Times’ account. According to the paper, Comey kept detailed records of all his conversations with the president.
– The Washington Post reports that Comey shared his memos with a small number of people at the Justice Department. (It’s unclear whether those officials include Rod Rosenstein or Jeff Sessions, who were involved in Comey’s firing.)
– At the International Republican Institute’s Freedom Awards, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) likens Trump’s mounting Russia scandal to Watergate: “I think we’ve seen this movie before. I think it’s reaching a point where it’s of Watergate size and scale, and a couple of other scandals that you and I have seen. It’s a centipede that the shoe continues to drop.”
There’s video—John McCain: “I think it’s reaching a point where it’s of Watergate size and scale.” (via CBS) pic.twitter.com/kpfhUCUat8
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 17, 2017
– ABC reports that “federal investigators have subpoenaed records related to a $3.5 million mortgage that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort took out on his Hamptons home just after leaving the campaign, according to a source familiar with the matter.”
May 17: House Democratic leaders hold a press conference in which they announce that they are circulating a discharge petition among their congressional colleagues to try to force a vote on legislation that would create a 12-person independent commission to investigate Russia’s interference in the US election.
– Eleven Democratic senators send a letter to the Justice Department inspector general asking him to investigate whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions violated his pledge to recuse himself from any investigations connected to the 2016 election when he took part in the firing of FBI Director James Comey.
– During a press conference in Sochi, Russia, Putin calls the allegations that Trump had revealed classified information to Lavrov and Kislyak “political schizophrenia.” He also offers to provide the US with a transcript of Lavrov’s Oval Office meeting with Trump.
– Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appoints former FBI Director Robert Mueller to serve as a special counsel to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election.
– The Washington Post reports that during a private June 2016 meeting with Republican leaders, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he believed Trump was on Putin’s payroll. “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,’ McCarthy said, referring to Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (R-Calif.), a steadfast defender of Putin and Russia. When his colleagues laughed, McCarthy added, “Swear to God.” (McCarthy says he was joking.)
– The New York Times reports that Michael Flynn told the Trump transition team’s chief lawyer in early January—before the inauguration—that Flynn was under investigation for failing to disclose more than $500,000 of work as a paid lobbyist for Turkey.
– McClatchy reports that 10 days before Trump’s inauguration, Flynn asked to delay an Obama administration plan to fight ISIS that Turkey opposed.
May 18: Reuters reports that Michael Flynn and other members of Trump’s campaign had at least 18 previously undisclosed calls and emails with Russian officials in the last seven months of the 2016 presidential campaign.
– Trump tweets:
This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2017
– During a White House news conference with the Colombian president, Trump denies any collusion with Russia and again calls the investigation a “witch hunt.” “I respect the move,” Trump said of the DOJ’s appointment of special prosecutor Robert Mueller III to oversee the Russia investigation. “But the entire thing has been a witch hunt. And there is no collusion between, certainly, myself and my campaign—but I can always speak for myself—and the Russians. Zero.”
– Two sources close to Michael Flynn tell Yahoo News that at a dinner on April 25, more than two months after leaving his post as national security adviser, Flynn told a group of close friends that he was still in regular communication with the president. “I just got a message from the president to stay strong,” he reportedly told the group, on the heels of a day when two congressmen announced that 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.
May 19: The Washington Post reports that people familiar with the investigation into Trump’s Russia ties have identified a senior White House adviser as a “significant person of interest.”
– The New York Times reports that in Trump’s May 10 Oval Office meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, Trump called former FBI Director Comey a “nut job” and expressed relief at his ouster. “I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Trump said, according to a document summarizing the meeting, which an American official read to the New York Times. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
– McClatchy reports that the investigation into Russia’s interference into the 2016 election has been expanded to include the possibility of a cover-up by the White House, according to members of Congress who were briefed by Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein.
– CNN reports that White House lawyers have begun researching impeachment procedures, despite public assurances by many Republicans and Democrats that impeachment is still a distant option.
– Citing “multiple government officials,” CNN reports that during the presidential campaign Russian officials bragged about their strong ties to Michael Flynn and believed they could use him to influence Trump.
May 22: The Associated Press reports that Michael Flynn will refuse to comply with a subpoena from the Senate Intelligence Committee that is investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, invoking the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination. Below is the letter sent to the committee by Flynn’s lawyer and obtained by AP:
– Speaking to reporters in Jerusalem, Trump denies mentioning “Israel” in his May 10 conversation with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in the Oval Office. In making this statement, Trump tacitly implies that he did in fact discuss classified information with these Russian officials and also appears to confirm that the classified information originated with Israel—a statement that no US official has made publicly.
– NBC reports that Paul Manafort and Roger Stone have turned over documents to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
JUST IN: Former Trump associates Paul Manafort and Roger Stone have turned over documents to Senate Intel Committee, source tells NBC News
— NBC News (@NBCNews) May 22, 2017
May 23: Testifying before the House Intelligence Committee, former CIA Director John Brennan says he grew alarmed during the election that the Russian government was trying to influence members of the Trump campaign to act on its behalf: “I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and US persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals.” He notes, “I saw interaction that in my mind raised questions of whether it was collusion,” but says that at the time he left his post in January it was unclear “whether such collusion existed.”
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) May 23, 2017
– During his House Intelligence Committee testimony, Brennan also describes calling Alexander Bortnikov, the head of the FSB, Russia’s intelligence agency, on August 4, 2016, to caution him against further interference in the election. According to Brennan, Bortnikov denied any meddling by Russia.
May 24: The Justice Department tells CNN that Jeff Sessions did not disclose his meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and other foreign dignitaries when applying for security clearance.
– House Democrats send a letter to Deutsche Bank’s CEO requesting information on “whether loans Deutsche Bank made to President Trump were guaranteed by the Russian Government, or were in any way connected to Russia.”
May 25: The New York Times reports that conversations intercepted by American intelligence in the summer of 2016 showed that senior Russian officials discussed how to influence Trump’s presidential campaign, zeroing in on Michael Flynn and then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
– The Washington Post reports that Jared Kushner has been identified as a focus of the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the election and possible ties between Trump’s team and Russian officials, according to people familiar with the investigation. This makes him the first White House official revealed to be central in the FBI’s probe.
May 26: The Washington Post reports that Jared Kushner and the Russian ambassador discussed setting up a secure and secret back channel between the Trump team and Russian officials during the transition. According to intercepted communications reviewed by US officials, Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak told his superiors in Moscow that during a December meeting at Trump Tower, Kushner proposed the back-channel idea and suggested using Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States to avoid detection. Trump’s incoming national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was also at the meeting. (Sources close to Kushner tell the New York Times that the purpose of the secret channel was to facilitate discussions on Syria strategy and other security issues between Russian military officials and Flynn.)
– The New York Times reports that Oleg Deripaska, the Russian aluminum magnate with ties to Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, offered to cooperate with congressional committees investigating Russian meddling in the election in exchange for full immunity. The committees reportedly turned down Deripaska’s offer.
May 27: Reuters reports that according to seven US officials, Jared Kushner had at least three previously undisclosed discussions with the Russian ambassador during and after the 2016 campaign, including two phone calls in April and November 2016.
May 28: The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, says in an appearance on ABC News that Jared Kushner’s security clearance should be reviewed in light of revelations that he discussed setting up a secret back channel of communication with Russian officials. “There’s another question about his security clearance and whether he was forthcoming about his contacts on that,” Schiff says. “If these allegations are true and he had discussions with the Russians about establishing a back channel and didn’t reveal that, that would be a real problem in terms of whether he should maintain that kind of security clearance.”
May 29: The New York Times reports that the federal and congressional investigations into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia are looking into Jared Kushner’s December 2016 meeting with Sergei Gorkov, the chief of Vnesheconombank, Russia’s state-owned development bank currently under US sanctions due to Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Former and current US officials tell the Times that the meeting has piqued investigative interest because it may have been part of Kushner’s efforts to create a secret communication back channel with Russian officials.
May 30: CNN reports that conversations intercepted by the United States during the 2016 election picked up Russian officials saying they have “derogatory” information about Trump and some of his top aides. One source told CNN that these discussions suggested the Russian officials believed “they had the ability to influence the administration through the derogatory information.”
– ABC News reports that the congressional investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia has been expanded to include Michael Cohen, Trump’s long-time personal attorney. The committees asked Cohen for his voluntary cooperation in providing testimony about contacts he had with Russian officials, but Cohen declined.
May 31: CNN reports that congressional investigators are looking into whether Jeff Sessions may have had another private meeting with the Russian ambassador on April 27, 2016—when both attended Trump’s first foreign policy speech at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC.
– As part of its probe into Russian interference in the US election, the House Intelligence Committee issues its first seven subpoenas, asking for testimony and documents from Michael Flynn and Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen. Three of the subpoenas were sent to the NSA, the FBI, and the CIA requesting information about requests made by Obama administration officials to “unmask” the names of Trump staffers in intelligence reports that were later leaked to the press. Committee aides claimed that Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) issued the subpoenas unilaterally, without consulting Democrats on the committee, despite the fact that he recused himself in April from leading the Russia investigation following outrage at a secret visit to the White House and the start of an ethics investigation into whether he mishandled classified documents.
June 1: The Washington Post reports that the Trump administration is considering returning two diplomatic compounds—one in New York and one in Maryland—to Russia. In December 2016, the Obama administration—which said the compounds were being used by Russia for intelligence activities—required Russian officials to vacate the premises as part of sanctions for their interference in the election.
– The Guardian reports that British politician and Brexit movement leader Nigel Farage is a “person of interest” in the FBI’s investigation of possible ties between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign.
– Speaking to reporters in St. Petersburg, Russia, Putin shifts away from the Kremlin’s many blanket denials of Russian meddling in the US election, saying instead that it’s possible that “patriotically minded” individuals may have instigated hacking related to the US election. “Hackers are free people, just like artists, who wake up in the morning in a good mood and start painting,” Putin said.
— RFE/RL (@RFERL) June 1, 2017
June 2: Stories from the Associated Press and Reuters report that special counsel Robert Mueller has expanded the investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia to include additional allegations about Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort; Mueller will assume control of a federal grand jury investigation in Virginia looking into Flynn’s work as a paid lobbyist for Turkish businessman Ekim Alptekin. Mueller is also reportedly taking over a separate criminal probe, initiated by the Justice Department in July 2016, into Manafort and his possible ties to corrupt dealings by the pro-Putin president of Ukraine. Separately, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein tells the AP that Mueller may also expand his investigation to include the roles of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Rosenstein in the firing of FBI Director James Comey.
– At the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia, NBC News reporter Keir Simmons repeatedly asks Sergey Gorkov, the chief of US-sanctioned Vnesheconombank, about his December meeting with Jared Kushner. Gorkov refuses to answer the question.
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) June 2, 2017
June 5: The Intercept publishes a classified National Security Agency document reporting that Russia’s military intelligence service “executed a cyberattack on at least one U.S. voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before last November’s presidential election.” (Russia’s attempts to hack into voter registration systems have previously been reported, but the NSA intelligence report provides details of how one such operation occurred.) Shortly after the story goes live, an NSA contractor named Reality Winner is charged with leaking classified information.
– The White House says Trump will not assert executive privilege to block former FBI Director James Comey from testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee later that week.
June 6: Mother Jones reports that Roger Stone says he brokered a meeting between British politician Nigel Farage—who the Guardian reported is a “person of interest” in the FBI’s Russia investigation—and Trump sometime after the 2016 Republican National Convention.
– Yahoo News reports that lawyers with at least four top law firms declined to represent Trump in connection with the various ongoing Russia investigations.
– The Washington Post reports that on March 22, Trump asked Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and CIA Director Mike Pompeo whether he could ask then-FBI Director James Comey for the bureau “to back off its focus” on Michael Flynn. Coats reportedly discussed the meeting with some of his associates, deciding that this sort of intervention would not be appropriate. “The events involving Coats show the president went further than just asking intelligence officials to deny publicly the existence of any evidence showing collusion during the 2016 election,” the Post reports. “The interaction with Coats indicates that Trump aimed to enlist top officials to have Comey curtail the bureau’s probe.”
– The New York Times reports that the day after a February Oval Office meeting in which Trump asked James Comey to drop the bureau’s investigation of Michael Flynn, Comey asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to ensure that Comey was never left alone with the president. According to several law enforcement officials, Comey did not reveal what was said during his meeting with Trump but told Sessions it was inappropriate for the FBI director to speak privately with the president.
– ABC reports that the relationship between Jeff Sessions and Trump has grown so tense that the attorney general recently suggested to Trump that he could resign. The conflict between them stems, the network notes, from Sessions’ decision in March to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, after it came to light that he had undisclosed conversations with the Russian ambassador. According to ABC, “Two sources close to the president say he has lashed out repeatedly at the attorney general in private meetings, blaming the recusal for the expansion of the Russia investigation.”
June 7: Four military officials tell the Daily Beast that before his firing as national security adviser, Michael Flynn pushed to expand the “deconfliction channel” between Russia and the United States in Syria—a move that, had it happened, would have likely run afoul of the law. The channel, established in 2015, has the narrow purpose of helping the United States and Russia—which are backing different sides in Syria’s civil war—coordinate their planes in Syria’s crowded airspace, avoiding collisions. Flynn repeatedly suggested that the Pentagon expand the channel, using it to discuss the possibility of teaming up with Russia to fight ISIS. “If put into effect, such a proposal would clearly violate the NDAA [National Defense Authorization Act] prohibition on cooperation with Russia,” the Daily Beast reported. Ultimately, the proposal never took effect due to Pentagon opposition and Flynn’s ouster.
– During an event at Australia’s National Press Club, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says the Trump-Russia scandal “pales” in comparison to Watergate. “I lived through Watergate. I was on active duty then in the Air Force, I was a young officer. It was a scary time,” Clapper said. “I have to say, though, I think if you compare the two, Watergate pales really in my view compared to what we’re confronting now.”
– Testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers refuse to answer questions about whether Trump had asked them to intervene in the FBI’s Russia investigation.
– The Senate Intelligence Committee releases the opening statement James Comey will deliver on June 8 at a hearing before the committee. The statement confirms that Trump asked then FBI-Director Comey to drop the investigation of Michael Flynn that has become a focus of the FBI’s Russia probe.
June 8: James Comey testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee. He notes that he started keeping detailed memos of all his interactions with Trump because during their first conversation “I was honestly concerned he might lie about the nature of our meeting.” Comey also said the president lied about his reasons for firing him. “The administration then chose to defame me—and, more importantly, the FBI—by saying the organization was in disarray and that it was poorly led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader,” Comey said. “Those were lies, plain and simple.”
His voice broke a little, but the message was clear: "Those were lies, plain and simple."
Posted by Mother Jones on Thursday, June 8, 2017
June 9: During a Rose Garden press conference, Trump is asked whether he would be willing to testify under oath about conversations he had with former FBI Director James Comey in advance of his firing. Trump answers, “100 percent.”
June 10: In an interview with Fox News, Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, appears to confirm James Comey’s version of his conversation with President Trump in which Trump said. “I hope you can let this go,” in reference to the FBI’s investigation into Michael Flynn. In his June 8 testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey said he perceived this statement to be a directive to drop the Flynn investigation. Trump’s lawyer released a statement saying that Trump “never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone.” In his Fox News interview, Donald Trump Jr. appeared to confirm Comey’s account: “When he tells you to do something, guess what? There’s no ambiguity in it. There’s no, ‘Hey, I’m hoping. You and I are friends: Hey, I hope this happens, but you’ve got to do your job.’ That’s what he told Comey. And for this guy, as a politician, to then go back and write a memo: ‘Oh, I felt threatened.’ He felt so threatened—but he didn’t do anything.”
— Jeanine Pirro (@JudgeJeanine) June 11, 2017
June 11: Preet Bharara, the former US attorney for the Southern District of New York, tells ABC News that before being fired by Trump in March, he received a series of phone calls from the president that made him uncomfortable because it appeared that Trump was trying to “cultivate some kind of relationship.” Bharara reported one of these calls to the Department of Justice. Bharara says that listening to Comey’s June 8 testimony about his own conversations with Trump, in which he perceived efforts by Trump to influence the Russia investigation, “felt a little bit like déjà vu.”
– Trump attorney Jay Sekulow says on ABC that he would not rule out the possibility that Trump will fire Robert Mueller, the special counsel who took over the Russia investigations following James Comey’s firing.
June 12: The New York Times reports details of the intelligence that Trump allegedly revealed to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak during their May Oval Office meeting. Trump allegedly told the Russians that Israel had penetrated ISIS’s computer network, uncovering an elaborate plot to detonate bombs on planes, using explosives in laptops made to fool airport security. “His disclosure infuriated Israeli officials,” the Times reported.
– During a White House press briefing, press secretary Sean Spicer appears to deny that Trump offered to testify under oath about his conversations with James Comey before the FBI director’s firing. Spicer says that in his Rose Garden comments, Trump was actually expressing his willingness to speak to special counsel Robert Mueller. When asked whether Trump would be willing to give sworn testimony before Congress, Spicer responds, “I don’t know. I have not had a further discussion with that.”
– A close friend of Trump’s, Chris Ruddy, the CEO of Newsmax, tells PBS that he believes Trump is considering firing Mueller. The White House releases a statement saying that Ruddy “never spoke to the President regarding this issue. With respect to this subject, only the President or his attorneys are authorized to comment.”
June 13: Three people familiar with the investigation into Russia’s cyber intrusions into US voting systems tell Bloomberg News that these incursions were much broader than had previously been reported. According to one of these sources, Russia gained access to voter databases and software systems in 39 states. The activity concerned the Obama administration so much, sources tell Bloomberg, that the White House contacted the Kremlin “to offer detailed documents of what it said was Russia’s role in election meddling and to warn that the attacks risked setting off a broader conflict.”
– Jeff Sessions testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee, where he repeatedly refuses to discuss his conversations with Trump and calls the notion that he colluded with the Russians as they interfered in the 2016 election “an appalling and detestable lie.” Throughout his testimony, the attorney general frequently answers with “I don’t remember” or “I don’t recall.”
June 14: Special counsel Robert Mueller meets with members of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
– The Washington Post reports that special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Trump for obstruction of justice.
June 15: In a tweetstorm, Trump decries the Russia investigation as a “witch hunt”:
– The Washington Post and other outlets report that Vice President Mike Pence has retained a personal attorney to represent him in connection with the various Russia probes.
June 16: Trump appears to confirm that he is under investigation for obstruction of justice and seems to lash out at Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 16, 2017
– NBC reports that Trump’s private attorney, Michael Cohen, has retained his own legal counsel.
Exclusive: Trump personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, has hired his own counsel: Stephen Ryan, of McDermott, Will & Emery.- source w knowledge
— Katy Tur (@KatyTurNBC) June 16, 2017
June 18: ABC News reports that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein privately told his colleague, Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, the Justice Department’s new third-in-command, that he may have to recuse himself from the Trump-Russia investigation, since it is possible he will have to serve as a witness, given his role in Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey. Such a recusal would prompt Brand to take over the investigation. (While Rosenstein appointed special counsel Robert Mueller to oversee the investigation, he is still in charge of allocating resources to it and ultimately deciding if prosecutions will be necessary.)
June 21: During testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Department of Homeland Security’s acting director of the Office of Intelligence and Analysis Cyber Division, Samuel Liles, says hackers connected to the Russian government attempted to penetrate election-related computer systems in 21 states before the November 2016 election. Liles says they successfully got into a “small number” of networks.
June 22: Trump tweets that he doesn’t know if there are recordings of his conversations with former FBI Director James Comey, contradicting earlier tweets in which he implied such “tapes” existed.
…whether there are "tapes" or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2017
– CNN reports that Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Director of National Security Agency Admiral Mike Rogers each separately told Senate investigators and special counsel Robert Mueller’s team that Trump suggested they publicly deny there was any collusion between his campaign and Russian officials. Both intelligence officials said they were surprised by the suggestion and found it uncomfortable but did not perceive these statements as orders from the president.
June 23: The New York Times reports that the FBI is investigating a series of real estate deals and other financial transactions involving former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his son-in-law Jeffery Yohai. The Times says it is not clear if the FBI’s interest is tied to Manafort’s role in the Trump-Russia investigation.
June 25: The Washington Post reports that Jared Kushner’s real estate company received a $285 million loan from Deutsche Bank one month before the November 2016 election. That October, Kushner was advising his father-in-law’s presidential campaign, and Deutsche Bank was facing several legal actions in New York, including charges from state regulators that the bank had aided an alleged Russian money-laundering scheme.
June 27: Paul Manafort’s consulting firm retroactively files foreign lobbying disclosures showing that the firm received $17.1 million from a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine between 2012 and 2014. The payments were for work aimed at influencing US policy on Ukraine. Manafort’s spokesman, Jason Maloni, tells the Washington Post that Manafort began preparing his filing in September “before the outcome of the election and well before any formal investigation of election interference began.”
July 8: The New York Times reports that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Kremlin-tied Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, in June 2016, shortly after his father clinched the Republican presidential nomination. Also attending the meeting were Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner. Trump Jr. tells the Times, “It was a short introductory meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to stop by. We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no follow up.” And he noted, “I was asked to attend the meeting by an acquaintance, but was not told the name of the person I would be meeting with beforehand.”
July 9: The New York Times reports that, prior to meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Donald Trump Jr. had been promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton. Trump Jr. offers the paper a different account of the meeting from his statement the previous day: “After pleasantries were exchanged, the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Mrs. Clinton. Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information.”
July 10: Donald Trump tweets:
James Comey leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the media. That is so illegal!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2017
– Donald Trump Jr. responds to the New York Times‘ reporting:
Obviously I'm the first person on a campaign to ever take a meeting to hear info about an opponent… went nowhere but had to listen. https://t.co/ccUjL1KDEa
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) July 10, 2017
No inconsistency in statements, meeting ended up being primarily about adoptions. In response to further Q's I simply provided more details. https://t.co/FdT1D4hfhz
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) July 10, 2017
– The New York Times reports that prior to meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Donald Trump Jr. was informed in an email that the damaging information about Hillary Clinton was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy. That email came from Rob Goldstone, the publicist for Russian pop star Emin Agalarov, who asked Goldstone to set up this meeting between Veselnitskaya and Trump Jr.
July 11: Donald Trump Jr. corroborates the New York Times‘ story in a statement posted on Twitter. In tweets, he also publishes his email exchange with Goldstone in full. The emails show that Goldstone wrote to Trump Jr. in June 2016, stating that Russia’s crown prosecutor had told Aras Agalarov—the father of Goldstone’s client Emin—that he possessed “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary” that could be shared with the Trump campaign. Goldstone also added that the information “is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” Trump Jr. responded by asking to speak to Emin about the material described in Goldstone’s email, and added, “If it’s what you say I love it.”
Here's my statement and the full email chain pic.twitter.com/x050r5n5LQ
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) July 11, 2017
Here is page 4 (which did not post due to space constraints). pic.twitter.com/z1Xi4nr2gq
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) July 11, 2017
– Donald Trump Jr. appears on Sean Hannity’s Fox show, where he says of his meeting with a Kremlin-tied lawyer, “In retrospect, I probably would have done things a little differently.” He also says, “I wanted to hear them out and play it out.”
– ProPublica reports that Mark Kasowitz, the lawyer representing Donald Trump in the Russia inquiries, does not possess a security clearance and does not plan to seek one, a curious decision in a case involving some of the government’s most closely guarded secrets. The news outlet notes his decision might stem from the lawyer’s alleged struggles with alcohol, which could make it difficult to obtain a clearance. (A spokesman for Kasowitz subsequently released a statement saying, “Marc Kasowitz has not struggled with alcoholism.”)
– In an interview with NBC, Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya describes her June 9, 2016, meeting with Trump Jr., Kushner, and Manafort at Trump Tower. She says she never had any damaging information on Hillary Clinton and, contrary to emails sent by Goldstone to Trump Jr., never promised such information in order to procure the meeting.
July 12: McClatchy reports that “investigators at the House and Senate Intelligence committees and the Justice Department are examining whether the Trump campaign’s digital operation—overseen by Jared Kushner—helped guide Russia’s sophisticated voter targeting and fake news attacks on Hillary Clinton in 2016.”
– Donald Trump defends his eldest son in a tweet, saying he’s “innocent”
My son Donald did a good job last night. He was open, transparent and innocent. This is the greatest Witch Hunt in political history. Sad!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 12, 2017
– The Senate Judiciary Committee holds a confirmation hearing for Christopher Wray, Trump’s pick for FBI director. During the hearing, Sen. Lindsey Graham asks Wray about whether he’s heard about “the email problems we’ve had with Donald Trump Jr. the last few days.” When Wray says he isn’t caught up on the controversy because he’s been in meetings with senators, Graham reads part of the email chain aloud and then asks Wray if Trump Jr. should have taken the meeting or alerted the FBI. Wray first avoids directly answering the question but after a heated exchange with Graham concludes that “any threat or effort to interfere with our elections, from any nation-state, or any nonstate actor, is the kind of thing the FBI would want to know.” Here’s the full exchange:
– The Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee write to Attorney General Jeff Sessions requesting information about the Justice Department’s decision to settle United States v. Prevezon Holdings, a money laundering case targeting a Cyprus-based entity owned by a Russian businessman. Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Kremlin-linked lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. and other members of the elder Trump’s inner circle, represented Prevezon, remarking after the settlement that the penalty was so small it seemed like “almost an apology from the government.”
July 18: The Washington Post reports that the eighth person at the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting was Irakly “Ike” Kaveladze, a Georgia-born businessman who is a vice president of Crocus Group International, a division of Crocus Group, the construction and development company owned by Aras Agalarov. Kaveladze, who says he has worked for Crocus Group since the late 1980s, was once at the center of a US government investigation into Russian money laundering.
– Mother Jones reports that Sen. Chuck Grassley, who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee’s probe of Trump’s firing of Comey and possible collusion between the Trump camp and Russia, is “conducting a series of alternative investigations into tangential subjects” in a way that seems to be designed “to minimize the culpability of Trump and his aides and to deflect attention from the core issues of the controversy.”
July 19: The White House confirms that Trump and Russian Putin had a second, previously undisclosed, meeting at the G-20 Summit on July 7, and it lasted “nearly an hour.”
– The New York Times reports that Paul Manafort was in debt to pro-Russia interests by as much as $17 million before joining Trump’s campaign as chairman in March 2016. This is reflected in financial records filed in Cyprus, which show that Manafort may owe up to $9.9 million to a Cyprus shell company connected to Ukraine’s pro-Russia Party of Regions and $7.8 million to a company in the British Virgin Islands connected to Russian aluminum magnate and Putin ally Oleg Deripaska. A spokesman for Manafort told the Times that the Cyprus records are “stale and do not purport to reflect any current financial arrangements,” and did not address whether the debts shown in the records may have existed previously.
– The New York Times reports that Trump quietly ended a secret American program to provide arms to Syrian rebels fighting Bashar al Assad’s government in Syria’s civil war. The move aligns with Russian interests; Russia has backed Assad’s government and attacked the rebel forces.
– The New York Times reports that banking regulators are reviewing Trump’s massive loan portfolio with Deutsche Bank to see if Trump’s debt “might expose the bank to heightened risks.” The paper notes that Deutsche Bank has already been in contact with federal investigators about Trump’s accounts. The Guardian separately reports that executives at the bank are expecting to soon receive subpoenas or other requests for information from special counsel Robert Mueller.
– Trump sits down for an Oval Office interview with three New York Times reporters. In their conversation, Trump says that if he had known Jeff Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia investigation, he would not have nominated him to be attorney general. “Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else,” Trump says. Trump also says that if special counsel Robert Mueller were to start delving into his finances or his family’s, that would be a “violation,” but refuses to answer whether or not he would fire Mueller over it.
– Twenty-two Democratic members of Congress send a letter to the FBI expressing concerns over possible discrepancies in Ivanka Trump’s application for a security clearance. As part of the application, Ivanka Trump had to disclose foreign contacts. Her husband, Jared Kushner, has updated his own clearance multiple times with more than 100 meetings and phone calls—a number of them with Russian officials—that he failed to disclose initially. “We are concerned that Ivanka Trump may have engaged in similar deception,” reads the letter.
July 20: Bloomberg reports that special counsel Robert Mueller has expanded the Trump-Russia probe to include a range of transactions with Trump businesses; these include apartment purchases by Russians in Trump buildings, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s 2008 sale of a Florida mansion to Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev.
– The Treasury Department fines Exxon Mobil $2 million for violating Russian sanctions by signing contracts with Igor Sechin, the head of Russia’s state-owned oil company Rosneft, while Rex Tillerson, now the secretary of state, was Exxon’s CEO.
– CNN reports that Mueller has sent a notice to the White House requiring them to preserve all documents related to Donald Trump Jr.’s June 9, 2016, meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
– Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Trump’s legal team, abruptly resigns.
July 24: Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, spends two hours behind closed doors with the Senate Intelligence Committee answering questions related to the Trump-Russia investigation. In a statement to the committee and at a press conference following the closed-door session, he denies any collusion with Russia. “Let me be very clear: I did not collude with Russia, nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so,” he says.
July 25: Mother Jones reports that Carl Levin, a onetime chairman of the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations who left Congress in 2015, sent a letter the previous day to special counsel Robert Mueller and the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee highlighting a 2000 investigation of possible money laundering by the company run by Ike Kaveladze—the eighth person in the June 2016 meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
During that probe, an official at Citibank, where Kaveladze established dozens of bank accounts on behalf of Delaware-based shell companies, noted that Kaveladze’s main client at the time was Crocus International, a company headed by Aras Agalarov, who in 2013 partnered with Donald Trump to bring the Miss Universe contest to Moscow.
– The Senate Judiciary Committee issues a subpoena compelling former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to appear at a open hearing of the committee the following day. Hours later, the committee withdraws its subpoena, reportedly because Manafort has begun to produce documents and voluntarily agreed to negotiate an interview time.
– By a margin of 419-3, the House passes a bill levying new sanctions against Russia and inhibiting the president’s ability to weaken them.
– Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, provides Senate investigators with notes he took during the June 2016 meeting that Donald Trump Jr. arranged with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. The notes, which could confirm or refute Trump Jr.’s claim that he did not receive damaging information about Hillary Clinton, have not been released to the public.
July 26: FBI agents raid Paul Manafort’s Virginia home and seize documents related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation after obtaining a search warrant from a federal judge. The raid signals a new, aggressive approach by Mueller.
July 27: Bill Browder, founder of the hedge fund Hermitage Capital Management, testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Browder is a longtime investor in Russia who spearheaded the passage of the Magnitsky Act, the package of Russia sanctions allegedly discussed by Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer, during her June 2016 meeting with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort. During the hearing, Browder discusses how Veselnitskaya and several other political operatives lobbied to repeal the Magnitsky Act without registering as foreign agents, a possible violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Browder says “there’s no doubt” Veselnitskaya was acting on behalf of the Russian government when she met with members of Trump’s inner circle.
– George Papadopoulos is arrested at Washington’s Dulles airport.
July 28: The White House says Trump will sign the sanctions legislation.
– Russia retaliates against the new sanctions by seizing two properties used by American diplomats and ordering the reduction of US Embassy staff by September.
July 30: Putin says Russia will expel 755 US diplomats and support staff in retaliation for the new sanctions.
July 31: BuzzFeed reports that the Republican National Committee has instructed its employees to preserve all documents covering the 2016 presidential campaign. Citing RNC lawyers, BuzzFeed reports this is a “precautionary” measure “as investigations continue into Russia’s meddling in the election.”
– The Washington Post reports that while flying back from the G-20 summit in Germany in early July, Trump dictated his son Donald Trump Jr.’s response to revelations that he’d met with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer. The statement, given to the New York Times as they prepared a story about the meeting for publication, said Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children,” and that the meeting was not about “a campaign issue.” Over the next few days, it became clear this statement was misleading, as Trump Jr. acknowledged he met with the lawyer after being promised dirt on Hillary Clinton. The revelation that Trump crafted the misleading statement, the Post notes, could lead to additional scrutiny from investigators and eventually place Trump and his inner circle in “legal jeopardy.”
August 1: A lawsuit (first reported by NPR) is filed alleging that Fox News and a Texas Republican donor who backs Trump worked with the White House to gin up a conspiratorial story concerning the murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich in an effort to deflect attention from the Russia scandal. The lawsuit is brought by former Washington, DC, detective (and longtime Fox contributor) Rod Wheeler, who has been investigating Rich’s murder on behalf of Ed Butowsky, a wealthy Dallas investor and frequent Fox commentator. Wheeler claims a Fox reporter fabricated quotations appearing in a retracted May 2017 article reporting that Rich had been in contact with WikiLeaks prior to his death, implying that he—not Russian hackers—had provided the site with DNC documents and emails. The complaint includes a text message from Butowsky in which the investor says Trump had read the story prior to its publication and wanted it to come out “immediately.”
August 2: Trump signs into law new sanctions against Russia but issues a statement calling the measure “seriously flawed.” He notes, “By limiting the Executive’s flexibility, this bill makes it harder for the United States to strike good deals for the American people, and will drive China, Russia, and North Korea much closer together. The Framers of our Constitution put foreign affairs in the hands of the President.”
August 3: Two bipartisan Senate bills are introduced by members of the Judiciary Committee that would restrict Trump’s ability to fire special counsel Robert Mueller. One, by Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Chris Coons (D-Md.), would allow Mueller to challenge his dismissal before a panel of three federal judges. The others, by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), would require this judicial panel to review the Justice Department’s reasoning for his dismissal before Mueller could be fired.
– The Wall Street Journal reports that Mueller has convened a grand jury to probe Russian interference in the 2016 election.
– Michael Flynn files an amended version of his federal disclosure form that includes new details about his contracts and income. The updated disclosure shows that that Flynn was hired as an adviser to SCL Group, which at the time was the parent company of the data firm Cambridge Analytica, which worked on behalf of Trump’s campaign. One of Cambridge Analytica’s biggest financial backers is hedge fund mogul and Trump backer Robert Mercer, and White House strategist Stephen Bannon was a Cambridge Analytica vice president before joining the Trump campaign. The disclosure of Flynn’s ties to the SCL Group are significant because Trump’s campaign data operation has come under scrutiny as one source of possible collusion with Russians seeking to influence the 2016 election.
August 4: NBC reports that special counsel Robert Mueller has tapped multiple grand juries in Washington, DC, and Virginia as part of the Trump-Russia investigation, a sign that the investigation is gearing up.
– The New York Times reports that Robert Mueller’s investigative team has asked the White House for records related to former national security adviser Michael Flynn. This is the first known instance of Mueller’s team asking the White House for documents as part of their investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
– Politico reports that two Republican staffers on the House Intelligence Committee traveled to London earlier this summer to track down Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence operative who compiled the Trump-Russia memo published by BuzzFeed in January. The previously unreported trip increases tensions with the House Intelligence Committee’s Democratic staff, the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Mueller’s office. The staffers didn’t end up talking with Steele during the trip.
August 6: In an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein says special counsel Robert Mueller can investigate any crimes uncovered as part of the Trump-Russia probe.
August 10: Bloomberg reports that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has sent subpoenas to global banks requesting transaction records and account information tied to Paul Manafort and several of his companies. A source tells Bloomberg that Mueller has reached out to Manafort’s son-in-law and a Ukrainian oligarch, hoping to convince Manafort to be more cooperative.
– Taking a break from a vacation at his New Jersey golf club, Trump holds a brief press conference. The president tells reporters that he is grateful that Putin has expelled hundreds of US diplomats from Russia in response to US sanctions. “I want to thank him because we’re trying to cut down our payroll and as far as I’m concerned I’m very thankful that he let go of a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll,” Trump says. Following outrage over Trump’s comments, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tells the New York Times that the president’s remarks were meant to be funny and “sarcastic.”
August 11: Rinat Akhmetshin, the Russian lobbyist who attended the Trump tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr. in June 2016, testifies before a grand jury impaneled by special counsel Robert Mueller, according to a report from the Financial Times.
August 14: The Washington Post reports on a set of Trump campaign emails showing persistent efforts by campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos to coordinate a meeting about US-Russia ties between Trump and Russian leaders “including Putin” according to one email subject line. The exchanges—which were read to or confirmed to the Post by three sources with access to the emails—were sent between March and September 2016, as the presidential race heated up. The emails were included in more than 20,000 pages of documents the Trump campaign turned over to congressional committees investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.
August 16: The New York Times reports that a Ukrainian hacker known as Profexer—whom American intelligence agencies have identified as the creator of a program used in Russian hacks targeting the US election—has turned himself over to the Ukrainian police and has become a witness for the FBI. “It is the first known instance of a living witness emerging from the arid mass of technical detail that has so far shaped the investigation into the election hacking and the heated debate it has stirred,” notes the Times.
– The Daily Caller reports that Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. According to Rohrabacher, who openly admires Putin, Assange can prove that hacked Democratic Party emails did not come from Russia.
August 18: BuzzFeed reports that special counsel Robert Mueller’s office is investigating Donald Trump Jr. A source tells BuzzFeed that prosecutors are particularly interested in discovering what information Trump Jr. received at the June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer.
– Bloomberg reports on the friendship between Ivanka Trump and Dasha Zhukova, the wife of Russian billionaire and Putin ally Roman Abramovich. Bloomberg notes that Ivanka Trump’s husband, Jared Kushner, has met three or four times with Abramovich, and that Trump and Kushner disclosed their ongoing social relationship with the couple—which included a four-day trip to Russia in 2014 at Zhukova’s initiation—on their security clearance forms.
August 21: The New York Times reports that Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian immigrant who attended the July 2016 Trump Tower meeting, has much deeper ties to the Russian government and Kremlin-supported oligarchs than previously known. The Times also reports that Akhmetshin, who is being investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller, has worked for Russian oligarchs whose opponents faced sophisticated hacks. Akhmetshin’s sister, father, and godfather joined Russian intelligence services, but Akhmetshin has denied allegations that he is a Russian spy.
August 22: Glenn Simpson, the founder of opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which hired Christopher Steele to compile the Trump-Russia dossier, meets with the Senate Judiciary Committee in a nearly 10-hour closed-door session to answer questions about the financing and sourcing for the dossier. ABC News reports that Steele has already met with FBI investigators and provided them with the names of his sources for the dossier’s allegations.
August 27: Citing emails that will soon be turned over to congressional investigators, the Washington Post reports that Trump’s company was pursuing a plan in late 2015 and early 2016 to build a “massive” Trump Tower in Moscow, well after he announced his presidential run in June 2015. Felix Sater, a Russian-born real estate developer, told Trump he could get Putin to say “great things” about Trump, according to the emails, which the Post reports suggest additional connections between Trump’s associates and Russia-connected individuals.
August 28: The Washington Post reports that Michael Cohen, a top Trump organization executive and lawyer for the president, emailed Putin’s personal spokesman during the presidential campaign to push for the Trump Tower deal in Moscow. According to the Post, Trump cut a letter of intent with I.C. Expert Investment Co., a Moscow-based developer, in October 2015 and began to solicit designs and discuss funding.
– NBC News reports that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is “keenly focused” on what Trump may have known about the infamous June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower between Russian operatives and Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort—and whether the president may have tried to help conceal that meeting’s purpose once it was uncovered by the media.
August 29: CNN reports that special counsel Robert Mueller has subpoenaed Paul Manafort’s former lawyer and current spokesman.
August 30: Politico reports that special counsel Robert Mueller is working with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman as part of his investigation into former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s financial transactions. Unlike possible federal crimes resulting from Mueller’s investigation, the president does not have the power to pardon state crimes.
August 31: NBC News reports on notes that Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, took during a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower that Donald Trump Jr. arranged with a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Manafort’s contemporaneous notes included the word “donations” in possible relation to the Republican National Committee. According to NBC News, congressional investigators are trying to determine if participants discussed the possibility of Russian sources making illegal campaign contributions.
September 1: CNN reports that House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes is threatening to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray in contempt of court, a jailable offense, if they don’t provide documents related to Christopher Steele’s Russia dossier. According to CNN, Nunes has continued to look into Trump-Russia matters, despite recusing himself from the committee’s investigation in April 2017.
September 6: Facebook discloses that $100,000 worth of ads were purchased on the platform by suspected Russian agents. Facebook said the roughly 3,000 ads, which ran from June 2015 to May 2017, were linked to 470 fake accounts and pages that were “likely operated out of Russia.”
September 8: The Washington Post reports that special counsel Robert Mueller has told the White House that he will seek to interview six high-ranking current and former advisers to Trump, including communications aide Hope Hicks, former press secretary Sean Spicer, and former chief of staff Reince Priebus.
Sept 11: The Daily Beast reports that Russian operatives used Facebook ads to organize and promote domestic political events, including protests such as an August 2016 anti-refugee rally in Twin Falls, Idaho.
– CNN reports on additional details from the letter of intent that Trump signed to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the presidential campaign. According to CNN, the deal would have provided his company a $4 million upfront fee, a percentage of sales, and a spa named after his daughter Ivanka.
September 13: NBC News reports that Michael Flynn Jr., the son of Trump’s former national security adviser, is being investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller. According to three former and current government officials interviewed by NBC News, federal investigators are focused in part on the work he did for Flynn Intel Group, his father’s lobbying firm.
– The Wall Street Journal reports that Michael Flynn, while he was working as Trump’s national security adviser, promoted an idea to build nuclear power plants across the Middle East—a deal that would have benefited both Flynn’s former private sector employer and Russian companies. The project, valued at hundreds of billions of dollars, had previously proposed that Russian companies could provide fuel and manage the plants’ waste. According to former National Security Council staffers who spoke with the Journal, Flynn continued to meet with a group of military officers tasked with promoting the power plan on behalf of US firms even after NSC ethics advisers asked him to cease communications—actions that the former staffers called “highly abnormal.”
The House Oversight Committee also released documents confirming that Flynn had traveled to the Middle East in June 2015 to promote this nuclear power plan to foreign officials. Flynn omitted this trip from the list of foreign contacts he submitted when applying for his Trump administration security clearance.
September 15: The Wall Street Journal reports that Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) proposed a deal to White House chief of staff John Kelly that would involve pardoning WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in exchange for evidence that Rohrabacher said would show Russia was not the source of hacked Democratic Party emails.
September 17: The New York Times reports that White House counsel Don McGahn is clashing sharply with Ty Cobb, a lawyer brought in to help coordinate the White House’s response to the Russia investigation, over how much the White House should cooperate with Robert Mueller’s team. The Times was tipped off to the conflict after overhearing Cobb badmouthing McGahn at a Washington, DC, steakhouse, claiming that the attorney is withholding certain documents.
September 18: The New York Times reports that when federal agents searched Paul Manafort’s home in July 2017 as part of the Trump-Russia probe, they told him that he should expect to be indicted.
– CNN reports that, according to multiple sources, investigators wiretapped Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, both before and after the election. The wiretap reportedly continued early this year, after Trump took office and during a period when he was known to have had communications with Manafort.
September 19: Reuters reports that Trump is using donations to his reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee to pay for his legal defense against special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
– CNN reports that the Republican National Committee spent more than $230,000 in August to cover some of Trump’s legal fees in the Russia investigation.
– During his confirmation hearing for the post of ambassador to Russia before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman says that, unlike Trump, he believes Russia interfered in the US election. “There is no question, underline no question, that the Russian government interfered in the US election last year.”
September 20: The Daily Beast reports that the Facebook and Twitter accounts of the group “Being Patriotic,” a suspected Russian propaganda front, helped organize more than a dozen pro-Trump rallies in Florida in August 2016. The rallies “brought dozens of supporters together in real life,” notes the Daily Beast. “They appear to be the first case of Russian provocateurs successfully mobilizing Americans over Facebook in direct support of Donald Trump.”
– The Washington Post reports that, less than two weeks before Trump accepted the Republican nomination, Paul Manafort offered to provide campaign briefings to a Russian billionaire closely aligned with the Kremlin. The email making the offer is among tens of thousands of documents turned over to special counsel Robert Mueller and congressional investigators.
September 21: Facebook says it will hand over the more than 3,000 Russia-connected political ads to congressional investigators.
September 25: Roger Stone is grilled by the House Intelligence Committee for three hours behind closed doors. He refuses to disclose the identity of the claimed go-between that facilitated his communication with WikiLeaks. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the panel, threatened to subpoena Stone over the omission, saying that Stone refused to address a “seminal area of importance to the committee.”
September 26: Sen. Richard Blumenthal says he is “99 percent sure” there will be criminal charges against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
– CNN reports that the criminal division of the Internal Revenue Service has begun sharing information with Robert Mueller’s investigative team.
September 27: Multiple news outlets report that the Senate Intelligence Committee has asked Facebook, Twitter, and Google to testify as part of the investigation into Russian interference in the election.
– The Daily Beast reports Russian agents impersonated a real nonprofit, United Muslims of America, to spread racist memes and fake news on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
September 28: CNN reports that, according to two sources familiar with the matter, a social-media campaign calling itself “Blacktivist” that is linked to the Russian government used Facebook and Twitter to stoke racial tensions in the United States during the 2016 election.
– Twitter discloses that it found and removed 201 accounts that may have been used by Russian agents after meeting with congressional investigators.
October 2: The Washington Post reports that associates of Trump and his company turned over documents to federal prosecutors revealing two previously undisclosed interactions with Russia during the presidential campaign. One email exchange involved Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney, possibly traveling to a conference in Russia that Putin was planning to attend.
– Facebook estimates that ads bought by Russian agents reached about 10 million people in the United States.
October 3: Bloomberg reports that special counsel Robert Mueller’s top legal adviser, Michael Dreeben, is researching if there are limits on Trump’s pardon power.
October 4: CNN reports that highly sophisticated Russia-linked Facebook ads targeted key demographic groups in pivotal parts of Michigan and Wisconsin.
October 5: CNN reports that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team met over the summer with Christopher Steele, the former British spy who produced the memos on Trump’s alleged Russia connections. CNN also reports that the intelligence community last year took the dossier more seriously than they acknowledged publicly.
October 6: NBC reports that Christopher Steele, author of the Trump-Russia memos, is in talks with the Senate Intelligence Committee about meeting with the leaders of the panel.
October 9: The Washington Post reports that an internal Google inquiry has found evidence of Russian agents exploiting its platform in an attempt to meddle with the election.
October 10: CNN reports that House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes signed subpoenas for the heads of Fusion GPS, the research firm that paid Christopher Steele to investigate Trump’s Russia ties.
– Former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page says he is planning to plead the Fifth Amendment if called to testify in the Senate Intelligence Committee probe of potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
October 11: Trump blows by an October 1 deadline for starting to implement new sanctions on Russia. Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) say the delay calls into question Trump’s commitment to stepping up sanctions imposed by the bill Congress passed in July with overwhelming support.
– The Daily Beast reports that the House Intelligence Committee is looking into data firm Cambridge Analytica’s work for the Trump campaign as part of its investigation into Russian election meddling. Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon invested between $1 million and $5 million in Cambridge Analytica, where he was a one-time VP, and the company was founded by Robert Mercer, a hedge fund billionaire and major Trump campaign donor.
October 13: Members of Robert Mueller’s investigative team spend all day interviewing former Trump’s ex-chief of staff Reince Priebus.
October 15: NBC reports that Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, engaged in $60 million worth of business dealings with Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch closely tied to the Kremlin. According to NBC, a company wholly owned by Deripaska loaned $26 million to a company linked to Manafort.
October 16: Foreign Policy publishes the memo Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya took to the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting. It focuses on Bill Browder, an American businessman whom Veselnitskaya accused of defrauding the Russian government, and only makes a passing mention of Hillary Clinton.
– Former Trump press secretary Sean Spicer meets with Mueller’s investigators for almost a full day. He is asked about Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey and about Trump’s Oval Office meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak.
October 17: A federal judge dismisses a libel suit brought by Oleg Deripaska against the Associated Press for reporting that he paid Manafort to advance the goals of the Russian government and Putin.
– The Russian newspaper RBC publishes an investigation into 2016 election meddling by the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a notorious Russian “troll factory” based in St. Petersburg and linked to the Kremlin. Among the story’s many revelations: The IRA spent about $2.3 million during the 2016 election cycle to meddle in US politics, paying the salaries of 90 “US desk” employees who helped wage disinformation campaigns via social media, while also funneling thousands of dollars to unwitting US activists to organize protests on divisive issues, including race relations.
– ABC News reports that the Senate Intelligence Committee will likely subpoena Mike Flynn Jr., the son of Trump’s ousted national security adviser. The younger Flynn was his father’s chief of staff during the presidential transition period but was pushed off the Trump team after it was revealed that he had spread alt-right conspiracy theories online.
October 18: CNN reports that a group tied to Russian trolls who ran thousands of fake Facebook ads paid personal trainers to run self-defense classes for African Americans as part of an apparent attempt to generate fear and gather contact information.
– The Daily Beast reports that several key Trump campaign staffers, including Kellyanne Conway and Donald Trump Jr., promoted tweets during the election from @Ten_GOP, an account linked to the Internet Research Agency, the notorious Russian “troll factory.”
– Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski meets with Senate Intelligence Committee investigators for more than three hours.
– Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee and changes his story on his contacts with Sergey Kislyak in the spring and summer of 2016, saying that it was possible he discussed campaign matters with the ambassador. (When news of his meetings with Kislyak first broke in March, Sessions said he met with the Russian ambassador solely in his capacity as a US senator and that they never discussed campaign matters.)
Sessions also refused to elaborate on his communications with Trump about the firing of FBI Director James Comey by asserting an odd, preemptive form of executive privilege—saying he can’t disclose his communications lest the president one day decide to invoke executive privilege to keep them private.
October 19: Politico reports that Trump has personally interviewed at least three candidates for US attorney jobs in the Eastern and Southern districts of New York and in the District of Columbia. The Southern District of New York has jurisdiction over Trump Tower, which means it would have the power to bring indictments against the Trump Organization and associates in various cases, including the ongoing Russia investigation. “To be very blunt, these three jurisdictions will have authority to bring indictments over the ongoing special counsel investigation into Trump campaign collusion with the Russians and potential obstruction of justice by the president of the United States,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) tells Politico.
– While speaking at a national security forum, CIA Director Mike Pompeo mistakenly says that when US intelligence agencies released their January 2017 assessment about Russian interference in the 2016 election, they also found the interference did not affect the outcome. In fact, the report did not come to a conclusion on that. The CIA issues a statement correcting Pompeo.
October 24: The Wall Street Journal reports that the Manhattan US attorney’s office has launched an investigation into possible money laundering by Paul Manafort.
– NBC News reports that special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta’s work to promote Ukraine’s image in the West violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
October 25: The Wall Street Journal reports that the head of Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm that worked for the Trump campaign, offered to help WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange organize the emails his site was releasing about the Clinton campaign. The firm is partly owned by Republican megadonor Robert Mercer, and former Trump campaign chief executive Steve Bannon sat on its board before joining the administration.
– McClatchy reports that Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer, made as much as $20 million by selling four properties to mysterious buyers.
October 26: Twitter bans RT and Sputnik Media from using its advertising network, citing US intelligence reports that the organizations attempted to interfere with the election.
– BuzzFeed reports that Senate Judiciary Committee chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) requested confidential banking information on close to 40 people from the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. The request is seen as a sign that Grassley has stepped up his committee’s Russia investigation.
October 30: Facebook says content created by Russian operatives may have reached as many as 126 million people in the United States, a far higher number than the 10 million people the company said saw paid Russian ads.
– Federal investigators led by special counsel Robert Mueller charge former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his onetime business associate Rick Gates, who also worked on the campaign, with money laundering. Both plead not guilty to the 12-count indictment, which ranges from conspiring to launder money to working as unregistered agents of Ukraine’s former pro-Russian government.
– The Department of Justice reveals that George Papadopoulos, the Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, pleaded guilty in early October to lying to federal investigators. The plea reveals that Papadopoulos met during the campaign with a London-based professor (later revealed to be Joseph Mifsud) who claimed Russia had damaging information on Hillary Clinton.
– Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s attorneys, tells CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that the indictments are not related to the Trump campaign and says there is no connection between George Papadopoulos’ plea and Trump.
November 1: CNN reports that Joseph Mifsud, a London-based professor who was in contact with George Papadopolous, told a business contact in April 2016 that Moscow had a large collection of information about Hillary Clinton.
– The House Intelligence Committee releases a selection of 3,000 ads that Russian operatives bought on Facebook, which further reveal the sophistication of Russia’s campaign to promote Trump and attack Clinton during the 2016 campaign.
November 2: The Wall Street Journal reports that the Justice Department has identified more than six Russian government officials involved in the hacking operation that targeted the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 campaign. Prosecutors are considering bringing charges in 2018, according to the paper.
November 3: CNN reports that former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page told the House Intelligence Committee that he informed then-Sen. Jeff Sessions that he was traveling to Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign. In June, Sessions told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he didn’t know if Page met with Russian officials during the campaign.
– The Washington Post reports that Keith Schiller, Trump’s longtime confidant and body guard and former White House aide, will be questioned by the House Intelligence Committee about Trump’s 2013 Moscow trip. Investigators plan to ask Schiller about allegations made in the Steele memos that Russians obtained compromising information on Trump during the trip.
– Three conservative Republicans introduce a resolution calling on special counsel Robert Mueller to recuse himself because he was the FBI director in 2010 when government officials approved the sale of Uranium One, a Canadian energy firm, to a Russian nuclear energy company.
– CNN reports that Jared Kushner has turned over documents to special counsel Robert Mueller related to his role in the firing of FBI Director James Comey.
November 5: NBC News reports that special counsel Robert Mueller has enough evidence to bring charges against former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr. Mueller’s team is investigating whether Flynn lied to investigators and laundered money, as well as whether he tried to remove a chief rival of Turkish President Recep Erdogan from the United States.
November 6: Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who attended the 2016 Trump Tower meeting, says Donald Trump Jr. told a her that a law that places sanctions on some Russian officials would be reexamined if his father won the election. She also says Trump Jr. asked for written evidence that Hillary Clinton’s campaign received money that evaded US taxes.
November 8: The Daily Beast reports that Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have been privately investigating Russian interference in Eastern Europe without their Republican colleagues. The Senate Democrats are trying to chart how the Kremlin used propaganda and voter suppression to advance its interests.
November 9: CNN reports that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has interviewed White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller—bringing his investigation into Trump’s inner White House circle. Miller was asked about his role in the firing of FBI Director James Comey as part of Mueller’s effort to determine whether the firing constitutes obstruction of justice, according to CNN.
November 10: CNN reports that Keith Schiller, Trump’s former White House aide and longtime confidant, told the House Intelligence Committee that he rejected a Russian offer to send five women to Trump’s room during a 2013 trip to Moscow. Schiller said he and Trump thought the offer was a joke.
November 13: The Atlantic publishes Twitter direct messages exchanged in September 2016 between WikiLeaks and Donald Trump Jr. In the messages, WikiLeaks gave Trump Jr. the password to PutingTrump.org, a site that would document then-candidate Trump’s Russia ties.
November 14: The New York Times reports that the State Department’s Office of Acquisitions has awarded a $2.8 million no-bid contract to Elite Security Holdings to provide security guards at the American Embassy in Moscow and at consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, and Vladivostok. The company, reports the Times, is “closely linked to the former top K.G.B. figure, Viktor G. Budanov, a retired general who rose through the ranks to become head of Soviet counterintelligence.”
November 17: ABC News reports that Trump will be presented with a recommendation from the National Security Council to sell Ukraine $47 millions of arms including powerful anti-tank missiles. If Trump decides to take these recommendations, it would signal support of Ukraine in its ongoing hostility with Russian and would also mark a shift from the GOP party platform’s softer stance on arming Ukraine.
November 23: CBS News reports that the White House will not cover any legal fees incurred by former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
November 28: The top Democrats on the House Oversight Committee and Foreign Affairs Committee call on Trump’s longtime friend Tom Barrack to speak with them about conversations he had with Michael Flynn regarding a plan to build nuclear reactors in the Middle East.
December 1: Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, is charged with and pleads guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations he had with the Russian ambassador. Court documents suggest Flynn is likely to face between zero and six months in prison.
Read the charging document below:
December 2: Trump tweets that he “had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI.” Legal experts say Trump’s tweet suggests he could have been obstructing justice when he told former FBI Director James Comey to stop investigating Flynn.
December 4: Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office drops its support for Paul Manafort’s bail deal after Manafort secretly writes an editorial with a colleague who has ties to Russian intelligence.
December 5: Reuters reports that special counsel Robert Mueller subpoenaed Deutsche Bank for data on accounts held by Trump and his family. Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s lawyers, denies the bank was subpoenaed.
December 8: The New York Times reports that the FBI warned Hope Hicks, one of Trump’s top aides, that Russian operatives were attempting to contact her during the presidential transition. There is no evidence Hicks did anything wrong, according to the Times.
December 12: Axios reports that Jay Sekulow, a member of Trump’s legal team, is calling for a special counsel to investigate Robert Mueller’s office after a Fox News article shows the wife of a demoted Department of Justice official worked for Fusion GPS, the firm responsible for the Steele dossier.
– BuzzFeed reports that Justice Department filings show Russia Today’s original distribution company has been “winding down” since earlier in 2017.
December 13: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein says there is no cause for firing special counsel Robert Mueller during testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.
– Radio Free Europe reports that US prosecutors are defending a widely criticized decision by the Justice Department to settle United States v. Prevezon Holdings, a money laundering case connected to a Russian tax fraud scheme. Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd says prosecutors had no contact with Trump, his family, and his staff in the Prevezon case. (The case received renewed attention after it was reported that Kremlin-linked lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya met with Donald Trump Jr. and other members of the elder Trump’s inner circle in June 2016. Veselnitskaya represented Prevezon in the lawsuit.)
December 14: Russian President Vladimir Putin praises Trump and claims the United States is gripped by unfounded “spymania” related to the Russia investigation.
– The top Democrats on the House Judiciary and Oversight committees call for subpoenaing Cambridge Analytica and Giles-Parscale, two data consulting firms that worked for the Trump campaign. Democrats want to find out if the firms helped Russia target political messages to boost Trump during the 2016 campaign.
December 15: The Washington Post reports that Jared Kushner and his legal team are looking to hire a crisis public relations firm.
– Trump says he is not ruling out a pardon for his former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
December 17: Trump says he has no intention of firing special counsel Robert Mueller and insists there was “no collusion whatsoever” between Russia and his campaign.
December 18: Trump gives a national security speech that makes no mention of Russian election interference. In the speech, Trump says Putin thanked him for sharing intelligence about a possible terrorist attack in St. Petersburg.
December 19: FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe testifies before the House Intelligence Committee for hours behind closed doors. During the testimony, McCabe corroborates that when James Comey was serving as FBI director, he informed McCabe that Trump requested Comey’s “loyalty” and asked the then-FBI director to go easy on Michael Flynn in the Russia investigation. Trump has disputed these conversations took place.
– The Senate Intelligence Committee announces that as part of its probe into Russian election interference, it is looking into possible links between Russia and the presidential campaign of Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate in 2016.
December 20: Politico reports that Rep. Devin Nunes has been leading a group of Republican congressman who are working outside the House Intelligence Committee’s own Russia probe to pull together materials discrediting the DOJ and the FBI’s handling of the Russia investigation.
– Members of the House Intelligence Committee interview longtime Russian American Trump associate Felix Sater in New York City as part of the committee’s Russia probe.
– Trump signs an executive order expanding the Magnitsky list, a key package of US sanctions on Russia. Artem Chaika, the son of Yuri Chaika, is on the list. Yuri Chaika is the prosecutor general of Russia and also the person who Rob Goldstone, Emin Agalarov’s publicist, credited with possessing dirt on Hillary Clinton when emailing with Trump Jr. in advance of the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower.
December 21: In an interview with Fox News, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the administration does not intend to fire special counsel Robert Mueller and that she hopes his “hoax” investigation wraps up soon.
– NBC reports that, under orders from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the FBI and the DOJ have begun to look into a 2010 Obama administration deal that approved the sale of Canadian energy firm Uranium One to a Russian nuclear energy company. The State Department was one of nine federal agencies that approved the deal, and Hillary Clinton was the secretary of state at the time.
– Bloomberg reports that special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into the Human Rights Accountability Global Initiative (HRAGI) as part of the probe into Russian election interference. The American foundation received more than $500,000 from powerful Russia financiers, and one of the foundation’s representatives, Rinat Akhmetshin, also attended the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Donald Trump Jr. and other members of the Trump campaign.
December 22: Politico reports anonymous Republican congressional aides are investigating contacts between FBI General Counsel James Baker and Mother Jones DC Bureau Chief David Corn near the time Corn broke the news of the Steele dossier—a move suggesting Baker was a source for Corn’s story. Corn denies that Baker was a source for the article.
– Members of the House Intelligence Committee interview Trump’s longtime assistant at the Trump Organization, Rhona Graff, in New York City.
– The New York Times reports that prosecutors in Brooklyn have subpoenaed Deutsche Bank records related to Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner’s real estate company, which has borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars from the German bank. There is no clear indication that this subpoena is related to Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation.
December 24: The Guardian reports that the FBI is investigating the now defunct FBME Bank in Tanzania, likely as part of Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference—and specifically the finances of Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman.
December 27: The Washington Post reports that Trump’s legal team is preparing to attack Michael Flynn’s credibility following the news of his cooperation agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.
December 28: Former Trump aide Rick Gates, who is on house arrest following his indictment in the Mueller investigation on charges of conspiracy and money laundering, asks the DC district court to modify his house arrest to go to a New Year’s party. (The judge denies his request two days later.)
December 30: The New York Times reports that in May 2016—two months before leaked Democratic National Committee emails started to become public—Trump’s foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos told Australia’s top diplomat in Britain, Alexander Downer, that he knew Russia had thousands of emails that had been stolen in an effort to hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The revelation that a member of the Trump campaign had prior knowledge of the DNC hacking is what led the FBI to begin its inquiry into Russian election interference and possible collusion by the Trump campaign.
January 3: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) sends two letters to former Trump campaign staffers Dan Scavino and Brad Parscale, asking for information related to the Russia investigation. In one of the letters, Feinstein alleges that Scavino, who served as the campaign’s social-media manager, “may have corresponded with Russian nationals regarding Trump campaign social media efforts.”
– Paul Manafort files a lawsuit in federal court against the Department of Justice. He claims the DOJ violated the law in appointing Robert Mueller as the special counsel on the Russia probe, and also challenged the “overly broad” scope of the investigation, claiming the special counsel exceeded his authority in indicting Manafort on conspiracy and money laundering charges.
– In a leaked excerpt of a new book about the Trump administration, Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff, Wolff reports that former Trump adviser Steve Bannon called the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer “treasonous,” and later said of the government probe into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”
– The Justice Department and the House Intelligence Committee reach a deal to grant the committee access to documents and sources from the DOJ’s Russia probe. On the House side, the deal’s primary advocate was Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who wrote letters lashing out at the DOJ and the FBI for withholding documents.
January 4: The New York Times reports that in March 2017, Trump directed his general counsel, Don McGahn, to stop Attorney General Jeff Sessions from recusing himself from the Russia investigation. McGahn followed through on the orders, two sources familiar with the episode told the Times. Sessions still recused himself in March 2017.
January 8: NBC reports that the Mueller probe is preparing for a possible interview with Trump. Trump’s legal team met with representatives from the special counsel’s office in late December to discuss the format of the interview, a source familiar with the meeting tells NBC.
January 9: Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, breaks with Republican colleagues by releasing the committee’s interview of Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS, the firm that produced the Steele dossier.
January 11: Trump accuses Peter Strzok, the FBI agent who criticized Trump and other politicians in text messages, of “treason” in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
– Reuters reports that Trump’s former campaign chairman Steve Bannon, will appear before the House Intelligence Committee as part of its Russia probe.
January 16: While testifying before the House Intelligence Committee, Steve Bannon is subpoenaed by the panel on the spot after refusing to discuss his work in the White House and on Trump’s transition team. Bannon’s lawyer responds by contacting the White House, which insists that Bannon not cooperate.
– The New York Times reports that Bannon was subpoenaed by special counsel Robert Mueller. It is the first time Mueller is known to have used a subpoena to get information from a member of Trump’s inner circle.
January 17: Steve Bannon agrees to be interviewed by Robert Mueller’s team instead of testifying before a grand jury, suggesting that he is cooperating with Mueller’s investigation.
– Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski refuses to answer the House Intelligence Committee’s questions about the Trump campaign and his relationship with the president. Lewandowski does not cite Trump’s potential assertion of executive privilege, saying instead that he was unprepared to answer the committee’s questions.
January 18: McClatchy reports that the FBI is investigating whether Alexander Torshin, a top Russian banker who is close to Putin, illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to support Trump’s campaign.
January 19: Conservatives demand the release of a classified memo drafted by aides to House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). The memo, which Democrats see as part of an effort to undermine the Russia investigation, accuses the FBI of improperly obtaining a warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to surveil Carter Page, the former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser.
January 20: CNN reports that House Republicans may use an obscure committee rule to circumvent the executive branch’s declassification process to release the Nunes memo.
January 23: Axios reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions pushed FBI Director Christopher Wray to fire his deputy Andrew McCabe, whom Trump has repeatedly criticized. Wray reportedly threatened to resign because of pressure from Sessions.
January 24: The Justice Department confirms that Attorney General Jeff Sessions was questioned the week before as part of Robert Mueller’s investigation. Sessions is the first Cabinet member to be interviewed by Mueller’s team.
– Two Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee say they want to provide Robert Mueller with transcripts of the panel’s interviews with Donald Trump Jr. and other key Russia witnesses. The move suggests that Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) and Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) believe witnesses may have made false statements to their committee.
– Trump says he is “looking forward” to speaking with special counsel Robert Mueller and that he would do so under oath.
– Trump grows angry while flying to Davos, Switzerland, after learning that Associate Attorney General Stephen Boyd said in a letter to the House Intelligence Committee that it would be “extraordinarily reckless” to release Rep. Devin Nunes’ classified memo, according to a Bloomberg report. Trump reportedly views Boyd’s warning as part of the Justice Department’s efforts to undermine him.
January 25: The New York Times reports that the previous June Trump commanded White House counsel Donald McGahn to fire Robert Mueller but McGahn refused to carry out Trump’s order, threatening to resign.
January 28: Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) say Congress should pass legislation to protect special counsel Robert Mueller from being ousted.
– Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), a top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, says he has “100 percent” support for special counsel Robert Mueller and says he told Republican colleagues to “leave him the hell alone.”
January 29: Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe steps down after facing public attacks from Trump. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had also pressured FBI Director Christopher Wray to fire McCabe.
– Former FBI Director James Comey tweets that “McCabe stood tall over the last 8 months, when small people were trying to tear down an institution we all depend on…America needs you.
Special Agent Andrew McCabe stood tall over the last 8 months, when small people were trying to tear down an institution we all depend on. He served with distinction for two decades. I wish Andy well. I also wish continued strength for the rest of the FBI. America needs you.
— James Comey (@Comey) January 30, 2018
– Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee vote to release the controversial Nunes memo, giving the White House five days to approve or block its release.
– Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein warns White House chief of staff John Kelly that the memo could threaten classified information and urges Trump to reconsider his support for releasing it, according to a Washington Post report. FBI Director Christopher Wray also tells Kelly that he opposes making the memo public.
– The Trump administration announces it will not impose sanctions on countries that buy Russian arms.
– The Daily Beast reports that a Sean Hannity impersonator received a direct message on Twitter from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who claimed to have “some news” on Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.)
January 30: Following his State of the Union address, Trump says on a hot mic that he is “100 percent” in favor of releasing the Nunes memo. The White House had said earlier in the day that it would conduct a national security and legal review before making a decision.
– Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) dismisses concerns about Trump firing special counsel Robert Mueller, saying that Mueller “”seems to need no protection.”
January 31: The FBI says in a statement that it has “grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact” the accuracy of the Nunes memo. It also says it was “provided a limited opportunity to review this memo the day before the committee voted to release it.”
– The New York Times reports that special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating the statement that Trump and his staff crafted on Air Force One about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Russians and Trump campaign officials, including Donald Trump Jr. Hope Hicks, a top aide to Trump, reportedly said at the time that emails discussing obtaining dirt on Hillary Clinton “will never get out.” According to the Times, Mark Corallo, the former spokesman for Trump’s legal team, has received an interview request from Mueller. Corallo resigned from his post in July, reportedly over concerns that the president and his staff may have obstructed justice in connection to their handling of the response to the Trump Tower story.
February 1: CNN reports that top White House officials are worried FBI Director Christopher Wray will resign if House Republicans release the Nunes memo.
– The New York Times reports the White House plans to release the Nunes memo without requesting any redactions.
– House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) call on Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) to remove Devin Nunes as the head of the House Intelligence Committee.
February 2: House Republicans release the Nunes memo, which accuses the FBI of withholding the political nature of the Steele dossier from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court when the bureau applied for a warrant to surveil Carter Page. The Washington Post reports later that day that the bureau did in fact disclose that the dossier had been funded by political entities.
– Former FBI Director James Comey tweets, “Dishonest and misleading memo wrecked the House intel committee, destroyed trust with Intelligence Community, damaged relationship with FISA court, and inexcusably exposed classified investigation of an American citizen.”
That’s it? Dishonest and misleading memo wrecked the House intel committee, destroyed trust with Intelligence Community, damaged relationship with FISA court, and inexcusably exposed classified investigation of an American citizen. For what? DOJ & FBI must keep doing their jobs.
— James Comey (@Comey) February 2, 2018
– Trump sidesteps questions about whether he still has confidence in Deputy FBI Director Rod Rosenstein, telling reporters to “figure that one out.”
– Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) says in a statement, “The latest attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests—no party’s, no president’s, only Putin’s.”
– Sen. Ron Wyden sends letters to the Treasury Department and the National Rifle Association to ask for more information about possible election-related donations to the gun rights group from Russian officials, including ex-politician and Putin ally Alexander Torshin.
February 4: Time reports that in an August 2013 letter, Carter Page bragged that he was an adviser to the Kremlin. “Over the past half year, I have had the privilege to serve as an informal advisor to the staff of the Kremlin in preparation for their Presidency of the G-20 Summit next month, where energy issues will be a prominent point on the agenda,” Page wrote in the letter, which he sent to an academic press that was reviewing a manuscript of his for publication. Page sent the letter two months after the FBI interviewed him about his contacts with Russia and warned that the bureau believed Russian intelligence was trying to recruit him as an asset.
– Donald Trump Jr. describes the release of the Nunes memo as “sweet revenge” for his family during a Fox News interview.
February 5: President Trump accuses Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the House Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat, of leaking information. Trump provides no evidence to support his claim.
Little Adam Schiff, who is desperate to run for higher office, is one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington, right up there with Comey, Warner, Brennan and Clapper! Adam leaves closed committee hearings to illegally leak confidential information. Must be stopped!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 5, 2018
– During an appearance on Fox & Friends, Rep. Devin Nunes acknowledges that the FBI disclosed the political origins of the Steele dossier when it applied for a FISA warrant targeting Carter Page. This contradicted a key claim of the memo compiled by his staff, which contended the bureau failed to reveal the political nature of Steel’s research. In the same interview, Nunes claimed that Trump had never met with George Papadopoulos, the Trump campaign foreign policy adviser who in early 2016 claimed the Russians possessed damaging information on Hillary Clinton. In fact, Trump himself had once tweeted out a photo that pictured him meeting with Papadopoulus and other campaign officials.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 1, 2016
– Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), releases a heavily redacted version of the criminal referral of Christopher Steele that he and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) sent to the FBI.
– The House Intelligence Committee votes unanimously to release a classified Democratic memo that rebuts the claims of the Nunes memo. The vote gives Trump five days to review the memo and decide whether he will approve or oppose its release.
– The New York Times reports that Trump’s lawyers have counseled him to decline a “wide-ranging” interview with special counsel Robert Mueller over concerns that the president, “who has a history of making false statements and contradicting himself, could be charged with lying to investigators.”
February 6: Democratic lawmakers reveal that in December Justice Department officials told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that a whistleblower who Republicans claimed had information linking Hillary Clinton to the Uranium One deal was unreliable and had never mentioned Clinton to the FBI.
February 8: CBS News reports that “Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee plan to construct a wall—a physical partition—separating Republican and Democratic staff members in the committee’s secure spaces. The move highlights the escalating partisan tensions between committee Democrats and Republicans over the panel’s Russia probe.
– Politico reports that a January 2017 phone conversation about Russia between former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page and former White House adviser Steve Bannon may have been intercepted by the FBI.
– Fox News reports that it has exclusively obtained text messages between Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and lobbyist Adam Waldman. The messages, leaked a little over a week after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange promised a Sean Hannity impersonator “some news” on Warner, show Waldman offered to connect Warner with Christopher Steele.
– Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) tweets that Warner disclosed the texts to the Senate Intelligence Committee four months before, adding that it has “had zero impact on our work.”
– In a 25-minute video published on YouTube, Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny accuses Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Prikhodko—a top Russian foreign policy official—of having been a conduit between the Kremlin and Oleg Deripaska, an oligarch linked to the Trump campaign. Navalny builds his case using the instagram posts, videos, and the memoir of Nastya Rybka, an escort who claims to be Deripaska’s mistress.
February 9: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) releases an analysis that refutes the criminal referral of Christopher Steele sent in January by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
– The New York Times and the Intercept report that, in an effort to recover stolen National Security Agency hacking tools, American intelligence officials had been negotiating with a Russian who claimed to also have compromising material on Trump. “Instead of providing the hacking tools, the Russian produced unverified and possibly fabricated information involving Mr. Trump and others, including bank records, emails and purported Russian intelligence data,” according to the Times.
February 10: Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, asks the Treasury Department to hand over records concerning the 2004 sale of Trump’s Palm Beach estate to Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev.
February 12: NBC reports that the Justice Department’s No. 3 official, Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, resigned from the agency in part over concerns that she would be tapped to oversee the Russia probe if Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein were fired.
– Foreign Policy reports that Anthony Ferrante, a former FBI and White House official, has been secretly trying to verify the Steele dossier on behalf of BuzzFeed, which is fighting a lawsuit by a Russian technology executive who was named in the reports compiled by ex-British spy Christopher Steele.
February 13: At a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, the heads of the nation’s top intelligence agencies concur that Russia is likely planning to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections. “There should be no doubt that Russia perceives its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 US midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations,” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats testifies. Coats and the directors of the CIA, the FBI, and the National Security Agency also say Trump has never directed them to do anything to stop Russian election interference.
– The Russian government mandates that the Navalny video, and Rybka’s Instagram posts that contributed to it, be scrubbed from the internet. But as of this writing, much of the prohibited content is still available.
February 14: CNN reports that Trump “remains unconvinced that Russia interfered in the presidential election.”
– At an event sponsored by Axios, Vice President Mike Pence falsely claims the nation’s intelligence agencies determined that Russian interference had no impact on the 2016 election. The intelligence community’s assessment, in fact, did not take up that question.
– Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) tells reporters, ”There is already, in my view, ample evidence in the public domain on the issue of collusion if you’re willing to see it. If you want to blind yourself, then you can look the other way.” He also says, “There is certainly an abundance of non-public information that we’ve gathered in the investigation. And I think some of that non-public evidence is evidence on the issue of collusion and some…on the issue of obstruction.”
February 15: Steve Bannon, under a congressional subpoena, appears before a closed-door session of the House Intelligence Committee, where he once again refuses to answer key questions concerning his time in the White House and on Trump’s transition team. The panel considers holding him in contempt of Congress.
– NBC reports that Bannon was interviewed over multiple days earlier in the week by special counsel Robert Mueller.
– CNN reports that Paul Manafort’s former business associate Rick Gates is finalizing a plea deal with the special counsel’s office.
– Mark Corallo, the former spokesman for Trump’s legal team, meets with Robert Mueller for more than two hours.
– The National Rifle Association responds to Sen. Ron Wyden’s February 2 letter requesting information on its ties to Putin ally Alexander Torshin. The NRA says it doesn’t accept donations related to US elections from foreign nationals, in compliance with election law.
February 16: Special counsel Robert Mueller indicts 13 Russians for their role in a wide-ranging plot to sow discord in the US political process and interfere in the 2016 election. FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein brief Trump on the indictments before they are made public.
Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 16, 2018
– CNN reports that Rick Gates, a former Trump campaign adviser and business associate of Paul Manafort, is nearing a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller’s office.
February 19: CNN reports that “special counsel Robert Mueller’s interest in Jared Kushner has expanded beyond his contacts with Russia and now includes his efforts to secure financing for his company from foreign investors during the presidential transition.”
February 20: Robert Mueller’s office charges lawyer Alex van Der Zwaan—son-in-law of Russian oligarch German Khan—with making false statements to investigators in connection with a September 2016 conversation he had with Rick Gates. According to Zwaan’s indictment, he also deleted or failed to turn over records sought by the special counsel’s office.
February 22: Special counsel Robert Mueller files a new indictment against Paul Manafort and his longtime business partner Rick Gates, charging the pair with a combined 32 counts of various financial fraud. Both Manafort and Gates plead not guilty to the charges.
– Following the indictment, Gates’ team of three lawyers applies to withdraw from the case. They explain their reasons to the court in a sealed filing.
– ABC News reports that Rick Gates has hired a new lawyer, Thomas Green. A former federal prosecutor, Green is known for representing and negotiating plea deals for high-profile clients, including former House Speaker Dennis Hastert.
February 23: Rick Gates strikes a deal to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. As part of the deal, he pleads guilty to charges of conspiracy and lying to federal agents.
– The special counsel targets Paul Manafort with another indictment. It alleges that Manafort secretly paid former European politicians more than 2 million euros to lobby on behalf of Ukraine’s pro-Russia government.
February 24: The House Intelligence Committee releases a redacted 10-page memo written by the panel’s Democrats that rebuts Republican allegations that omitted important information—including political origins of the Steele dossier—when it sought a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant targeting Carter Page, the Trump campaign’s foreign policy adviser.
Februaryy 26: Six Republican leaders of various congressional committees, including those currently investigating possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, tell CNN that they do not believe it is necessary to dig into Trump’s finances as part of the congressional Russia probes.
February 27: White House communications director Hope Hicks is interviewed for nine hours behind closed doors by the House Intelligence Committee. She admits to having told “white lies” on Trump’s behalf but says she has not lied about anything related to the Russia investigation.
February 28: NBC reports that before the 2016 election, American intelligence agencies had evidence that state websites and voter registration systems in seven states were accessed by Russia-linked hackers but did not pass this information to the relevant states.
– The New York Times reports that Hope Hicks plans to resign from her post as White House communications director.
– Bloomberg reports that New York’s banking regulator has requested information from Deutsche Bank and two other lenders concerning “their relationships with Jared Kushner, his family and the Kushner Cos.”
March 1: The New York Times reports that the Senate Intelligence Committee has determined that the leak of Sen. Mark Warner’s text messages to Fox News came from Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, chaired by Rep. Devin Nunes. According to the Times, Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Warner (D-Va.), respectively the chair and vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, sought a rare meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to inform him of their findings and express concerns over Nunes’ handling of the Russia probe in the House Intelligence Committee.
March 4: In an interview on NBC, Putin says Russia will never extradite the Russian nationals that have been indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller, and he denies that the Kremlin interfered in the US election.
March 5: Sen. Ron Wyden sends a second letter to the National Rifle Association to ask for more information about donations to the gun rights group from powerful Russian actors, including Alexander Torshin. “I remain concerned about the inability to get clear answers to several questions about the possibility that Russian actors funneled foreign funds into NRA electioneering activity,” Wyden writes.
– Nastya Rybka, who claims to be Oleg Deripaska’s mistress and who has been jailed in Thailand on charges of working in the country without a visa, announces that she has more than 16 hours of recordings that can shed light on Russian meddling in the US election. She offers to turn these over to US authorities in exchange for asylum.
– Former Trump adviser Sam Nunberg goes on a number of TV news shows, threatening to defy the subpoena he has received from special counsel Robert Mueller. Ultimately, he changes his mind and says he will comply with the subpoena.
March 6: Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats says the Trump administration has not put together “a coherent strategy” to combat Russian interference in the 2018 midterm elections.
– The Washington Post reports that a January 2017 meeting in the Seychelles between Blackwater founder and Trump supporter Erik Prince and Kirill Dimitriev, a Russian official close to Putin—a meeting characterized by Prince as a chance encounter—was in fact arranged in advance by the Trump transition team. This information was provided to Mueller by cooperating witness George Nader, who also attended the Seychelles meeting. Nader alleges the meeting was arranged with the aim of creating a back channel with a Kremlin emissary to discuss US-Russia relations.
March 7: The New York Times reports that in at least two instances, Trump has asked key witnesses—White House counsel Don McGahn and former chief of staff Reince Priebus—for information on what they discussed during their interviews with the special counsel.
March 8: A federal district court sets Paul Manafort’s trial for July 10, 2018, after he pleads not guilty to tax and fraud charges leveled against him by special counsel Robert Mueller.
March 12: The House Intelligence Committee says it has completed interviews in its Russia investigation and will soon issue a final report, over the objections of Democrats on the committee. In a summary of their report, the GOP lawmakers write that the committee has found “no evidence of collusion, coordination, or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians.”
March 13: Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, says Democrats on the panel are not done with the Russia investigation. He says they plan to complete more interviews and will issue their own report.
– CNN reports that the FBI has tried to meet with Nastya Rybka, the self-described mistress of Oleg Deripaska imprisoned in Thailand. The meeting attempt came after Rybka issued a plea for asylum in the United States in exchange for hours of audio recordings she says she has of her time with Deripaska that will shed light on Russian election interference. FBI agents contacted Thai immigration officials to set up a meeting with Rybka but were denied access, reportedly because only family or lawyers can visit detainees.
March 15: The New York Times reports that special counsel Robert Mueller has subpoenaed Trump Organization records, including some related to Russia. This is the first known instance of Mueller demanding documents tied directly to the president’s businesses.
March 16: Politico reports that the Federal Election Commission has launched an inquiry into potentially illegal donations made to the National Rifle Association by Russian individuals and businesses in support of Trump’s 2016 campaign.
– McClatchy reports that according to two anonymous sources, Cleta Mitchell, who served as a lawyer and board member for the NRA, had concerns about the group’s ties to Russia. Mitchell denies this claim, but Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee plan to interview her, McClatchy reports.
– Andrew McCabe, former deputy director of the FBI, is fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions 26 hours before his scheduled retirement, putting McCabe’s pension in jeopardy. Sessions justifies the firing by saying that McCabe was dishonest about a conversation he authorized between FBI officials and a journalist. McCabe responds to the firing with a written statement denying any dishonesty and says the firing was a politically motivated attempt to discredit the Russia investigation. McCabe previously testified that he could corroborate former FBI Director James Comey’s accounts of Comey’s conversations with the president.
March 17: Trump tweets about McCabe’s firing, calling it a “great day.”
Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI – A great day for Democracy. Sanctimonious James Comey was his boss and made McCabe look like a choirboy. He knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 17, 2018
March 19: Britain’s Channel 4 News airs an undercover investigation on Cambridge Analytica, the data analytics firm that worked on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. The broadcast includes video of Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix talking about the company’s methods for influencing foreign elections—including, according to Nix, spreading propaganda online and entrapping candidates by sending Ukrainian “girls” to their homes. (Cambridge Analytica denies using entrapment and says Nix was just playing along with someone who he thought was a potential client.)
March 20: Channel 4 airs a second undercover segment on Cambridge Analytica, in which CEO Alexander Nix describes what he claims was the company’s expansive role in the digital campaign to help Trump during the election. “We did all the research, all the data, all the analytics, all the targeting,” Nix says. “We ran all the digital campaign, the television campaign, and our data informed all the strategy.” The chief data officer for Cambridge Analytica says in the video that the firm’s work was responsible for Trump’s Electoral College performance. “When you think about the fact that Donald Trump lost the popular vote by 3 million votes but won the Electoral College, that’s down to the data and the research,” he says. “That’s how he won the election.” Cambridge Analytica announces it has suspended Nix, pending an investigation into the Channel 4 videos.
March 21: ABC News reports that Mueller’s team is looking into ties between the Trump campaign, Cambridge Analytica, and the Republican National Committee.
– Having concluded their Russia investigation, House Intelligence Committee Republicans vote to release their full report. The committee insists it found no evidence of collusion and recommends instead a crackdown on leaks to the press and a repeal of the Logan Act, a statute that criminalizes efforts by private citizens to interfere in US foreign policy. Some legal experts had suggested that Michael Flynn’s contacts with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition period may have run afoul of that law, though special counsel Robert Mueller did not charge him with violating it
March 22: John Dowd, the head of a team of White House lawyers representing Trump in the Russia probe, resigns. According to two sources who spoke to the New York Times, Dowd tendered his resignation because the president “was increasingly ignoring his advice” on how to respond to the special counsel’s investigation.
Additional updates by Daniel Schulman, Noah Lanard, and Kanyakrit Vongkiatkajorn
Image credit: Carlo Allegri; Klimentyev Mikhail; Carlos Barria; Kevin Lamarque; Monterey Herald; Sergei Karpukhin; Jim Loscalzo (via ZUMA)