FBI Director James Comey testified before the House Intelligence Committee on March 20, publicly confirming an investigation between President Donald Trump’s advisers and Russia. This article tracks news reports regarding the links between Russian agents and/or the 2016 election/Trump Administration.
Who are the players?
- Carter Page: founder and managing partner of Global Energy Capital and a foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign
- Devin Nunes: U.S. Representative (R-CA) and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
- Jeff Sessions: Former U.S. attorney, former U.S. Senator (R-AL), Attorney General; surrogate and policy adviser to the Trump campaign
- Michael Flynn: retired U.S. Army lieutenant general; former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency; former National Security Advisor
- Paul Manafort: lobbyist, political consultant, and Trump campaign manager
- Roger Stone: political consultant and Trump campaign adviser
- Sergey Kislyak: Russian ambassador to the United States
After assuming the presidency
Day 4, 3 April 2017
- BuzzFeed reports that in 2013 Carter Page passed documents to a Russian spy (“unregistered agent”). This is the “most clearly documented contact to date between Russian intelligence and someone in Trump’s orbit.” Page contends that his interactions “did not include anything sensitive.”
- Washington Post reports that the United Arab Emirates arranged for Blackwater founder Erik Prince to meet with a “Russian close to President Vladimir Putin” in January, prior to the inauguration. Prince “presented himself as an unofficial envoy for Trump to high-ranking Emiratis involved in setting up his meeting with the Putin confidant.” He contributed $250,000 after the RNC. His sister, Betsy DeVos, is the education secretary. Prince founded Blackwater, which was a high profile contractor in the Iraq war. In 2007, company guards were accused and convicted of killing civilians.
Days before the November election, Prince appeared on Bannon’s program again, saying that he had “well-placed sources” in the New York City Police Department telling him they were preparing to make arrests in the investigation of former congressman Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) over allegations he exchanged sexually explicit texts with a minor. Flynn tweeted a link to the Breitbart report on the claim. No arrests occurred.
Day 72, 1 April 2017
- AP poll (margin of error, +/- 4%) found that 61% of adults believe Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia is extremely or moderately important. Only 23% believe it is not important. About half, 52%, favor an independent investigation into whether the campaign had inappropriate contacts with the Russian government. Only 23% oppose such an investigation. Given that more voters picked Clinton than Trump on November 8, this result is not surprising.
Day 71, 31 March 2017
- According to NBC, the Senate intelligence committee is not interested in Flynn’s request for immunity.
Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 31, 2017
The question for you, Mr. President, is why you waited so long to act after you learned Flynn (through your VP) had misled the country?
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) March 31, 2017
Day 70, 30 March 2017
- Flynn offers to testify before Congress in exchange for immunity. Alex Whiting, a professor of practice at Harvard Law School, writes that a public statement “suggests that he has nothing good to give the prosecutors.”
- According to the New York Times, two White House officials, Ezra Cohen-Watnick and Michael Ellis, “played a role in providing” Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) access to intelligence showing that “President Trump and his associates were incidentally swept up in foreign surveillance by American spy agencies.”
Day 69, 29 March 2017
- Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) pledge to conduct a bipartisan investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. According to Burr, the investigation has seven committee staffers, and the committee has begun to schedule the first of 20 interviews.
Day 68, 28 March 2017
- According to the Washington Post, the Trump administration has tried to prevent former acting Attorney General Sally Yates from testifying before the House Intelligence Committee.
- Roger Stone, a Trump ally, has offered to testify before Congress on Russia investigation.
Day 67, 27 March 2017
- According to the New York Times, Jared Kushner met with Sergey Gorkov, the chief of Russia’s state-owned development bank in December 2016, at the direction of Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Day 64, 24 March 2017
- The WSJ reported that while working for the Trump campaign, Mike Flynn discussed the kidnapping (“a covert step in the dead of night to whisk this guy away” to Turkey) of a cleric living in Pennsylvania, bypassing federal extradition.
Day 63, 23 March 2017
- The Attorney General of Cyprus is cooperating with US officials in turning over information related to Paul Manafort. Cyprus was “once known as a haven for money laundering by Russian billionaires.” From AP: “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.”
Day 62, 22 March 2017
- AP reported that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort had a $10mm/year contract with a Russia-related entity to covertly promote the interests of the Russian government. In 2005, Manafort Manafort “pitched the plans to aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, a close Putin ally.” The contract was inked in 2006.
- In a surprise press conference, Nunes announced that he had seen evidence that people close to Trump had been subjects of surveillance during the transition. He refused to name his sources; he did not advise the Intelligence Committee members. Nunes also visited the White House to brief Trump on his findings, a departure from the normal investigatory relationship between a Congressional committee and the target of an investigation.
Day 61, 21 March 2017
- Russian lawyer Nikolai Gorokhov, who represents the family of Magnitsky, a Russia who died in prison in 2009 after uncovering massive fraud, mysteriously “fell” from his fourth floor apartment, the night before he was set to appear in court in Moscow. He survived the fall.
- A Ukrainian lawmaker released financial documents implicating Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, in money laundering, using offshore accounts in Belize and Kyrgyzstan for the party of a Russian-backed former leader of Ukraine.
- Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), chair of the House intelligence committee, met secretly with someone on the White House grounds. In response to questions from Mother Jones‘ David Corn, Nunes told reporters he has not heard of key figures connected to the Trump-Russia scandal, including Carter Page and Roger Stone.
Day 60, 20 March 2017
- In his testimony before the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, FBI Director James Comey confirmed that the FBI “is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 president election. And that includes 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.” Comey also said there is “no information” to back Trump’s wiretapping claim. During the hearings, Trump live-tweeted false and misleading information from the @POTUS Twitter account.
- The Guardian reports: “The German bank that loaned $300m (£260m) to Donald Trump played a prominent role in a money laundering scandal run by Russian criminals with ties to the Kremlin.”
- In today’s press conference, Sean Spicer made the following claims:
Day 56, 16 March 2017
- Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn “collected nearly $68,000 in fees and expenses from Russia-related entities in 2015… more than $45,000, came from the Russian government-backed television network RT.” According to AP, “retired military officers [are prohibited] from accepting gifts from foreign powers.” In addition to being paid by RT, Flynn received $11,250 from Volga-Dnepr Airlines in August 2015 and $11,250 from a Kaspersky Lab subsidiary in October 2015; the payments came after Trump entered the race and met Flynn. In January, Russia arrested a Kaspersky investigator for treason.
Day 50, 10 March 2017
- Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone admits having contact with Guccifer 2.0.
- Trump’s transition team knew before the inauguration that National Security Adviser Michael Flynn might register with the government as a foreign agent representing a Turkish company. His work on behalf of a Turkish businessman took place while he was also advising Trump’s presidential campaign.
- The yacht belonging to Russian billionaire Dmitri Rybolovlev anchors in a cove in the British Virgin Islands. 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, anchors next to Rybolovlev.
Day 47, 7 March 2017
- Fired National Security Adviser Flynn “registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent for $530,000 worth of lobbying work before Election Day that may have aided the Turkish government.”
Day 45, 5 March 2017
Day 44, 4 March 2017
- With no evidence, Trump claims Obama wiretapped him during campaign
Day 42, 2 March 2017
- Attorney General Sessions will recuse himself from any probe related to 2016 presidential campaign
- Jared Kushner, Mike Flynn met with Russian ambassador during transition.
- Alex Oronov, a Ukrainian billionaire businessman, dies unexpectedly. Oronov’s daughter was married to Michael Cohen’s brother; Cohen is Trump’s longtime lawyer and associate.
- The White House acknowledges that Kushner and Flynn met with Kislyak at Trump Tower in December.
- The Wall Street Journal reported that Donald Trump Jr. was paid at least $50,000 speaking at a French think tank run by a couple allied with Russia; the event took place in October 2016.
- USA Today reported that Trump advisers Carter Page and J.D. Gordon met with Kislyak during the RNC.
Day 41, 1 March 2017
- According to the Washington Post, Jeff Sessions did not disclose in his January confirmation hearings that he had two meetings with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador.
Day 39, 27 February 2017
- Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) called for a special prosecutor to examine the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russians; Issa is chair of the House Oversight Committee. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was involved in President Trump’s campaign and should not lead the investigation, according to Issa. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) echoed this sentiment on March 1. Both called Sessions “a friend.”
Day 38, 26 February 2017
- WSJ/NBC poll: 38% believe Trump’s relationship with Putin is too friendly. This is up 5 points from January. Also, fewer people now hold no opinion.
Day 37, 25 February 2017
- Chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) has rejected calls for a special prosecutor to investigate possible ties between Russia and Trump’s administration/campaign staff.
Day 36, 24 February 2017
- White House Asked FBI To Publicly Refute Reports Trump Associates Had Russia Contacts. The White House confirmed that Chief of Staff Reince Priebus asked the FBI to publicly “knock down” media reports that Trump campaign officials had been in contact with Russian intelligence agents.
Day 35, 23 February 2017
- Paul Manafort may have been the victim of a blackmail attempt last summer when he was chair of Trump’s presidential campaign. The blackmail effort Manafort came to light when a “darknet website run by a hacktivist collective” published the contents of his daughter’s phone, which had been hacked.
Day 33, 21 February 2017
- The president’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, was at the center of a Sunday New York Times report regarding a “peace plan for Russia and Ukraine.” He has told four different stories to the press.
Day 31, 19 February 2017
- A week before Flynn resigned as national security adviser, Michael D. Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer, delivered a sealed proposal to Flynn’s office. Inside? A plan outlining a way for Trump to lift sanctions against Russia.
- White House chief of staff Reince Priebus told FOX news that “there was no collusion between anyone involved in President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russian officials.”
Day 29, 17 February 2017
- After a closed door meeting between FBI chief Comey and the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Rubio (R-FL) tweeted
I am now very confident Senate Intel Comm I serve on will conduct thorough bipartisan investigation of #Putin interference and influence
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) February 17, 2017
Day 28, 16 February 2017
- The Washington Post reported that Flynn lied in a January 24 FBI interview; lying to the FBI is a felony, but the Department of Justice (headed by AG Sessions) would have to press charges.
- Trump tells reporters that “nobody that I know of” in the campaign had been in contact with Russia.
Day 27, 15 February
- On PBS Newshour, Carter Page denies meeting with any Russian officials in 2016.
Day 26, 14 February 2017
- CNN and the NY Times reported that Trump campaign aides had been in constant contact with Russian officials. Yet Attorney General Sessions refused to recuse himself from any investigation, despite his ties to Trump during the campaign.
Day 25, 13 February 2017
- National Security adviser Michael Flynn resigned. Flynn is the third Trump advisor to resign over ties to Russia; others are campaign manager Paul Manafort (August 2016) and campaign adviser Carter Page (September 2016).
Day 22, 10 February 2017
- Trump stated he was unaware that Flynn might have discussed sanctions with Russia.
- Dmitri Rybolovlev’s plane lands in Miami, the day before Trump is set to arrive at Mar-a-Lago for the weekend.
Day 21, 9 February 2017
- US National Security adviser, Michael Flynn, came under fire after both the Washington Post and the New York Times reported that he talked to the Russian ambassador about the sanctions from the Obama administration before they happened.
Day 20, 8 February 2017
- Jeff Sessions confirmed as Attorney General (52-47).
- Washington Post: Flynn denies discussing US sanctions with the Russian ambassador.
Day 7, 26 January 2017
- Acting Attorney General Sally Yates tells White House counsel Don McGahn that Flynn had discussed US sanctions with the Russian ambassador.
Day 4, 23 January 2017
- In his first press briefing, White House press secretary Sean Spicer tells reporters that national security adviser Michael Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador did not include US sanctions.
Day 1, 20 January 2017
- Trump is inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States.
- January 26: Acting Attorney General Sally Yates warned the Trump administration that Flynn had misled officials regarding his communications with Kislyak. Yates would be fired on January 30 for refusing to enforce the Administration executive order banning travel from Muslim countries.
- January 15: Vice President Mike Pence told CBS that Flynn and Kislyak had been in communication but did not talk about sanctions.
- January 13: White House press secretary Sean Spicer tells reporters that Flynn and Kislyak had a conversation on December 28, but it wasn’t about sanctions. However, two Trump transition officials confirm to NPR that a call took place on December 29.
- January 12: According to the Washington Post, “Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on Dec. 29,” the same day that the Obama administration announced sanctions and removed Russian diplomats.
- January 10: BuzzFeed published an unredacted version of the dossier.
- January 9: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) gave the FBI a dossier on Trump compiled by a Republican opposition researcher; the author was a retired western European former counter-intelligence official. David Corn, the Washington editor of Mother Jones, first reported the existence of the material on 31 October.
- January 6: US intelligence agency report stated that Putin orchestrated a campaign to help Trump and hurt Clinton in the 2016 election. The report said that Russia “used the Guccifer 2.0 persona and DCLeaks.com …and relayed material to WikiLeaks.”
- December 29: Obama administration announces measures to punish Russia for 2016 election interference. WaPost.
- December 29: Kislyak texts Flynn; Flynn and Kislyak talk several times. This story would break on January 12.
- December 26: A former Russian KGB chief was found dead in his car under suspicious circumstances. Oleg Erovinkin reportedly helped former MI6 spy Christopher Steele compile a dossier on Trump which would see the light of day in January.
- December 9: Russian hackers accessed computer accounts of Republican lawmakers and the RNC but did not release anything gained from the Republican networks. NYTimes. President Obama orders a “full review” of digital attacks aimed at influencing U.S. elections, going back to 2008.
- November 29: A group of Democratic Senators called on the White House to declassify information about “the Russian Government and the US election.”
- November 18: Trump appointed Flynn as his national security adviser.
- November 11: After Obama fired Flynn in 2014, he formed the Flynn Intel Group. The Daily Caller reported today that Flynn’s consulting firm had been “hired to lobby Congress by a Dutch company … founded by a Turkish businessman who holds a top position on Turkey’s Foreign Economic Relations Board.” Justice Department documents filed in March after Flynn was fired “essentially confirm … that the lobbying that Flynn Intel Group technically did for Inovo was actually being done on behalf of the Turkish government.” Inovo paid Flynn Intel Group $535,000 between September 9, 2016 and November 15, 2016.
- November 8: Trump wins the election. Flynn authored an op-ed in The Hill calling for U.S. support for Turkey and Erdoğan’s government. Flynn criticized the Obama administration for providing sanctuary for Fethullah Gülen, a moderate Turkish Muslim cleric who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999. Erdoğan has claimed that Gülen is responsible for the 2016 attempted overthrow of his government.
- November 10: Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei A. Ryabkov told the state-run news agency, Interfax, that “‘there were contacts’ with Trump’s ‘entourage’ throughout the election.”
- October 18: Former FBI agent Brian McCauley, while on the Flynn payroll ($28,000 – undisclosed at the time), asserted he had initiated a quid pro quo with a State Department official in 2015 regarding classification of a specific Clinton email. The State Department official denied any quid pro quo: “At no point in our conversation was I under the impression we were bargaining.”
- October 11: Trump cited a false article from Russian propaganda outlet Sputnik article about Benghazi.
- October 7: WikiLeaks released the first batch of emails hacked from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta. It was one hour after the Access Hollywood tape (“grab ’em by the pussy”) was released.
Sessions met with Russian ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak in a private meeting in his office; he did not disclose this meeting at his confirmation hearings.
- September 25: Flynn said, “When you are given immunity, that means you have probably committed a crime.”
- August 21: Stone on Twitter: “Trust me, it will soon (be) Podesta’s time in the barrel. #CrookedHillary” Podesta was Clinton’s campaign manager.
- August 20: Manafort stepped down from his position as campaign chief after reports of questionable financial dealings with Russia-aligned Ukrainian leaders.
- August 15: Secret ledger in the Ukraine lists cash for Donald Trump’s campaign chief. “Handwritten ledgers show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort from Mr. Yanukovych’s pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012.”
- August 14-17: Stone exchanged private messages with Guccifer 2.0 on Twitter. Months later, he posted two screenshots of the conversation and downplayed the exchange.
- August 14: Paul Manafort, the campaign chairman, promoted a bogus story about a terrorist attack on a NATO base in Turkey; the story originated on the Russian propaganda websites RT and Sputnik.
- August 8: Stone boasted that he “has communicated with (WikiLeaks founder Julian) Assange” and promised another document dump, an “October surprise.”
- August 5: Roger Stone, an informal Trump adviser, claims that Guccifer 2.0 — and not Russia — orchestrated the DNC hacks; the essay appears in Breitbart News, a far-right online outlet run by Trump adviser and confident Steve Bannon.
- July 27: Trump invites Russia to hack Clinton’s computers: “I will tell you this, Russia: If you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”
- July 27: The Department of Homeland Security issued a national warning about “about foreign intelligence officials attempting to elicit information from U.S. government personnel at conferences, events, and other functions.”
- July 25: The FBI announces it is investigating the DNC hack.
- July 22: Just before the Democratic National Convention, WikiLeaks posted nearly 20,000 emails from the hacked DNC server.
- July 19: Sessions met with Russian ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak while at the Republican National Convention; he did not disclose this meeting at his confirmation hearings. He used campaign funds to travel to the RNC.
- July 11: At the RNC, a Ted Cruz delegate proposed a platform amendment calling on the US to send lethal weapons to Ukraine in response to Russian “military aggression.” Trump campaign aides initiated a process to stop that language from officially being adopted, according to CNN.
- July 8: The Telegraph reports that Carter Page “lamented that the West ‘unnecessarily perpetuated Cold War tendencies’ in their dealings with Russia, and called instead for ‘mutual respect’ in order to get ‘mutual benefits.'”
- June 20: Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is abruptly fired; Manafort becomes the top campaign official.
- June 15: Trump suggests that the DNC hacked itself to distract from Hillary Clinton’s “email scandal.”
- May 19: Trump names Paul Manafort as campaign chairman and chief strategist.
- March 28: Trump hires Paul Manafort to manage delegate efforts for his primary campaign.
- March 21: Trump tells The Washington Post editorial board that Walid Phares and Carter Page will be among his campaign’s advisers for foreign policy.
- March 3: Trump taps Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to chair his campaign’s national security advisory team.