Manage episode 216410780 series 1288873
This week I’m doing something a little different from my usual podcasts. I’ve gone through the entire history of Trump’s election and presidency and the various actors/players in his administration and I break down in detail, event by event, what has been going on with who and when that has led to Trump’s current very serious legal woes.
Trump went to Moscow to find a site for luxury hotel; no deal emerged.
Trump sought to build a condominium complex in Russia; that also did not succeed.
Allen Weisselberg named a vice president at Mr. Trump’s Atlantic City, N.J. casino company following an accounting scandal that resulted in it eventually agreeing to a Securities and Exchange Commission cease-and-desist order.
Paul Manafort first began to establish connections in Ukraine – ground zero in the geopolitical struggle between Putin’s Russia and the West – in late 2004. His reputation as a masterful political strategist and fixer was earned over decades hopping planes to the Congo, Philippines and elsewhere to advise authoritarian rulers friendly with the United States.
By the end of that year, the former Soviet republic of Ukraine was paralyzed by widespread protests amid allegations that Yanukovych, the prime minister in a government rife with corruption, had won the presidency in a rigged election. What became the Orange Revolution persisted until another, internationally monitored vote was held and rival Victor Yushchenko was declared the winner.
Donald Trump signed a one-year deal with a New York development company to explore a Trump Tower in Moscow, but the effort fizzled.
Paul Manafort and a partner formed Davis Manafort Partners Inc. in early 2005 and opened offices in Kiev.
Manafort’s first client in Ukraine was Rinat Akhmetov, the country’s richest man and a key funder of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions. Deripaska introduced Manafort to Akhmetov, who hailed from Russia-leaning Eastern Ukraine. In the summer of 2005, Akhmetov tapped Manafort to help Yanukovych and his party in the 2006 elections, according to an American consultant based in Kiev, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid damaging relationships. The multimillion-dollar political consulting deal was sealed at a meeting in an elite Moscow hotel attended by Manafort, Akhmetov and a half dozen other wealthy Ukrainians.
Manafort spent the next several years advising Deripaska, Akhmetov and other Ukrainian oligarchs and giving the gruff-talking Yanukovych a makeover down to his hair style and attire.
“Russia is one of the hottest places in the world for investment,” Trump said in a 2007 deposition. “We will be in Moscow at some point,” he said.
“Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” Trump’s son told a real estate conference in 2008, according to an account posted on the website of eTurboNews, a trade publication. “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” Trump Jr. noted that he traveled to Russia six times in 18 months, and “several buyers have been attracted to our projects there and everything associated therewith.” But he added: “As much as we want to take our business over there, Russia is just a different world…. It is a question of who knows who, whose brother is paying off who… It really is a scary place.”
Victor Yanukovych wins the presidency of Ukraine.
Even after the February 2014 fall of Ukraine’s pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych, who won office with the help of a Manafort-engineered image makeover, the American consultant flew to Kiev another 19 times over the next 20 months while working for the smaller, pro-Russian Opposition Bloc party. Manafort went so far as to suggest the party take an anti-NATO stance, an Oppo Bloc architect has said. A key ally of that party leader, oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk, was identified by an earlier Ukrainian president as a former Russian intelligence agent, “100 percent.”
The trail of Manafort’s decade of dealings 5,000 miles from America’s capital is murky. But the previously unreported flight records, spanning from late 2004 through 2015, reflect a man seemingly always on the move. Over those years, Manafort visited Ukraine at least 138 times. His trips between Ukraine and Moscow all occurred between 2005 and 2011 and were mostly in 2005 and 2006.
Prosecutors have charged that Manafort and associate Rick Gates funneled through a maze of foreign accounts at least $75 million in consulting fees from an array of Kremlin-leaning clients: Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, who secretly paid them $10 million annually for several years; a second Ukrainian oligarch; and the ruling Party of Regions, which supported Yanukovych until corruption allegations and bloody protests led to his overthrow in February 2014.
Alex van der Zwaan, who speaks Russian, was one of the eight attorneys who worked on Skadden Arps’s 2012 report, commissioned by the government of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych via Paul Manafort, that defended the prosecution, conviction and imprisonment of Yanukovych’s rival, the country’s former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Van der Zwaan traveled to Ukraine to work on the report, and served as rule-of-law consultant to the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine. Former United States ambassador to Ukraine John E. Herbst said in a 2017 interview that Skadden Arps “should have been ashamed” of the report, calling it “a nasty piece of work”. Special Counsel investigation prosecutor Andrew Weissmann stated in February 2018 that, as part of Manafort’s and Rick Gates’s lobbying effort to improve Yanukovych’s reputation in the United States, Van der Zwaan took an advance copy of the report in late July or early August 2012, without authorization, and provided it to a public-relations firm working for the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice — with one aim being to get the report published in The New York Times — and in September 2012 provided Gates with talking points about the report.
The Post reported that the Trump Organization had partnered with Aras Agalarov, the so-called “Trump of Russia,” on a project in Moscow in 2013 that didn’t come to fruition. “The Trump Tower deal never moved past preliminary discussions,” The Post said. “But Agalarov said the family is interested in a possible future venture.” In 2013, he signed a preliminary agreement to build a tower in partnership with Aras Agalarov, a billionaire who had financed the Trump-owned Miss Universe pageant when it was held in Moscow in 2013. Agalarov told The Post last year that his company’s deal with Trump was on hold because of the presidential campaign.
In 2013, Carter Page met with Viktor Podobnyy, then a junior attaché at the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, at an energy conference, and provided him with documents on the U.S. energy industry. Page later said he provided only “basic immaterial information and publicly available research documents” to Podobnyy. Podobnyy was later one of a group of three Russian men charged by U.S. authorities for participation in a Russian spy ring; Podobnyy and one of the other men was protected by diplomatic immunity from prosecution; a third man, who was spying for the Russia under non-diplomatic cover, pleaded guilty to conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent and was sentenced to prison. The men had attempted to recruit Page to work for the Russian SVR. The FBI interviewed Page in 2013 “as part of an investigation into the spy ring, but decided that he had not known the man was a spy”, and never accused Page of wrongdoing. As part of the court filing it was written that Podobnyy said “Page wrote that he is sorry, he went to Moscow and forgot to check his inbox, but he wants to meet when he gets back. I think he is an idiot and forgot who I am. … He got hooked on Gazprom thinking that if they have a project, he could rise up,” Podobnyy said. “I also promised him a lot … This is intelligence method to cheat, how else to work with foreigners? You promise a favor for a favor. You get the documents from him and tell him to go fuck himself.”
July 2013 – Manafort and Kilimnik flew from eastern Ukraine to Frankfurt on a private plane owned by Belbek Avia, according to the flight records. The aircraft company’s founders included the father of Andrey Artemenko, a Ukrainian legislator. Through an attorney, Andrey Artemenko denied that Belbek Avia ever owned an aircraft.
American experts on Russia said privately they suspect the trip was a prelude to a broader Russian influence effort to dissuade Yanukovych’s government from signing an agreement to associate with the European Union. That decision, experts say, opened the door to Russia’s 2014 invasion of eastern Ukraine.
February 2014 – Ukranian revolution, a series of violent events involving protesters, riot police, and unknown shooters in the capital, Kiev, culminated in the ousting of the elected Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, and the overthrow of the Ukrainian Government. The events were followed by a series of changes in Ukraine’s sociopolitical system, including the formation of a new interim government, the restoration of the previous constitution, and a call to hold impromptu presidential elections within months. Opposition to the revolution in some eastern and southern regions escalated into the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, its later military intervention and the subsequent War in Donbass. Fifty seven percent of people in the government-controlled east regard the change in power as an “illegal armed coup”.
After the breakup of the Soviet Union, Ukraine endured years of corruption, mismanagement, lack of economic growth, currency devaluation, and problems in securing funding from public markets. Successive Ukrainian governments in the 2000s sought a closer relationship with the European Union (EU). One of the measures meant to achieve this was an association agreement with the European Union, which would have provided Ukraine with funds in return for liberalising reforms. President Yanukovych announced his intention to sign the agreement, but ultimately refused to do so at the last minute. This sparked a wave of protests called the “Euromaidan” movement. During these protests Yanukovych signed a treaty and multibillion-dollar loan with Russia. The Ukrainian security forces cracked down on the protesters, further inflaming the situation and resulting in a series of violent clashes in the streets of Kiev. As tensions rose, Yanukovych fled to Russia and did not return.
Russia refused to recognize the new interim government, calling the overthrow of Yanukovych a coup d’état, and began a military intervention in Ukraine. The newly appointed interim government of Ukraine signed the EU association agreement and agreed to reform the country’s judiciary and political systems, as well as its financial and economic policies. The International Monetary Fund pledged more than $18 billion in loans contingent on Ukraine’s adopting those reforms. The revolution was followed by pro-Russian unrest in some south-eastern regions, a standoff with Russia regarding the annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol, and a war between the Ukrainian government and Russia-backed separatists in the Donbass.
Manafort’s business took a hit when Yanukovych fled to Russia, days before Kremlin-backed forces invaded Eastern Ukraine. He was quickly hired by the Opposition Bloc, which leaned even more toward Moscow.
His work drew rave reviews from one Oppo Bloc leader, Nestor Shufrych, whom multiple people in positions to know described as a close ally of Medvedchuk. Shufrych told a Ukrainian publication that Manafort urged the new party to take an anti-NATO stance and be the “voice of Russians in (Ukraine’s) East.”
Calling Manafort “a genius,” Shufrych said the party had paid him about $1 million, and the investment “paid off.”
Philip Griffin, a former associate of Manafort’s who consults in Kiev, said he could not imagine Manafort opposing NATO. “Paul Manafort is a Reagan Republican,” Griffin said. “He would never betray that legacy by doing Russia’s bidding.”
Maloni said Manafort argued strongly that “Ukraine was better served by having closer relations with the West and NATO.”
He also said Manafort succeeded in pushing “a number of major initiatives that were strongly supported by the U.S. government and opposed by Russia,” including the denuclearization of Ukraine and the expansion of NATO exercises in the region.
Despite Ukraine’s popular uprising against Yanukovych that led to at least 75 deaths, “Paul Manafort maintained ties to the Opposition Bloc party and Viktor Yanukovych’s former cronies, thus choosing to associate himself with crooks and kleptocrats rather than Ukraine’s pro-Western reformers,” said Mike Carpenter, who focused on Russia matters as a top Pentagon and National Security Council official during the Obama administration. “This speaks volumes about his character and lack of respect for democratic values.”
One of Shufrych’s and Oppo Bloc’s behind-the-scenes allies was Medvedchuk, who is so close to Putin that the Russian president is the godfather of his daughter. Details of Manafort’s contacts with Medvedchuk could not be learned. But Medvedchuk, who is under U.S. sanctions, has acknowledged meeting Manafort once in 2014.
March 19, 2014 – Russia’s economy was dealt a stinging blow in 2014 when President Barack Obama imposed sweeping sanctions to punish Russia for its aggression toward Ukraine and its annexation of Crimea.
April 2014 – Manafort traveled to Vienna. Ukrainian oligarch Firtash had been arrested there the prior month on U.S. charges that he helped orchestrate an $18.5 million bribery scheme involving the government of India, a U.S. firm and a Firtash company in the Virgin Islands. A former U.S. government official, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter, said Manafort met with Firtash in Vienna, where he is awaiting extradition to the United States.
January 2015 – Podobnyy along with Euguene Buryakov and Igor Sporyshev, were charged by a sealed complaint in the US District court for the Southern District of New York for violations of 18 USC 31 and 951 (conspiring to act, and acting as, an unregistered agent of a foreign government). According to the complaint, Buryakov worked in the United States as an agent of the SVR. Specifically, Buryakov operated under non-official cover, posing as an employee in the Manhattan office of a Russian bank. Buryakov worked with two other SVR agents, Podobnyy and Sporyshev, to gather intelligence on behalf of Russia. The complaint states that the intelligence gathering efforts of Podobnyy and Sporyshev included, among other things, attempting to recruit New York City residents as intelligence sources for Russia. Buryakov was arrested in or about January 2015. At the time of Buryakov’s arrest, Podobnyy and Sporyshev no longer lived in the United States and were not arrested.
June 2015 – Michael Flynn made a trip to Egypt and Israel to promote a Saudi Arabia nuclear reactor project. The proposed reactor project would be funded by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states and built and run by a consortium of U.S., Russian, French, Dutch, Arab, British, Ukrainian and Israeli firms. The project proposes to build 40 nuclear reactors across the Middle East that would feed a regional electric grid. The reactors would be “proliferation proof,” meaning they could not be used to produce fuel for nuclear weapons. Flynn would later fail to disclose this trip when making his application for Top Secret clearance, potentially a criminal violation with up to five years in prison.
June 16, 2015 – Trump formally announced his candidacy with a campaign rally and speech at Trump Tower in New York City. In his speech, Trump drew attention to domestic issues such as illegal immigration, offshoring of American jobs, the U.S. national debt, and Islamic terrorism. The campaign slogan was announced as “Make America Great Again”. Trump declared that he would self-fund his presidential campaign, and would refuse any money from donors and lobbyists (he ended up fundraising hundreds of millions of dollars, including through super PAC moneies he said he didn’t need and wouldn’t use).
June 16, 2015 – National Tea Party movement co-founder and leader Michael Johns endorsed Trump immediately following Trump’s June 2015 announcement of his candidacy and defended Trump throughout the contentious Republican primary.
July 15, 2016, Flynn spoke at a meeting of ACT! for America at a point when the 2016 Turkish coup d’état attempt against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was still underway. He spoke favorably of the coup participants, saying that Erdogan had been moving Turkey away from secularism and towards Islamism and that participants in the coup wanted Turkey to be and to be seen as a secular nation — a goal “worth clapping for.”
August 3, 2015 – Sam Nunberg quits the Trump campaign.
August 8, 2015 – Following the Megyn Kelly incident, Roger Stone, Trump’s veteran political adviser, left the campaign, citing “controversies involving personalities and provocative media fights”.
October 13, 2015 – Michael Cohen was in touch with a Russia-born businessman who grew up in Brighton Beach and Coney Island neighborhoods of Brooklyn, Felix Sater, about the Trump Tower deal when Trump was a Republican presidential candidate. Sater first sent a letter of intent to Cohen outlining the terms of the “Trump World Tower Moscow” deal on October 13, 2015, The Times reported. Andrey Rozov, a Russian investor, had already signed it by the time Sater forwarded it to Cohen for Trump’s signature. The letter read: “Lets make this happen and build a Trump Moscow,” Sater wrote. “And possibly fix relations between the countries by showing everyone that commerce & business are much better and more practical than politics. That should be Putins message as well, and we will help him agree on that message. Help world peace and make a lot of money, I would say thats a great lifetime goal for us to go after.”
November 2015 – On several occasions in late 2015 and early 2016, Trump was accused of encouraging violence and escalating tension at campaign events. Prior to November he used to tell his rallies “Get ’em (protesters) out, but don’t hurt ’em.” But in November 2015, Trump said of a protester in Birmingham, Alabama, “Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.”
November 3, 2015 – Email from Felix Sater to Michael Cohen in part reads: “Michael we can own this story. Donald doesn’t stare down, he negotiates and understands the economic issues and Putin only wants to deal with a pragmatic leader, and a successful business man is a good candidate for someone who knows how to negotiate. ‘Business, politics, whatever it all is the same for someone who knows how to deal.'”
December 8, 2015 – when Trump called for a ban on foreign Muslims entering the country, Ryan said “What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for, and more importantly, it’s not what this country stands for.”
December 10, 2015 – Michael Flynn attended a gala dinner in Moscow in honor of RT (formerly “Russia Today”), a Russian government-owned English-language media outlet, on which he made semi-regular appearances as an analyst after he retired from U.S. government service. Flynn was paid over $65,000 by companies connected to Russia in 2015, including $11,250 from both Volga-Dnepr Airlines and the U.S. subsidiary of Kaspersky Lab. As part of the festivities, Flynn gave a talk on world affairs for which he was paid at least $45,000, where he also sat at President Vladimir Putin’s table.
January 2016 – Michael Cohen wrote to Mr. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, asking for help restarting the Trump Tower project, which had stalled. “Over the past few months I have been working with a company based in Russia regarding the development of a Trump Tower-Moscow project in Moscow City. Without getting into lengthy specifics, the communication between our two sides has stalled. As this project is too important, I am hereby requesting your assistance. I respectfully request someone, preferably you, contact me so that I might discuss the specifics as well as arranging meetings with the appropriate individuals. I thank you in advance for your assistance and look forward to hearing from you soon.” But Mr. Cohen did not appear to have Mr. Peskov’s direct email, and instead wrote to a general inbox for press inquiries. The Kremlin has confirmed they received the email, but indicated that they did not reply. The deal, which reportedly “would have given his company a $4 million upfront fee, no upfront costs, a percentage of the sales, and control over marketing and design,” fell through in early 2016.
February 1, 2016 – in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Trump told the crowd there might be tomato-throwing protesters, and urged his audience to “knock the crap out of ’em” if anyone should try. “I promise you, I will pay the legal fees”, he added.
February 2016 – Michael Flynn is asked to serve as an adviser to the Trump campaign and is being considered as a potential Vice President on the ticket.
February 23, 2016 – at a rally in Las Vegas, Trump reacted to a protester by saying “I love the old days—you know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks”, adding “I’d like to punch him in the face.”
February 28, 2016 – In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday, Trump declined to disavow support from David Duke, the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, claiming he didn’t know anything about the group. He later complained he didn’t hear the questions in the interview because of a “bad earpiece.”
Trump disavows white supremacists but questions remain 02:37
He later complained he didn’t hear the questions in the interview because of a “bad earpiece.”
Feb 29, 2016 – Senator Jeff Sessions was the first sitting U.S. senator to endorse Trump.
March 2016 – According to Mueller indictment of 12 GRU officials in July 2018, this is the time period when the Russian GRU units 26165 and 74455 engaged in cyber operations that involved the staged releases of documents stolen through computer intrustions. They hacked the email accounts of volunteers and employees of the Clinton campaign.
March 1, 2016 – Paul Ryan condemned Trump’s failure to repudiate the support of white supremacists. “If a person wants to be the nominee of the Republican Party, there can be no evasion and no games. They must reject any group or cause that is built on bigotry. This party does not prey on people’s prejudices,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters on Capitol Hill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said plainly, “Senate Republicans condemn David Duke, the KKK, and his racism. There has been a lot of talk in the last 24 hours about one of our presidential candidates and his seeming ambivalence about David Duke and the KKK, so let me make it perfectly clear,” he said. “That is not the view of Republicans who have been elected to the United States Senate, and I condemn his views in the most forceful way.”
March 9, 2016 – a Trump supporter was charged with assault after he sucker-punched a protester who was being led out of the event. When Trump was asked if he would pay the man’s legal fees, Trump said he was “looking into it”, although he “doesn’t condone violence in any shape”. The local sheriff’s office considered filing charges against Trump for “inciting a riot” at that event, but concluded there was not sufficient evidence to charge him.
March 11, 2016 – a week after Carson ended his presidential campaign, he endorsed Trump, calling him part of “the voice of the people to be heard.” Carson’s subsequent comments that Americans would only have to sustain Trump for four years if he was not a good president drew criticism and he admitted that he would have preferred another candidate though thought Trump had the best chance of winning the general election
March 6, 2016 – George Papadopoulos was recruited to join Trump’s foreign policy advisor team by Sam Clovis, who at the time was national co-chairman of Donald Trump’s campaign team. Clovis allegedly told Papadopoulos that one of the campaign’s foreign policy priorities was to improve U.S.-Russia relations, though Clovis later denied saying that.
March 14, 2016 – while traveling in Italy, George Papadopoulos met Joseph Mifsud, a London-based professor with connections to high-ranking Russian officials. Mifsud attended meetings of the Valdai Discussion Club regularly, an annual conference held in Sochi, Russia, attended by Vladimir Putin.
March 15, 2016 – According to the Mueller indictment of 12 GRU officers, Yermakov ran a technical query for the DNC’s internet protocaol configurations to identify connected devices. He also searched for open-source information about the DNC network, the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton.
March 18, 2016 – Paul Ryan strongly objected to Trump’s suggestion that there could be “riots” at the Republican convention if he is not the nominee
March 19, 2016 – According to the Mueller indictment of 12 GRU officers, on this date the GRU sent spearphishing emails to the person accounts of individuals associated with the Clinton campaign including the campaign manager and a senior foreign policy advisor.
March 21, 2016 – Donald Trump gives an interview with the editorial board of The Washington Post. In that interview, he identified George Papadopoulos as one of his campaign’s foreign policy advisors, saying “He’s an energy and oil consultant, excellent guy”. He also announced Carter Page as a foreign policy adviser. He said “Walid Phares, who you probably know, PhD, adviser to the House of Representatives caucus, and counter-terrorism expert; Carter Page, PhD; George Papadopoulos, he’s an energy and oil consultant, excellent guy; the Honorable Joe Schmitz, [former] inspector general at the Department of Defense; [retired] Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg; and I have quite a few more. But that’s a group of some of the people that we are dealing with. We have many other people in different aspects of what we do, but that’s a representative group.”
March 21, 2016 – According to the Mueller indictment of 12 GRU officers, on this date the GRU stole the contents of the Clinton campaign chairman’s email account which consisted of over 50,000 emails.
March 22, 2016 – Hillary Clinton presidential campaign staffer William Rinehart is phished by an IP address from the Ukraine and they succeed in getting his gmail account and password.
March 24, 2016. George Papadopoulos met with Mifsud in London, who brought along with him a Russian woman, Olga Polonskaya, whom he falsely identified as Putin’s niece.
March 25, 2016 – According to the Mueller indictment of 12 GRU officers, on this date Lukashev used the john356gh account to mask additional links included in spearphishing emails sent to numerous individuals affiliated with the Clinton campaign using the account firstname.lastname@example.org that he spoofed to make it look like it came from Google.
March 28, 2016 – According to the Mueller indictment of 12 GRU officers, on this date Yermakov researched the names of Victims 1 and Victims 2 and their association with Clinton on various social media sites. Through their spearphishing operations, they successfully stole email credentials and thousands of emails from numerous individuals affiliated with the Clinton campaign. Many of these were later released on DCLeaks.
April 2016 – According to Mueller indictment of 12 GRU officials in July 2018, this is the time period when the Russians hacked the computer networks of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the Democratic National Committee (DNC). They covertly monitored the computers of dozens of DCCC and DNC employees, implanted hundreds of files containing malicious computer code (malware) and stole emails and other docs. They began to plan the release of the stolen materials.
During this time, According to the Mueller indictment of 12 GRU officers, between now and June, the GRU installed multiple versions of their X-Agent malware on at least ten DCCC computers which allowed them to monitor individual employees’ computer activity, steal passwords and maintain access to the DCCC network. The malware transmitted information from the victims’ computers to a GRU-leased server in Arizona, what they referred to as their “AMS” panel which they logged into to get screenshots and keylogs provided by X-Agent.
April 6, 2016 – According to the Mueller indictment of 12 GRU officers, the GRU created an email account in the name (with one letter off of the actual spelling) of a known member of the Clinton campaign. They then used that account to send spearphishing emails to the work accounts of more than thirty different Clinton campaign employees. They embedded a link directing to a document titled “hillary-clinton-favorable-rating.xlsx” which was in fact a link to a GRU-created website. Also on this date, one of the DCCC employees recieved a spearphishing email and entered her password into the link.
April 7, 2016 – According to the Mueller indictment of 12 GRU officers, Yermakov ran a technical query for the DCCC’s internet protocol configurations to identify connected devices.
April 12, 2016 – According to the Mueller indictment of 12 GRU officers, the GRU used the stolen credentials of a DCCC employee to access the DCCC network.
April 13, 2016 – Megyn Kelly met with Trump at Trump Tower at her request to “clear the air”. Following the meeting, Trump stated that Kelly was “very, very nice” and regarding the meeting: “Maybe it was time… By the way, in all fairness, I give her a lot of credit” for requesting it.
April 14, 2016 – According to the Mueller indictment of 12 GRU officers, on this date the GRU rpeeatedly activated X-Agent’s keylog and screenshot funtion to surveil a DCCC employee’s computer activity over an 8-hour period. During that time, they captured her communications with co-workers and passwords for fundraising and voter outreach projects.
April 15, 2016 – According to the Mueller indictment of 12 GRU officers, on this date the GRU searched one hacked DCCC computer for terms that included “hillary” “cruz” and “trump.” They also copied select DCCC folders including “Benghazi Investigations.” They targeted computers which had opposition research and field operations plans for the 2016 elections.
April 18, 2016 – According to the Mueller indictment of 12 GRU officers, on this date the GRU hacked into the DNC’s computers using stolen credentials of someone from the DCCC who had access to the DNC computers. They then installed and directed malware to explore the network and steal documents. They were able to then access thousands of keylog and screenshot results form the DCCC and DNC computers, including such things as a DCCC employee viewing the DCCC’s online banking information.
April 19, 2016 – The domain name DCleaks.com was registered on the THCservers.com founded by Catalin Floricain on a former chicken farm near Craiova, Romania (the registration as anonymized by the service). According to the Mueller indictment of 12 GRU officers, the funds used to pay for DCleaks.com originated from the same account at an online cryptocurrency service that the GRU had used to lease a virtual private server and to register the john356gh account used by Lukashev to spearphish the Clinton campaign staff. The GRU also remotely configured an overseas computer to relay communications between X-Agent malware and the AMS panel and then tested X-Agent’s ability to connect to this new computer, dubbed the “middle server.” This acted as a proxy to obscure the connection between the malware and the GRU’s AMS panel.
April 20, 2016 – According to the Mueller indictment of 12 GRU officers, on this date the GRU directed the X-Agent malware on the DCCC computers to connect to the middle server and receive directions from them.
April 22, 2016 – According to the Mueller indictment of 12 GRU officers, on this date, the GRU captured the discussions of another DCCC employee about the DCCC’s finances as well as her individual banking information and other personal topics. They also compressed GBs of data from DNC computers including opposition research. They later moved this compressed data using X-Tunnel to a GRU-leased computer in Illinois.
April 26, 2016 – at a London hotel, Joseph Mifsud told George Papadopoulos that he had just learned from high-level Russian officials in Moscow that the Russians had “dirt” on Mrs. Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.” This occurred before there was public knowledge of the hack of Democratic National Committee and of John Podesta’s emails, both of which U.S. intelligence agencies believe were carried out by Russia.
April 28, 2016 – According to the Mueller indictment of 12 GRU officers, on this date the GRU connected to and tested the Illinois computer they were leasing and used X-Tunnel to connect to it and get more docs.
May 2016, Papadopoulos told the top Australian diplomat to the United Kingdom, Alexander Downer, that Russia had “political dirt” on Hillary Clinton, leading the Federal Bureau of Investigation to open a counterintelligence investigation into the Donald Trump presidential campaign. The Australian Ambassador to the United States, Joe Hockey, personally steered Australia’s dealings with the FBI on explosive revelations of Russian hacking during the 2016 presidential campaign in a sign of how politically sensitive the Australian government regarded the bombshell discovery. ****** THIS ALERT BY AUSTRALIA IS WHAT SET OFF THE FBI INVESTIGATION INTO TRUMP’S CAMPAIGN ******
The professor introduced Papadopoulos to a Russian who said he was close to officials at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. That contact, identified by the Washington Post as Ivan Timofeev of the Russian International Affairs Council, then spoke with Papadopoulos over Skype about laying the groundwork for a meeting between the campaign and officials in Moscow, prosecutors said.
The Russian woman — whom Papadopoulos mistakenly described in an email as the niece of Russian President Vladimir Putin — also tried to arrange a meeting between the Trump campaign and Russian government officials, the documents say.
May 2016 – Buryakov was sentenced to 30 months in prison after pleading guilty to conpsiring to act in the United States as an agent of Russia, without providing prior notice to the Attorney General. He was one of three Russians working to create Russian intelligence assets and who had been in touch with Carter Page, briefly a foreign policy advisor for the Trump campaign.
May 3, 2016 – Trump became the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party after his victory in Indiana and the withdrawal of the last competitors, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, from the race.
May 4, 2016 – Mitch McConnel says he’s committed to supporting Trump’s candidacy
May 4, 2016 – after Trump wrapped up the Republican nomination, he hinted that Carson would be among those who would vet his vice-presidential pick. The same day, Carson in an interview expressed interest in Ted Cruz serving as Attorney General of the United States, a position that Carson said would allow Cruz to prosecute Hillary Clinton, and then as a Supreme Court Justice nominee from the Trump administration.
May 5, 2016 – Paul Ryan announced that he was “not ready” to endorse Trump for the presidency.
May 9, 2016 – Trump named New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to head a team to plan the transition of the presidency in the event of a Trump victory.
Between March and September 2016, George Papadopoulos made at least six requests for Trump or representatives of his campaign to meet in Russia with Russian politicians. In May, campaign chairman Paul Manafort forwarded one such request to his deputy Rick Gates, saying “We need someone to communicate that [Trump] is not doing these trips. It should be someone low-level in the campaign so as not to send any signal.” Gates delegated the task to the campaign’s correspondence coordinator, referring to him as “the person responding to all mail of non-importance.” The recipients of emails about outreach to the Russian government reportedly were Clovis, Corey Lewandowski, Manafort, Gates, representative of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ivan Timofeev, and others.
May 13, 2016 – According to the Mueller indictment of 12 GRU officers, on this date the GRU covered their tracks by clearing the event logs from a DNC computer.
May 25, 2016 – According to the Mueller indictment of 12 GRU officers, between now and June 1, the GRU hacked the DNC Microsoft Exchange Server and stole thousands of emails from the work accounts of DNC employees. Yermakov researched PowerShell commands related to accessing and managing the Microsoft Exchange Server.
May 26, 2016 – Trump secured his 1,238th delegate, achieving a majority of the available delegates.
May 30, 2016 – According to the Mueller indictment of 12 GRU officers, on this date Malyshev accessed the AMS panel in order to upgrade the software. That day, the AMS panel received updates from 13 different X-Agent malware implants on DNC and DCCC computers.
May 31, 2016 – According to the Mueller indictment of 12 GRU officers, the DNC and DCCC became aware they had been hacked and hired a private security company (CrowdStrike) to identify the extent of the instrusions. On this date, Yermakov searched for open-source information about CrowdStrike and its reporting on X-Agent and X-Tunnel.
June 2016 – According to the Mueller indictment of 12 GRU officers, by June the GRU had access to apporximately 33 DNC computers.
This month is also when Jared Kushner, charged with overseeing Trump’s digital operations, hired Cambridge Analytica. Kushner hired a man named Brad Parscale, a Texas-based digital expert who had worked previously for team Trump. According to Confessore and Hakim, Cambridge Analytica convinced Parscale to “try out the firm.” The decision was reinforced by Trump’s campaign manager, Steve Bannon, who is also a former vice president of Cambridge Analytica.
June 1, 2016 – According to the Mueller indictment of 12 GRU officers, on this date the GRU attempted to delete traces of their presence on the DCCC and DNC networks using CCleaner.
June 2, 2016 – Paul Ryan announced that he would vote for Trump.
June 3, 2016 – Donald Trump Jr. received an email from Rob Goldstone, a British publicist who does work in Russia. Goldstone wrote that he was writing at the behest of Aras and Emin Agalarov, a father-son pair of real estate developers who do business with Russia and had worked with the Trumps on the 2013 Miss Universe pageant. (Emin is also a Russian pop star.) In the email, Goldstone said that a Russian prosecutor had met with Aras and “offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.” Crucially, he made clear that the information would be “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump — helped along by Aras and Emin.”
– Trump Jr. responded enthusiastically — “if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
– Goldstone then helped set up a phone call between Trump Jr. and Emin Agalarov, and later arranged a meeting between Trump Jr. and someone he calls “The Russian government attorney who is flying over from Moscow.” The president’s son invited Jared Kushner and then-campaign chair Paul Manafort to attend the meeting, and forwarded the email chain (with the subject line “Russia – Clinton – private and confidential”) to them both.
Full email chain available here: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/07/11/us/politics/donald-trump-jr-email-text.html
Note that Goldstone said in his initial email that “The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.” [note that this line alone wholly invalidates Don Jr’s attempt to say that this was just “Political Opposition Research” in his statement next year when he released these emails]. Per a July 2017 Atlantic article, in the United Kingdom a Crown prosecutor is one that works for the Crown, i.e., a federal prosecutor. There’s no such position in Russia technically, but the analogue would be the top federal prosecutor of Russia, and that is Yury Chaika, the prosecutor-general of the Russian Federation. (It’s also possible Goldstone meant to refer to Alexander Bastrykin, the head of the feared Investigative Committee and Vladimir Putin’s law school classmate. But Chaika is the most likely candidate given that he’s close to Agalarov and is currently a prosecutor.) Goldstone was likely translating a foreign title into its local equivalent. Translated into American titles, Chaika could be referred to as Russia’s attorney general.
Chaika’s past is detailed in the Atlantic story and it’s very shady and corrupt.
June 7, 2016 – When Trump said the judge hearing a lawsuit against him was biased because he was of Mexican extraction, Paul Ryan said Trump’s remarks were “absolutely unacceptable” and “the textbook definition of a racist comment”
June 8, 2016 – the DC Leaks Twitter and Facebook accounts debuted, the day that the site itself appears to have launched. Between this day it launched and the time it was shutdown in March 2017, it received over a million page views. The site claimed it was started by a group of “American hacktivists” but that was false. The Facebook account was setup by “Alice Donovan.” Other false FB accounts were used to promote the site, such as “Jason Scott” and “Richard Gingrey.”
The Twitter account (@dcleaks_) was operated on the same computer used for other efforts to interfere with the presidential election, such as operating another Twitter account called @BaltimoreIsWhr though which they encouraged US audiences to “join our flash mob” opposing Clinton and to post images with the hashtag #BlacksAgainstHillary.
While nobody else had heard of DCleaks, “Guccifer 2.0” had somehow not only discovered the site, but had privileges that allowed him to provide TSG with access to a password-protected section of the site. DCleaks’ registration and hosting information aligns with practices of the hacking group blamed for the DNC and DCCC intrusions. Researchers say the group, which they dub “Fancy Bear,” has longstanding ties to Russia’s military intelligence agency, known as the GRU. The site also includes leaked emails from people whose accounts were breached using digital schemes that were “almost by-the-book, a known Fancy Bear attack pattern,” Gidwani said. On its “About” page, DCleaks describes itself as a “new level project” committed to exposing “Wall Street fat cats, industrial barons and multinational corporations’ representatives who swallow up all resources and subjugate all markets.” At launch, the site’s sparse offerings included documents hacked from George Soros’s Open Society Foundation and e-mails stolen from the Gmail account of Philip Breedlove, a recently retired U.S. General who served as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander.
The DCleaks site was used to release emails stolen from individuals affiliated with the Clinton campaign as well as other docs they had stolen in their spearphishing operations going back to 2015 and individuals affiliated with the Republican Party.
June 9, 2016 – The meeting between the trio of Trump advisers and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Russian-American former spy Rinat Akhmetshin, Russian-American businessman Irakly Kaveladze, and Goldstone took place at Trump Tower, just one level below the office of Donald Trump. All this — eventually disclosed in a series of New York Times reports and confirmed by Trump Jr.’s own email release — makes it quite clear that the president’s son was ready and willing to work with the Russian government to take down Hillary Clinton. And it’s hard to read these emails and not conclude that the top echelons of the Trump campaign were well aware of the Russian government’s support for Trump and willing to collaborate in the effort. However, we don’t yet know if this meeting actually led to any kind of cooperation between the Trump campaign and Russia. And the parties involved — at least the ones who are commenting — are all denying that it did. Trump Jr. has stated that in the meeting, Veselnitskaya proved to have no useful information and quickly changed the subject to discuss other topics she had been lobbying on for years. He’s also said there was no follow-up afterward. So far, no evidence has yet emerged to contradict him. However, we also need to keep in mind that not once during this entire investigation has anyone volunteered incriminating information or confessed to what they actually did until they were backed into a corner and made to do so under penalty of jail time.
June 14, 2016 – The DNC announced via CrowdStrike that it had been hacked by Russian government actors.
June 14, 2016 – According to the Mueller indictment of 12 GRU officers, on this date the GRU registered the domain actblues.com, which mimicked the domain of a political fundraising platform that included a DCCC donations page. Shortly after, they used stolen DCCC credentials to modify the DCCC website to redirect visitors to the actblues.com domain.
June 15, 2016 – “Guccifer 2.0” makes his first appearance, through a blog site created on WordPress. Titled “DNC’s servers hacked by a lone hacker” the post used numerous English words and phrases the GRU had searched earlier that day such as “worldwide known” “think twice about” “company’s competence” “dcleaks” “illuminati” and “some hundreds of sheets.” He wrote:
“Worldwide known cyber security company CrowdStrike announced that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) servers had been hacked by “sophisticated” hacker groups.
“I’m very pleased the company appreciated my skills so highly))) But in fact, it was easy, very easy.
“Guccifer may have been the first one who penetrated Hillary Clinton’s and other Democrats’ mail servers.
But he certainly wasn’t the last. No wonder any other hacker could easily get access to the DNC’s servers.
“Shame on CrowdStrike: Do you think I’ve been in the DNC’s networks for almost a year and saved only 2 documents? Do you really believe it?
“Here are just a few docs from many thousands I extracted when hacking into DNC’s network.”
[bits and pieces of hacked files and spreadsheets show this person has the DNC data]
“The main part of the papers, thousands of files and mails, I gave to Wikileaks. They will publish them soon.
“I guess CrowdStrike customers should think twice about company’s competence.
“Fuck the Illuminati and their conspiracies!!!!!!!!! Fuck CrowdStrike!!!!!!!!!”
June 18, 2016 – Guccifer’s second WordPress post contains more leaked info.
“Here I upload a new part of docs from the DNC network.
“As Debbie Schultz from DNC said no financial information or secret documents were stolen.
“It appears there are a lot of financial reports, donors lists and their detailed personal information including e-mail addresses and private cell phone numbers.
Ha! Ha! Ha! Who still doubts I extracted more than 2 files?
“I got tons of files and docs!!!
[sample shots of DNC donors and financial reports with names, addresses, emails and phone numbers and links to many more leaked documents]
“Hope you’ll appreciate it. Wait for another part! You won’t regret.
“Together we’ll be able to throw off the political elite, the rich clans that exploit the world!
“Fuck the lies and conspirators like DNC!!!”
June 20, 2016 – Trump fired his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, reportedly in response to lagging fundraising and campaign infrastructure (as well as power struggles within the campaign, according to multiple GOP sources). Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman, who was brought in during the primary to prepare for a contested convention, assumed the role of chief strategist.
June 20, 2016 – According to the Mueller indictment of 12 GRU officers, on this date the GRU deleted logs from the AMS panel that documented their activities on the panel including the login history. The DNC computer security company had disabled X-Agent on the DCCC network and the GRU spent 7 hours trying unsuccessfully to reconnect to X-Agent. They also tried to access the DCCC network using previously stolen credentials.
Also on this date, Guccifer 2.0 posts his third WordPress post.
“I’d like to announce the next piece of docs from DNC.
“I found something like a dossier on Hillary Clinton on the its server. It’s a heavy folder of docs that will attract your attention. You’ll like it.
“Expect it. I’ll publish them on June 21 at 10 a.m (ET).”
June 22, 2016 – Guccifer 2.0 posts his fourth WordPress post announcing he’s available on Twitter and will answer questions by DM but won’t give out his personal information.
“I see many people wanna know a little more about me and ask a lot of questions.
“And I’m ready to tell you what you’re interested in if it doesn’t threaten my safety.
“Unfortunately I can’t give personal answers to everybody.
“That’s why I’d like journalists to send me their questions via Twitter Direct Messages.
“I’ll post the most popular questions and my answers in this blog so that everybody can read them in original and doesn’t distort my words as some journalists try to do.
“So I’m eager to see your questions and will be glad to give my responses.
“My Twitter account @GUCCIFER_2”
Also on this date, according to the Mueller indictment of 12 GRU officers, “Organization 1” (thought to be WikiLeaks) sent a private message to Guccifer 2.0 to “send any new material [stolen from the DNC] here for us to review and it will have a much higher impact than what you are doing.”
June 27, 2016 – Though “Guccifer 2.0” regularly provided documents swiped during the DNC breach, he wrote from an AOL France account on June 27 offering “exclusive access to some leaked emails” from Clinton’s staff. In a follow-up message, the vandal — whose e-mail account carries the name “Stephan Orphan” — offered a collection of material that was “part of the big archive that includes Hillary Clinton’s staff correspondence.” But instead of attaching the documents to an e-mail or providing a download link to a file sharing site (as he had previously done), “Guccifer 2.0” told TSG that the material would be available through DCleaks, a web site he described as a “sub project” of Wikileaks. In fact, DCleaks has no connection at all with Wikileaks or Julian Assange. “Guccifer 2.0” wrote that he had “asked the DCleaks” to “release a part” of the staff correspondence, but “with a closed access.” After offering to provide TSG a password with which to access the material on DCleaks, “Guccifer 2.0” claimed that DCleaks “asked me not to make any announcements yet.” He added, “So I ask you not to make links to my blog. Ok?” After TSG accepted his offer, “Guccifer 2.0” e-mailed a password that provided access to the e-mails and documents stolen from Sarah Hamilton’s Gmail account three months earlier. “Let me know your opinion. to be continued…” he wrote.
June 28, 2016 – Director Peter Navarro addresses President Donald Trump’s promises to American people, workers, and domestic manufacturers (Declaring American Economic Independence) in the Oval Office with Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. Jared Kushner found a White House economic advisor by browsing Amazon. Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, was asked by Trump to do research on China, and turned to Amazon, the report said. There, he found a book co-written by Peter Navarro and was struck by its title, “Death by China.” Kushner then cold-called Navarro and invited him to be an adviser to the Trump campaign, according to the report. Navarro now directs the White House National Trade Council and serves as the Assistant to the President.
June 29, 2016 – the Trump campaign announced hiring Jason Miller as senior communications adviser. Bloomberg Politics described it as an attempt to “professionalize” the Trump communications operation. After the announcement, some reporters noted the many anti-Trump Tweets Miller had sent prior to the end of Cruz’s campaign. After the election, Miller was part of the Trump transition team, serving as its chief spokesman from November 2016 to January 2017. On December 22, he was announced as the President’s choice for White House Communications Director. However, two days later, Miller declined the offer, stating: “After spending this past week with my family, the most amount of time I have been able to spend with them since March 2015, it is clear they need to be my top priority right now and this is not the right time to start a new job as demanding as White House communications director. My wife and I are also excited about the arrival of our second daughter in January, and I need to put them in front of my career… I look forward to continuing to support the President-elect from the outside after my work on the transition concludes.” His decision came after allegations of personal involvement with Trump campaign staffer A. J. Delgado, and an earlier report of his visiting a strip club with other staffers and several members of the press before a presidential debate. As a result of the personal relationship with Delgado, Miller became the father to a baby boy in July 2017.
June 29, 2016 – “Guccifer 2.0” wrote to The Smoking Gun seeking a correction. “It seems people think it was me who hacked Hamilton,” he stated. “That’s not correct. I just sent you a link. I don’t claim it’s my work! I don’t need another person’s glory.”
June 30, 2016 – Guccifer 2.0 posts his fifth WordPress post “FAQ from Guccifer 2.0” which includes more leaked docs about Hillary from her campaign. He claims to be a man born in Eastern Europe and he moves around a lot because he has to hide. He attempts to make it seem that CrowdStrike and the DNC are incompetent boobs and would “say I’m a Russian bear even if I were a catholic nun in fact.” He sows more seeds of doubt about being a Russian with generalized statements about hackers and his altruistic purposes for leaking this info, giving shoutouts to Snowden, Assange, Manning and others. He also gives technical info on how the hack was carried out and leaves critical comments about Hillary (a lot) and Trump (who he says is wrong about closed borders but at least Trump earned his own money).
June 30, 2016 – Kevin Kellems, a veteran GOP strategist and former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, abruptly resigned from the Trump staff Thursday, less than two weeks after he was hired to help oversee the campaign’s surrogate operations. Erica Freeman, another aide working with surrogates, also quit. “While brief, it has been an interesting experience, and I am proud of the contributions made to our early-phase project endeavors,” Kellems wrote in a goodbye note to colleagues.
July 2016 – weeks after he was named Trump’s campaign chairman, Manafort crafted an unusual, eyebrow-raising proposal for Deripaska, a member of Putin’s inner circle. In emails first reported by the Washington Post, Manafort offered in seemingly coded language to provide “private briefings” on the U.S. presidential race for the Russian aluminum magnate. Manafort directed a trusted associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, to relay his message to Deripaska, remarking that it could be a way to make himself “whole” — possibly an allusion to a multimillion-dollar legal action Deripaska had filed against Manafort. Kilimnik, a Ukrainian citizen, once attended a Russian military academy known for training spies.
Also in July, according to a FISA warrant to surveil Carter Page (a foreign policy advisor for the Trump campaign), “Page traveled to Russia and delivered the commencement address at the New Economic School. In addition to giving this address, the FBI has learned that Page met with at least two Russian officials during this trip. First according to information provided by an FBI confidential human source (Source #1) _____ reported that Page had a _____. Source #1 _______ and has been an FBI source since ____. Source #1’s reporting has been corroborated and used in criminal proceedings and the FBI assess Source #1 to be reliable. Source #1 has been compensated _____ by the FBI and the FBI is unaware of any derogatory information pertaining to Source #1.
Page met with Igor Sechin, a longtime Putin associate and former Russian deputy minister who is now the executive chairman of Rosneft. At their meeting, Sechin raised the issue of lifting of sanctions with Page.
Page also met secretly with Igor Nikolayevich Divyekin (a former Russian security official who now serves as deputy chief for internal policy and is believed by US officials to have responsibility for intelligence collected by Russian agenices about the US election) and that their agenda for the meeting included Divyekin raising a dossier or “kompromat” that the Kremlin possessed on Clinton and the possibility of it being released to Trump’s campaign.
July 1, 2016, Trump announced he hired Kellyanne Conway, a veteran GOP strategist and canvasser, for a senior advisory position. Conway, who formerly backed Cruz, was expected to advise Trump on how to better appeal to female voters. Conway had headed a pro–Cruz super PAC funded by hedge-fund tycoon Robert Mercer. After Trump won the Republican presidential nomination, the PAC morphed into the “Defeat Crooked Hillary PAC”. When the Trump campaign hired Conway, it referred to her as “widely regarded as an expert on female consumers and voters.” Conway became the first woman to run a Republican general election presidential campaign.
July 4, 2016 – The Smoking Gun’s contact with “Guccifer 2.0” ended on July 4, when he e-mailed two DNC documents along with the greeting “happy independence day!”
July 6, 2016 – Guccifer 2.0 posts his sixth WordPress article “Trumpocalypse and Other DNC Plans for July.”
“I have a new bunch of docs from the DNC server for you.
“It includes the DNC action plan during the Republican National Convention, Surrogate Report, POTUS briefing, financial reports, etc.
“This pack was announced two days ago but I had to keep you waiting for some security reasons. I suffered two attacks on my wp account.
“You might be aware of the rumors about Marcel Lazar aka Guccifer. Those are a.c. fake stories, but who knows.
Please keep me updated if there is any news.
[more leaked DNC docs and spreadsheets]
Also on this date, according to the Muller indictment of 12 GRU officers, “Organization 1” (WikiLeaks) messaged Guccifer 2.0 and said “if you have anything hillary related we want it in the next tweo [sic] days prefable [sic] because DNC [Democratic National Convention] is approaching and she will solidify bernie supporters behind her after.” The response from Guccifer 2.0 was “ok…i see.” Organization 1 explained “we think trump has only a 25% chance of winning against hillary…so conflict between bernie and hillary is interesting.”
July 14, 2016 – Guccifer 2.0 posts his seventh WordPress article “New DNC Docs”
“You may have read about my new release in the media this time.
“As I can see it, many of you wish to have a look through the docs with your own eyes.
“So, I don’t have courage to keep you unaware any longer.”
[more leaked DNC docs and spreadsheets]
Also on this date, according to the Mueller indictment of 12 GRU officers, the GRU posing as Guccifer 2.0 sent “Organization 1” (WikiLeaks) an email with an attachment titled “wk dnc link1.txt.gpg” They explained that the encrypted file contained instructions on how to access an online archive of stolen DNC documents.
July 15, 2016 – Trump officially announced via Twitter that he had chosen Pence to be his running mate. Trump introduced Pence as his running mate at a press conference the next day. Pence formally accepted the nomination on July 20 at the Republican National Convention.
July 18, 2016 – Omarosa Manigault is named the director of African-American outreach for Trump’s presidential campaign. This is announced at the Republican National Convention.
Also on this date, according to the Mueller indictment of 12 GRU officers, “Organization 1” (WikiLeaks) confirmed it had “the 1 Gb or so archive” and would make a release of the stolen documents “this week.”
June 29, 2016 – Rob Goldstone emails Dan Scavino, Don Trump Jr, Rhona Graff (Trump exec asst) and Konstantin Sidorkov. It states in part “Dan, I am following up an email a while back of something I had mentioned to Don and Paul Manafort during a meet recently. There are believed to be around 2 million Russian-American voters living in the USA and more than 1.6 million of these use the Russian ‘Facebook’ site V Kontakte [or] ‘VK’ as their preferred social media outlet. As I mentioned to you guys through Emin and my contact at VK, they want to create a Vote Trump 2016 promotion aired directly at these users, people who will be voting in November. At the time Paul had said he would welcome it. So I had the VK folks mock up a basic sample page which I am resending for your approval now.” Don Trump Jr. said he had no recall of Goldstone bringing this up during the meeting, he said Goldstone just sat there and observed the whole time. Quite a thing to forget all about, especially since he said Goldstone apologized at the end of the June 9 meeting for basically wasting their time.
July 22, 2016 – Wikileaks publishes hacked emails from John Podesta’s server. This collection included 19,252 emails and 8,034 attachments from the DNC, the governing body of the United States’ Democratic Party. The leak includes emails from seven key DNC staff members, and date from January 2015 to May 2016. The leaked contents, which suggested the party’s leadership had worked to sabotage Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, prompted the resignation of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz before the Democratic National Convention. The same day of the leak, the DNC issued a formal apology to Bernie Sanders and his supporters, stating, “On behalf of everyone at the DNC, we want to offer a deep and sincere apology to Senator Sanders, his supporters, and the entire Democratic Party for the inexcusable remarks made over email,” and that the emails did not reflect the DNC’s “steadfast commitment to neutrality during the nominating process.” WikiLeaks did not site Guccifer 2.0 or where the docs were sourced. The latest-in-time email released through WikiLeaks was dated May 25, 2016, approximately the same day the GRU hacked the DNC Microsoft Exchange Server.
On this same day, Rob Goldstone emails Rhona Graff (Trump’s executive assistant) which states: “Emin has an e-mail invite for Mr. Trump to attend his father’s 60th birthday in Moscow on November 8.”
July 24, 2016 – DNC Chairman Debbie Wasserman-Shultz resigns due to the scandal from the email leaks.
Rhona Graff responds back to Rob Goldstone’s email invite “I will certainly make Mr. Trump aware of this invitation and I know he will be honored that Emin thought of him. However, given his presidential campaign it’s highly unlikely that he would have time on his calendar to go to Moscow in November.” Mr. Goldstone replies that same day “I totally understand re Moscow, unless maybe he would welcome a meeting with President Putin which Emin would set up.”
July 25, 2016 – Democratic National Convention starts in Philly.
July 27, 2016, At a press conference, “I have nothing to do with Russia. I have nothing to do with Russia – for anything.” “What do I have to do with Russia? You know the closest I came to Russia, I bought a house a number of years ago in Palm Beach, Florida. Palm Beach is a very expensive place. There was a man who went bankrupt and I bought the house for $40 million and I sold it to a Russian for $100 million including brokerage commissions. So I sold it. So I bought it for 40, I sold it for 100 to a Russian. That was a number of years ago. I guess probably I sell condos to Russians, okay?” He went on to say he doubted that Russia was behind the DNC hackings but that he hoped there would be more email releases to come. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 [Hillary Clinton] emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens. That will be next.” It was not clear whether this was merely meant as a joke but Trump didn’t end up holding another press conference for the rest of the campaign. However, literally that same day, according to the Mueller indictment of 12 GRU officers, the GRU attempted after hours to spearphish for the first time email accounts at a domain hosted by a third-party provider and used by Clinton’s personal office. They also targeted another 76 email addresses at the domain for the Clinton campaign. It wasn’t the first time the Russian hackers had allegedly begun to probe Clinton’s campaign, but it was the first time they specifically targeted her personal office. That doesn’t mean that Trump broke any law — to have aided and abetted the hacking, Trump must also have had intent to promote a crime — a high bar for a man who makes constant “jokes” about legal violations.
July 28, 2016 – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack accused Donald Trump of encouraging the Russian government to hack the email of Hillary Clinton, Trump’s opponent in the 2016 presidential election. Several other Democratic Senators claimed Trump’s comments appeared to violate the Logan Act. Laurence Tribe, a professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School, also commented on the incident saying, “Trump’s “jokes” inviting an adversary to wage cyberwar against the U.S. appear to violate the Logan Act and might even constitute treason.”
August 2, 2016 – After the DNC convention, DNC CEO Amy Dacey, CFO Brad Marshall, and Communications Director Luis Miranda also resigned in the wake of the email leak controversy.
August 2, 2016 – one week before Paul Ryan faced a primary for re-election to his house seat, Trump declined to endorse him, saying “I’m just not quite there yet.” He also praised Ryan’s primary opponent. Trump’s comments infuriated Republican officials, particularly GOP chairman Reince Priebus.
August 6, 2017 – Trump endorsed Paul Ryan, reading from a prepared statement, “So in our shared mission, to make America great again, I support and endorse our speaker of the House, Paul Ryan.”
August 8, 2016 – Roger Stone told a conference of Republicans, “I actually have communicated with [WikiLeaks co-founder Julian] Assange. I believe the next tranche of his documents pertain to the Clinton Foundation, but there’s no telling what the October surprise may be.”
August 12, 2016 – Guccifer 2.0 posts his eight post on his WordPress site but the contents were disabled the next day “upon receipt of a valid complaint regarding the publication of private information.” Also on this day, Roger Stone said on the #MAGA podcast that he believed Assange had emails deleted from Hillary Clinton’s personal server by Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills; he adds that he knows who has them and they should be dropped in the next three months. “In fact I know [Assange] has them,” Stone said. “And I believe he will expose the American people to this information in the next 90 days.”
That same day, Guccifer 2.0, the online persona who claimed credit for the hacks, sent a thank-you note to Stone shortly after releasing a set of documents with personal information about Democratic candidates.
August 12, 2016 – the tabloid news site The Smoking Gun — which regularly reports on and posts leaked documents, legal filings and mugshots — reported it had connected the DCleaks.com site to “Guccifer 2.0,” the mysterious hacker who took credit for the DNC intrusion and is thought to be a Russian cover-up operation. ThreatConnect reviewed the exchanges between Guccifer 2.0 and The Smoking Gun, concluding that Guccifer 2.0 was intricately linked, behind the scenes, to DCleaks. Guccifer 2.0 was able to provide The Smoking Gun’s reporters with exclusive login information to view protected DC Leaks information, including alleged emails from a Clinton campaign volunteer named Sarah Hamilton. Yet the Guccifer 2.0 persona never publicly mentioned DC Leaks. After examining these digital exchanges, ThreatConnect concluded, “We assess that DC Leaks is another Russian influence operation, possibly put on by the same Russian actors behind the Guccifer 2.0 persona.” DC Leaks’ content has not had nearly the same impact as the leak of 20,000 hacked DNC emails that appeared on the site WikiLeaks just before the Democrats’ convention in July.
August 14, 2016 – According to Roger Stone, he began messaging with Guccifer 2.0 on Twitter on this day. Stone tells the hacker he was “delighted” Twitter reinstated his account.
August 15, 2016 – Guccifer 2.0 posts his ninth post on his WordPress site “DCCC Internal Docs on Primaries in Florida.”
“Here are the DCCC docs on Florida: reports, memos, briefings, dossiers, etc. You can have a look at who you are going to elect now. It may seem the congressional primaries are also becoming a farce.
“Florida docs by districts”
[leaked docs about Florida primaries]
According to the Mueller indictment of 12 GRU operatives, on this date Guccifer 2.0 received a request for stolen documents from a candidate for US Congress. The GRU responded using Guccifer 2.0 and sent the candidate stolen documents related to the candidate’s opposition.
Roger Stone tells World Net Daily he communicated with Assange and forthcoming material will be related to the Clinton Foundation. Guccifer 2.0 also wrote to a Roger Stone ‘thank you for writing back…do u find anyt[h]ing interesting in the docs i posted?”
August 16, 2016 – Roger Stone tells radio host Alex Jones he has “backchannel communications” with Assange who has “political dynamite” on the Clintons.
August 17, 2016 – Trump announced Breitbart News executive chairman Stephen Bannon as the campaign chief executive and promoted Conway to campaign manager, replacing Paul Manafort who had been handling those duties unofficially. Bannon left Breitbart as well as the Government Accountability Institute and Cambridge Analytica to take the job. Manafort had been criticized in the media for connections to former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich and other dictators.
According to the Mueller indictment of 12 GRU operatives, on this date Guccifer 2.0 wrote that same person who was in contact with the Trump campaign and said “please tell me if i can help u anyhow…it would be a great pleasure to me.”
August 18, 2016 – Roger Stone says in an interview on C-SPAN he’s been in touch with Julian Assange “through an intermediary—somebody who is a mutual friend.” WikiLeaks would later tweet in response to Stone’s appearance, “We are happy to hear true information from everyone. But so far, we have not heard from Mr. Stone.”
August 19, 2016 – Although Manafort initially retained the title of campaign chairman, he resigns on this date.
August 21, 2016 – Trump created and met with a Hispanic advisory council.
August 21, 2016 – Final post from Guccifer 2.0 on his WordPress site “DCCC Docs on Pennsylvania.”
“I received a great number of messages from my followers asking to release more and more docs on various states. Pennsylvania is the most frequently requested state.
“So, here are DCCC docs on Pennsylvania’s congressional districts. You may find a thing or two about the
Democratic primaries in the state there.”
[leaked docs about Pennsylvania primaries]
August 21, 2016 – Roger Stone tweeted that “it will soon the Podesta’s time in the barrel.” Stone also says he is not “at liberty to discuss” information he received from Assange. Stone claims he was hacked after speaking with Assange. Stone says on The Blaze radio that he had “communicated” with Assange through a “mutual acquaintance.” He also goes on a local Maryland radio show and says “The DNC leaks that nailed Deborah Wasserman Schultz in the heist against Bernie Sanders was not leaked by the Russians, it was leaked by Cruccifer [sic] 2, I should say hacked and leaked first by Cruccifer 2, well known hacker who is not in the employment of the Russians and then Wikileaks. So that whole claim is a canard.”
August 22, 2016 – According to the Mueller indictment of 12 GRU operatives, on this date Guccifer 2.0 transferred approximately 2.5 GBs of data stolen from the DCCC to a then-registered state lobbyist and online source of political news. The stolen data included donor records and personal ID info for more than 2,000 Democratic donors. They also sent a reporter stolen docs pertaining to Black Lives Matter. The reporter responded by discussing when to release the docs and offering ot write an article about their release.
August 26, 2016 – In an interview with Breitbart Radio, Roger Stone says, “I’m almost confident Mr. Assange has virtually every one of the emails that the Clinton henchwomen, Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, thought that they had deleted, and I suspect that he’s going to drop them at strategic times in the run up to this race.”
August 29, 2016 – Roger Stone says on local Florida radio of Assange and the Clinton Foundation, “Perhaps he has the smoking gun that will make this handcuff time.”
August 31, 2016 – Trump made a visit to Mexico and met with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, saying he wanted to build relations in the country. However, in a major speech later that night, Trump laid out a 10-step plan reaffirming his hardline positions, and used harsh rhetoric to portray many illegal immigrants as a danger to Americans. In reaction, one member of Trump’s Hispanic advisory council resigned, and several other Hispanic supporters said they were reconsidering their support.
September 2016 – According to the Mueller indictment of 12 GRU officers, during this time the GRU successfully gained access to the DNC computers hosted on a third-party cloud-computing service. These computers contained test applications related to the DNC’s analytics. After conducting reconnaissance, the GRU gathered data by creating bakcups or “snapshots” of the DNC cloud-based systems using the cloud provider’s own technology. They then moved the snapshots to cloud-based accounts they had registered with the same service, thereby stealing the data from the DNC.
September 2016 – By the end of September 2016, Flynn’s consulting company was hired by Inovo BV, a company owned by Kamil Ekim Alptekin, the Chair of the Turkish-American Business Council, which is an arm of the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEIK).
September 2, 2016, Trump hired David Bossie, longtime president of the conservative advocacy group Citizens United, to be his new deputy campaign manager. Bossie and Trump have a longstanding personal and political relationship, dating back to the Citizens United v. the FEC, a case that piqued Trump’s interest. It was forged in the same year as the decision, 2010, through Las Vegas Casino magnate Steve Wynn, who told Trump he was impressed with Bossie’s political skills. Trump personally asked him to come on board his 2016 campaign, and the deal came together this week, finalized Wednesday. Trump is giving Bossie access to all meetings, and he has asked him to run day-to-day operations, field operations and to participate in debate prep?. Trump’s top staffers, CEO Steve Bannon and campaign manager Kellyanne Conway?, also both have very close ties to Bossie, who has known Bannon longer than he’s known Trump — since around 2008. And Bossie has a relationship with former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s first campaign manager?. As he tells it, he was instrumental in Lewandowski’s hiring by Trump at the inception of his campaign. In July, Lewandowski and Bossie commiserated at the Republican convention frequently, and Bossie’s arrival at Team Trump only deepens the likelihood Lewandowski will continue to play a phone-advisory role with Trump and work with Bossie informally. His hiring came about when Trump concluded that Kellyanne Conway had helped with smoothing out the media messaging and would need to keep up her volume of media appearances. This meant so he’d have to add another hands-on manager in Trump Tower. Bossie believes he will fill that role. Bossie, Conway and Bannon form a kind of loyalist triad at the top of Trump’s campaign structure that is not only loyal to him but, in the main, to each other.
September 9, 2016 – According to the Mueller indictment of 12 GRU operatives, on this date Guccifer 2.0 contacted the person connected to Trump’s campaign and asked, referring to a stolen DCCC document posted online, “what do u think of the info on the turnout model for the democrats entire presidential campaign.” The person responded “[p]retty standard.”
September 16, 2016 – Roger Stone says on Boston Herald Radio that he expects Assange the WikiLeaks to “drop a payload of new documents on a weekly basis fairly soon. And that of course will answer the question of exactly what was erased on that email server.” Stone adds of Assange, “I am in touch with him through an intermediary.”
September 19, 2016 – Turkish businessman, Ekim Alptekin introduced officials of the Republic of Turkey to Flynn Intel Group officials at a meeting on September 19, 2016, in New York including foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and energy minister Berat Albayrak, son-in-law of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and had discussed abducting Fethullah Gülen and sending him to Turkey, bypassing the U.S. extradition legal process. According to a filing later when this all came out, although the Flynn Intel Group was engaged by a private firm, Inovo BV, and not by a foreign government, because of the subject matter of the engagement, Flynn Intel Group’s work for Inovo could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey. The firm was paid a total of $530,000 as part of a $600,000 contract that ended the day after the election, when Flynn stepped away from his private work, the documents say. During the summer and fall, Flynn, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, was sitting in on classified intelligence briefings given to Trump. So this constitutes a pretty clear conflict of interest (check out his op-ed in November on the day of the election to see how Flynn was actually acting in public on this).
September 22, 2016 – Omarosa Manigault, the director of African-American outreach for Trump’s presidential campaign, said in a Frontline special that “Every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Trump. It’s everyone who’s ever doubted Donald, who ever disagreed, who ever challenged him. It is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe.”
September 25, 2016 – Carter Page sent a letter to the FBI Director. In this letter, Page made reference to accusations in a September 23, 2016 article claiming he had secretly met with Russian officials in July. Page stated that the source of the accusations is nothing more than completely false media reports and that he did not meet this year with any sanctioned official in Russia. Page also stated that he would be willing to discuss any “final” questions the FBI may have.
September 26, 2016 – Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro and the international private equity investor Wilbur Ross authored a short economic endorsement plan for the Donald Trump presidential campaign which was published without academic references and criticized in the press.
September 26, 2016 – An interview with Carter Page is published where he states he never met with Sechin or Divyekin. He also said he’d be taking a leave of absence from the campaign becasue the accusations were a “distraction.” Even after this, the FBI filed a FISA warrant to continue to surveil Page as a probable person of interest since they believed he was collaborating and conspiring with the Russian Government.
September 26, 2016 – The first of three presidential debates took place on Monday evening at New York’s Hofstra University. The moderator was Lester Holt of NBC. A live-TV audience of 84 million viewers set a viewership record for presidential debates.
September 30, 2016 – In an interview about Russia–United States relations with Interfax, George Papadopoulos said that Barack Obama had failed to follow through on his promises to cooperate with Russia, and asserted that the U.S. had made insufficient joint efforts with Russia against terrorism
September 30, 2016 – Healy Baumgardner-Nardone resigns from communications staff in campaign. “It is clear the campaign is now going in a direction I am no longer comfortable with and I have decided to move on,” Baumgardner said at the time, adding that she looked forward “to honorably casting my vote for Mr. Trump on Election Day.”
October 2016 – A FISA warrant is filed and approved to surveil Carter Page based on information that he is “an agent of a foreign power.” Specifically, that he “has been the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian Government…undermine and influence the outcome of the 2016 US Presidential election in violation of US criminal law.
October 1, 2016 – Roger Stone tweets, “Wednesday @HillaryClinton is done. #Wikileaks.” (referring to Wed, Oct 5)
October 7, 2016 – Joint Stateent from the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the National Intelligence on Election Security (Election Security Joint Statement), the USIC is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of emails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations. The Election Security Joint Statement states that the recent disclosure of e-mails on, among others, sites like WikiLeaks are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. According to the Election Security Joint Statement, these thefs and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process; activity that is not new to Moscow – the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there. The Election Security Joint Statement states that, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.”
Also on this date, “Organization 1” (WikiLeaks) released the first set of emails from the chairman of the Clinton campaign (Podesta). Over the next month, more emails are released, totalling over 50,000 stolen docs.
October 8, 2016 – following the Donald Trump Access Hollywood controversy, Ryan disinvited Trump from a scheduled campaign rally, announced that he would no longer defend or support Trump’s presidential campaign, and in a highly unusual move he freed down-ticket congressional members to use their own judgment, saying “you all need to do what’s best for you and your district.”
October 9, 2016 – The second debate between Trump and Clinton was at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri. The co-moderators were CNN’s Anderson Cooper and ABC News’ Martha Raddatz. Republican nominee Trump tweeted on Tuesday morning that “every poll” declared him the winner.
October 12, 2016 – Roger Stone tells a local Florida radio station that he has “a back-channel communication with Assange, because we have a good mutual friend. That friend travels back and forth from the United States to London and we talk. I had dinner with him last Monday,” Stone said.
October 16, 2016 – Despite having said back in 2010 that he thought Wikileaks was “disgraceful,” Trump praised Wikileaks saying, “I love Wikileaks.”
October 19, 2016 – The final debate took place on the campus of the University of Las Vegas on Wednesday evening, October 19. The moderator was Chris Wallace of Fox News. Also on this date, Roger Stone claimed in a Breitbart post that he did not have advanced knowledge that Podesta’s hacked emails would be leaked, claiming his August 21st tweet was about Podesta’s business dealings.
October 27, 2016, Pence’s Boeing 737-700 airplane fishtailed off the runway at LaGuardia Airport in New York during landing. There were no injuries reported among those on board, which included members of the press in the back of the plane. As a result of the accident, Pence cancelled a campaign event that night, though said on Twitter that he would be back campaigning the next day on October 28.
October 29, 2016 – Roger Stone says on local Florida television that he had no advanced knowledge of the forthcoming hack of Podesta’s emails, but says he has a “backchannel contact” to Assange. “We have a mutual friend,” Stone says. When asked about the content of the information shared, Stone said, “Broad information pertaining to the fact that Wikileaks has information pertaining to massive secret surveillance, war, oil, the U.S. election.” Stone says he only knew about emails being released “in the broad sense.” He says he has never met or spoken to Assange and didn’t pass any information about it to Trump.
October 31, 2016 – a week before the election, David Corn of Mother Jones magazine reported that an unnamed former intelligence officer had produced a report (the “Steele Dossier”) based on Russian sources and had turned it over to the FBI. The FBI found Steele and his information credible enough that it considered paying Steele to continue collecting information, but the release of the document to the public stopped discussions between Steele and the FBI.
In November 2016, after calls for his impeachment as Governor and felony convictions in U.S. federal court for high-ranking members of his staff in the Bridgegate scandal, Chris Christie was dropped by Trump as leader of the transition team, in favor of Mike Pence.
November 1, 2016 – The Wall Street Journal published an open letter signed by 370 economists, including eight Nobel laureates, who stated that Trump would be a “dangerous, destructive” choice for president and which encouraged voters to vote for some other candidate. The letter stated that Trump “misinforms the electorate, degrades trust in public institutions with conspiracy theories, and promotes willful delusion over engagement with reality”; that “If elected, he poses a unique danger (…) to the prosperity of the country”; and that he “promotes magical thinking and conspiracy theories over sober assessments of feasible economic policy options”.
November 6, 2016 – WikiLeaks released a second batch of DNC emails, adding 8,263 emails to its collection.
November 8, 2016 – Trump wins the Presidency in a stunning victory. Clinton received over 2.8 million (2.1%) more votes than Trump, making Trump the fifth presidential candidate in U.S. history to win the election but lose the popular vote. Of note is that this is the biggest-ever loss in the popular vote for a candidate who won the election. In an unprecedented move, Trump kept his presidential campaign organization in place after he assumed the presidency. As of January 2017 the campaign office in Trump Tower continued with a staff of about ten people, led by Michael Glassner. It focused on data-building and fundraising for a 2020 re-election campaign.
November 8, 2016 – (election day in the United States), an op-ed written by Flynn was published by The Hill, calling for U.S. backing for Erdogan’s government and criticizing the regime’s opponent, Fethullah Gülen, alleging that Gülen headed a “vast global network” that fitted “the description of a dangerous sleeper terror network”. At the time, Flynn did not disclose that his consulting firm had received funds from a company with ties to the Turkish government. After Flynn’s ties had been disclosed by The Daily Caller, Politico, and others, the editor of The Hill added a note to Flynn’s op-ed, stating that Flynn had failed to disclose that he had been engaged at the time in “consulting work that might have aided the government of Turkey,” that his firm had received payments from a company with close ties to the Turkish government, or that the company had reviewed the draft of the op-ed before it was submitted to The Hill.
November 8, 2016 U.S. presidential election, Assange only exposed material damaging to the Democratic National Committee and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Wikileaks popularized conspiracies about the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton, such as tweeting an article which suggested Clinton campaign chairperson John Podesta engaged in satanic rituals, which was later revealed to be false.
November 9, 2016 – Omarosa stated that Donald Trump has an “enemies” list of Republicans who voted against him in the presidential election.
November 10, 2016 – President Obama warned President-elect Trump against hiring Flynn. During their meeting in the Oval Office two days after the election, Obama expressed “profound concerns” about hiring Flynn to a sensitive, high-level national security post.
November 13, 2016 – Steven Bannon is appointed chief strategist and senior counsellor to the President-elect.
November 15, 2016 – U.S. Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island released a letter to Trump signed by 169 Democratic House Representatives urging him to rescind his appointment of Bannon. The letter stated that appointing Bannon “sends a disturbing message about what kind of president Donald Trump wants to be”, because his “ties to the White Nationalist movement have been well documented”; it went on to present several examples of Breitbart News’ alleged xenophobia. Bannon denied being a white nationalist and claimed, rather, that he was an “economic nationalist.”
November 16, 2016 – After Donald Trump’s win in the 2016 election, Ben Carson joined Trump’s transition team as Vice Chairman. Carson was also offered a cabinet position in the administration. He declined, in part because of his lack of experience, with an aide stating, “The last thing he would want to do was take a position that could cripple the presidency.”
November 18, 2016 – Michael Flynn accepted Trump’s offer for the position of National Security Advisor.
November 18, 2016 – During his first interview not conducted by Breitbart Media since the 2016 presidential election, Bannon remarked on some criticisms made about him, saying, “Darkness is good: Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power. It only helps us when they get it wrong. When they’re blind to who we are and what we’re doing.”
November 30, 2016 – President-elect Donald Trump announced that he would nominate Wilbur Ross as US Secretary of Commerce.
December 2016 – Attorney Don McGahn told Carter Page in a December 2016 letter to “immediately cease” saying he is a Trump adviser and to stop suggesting he was more than a short-lived advisory council member “who never actually met with the president-elect. You were merely one of the many people named to a foreign policy advisory committee in March of 2016 — a committee that met one time,” McGhan, now White House counsel, also wrote in his letter to Page. “You never met Mr. Trump, nor did you ever ‘advise’ Mr. Trump about anything. You are thus not an ‘advisor’ to Mr. Trump in any sense of the word.”
~December 1, 2016 – NSA Michael Flynn met with Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPA), at Trump Tower in New York. The meeting attracted attention because the FPA was founded by ex-Nazis in the 1950s, and because Strache had recently signed a cooperation agreement with Vladimir Putin’s ruling United Russia party. The Trump campaign refused to comment on the meeting.
December 5, 2016 – Trump announced that he would nominate Carson to the position of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
December 9, 2016 – John McCain passes the Steele Dossier to James Comey, FBI Director.
December 9, 2016 – the CIA told U.S. legislators that the U.S. Intelligence Community concluded Russia conducted operations during the 2016 U.S. election to prevent Hillary Clinton from winning the presidency. Multiple U.S intelligence agencies concluded people with direct ties to the Kremlin gave WikiLeaks hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee
December 10, 2016 – Contradicting the claims of American security services who asserted that the Russian authorities had hacked the Democratic National Committee and Hilary Clinton servers and leaked campaign emails before the US 2016 presidential election, Craig Murray (former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan from 2002-2004) wrote in December 2016 that the leak was the work of a DNC insider, claiming to have spoken to the leak author.
December 15, 2016 – Omarosa Newman was announced as one of nine additional members to President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team
December 16, 2016 – WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange has again denied that emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta were hacked and leaked to his organisation by the Russian government. In an interview with Sean Hannity he was asked: “So in other words, let me be clear…Russia did not give you the Podesta documents or anything from the DNC?” The Australian founder of the whistleblowing website, who has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for over four years, responded: “That’s correct.” Assange said: “We’re unhappy that we felt that we needed to even say that it wasn’t a state party. Normally, we say nothing at all. “We have … a strong interest in protecting our sources, and so we never say anything about them, never ruling anyone in or anyone out. “And so here, in order to prevent a distraction attack against our publications, we’ve had to come out and say ‘no, it’s not a state party. Stop trying to distract in that way and pay attention to the content of the publication,” he told Hannity. In that same story, UK citizen Craig Murray stated “I know who leaked them. I’ve met the person who leaked them, and they are certainly not Russian and it’s an insider. It’s a leak, not a hack; the two are different things. If what the CIA are saying is true, and the CIA’s statement refers to people who are known to be linked to the Russian state, they would have arrested someone if it was someone inside the United States. America has not been shy about arresting whistleblowers and it’s not been shy about extraditing hackers. They plainly have no knowledge whatsoever.” He then revealed to Dailymail.com that he had flown to Washington DC for a secret hand-off with one of the sources in September. He said that he met an intermediary in a wooded area near a US university to retrieve a package.
December 21, 2016 – President-elect Donald J. Trump today announced the formation of the White House National Trade Council (NTC) and his selection of Dr. Peter Navarro to serve as Assistant to the President and Director of Trade and Industrial Policy. Opposition to international trade agreements on the grounds that they hurt American workers by moving jobs abroad was one of the central themes of Trump’s campaign. Trump’s chief trade advisor during the campaign was Peter Navarro.
December 28, 2016 – The Obama administration announced another round of sanctions in December 2016 to penalize Russia for meddling in the presidential election, laid out in Executive Order 13757. The US government also shuttered two Russian diplomatic facilities and expelled 35 Russian diplomats. The order sanctioned individuals who were found to be responsible for or complicit in “malicious cyber-enabled activities” that represented a threat to US national security.
December 29, 2016 – NSA Michael Flynn spoke with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, the same day the Obama administration announced retaliatory measures in response to the interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign by the Russian government. The phone conversation was reportedly viewed by Obama advisers who had been briefed on its content by the F.B.I. with suspicion as possibly a secret deal between the incoming team and Moscow, which could have violated the dormant Logan Act that bars unauthorized U.S. citizens from negotiating with foreign powers in disputes with the United States. The day after reporting by David Ignatius, Trump’s incoming press secretary, Sean Spicer said the conversation had occurred on December 28 and thus couldn’t have touched on the retaliation measures or Russia’s response; Spicer later had to correct himself on the date of the conversation. Flynn falsely claimed that he had not said “to refrain from escalating the situation in response to sanctions that the United States had imposed against Russia that same day.”
January 2017 – Andrey Artemenko was expelled from the Ukrainian legislature and his citizenship was revoked after disclosures he and Michael Cohen had pitched a “peace plan” for Ukraine and Russia widely seen as favoring Moscow. The plan Artemenko, Felix Sater, and Cohen pushed would have the US lift sanctions on Russia in exchange for Moscow’s withdrawing its support for pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine. It would also allow Russia to maintain control over the territory of Crimea, which it annexed in 2014.
“Mr. Cohen told The Times in no uncertain terms that he delivered the Ukraine proposal to Michael Flynn’s office at the White House,” The Times’ deputy managing editor said in a statement after the newspaper published the story. “Mr. Sater told the Times that Mr. Cohen had told him the same thing.” Cohen confirmed some details of the Times story to The Post, saying he met with Sater and Artemenko at a hotel in Manhattan in late January 2017 to discuss the plan. He added that the meeting lasted less than 15 minutes and that he left with the plan in hand.
January 3, 2017 – it was reported that Omarosa Newman would join Trump’s White House staff, focusing on public engagement.
January 4, 2017 – Omarosa’s specific title is made public as Assistant to the President and Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison.
January 4, 2017 – Named NSA Michael Flynn informed Don McGahn, soon to become the White House Counsel, that he was under investigation over his work for Turkey.
January 6, 2017 – the United States government’s intelligence agencies concluded that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 United States elections. A joint U.S. intelligence community review ordered by President Barack Obama stated with high confidence that “Russian President Vladimir V. Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.” Investigations about potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials were started by the FBI, the Senate Intelligence Committee, and the House Intelligence Committee. The intelligence agencies also concluded “with high confidence” that Russia’s main military intelligence unit, the G.R.U., created a “persona” called Guccifer 2.0 and a website, DCLeaks.com, to release the emails of the Democratic National Committee and of the chairman of the Clinton campaign, John D. Podesta. There was also an effort to help Trump online with Twitter bots and Facebook accounts connected to the Russian government, which involved promoting pro-Trump stories and sometimes fake news stories. (see report titled Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections” of this date)
January 10, 2017 – Michael Flynn told then-National Security Advisor Susan Rice not to proceed with a planned invasion of Raqqa using Kurdish People’s Protection Units. Flynn’s decision would delay the campaign, which had taken seven months to plan, several more months, but was consistent with Turkish objections to working with Kurdish troops.
Also on this date, Roger Stone calls claims that he colluded with Assange “false” in a blog post and says he only knew of forthcoming material because, “Julian Assange of WikiLeaks on numerous occasions had signaled that he had unspecified political dynamite that would shake up the presidential race.”
Also on this date, CNN reported that classified documents presented to Obama and Trump the previous week included allegations that Russian operatives possessed “compromising personal and financial information” about Trump. CNN stated it would not publish specific details on the memos because they had not yet “independently corroborated the specific allegations”. Following CNN’s report, BuzzFeed then published a 35-page dossier that it said was the basis of the briefing (the “Steele Dossier”).
Jan 11, 2017 – The Guardian reports that Senator John McCain passed documents to the FBI director, James Comey, last month alleging secret contacts between the Trump campaign and Moscow and that Russian intelligence had personally compromising material on the president-elect himself. [Steele Dossier] It said the attacks began as early as July 2015, when Russian intelligence operatives first gained access to the Democratic National Committee’s networks. Russia maintained that access for 11 months, until “at least June 2016,” the report concludes, leaving open the possibility that Russian cyberattackers may have had access even after the firm CrowdStrike believed that it had kicked them off the networks. The material, which has been seen by the Guardian, is a series of reports on Trump’s relationship with Moscow. They were drawn up by a former western counter-intelligence official, now working as a private consultant.
January 20, 2017 – just hours before Trump was going to be inaugurated, Papadopoulos and incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus met with Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos.
Also on this day, Trump appointed Bannon to be his Chief Strategist, a newly created position. The title made him a senior advisor to the president, nearly equivalent in authority to the Chief of Staff. As a staff member in the Executive Office of the President, the position did not require Senate confirmation. Breitbart editor Julia Hahn followed Bannon to the White House, where she was appointed as Bannon’s aide, as well as Special Assistant to President Trump.
January 22, 2017 – the Wall Street Journal reported that Michael Flynn was under investigation by U.S. counterintelligence agents for his communications with Russian officials.
January 22, 2017 – shortly following Trump’s inauguration as President, Papadopoulos met with the head of Israel’s Shomron Regional Council, Yossi Dagan, in Washington D.C. Papadopoulos was reported to have communicated to Dagan the Trump administration’s desire to work closely with Israel on the question of Israel’s West Bank settlements.
January 24, 2017 – the FBI interviewed Michael Flynn. Based on the results of that interview, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates made an “urgent” request to meet with White House Counsel Don McGahn.
January 26, 2017 – Acting Attorney General Sally Yates met with Don McGhan on January 26 and again on January 27 to talk about the security risk that NSA Michael Flynn posed. She informed McGahn that Flynn was “compromised” and possibly open to blackmail by the Russians. Yates told McGahn that Flynn had misled Pence and other administration officials about the nature of his conversation with the Russian ambassador. She added that Flynn’s “underlying conduct”, which she could not describe due to classification, “was problematic in and of itself,” saying “(i)t was a whole lot more than one White House official lying to another.”
Also on this day, Chief Strategist Steve Bannon told an American newspaper, “The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while. I want you to quote this: the media here is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States.”
January 27, 2017 – After being interviewed by FBI agents, George Papadopoulos deactivated his Facebook account, which contained correspondences with Russians, and created a new one.
Executive Order 13769 is signed by Trump. Steve Bannon, along with Stephen Miller, was involved in the creation of this EO which resulted in restricted U.S. travel and immigration by individuals from seven countries, suspension of the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days, and indefinite suspension of the entry of Syrians to the United States. According to The Economist, a British news magazine, Bannon and Miller “see Mr [Vladimir] Putin as a fellow nationalist and crusader against cosmopolitanism.”
February 1, 2017 – the ranking Democratic members on six House committees sent a letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis, requesting a Department of Defense investigation into Flynn’s connection to RT. The legislators expressed concern that Flynn had violated the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution by accepting money from RT. As a retired military intelligence officer, Flynn was required to obtain prior permission from the Defense Department and the State Department before receiving any money from foreign governments. Flynn apparently did not seek that approval before the RT speech, and he did not report the payment when he applied for renewal of his security clearance two months later. Glenn A. Fine, the acting Defense Department Inspector General, has confirmed he is investigating Flynn
February 3, 2017 – Roger Stone explains his WikiLeaks contacts in a Reddit ask me anything. “I have been forthright about the fact that Julian Assange of Wikileaks and I share a common friend who has communicated with both of us,” he writes. “I was simply told Wikileaks was in possession of ‘political dynamite’ that would ‘rock Hillary’s campaign,’ and they would release it in late October…. I had no previous knowledge of the subject of the disclosures, although I’ve speculated that it would be related to the Clinton Foundation. I’ve had no advance knowledge of the hacking of Podesta or anyone else. Nor do I believe that Assange is an agent of the Russians, a charge which is yet undocumented with proof and which he denies.”
February 8, 2017 – Michel Flynn flatly denied having spoken to Kislyak in December 2016 about the sanctions placed on Russia by the Obama administration; however, the next day, U.S. intelligence officials shared an account indicating that such discussions did in fact take place. Following this revelation, Flynn’s spokesman released a statement that Flynn “indicated that while he had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up”
February 13, 2017 – Michael Flynn resigned as National Security Advisor as questions swirled about his communications with the Russian ambassador the day before the Obama administration imposed sanctions against Russia and before Donald Trump took the oath of office as president. There were also questions about whether he misled Vice President Mike Pence about what he’d said to the ambassador. Flynn’s 24-day tenure as National Security Advisor was the shortest in the 63-year history of the office.
February 14, 2017 – Commenting on Flynn’s resignation, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer stated, “We got to a point not based on a legal issue, but based on a trust issue, where a level of trust between the President and General Flynn had eroded to the point where he felt he had to make a change … The issue here was that the President got to the point where General Flynn’s relationship – misleading the Vice President and others, or the possibility that he had forgotten critical details of this important conversation had created a critical mass and an unsustainable situation. That’s why the President decided to ask for his resignation, and he got it.”
February 14, 2017 – President Trump met with FBI Director James Comey in the Oval Office and reportedly told him “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go” adding “he’s a good guy.” Comey subsequently testified that, “I had understood the President to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December … I did not understand the president to be talking about the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to his campaign”. The propriety, and even the legality, of these words that Trump reportedly said to Comey about Flynn have become a subject of considerable public debate. Several months after dismissing Flynn, Trump also dismissed Comey, which Comey attributed to the FBI’s Russia investigation.
February 28, 2017 – Wilbur Ross confirmed as Secretary of Commerce by Congress.
March 2017 – It’s reported by the WaPo (on June 7, 2017) that Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats reportedly told his associates in March that President Donald Trump asked him to convince former FBI Director James Comey to back off on the investigation into Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Coats, according to The Washington Post, decided against it. Trump reportedly asked Coats and CIA Director Mike Pompeo to remain in the room after a briefing with other officials. During this meeting, Trump allegedly went off about Comey and the investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election. The President then complained about Comey’s handling of the FBI investigation, officials familiar with Coats’ account told the paper. The sources said Coats concluded after the meeting that Trump’s suggestion that he intervene with Comey’s investigation would be inappropriate. “Director Coats does not discuss his private conversations with the president,” DNI spokesman Brian P. Hale told the Post. “However, he has never felt pressured by the president or anyone else in the administration to influence any intelligence matters or ongoing investigations.”
March 2, 2017 – Ben Carson confirmed as HUD Secretary. During the confirmation process, Carson “would not commit definitively to avoid directing tax dollars to Trump businesses.”
March 6, 2017 – Roger Stone tweets — then deletes — about communicating with Assange, writing that he “never denied perfectly legal backchannel to Assange who indeed had the goods on #CrookedHillary.”
March 8, 2017, Flynn registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent for $530,000 worth of lobbying work before election day. This work was done on behalf of a Dutch-based company that may have been working for the Turkish government.
March 11, 2017 – Roger Stone says charges he colluded with Russian hacker Guccifer are “demonstrably false.”
March 20, 2017 – James Comey, FBI Director, confirms in Senate testimony that the FBI is investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow to influence the election. “[The FBI is] 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 said.
On this day, Roger Stone tweets in response to the House Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 election: “It’s only fair that I have a chance to respond 2 any smears or half truths about alleged “Collusion with Russians” from 2day’s Intel Hearing.”
March 24, 2017, former Director of the CIA James Woolsey said that in September 2016 Flynn, while working for the Trump presidential campaign, had attended a meeting in a New York hotel with Turkish officials including foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and energy minister Berat Albayrak, son-in-law of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and had discussed abducting Fethullah Gülen and sending him to Turkey, bypassing the U.S. extradition legal process.
March 30, 2017 – Michael Flynn offers to testify to the FBI or the Senate and House Intelligence committees relating to the Russia probe in exchange for immunity from criminal prosecution. However, the Senate Intelligence Committee rejected Flynn’s offer for testimony in exchange for immunity. Flynn initially declined to respond to a subpoena from the Senate Intelligence Committee, invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, but he and the committee later struck a compromise. After the panel narrowed the scope of that subpoena and issued additional ones for records from two of his businesses, Flynn agreed to turn over some documents.
March 31, 2017 – President Trump signs Executive Orders regarding trade
April 12, 2017 – Asked in an interview on the Fox Business Network whether it was a mistake to keep Comey on and whether it was “too late” to ask him to step down, Trump answered: “No, it’s not too late, but, you know, I have confidence in him. We’ll see what happens. You know, it’s going to be interesting.”
May 4, 2017, retired investment banker Peter Smith (age 81) contacts the Wall Street Journal to tell them that he had been actively involved, during the 2016 presidential election campaign, in trying to obtain emails he believed had been deleted from Hillary Clinton’s computer server. In that quest he contacted several known hacker groups, including some Russian groups. He claimed he was working on behalf of Trump campaign advisor Mike Flynn, but that connection has not been confirmed. He was shown some information but was not convinced it was genuine, and suggested the hackers give it to WikiLeaks instead. (this newpaper story doesn’t get published for another month)
Another piece of information pointing toward Flynn (according to the WSJ) was that US officials were aware of some intelligence that Russian hackers were at least discussing sending leaked emails to Flynn through a third party. He wrote: “Investigators have examined reports from intelligence agencies that describe Russian hackers discussing how to obtain emails from Mrs. Clinton’s server and then transmit them to Mr. Flynn via an intermediary, according to U.S. officials with knowledge of the intelligence.”
May 8, 2017 – Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, in May 8 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, said the FBI interviewed Flynn, on January 24, 2017 and describes her January meeting with Don McGhan about it.
May 9, 2017 – President Trump fires FBI Director James Comey. The administration is saying publicly that Comey was fired because he mishandled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails last year.
May ?, 2107 – At a meeting in the Oval Office, Trump reportedly asked Andrew McCabe (D/Dir FBI) who he voted for in the 2016 US presidential election. The meeting, held after former FBI director James Comey’s firing in May, initially appeared to be an introductory meet-and-greet, until Trump began making pointed remarks about McCabe’s wife’s political aspirations. Dr. Jill McCabe, who ran as a Democrat for a Senate seat in Virginia, and her campaign received $675,000 in donations from the Virginia Democratic Party and a super PAC operated by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who was a supporter of Hillary Clinton, Trump’s 2016 rival. Although Trump had reservations about McCabe temporarily running the FBI in Comey’s absence, he reportedly agreed to it because “there were no immediate better choices,” a White House official said to The Post.
May 14, 2017 – Peter Smith commit suicide in a Rochester, Minnesota hotel room. He had checked into the hotel, which is near the Mayo Clinic, the day after speaking to the Wall Street Journal. Nine days later he was found with a bag over his head that was attached to a helium source. Medical records list Smith’s cause of death as “asphyxiation due to displacement of oxygen in confined space with helium.” The detailed notes he left behind spoke to failing health since January. Also in January, his son David entered a state prison following a conviction on aggravated criminal sexual abuse charges, state records show. The notes also cite an expiring $5 million life insurance policy, and property records show he sold his Gold Coast condo last year amid a foreclosure threat. “NO FOUL PLAY WHATSOEVER – ALL SELF INFLICTED,” Smith’s note read in part. “NO PARTY ASSISTED OR HAD KNOWLEDGE AS AN ACCOMPLICE BEFORE THE FACT.” A worker at the Aspen Suites in Rochester said Smith was pacing in the lobby area the morning he died. “He would get up from his chair, walk over to the newspapers, then go back to his chair and sit down for about 30 seconds and then get up and walk over to the newspapers again,” the employee said. “It seemed like he had a lot on his mind.”
May 17, 2017 – Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III was appointed as Special Counsel to oversee an investigation into “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associates with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and (ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”
May 24, 2017 – a senior aide to the campaign, Healy Baumgardner-Nardone, disclosed that she was lobbying for the Malaysian government. The former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, left a lobbying firm he had co-founded after the election, because it solicited in Eastern Europe.
June 2017 – Alex van der Zwaan, later to be found guilty of lying to the FBI about his connections with Manafort and Gates, married Eva Khan, daughter of the Russian billionaire German Khan, co-founder and co-owner of Alfa Group.
June 5, 2017 – Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn turned over about 600 pages of documents Tuesday to the Senate intelligence committee as part of its investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election, according to a congressional aide.
June 21, 2-17 – Samuel Liles, the Department of Homeland Security’s acting director of the Office of Intelligence and Analysis Cyber Division, said vote-tallying mechanisms were unaffected and that the hackers appeared to be scanning for vulnerabilities – which Liles likened to walking down the street and looking at homes to see who might be inside. But hackers successfully exploited a “small number” of networks, Liles said, likening the act to making it through a home’s front door. Liles was testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russia’s efforts to meddle in the 2016 presidential election, and his remarks add some clarity to the breadth of the Kremlin’s cyber mischief. Officials in Arizona and Illinois had previously confirmed that hackers targeted their voter registration system, though news reports suggested the Russian effort was much broader.
July 6, 2017 – a HUD attorney wrote that Ben Carson Jr. reached out to some of the city’s most prominent leaders to request they attend events associated with the June “listening tour.” “I expressed my concern that this gave the appearance that the Secretary may be using his position for his son’s private gain,” Linda M. Cruciani, the department’s deputy general counsel for operations, wrote in the July 6 memo. Internal documents obtained by the Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act showed that the younger Carson “put people he’d invited in touch with his father’s deputies, joined agency staff on official conference calls about the listening tour and copied his wife on related email exchanges.”
July 11, 2017 – Donald Trump Jr releases the full email chain he had with Rob Goldstone about the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting and events leading up to arranging it. The statement reads:
“To everyone, in order to be totally transparent, I am releasing the entire email chain of my emails with Rob Goldstone about the meeting on June 9, 2016. The first email on June 3, 2016 was from Rob, who was relating a request from Emin, a person I knew form the 2013 Ms. Universe Pageant near Moscow. Emin and his father have a very highly respected company in Moscow. The information they suggested they hada bout Hillary Clinton I thought was Political Opposition Research. I first wanted to just have a phone call but when that didn’t work out, they said the woman would be in New York and asked if I would meet. I decided to take the meeting. The woman, as she has said publicly, was not a government official. And, as we have said, she had no information to provide and wanted to talk about adoption policy and the Magnitsky Act. To put this in context, this occurred befor ethe current Russian fever was in vogue. As Rob Goldstone said just today in the press, the entire meeting was ‘the most inane nonsense I ever heard. And I was actually agitated by it.'”
July 25, 2017 – Trump tweets “Problem is that the acting head of the FBI & the person in charge of the Hillary investigation, Andrew McCabe, got $700,000 from H for wife!”
July 26, 2017 – Trump tweets “Why didn’t A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation but got … big dollars ($700,000) for his wife’s political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives. Drain the Swamp!” McCabe’s wife, Dr. Jill McCabe, did not receive money from Hillary Clinton, as Trump claimed. During an unsuccessful run for Senate in Virginia, her campaign received $675,000 from the Virginia Democratic Party and a super PAC operated by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who is a Hillary Clinton supporter. McCabe received no money from Clinton or her family.
July 27, 2017 – George Papadopoulos was arrested at Washington-Dulles International Airport and he has since been cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation.
August 12, 2017 – Omarosa was on a panel about losing loved ones to violence at the National Association of Black Journalists convention in New Orleans. She became involved a shouting match with moderator and fellow panelist Ed Gordon because his questions to her focused on Trump’s policies and not her personal history with losing family members to violence.
August 2, 2017 – Christopher Wray is appointed Director of the FBI.
August 2, 2017 – President Donald Trump signed a new sanctions bill targeting Russia, Iran, and North Korea into law, despite calling the legislation “seriously flawed” and saying it “improperly encroaches on executive power, disadvantages American companies, and hurts the interests of our European allies.” He supported “making clear that America will not tolerate interference in our democratic process, and that we will side with our allies and friends against Russian subversion and destabilization.” But he quickly pivoted to outlining the legislation’s flaws and his administration’s efforts “to make this bill better. We have made progress and improved the language to give the Treasury Department greater flexibility in granting routine licenses to American businesses, people, and companies. The improved language also reflects feedback from our European allies — who have been steadfast partners on Russia sanctions — regarding the energy sanctions provided for in the legislation. The new language also ensures our agencies can delay sanctions on the intelligence and defense sectors, because those sanctions could negatively affect American companies and those of our allies.”
Augsut 22, 2017 – The Steele Dossier was commissioned by Fusion GPS, co-founded by former journalist Glenn Simpson. Simpson testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee and a transcript of his testimony was later released. He stated in his testimony three important points: (1) when Steele took his dossier to the FBI in 2016, he was told they had already received similar information. “Essentially what he told me was they had other intelligence about this matter from an internal Trump campaign source and that — that they — my understanding was that they believed Chris at this point — that they believed Chris’s information might be credible because they had other intelligence that indicated the same thing and one of those pieces of intelligence was a human source from inside the Trump organization.” (2) “I think it was a voluntary source, someone who was concerned about the same concerns we had. … It was someone like us who decided to pick up the phone and report something,” Simpson said. Simpson declined to name the person, citing “security” reasons. “There are some things I know that I just don’t feel comfortable sharing because obviously it’s been in the news a lot lately that people who get in the way of the Russians tend to get hurt,” he said. (3) Simpson told investigators that Steele is ‘‘basically a Boy Scout,’’ saying he has worked with Steele on and off since 2009 and he knew him to be ‘‘a person who delivered quality work in very appropriate ways.” Simpson said Steele’s concern, “which is something that counter-intelligence people deal with a lot, is whether or not there was blackmail going on, whether a political candidate was being blackmailed.” “Chris said he was very concerned about whether this represented a national security threat and said he wanted to — he said he thought we were obligated to tell someone in government, in our government about this information,” Simpson said. Simpson okayed Steele taking it to a contact in the FBI because Steele had better connections there than he did. “I don’t remember the exact sequence of these events, but my recollection is I questioned how we would do that because I don’t know anyone there that I could report something like this to and be believed and I didn’t really think it was necessarily appropriate for me to do that. In any event, he said don’t worry about that, I know the perfect person, I have a contact there, they’ll listen to me, they know who I am, I’ll take care of it. I said okay. You know, I agreed, it’s potentially a crime in progress. So, you know, if we can do that in the most appropriate way, I said it was okay for him to do that,” he said.
August 28, 2017 – “To be clear, the Trump Organization has never had any real estate holdings or interests in Russia,” the Trump Organization said Monday in a statement (related to Felix Sater emails). Mr. Trump, however signed a nonbinding “letter of intent” for the project in 2015. Michael Cohen said he discussed the project with Mr. Trump three times. In a statement on Monday that was also provided to Congress, Mr. Cohen suggested that he viewed Mr. Sater’s comments as puffery. “He has sometimes used colorful language and has been prone to ‘salesmanship,’” the statement said. “I ultimately determined that the proposal was not feasible and never agreed to make a trip to Russia.” Mr. Sater said it would be “pretty cool to get a USA President elected” and said he desired to be the ambassador to the Bahamas. “That my friend is the home run I want out of this,” he wrote. Mr. Sater — a former F.B.I. informant who is famous for having once smashed a martini glass stem into another man’s face — has maintained a relationship with Mr. Cohen over the years. The two men have spent decades operating in the world of New York commercial real estate, where the sources of funding can be murky.
September 7, 2017 – Donald Trump Jr testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee. His prepared statement is that he met with Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort at 4pm with Rob Goldstone, Natalia Veselnitskaya, a translator and Irakly Kaveladze. Trump Jr claims that Natalia gave a brief statement about how there are people in Russia who support Trump and then launched into the Magnitsky Act, something Trump Jr had never heard of before. The meeting concluded rapidly and that was it. This is the testimony where there is a question about a call Don Jr made to a blocked number between his calls with Emin (the Russian saying there’s dirt on Hillary). Don Jr claims he only told Jared and Manafort about the call and specifically did not tell his father. Most of his testimony when asked about other key campaign officials and players displaly either an incredibly poor memory, a profound ignorance of who they were or he’s lying about what he knows about these people and events.
October 5, 2017 – George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign adviser struck a cooperation agreement with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, secretly pleading guilty to lying to federal agents about his contacts with Kremlin-connected Russians. “Through his false statements and omissions, defendant … impeded the FBI’s ongoing investigation into the existence of any links or coordination between individuals associated with the Campaign and the Russian government’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election,” Mueller’s team wrote. This news came to light in court documents unsealed on Monday, October 30 in the Papadopoulos case, which also refer to unnamed campaign officials who were aware he was trying to set up a meeting between Trump and the Russians. Two sources familiar with the charges said one of the officials is Manafort, who authored a key email about Papadopoulos’ efforts: “We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips,” the email said, according to the documents. “It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal.” It’s a safe bet the other unnamed campaign official is Sam Clovis, the guy who hired Papadopoulos.
Papadopoulos is scheduled to be sentenced on September 7, 2018.
Following his guilty plea, Trump belittled Papadopoulos as a “young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar” and said few people in his campaign had heard about Papadopoulos. FactCheck.org and PolitiFact, among others, noted that during the campaign, Trump named Papadopoulos as one of his five foreign policy advisers—alongside Keith Kellogg, Carter Page, Walid Phares and Joseph Schmitz—and described Papadopoulos as an “excellent guy”.
October 27, 2017 – Paul Manafort and Rick Gates are indicted for 12 counts including conspiracy to launder money, conspiracy against the United States, being an unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements and other charges. They face decades in federal prison and millions of dollars in potential fines if convicted on all counts in a sprawling federal indictment unsealed Monday. Manafort potentially faces up to 80 years in prison, according to a review of the federal charges and the relevant statutes by The Associated Press. Gates, who also worked for the Trump campaign, faces up to 70 years. The indictment says that up to $75 million flowed through overseas accounts controlled by the two Americans. Manafort is alleged to have laundered more than $18 million he used to buy property and goods in the United States. Gates is alleged to have transferred more than $3 million to accounts he controlled.
Here’s the breakdown of charges against Manafort and Gates:
COUNT ONE: Conspiracy Against the United States. Both men are charged with conspiring together and with others to knowingly and intentionally defraud and commit crimes against the United States between 2006 and 2017. If found guilty of this count, each potentially faces up to five years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
COUNT TWO: Conspiracy to Launder Money. Both men are charged with conspiring together and with others to transfer funds from outside the United States to and through places inside the country without properly disclosing the transactions or paying required federal taxes. Penalties for this count include up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine of either $500,000 or twice the monetary value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater.
COUNTS THREE THROUGH SIX: Failure to File Reports of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts. The indictment alleges that for each calendar year between 2012 and 2015, Manafort failed to disclose to the U.S. Treasury Department that he had a financial interest in and authority over bank accounts in a foreign country involving more than $10,000. Penalties include up to 10 years in federal prison for each of the four counts and fines of up to $100,000, or up to 50 percent of the total value for the transactions, for each of the four years encompassed in the counts.
COUNTS SEVEN THROUGH NINE: Failure to File Reports of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts. The indictment also alleges that between 2012 and 2014 Gates failed to disclose to the U.S. Treasury Department that he had a financial interest in and authority over bank accounts in a foreign country involving more than $10,000. Penalties include up to 10 years in federal prison for each of the four counts and fines of up to $100,000, or up to 50 percent of the total value for the transactions, for each of the four years encompassed in the counts.
COUNT TEN: Unregistered Agent of a Foreign Principal. Prosecutors allege that both men failed to register with the U.S. attorney general as foreign agents of the government of Ukraine, the Part of Regents and Yanukovych between 2008 and 2014. Penalties include up to five years in federal prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
COUNT ELEVEN: False and misleading statements under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. The indictment alleges that both men made multiple false statements to federal officials in relation to their failure to register as foreign agents of the Ukrainian government. Penalties include up to five years in federal prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
COUNT TWELVE: False Statements. Prosecutors allege that between November 2016 and February 2017 that Manafort and Gates conspired together and caused others to make false statements and conceal crimes against the United States. The penalty for this count is up to five years in prison.
November 3, 2017 – Alex van der Zwaan is interviewed by the FBI and lies to them about the timing and nature of his last communications with Gates and an unidentified Ukrainian-based long-term associate of Manafort described as “Person A”, later identified by the New York Times as Konstantin Kilimnik. In the interview Van der Zwaan had said that his last communication with Gates was an innocuous text in mid-August 2016 and that his last contact with Person A was a 2014 discussion of Person A’s family; prosecutors determined instead that he had discussed the 2012 Skadden Arps report with Gates and Person A in September 2016 during phone calls that he surreptitiously recorded. Van der Zwaan acknowledged to special counsel investigators in an interview that Gates had told him of Kilimnik’s ties to the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), a Russian military intelligence agency.
November 5, 2017 – leaked documents known as the Paradise Papers showed that Ross had failed to clearly disclose financial ties to Russian interests in his confirmation hearings. He retains an interest in a shipping company, Navigator Holdings, that was partially owned by his former investment company. One of Navigator’s most important business relationships is with a Russian energy firm controlled, in turn, by Putin’s son-in-law and other members of the Russian president’s inner circle. The New York Times reported Sunday that the documents also contain references to offshore interests held by Gary Cohn, Trump’s chief economic adviser, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. There is no evidence of illegality in their dealings. Ross held financial interests in hundreds of companies across dozens of sectors, many of which could be affected by his decisions as commerce secretary. Any one of them could represent a potential conflict of interest, which is why the disclosures, by law, are supposed to be thorough. “The information that he provided on that form is just a start. It is incomplete,” said Kathleen Clark, an expert on government ethics at Washington University in St. Louis. “I have no reason to believe that he violated the law of disclosure, but in order … for the Commerce Department to understand, you’d have to have more information than what is listed on that form.” She said the way the companies were listed was deliberately vague. “I would say this gives the appearance of transparency,” she said, referring to Ross’s disclosure documents. “It’s sort of fake transparency in a sense.”
November 5, 2017 – NBC News reported, through sources, that special prosecutor Robert Mueller has gathered enough evidence to charge Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., as part of Mueller’s investigation into Russian collusion. Mueller has not confirmed this information.
November 10, 2017 – the Wall Street Journal reported that Michael Flynn is under investigation by Mueller for allegedly planning a kidnapping and extrajudicial rendition of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen to Turkey.
November 20, 2017 – NBC has reported that a Turkish businessman named Reza Zarrab, who was picked up last year by U.S. authorities in Miami on Iranian sanctions violations and money laundering charges, is offering evidence against Michael Flynn to Robert Mueller’s investigation.
November 22, 2017 – NBC News reported that Michael T. Flynn’s business partner Bijan Kian is a subject of the Mueller probe
December 1, 2017 – special counsel Robert Mueller agreed to a plea bargain where Flynn pleaded guilty to “willfully and knowingly” making “false, fictitious and fraudulent statements” to the FBI regarding conversations with Russia’s ambassador. Specifically, Flynn is accused of falsely claiming that he had not asked Russia’s ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak on December 29, 2016, “to refrain from escalating the situation in response to sanctions that the United States had imposed against Russia that same day.” Flynn pleaded guilty the same day and acknowledged that he was cooperating with the investigation by Mueller. As part of Flynn’s plea negotiations, his son, Michael G. Flynn, is not expected to be charged.
December 1, 2017 – Bloomberg reporter Eli Lake wrote in an opinion piece that two former Trump transition team officials provided information indicating that Jared Kushner was the senior member of the team described in Flynn’s plea documents as having directed Flynn to contact officials from foreign governments, including Russia, asking them to delay or vote against a United Nations resolution on the issue of Israeli settlements, contrary to the still-incumbent Obama administration’s position of support for the resolution
December 4, 2017 – University of Chicago Law School professors Daniel Hemel and Eric Posner argued that Michael Flynn violated the Logan Act in his dealings with the Russian ambassador during the Presidential transition of Donald Trump, while the statements made by Flynn, “further reveal that a ‘very senior member’ of the Trump transition team almost certainly violated the Logan Act, too.”
December 13, 2017 – the White House announced the resignation of Omarosa, effective January 20, 2018. The United States Secret Service did not deny reports that Omarosa had been forcibly removed from the White House grounds on December 12, but stated the agency was not involved in the termination process or escorting/removing Omarosa from the complex. The Secret Service’s only involvement in the matter was to deactivate Omarosa’s access pass. She denied being fired at the time but later played a hidden tape she’d made of WH Chief of Staff John Kelly firing her. Kelly mentions in the tape that there have come to light a number of legal/integrity issues, including her use of WH vehicles, which require that she leave the WH. He said there are some “pretty significant legal issues which we hope don’t develop into something that will make it ugly for you…” Kelly makes it crystal clear that she has committed crimes, there are laywers present during her firing and he hopes she will just go quietly.
January 22, 2018 – FBI Director Christopher Wray reportedly threatened to resign after being pressured by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to fire deputy director Andrew McCabe, according three sources cited in an Axios report Monday. The report follows news of Sessions’ pressure on Wray to oust McCabe and former general counsel James Baker in order to make way for a “fresh start” at the FBI. White House counsel Don McGahn, who learned from Sessions how upset Wray was, told Sessions that the matter wasn’t worth pursuing, according to Axios. McCabe, who became the acting FBI director after Trump fired the former FBI director James Comey, drew ire from President Donald Trump as the Trump-Russia investigation gained traction with the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller.
January 29, 2018 – State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said a bill President Donald Trump signed into law in August that called for a report identifying wealthy Russians linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin was enough to steer away from Russia billions of dollars in defense sales. Nauert said additional sanctions on specific individuals and groups associated with the Kremlin for Russian interference in the 2016 US election “will not need to be imposed.” Nauert added that the effects of the law targeting Russian defense sales were “beginning to become apparent,” without citing specifics. Further details were included in a classified report delivered to Congress, the State Department said.
January 29, 2018 – House Intelligence Committee Republicans have voted to release a controversial secret memo that accuses the Department of Justice and the FBI of improper spying amid the Russia investigation. The memo points to a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant obtained for surveillance against the former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee allege that FBI and DOJ officials failed to disclose that the Russia dossier used to obtain that warrant was partially funded by a lawyer linked to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. Broadly, the vote indicates that Republicans on the committee view the use of the dossier to dig deeper into Page as evidence of bias against President Donald Trump. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who was appointed by Trump, later authorized further surveillance of Page. Democrats are livid about the memo, which they say omits crucial facts and should not be selectively released. They have pushed back on Republican criticism of the FBI, saying it is an attempt to discredit the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and whether Trump’s campaign was involved. The investigation has already resulted in charges against four of Trump’s former campaign advisers and has recently moved closer to Trump’s inner circle.
January 29, 2018 – Andrew McCabe, D/Dir FBI was told Monday morning to step down and that he was being “removed” from the FBI. The New York Times reported that McCabe left the bureau after FBI Director Christopher Wray raised concerns about an upcoming Justice Department inspector general report examining McCabe’s and other senior officials’ actions during the 2016 presidential campaign. The FBI was investigating both the Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of private email and the Trump’s campaigns connections to Russia. In his discussion with McCabe, Wray suggested a demotion, a former official told The Times, but McCabe instead decided to leave. In the days before McCabe’s departure, a pair of recent stories detailed Trump’s interactions and relationship with the deputy director.
February 11, 2018 – Michael Flynn resigns as National Security Adviser. after it emerged that the Justice Department informed the White House that it believed he could be subject to blackmail. The resignation also came after previous disclosures that Flynn had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other senior officials about his communications with Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States. Pence repeated the misinformation in television appearances. “Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the Vice President Elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian Ambassador. I have sincerely apologized to the President and the Vice President, and they have accepted my apology,” Flynn said in his resignation letter. Flynn’s discussions had raised a possible breach of the Logan Act, a 1799 law that bars unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments.
February 20, 2018 – Alex van der Zwaan, a Belgian-born Dutch lawyer who speaks Russian and is linked to Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, pleaded guilty to lying to investigators for Mueller. Alex van der Zwaan previously worked at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, a prominent law firm that generated a controversial report used to defend the former pro-Russian government of Ukraine against accusations that it had improperly prosecuted a political opponent. Van der Zwaan, 33, the son-in-law of a Russian oligarch, had worked with Paul Manafort and Richard Gates, former Trump campaign aides who have been indicted by Mueller on charges related to alleged money laundering, including the use of offshore accounts to funnel $4 million used to pay for the law firm’s report. He is the fourth person to plead guilty in Mueller’s investigation of Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential campaign and the possible involvement of Trump’s campaign. Gates, Manafort’s former business partner, is expected to plead guilty in the coming days and testify against Manafort, The Times reported on Sunday. At a hearing in U.S. District Court in Washington, van der Zwaan pleaded guilty to one count of lying during interviews at the special counsel’s office, including about his communications with Gates. He also admitted deleting an email exchange with someone based in the Ukraine, who was not named by prosecutors. Van der Zwaan said he expected a sentence no longer than six months. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said he had offered some cooperation with Mueller’s investigation, although it was unclear whether he is continuing to provide information in the Russia inquiry. Andrew Weissmann, one of Mueller’s top deputies, said his office had not filed a cooperation agreement as part of the deal. Skadden Arps released a statement that Van der Zwaan had been fired from the law firm in 2017
February 22, 2018 – More charges are brought against both Paul Manafort and Rick Gates. They were first charged with 12 counts on Oct. 30. Both pleaded not guilty, although Gates is expected to plead guilty and testify against Manafort. The new, superseding indictment includes 16 counts related to false individual income tax returns, seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts. five counts of bank fraud conspiracy and four counts of bank fraud. When Manafort and Gates were working for Yanukovych, money was funneled into offshore accounts and used to buy U.S. real estate, the indictment says. Manafort is charged with not reporting more than $13.7 million in accounts hidden offshore. After Yanukovych was ousted, Manafort and Gates obtained more than $20 million in loans secured by the properties, the indictment says, “allowing Manafort to have the benefits of liquid income without paying taxes on it.” “Manafort and Gates defrauded the lenders in various ways,” by submitting phony income statements, “lying about their debt and lying about Manafort’s use of the property and the loan proceeds,” the indictment says. Prosecutors say Manafort’s real estate dealings sometimes included multiple frauds for a single property. In 2012, for example, Manafort bought a condominium in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan with $2.85 million in cash, sent through accounts in Cyprus, a banking secrecy haven. He used it as an investment property, generating thousands in payments from Airbnb, the indictment said. In late 2015, applying for a mortgage, he claimed that his daughter and son-in-law were living there and told his son-in-law to lie to the bank appraiser. He also concealed his debts and filed a false insurance statement, the indictment says. Not every attempt at fraud worked, according to the indictment. When Manafort wanted to buy a property in Bridgehampton, N.Y., Gates offered the bank a phony invoice for a “democratic development consulting project” worth $2.4 million, the indictment says. The loan was denied. The new charges come as Gates’ legal strategy and defense team are in flux. His three lawyers have asked to leave the case, a request that Gates is not opposing. The details of those discussions remain sealed beyond a court filing that said they involve “highly sensitive matters” that would “potentially be prejudicial to [Gates] as well as embarrassing.” Another lawyer, Thomas Green, notified the court on Thursday that he would be representing Gates. The Times reported Sunday that Gates was planning to plead guilty and testify against Manafort. Green did not respond to a request for comment about the new charges, and neither did Manafort’s spokesman.
February 27, 2018 – Carson received criticism for spending up to $31,000 on a dining set in his office in late 2017. This was discovered after Helen Foster, a career HUD official, filed a complaint alleging that she was demoted from her position because she refused to spend more than the legal $5,000 limit for office redecorations. Carson and his spokesman said that he had little or no involvement in the purchase of the dining set; later, email communications revealed that Carson and his wife selected the dining set.
March 20, 2018 – Carson testified before the United States House Committee on Appropriations that he had “dismissed” himself from the decision to buy the $31,000 dining room set and “left it to my wife, you know, to choose something.”
March 22, 2018 – The House Intelligence Committee formally ended its Russia investigation on Thursday, voting along party lines to release a final report that asserts there was no evidence of collusion involving the Trump campaign. During a closed-door meeting, the Republican majority fended off more than a dozen attempts by Democrats to prolong the probe by subpoenaing additional witnesses. The GOP also rejected a motion to hold former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for his refusal to answer key questions, and another to express support for allowing special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe to continue unimpeded.
March 27, 2018 – Robert Mueller’s office asked a judge to consider jail time for Alex van der Zwaan.
April 3, 2018 – Alex van der Zwan is sentenced to 30 days in prison for lying to federal agents, the first formal conviction from Mueller’s investigation. He was also ordered to pay a $20,000 fine and will be on two months of supervised release following his prison term.
April 9, 2018 – FBI agents raid Michael Cohen’s office looking for records about payments to two women who they claim had affairs with Donald Trump as wel as ainfomration related to the role of the publisher of The National Enquirer in silencing one of the women. The search warrant carried out by the public corruption unit of the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan sought information about Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who claims she carried on a nearly yearlong affair with Mr. Trump shortly after the birth of his youngest son in 2006. Ms. McDougal was paid $150,000 by American Media Inc., The Enquirer’s parent company, whose chief executive is a friend of Mr. Trump’s. Agents were also searching the office and hotel room of the lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, for information related to Stephanie Clifford, better known as Stormy Daniels, a pornographic film actress, who also said she had sex with Mr. Trump while he was married. Mr. Cohen has acknowledged that he paid Ms. Clifford $130,000 as part of a nondisclosure agreement to secure her silence days before the 2016 presidential election. The F.B.I. also searched for records related to Mr. Cohen’s New York taxicab business, apparently a separate line of inquiry unrelated to Mr. Trump. Mr. Cohen is a longtime owner of taxi medallions, at one point operating a fleet of more than 200 cabs in Manhattan. Besides enraging Mr. Trump, the early-morning searches, associates said, also led him to privately wonder whether he should fire Rod J. Rosenstein, the veteran prosecutor appointed by Mr. Trump to serve as deputy attorney general. Mr. Rosenstein personally signed off on Monday’s F.B.I. decision to raid the office of Mr. Cohen, several government officials said.
April 13, 2018 – Michael Cohen’s lawyer files a temporary restraining order, basing it on the idea that the things seized by the FBI in their raid include confidential/privileged information that is not relevant to what the search order was looking for.
May 8, 2018 – Alex van der Zwaan reported to prison at FCI Allenwood Low.
June 4, 2018 – Alex van der Zwaan is released into ICE custody.
June 5, 2018 – Alex van der Zwaan is deported to the Netherlands.
June 8, 2018 – Special counsel Robert Mueller on Friday filed new witness tampering criminal charges against ex-Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort as well against Russian citizen and former Manafort operative Konstantin Kilimnik. The superseding indictment — the third against Manafort issued by a Washington, D.C., federal grand jury — came days after Mueller asked a judge to revoke Manafort’s $10 million bail and jail him because of alleged efforts to tamper with potential witnesses at his upcoming trials. Manafort, 69, and the 48-year-old Moscow resident Kilimnik were both charged with obstructing justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice by using intimidation or force against a witness, and also with tampering with a witness, victim or informant. The charges echo allegations Mueller made Monday in his request to revoke Manafort’s bail.
Kilimnik was a longtime employee of Manafort’s political consulting entities and had done work for him in Ukraine. He is also suspected of having connections to Russian intelligence services. The indictment accuses Manafort, while being confined to his home, of conspiring with Kilimnik to influence two potential witnesses against Manafort between late February and April. The witnesses are identified as “Persons D1 and D2” in the superseding indictment. That is exactly how Mueller, in his bail revocation request, identified two witnesses who had worked with Manafort and whom he allegedly tried to tamper with. The “Person A” identified in Monday’s filing by the special counsel as Manafort’s accomplice in that effort appears to be Kilimnik. In that filing, Mueller said that in February, after he filed a second superseding indictment against Manafort, both Manafort and Person A “repeatedly contacted Persons D1 and D2 in an effort to secure materially false testimony concerning the activities of the Hapsburg group.” That group was a collection of former senior European political leaders who allegedly acted as third-party paid lobbyists for Ukraine. Court filings say that Person D1 told Mueller’s investigators that Manafort reached out to him on Feb. 26 using the WhatsApp encrypted messaging platform to say, “We should talk. I have made clear that they worked in Europe,” referring to the Hapsburg group. Person D1 told investigators he “understood Manafort’s outreach to be an effort to ‘suborn perjury'” because both he and Manafort knew the Hapsburg group had done work in the U.S. Mueller’s filings also cited a Feb. 28 WhatsApp message by Person A to Person D2, which said, “Basically P wants to give him a quick summary that he says to everybody (which is true) that our friends never lobbied in the US, and the purpose of the program was EU.” Person D2 turned over that message to Mueller’s investigators last month. Lobbying in the U.S. on behalf of Ukraine would have required the Hapsburg group to register with the American government, which it had not done. Court filings say that Person D1 told Mueller’s investigators that Manafort reached out to him on Feb. 26 using the WhatsApp encrypted messaging platform to say, “We should talk. I have made clear that they worked in Europe,” referring to the Hapsburg group. Person D1 told investigators he “understood Manafort’s outreach to be an effort to ‘suborn perjury'” because both he and Manafort knew the Hapsburg group had done work in the U.S. Mueller’s filings also cited a Feb. 28 WhatsApp message by Person A to Person D2, which said, “Basically P wants to give him a quick summary that he says to everybody (which is true) that our friends never lobbied in the US, and the purpose of the program was EU.” Person D2 turned over that message to Mueller’s investigators last month. Lobbying in the U.S. on behalf of Ukraine would have required the Hapsburg group to register with the American government, which it had not done.
July 2018 – Mueller investigation obtained indictments or guilty pleas from 32 individuals and three Russian companies.
July 13, 2018 – Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russian military intelligence agents of a group known as Fancy Bear alleged to be responsible for the attack, who were behind the Guccifer 2.0 pseudonym which claimed responsibility.
* Viktor Borisovich Netyksho – in command of Unit 26165, located at 20 Komsomolskiy Prospekt, Moscow, Russia. This unit had primary responsibility for hacking the DCCC and DNC and Clinton campaign emails.
* Boris Alekseyevich Antonov – a major assigned to unit 26165, was “Head of Department” targeting military, political, governmental and non-governmental organizations with spearphishing emails.
* Dmitry Sergeyevich Badin – Assistant Head of Department in Unit 26165, worked under Antonov.
* Ivan Sergeyevich Yermakov – Russian military officer assigned to Antonov’s department within Unit 26165. Used online personas such as Kate S. Milton, James McMorgans and Karen W. Millen to conduct hacking operations. Around March 2016, participated in hacking at least two email accounts from which campaign-related docs were released through DCLeaks. In May 2016, also worked directly on the DNC hack.
* Aleksey Viktorovich Lukashev – a Senior Lieutenant in the Russian military assigned to Antonov’s unit. Used online personas such as Den Katenberg and Yuliana Martynova. Sent spearphishing emails to Clinton campaign including chairman of the Clinton campaign (Podesta).
* Sergey Aleksandrovich Morgachev – a Lieutenant Colonel assigned to Unit 26165. Developed malware and a hacking tool known as “X-Agent.” Supervised the co-conspirators who developed and monitored X-Agent malware.
* Nikolay Yuryevich Kozachek – Lieutenant Captain under Morgachev in Unit 26165. Used a variety of monikers including “kazak” and “blablabla1234565”. Developed, customized and monitored X-Agent malware.
* Pavel Vyacheslavovich Yershov – Russian military officer assigned to Unit 26165. Tested and customized X-Agent malware.
* Artem Andreyevich Malyshev – Second Lieutenant in Russian military under Morgachev in Unit 26165. Used a variety of monikers including “djangomagicdev” and “realblatr.” Monitored X-Agent malware implanted on DCCC and DNC networks.
* Aleksandr Vladimirovich Osadchuck – Russian colonel and commander of Unit 74455 located at 22 Kirova St, Khimki, Moscow, a building called “the Tower” in the GRU. This unit assisted in the release of stolen docs through DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 personas, the promotion of those releases and the publication of anti-Clinton social media content.
* Aleksey Alexsandrovich Potemkin – Russian military officer assigned as a supervisor over computer infrastructure in a dept in Unit 74455.
* Anatoliy Serveyevich Kovalev –
July 18, 2018 – “The [Senate Intelligence] committee concurs with intelligence and open-source assessments that this influence campaign was approved by President Putin,” the panel said Tuesday in a report that endorsed as “sound” the intelligence findings issued in January 2017. The committee said there was a body of intelligence “to support the assessment that Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for Trump.” Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, said that after 16 months of investigation, his panel “sees no reason to dispute the conclusions” reached by the intelligence community. “The committee continues its investigation and I am hopeful that this installment of the committee’s work will soon be followed by additional summaries providing the American people with clarity around Russia’s activities regarding U.S. elections.”
July 26, 2018 – Allen Weisselberg, CFO of The Trump Organization, has been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury in the criminal probe of Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, according to people familiar with the investigation. “He plays an integral part in the Trump Organization’s growth and continued financial success,” wrote Ivanka Trump in an emailed statement. “He is deeply passionate, fiercely loyal and has stood alongside my father and our family for over [three] decades.” Many of Mr. Trump’s personal transactions are handled by Mr. Weisselberg, including payment of household expenses, as well as the purchases of boats or planes, said an ex-Trump executive. He also dealt with Mr. Trump’s stockbroker, the late Bear Stearns Cos. Chairman Alan “Ace” Greenberg.
August 6, 2018 – Donald Trump tweets “Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower,” Trump wrote in a Sunday tweet. “This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics – and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!” That is a far different explanation than Trump gave 13 months ago, when a statement dictated by the president but released under the name of Donald Trump Jr., read: “We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago.”
August 17, 2018 – In a sentencing memorandum, prosecutors stated that a sentence of zero to six months was “appropriate and warranted,” noting that Papadopoulos had repeatedly lied to investigators and that he did not provide “substantial assistance” to the investigation.
August 21, 2018 – President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, has surrendered to federal authorities in New York. Cohen has pleaded guilty to eight counts of tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations, including two counts related to hush-money payments made to women that he said he made at the direction of Trump, including porn actress Stormy Daniels. And he has reportedly admitted that the payment was made “at the discretion of the candidate,” which in this case almost certainly means Trump. Cohen, who remember was the president’s personal attorney, has given sworn testimony in open court that he committed campaign finance violations in coordination with and at the direction of the president. Although the president is not named in the charges, he is all but an unindicted co-conspirator. American Media, which publishes the National Enquirer, was referenced in court papers, along with a $150,000 payment made to ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal, who alleges she had an affair with Trump more than a decade ago. Court documents say that American Media paid McDougal for the rights to her story in an attempt to keep her alleged relationship with Trump secret ahead of the presidential election. The arrangement is known as “catch and kill” — American Media acquires the exclusive rights to the story but never publishes it.
Lisa Kern Griffin, law professor, Duke University: “This turn in the president’s fortunes is dramatic and damaging, and it should have political repercussions even if it does not have immediate legal ones. All of this is occurring in the Southern District of New York and involves wrongdoing in addition to the campaign activities that are the focus of the special counsel’s investigation.”
Jens David Ohlin, law professor, Cornell University: “Trump is clearly guilty of violating campaign finance laws and also guilty of federal conspiracy as well (because he agreed with Cohen, and possibly others, on a plan to violate federal law). Normally he would be indicted right away. But that won’t happen only because he’s the president. But I suspect he’ll be named as an unindicted co-conspirator and also there’ll be a separate section of the Mueller report titled “Conspiracy to Violate Campaign Finance Laws” or something like that.”
Joshua Dressler, law professor, Ohio State University: “Cohen’s admission that the hush money that constituted 2 felony convictions, was done at the direction of a candidate for federal office, clearly impfslicates the President in those campaign violations. Essentially, Cohen, under oath, in a federal court, has alleged that the President of the United States conspired to violate federal law. If he were not a sitting president this would constitute grounds for indictment on those charges. As a sitting president this constitutes, if Congress wishes to do so, impeachable offenses. But, as we know, impeachment is a political rather than a legal concept, and it would seem pretty clear that nothing will occur with the current Congress.”
a potentially bigger threat to President Trump is what Cohen could provide to the Southern District of New York about potential crimes committed by Trump or members of his family that are unrelated to the Russia probe. Michael Cohen, as Trump’s longtime “fixer” knows where the proverbial bodies are buried when it comes to the Trump Organization and particularly its finances going back many, many years.
Now there are other ramifications of all this. Asha Rangappa, former FBI agent and senior lecturer at Yale University said: “If Cohen provided information on potentially criminal activities to the Southern District and it opened an investigation into them, it would place the President in a double bind: First, since it would be an investigation separate and apart from the Mueller probe, he wouldn’t be able to argue that the Special Counsel exceeded his mandate or crossed a “red line” — after all, any U.S. Attorney’s office is legally authorized (and duty-bound) to investigate any violations of federal law it learns about. More importantly, such an investigation would be completely insulated from any steps Trump might take to fire Mueller, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, or even Attorney General Jeff Sessions (especially since his interim pick to head the Southern District who recused himself from overseeing the Cohen investigation, would undoubtedly recuse himself from any other Trump-related investigation as well). So Trump has much more to fear from Cohen than just what he knows about Russia-related matters.”
August 22, 2018 – Investigators in New York have subpoenaed President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen as part of a probe of the Trump Foundation. “A subpoena has been issued to Michael Cohen for relevant information in light of the public disclosures made yesterday,” James Gazzale, a spokesperson for the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, told CNBC on Wednesday. A source familiar with the investigation told CNBC that anything the Tax Department uncovers through its investigation will be referred to the New York State Attorney General’s Office for prosecution.
The New York AG office, first under Schneiderman and now Barbara Underwood as AG, is investigating an unlawful $25,000 donation made by Mr. Trump’s nonprofit to a political action committee supporting Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. Nonprofits like the Trump Foundation are barred by the IRS from contributing to political campaigns. Mr. Trump’s campaign has blamed clerical mix-ups for the improper payment. They are also investigating more than $250,000 of the foundation’s money that was allegedly used to settle legal disputes and pay fines on behalf of Mr. Trump’s for-profit businesses. Those alleged payments were reported by the Washington Post. And on Sept. 30 the attorney general issued a cease-and-desist order prohibiting the Trump Foundation from soliciting donations in New York for failing to properly register with the state’s Charities Bureau. The AG’s website showed it received an amended registration statement from the foundation signed by Mr. Trump and Mr. Weisselberg, dated Oct. 20. However the foundation hasn’t filed audited financial statements, according to another person familiar with the situation. As treasurer of the foundation, Mr. Weisselberg is responsible for its finances, as is its president, Mr. Trump, along with three of Mr. Trump’s children, who serve as directors. “The question is did they know what was going on,” said Kenneth Brier, an attorney with Brier & Ganz LLP, which specializes in tax issues for charities, among other areas.
August 23, 2018 – David Pecker, the publisher of the National Enquirer and longtime friend of President Donald Trump, as well as his top lieutenant, Australian journalist Dyland Howard (AMI’s chief content officer), have been granted immunity by federal prosecutors in their investigation into Michael Cohen, a person with knowledge of the matter told NBC News on Thursday.
August 24, 2018 – Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer who also serves as the treasurer of the Trump Foundation, has been granted immunity by prosecutors in their ongoing investigation of Trump’s longtime personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen. The significance of his flip, paired with Cohen’s recent plea deal, cannot be overstated: It took slightly more than a year for two of the president’s longest-serving employees, considered by many to be the last who would ever turn on him, to cooperate with federal investigators — and, in Cohen’s case, directly implicate Trump in a crime. But the news also marked a turning point in the legal assault on Trumpworld: SDNY prosecutors may now pose a more immediate threat to the president than Special Counsel Robert Mueller does. That Weisselberg would be offered immunity is not shocking; he was called to testify in the case before a grand jury earlier this summer. But his acceptance is another matter. “This is a classic move in investigations of a criminal organization,” said Patrick Cotter, a former federal prosecutor who was part of the team that convicted the Gambino family boss John Gotti. “They’re moving up the ladder. Peripheral characters are given immunity, witnesses testify, but they’re ultimately keeping their eye on the prize.” The immunity deals are telling, Cotter (a former federal prosecutor who was part of the team that convicted the Gambino family boss John Gotti) and Honig (a former asst US attorney who prosecuted La Cosa Nostra) said, in that they demonstrate just how important the witnesses’ testimony is—and how SDNY is staying focused on higher targets. “Immunity is not given out like candy,” Honig said. “I used it quite a bit in mob cases for people on the fringes of criminality.” Cotter said that Weisselberg “is not the real bad guy here”: “In a business where you’re not the owner, when you misreport expenses, the real benefit goes to the company—not the employee, no matter how high level.”
“Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
“This section shall not abridge the right of a citizen to apply himself, or his agent, to any foreign government, or the agents thereof, for redress of any injury which he may have sustained from such government or any of its agents or subjects.”
In general, the Act is intended to prevent unauthorized American citizens from interfering in disputes or controversies between the United States and foreign governments. Although attempts have been made to repeal the Act, it remains law and at least a potential sanction to be used against anyone who without authority interferes in the foreign relations of the United States.
What’s illegal about all this?
June 2, 2017 article by Bob Bauer entitled “Campaign Finance Law: When ‘Collusion’ with a Foreign Government Becomes a Crime.”
Commentary on Russian intervention in the 2016 elections has included one confidently expressed and perhaps growing view: that there may be a scandal there, but no conceivable crime. It is claimed that the Trump campaign could wink and nod at Russian hacking, and derive the full benefit, but that without considerably more evidence of direct involvement, there is no role for criminal law enforcement. The matter is then left to Congress to consider whether new laws are needed, and the public, of course, will render its judgment in opinion polls and in elections still to come.
This view is flawed. It fails to consider the potential campaign finance violations, as suggested by the facts so far known, under existing law. These violations are criminally enforceable.
It would not be the first time Congress wrestled with these questions of foreign interference with the US electoral process. Following the 1996 elections, the Republican Party concluded that the victorious Bill Clinton had benefited from foreign intervention in his election. Its Senate majority organized hearings, chaired by the late Senator Fred Thompson, who opened then with the declaration that high-level Chinese officials had committed substantial sums of money to influence the presidential election. The ensuing investigation, which included a parallel criminal inquiry, did not live up to Senator Thompson’s most dramatic claims, but Congress later amended the law to tighten the long-standing prohibition against foreign national spending in federal elections. On this point, there was bipartisan unity: that the law should stand clearly and without gaping loopholes against foreign interference in American elections.
Then the issue made a dramatic return in this last presidential election, but with a major difference. This time, there is no doubt that a foreign state, Russia, devoted resources to influence the outcome of the 2016 election. But unlike 1996, the manner of this intervention – the hacking of emails, the dissemination of fake news – has directed much of the legal discussion to computer security and espionage statutes. The controversy has not had the “feel” of a classic case about political spending. It has come across in press reporting and public discussion as a tale of 21st century cyber-crime and foreign intelligence service skullduggery–more sophisticated international intrigue than Watergate’s “third-rate burglary” and associated cover-up. “[U]nlike the Watergate investigation, which began with a break-in,” the New Yorker’s and CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin has written, “it is not immediately clear what crimes may have been committed.” And even if there might be criminal wrongdoing somewhere in this Trump campaign-Russia relationship, commentators have tended to doubt that there is yet sufficient hard evidence of it.
Yet even on the information so far available, there are solid grounds for paying close attention to the potential campaign finance violations. The case is more or less hiding in plain sight.
The law [Code of Federal Regulations 110.20 “Prohibition on contributions, donations, expenditures, independent expenditures, and disbursements by foreign nationals”) prohibits foreign nationals from providing “anything of value…in connection with” an election. The hacking of the Podesta emails, which were then transmitted to Wikileaks for posting, clearly had value, and its connection to the election is not disputed. None other than the Republican nominee said so publicly, egging on the Russians to locate and publish Clinton emails to aid his campaign. He famously declared: “I will tell you this, Russia: If you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” One well known Trump confidante, Roger Stone, is among those backing the President’s candidacy who offered similar contemporaneous statements about the value placed on these disclosures (and who, having intimated that he had inside information about when the materials would be released, now faces inquiries from the Congress (and from the Special Counsel’s investigation).
There is a fair question of what sort of involvement beyond vocalized glee would subject Americans to liability for these foreign intelligence activities. The relevant regulation suggests that something more is required: at least “substantial assistance” to the foreign spender in providing this “thing of value.” Does a presidential campaign render this substantial assistance to a foreign national engaged in influencing an election by endorsing the specific activity and confirming its strategic utility? When the FEC promulgated this ban on “substantial assistance,” it said little about its scope. It did make clear that the term was to be broadly construed. It offered the concrete example of a U.S. citizen acting as a “conduit or intermediary” for foreign spending, but noted that this was provided as only one example. It expressly left open other possibilities.
The President and others associated with the campaign made no bones about the value to them of the purloined email communications. The President told a rally of supporters he “loved” Wikileaks and read from the hacked communication to support his attack on his opponent for “a degree of corruption at the highest levels of our government like nothing we have ever seen as a country before.” He drew on the emails in the debates with Secretary Clinton. Notably, when he was asked during the debates to acknowledge the Russian program of interference and given the opportunity to openly oppose the actions, he wouldn’t do so. He also mentioned Wikileaks 124 times in the last month of the campaign. The Russians could only have been strengthened in the conviction that their efforts were welcome and had value. That covers the evidence in plain sight.
Of course, investigators will examine whether there were Trump campaign communications or private assurances to foreign nationals — including Russians and associates of Wikileaks acting as their “agents”—to encourage them or help coordinate the dissemination of these materials. Coordination at this level could well trigger the application of other provisions of the rules directed at the political campaign’s acceptance or receipt of the Russian assistance, or even its direct solicitation of it. But the “substantial assistance” prong would cover the more indirect of the Trump campaign activities – including public statements – that were conducted at more of a distance, and yet still intended to signal the Russians that help was needed and of “value.”
A Trump defense may include the claim that he and his campaign cannot be constitutionally subjected to legal liability for any public statements on the campaign trail. They may try to frame their statements as rough-and-tumble political commentary on Russian behavior that, while helpful to the Republican nominee, neither Mr. Trump nor his associates clearly requested or for which they can be held responsible. This First Amendment defense is at least at the mercy of whatever facts are still uncovered about the extent of any “collusion.” But even with just a little more in the way of fact, with the addition of detail to an already well-established outline, the Trump campaign’s position is precarious. How strongly does the First Amendment protect a presidential nominee’s mobilization of foreign government support for his candidacy –support achieved through illegal activities?
A test of this constitutional defense is whether it relies somehow on the fact that Mr. Trump and his campaign were open and notorious in courting Russian assistance. Presumably, had they pursued this assistance behind closed doors, few would question the legal significance of the understanding reached with a foreign government supporter. It would be remarkable to maintain that this appeal for help is converted into constitutionally protected speech because the speaker has chosen to have much or all of the conversation in public.
Recent developments in the law speak clearly to the strength of the government’s interest in an expansive enforcement of the ban on foreign national involvement in U.S. elections. In 2012, in Bluman v. Federal Election Commission, a federal appellate court ruled, and the Supreme Court affirmed, that lawful resident aliens had no First Amendment right to contribute to American candidates and political committees. More importantly, the court emphasized that foreign national political intervention implicated a principle “fundamental to the definition of our national political community,” which is that “foreign citizens do not have a constitutional right to participate in, and thus may be excluded from, activities of democratic self-government.” At stake was “part of the sovereign’s obligation to preserve the basic conception of a political community.” It will be no minor feat for Trump campaign lawyers, relying on Donald Trump’s free speech rights, to overcome what the court called this “foundational” interest.
The law as written already treats speech as a factor in potential violations of the ban on foreign national political spending. A foreign national may not “participate,” or “control” or “direct” decisions on contributions or expenditures. This is a speech-centered restriction. So a foreign national working for the foreign parent of a US corporation (let alone a foreign national resident in the United States) may not discuss with an American PAC Director plans for making contributions or expenditures, and it is immaterial for this purpose that the revenues on which the PAC will draw for the contribution was generated within the United States. And it is not only a question of the foreign national’s speech (to which, of course, no First Amendment protection attaches). The American PAC Director’s own speech is relevant to a finding of illegal “participation,” if the conversation indicates that the PAC Director is seeking permission, yielding control over the decision, or merely soliciting the foreign national’s opinion on how to spend the money. A statement like Donald Trump’s that he “loves WikiLeaks,” or that he hopes that more will be done to bring to light Clinton emails, would be evidence in such a conversation that his foreign national interlocutor was “participating” in a decision on political spending in connection with the election.
Mr. Trump and his campaign might argue that the hacking and dissemination of the emails were not political spending – not, in a technical sense, “contributions” nor “expenditures” – covered by the federal campaign finance law. Perhaps so, but they were something of value, and the statute and related regulations of the Federal Election Commission separately prohibit any value given by a foreign national. Of course, the Trump campaign might take up the fight on this issue and litigate it. It would then have the thankless task of persuading a court that a presidential candidate can invite, then warmly accept and exploit, the activities of a foreign intelligence service because it is a particular kind of “value,” not a conventional contribution or expenditure. The campaign will have an even harder time if it is established that Russians distributed information through online bots, the creation of DC Leaks in the United States, or the payment for online advertising.
What is also exceptional about the Trump case, distinguishing it from other forms of national electioneering, is the absence of any question about intent, or state of mind. In the most recent round of revisions to its rules, the FEC went to some lengths to allow a candidate or political committee to establish that it did not reasonably know about the foreign source of the contribution or expenditure or other value received. (11 C.F.R. § 110.20 (a)(4),(7)). This is no help to the Trump campaign which certainly had every reason to know that, as widely reported and declared officially by the US government, Russia was behind the hacking. Mr. Trump, on the campaign trail, said as much in inviting Russia to release more. At other times he suggested that perhaps Russia was not behind these activities, that no one could know: but, remarkably, he allowed for the possibility that another foreign power, China, might have been responsible. And once again, there are other parts of the public record bearing on intent that will receive close investigative scrutiny, like Trump’s close confidante Roger Stone’s repeated statements about his communications with Wikileaks and Julian Assange.
Whether prosecutors choose to interpret the law aggressively in these circumstances is bound to be affected, and not to Mr. Trump’s advantage, by the well-established identity of the foreign actor: a state, operating through its own intelligence services. This is not the typical foreign national case. In recent years, after Citizens United, the FEC has been preoccupied with debates over political spending by corporations. It has pondered how expansively the regulations should treat campaign activities of the USA subsidiary of a foreign corporation, or by a corporation with a significant percentage of foreign national shareholders. The Commission could not agree on tightening the rules, and the reason, in part, was the difficulty that three of the Commissioners perceived in defining when a business could be deemed to represent “foreign” interests. These complications are not present in a case involving a foreign government.
And, at the same time, it is because of this clear involvement of a foreign state actor that the Trump case will be pivotal in determining the efficacy of the ban on foreign national electioneering. The campaign finance laws have as their core purpose preventing corruption of government, or its appearance, but the provision prohibiting foreign political spending is uniquely concerned with corruption of a different, even higher order, that strikes at national security. The Bluman court cited the high importance of preserving of the “basic conception of a political community” in holding that two individuals – one a Canadian and the other holding dual Canadian and Israeli citizenship – could not make simple, every-day contributions to political organizations. In the Trump case, which involves active foreign intervention in a political campaign that is welcomed and encouraged by one of the candidates, this “basic conception” is even more – it is fair to say, acutely – at stake.
As the case unfolds, other instances of Russian support for the campaign might still surface, as I have indicated. The investigators will look into unconfirmed reports that the Russians may have attempted through intermediaries to buy ads placed for the benefit of Trump on social media platforms. Should there be any evidence that the Trump campaign colluded in this advertising activity, a straightforward campaign finance violation – a massive illegal contribution to the campaign – would be added to the one built on hacking and WikiLeaks distribution. The same holds true for any collusion over use of microtargeting techniques, which congressional investigations are reportedly now also probing.
But, as a major issue of foreign national involvement under the campaign finance law, the hacking episode may prove more than sufficient to sustain the current criminal investigation, and it could wind up being a central to it.
Politifact article of 31 May 2017 by Jon Greenberg
Fox News host Gregg Jarrett has a distinctive take on the investigation into possible links between Russia and the Trump campaign. Jarrett, a former defense attorney, said that even if the two worked together, it wasn’t illegal.
“Collusion is not a crime, only an antitrust law,” he said on May 30. “You can collude all you want with a foreign government in an election. There’s no such statute.”
Jarrett made the same point in an article on the Fox News website. He wrote that special counsel Robert Mueller had been given the “futile” task of investigating a crime that doesn’t exist.
“As special counsel, Mueller can engage in all manner of spectacular jurisprudential gymnastics,” Jarrett wrote. “However, it will not change the fact that colluding with Russia is not, under America’s criminal codes, a crime.”
We thought we’d look into the legal landscape. We wanted to know what election law does or doesn’t say; this is a separate question from what did or did not occur.
By way of brief recap, the U.S. Justice Department appointed Mueller to investigate Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election. His first task was to explore “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump.”
Jarrett said the only real trouble for the Trump campaign would be if it committed some other crime, such as helping the Russians hack into Democratic emails. He dismissed that as implausible and unsupported by any public evidence.
We ran Jarrett’s argument by three election law professors, and they all said that while the word “collusion” might not appear in key statutes (they couldn’t say for sure that it was totally absent), working with the Russians could violate criminal laws.
Nathaniel Persily at Stanford University Law School said one relevant statute is the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002.
“A foreign national spending money to influence a federal election can be a crime,” Persily said. “And if a U.S. citizen coordinates, conspires or assists in that spending, then it could be a crime.”
Persily pointed to a 2011 U.S. District Court ruling based on the 2002 law. The judges said that the law bans foreign nationals “from making expenditures to expressly advocate the election or defeat of a political candidate.”
Another election law specialist, John Coates at Harvard University Law School, said if Russians aimed to shape the outcome of the presidential election, that would meet the definition of an expenditure.
“The related funds could also be viewed as an illegal contribution to any candidate who coordinates (colludes) with the foreign speaker,” Coates said.
To be sure, no one is saying that coordination took place. What’s in doubt is whether the word “collusion” is as pivotal as Jarrett makes it out to be.
Coates said discussions between a campaign and a foreigner could violate the law against fraud.
“Under that statute, it is a federal crime to conspire with anyone, including a foreign government, to ‘deprive another of the intangible right of honest services,’ ” Coates said. “That would include fixing a fraudulent election, in my view, within the plain meaning of the statute.”
Josh Douglas at the University of Kentucky Law School offered two other possible relevant statutes.
“Collusion in a federal election with a foreign entity could potentially fall under other crimes, such as against public corruption,” Douglas said. “There’s also a general anti-coercion federal election law.”
In sum, legal experts mentioned four criminal laws that might have been broken. The key is not whether those statutes use the word collusion, but whether the activities of the Russians and Trump associates went beyond permissible acts.
New York Times article of 11 July 2017 “Donald Trump Jr and Russia: What the Law Says”
What is conspiracy?
In criminal law*, the offense of conspiracy is generally an agreement by two or more people to commit a crime — whether or not they do. A powerful tool for prosecutors, conspiracy charges permit holding each conspirator responsible for illegal acts committed by others in the circle as part of the arrangement.
The events made public in the past few days are not enough to charge conspiracy, said Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor. Still, he said, the revelations are important because if further evidence of coordination emerges, the contents of the emails and the fact of the meeting would help establish an intent to work with Russia on influencing the election.
“What this email string establishes is that Don Jr. was aware that the Russian government wanted to help the Trump campaign and he welcomed support from the Russian government,” Mr. Mariotti said.
What else is needed?
Evidence of an agreement to violate a specific criminal statute — in other words, a conspiracy to commit a certain crime.
“Anytime you are talking about coordinating or collusion, you are talking about the possibility of conspiracy charges,” said Samuel W. Buell, a former federal prosecutor who teaches criminal law at Duke University. “But conspiracy is not a crime that floats by itself in the air. There has to be an underlying federal offense that is being conspired to be committed.”
Was election law violated?
A federal law**, Section 30121 of Title 52, makes it a crime for any foreigner to contribute or donate money or some “other thing of value” in connection with an American election, or for anyone to solicit a foreigner to do so. Legal experts struggled to identify any precedent for prosecutions under that statute, but that phrase is common in other federal criminal statutes covering such crimes as bribery and threats, said Richard L. Hasen, an election-law professor at the University of California, Irvine. Courts have held, in other contexts, that a “thing of value” can be something intangible, like information.
Robert Bauer, an election-law specialist who served as White House counsel in the Obama administration, argued that this statute covers the Russian government’s paying its spies and hackers to collect and disseminate negative information about Mrs. Clinton to help Mr. Trump win the 2016 election.
“There are firms in the United States that do negative research and sell it to campaigns,” Mr. Bauer argued. “There is no way to take information someone has compiled using resources and say it’s just information and dirt. It’s valuable information and counts as a contribution when given to or distributed for the benefit of a campaign.”
What about illegal hacking?
If it were to come to light that Russian officials did consult Trump campaign officials about the timing or tactics of the release of the stolen emails, that could raise the possibility of conspiracy charges under Section 1030 of Title 18, which bars unauthorized computer intrusions, specialists said.
* 18 U.S. Code § 371 – Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud United States – If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both. If, however, the offense, the commission of which is the object of the conspiracy, is a misdemeanor only, the punishment for such conspiracy shall not exceed the maximum punishment provided for such misdemeanor.
** 52 U.S. Code § 30121 – Contributions and donations by foreign nationals –
(a) Prohibition It shall be unlawful for—
(1) a foreign national, directly or indirectly, to make—
(A) a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State, or local election;
(B) a contribution or donation to a committee of a political party; or
(C) an expenditure, independent expenditure, or disbursement for an electioneering communication (within the meaning of section 30104(f)(3) of this title); or
(2) a person to solicit, accept, or receive a contribution or donation described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of paragraph (1) from a foreign national.
(b) “Foreign national” definedAs used in this section, the term “foreign national” means—
(1) a foreign principal, as such term is defined by section 611(b) of title 22, except that the term “foreign national” shall not include any individual who is a citizen of the United States; or
(2) an individual who is not a citizen of the United States or a national of the United States (as defined in section 1101(a)(22) of title 8) and who is not lawfully admitted for permanent residence, as defined by section 1101(a)(20) of title 8.
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