Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Pardon Me

Same As It Never Was
While all agree the U.S. president has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is LEAKS against us.  FAKE NEWS
Trump / Twitter, July 22, 2017
Donald Trump is a pivotal historical figure. He'd like hearing that, but not for the reasons it's true.
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Trump is an Oligarch, the first of his ilk elected to national office in America, the culmination of a long string of compromises, inertia, and bad choices in our history and politics. Trump came to power in an alliance with opportunistic associates, the best political con artists of the early 21st century; and voters loosely described as Tea Party and Alt-Right, who have unquestioningly accepted 30 years of indoctrination in the alternate reality of the Right's echo chamber.

The image of a corrupt, bombastic national leader is one Americans have always used, with a smirk, to dismiss the problems of 'somewhere else': the behavior of a Berlusconi, a Mugabe; a Ghaddafi, a Middle Eastern prince; or the leader of a 'Banana Republic'. Now, America has just such a leader, and nine months after the election we still don't know what to do about it.

Far from being steward of a nation of some 400 million people, Trump sees the presidency as an extension of his own person, a grand stage on which to strut and preen and demand validation, over and over. He personifies what American culture holds out to the world as the apex of success and fulfillment in life -- being a billionaire business 'leader', wielding power, able to afford a wonderful life, with treats, and a separate system of taxation and justice.

Trump has no real political agenda, because the presidency of the United States is just his latest acquisition. It's a sweet little property, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to the kind of access needed to work deals so 'big', so 'huge', that they will elevate him and his family into world-class Oligarchs. 

His administration may not last another twelve months, but his becoming president is one symptom of a metastatic disease within America's political structure. And like the towering rages he treats his subordinates and family to, as Trump leaves the presidency, thwarted by a liberal conspiracy, his greatness stolen by a fake-news media, Trump will urinate in the Lincoln Bedroom, set fire to furniture, spray-paint obscenities on the Roosevelt Room walls and cut paintings out of their frames on his way to the helicopter.
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Trump was determined to be president. He saw no difference between "winning" a national election and making any other successful corporate power play -- you pull out all the stops, play rough; even play dirty if it will gain an advantage. In that context, it's very believable that Trump would see back channel help from a foreign government in winning that election to be no different than approaching a business associate for assistance in closing a deal. 

And why not accept some help? Trump has what we now know are thirty years' worth of business and personal connections with Russia -- and whether he won or lost the election, having a closer relationship with a true Oligarch ruler, Vladimir Putin, could be an advantage.

But Trump wanted to win. And he may have considered that if he became president, Russia could become an ally to fight ISIS, possibly even a partner to help broker peace in the Middle East, instead of an adversary. It's a bit of a stretch -- but an alliance-in-all-but-name with Russia would remake the balance of world politics overnight, the kind of decisive act, game-changing strike without warning which both Trump and his principal strategist, Steve Bannon, are fond of.

There would be skeptics in the GOP like Graham and McCain, and among Europeans, who are much closer to Russia than we are. The Chinese wouldn't like it. But somehow, Trump might believe if he could just become president, he would make it work. And that fait accompli would tend to obscure the circumstances around Trump's election. Any investigation of Russian "meddling" would be buried below stories about a Brand New World Order.

After, Trump just knew he would be covered in glory, with huge, big, big, big; hugely big approval ratings -- proving to everyone that he was loved and adored (no, worshiped) as no American Leader before him had been. Craving uncritical adulation appears to be one of Trump's principal motivations. It may be the only one.

Trump would then have all the domestic political capital with a Republican-controlled Congress he needed to build border walls, deport people he doesn't like; repeal Obamacare. Easily elected to a second term, he would continue to encourage his surrogates and camp followers to realize the fevered, wet dreams of power, domination and punishment which America's political Right has nurtured for generations.

So, in this consideration, help was offered and/or asked for, and was delivered.
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You have to wonder how Putin viewed Trump's becoming president. Financial sanctions levied against Russia by the Obama administration hurt Putin (and his associate)s' ability to more efficiently skim off the top and launder the proceeds, and he had no intention of taking it lying down.

The cyberarm of the GRU (Russian military intelligence) has been probing American governmental and commercial systems for over twenty years. Their goal has never been to run scams like Ransomware, or weaponize software code in something like Stuxnet -- but in developing the ability to use cyberwarfare as one part of an asymetric attack on a target; in this case, the United States.

Putin's KGB career involved analyzing American culture and intentions, and it's likely he understands roughly a quarter of the adult U.S. population has swallowed thirty years of right-wing codswallop, which always ends with a Federal government determined to sell America out to a one-world, globalist liberal conspiracy.

A straight hack of the DNC to obtain more raw intelligence about the organization of a major American political party is one thing. But hacking to obtain information, and then using the product to tip the scales of a U.S. national election is something else. Trump's needs would have offered the Russian hackers that unique focus.  

The product of the GRU's hacks would destabilize the United States -- not in an obvious way that could be seen as an act of war (e.g., bringing down the electrical grid or disrupting the banking system), but by kicking the confidence of Americans in its government and basic democratic institutions further to the curb.

Russians view America's diversity and democracy as expressions of weakness, especially when compared with their own nationalist, authoritarian government. Putin wants to diminish U.S. influence in the world, and anything which exploits America's partisan divide against itself gives Russia more advantage -- in Syria; in Ukraine; and in offshore accounts.

Trump's election would leave the U.S. further divided and uncertain, its government distracted, and its president a weak, bombastic narcissist who only accepts advice from a tiny circle of family or uncritical 'alternative' advisors. If even a part of that could be achieved, with a minimum of resources and effort, Putin might consider it an exquisite kind of payback.
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So, very possibly, Trump accepted assistance offered by intermediaries from Putin (a man whom Trump believes is like him, whom he understands). He saw the Russian hacks and release of the product as right, a necessary edge in an election against a hated liberal icon, sowing confusion and discord in a political structure that the outsider Trump claimed to detest.

Crooked Hillary, the Fake News conspiracy against him, would be outmaneuvered. He would fight and fight and fight -- and win, because he was Donald Trump; and all would love him.

That's all that mattered.
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I keep hearing conversations with some variation on If only this turd were swept out of power, everything could go back to normal. This perception is a mistake. Mike Pence in the Oval Office might seem more socially acceptable; we could pretend everything was The Same As It Ever Was. But Trump's fall means elevating a religious fundamentalist to the presidency, and because Pence outwardly appears to be 'normal' relative to Trump, he is equally as threatening and destabilizing. Look at his record.

Pence aside, the damage has already been done. There is no viable alternative to the continued rule of America by the individuals who crawled in behind Trump as he was inaugurated. Their goal is to continue dismantling the social contract between government and citizen that was the cornerstone of FDR's New Deal. And they will not cease, unless someone stops them.

And by that I mean a Poland-style, hundreds of thousands in the streets, saying No Pasaran stopping them. But with few exceptions (in particular people who already know what the score is and are so full of rage they feel they have little to lose), everyone just wants it to be The Same As It Ever Was.  

But who or what will offer a change? The Democratic party appears rudderless. The same neoliberal PTB who wanted Hill-O as Leader seem still to be in charge -- and their message isn't about Resistance. It's about connecting with the people they believe voted Trump into office; feeling the pain of ordinary Americans.  It's about playing a longer strategic game.

Yesterday, Senator Chuck Schumer, Representative Nancy Pelosi and DNC Chair Tom Perez announced the 2018 campaign direction for their party. Reduced to it's essence, their 'answer to America's working families', is the same as Michael Dukakis' during the 1988 presidential election -- "good jobs at good wages" -- meaning they would focus on addressing basic economic issues, in order to define the Democratic party as being more than "just against Donald Trump".

It's easy to see the decision behind this rebranding, but it doesn't encourage standing up, or fighting back. It's like handing an aspirin to a person slowly being crushed to death, and touching their hand -- tenderly, and with love. Under the circumstances, this kind of response is inadequate.

Something more active needs to be done. But given the lack of response from the population and Left politicians, how much worse will it need to become before a larger number of people act? 
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Trump has gotten what he wanted -- the limelight of history: Top of the world, Ma! In what happens next, he is a pivotal figure, a cause utterly out of proportion with the effect he will have on our lives. That anyone suffers because of this Clown is tragic, and ironic. Chickens, home to roost. Somewhere the gods are laughing, fit to bust -- and Vladimir Putin, of course.

The ascension to the presidency of a right-wing buffoon with limited impulse control is bad: The Past Is Prologue; just look at what's happened in seven months. The buffoon made Leader at the same time the Congress is dominated by Republicans, with a probable conservative bias in the Supreme Court, is very bad.

If it's determined the buffoon president solicited or agreed to assistance from a foreign power, in order to affect the election which barely gave him a victory, it's not just extremely bad for America -- it's an unprecedented Constitutional crisis.

And Trump is only a symptom. All this, The fact that he is where he is, makes obvious our political structure is dysfunctional and schizophrenic. That we're becoming a culture where the needs of Americans -- employment; housing; safe water and air and food; medical care; one system of justice -- won't be addressed unless they can pay for them. That we all feel something is out of control, getting perilously close to an edge. That things can't go on like this.

As if it wasn't obvious. As if anyone had to actually say so.  But we do. We need to say it publicly, loudly, and often, until we believe it.  Because at the moment, a majority of Americans are still betting that Same As It Ever Was is still a possible future.
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MEHR, MIT DAS TIERLIEBE: 

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Monday, July 17, 2017

Reprint Heaven: When In These Coarse Current Events

Nothing To See Here
(Original Foto, Courtesy Danny Dutch, That Guy, via The Soul Of America)
Sad Vlad, The Putin (called 'Pooti-Poot' by George "Lil' Boots" Bush, in that bizarre, Mitfordian slang his Familia di Criminale use to describe other people), is like that guy who claims not to have a dinosaur.

Vlad does, in fact, have a dinosaur. He has Ted the T-Rex in his barn -- I mean, we can hear Ted bellowing all the way down to County Road 47; hell, we can hear him down to the Interstate. Some nights, Ted spots cars full of joyriding teenagers, out cruising the Rural Routes between the farms, and chases them all over the place. He doesn't ever catch them -- probably, he just likes running after them -- and there are big three-toed footprints, afterwards, everywhere. Plenty of kids have had big dents put in the roofs of their cars, by something, out on those dark roads -- but the two auto-body places we've got don't mind the business.

Cattle are missing in eight counties, and plenty of people haven't seen their pets for a while -- and piles of shit, seven feet tall, appear here and there almost every day. What Vlad doesn't plow under, he sells as fertilizer -- and he's been selling that shit to just about the whole damn state for a long time, now. Some people from Monsanto were sniffing around Vlad's farm, trying to figure out where that manure was coming from, but they just kind of -- disappeared.

Vlad and his family are constantly getting people stopping by the house, asking about that damn dinosaur. He explains, patiently, with that flat-fish expression of his that no, they do not have a dinosaur. Vlad claims to be so tired of this, all the folks from Des Moines and Ystaad and Tunbridge Wells and Saskatoon with their kids, piling out of overloaded station wagons and asking to use the restroom -- that finally, he made himself a sign, right there, on the hood of an old 1949 Vonyets tractor: We Do Not Have A Dinosaur.

If you continue to insist he does, Vlad will take a step back and look at you. Dinosaur? You been out in the sun a while? Ridiculous. Those things've been extinct for a good, long time ("Just like my old buddy, Alex," Vlad says with a sly grin). If you can hold it, there's a Tastee-Freeze a couple miles up the road with a bathroom, Vlad says. We got a farm to run, here; you all have a nice day.

Except, this is where he gets his cake and sells you dinosaur shit, too: There Is A Fucking T-Rex In Vlad's Barn. You know it. He knows it. You can't really prove it -- I mean, no one has actually seen Ted -- but when you put together that noise coming out of Vlad's barn, all those footprints, lebenty-billion pounds of crap all over the place and a whole bunch of missing cattle ... remember Ossie's Tazer, or whatever they call that: When all's said and done, the simplest explanation is pretty much gonna be right.

And the folks at the County Seat claim to know nothing about it. Vlad's been a good friend to the County folks -- lot of that fertilizer money went to see them get elected last fall. And there were those big piles of shit that appeared every morning on the front lawns of their opponents' homes.  Vlad had some problems with that previous administration -- some back taxes; not addressing his land rights issues, questions about how he runs his fertilizer trade. But now the election's done, word is that all may disappear. And, the County Commissioner has a new John Deere Combine -- he claims it's a lease. Others aren't so sure.

There are plenty of people out there who will tell you that Vlad's a good guy. He means well, runs a tight farm and, up front, always treats you with respect. But there's no denying that his neighbors -- the ones who bring their cattle into the barns every night, the ones they've spent a biggly amount of cash reinforcing with steel -- are a little nervous about Vlad.

Some of them say he has funny ideas about expanding his farm -- that he has some kind of Plan, and Ted The T-Rex is a big part of it. Others say he likes doing crazy-ass things just out of pure, human fuckery.

All I know is, Vlad has that sign, We Do Not Have A Dinosaur, and almost every night I hear that big lizard, bellowing to beat the band as he chases some car full of teenagers, having a helluva good time. You can complain, but the County Commissioner will just tell you -- probably on Twitter -- what a silly goose you are and you best shut up now. Sad!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Donny And The Detectives

Whodunnit


Years in the making. A cast of thousands. Follow the adventures of those with no rules, no empathy, poor impulse control, deeply unassimilated personal issues, and vast amounts of cash.

Will the Republic survive [Ha ha; No]? Will Hill-O run again [Who Can Say]? Is the culture of corruption amongst America's political and business elite so pervasive that Wonderboy™ is a Symptom, not the Disease [Oh My Yes]?

(All timeline information courtesy Politico, Factcheck.org, Mother Jones; NBC News; Wikipedia; but, you know, I'm only a Dog, and sometimes typing mistakes occur.)
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2013

June 18:  Trump writes on Twitter: “The Miss Universe Pageant [the franchise for which, Trump owns] will be broadcast live from MOSCOW, RUSSIA on November 9th. A big deal that will bring our countries together!" ... “Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow - if so, will he become my new best friend?”

October 17:  In an interview with David Letterman, Trump says "I’ve done a lot of business with the Russians. They’re smart and they’re tough.” Trump adds that Putin is a “tough guy” and that he had met him “once.”

November 9:  The Miss Universe pageant is held in Moscow. Trump attends.

November 10:   Trump writes on Twitter: “I just got back from Russia-learned lots & lots. Moscow is a very interesting and amazing place! U.S. MUST BE VERY SMART AND VERY STRATEGIC.”

2015

March 2:  The New York Times reports that while Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton used a personal email account to send and receive emails related to government business, in violation of State Department policies.  This triggers an internal inquiry to determine the scope of the potential breach.

April 12:  Hilary Clinton announces she is a candidate for President.

June 16:  Trump formally announces his candidacy for the Republican nomination for President at Trump Tower in New York City. Trump declares that he would self-fund his campaign, and would refuse any money from donors and lobbyists. Ladbrokes offers 150:1 odds of Trump's winning.

July 23:  The Inspector General for the U.S. intelligence community alerts Congressional oversight committees that classified material had been foundon Hillary Clinton's home email server, which she had used as Secretary of State. The FBI opens a criminal investigation.

September [ ]:  A number of Republicans officials are concerned about the possibility of Trump's winning the Republican presidential nomination. A wealthy GOP donor finances retaining Fusion GPS, a private Washington D.C. opposition research firm, to investigate Trump's Russia-related activities (Curiously, two of Fusion's major clients had been the Democratic Party [opposition research on Mitt Romney during the previous presidential election] and Planned Parenthood, when it had been targeted by Alt-right activists).

Fusion hired Orbis Business Intelligence, a private British corporate intelligence firm, to look into Trump's Russian connections. The investigation would be carried out by Orbis co-founder Christopher Steele, a retired British MI6 officer with long expertise in situations involving Russia and Russian political figures.

September [ ]:  FBI Special Agent Adrian Hawkins calls the Democratic National Committee to advise their computer system may have been hacked by a cyber-espionage group known as "The Dukes".  Hawkins' call is (aber natürlich) routed to the DNC's Help Desk, and Yared Tamene, the DNC's outside contract IT technician.

Tamene is unsure whether the call is legitimate or a prank. After a cursory review of event logs for the DNC's servers, and a quick Google search of "The Dukes", he lets the FBI Agent's warning drop. Hawkins continues to follow up with Tamene for several weeks after his initial call, but the Tech assumes Hawkins is a phone prankster and ignores him.

(The cybersecurity website, F-Secure, identifies The Dukes as "a well-resourced, highly dedicated, and organized cyber-espionage group that has been working for the Russian government since at least 2008 to collect intelligence in support of foreign and security policy decision-making."  Their collective name in the cybersecurity community, "The Dukes", came from the software tools used to perform their hacks, with names like 'MiniDuke' 'CosmicDuke', etc.)

October 14:  Trump appears to cast doubt on the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Russian-backed separatists had shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over the Ukraine. Trump said, "That's a horrible thing that happened... but Putin and Russia say they didn't do it, the other side said they did, no one really knows who did it, probably Putin knows who did it. Possibly it was Russia but they are totally denying it... And we're going to go through that arguing for probably for 50 years and nobody is ever going to know. Probably was Russia.”

November 10:  Trump says during a GOP debate that he got to know Putin “very well, because we were both on '60 Minutes', we were stablemates, and we did very well that night... If Putin wants to go and knock the hell out of ISIS, I am all for it, 100 percent, and I can’t understand how anybody would be against it.”

December [ ]:  Some social media accounts apparently tied to Internet Research Agency, a Russian online propaganda operation, start to advocate for Trump’s election. This is later covered in Director of National Intelligence John Clapper's report of January 6, 2017, which attributed its source as "a journalist who is a leading expert" on Russian Web propaganda.

December 10:  Michael Flynn attends Russia Today’s 10th anniversary dinner in Moscow. He participates in a paid speaking engagement, sitting two seats from Vladimir Putin.

December 17:  Putin praises Trump, then front-runner in the Republican primary, at his year-end news conference, saying “He is a very flamboyant man, very talented, no doubt about that. But it’s not our business to judge his merits, it’s up to the voters of the United States... He is an absolute leader of the presidential race, as we see it today. He says that he wants to move to another level relations, a deeper level of relations with Russia ... How can we not welcome that? Of course, we welcome it.”

December 18:  Trump responded, "It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond... I have always felt that Russia and the United States should be able to work well with each other towards defeating terrorism and restoring world peace, not to mention trade and all of the other benefits derived from mutual respect."

2016

February 17: “Putin called me a genius,” Trump says at a campaign event in South Carolina. According to PolitiFact, Trump would repeat the claim “three times in April, in a May interview on CNN, at a June rally in California, twice in July, and at an August town hall in Ohio.”

March 19: John Podesta, Campaign Manager for Hillary Clinton, receives an email instructing him to change his password. When asked, a Clinton campaign staffer tells Podesta the email is legitimate. Podesta follows the instructions, giving hackers access to his email account.

March 19: During a campaign event in Tuscon, AZ,  Trump Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski drew criticism for his rough handling of an anti-Trump protester. A video showed Lewandowski grabbing the protester by the collar; the campaign and Lewandowski denied the allegation.

March 21:  In an interview with the Washington Post, Trump is asked to name his foreign policy advisers; Trump mentions Carter Page -- an American banker who had lived in Moscow for three years, and now owns a consulting firm, Global Energy Capital (The Post would later report the FBI was monitoring Page’s communications as part of its Russia probe).

March 22:  Billy Rinehart, a former DNC employee working for the Clinton campaign, receives what he thinks is a legitimate email telling him to change his password. Like Podesta, he follows its instructions and unwittingly gives Russian hackers access to his email account.

March 28:  Trump hires Paul Manafort, longtime Republican political operative, as his manager to organize delegate support at the Republican National Convention. Manafort had worked for over ten years with pro-Russia Ukrainian groups, and as a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, an ally of Vladimir Putin who had been deposed in a popular uprising in February, 2014.

April 27: Trump delivers his first major foreign policy speech at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington; Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak is seated in the front row of the audience. “We desire to live peacefully and in friendship with Russia and China," Trump relates. "We have serious differences with these two nations, and must regard them with open eyes, but we are not bound to be adversaries. We should seek common ground based on shared interests... I intend to find out. If we can’t make a deal under my administration, a deal that’s great — not good, great — for America, but also good for Russia, then we will quickly walk from the table. It’s as simple as that. We’re going to find out.”

May 18:  James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, says at a Washington event there are “some indications” of cyberattacks aimed at the presidential campaigns.

June [ ] :  According to The Washington Post, Trump adviser Carter Page praises Putin as a stronger leader than Obama, at a meeting of foreign policy experts and Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India.

June 3:  Donald Trump Jr. receives an email from British music publicist Rob Goldstone: "Emin [Russian pop star Emin Agalarov, whose father, Aras Agalarov, is a Russian real estate developer with ties to Donald Trump Sr.] just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting... 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. This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump — helped along by Aras and Emin.”

Goldstone asks if Trump Jr. is interested; Junior responds, “[I]f it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”

June 7:  Goldstone again emails Donald Trump Jr.: “Emin asked that I schedule a meeting with you and The Russian government attorney who is flying over from Moscow for this [on] Thursday.”

June 9:  Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner meet with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower. 

June 14:  The DNC announces it has been the victim of an attack by Russian hackers.

June 15:  CrowdStrike, a computer security firm hired by the DNC to investigate its hacking, says that Russia is behind the cyberattack. CrowdStrike co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch says that the company “immediately identified two sophisticated adversaries on the network – COZY BEAR and FANCY BEAR... both engage in extensive political and economic espionage for the benefit of the government of the Russian Federation and are believed to be closely linked to the Russian government’s powerful and highly capable intelligence services.”

That same day, in a blog post, a hacker identified as 'Guccifer 2.0' takes credit for hacking the DNC servers and releases a number of purloined documents, including the Democratic Party’s 200-page opposition research report on Donald Trump. “The main part of the papers, thousands of files and [e]mails, I gave to Wikileaks. They will publish them soon,” Guccifer 2.0 says.

(U.S. intelligence would later identify 'Guccifer 2.0' as a “persona” used by the GRU (Russian military intelligence) to release hacked emails to media outlets and WikiLeaks.)

June 20:  Trump Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski is fired. The move reportedly occurred after Lewandowski clashed with Trump chief strategist and campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who becomes Trump's de facto campaign manager.

June 21:  'Guccifer 2.0' posts a number of documents stolen from the DNC which discuss Clinton’s vulnerabilities, as well as potential responses to lines of attack by the Trump campaign.

June [ ]:  Wealthy Democratic Party donor(s) take over from Republican donors financing the inquiry into Donald Trump's connections in Russia and Europe. Christopher Steele of Orbis Intelligence continues his investigations.

July 5:  Against a background of the upcoming election and Republican attacks on Hillary Clinton over the ongoing investigation into her use of a personal email account to send and receive classified information, FBI Director James Comey calls a unique press conference.

Comey delivers a blistering critique of Clinton, saying her handling of classified material was, “extremely careless,” and hackers may have compromised her emails -- but he is recommending against charging Clinton in the case.

July 7:  Director Comey testifies before Congress about his unusual decision to publicly announce the FBI's findings in the Clinton email investigation. He repeats his earlier statements that Clinton had been careless but had not engaged in criminal behavior.

In Moscow (on a trip previously approved by Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski), Carter Page delivers a speech criticizing the United States and other Western democracies: “Washington and other Western powers have impeded potential progress through their often hypocritical focus on ideas such as democratization, inequality, corruption and regime change."

July 18 (Week Of):  Three of Trump's 'national security advisers' — Carter Page, J.D. Gordon, and Walid Phares — meet with Russian Ambassador Kislyak in Cleveland, OH, during the Republican National Convention, telling him they hoped to see improved relations with Russia.

July 18:  The Republican National Convention adopts the official Republican Party platform, with the following language on Ukraine: “We support maintaining and, if warranted, increasing sanctions ... against Russia unless and until Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are fully restored. We also support providing appropriate assistance to the armed forces of Ukraine and greater coordination with NATO defense planning. … We will not accept any territorial change in Eastern Europe imposed by force, in Ukraine, Georgia, or elsewhere, and will use all appropriate constitutional measures to bring to justice the practitioners of aggression and assassination.”

That same day, the Washington Post reports, “The Trump campaign worked behind the scenes ... to make sure the new Republican platform won’t call for giving weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian and rebel forces, contradicting the view of almost all Republican foreign policy leaders in Washington.”

July 20:  Senator Jeff Sessions, an early Trump endorser and leader of Trump's national security advisory committee, met with Ambassador Kislyak and a group of other ambassadors at a Republican National Convention event in Cleveland.

July 22:  WikiLeaks publishes some 20,000 emails stolen from DNC mail servers. The emails, widely commented on in the American media, show a bias among the DNC leadership to favor Hillary Clinton over Senator Bernie Sanders as the party's presidential candidate.

July 24: DNC Chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigns over fallout from the release of emails.

July 25:  The FBI announces it is investigating the DNC hack, advising "a compromise of this nature is something we take very seriously."

That same day, The Daily Beast reported: “The FBI suspects that Russian government hackers breached the networks of the Democratic National Committee and stole emails that were posted to the anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks on Friday. It’s an operation that several U.S. officials now suspect was a deliberate attempt to influence the presidential election in favor of Donald Trump, according to five individuals familiar with the investigation of the breach.”

July 26:  U.S. Intelligence officials inform the Obama White House that they have “high confidence” that Russia is behind the DNC hacks.

July 27:  At a news conference, Trump calls on Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails from the private server she used as secretary of state. “I will tell you this, Russia: If you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Trump's running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, releases a statement (which his staffers say was drafted before Trump’s comments): "The FBI will get to the bottom of who is behind the hacking. If it is Russia and they are interfering in our elections, I can assure you ... [there would be] serious consequences,” but Pence went on to say there should be increased focus on the contents of the hacks and what they exposed about the Democratic Party.

July 31:  In an interview with ABC News, Trump says of Russia’s annexation of Crimea: "But you know, the people of Crimea, from what I've heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were. And you have to look at that". Trump adds that he was not involved in efforts to defeat an amendment to the Republican platform that contained more aggressively pro-Ukraine language.

August 8:  Long-time Trump friend and confidant Roger Stone tells a group of Florida Republicans that he has “communicated with [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:  'Guccifer 2.0' releases the cellphone numbers and email addresses of almost all Democrats in the House of Representatives, apparently based on documents stolen from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

That same day, the digital security firm, ThreatConnect, announces another site offering leaked DNC documents, "DC Leaks", appears to be linked to Russian intelligence services. Documents at the site primarily target Democrats, but include emails stolen from campaign staffers for noted Republican critics of Russia, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham.

August 14:  The New York Times publishes an exposé on Ukrainian documents that appear to show $12.7 million in cash was earmarked to be paid to Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort by the Russia-aligned Party of Regions.

August 17:  Trump receives his first classified intelligence briefing. It is later reported by NBC that Trump received information at the briefing about “direct links” between the Russian government and the email hacks.

Trump names two late 'outsider' additions to his campaign staff -- Kellyanne Conway as Campaign Manager, and Steve Bannon as Campaign Chief Executive. Paul Manafort is pushed into the background.

Conway worked on Senator Ted Cruz's presidential campaign, until he dropped out of the race on June 20th. Her husband is George Conway III, the litigator who wrote the Supreme Court brief for Paula Jones in 1998 during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

Bannon is a Harvard-educated, ex-naval officer and Goldman-Sachs investment banker, who ventured into Alt-right politics. He was a friend of Andrew Breitbart (who referred to Bannon as the "Leni Reifenstahl of the Tea Party movement"), and with him a co-founder of Breitbart News.  Bannon is a Vice President on the board of the data analytics firm, Cambridge Analytica, operated by the Mercer family and very active in the 2016 election.

August 19:  Paul Manafort resigns from the Trump campaign.

August 21:  Roger Stone writes on Twitter: “Trust me, it will soon [be John] Podesta's time in the barrel. #CrookedHillary”

August 29:  The New York Times reports that former Representative Anthony Weiner, forced to resign from politics in 2015 after a sexual texting scandal, had been carrying on a second sexting affair with a 15-year-old girl.

His wife, Huma Abedin, had separated from him with their children. Abedin had been a senior aide and friend to Hillary Clinton, both when she was Secretary of State and as candidate for President.

September [ ]: On his own initiative, in light of the hacking of the DNC and release of material damaging to the Democrats, ex-MI6 officer Christopher Steele decides to pass his findings about Trump's Russian connections to British and American intelligence services because he believes the findings are a matter of national security for both countries.

However, Steele is frustrated with the FBI, which he believes was failing to investigate his reports, choosing instead to focus on the investigation of Hillary Clinton's handling of classified emails. According to the UK Independent, Steele felt that there was a "cabal" inside the FBI, particularly its New York field office linked to Trump advisor Rudy Giuliani, which blocked any attempts to investigate the links between Trump and Russia.

Steele's reports were contained in a 35-page "Dossier", and stated in part: "The Russian regime has been cultivating, supporting and assisting TRUMP for at least 5 years. [Its] Aim, endorsed by PUTIN, has been to encourage splits and divisions in western alliance... [Trump] and his inner circle have accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin, including on his Democratic and other political rivals..."

Steele's assessment was that Russian intelligence had "compromised" Trump during his visits to Moscow and could "blackmail him."  The report further alleged that there were multiple in-person meetings between Russian government officials and individuals established as working for Trump.

September 5:  The Washington Post reports that U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies are investigating “a broad covert Russian operation in the United States to sow public distrust in the upcoming presidential election and in U.S. political institutions.”

September 6: At the G-20 summit in China, President Obama holds what he calls a “candid, blunt and businesslike” meeting with Putin. The two meet for about 90 minutes, and Obama says afterward: "We've had problems with cyber intrusions from Russia and other countries in the past," But he declines to comment on specific investigations.

September 7:  Director of National Intelligence John Clapper reiterates Obama’s point that experts believe Russia is behind the DNC hack.

Participating in a forum discussion on NBC, Trump praises Putin, saying the Russian had an 82 percent approval rating, adding: “He’s been a leader far more than our president has been a leader... I think when he [Putin] calls me brilliant, I’ll take the compliment, but it’s not going to get him anywhere.” In an interview with CNN, Mike Pence says that “it's inarguable that Vladimir Putin has been a stronger leader in his country than Barack Obama has been in this country.”

Later, Trump says in an interview with Russia Today, “It’s probably unlikely” that Russia is interfering in the U.S. elections. “I think maybe the Democrats are putting that out.”

In Moscow, Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov says they are watching the U.S. presidential campaign closely, and that Russia is willing to improve ties with the U.S., whoever wins. "We hope that after the end of the [U.S.] election campaign, we will see Washington’s political will towards building good relations."

September 8: Senator Jeff Sessions meets privately in his Capitol Hill office with Russian Ambassador Kislyak.

September 13:  Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, lodged a formal complaint with the U.N. over anothere U.N. official’s condemnation of Trump and some populist leaders in Europe.

September 26: Foreign policy adviser Carter Page resigns from the Trump campaign.

September 26; First Televised Presidential Debate:  Trump tries to cast doubt on reports that Russia was behind the DNC hacks: “I don't think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC. She {Clinton]'s saying Russia, Russia, Russia, but I don't — maybe it was. I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK? You don't know who broke into DNC. But what did we learn with DNC? We learned that Bernie Sanders was taken advantage of by your people, by Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Look what happened to her. But Bernie Sanders was taken advantage of. That's what we learned. Now, whether that was Russia, whether that was China, whether it was another country, we don't know, because the truth is, under President Obama we've lost control of things that we used to have control over.”

October [ ]:  According to The Washington Post, Christopher Steele reached an agreement with the FBI to pay him to continue his investigative work; the FBI found Steele and his information about Trump credible ("Steele was known for the quality of his past work and for the knowledge he had developed over nearly 20 years working on Russia-related issues for British intelligence").

October [ ]:  Steele provides copies of his reports on Trump's Russian connections to David Corn, a reporter from Mother Jones magazine.

October 3:  Trump confidant Roger Stone writes on Twitter: “I have total confidence that @wikileaks and my hero Julian Assange will educate the American people soon #LockHerUp."

October 4:  Julian Assange makes a 3:00 AM EST announcement via web video that WikiLeaks will publish new information on the U.S. presidential election, “every week for the next 10 weeks.”

October 7:  The Obama administration accuses Russia of deploying hackers to interfere in the presidential election. A statement from Director of National Intelligence John Clapper says hacked documents posted on the "DC Leaks", those released by 'Guccifer 2.0' and WikiLeaks, appear linked to Russian intelligence and accuses “Russia’s senior-most officials” of directing the hacks.

Raw-footage video from a 2005 episode of the television program, "Access Hollywood", surfaces with an audio track of Trump joking with the show's then-host, Billy Bush, about groping women's genitals.

Just hours later, WikiLeaks dumps a trove of emails hacked from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s personal email account. The communications are widely discussed in the American media. The Republican National Committee issues a statement, saying the emails are evidence of “who Hillary Clinton really is.”

October 9; Second Televised Presidential Debate: Trump cites material released by WikiLeaks to accuse the DNC of rigging the Democratic primary against Sen. Bernie Sanders. Clinton is also asked at the debate about excerpts from a paid speech she gave to Goldman-Saks, part of the WikiLeaks release.

Clinton responds to debate moderator, ABC journalist Martha Raditz: “But, you know, let’s talk about what’s really going on here, Martha, because our intelligence community just came out and said in the last few days that the Kremlin, meaning Putin and the Russian government, are directing the attacks, the hacking on American accounts to influence our election. And WikiLeaks is part of that, as are other sites where the Russians hack information, we don’t even know if it’s accurate information, and then they put it out. We have never in the history of our country been in a situation where an adversary, a foreign power, is working so hard to influence the outcome of the election. And believe me, they’re not doing it to get me elected. They’re doing it to try to influence the election for Donald Trump.”

Trump responds, “She doesn’t know if it’s the Russians doing the hacking. Maybe there is no hacking. But they always blame Russia. And the reason they blame Russia because they think they’re trying to tarnish me with Russia. I know nothing about Russia. I know — I know about Russia, but I know nothing about the inner workings of Russia. I don’t deal there. I have no businesses there. I have no loans from Russia.”

October 10:  At a campaign rally in Pennsylvania, Trump says, “I love WikiLeaks,” and specifically cites some of the hacked emails in making attacks on Clinton.

October 11:  Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta warns there may be a tie between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks. “I think it’s a reasonable assumption to — or at least a reasonable conclusion — that [Roger] Stone had advance warning, and the Trump campaign had advance warning, about what Assange was going to do.”

October 12:  Roger Stone tells a Florida TV station, “I do have a back-channel communication with [Julian] 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.” He denies ever having met or spoken to Assange personally.

October 19; Third / Final Televised Presidential Debate:  Clinton comments that Putin backed Trump because he “would rather have a puppet as president of the United States.”

“No puppet, no puppet, you’re the puppet,” Trump responds.

Clinton continues: “It’s pretty clear you won’t admit that the Russians have engaged in cyberattacks against the United States of America, that you encouraged espionage against our people, that you are willing to spout the Putin line, sign up for his wish list, break up NATO, do whatever he wants to do, and that you continue to get help from him because he has a very clear favorite in this race.”

October [ ]:  As part of the investigation into Anthony Weiner's cyber-affair with an underaged girl, NYPD investigators review communications on all of his digital devices. On Weiner’s laptop, they find emails sent to Hillary Clinton in her role as Secretary of State, and cc:'d to Weiner's wife, Huma Abedin, in her role as Clinton's senior aide. They advise the FBI.

FBI Agents seize the laptop, and discover that thousands of Abedin’s emails had been backed up on Weiner’s computer, including some that had apparently moved through Cinton’s personal email server.

FBI Director Comey learns of the Clinton emails on Weiner’s computer, and believes he is obligated to inform Congress of the circumstances.

October 28:  Comey sends a letter to appropriate members of Congress, advising that in light of the Anthony Weiner / Huma Abedin email connection, the FBI is reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton's potential violation of Federal law.

October 31: The New York Times publishes a story with the headline, “Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link To Russia.”

Mother Jones publishes David Corn's article, "A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump".

November 6:  FBI Director Comey sends a second letter to Congress, advising no new information had been found in the Abedin / Weiner emails to alter the Bureau's July findings that Clinton had been careless in handling emails but had not violated the law. The investigation into Clinton's handling of emails and classified information was finally closed.

November 8: Trump is elected President of the United States. In Moscow, the Russian Parliament bursts into applause when news of Trump’s victory is announced.

November 10:  A senior Russian diplomat, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Rybakov, tells Interfax news agency that there “were contacts” between the Russian government and the Trump campaign during the election campaign. Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov later tells the Associated Press that the contacts were “quite natural, quite normal” and took place with both campaigns.

Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks tells Associated Press, "It never happened. There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign."

November 10:  Obama meets with Trump at the White House, and warns the President-elect against hiring Michael Flynn.

November 18:  Trump names Michael Flynn as his National Security Advisor.

November 28:  In an interview with Time magazine, Trump says: “I don’t believe they [the Russians] interfered. That became a laughing point, not a talking point, a laughing point. Any time I do something, they say, ‘Oh, Russia interfered.’ Why not get along with Russia? And they can help us fight ISIS, which is both costly in lives and costly in money. And they’re effective and smart. It could be Russia. And it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey. I believe that it could have been Russia and it could have been any one of many other people. Sources or even individuals.”

December [ ]:  Michael Flynn and Jared Kushner met with Russian Ambassador Kislyak at Trump Tower.

December 4:  Putin praises Trump again in a TV interview: “Trump was an entrepreneur and a businessman. … Because he achieved success in business, it suggests that he is a clever man.”

December 7:  The November 28 Time magazine interview with Trump is published.

December 8:  The New York Times reports that Carter Paige appears in Moscow.  He tells a Russian state-run news agency that he is there to "meet with business leaders and thought leaders.”

December [ ]:   Senator John McCain, who had been informed about the alleged links between Kremlin and Trump, meets with former British ambassador to Moscow, Sir Andrew Wood, in Washington.

Wood confirms the existence of the so-called 'Trump Dossier', and vouched for the credibility of former MI6 officer Christopher Steele: "[He is a] very competent professional operator... I take the report seriously. I don't think it's totally implausible... The report's key allegation – that Trump and Russia's leadership were communicating via secret back channels during the presidential campaign – [is] eminently plausible."

December 9:  Senator McCain obtains a copy of the 35-page Dossier from  David J. Kramer (former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor), and personally delivers it to FBI Director James Comey.

December 15:  Putin sends Trump a letter stressing that the U.S. and Russia play an important role “in ensuring stability and security of the modern world,” and expresses his hope that Trump will “restore the framework of bilateral cooperation in different areas as well as bring our level of collaboration on the international scene to a qualitatively new level.”

December 23:  Trump releases Putin's letter, adding in a statement that the letter was “very nice” and that Putin’s thoughts are “so correct... I hope both sides are able to live up to these thoughts, and we do not have to travel an alternate path."

December 26:  Oleg Erovinkin, 61, is found dead in the back seat of his his car in Moscow. No cause of death is released.  He was believed to have assisted former MI6 officer Christopher Steele in his research into Trump's ties to Russia and the Putin government.

A former KGB officer, in the 1990's Erovinkin had been appointed deputy head of personnel for the protection of state secrets under then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin. He was appointed chief of staff for the Russian state-owned oil company, Rosneft, by Yeltsin's successor, President Vladimir Putin, in May, 2008. Erovinkin then became a key aide to Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, and worked in a department of Rosneft that handles classified documents, receiving and forwarding them to other Russian government agencies.

December 29:  Obama orders the 35 suspected Russian intelligence operatives ejected from the country and imposes sanctions on two Russian intelligence services as retaliation for the election-interference campaign.

December 29:  National Security Advisor-designate Michael Flynn has a series of phone calls with Ambassador Kislyak. He later acknowledged it was possible they discussed the newly imposed sanctions, but he “couldn’t be certain.” According to The New York Times, the phone calls came after Kislyak was brought to the State Department and informed of the sanctions, where Kislyak became “irate and threatened a forceful Russian response.”

December 30:  Putin announces he will not retaliate against the U.S. expulsions. His foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, had recommended Russia respond similarly. Trump writes on Twitter: “Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!”

December 31:  Trump tells reporters at Mar-a-Lago that "hacking is a very hard thing to prove... So it could be somebody else. And I also know things that other people don’t know, and so they cannot be sure of the situation.”

2017

January 3:  Trump writes on Twitter: “The ‘Intelligence’ briefing on so-called ‘Russian hacking’ was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!”

January 4:  Trump writes on Twitter: “Julian Assange said ‘a 14 year old could have hacked Podesta’ - why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info!”

January 5:  Obama is briefed on intelligence findings on Russian interference in the election.

January 6: Briefings begin with Congressional members on Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.

January 6:  The Office of the Director of National Intelligence releases an unclassified report expressing the conclusion of the CIA, FBI and NSA about Russian election interference: “We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. 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. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.

"We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.” The report concludes that "DC Leaks", 'Guccifer 2.0' and WikiLeaks all obtained the emails and other documents via Russian government-backed hackers.

January 6:  DNI Clapper, FBI director James Comey and CIA director John Brennan brief Trump on the intelligence community’s findings at Trump Tower. It had been previously agreed that Comey would brief Trump privately on the contents of the 'Trump Dossier'. Trump reacts angrily.

“Based on President-elect Trump’s reaction to the briefing, and without him directly asking the question,” Comey tells Trump he is not the subject of an open counter-intelligence investigation. Returning to his car after the meeting, Comey immediately writes a memo about the conversation.

Later that day, Trump tells The New York Times that the Russia controversy is a “political witch hunt.” He releases a statement saying the hacks had “absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election,” adding that “Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying” to hack the U.S. government and other institutions.

That night, Trump writes on Twitter: “Gross negligence by the Democratic National Committee allowed hacking to take place. The Republican National Committee had strong defense!”

January 7:  Trump writes on Twitter: “Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. Only 'stupid' people, or fools, would think that it is bad! We..... have enough problems around the world without yet another one. When I am President, Russia will respect us far more than they do now and.... both countries will, perhaps, work together to solve some of the many great and pressing problems and issues of the WORLD!”

January 10: Under oath at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Trump advisor and Senator Jeff Sessions says, “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign, and I did not have communications with the Russians.”

January 10:  CNN reports that both Trump and Obama had been briefed on claims that Russia possessed compromising personal and financial information about Trump based on “memos compiled by a former British intelligence operative, whose past work U.S. intelligence officials consider credible.”

Shortly after, BuzzFeed publishes the Dossier compiled by Christopher Steele, indicating that Trump associates had colluded with Russian operatives, and that the Russian government had compromising information about Trump. The post implied that Trump and Obama had each been briefed about the information in the Dossier.

Trump writes on Twitter: “FAKE NEWS - A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!”

January 11: Trump writes on Twitter: “Russia just said the unverified report paid for by political opponents is ‘A COMPLETE AND TOTAL FABRICATION, UTTER NONSENSE.’ Very unfair! … Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING! … I win an election easily, a great "movement" is verified, and crooked opponents try to belittle our victory with FAKE NEWS. A sorry state! … Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?”

At a news conference at Trump Tower, Trump calls the reports “fake news,” and says for the first time that he believes the election-related hacks were conducted by Russia. But he is quick to add: “I have to say this also, the Democratic National Committee was totally open to be hacked. They did a very poor job.”

Trump adds: “If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability, because we have a horrible relationship with Russia. Russia can help us fight ISIS, which, by the way, is, No. 1, tricky. I mean if you look, this administration created ISIS by leaving at the wrong time. The void was created, ISIS was formed. If Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what, folks? That’s called an asset, not a liability. Now, I don’t know that I’m gonna get along with Vladimir Putin. I hope I do.”

At the same news conference, incoming press secretary Sean Spicer calls the BuzzFeed report “highly salacious and flat-out false” and called BuzzFeed’s and CNN’s reporting “a sad and pathetic attempt to get clicks.”

Vice President-elect Mike Pence labels the reports “fake news,” and accused certain media outlets of an “attempt to demean the president-elect and our incoming administration.”

January 13:   Spicer tells reporters that Michael Flynn’s conversations with Ambassador Kislyak involved only the logistics of setting up an eventual call between Trump and Putin.

January 13:  Trump says in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that he is open to lifting sanctions against Russia, if the country proves helpful on other fronts: “If you get along and if Russia is really helping us, why would anybody have sanctions if somebody’s doing some really great things?”

January 15: Vice-President-elect Michael Pence tells CBS News that, according to his conversation with Flynn, "Flynn and Kislyak did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia.”

January 17:  Putin dismisses the Steele dossier as “false.”

January 22:  The Wall Street Journal reports: “U.S. counterintelligence agents have investigated communications that President Donald Trump’s national security adviser had with Russian officials, according to people familiar with the matter.”

Trump hosts an event at the White House honoring major U.S. law enforcement officers, including FBI Director James Comey. Standing on the opposite side of the room from Comey, Trump singles him out ("Oh, there's Jim"), forcing Comey to cross the room for a handshake and a brief hug. "He’s become more famous than me,” Trump jokes.

January 23:  Press Secretary Spicer reiterates that Flynn’s call with Kislyak did not touch on sanctions.

January 24:  National Security Advisor Michael Flynn is interviewed by FBI agents about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Kislyak.

January 26:  Sally Yates, Acting U.S. Attorney General, calls White House counsel Don McGahn and informs him they need to meet in person to discuss “a very sensitive matter.” The two meet later that day at the White House and Yates warns McGahn that Michael Flynn is making false statements regarding his calls with Kislyak.

January 27: Acting A.G. Yates and McGahn meet again, at McGahn’s request.

Trump and Comey dine at the White House. Comey -- who found the dinner invitation strange -- recalled that “The President began by asking me whether I wanted to stay on as FBI Director, which I found strange... My instincts told me that the one-on-one setting, and the pretense that this was our first discussion about my position, meant the dinner was, at least in part, an effort to have me ask for my job and create some sort of patronage relationship. That concerned me greatly, given the FBI’s traditionally independent status in the executive branch…

"I added that I was not on anybody’s side politically and could not be counted on in the traditional political sense, a stance I said was in his best interest as the President. A few moments later, the President said, ‘I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.’ I didn’t move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed. We simply looked at each other in silence….

"Near the end of our dinner, the President returned to the subject of my job….He then said, ‘I need loyalty.’ I replied, ‘You will always get honesty from me.’ He paused and then said, ‘That’s what I want, honest loyalty.’ I paused, and then said, ‘You will get that from me.’ ”

Comey also said he again told Trump he was not under investigation. “He [replied] ...he was considering ordering me to investigate the alleged incident to prove it didn’t happen. I replied that he should give that careful thought because it might create a narrative that we were investigating him personally, which we weren’t, and because it was very difficult to prove a negative.”

January 27:  Trump signs a Presidential Order putting a travel ban impacting travelers and immigrants from seven Muslim countries into effect, surprising everyone but his closest advisors. No advance notice is provided to major government agencies (Justice, Immigration, TSA) who would be expected to put the ban into action. The effect on major points of entry into the U.S. is chaotic.

January 30:  Acting A.G. Sally Yates refuses to direct the Justice Department to enforce Trump's travel ban. Trump summarily fires her.

February 2:  Nikki Haley, Trump’s Ambassador to the U.N., condemns Russia’s occupation of Crimea at a Security Council meeting and pledges that the U.S. "Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control over the peninsula to Ukraine.” Haley also stated the U.S. wants better relations with Russia.

February 4:  Trump defends Putin in an interview with Fox News, saying, “I do respect him.” When pressed on allegations that Putin has been behind certain atrocitites, Trump responds: “What, you think our country’s so innocent?”

February 8:  The Senate confirms Senator Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General in a 52-47 vote.

February 9:  The Washington Post reports that Michael Flynn did, in fact, discuss U.S. sanctions in his phone calls with Ambassador Kislyak, contrary to his, and the Trump administration’s, previous statements.

February 13: The Washington Post reports online that the White House has known for weeks that Flynn had misled others about the nature of his conversations with Russian Ambassador Kislyak.
Within hours of the story's release, Flynn is forced to resign.

February 14:  The New York Times reports that “members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.”

In response to questions, Press Secretary Spicer says that Flynn was fired because he no longer had the trust of the president and vice president.

FBI Director James Comey attends a scheduled counterterrorism briefing for the President in the Oval Office. “The President signaled the end of the briefing by thanking the group and telling them all that he wanted to speak to me alone….When the door by the grandfather clock closed, and we were alone, the President began by saying, ‘I want to talk about Mike Flynn.’

"… The President began by saying Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong in speaking with the Russians, but he had to let him go because he had misled the Vice President. He added that he had other concerns about Flynn, which he did not then specify… ‘He is a good guy and has been through a lot.’ He repeated that Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong on his calls with the Russians, but had misled the Vice President.

"He then said, ‘I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.’ I replied only that ‘he is a good guy.’ …I did not say I would ‘let this go.’ ”  Comey writes a memo to file about the conversation directly after leaving the White House.

February 15:  CNN reports: “High-level advisers close to then-presidential nominee Donald Trump were in constant communication during the campaign with Russians known to US intelligence, multiple current and former intelligence, law enforcement and administration officials tell CNN. President-elect Trump and then-President Barack Obama were both briefed on details of the extensive communications between suspected Russian operatives and people associated with the Trump campaign and the Trump business, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter.”

February 16:  Trump again calls the Russia controversy “fake news” and said that the Times story from February 14 was “a joke... I have nothing to do with Russia. I told you, I have no deals there, I have no anything. Now, when WikiLeaks, which I had nothing to do with, comes out and happens to give, they’re not giving classified information...

"I’m here today is to tell you the whole Russian thing, that’s a ruse. That’s a ruse. And by the way, it would be great if we could get along with Russia, just so you understand that. … I didn’t do anything for Russia. … If we could get along with Russia, that’s a positive thing. … I would love to be able to get along with Russia. … If we have a good relationship with Russia, believe me, that’s a good thing, not a bad thing.”

Asked if anyone who advised his campaign had contacts with Russia during the election, Trump responds: “No. Nobody that I know of.”

February 20:  The Russian ambassador to the U.N., Vitaly Churkin, passes away in New York. The next day, Trump releases a statement praising him and offering condolences.

February 28:  The Washington Post reports that the FBI was still prepared to pay Christopher Steele to continue his research work, indicating the Bureau found him credible.

March [ ] :  In March, Trump separately asks Daniel Coats, Director of National Intelligence (succeeding John Clapper), and Admiral Michael S. Rogers, Director of the National Security Agency, to help him in pushing back against the FBI investigation into ties between his presidential campaign and the Russian government.

Trump urged them to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the election. Both officials believed the request was inappropriate and refused.

March 1:  The Washington Post reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, while acting as a national security advisor to candidate Trump during the campaign, did speak with Russian Ambassador Kislyak, in contradiction of Sessions' past statements.

March 2:  As congressional Democrats call for Sessions to resign, and even some Republicans say he should recuse himself from an investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Trump announces he has “total confidence” in the AG.

Sessions announces he will recuse himself from any investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.

March 3:  CNN reports on additional meetings that took place between Trump associates and Kislyak. Meanwhile, Trump posts an old picture on Twitter of Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer eating doughnuts with Vladimir Putin, saying: “We should start an immediate investigation into @SenSchumer and his ties to Russia and Putin. A total hypocrite!”

Trump later tweets an article about Nancy Pelosi having met with Kislyak, who she said she hadn’t met, and writes: “I hereby demand a second investigation, after Schumer, of Pelosi for her close ties to Russia, and lying about it.”

Kislyak cancels plans to attend the March 4 annual Gridiron Dinner of the Washington press corps in Washington.  Trump likewise will not appear.

March 4: Trump tweets: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism! … Just out: The same Russian Ambassador that met Jeff Sessions visited the Obama White House 22 times, and 4 times last year alone. … Is it legal for a sitting President to be "wire tapping" a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW! … I'd bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election! … How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”

FBI Director James Comey asks the Justice Department to reject Trump's claim, but no rejection is issued. Former President Obama denied the allegations through a spokesman.

Trump ally Roger Stone writes on Twitter that he “never denied perfectly legal backchannel to Assange who indeed had the goods on #CrookedHillary.” He later deletes the tweet.

March 5:  The White House calls on Congress to investigate Trump's claims of wiretapping and says it will not comment further.

March 6:  In a press gaggle, Press Secretary Spicer declines to say what the source was for Trump’s wire-tapping allegation and presents no evidence to back it up. The claims appeared to be based on a talk radio segment, and a Breitbart article about that radio segment.

March 7:  Christopher Steele, who had been in hiding after the U.S. elections, reappears publicly on camera in London, saying "I'm really pleased to be back here working again at the Orbis's offices".  Some members of Congress express interest in meeting with or hearing testimony from ex-MI6 officer.

March 8:  When asked if Trump is the target of a counter-intelligence investigation, Spicer responds: “I think that’s what we need to find out.” He later says: “There is no reason to believe that [Trump] is the target of any investigation.”

March 9:  CNN reports that the FBI’s counter-intelligence team continues to investigate “computer server connection between the Trump Organization and a Russian bank.”

When asked if Trump agrees with Senator Ben Sasse’s declaration that Assange belongs in jail, Spicer demurs and suggests reporters speak with the Department of Justice.

March 10: Senior administration officials discussing German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s upcoming visit decline to comment on allegations that the Russians are interfering in European elections.

March 20:  FBI Director James Comey confirms in testimony to the House Select Committee on Intelligence that the FBI is investigating possible links between Russia and the Trump campaign. “The FBI, as part of our counterintelligence effort, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 president election,” Comey states.

Representative Devin Nunes, Republican Chairman of the Committee, appears to brush Comey's notable revelation aside and instead focus on what the FBI is doing to identify and prosecute "leaks to the media" from those in government.

When asked, Comey indicates he had been cleared by the Justice Department to say there is “no information” to support Trump’s claim of being wiretapped during the 2016 campaign.

The Washington Post reports Trump's separate requests to DNI Coats and NSA Director Admiral Rogers to help him 'push back' against the FBI's Russian investigation, and their refusals. 

Trump writes on Twitter: “James Clapper and others stated that there is no evidence Potus colluded with Russia. This story is FAKE NEWS and everyone knows it! … The Democrats made up and pushed the Russian story as an excuse for running a terrible campaign. Big advantage in Electoral College & lost! … The real story that Congress, the FBI and all others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information. Must find leaker now! … What about all of the contact with the Clinton campaign and the Russians? Also, is it true that the DNC would not let the FBI in to look?”

March 21:  The Daily Beast reports that in the early evening, House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Devin Nunes, was traveling in an Uber ride with a senior committee staffer when he received a text message on his phone. Nunes had the driver stop the car, got out abruptly and walked away without any explanation to his staffer. 

March 22:  In the morning, Chairman Nunes calls a news conference, telling reporters “The intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition.” Nunes claimed to have reviewed “dozens of reports” produced by U.S. intelligence, provided by a source he would not name, proving it.  While the surveillance was legal, Nunes was “alarmed” that information about Trump's transition team had been widely disseminated throughout the government.

Immediately after the press conference, Nunes goes to the White House to brief Trump on the information he had reviewed. After, Trump says he felt “somewhat” vindicated by the briefing for his false claim that President Obama “wiretapped” him during or after the election.

Associated Press reports that former Trump Campaign Manager, Paul Manafort, had previously worked secretly on behalf of a Russian billionaire to enhance the image of Putin and the Russian government in the West.

At the White House, Spicer downplays Manafort’s role in the Trump campaign, declaring “to be clear, the President has no personal financial dealings with Russia. His ties are limited to hosting a contest in Russia once, and selling a Palm Beach home to a businessman in 2005. That's it.” When asked if Manafort ever encouraged the campaign to take a more pro-Russian position, Spicer responds: “Not that I’m aware of.”

CNN reports that “The FBI has information that indicates associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton's campaign, US officials told CNN. This is partly what FBI Director James Comey was referring to when he made a bombshell announcement Monday before Congress that the FBI is investigating the Trump campaign's ties to Russia, according to one source.”

At a White House meeting, Trump asks Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats if he could intervene with then-FBI Director James B. Comey to "get the bureau to back off its focus on former national security adviser Michael Flynn in its Russia probe.” Coats' response is not known.

March 23:  Spicer mocks the CNN report, saying the use of the term “associates” is too broad. Trump writes on Twitter: “Just watched the totally biased and fake news reports of the so-called Russia story on NBC and ABC. Such dishonesty!”

Devin Nunes appears on Fox with Sean Hannity, saying he had gone to the White House to brief Trump on his claims of surveillance of his transition team by U.S. intelligence because "... I would be concerned if I was the president, and that’s why I wanted him to know, and I felt like I had a duty and obligation to tell him because... he’s taking a lot of heat in the news media." Nunes says he will provide the House Intelligence Committee with documents supporting his allegations soon.

Trump tells Fox News that he would “be submitting things before the [House Intelligence] committee very soon” supporting claims the Obama administration had placed his transition team under surveillance.“We will be submitting certain things, and I will be, perhaps, speaking about this next week.”

March 27:  Trump writes on Twitter: “Trump Russia story is a hoax. #MAGA!” He also questions why people do not focus on whether Hillary Clinton has ties to Russia.

March 29:  The New York Times reports that  National Security Council senior director for intelligence Ezra Cohen-Watnick and White House national security lawyer Michael Ellis provided Nunes the intelligence documents, indicating a direct thread between the administration and the original news conference. At his daily press briefing, Press Secretary Sean Spicer declines to comment, saying he chooses to focus more on the "substance" than the "process."

March 30:  Trump calls FBI Director Comey at his FBI office.  “He described the Russia investigation as ‘a cloud’ that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country. He said he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been involved with hookers in Russia, and had always assumed he was being recorded when in Russia. He asked what we could do to ‘lift the cloud.’

"… I explained that we had briefed the leadership of Congress on exactly which individuals we were investigating and that we had told those Congressional leaders that we were not personally investigating [Trump]. I reminded him I had previously told him that. He repeatedly told me, ‘We need to get that fact out.’… The President went on to say that if there were some ‘satellite’ associates of his who did something wrong, it would be good to find that out, but that he hadn’t done anything wrong.” Comey writes a memo to file immediately after the call ends.

March 31:  Trump writes on Twitter: “Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!”

The New York Times reports that the 'classified reports'  provided to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes -- which he claimed had come from an unnamed source -- proving the Trump transition team had been under surveillance, had actually come from the Trump White House. Nunes is unable to provide any the reports to members of his committee.

April 1:  Trump writes on Twitter: “When will Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd and @NBCNews start talking about the Obama SURVEILLANCE SCANDAL and stop with the Fake Trump/Russia story? … It is the same Fake News Media that said there is "no path to victory for Trump" that is now pushing the phony Russia story. A total scam!”

April 6:  Due to an ethics complaint, Devin Nunes steps down from his leadership of the Russia investigation by the House Intelligence Committee into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

President Xi Jinping of China arrives for an official visit to the United States, and is entertained at Trump's Mar-a-Lago Florida estate.

During dinner with Jinping, Trump is informed that air strikes he had ordered against Syrian government forces, following a chemical weapons attack which killed and injured civilians, had been carried out with 60 cruise missiles launched from the Mediterranean.  Russia denounces the strikes.

April 11:  Trump calls FBI Director Comey at his FBI office.  "[He] asked what I had done about his request that I ‘get out’ [i.e., communicate] that he is not personally under investigation. I replied that I had passed his request to the Acting Deputy Attorney General, but I had not heard back.

"[Trump] replied that ‘the cloud’ was getting in the way of his ability to do his job…. I said the White House Counsel should contact the leadership of DOJ to make the request, which was the traditional channel. He said he would do that and added, ‘Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing, you know.’ I did not reply or ask him what he meant by ‘that thing.’ I said only that the way to handle it was to have the White House Counsel call the Acting Deputy Attorney General. He said that was what he would do and the call ended.” Comey immediately writes a memorandum about the conversation.

April 13:  Trump says during a press conference at the White House with the NATO secretary general, “We’re not getting along with Russia at all … we may be at an all-time low".

At almost the same time, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Vladimir Putin meet in Moscow.  Later, Trump says on Twitter: “Things will work out fine between the U.S.A. and Russia. At the right time everyone will come to their senses & there will be lasting peace!”

April 25: The Senate votes 94-6 to confirm Rod Rosenstein as Deputy Attorney General.

May 2:  Trump writes on Twitter: “FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds! The phony...Trump/Russia story was an excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election. Perhaps Trump just ran a great campaign?”

May 5:  Hackers release a trove of emails purportedly from French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron’s campaign. Intelligence experts link the hack to Russia.

May 7:  Trump writes on Twitter: “When will the Fake Media ask about the Dems dealings with Russia & why the DNC wouldn't allow the FBI to check their server or investigate?”

May 8:  Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testify before a Senate subcommittee on Russian interference in the election. Yates confirms that she informed the White House that Michael Flynn was “compromised” weeks before news broke that Flynn had misled the vice president and was fired.

Trump tweets: “Director Clapper reiterated what everybody, including the fake media already knows- there is ‘no evidence’ of collusion w/ Russia and Trump... The Russia-Trump collusion story is a total hoax, when will this taxpayer funded charade end?”

May 9: Trump fires FBI Director James Comey. In the letter announcing his termination, Trump writes: “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.”

The White House’s official explanation is that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein recommended the termination in a memo (dated May 9), and that AG Sessions affirmed the recommendation in a letter to Trump.

May 10: Trump meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who had earlier met with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and joked about Comey’s firing. “Was he fired? You’re kidding, you’re kidding,” Lavrov said sarcastically in response to a reporter's shouted question.

While meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak in the Oval Office, Trump tells them, "I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That's [been] taken off."

The Russian government's Twitter accounts post pictures of Trump with Ambassador Kislyak and Lavrov in the Oval Office. It's later reported that Trump divulged classified national security information to Lavrov and Kislyak during the course of the meeting which could easily reveal an intelligence source for an American action against ISIS in Syria.

The Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation into Russian influence on the 2016 election issues a subpoena to Michael Flynn for documents related to the inquiry.

May 11: Trump writes on Twitter: “Russia must be laughing up their sleeves watching as the U.S. tears itself apart over a Democrat EXCUSE for losing the election.”

In an interview, Trump tells NBC’s Lester Holt: “When I decided to just do it [i.e., fire Director Comey], I said to myself, I said you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won."

May 12: Trump writes on Twitter: ““James B. Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”  And later, "Again, the story that there was collusion between the Russians & Trump campaign was fabricated by Dems as an excuse for losing the election. … When James Clapper himself, and virtually everyone else with knowledge of the witch hunt, says there is no collusion, when does it end?”

May 16: Trump writes on Twitter: “As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining.......to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”

May 17: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appoints former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

Trump releases a statement saying the investigation “will confirm what we already know – there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity.”

May 18: Trump writes on Twitter: “This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!... With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special counsel appointed!”

At a White House press conference that afternoon, Trump criticizes the appointment of a special counsel and declares, "There was no collusion.” He also denies telling Comey to drop the investigation into Michael Flynn.

May 19: The New York Times reports Trump's comments to Lavrov and Kislyak at their May 10 Oval Office meeting.

The Washington Post reports that federal investigators have “identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest” in the Russia investigation.

May 22: The Washington Post reports that “Trump made separate appeals to the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and to Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, urging them to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election.” The paper says the meeting happened in March and that Coats and Rogers denied the president’s request.

May 23: Coats appears at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing and is asked if the Post report on Trump’s request to help him push back against the FBI investigation is accurate. Coats declines to answer. “It’s not appropriate for me to comment publicly on any of that,” Coats said.

Former CIA Director John Brennan testifies before the House Intelligence Committee about the federal investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Brennan says he does not know if any “such collusion existed,” but was concerned about contacts between Russian officials and people involved in the Trump campaign.

“I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign...  I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals and it raised questions in my mind, again, whether or not the Russians were able to gain the cooperation of those individuals.

“I don’t know whether or not such collusion — and that’s your term, such collusion, existed. I don’t know. But I know that there was a sufficient basis of information and intelligence that required further investigation by the bureau to determine whether or not U.S. persons were actively conspiring, colluding with Russian officials.”

May 25:  The Washington Post reports that the "current White House official" who is "a significant person of interest" to investigators in the Russia inquiry is Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner. 

May 26:  The Washington Post reports that Jared Kushner and Russian ambassador Kislyak discussed setting up a secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin at a meeting in early December 2016.

May 27: National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster downplays reports of Kushner discussing back-channel communications with Russia. McMaster says the U.S. has “back-channel communications with a number of countries. So, generally speaking, about back-channel communications, what that allows you to do is to communicate in a discreet manner.”

May 31: The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence issues subpoenas for testimony, documents and business records from Michael Flynn and Michael Cohen, a personal attorney to the President.

June 5:  NSA contractor Reality Winner is charged with leaking classified information about Russia’s hacking activities. It is reported that Winner gave The Intercept an NSA report dated May 5 detailing how the Russian military intelligence operation carried out cyberattacks in 2016 on a U.S. election software company.

June 6:  CNN reports that Michael Flynn provides more than 600 pages of documents to the Senate Intelligence committee in response to their May 10 subpoena.

The Washington Post reports Trump's March 22 request of Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to intervene with then-FBI Director James Comey over the Russian investigation.  The Post's report was based on “officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal matters.”

Brian Hale, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, issues a statement saying Coats “never felt pressured by the President or anyone else in the Administration to influence any intelligence matters or ongoing investigations.”

June 7: At a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Senator Marco Rubio asks National Intelligence Director Coats if he were ever asked “by the President or the White House to influence an ongoing investigation.” Coats declines to comment, saying it would be inappropriate to answer in an open forum.

At the same hearing, Admiral Michael Rogers, director of the National Security Agency, also declines to discuss any conversations he has had with the president, but adds, “In the three-plus years that I have been the Director of the National Security Agency, to the best of my recollection I have never been directed to do anything I believe to be illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate.”

Trump announces his intention to nominate Christopher Wray, an assistant U.S. attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s criminal prosecutions division during the the George W. Bush administration, to replace James Comey as the FBI director.

James Comey submits written testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee in advance of his appearance before the committee

June 8: Former FBI Director Comey testifies under oath before the Senate Intelligence Committee (the previously quoted descriptions of his meetings with and calls from Trump are from his testimony).

June 9: At a joint press conference with the President of Romania, Trump denies that he told Comey to drop the Flynn investigation. “I didn’t say that,” Trump says, and adds that he never asked Comey to pledge loyalty to him. “I hardly know the man,” Trump says. “I’m not going to say, 'I want you to pledge allegiance.' ”

Trump also says he is “100 percent” willing to testify under oath about his conversations with Comey. “No collusion, no obstruction, he’s a leaker.” When a reporter begins to ask a question about Trump hinting that he may have tape recordings of his conversations with Comey, Trump says, “I’m not hinting at anything. I’ll tell you about it over a very short period of time... Oh, you're going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer. Don't worry.”

The House Intelligence Committee sends a latter to White House Counsel McGahn, asking if any such tapes exist and, if so, to turn them over to the committee by June 23.

June 12: Christopher Ruddy, CEO of the conservative Newsmax Media and a friend of the president, tells PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff that Trump is considering firing Mueller. “I think he’s considering perhaps terminating the special counsel,” Ruddy said. “I think he’s weighing that option.”

June 13 – Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the president has the “right” to fire Mueller, but won’t. “While the president has the right to, he has no intention to do so,” Sanders tells reporters aboard Air Force One.

Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosenberg testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee that he alone has the authority to fire the Special Counsel, and that he has not seen any evidence of good cause for doing so.

Attorney General Sessions also testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee.  “[T]he suggestion that I participated in any collusion, that I was aware of any collusion with the Russian government to hurt this country, which I have served with honor for 35 years, or to undermine the integrity of our democratic process, is an appalling and detestable lie,” he says.

Sessions, who had acknowledged meeting the Russian ambassador on two occasions, says he did not recall meeting Kislyak a third time at Trump’s foreign policy speech at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., on April 27, 2016. “I don’t recall it,” Sessions says. “Certainly I can assure you nothing improper — if I’d had a conversation with him and it’s conceivable that occurred — I just don’t remember it.”

Sessions declines to answer any questions about his conversations with the president regarding Comey’s firing or any other matter. “[C]onsistent with long-standing Department of Justice practice, I cannot and will not violate my duty to protect confidential communications with the President.”

June 14: The Washington Post reports that Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the special counsel heading the Russia investigation, has widened his inquiry to include “an examination of whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice.... Five people briefed on the interview requests, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said that Daniel Coats, the current director of national intelligence, Mike Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, and Rogers’s recently departed deputy, Richard Ledgett, agreed to be interviewed by Mueller’s investigators as early as this week... it is unclear how many others have been questioned by the FBI.”

June 15: Trump tweets: “They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story. Nice”.

The Washington Post reports that Special Counsel Mueller is investigating “the finances and business dealings” of Kushner. It also writes that the FBI and federal prosecutors have been “examining the financial dealings of other Trump associates,” including Flynn, Manafort and Page.

In an email to the Post, Kushner’s attorney, Jamie Gorelick, says, “It would be standard practice for the Special Counsel to examine financial records to look for anything related to Russia.”

Pence hires Virginia lawyer Richard Cullen a partner at McGuireWoods and former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia under President George H.W. Bush, to serve as his personal lawyer during the Russia investigation.

June 16: Trump writes on Twitter: “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt.”

June 18: Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow says on CBS' Face The Nation that the president is not under investigation. “The fact of the matter is the president has not been and is not under investigation,” Sekulow says. “So this was his response, via twitter, via social media was in response to the Washington Post piece with five anonymous sources.”

June 22: The day before the The House Intelligence Committee's deadline to provide any recordings of conversations with James Comey, Trump tweets that he did not record his contacts with the former FBI director. “With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are ‘tapes’ or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings.”

July 8: The New York Times breaks the story of the June 9, 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower.

In a statement to the Times, Donald Trump Jr. says it was a “short introductory meeting” and, “We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no follow up.”

July 9:  Donald Trump Jr. says in a statement, “the woman [Veselnitskaya] stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Mrs. Clinton. Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information. ..It became clear to me that this was the true agenda all along and that the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting.”

July 11: The New York Times obtains copies of the email chain between Goldstone and Trump establishing the context for the meeting -- but before they can publish the story, Trump Jr. tweets screenshots of the emails. He says Veselnitskaya “was not a government official” and that “[t]he information they suggested they had about Hillary Clinton I thought was Political Opposition Research.”

Junior appears on Fox 'News', describing the "nothingburger" meeting with Veselnitskaya to Sean Hannity as being attended only by Junior, music publicist Goldstone, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort.  The Russian attorney apparently had no information about Hillary Clinton, but instead wanted to make arguments against the Magnitsky Act (allowing the U.S. to withhold visas and freeze assets of Russians believed to have violated human rights). Jared Kushner was supposed to have left the meeting early, and Junior politely brought it to a close in short order.
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MEHR, MIT DA IST HIER NOCH IMMER MEHR:  

July 14:  The Associated Press reports that the June, 2016 meeting between Donald Trump, Jr., and Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya was also attended by Russian lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, who works with Veselnitskaya and like her is well-known in Washington as a lobbyist with connections to the Russian government.
Akhmetshin claimed the meeting was "nothing substantive", and (aside from the fact that Donald, Jr., had not mentioned his presence there) was surprised it was being treated as a "big deal". His recollection was that, along with Veselnitskaya, Trump Jr., Manafort, Kushner, Bob Goldstone and himself, an unnamed translator was present.

July 15:  CNN reports that the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower included at least eight people: Trump Jr., Kushner, Manafort, Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Rinat Akhmetshin; music publicist Rob Goldstone; a translator; and a representative of Aras Agalarov, Russian real estate developer with ties to Donald Trump Sr., who had asked Goldstone to set up the meeting. This new report differs, again, from Junior's earlier descriptions.

Later, Trump tweets: “HillaryClinton can illegally get the questions to the Debate & delete 33,000 emails but my son Don is being scorned by the Fake News media? With all of its phony unnamed sources & highly slanted & even fraudulent reporting, #Fake News is DISTORTING DEMOCRACY in our country.”
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