Trump – Russia Timeline

This timeline will be updated from time to time.

  • 1979: Roger Stone is introduced to Donald Trump by notorious attorney Roy Cohn. [Added March 27, 2017]
  • 1980: Roger Stone founded a lobbying practice with Paul Manafort; Trump became one of Stone’s first clients. In the 1980s, Trump hired Manafort as his lawyer on gambling and real estate issues. By 1988, Stone was one of Trump’s closest advisers. [Added March 27, 2017]
  • Trump’s efforts to develop business in Russia date to 1987. In 1996, he applied for his trademark in that country. Discussing ambitions for a Trump hotel in 2007, he declared, “We will be in Moscow at some point.”
  • August 1998: Russia defaulted on its debt and its stock market collapsed. As the value of the ruble plummeted, Russian millionaires scrambled to get money out of their country and into New York City, where real estate provided a safe haven for overseas investors. [Added March 20, 2017]
  • October 1998: Demolition of a vacant office building near the United Nations headquarters was making way for Trump World Tower. Donald Trump began selling units in the skyscraper, which was scheduled to open in 2001 and became a prominent depository of Russian money. By 2004, one-third of the units sold on the 76th through 83rd floors of Trump World Tower involved people or limited liability companies connected to Russia or neighboring states. Assisting Trump’s sales effort was Ukrainian immigrant Semyon “Sam” Kislin, who issued mortgages to buyers of multimillion-dollar Trump World Tower apartments. In the late 1970s, Kislin had co-owned an appliance store with Georgian immigrant Tamir Sapir and they had sold 200 television sets to Donald Trump on credit. By the early 1990s, Kislin had become a wealthy commodities trader and campaign fundraiser for Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who in 1996 appointed him to the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Meanwhile, Sapir had made a fortune as a New York City real estate developer. [Added March 20, 2017]
  • 2000: Roger Stone served as chairman of Donald Trump’s presidential exploratory advisory committee. [Added March 27, 2017]
  • 2002: Russian-born Felix H. Sater and his company, Bayrock Group — a Trump Tower tenant — began working with Trump on a series of real estate development deals, one of which became the Trump SoHo. Another development partner in Trump SoHo was the Sapir Organization, founded by Tamir Sapir. [Revised March 20, 2017]
  • Also in 2002: Efforts to sell Russians apartments in Trump World Tower, Trump’s West Side condominiums, and Trump’s building on Columbus Circle expanded with presentations in Moscow involving Sotheby’s International Realty and a Russian realty firm. In addition to buying units in Trump World Tower, Russians and Russian-Americans flooded into another Trump-backed project in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida. In South Florida alone, members of the Russian elite invested more than $98 million in seven Trump-branded luxury towers. [Added March 20, 2017]
  • 2005: In a sworn deposition in 2008, Sater testified that Trump gave Bayrock Group an exclusive deal to develop a project in Russia. “I’d come back, pop my head into Mr. Trump’s office and tell him, you know, ‘Moving forward on the Moscow deal.’ And he would say ‘All right… I showed him photos, I showed him the site, showed him the view from the site. It’s pretty spectacular.” But that early effort to develop a Trump Tower in Moscow failed. [Added March 3, 2017.]
  • June 2005: Paul Manafort proposed that he undertake a consulting assignment for one of President Vladimir Putin’s billionaire oligarchs. Manafort suggested a strategy for influencing politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe, and former Soviet republics to benefit Putin’s government. [Added March 27, 2017]
  • February 2006: Two of Trump’s children, Don Jr. and Ivanka, traveled to Moscow. According to Sater, Donald Trump Sr. asked him to show them around: “He asked if I wouldn’t mind joining them and looking after them while they were in Moscow.” He summarized the attitude of Trump’s children as “nice, big city, great. Let’s do a deal here.” Ten years later — October 2016 — Trump Organization general counsel Alan Garten told Forbes that the presence of Sater and Trump’s adult children in Moscow at the same time had been a coincidence. [Added March 3, 2017.]
  • Sept. 19, 2007: As Trump spoke at the launch party for Trump SoHo, Sater and his Bayrock partner, Kazakhstan native Tevfik Arif, stood next to him. [Added March 3, 2017.]
  • Oct. 15, 2007: In an interview with Larry King, Trump said: “Look at Putin — what he’s doing with Russia — I mean, you know, what’s going on over there. I mean this guy has done — whether you like him or don’t like him — he’s doing a great job.”
  • July 2008: As the Florida real estate market began to crash, Trump sold a Florida residence to a Russian oligarch for $95 million, believed to be the biggest single-family home sale in US history. The Russian oligarch never lived in the house and, since then, it has been demolished. Three years earlier, Trump had bought the home at auction for $41 million. [Added March 3, 2017.]
  • September 2008, Donald Trump Jr. said: “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets… we see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”
  • January 2010—January 2011: After leaving Bayrock, Sater became “senior adviser to Donald Trump,” according to his Trump Organization business card. He also had a Trump Organization email address and office. The phone number listed on the card had belonged previously to a lawyer in Trump’s general counsel’s office. [Added March 3, 2017.]
  • June 18, 2013: Trump announced that the 2013 Miss Universe beauty pageant, which he owned, will take place in Moscow. The next day, he tweeted: “Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow — if so, will he become my new best friend?” While preparing for the pageant, Trump said, “I have plans for the establishment of business in Russia. Now, I am in talks with several Russian companies to establish this skyscraper.”
  • July 8, 2013: After a BBC reporter questioned Trump about Felix Sater’s alleged prior connections to organized crime, Trump ended the interview[Added March 3, 2017.]
  • Oct. 17, 2013: On The Late Show, David Letterman asked Trump, “Have you had any dealings with the Russians?” Trump answered, “Well I’ve done a lot of business with the Russians…” Letterman continued, “Vladmir Putin, have you ever met the guy?” Trump said, “He’s a tough guy. I met him once.”
  • Nov. 5, 2013: In a deposition, an attorney asked Trump about Felix Sater. “If he were sitting in the room right now, I really wouldn’t know what he looked like,” Trump answered. When asked how many times he had ever spoken with Sater, Trump said, “Not many.” When asked about his July 2013 BBC interview during which he was questioned about Sater’s alleged connections to organized crime, Trump said he didn’t remember it. [Added March 3, 2017.]
  • Nov. 11, 2013, Trump tweeted: “TRUMP TOWER-MOSCOW is next.”
  • November 2013: At the Miss Universe pageant, Trump said: “I do have a relationship [with Putin] and I can tell you that he’s very interested in what we’re doing here today… I do have a relationship with him… He’s done a very brilliant job in terms of what he represents and who he’s represented.” While Trump was in Moscow for the pageant, he and Alex Sapir (whose family’s company was one of the co-developers of Trump SoHo with Trump and Felix Sater) met with the Russian real estate developer who had facilitated Trump’s $20 million deal to host the Miss Universe contest in Moscow. They discussed plans for a new Trump project in Russia. “The Russian market is attracted to me,” Trump told Real Estate Weekly upon his return. “I have a great relationship with many Russians, and almost all of the oligarchs were in the room.”[Added March 3, 2017]
  • March 6, 2014: At the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference, Trump said: “You know, I was in Moscow a couple of months ago. I own the Miss Universe Pageant and they treated me so great. Putin even sent me a present, a beautiful present.” On the same day, President Obama signed an executive order imposing sanctions on Russia for its unlawful annexation of Crimea.
  • June 16, 2015: Trump announces he is running for president.
  • Aug. 6, 2015: The Trump campaign said it had fired Roger Stone; Stone claimed he’d quit. Either way, Stone remained a prominent Trump surrogate for the rest of the campaign. [Added March 27, 2017]
  • Aug. 21, 2015: Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions made a surprise appearance at a Donald Trump rally and donned a “Make America Great Cap.”
  • Sept. 2015: An FBI special agent contacted the Democratic National Committee to report that at least one DNC computer system had been hacked by an espionage team linked to the Russian government. The agent was transferred to a tech-support contractor at the help desk, who did a cursory check of DNC server logs and didn’t reply to follow-up calls from the FBI agent. [Added March 13, 2017]
  • Sept. 21, 2015: On Hugh Hewitt’s radio program, Trump said, “The oligarchs are under [Putin’s] control, to a large extent. I mean, he can destroy them, and he has destroyed some of them… Two years ago, I was in Moscow… I was with the top-level people, both oligarchs and generals, and top-of-the-government people. I can’t go further than that, but I will tell you that I met the top people, and the relationship was extraordinary.” [Added March 3, 2017.]
  • Sept. 29, 2015, Trump told Bill O’Reilly: “I will tell you in terms of leadership he [Putin] is getting an ‘A,’ and our president is not doing so well.”
  • Nov. 10, 2015: At a Republican primary debate, Trump said: “I got to know [Putin] very well because we were both on 60 Minutes. We were stablemates, and we did very well that night.”
  • Nov. 30, 2015: When an Associated Press reporter asked Trump about Felix Sater, he answered, “Felix Sater, boy, I have to even think about it. I’m not that familiar with him.” Trump referred questions about Sater to his staff. [Added March 3, 2017.]
  • Dec. 10, 2015: Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who would become Trump’s national security adviser, sat at Putin’s table for the 10th anniversary gala of Russia’s state-owned television propaganda network, RT. Flynn had made a paid appearance on the network. For his December speech, he netted $33,500 of the $45,000 paid to his speakers’ bureau. For all of 2015, Flynn received more than $65,000 from companies linked to Russia. [Revised March 20, 2017.]
  • Feb. 17, 2016: As questions about Russia swirled around Trump, he changed his story: “I have no relationship with [Putin], other than he called me a genius.”
  • Feb. 28, 2016: Jeff Sessions formally endorsed Donald Trump’s candidacy for president. Three days later, Trump named Sessions chairman of his campaign’s national security advisory committee. [Added March 3, 2017.]
  • Feb. 29, 2016: Paul Manafort submits a five-page, single-spaced, proposal to Trump. In it, he outlines his qualifications for helping Trump secure enough convention delegates to win the Republican presidential nomination. Manafort describes how he had assisted rich and powerful business and political leaders, including oligarchs and dictators in Russia and Ukraine: “I have managed presidential campaigns around the world.” [Added April 10, 2017.]
  • March 17, 2016: Jeff Sessions discussed Trump’s foreign policy positions, saying, “I think an argument can be made there is no reason for the US and Russia to be at this loggerheads. Somehow, someway we ought to be able to break that logjam. Strategically it’s not justified for either country.” [Added March 3, 2017.]
  • March 21, 2016: In a Washington Post interview, Trump identified Carter Page as one of his foreign policy advisers. Page had helped open the Moscow office of investment banking firm Merrill Lynch and had advised Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom, in which Page is an investor. He blamed US 2014 sanctions relating to Russia’s annexation of Ukraine for driving down Gazprom’s stock price. [Added March 6, 2017]
  • March 29, 2016: On Roger Stone’s recommendation, Paul Manafort joined the Trump campaign as convention manager, tasked with lining up delegates. [Added March 27, 2017]
  • April 20, 2016: Paul Manafort became Trump’s campaign manager. Reports surfaced about his 2007 to 2012 ties to Ukraine’s pro-Putin former president, whom Manafort had helped to elect.
  • Late April 2016: The Democratic National Committee’s IT department noticed suspicious computer activity, contacted the FBI, and hired a private security firm, CrowdStrike, to investigate. [Added March 13, 2017]
  • May 2016: CrowdStrike determined that highly sophisticated Russian intelligence-affiliated adversaries — denominated Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear — had been responsible for the DNC hack. Fancy Bear, in particular, had indicators of affiliation with Russia’s Main Intelligence Department (also know as the GRU). [Added March 13, 2017]
  • Early June 2016: At a closed-door gathering of high-powered foreign policy experts visiting with the prime minister of India, Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page hailed Vladimir Putin as stronger and more reliable than President Obama and touted the positive effect that a Trump presidency would have on US-Russia relations. [Added March 6, 2017]
  • May 19, 2016: Paul Manafort became Trump’s campaign chairman and chief strategist. [Added March 27, 2017]
  • June 15, 2016: A hacker with the online persona “Guccifer 2.0” claimed credit for the DNC hack and began posting internal DNC documents on the Guccifer 2.0 website. CrowdStrike reiterated its conclusion that the hack had been a Russian intelligence operation. [Added March 13, 2017]
  • July 6, 2016: Another batch of hacked DNC documents appeared on the Guccifer 2.0 website. [Added March 13, 2017]
  • July 7, 2016: In a lecture at the New Economic School in Moscow, Carter Page criticized American foreign policy. He said that many of the mistakes spoiling relations between the US and Russia “originated in my own country.” Page said he had sought and received permission from the Trump campaign to make the trip. [Revised March 20, 2017]
  • July 14, 2016: Another batch of hacked DNC documents appeared on the Guccifer 2.0 website. [Added March 13, 2017]
  • July 18, 2016: The Washington Post reported that the Trump campaign worked behind the scenes ahead of the Republican Convention on a plank of the 2016 Party Platform that gutted the GOP’s longstanding support for Ukrainians’ popular resistance to Russia’s 2014 intervention.
  • Also on July 18, 2016: At a Heritage Foundation event during the Republican Convention, Jeff Sessions spoke individually with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. [Added March 3, 2017.]
  • Also during the July 2016 Republican Convention: Carter Page and J.D. Gordon, national security advisers to the Trump Campaign, met with ambassador Kislyak. They stressed that Trump would like to improve relations with Russia. [Revised March 6, 2017]
  • July 22, 2016: On the eve of the Democratic National Convention, WikiLeaks released its first trove of emails stolen from the DNC.
  • July 24, 2016: When ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos asked whether there were any connections between the Trump campaign and Putin’s regime, Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort answered, “No, there are not. And you know, there’s no basis to it.” [Added March 6, 2017]
  • July 25, 2016: Trump tweeted, “The new joke in town is that Russia leaked the disastrous DNC emails, which should never have been written (stupid), because Putin likes me.” [Added March 3, 2017.]
  • July 27, 2016, At a press conference, Trump said: “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.” At the same press conference, he insisted: “I never met Putin. I’ve never spoken to him.” In an interview with CBS News, he reiterated: “But I have nothing to do with Russia, nothing to do, I never met Putin, I have nothing to do with Russia whatsoever.”
  • July 31, 2016: Manafort denied knowing anything about the change in the Republican platform. That afternoon, Boris Epshteyn, Trump’s Russian-born adviser, spouted the Kremlin’s party line telling CNN: “Russia did not seize Crimea. We can talk about the conflict that happened between Ukraine and the Crimea… But there was no seizure by Russia. That’s an incorrect statement, characterization, of what happened.”
  • Also on July 31, 2016: On CNN, Jeff Sessions defended Trump’s approach to Russia: “This whole problem with Russia is really disastrous for America, for Russia and for the world,” he said. “Donald Trump is right. We need to figure out a way to end this cycle of hostility that’s putting this country at risk, costing us billions of dollars in defense, and creating hostilities.” [Added March 3, 2017]
  • And also on July 31, 2016: Trump told ABC News that he was not involved in the Republican Party platform change that softened America’s position on Russia’s annexation of Ukraine. [Added March 6, 2017]
  • Aug. 5, 2016: Trump surrogate Roger Stone wrote an article for Breitbart News. Stone argued that Guccifer 2.0 had nothing to do with Russia. [Added March 13, 2017]
  • Aug. 6, 2016: NPR confirmed the Trump campaign’s involvement in the Republican platform change on Ukraine.
  • Aug. 12, 2016: A batch of hacked Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) documents appeared on the Guccifer 2.0 website. [Added March 13, 2017]
  • Aug. 13, 2016: After receiving complaints about the publication of private information, Twitter and wordpress.com (host for the Guccifer 2.0 website) suspended the Guccifer 2.0 accounts. [Added March 13, 2017]
  • Aug. 14, 2016: Roger Stone tweeted, “[N]ow Guccifer 2.0 — why are those exposing the truth banned?” Without explanation, Twitter reinstated the Guccifer 2.0 account. In a private message to Guccifer 2.0, Roger Stone wrote “Delighted you are reinstated. Fuck the State and their MSM lackeys.” [Added March 13, 2017]
  • Aug. 15, 2016: Continuing their private exchange, Guccifer 2.0 responded to Stone: “wow thank u for writing back and thank you for an article about me!!! do u find anything interesting in the docs I posted?” [Added March 13, 2017]
  • Also on Aug. 15, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 released hacked DCCC documents on primaries in Florida. [Added March 13, 2017]
  • Aug. 16, 2016: Stone published an article in The Hill and asked Guccifer 2.0 to retweet it, “PLZ RT: How the election can be rigged against Donald Trump — thehill.com/blogs/pundits-…” Guccifer 2.0 responded: “done” and “I read u’d been hacked” [Added March 13, 2017]
  • Aug. 17, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 sent another private message to Stone: “I’m pleased to say that u r great man and I think I gonna read ur books” “please tell me if I can help u anyhow it would be a great pleasure to me.” [Added March 13, 2017]
  • Aug. 19, 2016: As reports of Manafort’s financial connections to Ukraine intensified, he resigned from the Trump campaign.
  • Aug. 21, 2016: Trump surrogate Roger Stone tweeted, “Trust me, it will soon the Podesta’s time in the barrel. #CrookedHillary” [Added March 13, 2017]
  • Also on Aug. 21, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 posted hacked DCCC documents on Pennsylvania’s congressional primaries. [Added March 13, 2017]
  • Aug. 31, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 posted documents hacked from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s personal computer. [Added March 13, 2017]
  • Sept. 8, 2016: Jeff Sessions met Russian ambassador Kislyak in his Senate office. [Added March 3, 2017.]
  • Sept. 9, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 sent Roger Stone a link to a blog post about voter turnout, along with this message: “hi what do u think of the info on the turnout model for the democrats entire presidential campaign? Basically how it works is there are people who will vote party line no matter what and there are folks who will actually make a decision. The basic premise of winning an election is turnout your base (marked turnout) and target the marginal folks with persuadable advertising (marked persuadable). They spend millions calculating who is persuadable or what we call a ‘soft democrat’ and who is a ‘hard democrat.’” [Added March 13, 2017]
  • Sept. 15, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 posted hacked DCCC documents on New Hampshire, Ohio, Illinois and North Carolina. [Added March 13, 2017]
  • Sept. 23, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 posted hacked DCCC documents on chairman Rep. Ben Ray Lujan. [Added March 13, 2017]
  • Oct. 1, 2016: Six days before WikiLeaks released emails that Russian hackers had acquired from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s email account, Trump’s informal adviser and surrogate Roger Stone tweeted: “Wednesday@HillaryClinton is done. #Wikileaks.”
  • Oct. 4, 2016: Trump tweeted: “CLINTON’S CLOSE TIES TO PUTIN DESERVE SCRUTINY.”
  • Also on Oct. 4, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 posted documents hacked from the Clinton Foundation. [Added March 13, 2017]
  • Oct. 7, 2016: In a joint statement, the Department of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence said, “The US Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of emails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations… We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.” But two other stories dominated the news cycle: WikiLeaks began publishing stolen emails from the account of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, and Trump’s infamous Access Hollywood tapes became public.
  • Oct. 12, 2016: Roger Stone told NBC News, “I have back-channel communications with WikiLeaks.”
  • Oct. 19, 2016: During the third presidential debate, Trump dismissed the Oct. 7 US intelligence findings: “[Clinton] has no idea whether it is Russia, China or anybody else… Our country has no idea.” And he said this: “I don’t know Putin. I have no idea… I never met Putin. This is not my best friend.”
  • Oct. 30, 2016: According to reporting by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, the $100 million plane belonging to the Russian oligarch who had bought a Florida residence from Trump for $95 million in 2008 was in Las Vegas on the same day Trump was holding a rally there. [Added March 6, 2017]
  • Oct. 31, 2016: Asked about news reports that the FBI was investigating connections between the Trump campaign and Russia, former campaign manager Manafort said, “None of it is true… There’s no investigation going on by the FBI that I’m aware of.” [Added March 6, 2017]
  • Nov. 3, 2016: According to reporting by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, the plane belonging to the Russian oligarch who had bought a Florida residence from Trump for $95 million in 2008 was at the single-runaway airport near Concord, North Carolina, where Trump was holding a rally. [Added March 6, 2017]
  • Nov. 8, 2016: Election Day.
  • Nov. 9, 2016: After Putin announced Trump’s election victory, Russia’s Parliament erupted in applause.
  • Nov. 10, 2016: Russia’s deputy foreign minister admitted that during the campaign, the Kremlin had continuing communications with Trump’s “immediate entourage.”
  • Early December 2016: In Moscow, Russians arrested a Russian computer security expert and two high-level intelligence officers who worked on cyber operations. They were charged with treason for providing information to the United States. The arrests amounted to a purge of the cyber wing of the FSB, successor to the KGB and the main Russian intelligence agency. [Added March 3, 2017.]
  • Also in December 2016: Officials in the Obama administration became concerned that the incoming administration would cover up or destroy previously gathered intelligence relating Russia’s interference with the election. To preserve that intelligence for future investigations, they spread it across the government. [Added March 3, 2017.]
  • Also in December 2016: Russian ambassador Kislyak met at Trump Tower with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Trump’s NSA-designate Michael Flynn. [Added March 3, 2017.]
  • Dec. 8, 2016: Carter Page was in Moscow for several days to meet with “business leaders and thought leaders.” [Added March 6, 2017]
  • Dec. 9, 2016: In response to a Washington Post report that the CIA had concluded Russia had intervened in the election to help Trump win, he said, “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and ‘Make America Great Again.’ ”
  • Dec. 11, 2016: Trump praised Rex Tillerson, chairman of ExxonMobil and recipient of Russia’s “Order of Friendship” Medal from Vladimir Putin in 2013, as “much more than a business executive” and a “world-class player.” Trump said Tillerson “knows many of the players” and did “massive deals in Russia” for Exxon. Two days later, Trump nominated him to be secretary of state.
  • Also on Dec. 11, 2016: Asked about the earlier US intelligence report on hacking, Trump said, “They have no idea if it’s Russia or China or somebody. It could be somebody sitting in a bed some place. I mean, they have no idea.”
  • Dec. 12, 2016: While in Moscow, Trump’s former campaign surrogate Jack Kingston met with Russian businessmen to discuss what they might expect from a Trump administration. “Trump can look at sanctions,” Kingston said. “They’ve been in place long enough.” [Added March 3, 2017.]
  • Dec. 13, 2016: NBC News’ Richard Engel reports from Moscow on Trump’s secretary of state pick, Rex Tillerson. Former Russian Energy Minister Vladimir Milov told Engel that Tillerson was a “gift for Putin.”
  • Dec. 29, 2016: On the same day that President Obama announced sanctions against Russian in retaliation for its interference in the 2016 election, national security adviser-designate Lt. Gen. Flynn placed five phone calls to the Russian ambassador.
  • Dec. 30, 2016: After Putin made a surprise announcement that Russia would not retaliate for the new sanctions, Trump tweeted, “Great move on delay (by V. Putin) — I always knew he was very smart.”
  • Jan. 3Jan. 4 and Jan. 5, 2017: Trump tweeted a series of attacks on the integrity of the US intelligence community’s findings that Russia had hacked the election.
  • Jan. 6, 2017: The CIA, FBI and NSA released their unclassified report, concluding unanimously, “Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election.” The three intelligence agencies agreed that “the Russian government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible.” The report also stated that WikiLeaks had been Russia’s conduit for the effort, writing “We assess with high confidence that Russian military intelligence (General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate or GRU) used the Guccifer 2.0 persona and DCLeaks.com to release US victim data obtained in cyber operations publicly and in exclusives to media outlets and relayed material to WikiLeaks.” [Updated March 13, 2017]
  • Jan. 10, 2017: At Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing to become attorney general, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) asked him, “If there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?” Sessions answered: “I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.” [Updated March 4, 2017.]
  • Jan. 11, 2017: At his first news conference, Trump said, “As far as hacking, I think it was Russia. But I think we also get hacked by other countries and other people.” The final question of Trump’s first news conference came from Ann Compton of ABC News: “Mr. President-elect, can you stand here today, once and for all, and say that no one connected to you or your campaign had any contact with Russia leading up to or during the presidential campaign?” Trump never answered her. Away from cameras and heading toward the elevators, he reportedly said, “No,” his team didn’t have contact with Russia.
  • Jan. 13, 2017: In response to The Washington Post’s article about Flynn’s Dec. 29 conversations with the Russian ambassador, press secretary Sean Spicer said it was only one call. They “exchanged logistical information” for an upcoming call between Trump and Vladimir Putin after the inauguration.
  • Jan. 15, 2017: “We should trust Putin,” Trump told The Times of London. Expressing once again his skepticism about NATO, Trump lambasted Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel.
  • Also on Jan. 15, 2017: Appearing on CBS’ Face the Nation, Vice President Pence said Flynn’s call to the Russian ambassador on the same day President Obama announced new sanctions was “strictly coincidental,” explaining: “They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure on Russia…. What I can confirm, having to spoken with [Flynn] about it, is that those conversations that happened to occur around the time that the United States took action to expel diplomats had nothing whatsoever to do with those sanctions.”
  • Jan. 19, 2017: The New York Times reported that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, along with advisers Roger Stone and Carter Page, were under investigation in connection with possible links to Russia. [Added March 3, 2017.]
  • Jan. 20, 2017: Trump is inaugurated. [Added March 3, 2017.]
  • Jan. 22, 2017: Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn was sworn in as national security adviser, a position that does not require Senate confirmation.
  • Jan. 23, 2017: At Sean Spicer’s first press briefing, Spicer said that none of Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador touched on the Dec. 29 sanctions. That got the attention of FBI Director James Comey. According to The Wall Street Journal, Comey convinced acting Attorney General Sally Yates to delay informing the White House immediately about the discrepancy between Spicer’s characterization of Flynn’s calls and US intelligence intercepts showing that the two had, in fact, discussed sanctions. Comey reportedly asked Yates to wait a bit longer so that the FBI could develop more information and speak with Flynn himself. The FBI interviewed Flynn shortly thereafter.
  • Jan. 24, 2017: According to a subsequent article in The Washington Post, Flynn reportedly denied to FBI agents that he had discussed US sanctions against Russia in his December 2016 calls with the Russian ambassador.
  • Jan. 26, 2017: Acting Attorney General Sally Yates informed White House counsel Don McGahn that Flynn had made misleading statements about his late December conversations with the Russian ambassador. Sean Spicer later said Trump and a small group of White House advisers were “immediately informed of the situation.”
  • Late January 2017: At the Manhattan Loews Regency hotel on Park Avenue, Trump’s personal attorney, Michael D. Cohen, met with Felix Sater and Andrii Artemenko, a pro-Putin lawmaker from Ukraine. Artemenko and Sater gave Cohen a peace plan whereby Russia would lease Ukraine for 50 or 100 years and, eventually, get relief from US sanctions. According to The New York Times, Cohen said he would give the plan to NSA Michael Flynn. Responding to questions from The Washington Post, Cohen denied that statement, calling it “fake news.” [Added March 3, 2017.]
  • Jan. 30, 2017: Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates. According to his statement, the reason was that she had “betrayed the Department of Justice” by refusing to defend Trump’s travel ban in court.
  • Feb. 8, 2017: Flynn told reporters at The Washington Post he did not discuss US sanctions in his December conversation with the Russian ambassador.
  • Also on Feb. 8, 2017: Jeff Sessions, the first senator to endorse Trump’s candidacy and the former chair of the Trump campaign’s national security advisory committee, became attorney general. Every Republican senator and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia voted to confirm him. During the confirmation process, Sessions had said he was “not aware of a basis to recuse myself” from the Justice Department’s Russia-related investigations of Trump.
  • Feb. 9, 2017: Through a spokesman, Flynn changed his position: “While [Flynn] had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.”
  • Feb. 10, 2017: Trump told reporters he was unaware of reports surrounding Flynn’s December conversations with the Russian ambassador.
  • Also on Feb. 10, 2017: On the Friday preceding Trump’s weekend at Mar-A-Lago, the plane belonging to the Russian oligarch who had bought a Florida residence from Trump for $95 million in 2008 flew from the south of France to Miami International Airport. [Added March 6, 2017]
  • Feb. 13, 2017: The Washington Post broke another story: Then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates had warned the White House in late January that Flynn had mischaracterized his December conversation with the Russian ambassador, and that it made him vulnerable to Russian blackmail. Later that evening, Flynn resigned.
  • Feb. 14, 2017: The New York Times corroborated the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister’s admission on Nov. 10. Based on information from four current and former American officials, The Times reported, “Members of the Trump campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior intelligence officials in the year before the election.” Meanwhile, advisers to Attorney General Jeff Sessions reiterated his earlier position: Sessions saw no need to recuse himself from the ongoing Justice Department investigations into the Trump/Russia connections.
  • Also on Feb. 14, 2017: Press secretary Sean Spicer denied that anyone in the Trump campaign had any contacts with Russia during the campaign. [Added March 3, 2017.]
  • Feb. 15, 2017: Trump tweeted a series of outbursts attacking the Trump/Russia connection as “nonsense,” diverting attention to “un-American” leaks in which “information is illegally given out by ‘intelligence’ like candy.” Shortly thereafter, Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz and other congressional Republicans formally asked the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate the leaks, but they and their GOP colleagues resisted the creation of an independent bipartisan commission with the power to convene public hearings and discover the truth about the Trump/Russia connections.
  • Also on Feb. 15, 2017: During an afternoon appearance with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump refused to answer questions about connections between his presidential campaign and Russia. That evening, The New York Times reported that Trump was planning to appoint Stephen Feinberg, a billionaire hedge fund manager and Trump ally, to lead “a broad review of American intelligence agencies.” Feinberg has no prior experience in intelligence or government, but he has close ties to Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner.
  • And also on Feb. 15, 2017: Chief of staff Reince Priebus asked FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to rebut publicly The New York Times’ story about Trump aides’ contacts with Russia during the campaign. McCabe and FBI Director Comey refused. The White House then asked senior intelligence officials and key lawmakers — including the chairmen of the Senate and House intelligence committees conducting the Trump/Russia investigation — to contact the media and counter the Times story themselves. [Added March 3, 2017.]
  • And also on Feb. 15, 2017: Former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page denied having any meetings in 2016 with Russian officials inside or outside Russia: “I had no meetings, no meetings.” [Added March 6, 2017]
  • Feb. 16, 2017: Trump continued his diversionary twitter assault on the intelligence leaks that were fueling intensified scrutiny of his Russia connections. At Trump’s afternoon press conference, he said: “I own nothing in Russia. I have no loans in Russia. I don’t have any deals in Russia… Russia is fake news. Russia — this is fake news put out by the media.” Reporters asked repeatedly about anyone else involved with Trump or his campaign. “No,” Trump said. “Nobody that I know of.”
  • Feb. 17, 2017: FBI Director Comey met privately with members of the Senate Intelligence Committee to discuss the Russia investigation. Immediately thereafter, the Committee sent a letter asking more than a dozen agencies, organizations and individuals — including the White House — to preserve all communications related to the Senate panel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. [Added March 3, 2017.]
  • Also on Feb. 17, 2017: The Senate Intelligence Committee sent Roger Stone a letter asking him to preserve any records he had in connection with the Committee’s inquiry into Russia’s interference in the US election. [Added March 20, 2017]
  • Feb. 20 — 26, 2017: Trump continued his attacks on the media and the FBI leaks that were generating the Trump/Russia stories. [Added March 3, 2017.]
  • Feb. 25, 2017: Nigel Farage, ex-leader of the UK Independence Party, key Brexit campaigner and one of Donald Trump’s most visible foreign supporters during and after the presidential campaign, dined with Trump, daughter Ivanka, son-in-law Jared Kushner and Florida Gov. Rick Scott at the Trump International Hotel in Washington. [Added March 13, 2017]
  • Feb. 26, 2017: NBC’s Chuck Todd noted a pattern: Trump’s attacks on the press followed immediately after a new and unflattering Trump/Russia story breaks. [Added March 3, 2017.]
  • Feb. 28, 2017: On a party line vote, the House Judiciary Committee killed Rep. Jerrold Nadler’s Resolution of Inquiry calling for Trump to provide documents relating to Trump/Russia connections and his business conflicts of interest. [Added March 3, 2017.]
  • Also on Feb. 28, 2017: More than 10 days after the Senate Intelligence Committee had requested that the White House and other agencies preserve Trump/Russia-related communications, the White House counsel’s office instructed Trump’s aides to preserve such materials, according to a March 1 report by the Associated Press[Added March 3, 2017.]
  • March 1, 2017: In response to reports in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times about Jeff Sessions’ pre-election contacts with the Russian ambassador, Sessions issued a statement saying he “never met with any Russian officials to discuss any issues of the campaign.” [Added March 3, 2017.]
  • March 2, 2017: Trump said he has “total confidence” in Jeff Sessions and he shouldn’t recuse himself from the Russia investigation. An hour later, Sessions recused himself “from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for President of the United States.” [Revised March 13, 2017]
  • Also March 2, 2017: Despite an earlier denial, former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page admitted to meeting with Russian ambassador Kislyak during the campaign. Another adviser, J.D. Gordon, admitted that he’d met with Kislyak during the Republican Convention in July. Gordon said he had successfully urged changes in the party platform that Trump had sought to soften US policy regarding Ukraine. [Added March 6, 2017]
  • March 4, 2017:  Trump is reportedly furious that Jeff Sessions had recused himself from the Trump/Russia investigation. He unleashes a tweet-storm, claiming that President Obama had wiretapped his phones during the presidential campaign. Stunned by Trump’s outburst, White House staffers begin searching for evidence to support his false wiretap claim. Among those reportedly involved in the effort are White House Counsel Donald McGahn II and Ezra Cohen-Watnick, a 30-year-old Trump transition team member whom former national security adviser Mike Flynn had brought to the White House as senior director for intelligence programs. [Revised April 3, 2017]
  • March 5, 2017: FBI Director Comey asked the Justice Department to rebut publicly Trump’s assertion that President Obama had ordered the wiretapping of Trump’s phones. Meanwhile, Sean Spicer announced that neither Trump nor the White House would comment further on Trump/Russia matters until Congress completed an investigation into whether President Obama’s executive branch abused its powers during 2016 election. [Added March 6, 2017]
  • March 7, 2017: WikiLeaks released a trove of alleged CIA documents relating to the agency’s hacking tools for smartphones, computers, and internet-connected devices. [Added March 13, 2017]
  • Also on March 7, 2017: Michael Ellis, 32-year-old general counsel to Nunes’ intelligence committee, joins White House Counsel McGahn’s office as “special assistant to the president, senior associate counsel to the president and deputy National Security Council legal adviser.” [Added April 3, 2017]
  • March 8, 2017: Nigel Farage met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, at the Embassy of Ecuador in London, where Assange had found sanctuary since 2012. [Added March 13, 2017]
  • March 9, 2017: In an online press conference, Assange threatened to release more documents relating to CIA’s hacking capabilities and methods. [Added March 13, 2017]
  • Also on March 9, 2017: When reporters asked Sean Spicer about Nigel Farage’s meeting with Julian Assange and whether Farage was delivering a message from Trump, Sean Spicer said, “I have no idea.” [Added March 13, 2017]
  • March 10, 2017: Trump campaign surrogate Roger Stone admitted that in August 2016 he had engaged in private direct messaging with Guccifer 2.0, whom US intelligence agencies had later identified as the persona for the Russian hacking operation. Describing the messages as “completely innocuous,” Stone said, “It was so perfunctory, brief and banal I had forgotten it.” [Added March 13, 2017]
  • Also on March 10, 2017: Mike Flynn’s replacement as NSA, H.R. McMaster, told Ezra Cohen-Watnick that he was reassigning him. Unhappy with the decision, Cohen-Watnick appealed to Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner. They intervened and took the issue to Trump, who ordered that Cohen-Watnick should remain in his position. [Added April 3, 2017]
  • Also on March 10, 2017: Mike Flynn’s replacement as national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, tells Ezra Cohen-Watnick that he’s reassigning him. Unhappy with the decision, Cohen-Watnick appeals to Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner. They intervene and take the issue to Trump, who orders that Cohen-Watnick should remain in his position. [Added April 3, 2017]
  • March 12, 2017: John McCain told CNN’s Jake Tapper that former Trump adviser and surrogate Roger Stone “obviously” needed to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee concerning his communications with Guccifer 2.0. McCain said that Stone should also explain fully his involvement matters relating to Ukraine’s pro-Putin former president. [Added March 20, 2017]
  • March 13, 2017: Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr said Roger Stone’s communications with Guccifer 2.0 were part of the Committee’s ongoing investigation and that Stone could be called to testify. [Added March 20, 2017]
  • March 14, 2017: House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes and ranking member Adam Schiff invite former acting Attorney General Sally Yates to testify before their committee at an open hearing on March 28, 2017. [Added April 3, 2017]
  • March 15, 2017: Roger Stone was riding in the front passenger seat of a car near Pompano Beach, Florida, when another car broadsided his, shifted gears, backed up and sped away. In January, Stone had claimed that he was poisoned in late 2016 with polonium, a radioactive material manufactured in a nuclear reactor and used to kill former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko in 2006. Litvinenko had defected to Britain and become an outspoken critic of Putin. As he lay in a hospital bed, he said that Putin had been responsible for his impending death. On Jan. 21, 2016, retired British High Court Judge Sir Robert Owen concluded a House of Commons inquiry and issued a 328-page report finding that Litvinenko’s accusation was probably correct. [Added March 20, 2017]
  • Also on March 15, 2017: The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, said the committee had no evidence to support Trump’s March 4 wiretapping claim. “I don’t think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower,” Nunes said. “Are you going to take the tweets literally? If you are, clearly the president is wrong.” [Added March 20, 2017]
  • Also on March 15, 2017: On the subject of his wiretapping claims, Trump tells Fox News, “I think you’re going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.” [Added April 3, 2017]
  • March 16, 2017: Senate Intelligence Committee leaders issued a joint statement rebutting Trump’s unfounded assertion that President Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower: “Based on the information available to us, we see no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016.” [Added March 20, 2017]
  • March 17, 2017: Roger Stone said he had only just received the letter from the Senate Intelligence Committee, dated Feb. 17, asking him to preserve his records relating to Russian election interference. Quoted in The New York Times, Stone said, “I had never heard allegations that Guccifer 2.0 was a Russian asset until now, and am not certain it’s correct.” He said that his 16 interactions with Guccifer 2.0, which included public Twitter posts and private messages, were all part of “exchanges,” not “separate contacts.” [Added March 20, 2017]
  • March 20, 2017: On the morning of FBI Director Comey’s testimony before Congress on his agency’s investigation into Russian election interference, Trump tweeted: “The Democrats made up and pushed the Russian story as an excuse for running a terrible campaign. Big advantage in Electoral College & lost!” Hours later, Comey testified that the FBI was investigating Russian interference with election, including “the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.” With respect to Trump’s wiretapping claims, Comey said, “I have no information that supports those tweets.” [Added March 20, 2017]
  • March 20, 2017: In a House Intelligence Committee public hearing, Paul Manafort’s name came up more than two dozen times. [Added March 27, 2017]
  • March 21, 2017: In his daily press briefing, Sean Spicer said that, with respect to the Trump campaign, Paul Manafort had “played a very limited role for a very limited period of time.” [Added March 27, 2017]
  • March 22, 2017: Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, bypassed his fellow committee members and went directly to the White House with alleged evidence that Trump associates may have been “incidentally” swept up in foreign surveillance by American spy agencies. Nunes refused to release the information or name his sources, even to fellow committee members. And he confirmed that he still had seen no evidence to support Trump’s claim that President Obama had ordered his wires tapped. [Added March 27, 2017]
  • March 23, 2017: In a letter to acting Assistant Attorney General Samuel R. Ramer, Sally Yates’ lawyer disagrees with the Justice Department’s objections to Yates’ anticipated congressional testimony. Associate Deputy Attorney General Scott Schools responds that Yates’ testimony is “likely covered by the presidential communications privilege and possibly the deliberative process privilege.” But Schools adds that Yates needs only the consent of the White House, not the Justice Department, to testify. [Added April 3, 2017]
  • March 24, 2017: Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Roger Stone volunteered to be interviewed by the House Intelligence Committee. [Added March 27, 2017]
  • Also on March 24, 2017: Yates’ lawyer writes to White House Counsel McGahn about Yates’ upcoming testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. He notes that unless McGahn objects before 10 a.m. on March 27, Yates will appear and answer the committee’s questions. [Added April 3, 2017]
  • Also on March 24, 2017: Rep. Nunes cancelled public hearings scheduled for March 28. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan and former acting Attorney General Sally Yates had been slated to testify before his committee. Nunes postponed their appearances indefinitely. [Added March 27, 2017]
  • March 26, 2017: In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Roger Stone said, “I reiterate again, I have had no contacts or collusions with the Russians. And my exchange with Guccifer 2.0, based on the content and the timing, most certainly does not constitute collusion.”[Added March 27, 2017]
  • March 27, 2017: Trump tweets that the House Intelligence Committee should be looking into Bill and Hillary Clinton’s ties to Russia: “Trump Russia story is a hoax.” [Added April 3, 2017]
  • March 30, 2017: The Senate Intelligence Committee opens its hearings into the Trump/Russia investigation. Clinton Watts, senior fellow at George Washington University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security and former FBI agent, testifies that the committee should follow the money funding misinformation websites. Watts then adds a more ominous suggestion: “Follow the trail of dead Russians,” he says. “There’s been more dead Russians in the past three months that are tied to this investigation who have assets in banks all over the world. They are dropping dead, even in Western countries.” Eight Russian politicians, activists, ambassadors and a former intelligence official have died since Trump’s election. Some were apparent assassinations. [Added April 3, 2017]
  • Also March 30, 2017: The New York Times reports that Nunes’ sources for the information that he’d reviewed nine days earlier on White House grounds — and then reported to Trump directly without informing anyone on his committee — are two members of the Trump administration: Ezra Cohen-Watnick (the NSC staffer whose job Trump had saved personally around March 13) and Michael Ellis (who had served as general counsel of Nunes’ committee before becoming Trump’s “special assistant, senior associate counsel and deputy National Security Council legal adviser” on March 7) [Added April 3, 2017]
  • Also on March 30, 2017: The Wall Street Journal reports that Mike Flynn is seeking immunity from prosecution in return for testifying before congressional intelligence committees. The next day, his lawyer confirms, “Gen. Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should circumstances permit.” [Added April 3, 2017]
  • March 31, 2017: Trump tweets, “Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!”[Added April 3, 2017]
  • Also on March 31, 2017: During an appearance with Bill Maher, Roger Stone denies that Guccifer 2.0 was an arm of Russia. “I’ve had no contacts with Russians,” he insists. [Added April 3, 2017]
  • April 5, 2017: In an interview with The New York Times, Trump says, “The Russia story is a total hoax.” [Added April 10, 2017]
  • April 6, 2017: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) recuses himself from the Trump/Russia investigation. Texas Rep. Mike Conaway assumes control. [Added April 10, 2017]

This is part of a series by Steven Harper. Read the other posts in the series: Trump Resistance Plan.