Donald Trump Russia Quotes
Donald Trump Russia Quotes Timeline
These are Donald Trump quotes about Russia and his apparent collusion with Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin, elements of the KGB and GRU, and that entire, vast, shadowy communist enterprise. For people in a hurry, I'm going to start with the "Top Ten Donald Trump Russia Quotes and Facts" in a mini-timeline format, concentrating on things Trump and his children said before their story changed radically after he elected to run for president. I will then follow with an expanded list of Trump Russia quotes and a more detailed timeline that begins with the birth of Frederick Trumpf (or Drumpf) in Germany in 1869 and traces how the Trumps made a fortune by operating brothels, only to be evicted from Germany for tax evasion and draft dodging. Ironically, the Trumps were refugees taken in by the United States! The Trump family business was operated according to mob principles (complete loyalty and obedience to the don, or in this case, The Donald). Russia did not enter the picture accidentally, but actually made Trump their primary target on the first day Soviet ambassador Yuri Dubinin set foot in New York, in 1986. Since then Trump has been helping Vladimir Putin complete his bucket list by withdrawing the U.S. from Ronald Reagan's landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, damning NATO and our our major allies, preferring Russian propaganda to American intelligence, repealing Russian sanctions, pulling American troops out of Syria and Afghanistan in helter-skelter fashion, etc.
The Top Ten Donald Trump Russia Quotes (a Mini-Timeline)
1986: "The Russian market is attracted to me!"
But how did the mutual attraction start? Soviet ambassador Yuri Dubinin sought out Trump on his first day in New York in 1986 and "hooked" him, per his daughter Natalia's personal recollection. It was Dubinin who later planted the idea of a Moscow Trump Tower in Trump's brain and persuaded him to visit Moscow, where he slept in the Lenin suite of a KGB-monitored hotel. Hence the "pee tape" or something like it might very well exist. (*)
1996: "Tremendous financial commitments!" with "almost all of the oligarchs in the room!"
After 20 years of seeking to build a Moscow Trump Tower, it finally seems like a reality when Trump announces a $250 million investment at a 1996 news conference in Moscow, citing "tremendous financial commitments!" An article in the Moscow Times lauds Trump as the city's first grand builder since Stalin. Trump describes one meeting where "almost all of the oligarchs were in the room." Trump would host cocktail parties in Moscow to recruit Russian investors and buyers. Trump would also trademark his name in Russia in 1996. In fact, four of the trademarks were officially renewed the day he was elected president!
2007: "It's ridiculous that I wouldn't be investing in Russia." — Donald Trump, testifying under oath in 2007
Trump also said under oath that there would be a Trump International Hotel and Tower in "Moscow, Kiev, Istanbul, etc., Poland, Warsaw." Trump had been doing major real estate deals with Bayrock, a company whose principals had apparent ties to the Russian mob. Those ties were exposed when Bayrock's director of finance revealed them in a 2010 lawsuit. (**)
2007: Trump launches his Trump Super Premium Vodka brand in Moscow.
2008: "We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia." — Donald Trump Jr., speaking in Moscow, Sept. 15, 2008
2008: "Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. — Donald Trump Jr., speaking in Moscow, Sept. 15, 2008
2008: According to Felix Sater, while visiting the Kremlin, pampered Ivanka Trump sits and spins in Vladimir Putin's chair! Who does that?
2013: "I've done a lot of business with the Russians." — Donald Trump, Oct. 17, 2013
2013: I have plans for the establishment of business in Russia. Now, I am in talks with several Russian companies to establish this skyscraper. — Donald Trump, Nov. 9, 2013, discussing the Trump Tower Moscow Project in an interview with RT (Russia Today)
2014: We don't rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia. — Eric Trump in 2014, explaining how the Trumps were able to expand their golf holdings during a major financial crisis when American banks refused to make such loans to anyone, much less the Trumps
Anyone reading these quotes would not get the impression that Trump had "nothing to do with Russia," no knowledge or Russia, no dealings with Russia, and no possibility of any deals with Russia whatsoever, as he would later claim.
(*) Please see the expanded Timeline for fascinating details about how Trump was recruited by Yuri Dubinin, as witnessed by his daughter Natalia after she picked him up at the airport on his first day in NYC. The Soviet ambassador had her drive him straight from the airport to Trump Tower, making a beeline for the perfect American kompromat. It was Dubinin who first planted the idea of a Moscow Trump Tower in Donald Trump's acquisitive little brain, then invited him to stay (probably for "free") in the Lenin suite of a hotel run and monitored by the KGB, complete with cameras, listening devices and other compromising paraphernalia. Politico called Dubinin's offer "a classic cultivation exercise, which would have had the KGB's full support and approval." And it's very interesting, and perhaps not coincidental, that after Trump returned from Russia, he first began to talk about running for president. Was that idea also planted in the Trump brain by Russian operatives skilled in the dark arts of manipulation? Did the KGB start prepping Trump to become Russia's man in the White House more than 30 years ago?
(**) How did Trump finance the YUGE real estate deals that he put together with Bayrock? Here's a tantalizing clue. In a lawsuit filed on May 10, 2010 over Trump Soho, Bayrock's director of finance, Jody Kriss, accused Bayrock and its principals of fraud. In the lawsuit, Kriss alleged that funding for Trump's big projects with Bayrock arrived "magically" from sources in Russia and Kazakhstan whenever the business was running short of cash: "Month after month, for two years, in fact more frequently, whenever Bayrock ran out of cash, Bayrock Holdings would magically show up with a wire from "somewhere" just large enough to keep the company going. Without those wires, Bayrock could not have turned the lights on, literally. No sane, let alone reasonable, lender would have lent money to Bayrock, particularly unsecured, in these conditions, and of course this being Bayrock, no interest was ever paid or accrued that shows, at least clearly, anywhere on the books." The lawsuit also alleged that Bayrock was "substantially and covertly mob-owned and operated."
Why the Trump Flip-Flop?
Before he became president, Trump and his children bragged about their Russian connections and all the money they had "pouring" in from Russian sources. But how much of the money was being laundered? How much of it came from highly questionable sources: the Russian Mafia, mobsters, oligarchs, perhaps even the Kremlin in order to compromise the recipients? After Trump and his companies defaulted on around $1 billion in debt, American banks and Wall Street refused to lend to Trump. Did Russians step in to fill the void? If so, what did they demand in return? How much "leverage" did they have to get Trump to do their bidding? If anyone knows, it's probably Robert Mueller. But what we do know is that Trump has completely changed his tune about his extensive business dealings in Russia. He now insists: "I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA — NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!"
Amid all the political intrigue, we shouldn't forget about the human cost. Anastasia Vashukevich (above) is a Belarusian model who had an affair with billionaire Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and apparently learned too much about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. She discovered that Deripaska "had a plan" about the American election. We now know that Deripaska was being briefed on the election by Paul Manafort, who owed him millions of dollars and wanted to get "whole." Vashukevich has been arrested by Russian authorities and her life may be in danger. She's just one of many "little people" who have to suffer as Trump feeds and massages his massive ego.
Donald Trump Russia Quotes (Expanded)
I have no deals that could happen in Russia, because we've stayed away. — Donald Trump
It's ridiculous that I wouldn't be investing in Russia. — Donald Trump, testifying under oath in a 2007 court deposition
Trump announced plans for a $250 million investment at a November 1996 news conference in Moscow. At the time he mentioned "tremendous financial commitments" and made it sound like a blockbuster deal. In 2008 his son Donald Trump Jr. told eTurboNews that he had traveled to Russia six times in 18 months, working on prospective deals there. While in Moscow, Trump Jr. informed investors that the Trump Organization had trademarked the Donald Trump name in Russia and planned to build Trump-branded housing and hotels in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Sochi. In reality, Donald Trump Sr. has been trying very hard to build a Moscow Trump Tower for 30 years. He hasn't "stayed away" but seems more like a moth drawn to an irresistible but very dangerous flame.
I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING! — Donald Trump, Jan. 11, 2017, on Twitter in ANGRY CAPS
But in 2014 Eric Trump told golf reporter James Dodson that the Trump Organization was able to expand its golf holdings during a major financial crisis when American banks refused to make such loans, because "We don't rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia." Each golf course on the average would cost around $100 million, so Eric Trump was talking about YUGE sums of money being provided "out of Russia." Was Russia laundering money through golf courses?
I have no deals with Russia. — Donald Trump
We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia. — Donald Trump Jr., speaking in Moscow, Sept. 15, 2008
According to a Bloomberg investigation into Trump World Tower, which broke ground in 1998, "a third of units sold ... involved people or limited liability companies connected to Russia and neighboring states." Trump World Tower sales agent Debra Stotts told Bloomberg that they had "big buyers from Russia and Ukraine and Kazakhstan." One broker, Dolly Lenz, sold "about 65 units in Trump World Tower […] to Russian buyers looking for real estate."
I have no dealings with Russia. — Donald Trump
Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. — Donald Trump Jr., speaking in Moscow, Sept. 15, 2008
The New Republic has extensively documented how the Trump Organization actively sought Russian buyers, so much so that the area around Trump Sunny Isles in Florida became known as "Little Moscow." Have the Trumps been laundering Russian rubles through American real estate megadeals?
I have nothing to do with Russia. I have nothing to do with Russia. — Donald Trump
I've done a lot of business with the Russians. — Donald Trump, Oct. 17, 2013, in an interview with David Letterman
I have nothing to do with Russia. I promise you I've never made ... I don't have any deals with Russia. — Donald Trump
I have plans for the establishment of business in Russia. Now, I am in talks with several Russian companies to establish this skyscraper. — Donald Trump, Nov. 9, 2013, in an interview with RT (Russia Today)
I had Miss Universe there a couple of years ago. Other than that, no, I had nothing to do [with Russia]." — Donald Trump
Reuters reported that a group of 63 Russia billionaires have invested nearly $100 million in several Trump properties in Florida. Is this part of a giant money laundering scheme?
I don't know who Putin is. He said I'm a genius. I never met Putin. — Donald Trump, July 27, 2016 in a news conference (Putin did not call Trump a genius, but "colorful" — perhaps like Bozo the Clown?)
I do have a relationship [with Putin]. — Donald Trump, November 2013, in an interview with MSNBC's Thomas Roberts before the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow
I have no relationship with Putin. I don't think I've ever met him. I never met him. I don't think I've ever met him. — Donald Trump, July 31, 2016, in an interview on ABC's This Week (Trump claims to have the world's best memory, but can't remember if he met the world's second or third most powerful man, after trying so very hard to meet him for years?)
Putin even sent me a present, beautiful present, with a beautiful note. I spoke to all of his people. — Donald Trump, March 6, 2014, at CPAC
Trump told reporters that he spoke with Putin "indirectly and directly" while he was in Moscow. — Donald Trump, May 27, 2014, at the National Press Club
I don't know Putin. I think it would be great if we got along with Russia ... But I don't know Putin. — Donald Trump, October 9, 2016, during a presidential debate
On the campaign trail, Trump said that he "knows" Putin. — Donald Trump, July 11, 2015, at a town hall in Las Vegas
I don't know Putin, have no deals in Russia. — Donald Trump, Feb. 7, 2017, on Twitter
I got to know him [Putin] very well ... we were stablemates. — Donald Trump, Nov. 10, 2015, in a Republican presidential debate
All his denials about Russian collusion are contradicted by things Trump and his children have said, when they bragged about how much money they were getting from the Russians and all the megadeals they were doing in Russia. Like most liars, Trump can't keep his story straight. In reality, he and his family were secretly meeting with Russian agents, making "back door" and "back channel" deals, working with WikiLeaks and Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election, and jeopardizing national security by compromising themselves in their lust for money, power and blockbuster real estate deals.
"Mission accomplished!"—George W. Bush, May 1, 2003
"We have defeated ISIS!"—Donald Trump, Dec. 19, 2018
"ISIS has been defeated!"—Mike Pence, Jan. 16, 2019
Trump has nothing but praise for Vladimir Putin and Russia. Trump parrots obscure Russian talking points, as if he's been brainwashed. For example, here is a inexplicable cabinet meeting quote in which Trump spreads blatant Russian disinformation:
The reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia; they were right to be there. — Donald Trump
This is Russian propaganda. This is Russian disinformation. Why is an American president parroting a Russian revision of history? No American general or other military expert believes this Russian baloney. According to Gregory Feifer, executive director of the Institute of Current World Affairs in Washington, Trump's "mischaracterization of the Soviet war contained no single scrap of truth, let alone logic." The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan on Christmas Eve, 1979, in an attempt to prop up an endangered communist government, not to fight "terrorism." The Soviets staged a coup, murdered the president of Afghanistan, Hafizullah Amin (who had been making overtures toward America and the West), then installed a pro-Soviet puppet, Babrak Karmal. As Max Boot pointed out in the Washington Post, "Afghan terrorism was a consequence, not a cause, of the Soviet invasion." The US strongly opposed the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, as did the rest of the world. It has been estimated that as many as two million Afghanis died as a result of the invasion and the resulting decade-long war, that three million more were wounded, than two million were internally displaced, and that another five million became refugees in other countries. The Afghan war became a "national humiliation" and "embarrassment" for Russians. In 1989, when Mikhail Gorbachev was president of the Soviet Union, the Congress of People's Deputies condemned the invasion as a "criminal gamble." But Vladimir Putin wants to revise history, presumably because he intends to repeat it and resurrect the Soviet Union to its former murderous "glory." Crimea has already been re-assimilated at gunpoint and the rest of Ukraine appears to be next on the menu. But here's something truly strange: this particular bit of historical revision is pretty recent ... so how the hell did Trump latch on to it?
First, it's obviously false. Eric S. Edelman, a former ambassador to Turkey and expert on the region, said: "Simply put he [Trump] has no idea what he is talking about." Chuck Rosenberg, a former Chief of Staff to the Director of the FBI, observed that Trump was "echoing directly" the "Kremlin line" on a "whole bunch of things," suggesting that there wasn't just a random mistake involved. But in any case it was a mistake that no other American president would ever have made.
Perhaps what Trump said was neither random nor accidental. Eliot A. Cohen, one of the most insightful and tenacious Trump critics on foreign policy, wrote recently for Foreign Affairs that Trump "has outlined a deeply misguided foreign policy vision that is distrustful of U.S. allies, scornful of international institutions, and indifferent, if not downright hostile, to the liberal international order that the United States has sustained for nearly eight decades." Thus Trump insults American allies, seeks to undermine or destroy NATO, and has no use for alliances that don't increase the American monetary bottom line (for instance, Trump repeatedly demands "protection money" from other countries, like a mob boss canvassing the neighborhood for more dough).
The conservative editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, which has usually been Trump-friendly even when he's off the rails, strongly repudiated his cabinet speech, saying it could not recall "a more absurd misstatement of history by an American president" and calling parts of it "reprehensible," "utterly false" and "slander." The WSJ in its scathing rebuke pointed out that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan "was a defining event in the Cold War, making clear to all serious people the reality of the communist Kremlin's threat." The op-ed concluded: "Mr. Trump's cracked history can't alter that reality."
The Washington Post called Trump's pro-Russian rhetoric "bizarre." The New Yorker's Susan Glasser wrote: "That sound you hear is historians, everywhere, weeping." Joy Reid said historians were "cringing." Rachel Maddow observed: "Somebody has apparently given President Trump the old Soviet Union talking points on why that invasion was an awesome idea. And so, President Trump decided to wheel out those Soviet-era talking points for the cameras in front of his somewhat bewildered cabinet today." And because the cabinet meeting in question was televised, the whole world saw an American president justifying the invasion. Max Boot opined that the incident reveals not only Trump's "invincible ignorance" but also his rampant "Russophilia" and "Putinophilia." David Frum, writing for the Atlantic, called Trump's apologetics for the invasion "only one moment in a 90-minute stream of madness."
So who instilled this mad nonsense in Trump's illogical noggin? The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler asked: "Is it possible that Trump's remarks on Afghanistan … reflect a conversation he had with Putin?" Lawrence O'Donnell unearthed a quote in which Putin himself said that he and Trump "regularly talk over the phone." And as Jon Chait pointed out, this talking point is set to become the official version in Russia within a month. Chait explains: "Russians have previously called the invasion a tragic error, but Vladimir Putin's regime — which regards the collapse of the Soviet Union as a world-historical tragedy — is systematically rehabilitating various Soviet crimes." So this new Russian talking point could be a preamble to, and an excuse for, an invasion of Ukraine or other hostilities.
Even more obscure Russian talking points appeared in previous Trump riffs when he issued "seemingly random warnings" that Poland may invade Belarus and that Montenegro may start World War III. As Rachel Maddow explained, these bizarre claims were propagated by Russia as part of its military intelligence disinformation campaigns. Russia wanted Belarus to stay in the Russian fold and apparently created a Polish bogeyman toward that end. The Montenegro disinformation campaign was designed to keep Montenegro out of NATO. Montenegro is the Rhode Island of Europe, a tiny country with a population of less than a million people and a military force with only 1,950 active duty members. So it would make absolutely no sense for Montenegro to start a war that it couldn't possibly win.
What are the results of Trump's bizarre words and actions? According to Dana Milbank, Trump is causing the US to lose the Cold War. According to David Ignatius, Trump is "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory." According to Jennifer Rubin, Americans are left with "unadulterated Trump" and the "bundle of misinformation, bravado and fractured fairy tales Trump tells himself." America's reputation and standing in the world are greatly diminished. Vodka glasses are tinkling in the Kremlin.
How can we explain an American president who repeatedly airs and authenticates Russian disinformation? One possibility is that Trump is being blackmailed and has been told what to say by Putin. Another possibility is that one or more of Trump's advisers are Russian moles who plant pro-Russian ideas in his over-receptive brain. Or it's possible that Trump has talked to Putin or other pro-Russia people and the zany ideas somehow lodged in his brain and popped up later. But knowing Trump and how he declines to read American intelligence briefings, it seems highly unlikely that he came up with these ideas independently. If Trump knew anything about Poland, Belarus or Montenegro, he would know that Poland is not going to attack Belarus and that Montenegro is not going to attack any significant country, much less start World War III. The fact that the most powerful man in the world and the commander-in-chief of the world's most powerful military seems to have been brainwashed by Russian disinformation is deeply disturbing. And yet the Republican Party, which claims to be "all about" the military and national defense, continues to support a president who more-and-more sounds like a Russian puppet or a total nincompoop.
TrumpNation author Tim O'Brien discussed the possibility of Trump "being fed inaccurate information about a country whose history he knows very little about." O'Brien said: "We have to wonder why these talking points that are clearly Kremlin talking points end up in Donald Trump's mouth. He's probably the most wildly ill-informed and illiterate president we have had in the Oval Office and he would be hard-pressed to find Afghanistan on a map. What's disturbing is when you move past the word salad of it, this sort of tragicomic aspect of Trump when he does this strange performance art is that it's a national security problem. You have someone who is the commander in chief and has lots of power to execute policy on behalf of the country overseas [but] he really doesn't know what he's talking about. And when he does speak, it looks like he's the puppet of other people."
Max Boot concluded his article with an Occam's Razor answer: "Trump is hazy on the details (perhaps he has trouble keeping straight the claptrap he hears from his pal Putin?), but he is convinced that the Russians are usually right. And when they are clearly wrong — as in their recent attack on Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait, or the arrest of former Marine Paul Whelan in Moscow — Trump has little to say. What accounts for the president's pro-Putin orientation? That is a question we must hope that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III will answer. But it's difficult to think of an innocuous explanation."
The most obvious answer that fits the facts is that Trump really is Putin's puppet and parrot. Since that doesn't endear Trump to his ultra-conservative base, the people he always tries to please, it seems most likely that Putin has something on Trump that he doesn't want revealed — whether pee tapes, evidence of collusion, evidence of treason, etc.
Is this why Trump has repeatedly contradicted himself on the subject of Russia and Putin? ...
Please note that the most important Trump quotes may be the ones we have never heard, or that are just now coming out. For instance, the Washington Post recently reported that Trump "went to extraordinary lengths" to hide all records of his communications with Mr. Putin, even taking possession of interpreter Marina Gross's notes after their meeting in Hamburg and instructing her not to reveal the contents of the discussion to anyone, not even senior White House officials. Trump's behavior around Putin has become "increasingly suspicious" and no one — not even his senior advisers — has any idea what promises Trump may have "made in the shade."
"I am not a crook!"—Richard "Tricky Dick" Nixon, Nov. 18, 1973
"I never worked for Russia!"—Donald "Tricky Don" Trump, Jan. 14, 2019
Trump's secrecy surrounding Putin "is not only unusual by historical standards, it is outrageous," says Strobe Talbott, a former deputy secretary of state who participated in more than a dozen meetings between President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin. "It handicaps the U.S. government — the experts and advisers and Cabinet officers who are there to serve [the president] — and it certainly gives Putin much more scope to manipulate Trump."
One thing we know with full and complete certainty is that Trump and high-ranking officials within his campaign and administration have lied repeatedly about their contacts with agents and agencies of the Russian government. We know because they have been caught lying in public over and over, condemned by their own quotes. The question is WHY? Here's a real-world answer from Louise Sunshine, a longtime executive with the Trump Organization: "In Trump world, everybody lies. Everybody doesn’t tell the truth. At the end of the day, they are all lying." That leaves the questions of collusion, obstruction and coverups in a government where the higher-ups lie on a daily, or perhaps an hourly, basis.
Perhaps the most disturbing quotes that had remained shrouded in darkness are the ones reported by The New York Times in which Trump repeatedly discussed pulling out of NATO because he couldn't "see the point" of the alliance. While one can quibble about who pays which bills, not to "see the point" of NATO sounds like a Russian opinion, not that of an American president. How can we explain Trump's constant stream of pro-Russian effusions, or his equally constant stream of highly negative attacks on our closest allies?
Retired Admiral James Stavridis, the former supreme allied commander of NATO, told the Times that an American abandonment of the alliance would be "a geopolitical mistake of epic proportion." Stavridis added, "Even discussing the idea of leaving NATO — let alone actually doing so — would be the gift of the century for Putin." Michèle A. Flournoy, a former undersecretary of defense, said the US leaving NATO "would be the wildest success Putin could dream of." The Times called Trump's proposal "a move tantamount to destroying NATO." Rachel Maddow called it "the most fantastical dream Russia might imagine for itself."
How close did Trump come to destroying NATO and fulfilling Putin's wildest dreams? According to Evelyn Farkas, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Russia/Ukraine/Eurasia region, Trump "got awfully close" during his blowup at the 2018 NATO summit in Brussels. So close, in fact, that senators Robert Menendez and Lindsey Graham introduced a bipartisan measure that would require Senate approval of any attempt to withdraw the U.S. from NATO.
"The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naïveté, egotism, false equivalences, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate."—John McCain
But what about Trump's quotes in which he claims to have had absolutely no dealings with Russia or Putin, after years of saying exactly the opposite? TIME called this "Trump's dodge" and a "classic magician's trick" in which he "shows one idle hand, while the other is actually doing the work." The truth, "as several columnists and reporters have painstakingly shown" is that "several of Trump's businesses outside of Russia are entangled with Russian financiers inside Putin's circle." As the quotes and timelines on this page will amply demonstrate—first in compressed, then in exhaustively detailed fashion—there is no doubt that Trump and/or high-ranking insiders within his campaign and administration have had numerous contacts and discussions with high-ranking insiders within Putin's very shady government. Some of those Russian contacts were professionally trained military intelligence officers. The others were undoubtedly being monitored by and reporting back to high-level Russian spooks. Thus, it was amateurs vs. professionals, rubes vs. sophisticated con men, babes in the woods vs. ravenous wolves. So even if Trump is not guilty of treasonous intent, he is a danger to his country and the free world because Putin is literally playing him for a fool.
And there seems to be little doubt about the grand bargain that was struck during the infamous Trump Tower meeting: Russia would help get Trump elected president in return for sanctions relief and "favored nation" status. In Trump's mind there was "nothing wrong" with this, because anything that helps Trump is automatically good in Trump's egomaniacal, acquisitive little brain. But everyone involved in the "grand bargain" on the American side was immediately compromised: Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen, Roger Stone, Carter Page ... and, of course, the ultimate kompromat, Donald Trump himself.
Putin couldn't lose. Either he would invest relatively small amounts of money and save billions in sanctions, or he would have tons of "dirt" to hold over the heads of Trump and his cronies. Now we see Putin always having his way — with sanctions, with the undermining of NATO and the EU, and in Syria, Afghanistan and Ukraine — and it seems likely that Putin has been using the dirt he acquired to bury the United States. It's all part of a simple plan explained by Franklin Foer: "Putin runs stealth efforts on behalf of politicians who rail against the European Union and want to push away from NATO." Furthermore, as Foer points out:
"Donald Trump is like the Kremlin's favored candidates, only more so. He celebrated the United Kingdom's exit from the EU. He denounces NATO with feeling. He is also a great admirer of Vladimir Putin. Trump's devotion to the Russian president has been portrayed as buffoonish enthusiasm for a fellow macho strongman. But Trump's statements of praise amount to something closer to slavish devotion. In 2007, he praised Putin for 'rebuilding Russia.' A year later he added, 'He does his work well. Much better than our Bush.' When Putin ripped American exceptionalism in a New York Times op-ed in 2013, Trump called it 'a masterpiece.' Despite ample evidence, Trump denies that Putin has assassinated his opponents, 'In all fairness to Putin, you're saying he killed people. I haven't seen that.' In the event that such killings have transpired, they can be forgiven: 'At least he's a leader.' And not just any old head of state: 'I will tell you that, in terms of leadership, he's getting an A.'"
One pro-Kremlin blogger summed up his government's interest in the 2016 American presidential election with clarifying bluntness: "Trump will smash America as we know it, we've got nothing to lose."
Trump has repeatedly called the FBI investigation led by Robert Mueller a "witch hunt." But why have Trump and key players in his campaign and administration repeatedly lied to the American public, to the press, to Congress and to the FBI? If they haven't done anything wrong, why all the lies and coverups? And what about Trump's close ties to Russian oligarchs and the Russian mafia? How many of the Russian agents and mobsters mentioned on this page report directly to Putin and his henchmen? Why does Trump parrot Russian talking points about Afghanistan, Belarus, Syria, sanctions, etc.? Why is Trump the first American president to actively spread Russian disinformation and propaganda? Why does Trump seem to be the ultimate kompromat, an unwitting pawn lost in deep denial of the role Putin played in his election? Is Trump a witting, unwitting or witless pawn of Putin?
Putin is former Russian intelligence officer whose KGB code name was "Pale Moth." Putin has also been called the "Gray Cardinal" of the Kremlin. He's not just the president of a nation that is deeply hostile to the United States and to democracy; he's also a master of the "dark arts" of disinformation, misdirection and manipulation. Trump seems to be putty in his hands, always doing whatever Putin wishes (or commands). At this point it seems obvious that Putin not only wanted Trump to be elected president, but went out of his way to help get him elected. Why? It was certainly not because Putin is a fan of the United States or wants American-style democracy to succeed. The late, great John McCain called Putin "an evil man intent on evil deeds." And yet Trump would insult McCain then praise Putin to the skies? Why?
The Occam's Razor answer is that Putin has something on Trump, or that Putin is rewarding Trump, or both. For instance, Trump probably owes hundreds of millions of dollars to Russians, but that's a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of US sanctions against Russia. Putin could be offering to cancel or mitigate the debt if Trump obeys his commands, while threatening to expose him if he doesn't. Forget the "pee tape" and follow the money. The revelation that the FBI launched a counterintelligence investigation because it feared Trump could be working for Russian rather than American interests seems "stunning but not surprising" to me. Yes, it is stunning that an American president could betray his own country. But as we have watched Trump sell one ally after another down the river, letting them take the blame for what he undoubtedly ordered, it's not surprising that he would do the same thing on a larger scale.
I believe Trump's disinformation about Russia is very similar to his disinformation about his "wall," so I am going to begin with a brief timeline of Trump's "wall nut" quotes. If you only care about Trump's Russia quotes, you can skip the wall timeline, but I think it is well worth 2-3 minutes of your reading time.
The joke's on US (the United States) if we ever believed that Trump was going to build an "impenetrable" wall that Mexico was going to pay for. Here is proof positive ...
Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand tweets. Trump's "impenetrable" wall can be destroyed with an inexpensive saw anyone can buy at Home Depot! And what's to keep drug dealers from passing drugs, money and weapons between the slats? Perhaps we should call it Trump's Drug Teller Window Wall. Is this the picture that will finally convince Trump supporters that they've been taken to the cleaners by Don the Con?
BREAKING NEWS: This shocking news was first reported on national television by Lawrence O'Donnell on January 8, 2019. In a shameless act, before his Oval Office speech, Trump sent out con-man emails begging his supporters to donate to a "secure the border fund," when in reality the donations went directly to his 2020 reelection campaign fund. After his speech, Trump sent out another fraudulent email, once again dunning campaign donations while pretending the money would be used to help erect a border wall that will never be built—and rather obviously wouldn't stop anyone who really wanted to get in.
The ever-vigilant Lawrence O'Donnell would later broadcast a picture (above) that proves Trump's "impenetrable" steel slat fence can easily be sliced and diced with an inexpensive saw. Drug dealers can pass drugs and money between the slats, or with a cheap saw they can quickly turn the $60 billion barrier into a Drug Teller Window Wall. There is also a CNN video of Trump being shown tunnels under existing walls by the border patrol. Like his fraudulent "charity" and his fraudulent "university," Trump's "wall" is a fraud. He used his fraudulent wall to get elected, knowing Mexico would never pay for it. He is now using his imaginary "wall" to con Americans into giving him money, while 800,000 federal workers suffer and go without because he refuses to accept reality. Experts have explained that the wall will not solve America's drug problems, nor will it address terrorism, because most drugs and terrorists do not enter via the southern border. Even if they did, drug dealers and terrorists can certainly afford saws. They can also afford ships to sail around the wall and planes and helicopters to fly above it. There is no "national emergency" at the southern border, although there is a growing humanitarian crisis, thanks to Trump's cruel and unusual punishment of immigrants, including innocent babies, children and their mothers.
Trump Wall Timeline and Quotes
March 5, 2015: Trump tells his supporters: "I want nothing to do with Mexico other than to build an impenetrable WALL and stop them from ripping off U.S." But as the picture above demonstrates, the Trump "wall" is far from "impenetrable."
June 16, 2015: When Trump announces that he is running for president, a border wall is the hub of his campaign: "I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I'll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words." His is, literally, a vow set in concrete.
July 17, 2015: "A wall is better than fencing, and it's much more powerful," Trump told The Washington Post. "It's more secure. It's taller."
August 19, 2015: Trump said the existing border barrier "is not a wall" but spoke dismissively of it as a "little fence" that can easily be scaled with a ladder. "I'm talking about a wall," he told a crowd in his first town hall speech in Derry, New Hampshire. "I want it to be so beautiful because maybe someday they'll call it The Trump Wall." Trump was very specific about the construction of his dream wall: "Did you ever see precast plank, for parking garages? So, you take precast plank. It comes 30 feet long, 40 feet long, 50 feet long. And you do a beautiful, nice precast plank with beautiful everything. Just perfect!" Sometimes when talking about his towering concrete wall, Trump would look up dramatically toward the heavens ..."There's no ladder going over that," he said in Derry. "If they ever go up there, they're in trouble, because there's no way to get down. Maybe a rope."
August 25, 2015: Trump smacked down Jeb Bush for calling the barrier a fence: "Jeb Bush just talked about my border proposal to build a 'fence.' It's not a fence, Jeb, it's a WALL, and there's a BIG difference!" he said. Univision's Jorge Ramos asked Trump how he would build a wall along the 1,900-mile border. "Very easy. I'm a builder," he said. "What's more complicated is building a building that's 95 stories tall. OK?"
December 2, 2015: "What are the walls going to made of?" asked a boy held aloft by Trump on stage a campaign rally in Virginia. "I'll tell you what it's going to be made of. It's going to be made of hardened concrete, and it's going to be made out of rebar and steel."
July 13, 2016: The 2016 Republican National Convention platform states: "The border wall must cover the entirety of the southern border." Trump endorses the new platform with a tweet: "New GOP platform now includes language that supports the border wall. We will build the wall and MAKE AMERICA SAFE AGAIN!"
August 11, 2016: At a campaign rally in Kissimmee, FL, Trump was still talking about concrete: "Precast, right? Precast. Boom. Bing. Done. Keep going!" Everyone understood that he was talking about a solid, towering, unbroken wall that Mexico would pay for.
January 20, 2017: Trump is inaugurated as president of the United States.
January 25, 2017: In one of his first official acts, Trump signs an executive order to begin construction of a southern border wall, but does not discuss payment with Mexico.
January 27, 2017: Trump asks Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto not to let the American public know that Mexico will not pay for the wall.
January 18, 2018: "The Wall is the Wall, it has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it," Trump tweeted in response to a Washington Post report that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said "a concrete wall from sea to shining sea" was not going to happen and that Trump's campaign promises about the wall were "uninformed."
December 11, 2018: Trump says he will be "proud" to shut down the federal government over his imaginary wall.
December 19, 2018: Trump has changed his tune about a solid wall: "We are not building a Concrete Wall, we are building artistically designed steel slats."
December 20, 2018: Trump, apparently deeply afraid of pundits Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, flip-flops and refuses to sign a bill that would fund the federal government; the Trump Shutdown has begun.
December 21, 2018: Trump tweets a fence design, which he refers to as a "Steel Slat Barrier." It would be "totally effective while at the same time beautiful!" The "beauty" seems doubtful and the "effectiveness" would soon prove to be another falsehood.
December 30, 2018: When asked about the status of Trump's promised wall during an interview with the Los Angeles Times, departing White House Chief of Staff John Kelly answers honestly: "To be honest, it's not a wall." He goes on to say that "we left a solid concrete wall early on in the administration."
December 31, 2018: On the last day of the year, Trump incoherently claims that an "all concrete Wall" (with a capital "W") was "NEVER ABANDONED" (in angry caps), "as has been reported by the media." But Trump goes on to confirm the "fake news" himself by explaining that parts of the "wall" will be "see through."
January 3, 2019: Democrats take over control of the House and Nancy Pelosi is elected Speaker. Around this time discussions about Trump declaring a "national emergency" start to go public. "I can do it if I want — absolutely," Trump told reporters the following day.
January 5, 2019: Trump tweets "The WALL is Coming!" with a picture of a fence.
January 6, 2019: Trump tweets "We are now planning a Steel Barrier rather than concrete. It is both stronger & less obtrusive. Good solution, and made in the U.S.A." Apparently, there is no concrete made in the U.S.A. And the "stronger" part was yet another falsehood.
January 10, 2019: On national TV, Lawrence O'Donnell broadcasts pictures that prove Trump's "impenetrable" steel slat fence can easily be cut apart with an inexpensive saw purchasable at Home Depot!
January 10, 2019: Trump says, before leaving for southern border photo-op: "When during the campaign, I would say 'Mexico is going to pay for it,' obviously, I never said this, and I never meant they're gonna write out a check." But that is exactly what Trump said many times. He even laid out a step-by-step plan, titled "COMPELLING MEXICO TO PAY FOR THE WALL." It has been called "the stuff of MAGA fan fiction." Rolled out in a two-page memo in April 2016, the plan, now deleted from the Trump campaign website but retrieved through web archives, was a surprisingly detailed strategy—by Trump campaign standards—for forcing Mexico to cut an 11-figure check to the United States. The Trump plan said: "It's an easy decision for Mexico: make a one-time payment of $5-10 billion to ensure that $24 billion continues to flow into their country year after year." The entire negotiation, Trump said at the time, would take just three days. But nearly three years later a frazzled Trump finally told the truth, admitting that Mexico would not pay even "two cents" toward a border wall or fence! Is that the "art of the deal"?
January 10, 2019: Erick Erickson tweets: "When the next Democratic President declares a national emergency over gun violence and takes executive actions to curtail gun purchases, you can thank the people urging Donald Trump to do the same with regards to the border."
January 10, 2019: Neal Katyal, a former acting solicitor general, appears on the Lawrence O'Donnell show. In 1999, Katyal wrote the special-counsel regulations under which Robert Mueller was appointed and now operates. So if anyone knows what can and can't be done to stop or suppress the Mueller probe, it's probably Katyal. Fortunately, Neal Katyal did a very good thing: He anticipated what we see happening today and created a sort of legal firewall to make sure a special counsel like Mueller can complete his work and publish his findings, even if a rogue Attorney General tries to stop him. Katyal doesn't think Trump and/or the Attorney General can suppress the Mueller report, because he designed the regulations to keep that from happening. He also doesn't think claiming "executive privilege" will hold water for Trump. I think it is well worth the time to listen to his very calm, reasoned analysis of the legal problems Trump now faces, which you can do at minute 32 of this segment of the Lawrence O'Donnell program.
On December 10, 2018, Maria Butina aka "Red Sparrow" agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to violate laws prohibiting covert foreign agents and is said to now be "fully cooperating" with prosecutors. Her Russian handler, Alexander Torshin, is reported to be "retiring" according to Russian media. Toshin's "retirement" announcement came as news of Butina's "titillating" plea deal emerged.
"Red Sparrow" Maria Butina packs heat, modeling a white see-through blouse and holster for gun enthusiasts
This page quotes what Donald Trump has said himself, in his own words. I have also provided a detailed chronological timeline so that anyone interested can see how Trump's quotes evolved over time, creating a maze of lies and contradictions. The timeline shows how the activities of Russian agents like "Red Sparrow" Maria Butina and her handler, Alexander Torshin, mesh with Trump's campaign and his laudatory comments about Russia's thuggish Mr. Putin. The timeline also shows how members of the Russian mob serve and obey the ultimate mob boss, Putin.
Maria Butina aka "Red Sparrow" packs heat, seducing American NRA leaders
According to Jeremy Bash, a former CIA chief of staff, the Trump administration has produced "the most pro-Russian foreign policy coming out of Washington in our history." A pertinent question is: WHY? The quotes below prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that Trump and his cronies have been lying through their teeth. The timeline explains WHY they have been lying through their teeth.
Maria Butina is always ready for action! When a federal judge imposed a gag order, that inspired a new round of S&M-themed internet memes!
According to the Moscow Project website, the Trump campaign had at least 101 contacts with Russia-linked operatives, and at least 28 meetings with those operatives. The Russian agents and accessories involved include Aras Agalarov, Emin Agalarov, Tevfik Arif, Andrey Artemenko, Julian Assange, Victor Boyarkin, Maria Butina, Yuri Chaika, Oleg Deripaska, Yuri Dubinin, Paul Erickson, Rob Goldstone, Irakly Kaveladze, Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, Konstantin Kilimnik, Sergey Kislyak, Dmitry Klokov, Sergey Lavrov, Andrei Nikolaev, Dmitry Peskov, Dmitry Rogozin, Andrey Rozov, Felix Sater, Evgeny Shmykov, Aleksandr Torshin, Natalia Veselnitskaya, Viktor Yanukovych and Oleg Zhiganov.
Trump family members and associates who apparently interacted and/or colluded with Russians aligned with the Putin government, even as it blatantly attacked American democracy, or who apparently lied in botched cover-ups include: Donald Trump Sr., Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Mike Pence, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Rick Gates, Michael Cohen, Michael Flynn, Rudy Giuliani, K. T. McFarland, Reince Priebus, Jeff Sessions, Rex Tillerson, George Papadopoulos, Wilbur Ross, Carter Page, Anthony Scaramucci, Steve Bannon, Michael Caputo, Don McGahn, Elliot Broidy, Erik Prince, Peter W. Smith, Rick Dearborn and Nigel Farage.
The "adults in the room" are no longer around to protect Trump from himself. Rex Tillerson and three generals who once kept watch over Trump are now gone: H. R. McMaster, John F. Kelly and James N. Mattis. When Mattis became the third of the generals to leave the White House, even Republican leaders were frightened by the thought of Trump acting on his often-erratic impulses. You can read what Republican leaders said themselves here: James Mattis Resignation Quotes.
"This is a rogue presidency," according to Barry McCaffrey, a retired four-star Army general.
How is this not treason? . . .
Donald Trump Russia Quotes Timeline
NOTE: I do not claim most of the information here is highly original. Sources used include Fox News, Breitbart, TIME, Newsweek, Newsmax, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, Buzzfeed, CNN, The Daily Beast, Wikipedia, and Politico, among others.
March 14, 1869: Frederick Trumpf (or Drumpf) is born in Germany. He would make a sordid fortune by operating a bordello during the Klondike gold rush in Canada. When he returned to Germany, he was accused of income tax evasion and dodging the draft. (Like grandfather, like grandson, perhaps?) His son Frederick (Fred) Trump was conceived in Germany but the family was evicted before he was born, becoming homeless refugees. The United States took them in, but later the Trumps would rail against other refugees, especially those with darker skin. The Trumps would also claim to be Swedish, rather than German, among a long list of lies and misrepresentations.
October 10, 1880: Elizabeth Christ Trump is born in Germany. Because Elizabeth means "vow" her name literally means "Vow (for) Christ (to be) Trumped." She would die on 6-6-6, leaving the Trump family business to her son, Frederick Christ Trump, who would in turn leave it to Donald Trump. Trump's inheritance has been estimated at $413 million by The New York Times. Thus Donald Trump's claim to be a "self made man" is yet another bald lie. Even worse, as Eddie Glaude observed, "He inherited a criminal enterprise."
October 11, 1905: Frederick Christ Trump is born. Because Rick means "king" his name literally means "King Christ Trumper." He would be arrested at a KKK rally and Woody Guthrie would write angry songs about the racism of "Old Man Trump." He would also be accused of ripping off both the American government and tenants by exaggerating his expenses and overbilling public housing projects subsidized by taxpayer money.
1927: Elizabeth Christ Trump creates and incorporates the Trump family business, then called Elizabeth Trump & Son. She would hire contractors, have them build houses on empty lots, then sell the houses and live off the mortgages. She also handled the real estate closings.
June 14, 1946: Donald Trump is born on a rare blood moon. The Bible says the moon will turn to blood before "the great and terrible day of the LORD." It also says anyone who supports the Antichrist is in for a world of pain. Trump's life and career will eerily track those of Damien Thorn in the Omen movies: for instance the initials DT; an older brother who dies leaving the younger brother in charge; grabbing women's genitals; the building at 666 Fifth Avenue (explained below); and both DT's operating huge construction companies while in the White House and ignoring conflicts of interest. Oh, and what about Damien Thorn's 666 tattoo that he concealed under a pompadour combover?
Future events: Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner will purchase the tower at 666 Fifth Avenue, a street symbolic of money (Mammon). The 666 tower will be purchased for 1.8 billion dollars, and that's the product of three more sixes. According to multiple reports, the famous Trump Tower is 203 meters tall, and 203 meters = 666 feet. Donald Trump will take control of his grandmother's real estate empire after she dies on June 6, 1966 = 6-6-6. The 2016 election was "all Trump all the time" and 2016 = 666+666+666+6+6+6. In the first year of Trump's presidency, the budget deficit will swell to 666 billion dollars (per Fox Business and other sources). For many more connections of Donald Trump to the number 666, please click Is Donald Trump the Antichrist? The rest of this page will concentrate on facts and quotations, but the information presented here may be of interest to Christians, Jews and anyone else with an interest in the Bible and its prophecies.
1949: By age three, Donald Trump was earning $200,000 a year (in today's dollars) from his father's business empire. He would be a millionaire by age eight. And it was apparently all part of a tax dodge created by his father to shield as much of his income as possible from income taxes. Donald's biggest payday he received from his father came after Fred Christ Trump's death. According to The New York Times: "It happened quietly, without the usual Trumpian news conference, on May 4, 2004, when Mr. Trump and his siblings sold off the empire their father had spent 70 years assembling with the dream that it would never leave his family. Donald Trump's cut: $177.3 million, or $236.2 million in today's dollars." And that was just part of a $413 million total inheritance.
1959: Fred Christ Trump discovers his son Donald with a cache of switchblades and sends him away to New York Military Academy for some discipline. It didn't take.
1966: The birth of Felix Sater (also Satter) in Moscow. His father was Mikhail Sheferovsky, an underboss of the Russian Mafia who was convicted of extorting money from local restaurants, grocery stores and a medical clinic. Sater's family moved to Baltimore, where he reportedly was a childhood friend of Michael Cohen. Sater, described as a "career criminal," would be sentenced to a year in prison in 1991 for stabbing a man in the face with a broken margarita glass at the Rio Grande restaurant and bar in New York. Sater would emerge in 2005 as a connection between Donald Trump and Mr. Putin's personal assistant, Dmitry Peskov. At the time Sater worked in the Trump Tower and his business card described him as a "Senior Advisor to Donald Trump." Sater would conspire with Michael Cohen to offer Vladimir Putin a free $50 million penthouse suite in the proposed Moscow Trump Tower. A lawsuit would later describe "Sater's proven history of using mob-like tactics to achieve his goals." Another lawsuit would note that he threatened a Trump investor with the prospect of the electrocution of his testicles, the amputation of his leg, and his corpse residing in the trunk of Sater's car. Yet another lawsuit would allege that Bayrock, the real estate company he worked for and which helped finance some of Trump's biggest real estate deals, including Trump SoHo, was mob-owned and mob-operated.
1966: Donald Trump enters Penn's Warton School of Business and begins to buy properties with daddy Trump's money. His grandmother Elizabeth Christ Trump dies on 6-6-6 (June 6, 1966). The Donald will soon take over and run the family business.
1968: According to a New York Times article by Steve Eder, in the fall of 1968, Donald Trump aka "Cadet Bone Spurs" received a "timely" diagnosis of bone spurs that led to his medical exemption from military service during the Vietnam War. New evidence suggests that a Queens foot doctor who rented his office from Fred Trump may have given the diagnosis as a courtesy to the elder Trump. The podiatrist, Dr. Larry Braunstein, died in 2007. But his daughters say their father often told the story of coming to the aid of the young Trump during the Vietnam War as a favor to his father. "I know it was a favor," said one daughter, Dr. Elysa Braunstein, 56, who along with her sister, Sharon Kessel, 53, shared the family's account for the first time publicly after being contacted by the Times. Elysa Braunstein said her father's implication was that Donald Trump did not have a foot ailment. What her father got in return was "access to Fred Trump," Elysa Braunstein said. "If there was anything wrong in the building, my dad would call and Trump would take care of it immediately. That was the small favor that he got." The Braunsteins also suggested involvement by a second podiatrist, Dr. Manny Weinstein, who was so close to their family that they called him Uncle Manny. Dr. Weinstein lived in two Brooklyn apartments owned by Fred Trump; city directories show he moved into the first during the year Donald Trump received his exemption. Dr. Alec Hochstein, who worked with Dr. Braunstein in the late 1990s, said the podiatrist had recalled over dinner with their wives how the Trumps had treated him well, including backing off from rent increases.
1970: Konstantin Kilimnik is born in the Ukraine, then part of the USSR. Kilimnik would become an interpreter for the GRU (Russian military intelligence). He became known among Moscow political operatives as "Kostya, the guy from the GRU." Kilimnik would become a translator for pro-Russia Ukrainian Rinat Akhmetov and would meet Paul Manafort, later Trump's campaign director, in 2005. According to reports, Kilimnik became Manafort's right-hand man in Kiev, to the extent that Manafort came to call Kilimnik "my Russian brain" while others called him "Manafort's Manafort." With the help of Manafort and Kilimnik, the Russian-backed Viktor Yanukovych became president of Ukraine in 2010. From 2011 to 2013, with liaison to Yanukovych's chief of staff Serhiy Lyovochkin, Kilimnik and Manafort helped devised a strategy to discredit Yulia Tymoshenko and Hillary Clinton, both opponents of Vladimir Putin. Around 2010, Kilimnik collaborated with Rinat Akhmetshin when the Washington-based lobbyist was trying to sell a book disparaging one of Yanukovych's opponents. Kilimnik has been reported by The New York Times to be the "Person A" in December 2017 court filings against Manafort and Rick Gates. Court filings allege that Gates said he knew that Kilimnik was a former Russian military intelligence officer. The sentencing memo for Alex van der Zwaan states that Gates told him that Person A was a former GRU officer. However, according to court filings it seems Kilimnik was still working for Russian military intelligence. On June 8, 2018, Kilimnik would be indicted on charges of obstruction of justice in conjunction with Manafort.
Through "numerous regular email exchanges," Kilimnik conferred with Manafort after he became Donald Trump's campaign manager. Kilimnik requested that Manafort give "private briefings" about the Trump campaign to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire and close ally of Putin. In May and August 2016, Kilimnik met with Manafort to discuss "unpaid bills" and "current news." Manafort has said that he and Kilimnik discussed the DNC cyber attack and release of emails, now known to be undertaken by Russian hacker groups Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear. Manafort owed millions of dollars to Deripaska, who in a lawsuit referred to Manafort's "fraud, gross negligence, blatant disloyalty, and rapacious self-dealing." In July 2016, Manafort told Kilimnik to offer Deripaska private information in exchange for resolving the multimillion-dollar disputes.
In January 2019, Manafort's lawyers submitted a filing to the court, in response to the Special Counsel's accusation that he had lied to investigators while supposedly co-operating with them. Through a redaction error, the document accidentally revealed that while he was Trump's campaign chairman, Manafort met with Kilimnik, gave him private campaign polling data and discussed a Ukrainian peace plan with him. Manafort had asked Kilimnik to pass the data to the pro-Russian Ukrainians Lyovochkin and Akhmetov.
So it seems that while Paul Manafort was heading Trump's presidential election campaign, he was giving confidential information to a Russian military intelligence officer and the information was, in all likelihood, being channeled through pro-Russian Ukrainians back to Putin, whose goal was to get Trump elected and have a pro-Russian American president remove costly sanctions and clear the way for Russia to either dominate or take over Ukraine. After returning to Russia, Kilimnik would boast that he had shifted the Republican Party's platform. He claimed to have orchestrated the gutting of a proposal to arm Ukraine in its war against Russian proxies.
1971: Donald Trump takes over the family business in 1971 and renames it the Trump Organization. Eerily, another DT, Damien Thorn of the Omen movies, also with six letters in his first name and five in his last, would take over Thorn Industries in 1971. Both DTs inherited fortunes, had older brothers who died allowing them to take over, went to military academies, created large multinational business empires, became president, then continued to operate yuge construction companies while occupying the White House and sporting combovers.
1977: This from Politico: "When did the KGB open a file on Donald Trump? We don't know, but Eastern Bloc security service records suggest this may have been as early as 1977. That was the year Trump married Ivana Zelnickova, a Czechoslovakia model. Zelnickova was a citizen of a communist country. She was therefore of interest both to the Czech intelligence service, the StB, and to the FBI and CIA." There was considerable scrutiny: "According to files in Prague, declassified in 2016, Czech spies kept a close eye on the couple in Manhattan. (The agents who undertook this task were code-named Al Jarza and Lubos.)" As with other Eastern Bloc agencies, the Czechs would have shared their intelligence with their counterparts in Moscow, the KGB. According to the Czech files, Ivana mentioned her husband's growing interest in politics. This may have had a major bearing on events leading up to Trump's trip to Moscow in 1987.
1980s: Barbara Pilling said she met Trump at a party in New York in the 1980s while she was a young model. She said Trump asked her how old she was and when she said that she was 17, he responded: "Oh, great. So you're not too old and not too young. That's just great." Pilling said she was not the youngest girl at the party, because there were girls as young as 14 attending. "I felt I was in the presence of a shark," Pilling said, describing Trump. Another woman, Heather Braden, told Panorama that she saw Trump at a party in Miami in the 1990s attended by only four men and 50 female models. "I felt like a piece of meat in a market," Braden said. "I could have been auctioned off in some sort of a sex slave ring." One anonymous male source claimed to have been at many of the same events as Trump during the same time frame and described drug- and alcohol-fueled parties attended by older men and younger women. "These were guys who could easily be [the models'] fathers — two times over. [It was] kind of like a feeding frenzy," he said. Trump, in particular, was "notorious" for his behavior toward younger women, the man said. "This guy was like a predator in action. The next day or days after we would hear about it, he would brag about it to his friends and it would get around that he scored. Maybe one or two girls at a time, which is what he loved to do." Trump would eventually be charged with 19 credible cases of sexual assault and/or lewd behavior, some involving underage girls. Trump would confirm some of the charges himself. For instance, he bragged about his sexual exploits to Howard Stern, including strolling into the dressing rooms of teenage beauty contestants to ogle them because he owned the pageants! He would be accused of groping the genitals of a number of women, which he bragged about on the infamous Hollywood Access tape with Billy Bush.
1983: Trump becomes the owner of the New Jersey Generals football team. The team folds after the 1985 season, along with the USFL. Trump has been blamed in some quarters for the league's demise.
January 1984: General Vladimir Alexandrovich Kryuchkov is the head of the First Chief Directorate, the KGB arm responsible for gathering foreign intelligence via more than 12,000 intelligence officers. Kryuchkov instructs his agents to be "more creative" about using money and flattery to cultivate and recruit Americans. And no one was more susceptible to money and flattery than Donald J. Trump ...
As you read this timeline, please keep in mind that Kryuchkov told his agents that these new recruits "should be acquired chiefly among prominent figures in politics and society, and important representatives of business and science." The recruits should not only "supply valuable information" but also "actively influence" a country's foreign policy "in a direction of advantage to the USSR." And Trump would do just that, by praising Vladimir Putin to the skies while ignoring his military adventurism and working to remove economic sanctions that were stifling Russian "creativity."
A promising recruit would be promoted to a "subject of deep study," an obyekt razrabotki. The form employed demanded basic details: name, profession, family situation, and material circumstances. There were other questions, too: what was the likelihood that the "subject could come to power (occupy the post of president or prime minister)"? And an assessment of personality. For example: "Are pride, arrogance, egoism, ambition or vanity among subject's natural characteristics?" Trump would, of course, check all the KGB's boxes.
A major section concerned kompromat. The document asked for: "Compromising information about the subject, including illegal acts in financial and commercial affairs, intrigues, speculation, bribes, graft … and exploitation of his position to enrich himself." Plus "any other information" that would compromise the subject before "the country's authorities and the general public." For instance: "Is he in the habit of having affairs with women on the side?" Naturally the KGB could exploit this information by threatening "disclosure." This explains the "pee tapes" and other kinds of dirt.
April 1985: Kryuchkov's recruitment plan was updated for "prominent figures in the West." The directorate's aim was to draw the target "into some form of collaboration with us." This could be "as an agent, or confidential or special or unofficial contact."
1986: As Trump tells it himself, the idea for his first trip to Moscow came after he found himself seated next to the Soviet ambassador Yuri Dubinin. This was in autumn 1986 at a luncheon held by Leonard Lauder, the son of Estée Lauder. Dubinin's daughter Natalia "had read about Trump Tower and knew all about it," Trump said in his 1987 bestseller, The Art of the Deal. Trump continued: "One thing led to another, and now I'm talking about building a large luxury hotel, across the street from the Kremlin, in partnership with the Soviet government."
The meeting was surely no accident because, according to his daughter's account, the first time Yuri Dubinin came to New York City, he actually sought out Trump personally on his ride from the airport! They made an immediate beeline to Trump Tower, parked the car, rode the elevator to the penthouse, met Trump, and the ambassador proceeded to lay on the flattery thick and heavy. Had he read Trump's KGB profile? That would be my educated guess.
And it worked, according to Natalia Dubinin: "Trump melted at once. He is an emotional person, somewhat impulsive. He needs recognition. And, of course, when he gets it he likes it. My father's visit worked on him like honey to a bee."
According to Politico: "In Dubinina's account she admits her father was trying to hook Trump." And it certainly sounds like Kryuchkov's recruitment and cultivation plan being put into action. Dubinin's other daughter, Irina, said that her father was on a mission as ambassador—a mission to make contact with America's business elite. To quote Politico again: "For sure, Gorbachev's Politburo was interested in understanding capitalism. But Dubinin's invitation to Trump to visit Moscow looks like a classic cultivation exercise, which would have had the KGB's full support and approval." Not to mention the KGB's ever-expanding Trump dossier.
January, 1987: In The Art of the Deal, Trump writes: "In January 1987, I got a letter from Yuri Dubinin, the Soviet ambassador to the United States, that began: ‘It is a pleasure for me to relay some good news from Moscow.' It went on to say that the leading Soviet state agency for international tourism, Goscomintourist, had expressed interest in pursuing a joint venture to construct and manage a hotel in Moscow."
According to Viktor Suvorov—a former GRU military spy—and others, the KGB ran Intourist, the agency to which Trump referred. Intourist functioned as a branch of the KGB. Created by Stalin in 1929, Intourist was the Soviet Union's official state travel agency. One of its most important jobs was to vet and monitor all foreigners who entered the Soviet Union. "In my time it was KGB," Suvorov said. "They gave permission for people to visit." The KGB's first and second directorates would receive lists of prospective visitors to the country based on their visa applications. As a GRU operative, Suvorov was personally involved in recruitment, albeit for a rival service to the KGB. Soviet spy agencies were always interested in cultivating "young ambitious people," he said—an upwardly mobile businessman, a scientist, a "guy with a future." Once in Moscow, they would receive lavish hospitality. "Everything is free. There are good parties with nice girls. It could be a sauna and girls and who knows what else." The hotel rooms or villa were under "24-hour control," with "security cameras and so on," Suvorov said. "The interest is only one. To collect some information and keep that information about him for the future." These dirty-tricks operations were all about the long term, Suvorov said. The KGB would expend effort on visiting students from the developing world, not least Africa. After 10 or 20 years, some of them would be "nobody." But others would have risen to positions of influence in their own countries. Suvorov explained: "It's at this point you say: ‘Knock, knock! Do you remember the marvelous time in Moscow? It was a wonderful evening. You were so drunk. You don't remember? We just show you something for your good memory.'"
By January 1987, Trump was closer to the "prominent person" status of Kryuchkov's note. Dubinin deemed Trump interesting enough to arrange his trip to Moscow. Another U.S.-based Soviet diplomat, Vitaly Churkin—the future U.N. ambassador—helped put it together.
July 4, 1987: Trump flies to Moscow for the first time, together with Ivana and Lisa Calandra, Ivana's Italian-American assistant. According to Politico: "The top level of the Soviet diplomatic service arranged his 1987 Moscow visit." According to his book The Art of the Deal, Trump and Ivana scoped out possible sites for a luxury hotel that he wanted to build in a joint venture with the Kremlin's hotel and tourism agency. Trump wrote that he toured "a half dozen potential sites for a hotel, including several near Red Square." He also said that he "was impressed with the ambition of Soviet officials to make a deal." The Trumps stayed in Lenin's suite at the National Hotel, near Red Square. The hotel was linked to the glass-and-concrete Intourist complex next door and was— in effect—under KGB control. The Lenin suite would have been bugged. Thus the KGB's dossier on Trump would have gotten larger. Nothing came of the trip—from a businessman's perspective. This pattern of failure would be repeated in Trump's subsequent trips to Moscow. But Russia would earn a tremendous return from its small investment, and perhaps from its eavesdropping. And was it a coincidence that it was around this time that Trump began to talk about running for president, which he mentioned in The Art of the Deal? Or was the idea planted via seeds of flattery? It does seem possible, at least. In any case, according to TV Guide, Trump considered running for president in 1987-1988 but was dealing with massive casino debt at the time and may not have been able to afford either the monetary or time investments required.
1987: Around the time of his return from Russia and the publication of The Art of the Deal, Trump creates the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which is to be a charity in theory but not always in practice. In recent years Trump's "charity" has been locked in an ongoing lawsuit with the state of New York, which has accused the foundation of "persistently illegal conduct" that includes campaign finance violations, using foundation money in the Trumps' self-interest ("self-dealing"), illegally coordinating donations with Donald Trump's presidential campaign, and essentially serving as Trump's personal checkbook. It has been alleged that Donald Trump stopped donating to his own "charity" in 2008, which makes it seem that he was spending other people's charitable contributions on himself. On December 17, 2018, the New York attorney general announced that the Trump Foundation would be dissolved, with its remaining assets actually going to charitable causes!
Maria Butina aka "Red Sparrow" seduces American NRA members and National Prayer Breakfast attendees alike
November 10, 1988: The birth of Maria Valeryevna Butina, a Russian agent who has been compared to the sexy Russian spy in the movie Red Sparrow. She told a conservative radio show host that she grew up in the woods of Siberia, where her father taught her and her sister to hunt bears and wolves. "She was like a novelty," said Saul Anuzis, a former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, who met Butina at a handful of conservative events in 2016. Butina would infiltrate the NRA and the National Prayer Breakfast, compromising influential American conservatives in the process, while creating "back channels" of communication between the Russian and American governments by using conservative organizations as conduits. She would be arrested by the FBI in 2018, charged with acting as a Russian agent, and would eventually plead guilty and agree to cooperate with American law enforcement.
1989: As Donald Trump's failed businesses — Trump Shuttle, the Plaza, his Atlantic City Casinos, etc. — left him drowning in personal debt that eventually soared to around $900 million, his father kept bailing him out, to the tune of $8.3 million in today's dollars, according to The New York Times. But there was more money to come; a lot more ...
1990: During the 1990s, according to a New York Times investigation and report, "The president's parents, Fred and Mary Trump, transferred well over $1 billion in wealth to their children, which could have produced a tax bill of at least $550 million under the 55 percent tax rate then imposed on gifts and inheritances." But the elder Trumps apparently evaded around half a billion dollars in taxes by "gifting" money to their children rather than letting them inherit it and pay the appropriate taxes. The methods employed to avoid inheritance taxes sound illegal, but even if everything was legal, Trump is still obviously lying when he says the "only" help he received from his father was a $1 million loan that he had to pay back with interest! Rather, "The reporting makes clear that in every era of Mr. Trump's life, his finances were deeply intertwined with, and dependent on, his father's wealth." As for that $1 million loan, Fred Trump actually loaned The Donald at least $60.7 million, or $140 million in today's dollars, the Times found. But that doesn't include the much larger sums of money they gave him. Nor does there seem to be any evidence that Donald Trump ever paid back the loans he received from his father.
April 1990: Trump's Taj Mahal casino opens in Atlantic City, but would be bankrupt within six months.
Dec. 17, 1990: Fred Trump dispatched Howard Snyder, a trusted bookkeeper, to Atlantic City with a $3.35 million check. Mr. Snyder bought $3.35 million worth of casino chips and left without placing a bet. Apparently, even this huge cash infusion wasn't sufficient, because that same day Fred Trump wrote a second check to Trump's Castle, for $150,000 more, bank records show. So daddy Trump gave his spendthrift son $3.5 million on a single day, but all his casinos eventually went under, anyway. This was an illegal $3.5 million loan, so daddy Trump had to fork over a $65,000 civil penalty as well. But as much as daddy Trump gave to his son, The Donald was not satisfied. According to the Times it was around this time that Donald Trump tried to convince his father to sign a new will far more favorable to his already pampered son. For once, at least, Fred Trump stood up to his son and refused to sign the new will, going so far as to consult his daughter, Maryanne Trump Barry, then a federal judge. "This doesn't pass the smell test," Fred Trump told his daughter, as she recalled during her deposition. She agreed. Fred Trump's lawyers quickly drafted a new codicil stripping Donald Trump of sole control over his father's estate. Fred Trump signed it immediately. Fred Trump had learned something American voters need to learn: Donald Trump cannot be trusted, even what someone has treated him like a prince.
July 1991: Trump's Taj Mahal files for bankruptcy. According to The Washington Post, Trump "defaulted on interest payments to bondholders as his finances went into a tailspin." Despite all the money he received from his father, Trump could not keep up with debts on two other Atlantic City casinos, and those two properties declared bankruptcy in 1992. A fourth property, the Plaza Hotel in New York, also declared bankruptcy in 1992. PolitiFact uncovered two more bankruptcies filed after 1992, making six in all. Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts filed for bankruptcy again in 2004, after accruing about $1.8 billion in debt. Trump Entertainment Resorts also declared bankruptcy in 2009, after being hit hard during the 2008 recession. And this doesn't include other Trump business ventures that failed like Trump Vodka, Trump University, and others.
1991: The Russia-born Felix Sater is sentenced to a year in prison for felony assault after he stabbed a man in the face with a broken margarita glass at the Rio Grande restaurant and bar in New York.
December 1991: Fred Trump apparently gave Donald Trump a "tax free" gift of $15.49 million by selling his $15.5 million equity in Trump Palace to his son for only $10,000. It should have been reported to the IRS as a taxable gift, but there is no evidence that such a gift was ever registered.
1992: Paul Erickson, later accused of acting of an agent for Russia in concert with "Red Sparrow" Maria Butina, manages the 1992 presidential campaign of Pat Buchanan.
Aug. 13, 1992: The Trumps incorporate a company named All County Building Supply & Maintenance that will allow the Trump children to siphon off Fred Trump's enormous wealth by overbilling him for maintenance and repairs provided to his enormous land and property holdings. The bills to Fred Trump's empire were padded 20% to 50% and the overage went to the Trump children and John Walter, a favorite nephew of Fred Trump's.
May 1995: Fred Trump signed documents granting Robert Trump power of attorney to act "in my name, place and stead." It seems significant that he didn't choose Donald Trump, doesn't it?
December 1995: Donald Trump's 1995 tax return, mailed to the Times in September 2016, showed a staggering loss of $916 million. No wonder The Donald wasn't satisfied with $413 million from his father and apparently tried to grab more. But the $916 million was not the complete picture, just Trump's personal fraction. According to Bloomberg, Trump's companies left US banks on the hook for a staggering $3.4 billion in debt. Thus, "In the wake of that collapse, Trump became a pariah among major U.S. banks."
1996: Trump returns to Russia, exploring the possibility of building in the heart of Moscow via a partnership with a group of U.S. tobacco executives. The group got as far as drawing up architectural plans and meeting with city leaders, but once again Trump failed to close the deal. While in Moscow Trump also considered revamping the dilapidated Hotel Moskva next to the Kremlin and raised the prospect of a "super-luxury residential tower" bearing his name on other sites he visited during his three-day stay in the city. At a 1996 news conference Trump announced that he intended to invest $250 million in Russian building projects: "We have tremendous financial commitments from various groups. We're ready to go anytime we want to go." But it was either more hot air, or something flopped. Trump trademarked his name in Russia in 1996; four of the trademarks were officially renewed the day he was elected president!
1997: Donald Trump publishes The Art of the Comeback. He never mentions the vast sums of money that he received in so many ways from his father. He makes it sound like he did it all on his own.
1997: "Moscow is going to be huge," Trump told Playboy magazine during an interview. Trump also told The New Yorker: "We are actually looking in Moscow right now, and it would be skyscrapers and hotels ... We're looking at the Moskva Hotel. We're also looking at the Rossiya. That's a very big project; I think it's the largest hotel in the world."
1998: The cover of the adult magazine Genesis asks "DONALD TRUMP THE NEXT PRESIDENT?" And 1998 = 666 + 666 + 666.
1998: Trump's association with Deutsch Bank began in the late 1990s, when major Wall Street firms would no longer loan Trump money following a series of disastrous ventures such as the Trump Shuttle and Trump's Atlantic City casinos. The Trump-Deutsch Bank relationship began in 1998, when a group of real-estate bankers gave Trump a $125 million loan for renovations to his 40 Wall Street property. Deutsche Bank's real estate business had only been in operation for a year at that point, so the group, led by Mike Offit, was willing to take a risk on Trump, even though he had been essentially blacklisted by American banks and Wall Street. According to Offit, Trump quickly became his best client. Offit's team soon financed the construction of Trump World Tower in New York City and backed his failed bid at redeveloping the site of the New York Coliseum. Deutsche Bank would become infamous for shady deals such as money laundering and engaging in transactions with sanctioned Russian banks. For instance, a Deutsche Bank internal probe revealed that it may have "handled about $150 billion" of the $230 billion that was laundered out of Russia's Danske bank. Did Trump and Deutsche Bank perhaps help Russia launder huge sums of money through gigantic real estate transactions?
1998: Felix Sater pleads guilty to racketeering in $40 million stock manipulation scheme linked to the Russian Mafia.
1999: Vyacheslav Viktorovich Volodin becomes deputy chairman of the third State Duma. In September 2001 he would become the head of the Fatherland – All Russia political bloc. The Russian newspaper Vedomosti has linked the strategy of public consciousness manipulation through new media (such as social media) to Vyacheslav Volodin. Thus Volodin is apparently the Russian godfather of the troll farm. Legions of Russian trolls would help swing the 2016 presidential election to Donald Trump.
June 25, 1999: Fred Trump dies at age of 93. Donald Trump's inheritance, in addition to all the other money and property he received from his father, has been estimated at $250 to $300 million.
2000: Trump enters the presidential race as a Reform Party candidate and receives more than 15,000 votes in the party's California primary.
April 3, 2000: Trump says: "It's very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it." (Fortune)
Aug. 7, 2000: Donald Trump's mother, Mary Trump, dies at 88. Most of her vast fortune has already been transferred to her children. The inheritance taxes paid by her children are just a fraction of what should have been paid, according to The New York Times.
2001: Aleksandr Torshin is elected to serve in Russia's upper house of parliament, the Federation Council. He makes his first contact with the NRA. Torshin would become the handler for Maria Valeryevna Butina, a Russian agent who has been compared to the sexy Russian spy in the movie Red Sparrow. Together they would infiltrate the NRA and use its enormous political influence to help swing the 2016 presidential election to Donald Trump. Torshin and Butina would both become "life members" of the NRA and begin traveling from Russia to regularly attend NRA conventions in the United States. They would reciprocate with their own invitations to NRA bigwigs to visit Moscow for Right to Bear Arms events — the first of which would take place in November 2013 and feature a "concealed carry fashion show."
2001: Michael Cohen buys a Trump World Tower apartment. He later helped Trump in his dispute with a condo board and "moved on up" from there.
2001: Tevfik Arif, a Soviet-born Turkish real estate developer and former Soviet official, founds the Bayrock Group, a real estate investment and development firm that, according to a lawsuit later filed by its financial director, had ties to the Russian mob and the ability to make money appear "magically" when needed.
2002: Felix Sater, who has Russian mob connections, joins Bayrock. Bayrock would operate in Trump Tower and eventually do mega-deals with Trump, including Trump SoHo.
December 2003: Donald Trump persuades his siblings to sell their father's remaining holdings to Ruby Schron. Mr. Schron paid $705.6 million for most of the empire, which included paying off the Trumps' mortgages. A few remaining properties were sold to other buyers, bringing the total sales price to $737.9 million. On May 4, 2004, the Trump children spent most of the day signing away ownership of what their father had doggedly built over 70 years. The sale received little news coverage, and an article in The Staten Island Advance included the rarest of phrases: "Trump did not return a phone call seeking comment." Even more extraordinary was this unreported fact: The banks financing Mr. Schron's purchase valued Fred Trump's empire at nearly $1 billion. In other words, Donald Trump, the self-alleged master dealmaker, sold his father's empire for hundreds of millions less than it was worth!
2003-2004: Trump begins hosting The Apprentice. The show's theme song is "For the Love of Money" and it warns that someone who loves money will steal from his own mother and family. Trump again mulls a run for president, but ultimately decides not to join the race.
2004: Trump creates the so-called Trump University, which is later forced to close as fraudulent.
2004: Carter Page, a future Trump foreign policy adviser, serves as a vice president at the Merrill Lynch office in Moscow and remains there for three years. In 2013 Page would give Victor Podobnyy documents relating to the "energy business." Podobnyy was working as an intelligence operative for Russia's external intelligence agency. Page told BuzzFeed that their interactions did not include anything sensitive, but Page was interviewed by the FBI. The FBI subsequently began monitoring Page's communications under a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant relating to his 2013 contacts with Russian operatives. Podobnyy was charged for acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign government, after the FBI broke up a Russian spy ring aimed at seeking information on U.S. sanctions. Later, during a dispute over an unpublished manuscript, Page would write a letter to an academic press in which he claimed to be an adviser to the Kremlin. The Steele dossier claimed that while in Russia, Page met with Igor Sechin, a close Putin ally who is subject to US sanctions, and Igor Diveykin, Putin's deputy chief for internal policy, whom US officials believe was responsible for Russian agencies' intelligence-gathering about the 2016 election. According to the dossier, during their meeting, Diveykin told Page that he had compromising material on Hillary Clinton. By January 2017, Page was under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. A heavily redacted version of the FISA warrant application for Page expressed the FBI's belief that the Russian government was collaborating with Page and that Page had been the subject of targeted recruitment by Russian intelligence agencies. The FBI warrant application also said that Page and a Russian intelligence operative had met in secret to discuss compromising material (kompromat) the Russian government held against "Candidate #2" (presumed to be Hillary Clinton) and the possibility of the Russians giving it to the Trump campaign.
2005: Trump finds a new partner in the Bayrock Group, a Russia-connected real estate company with offices in Trump Tower two floors below Trump's executive suite. The Bayrock Group would obtain deals to build Trump-branded properties in several cities. Trump's point person on the projects was Felix Sater, a Russian-born businessman with a very checkered past who has been described as "Mafia connected" and a "career criminal." (Sater once served a year in prison after stabbing a man in a bar fight so savagely that the victim required more than a hundred stitches. Sater also pled guilty to racketeering in a $40 million stock fraud case linked to the Russian Mafia. To avoid more prison time, Sater became an informant for the FBI and cooperated with investigations into organized crime and money laundering.) The Trump Organization gives Sater and Bayrock a one-year exclusive deal to hunt for land in Moscow for a development, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post. While working with Russian investors on Trump's plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, Sater found an old pencil factory he believed could be destroyed and replaced with a luxurious skyscraper. According to Sater, he would "pop" into Trump's office to keep him updated on the project's progress, so it sounds as if he was very close to Trump.
2006: Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump traveled with Sater in Moscow. While there, Sater took the Trumps on a tour of the Kremlin — during which Ivanka even sat and spun around in Putin's chair while the Russian president wasn't around. That's crazy! Who gets to sit in Putin's chair?
Felix Sater has been a person of interest to Robert Mueller during his investigation into alleged 2016 campaign collusion with Russia. Sater is reportedly a childhood friend of Trump's personal lawyer and "fixer," Michael Cohen. According to The New York Times, in 2015 Sater wrote a series of emails to Cohen in which he boasted about his ties to Russia's President Vladimir Putin. "Our boy can be president of the USA and we can engineer it," Sater wrote in one of the emails. "I will get all of Putin's team to buy in on this." According to the Times and other sources, Sater sent his Russian contacts (probably including Dmitry Peskov, Putin's personal assistant) an email stating: "I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected" and "If he says it we own this election." In January 2017, Sater would meet with Ukrainian politician Andrey Artemenko and Michael Cohen at the Loews Regency in Manhattan to discuss a plan to lift sanctions against Russia.
2006: Tevfik Arif, the ex-Soviet official who founded the Bayrock Group, helps Trump fund Trump SoHo in New York, a 46-story, residential-hotel hybrid building later renamed "The Dominick." Trump announces the Trump SoHo project on the season finale of The Apprentice.
Sept. 19, 2007: Trump, Arif and Sater attend the Trump SoHo launch party.
2007: Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner purchase the tower at 666 Fifth Avenue, a street symbolic of money (Mammon). The 666 tower is purchased for 1.8 billion dollars, and that's the product of three more sixes. For many more connections of Donald Trump to the number 666, please refer to Is Donald Trump the Antichrist?
2007: In a court deposition related to Bayrock, Trump said: "It's ridiculous that I wouldn't be investing in Russia." And he explained why: "Russia is one of the hottest places in the world for investment. We will be in Moscow at some point." And he was investing in Russia, since he launched his Trump Super Premium Vodka brand in Moscow in 2007. But it was yet another flop, fizzling four years later.
2007: Paul Manafort begins lobbying efforts on behalf of pro-Russia parties and interests in Ukraine. The organizations he worked with destabilized the country and are closely tied to Russian intelligence operations. These activities legally obligated to Manafort to register as a foreign agent, but he did not do so. Manafort apparently also worked with Russian spies and agents in elaborate bank fraud and money laundering schemes to illicitly earn tens of millions that he did not report to the IRS.
2008: Donald Trump Jr. told eTurboNews that he had traveled to Russia six times in 18 months, researching deals.
2008: "In terms of high-end product influx into the US, Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets," Donald Trump Jr. said at a New York real-estate conference that year. "Say, in Dubai, and certainly with our project in SoHo, and anywhere in New York. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia."
2010: Felix Sater becomes a “Senior Adviser to Donald Trump” with an email account and office at the Trump Organization.
May 10, 2010: Former Bayrock Group finance director Jody Kriss brings the first of several lawsuits against his former employers alleging tax evasion, money laundering and mob connections.
Sept. 28, 2010: Bayrock founder Tevfik Arif is arrested in Turkey on suspicion of running a prostitution ring with nine young women, two of whom were 16 years old, aboard a yacht.
2011: By now Michael Cohen is being described as Trump's personal "pit bull" and "fixer." Later, Cohen would make himself sound more like Trump's personal lapdog and door mat.
2011: Maria Butina aka "Red Sparrow" participates in the Youth Primaries organized by the Young Guard of United Russia, the youth wing of the Putin-led United Russia party. (Butina has been compared to the sexy female spy in the movie Red Sparrow.) Butina is hired as a "special assistant" by Aleksandr Torshin, a Senator in the Federation Council of Russia and a leading member of United Russia. Butina begins traveling back and forth to the U.S. with Torshin. Butina creates an NRA-like organization called "Right to Bear Arms [ru]" that the Russian government will soon use to woo and wow pro-gun Republicans via its connections to the NRA, the National Prayer Breakfast, and other conservative organizations. In 2015 Butina would email Paul Erickson a description of her plan to help the Republicans win the 2016 elections through the NRA. The same year Torshin would became deputy governor of the Central Bank of Russia, with Butina as his "special assistant" for two years. Torshin would actively seek to build a connection with the Trump campaign in 2016, according to various reports, including leveraging his lifetime membership in the NRA to build a relationship with Donald Trump Jr. Federal prosecutors have said that Torshin helped direct Butina's activities in the United States, including an effort to make contacts in the leadership of the NRA. In 2017, Butina told The Washington Post that she never worked for the Russian government. But according to The Daily Beast, Butina has presented herself as a "Russian central bank staffer, a leading gun rights advocate, a 'representative of the Russian Federation,' a Washington, D.C. graduate student, a journalist, and a connection between Team Trump and Russia" in order to gain access to "high-level contacts" in Washington, D.C. One of Butina's primary objectives would be to build a "back channel" through which the Russian government would be able to communicate with and influence American conservatives, and through their influence, the American government.
2011-2012: The dossier by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele asserts that the Kremlin had been cultivating Trump for "at least five years" before his victory in the 2016 presidential election. And were they ever successful!
2012: Many polls suggest that Donald Trump is more popular than Mitt Romney. While Trump doesn't run, his "birther" attacks on President Obama made him a hero to white supremacists everywhere.
February 2013: Trump sends out his first tweet. Justin McConney, the man to whom Trump used to dictate his tweets, said Trump's first self-generated tweet "was comparable to the moment in Jurassic Park when Dr. Grant realized that velociraptors could open doors." McConney added, "I was like, 'Oh no!'"
June 18, 2013: Trump sounds needy: "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?" This is what Trump tweeted while announcing the Miss Universe contest would be held in Moscow. A source in Moscow told the Guardian that a meeting with Trump had been penciled into Putin's diary by aides, but apparently it got scrubbed from his schedule a few days beforehand. Trump was paid $20 million by a Russian oligarch, Aras Agalarov, who tried to "hook up" Trump and Putin. According to Donald Trump Jr.'s testimony before the US Senate, the Trumps and Agalarovs attempted to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, but the deal petered out. (The name Aras Agalarov will turn up later, as the "prime mover" of the Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and Russian agents in June 2016.) While in Moscow, Trump scouted a potential building site, but once again he was unable to close a deal. Trump also appeared in a music video with Emin Agalarov, the pop-singer son of Aras Agalarov. No dealings, really?
Mid-2013: Creation of the Internet Research Agency (IRA) also called Glavset and the "Agency." The Agency employs hundreds or thousands of Russian trolls who post pro-Kremlin propaganda online under fake identities, using Twitter and other social media. Novaya Gazeta reported that Internet Research Agency Ltd's office was in Olgino, a historic district of Saint Petersburg. The terms "Trolls from Olgino" and "Olgino's trolls" have since become general terms denoting trolls who spread pro-Russian propaganda, not just those based in Olgino. Vedomosti has linked the strategy of public consciousness manipulation through new media to Vyacheslav Volodin. Several Russian media outlets have claimed the Agency is funded by Evgeny Prigozhin, an oligarch restaurateur called "the Kremlin's chef" in the independent press for his lucrative government contracts and close relationship with Putin. Prigozhin has also been called "Dr. Evil." Journalists have written that Alexey Soskovets, who had participated in the Russian youth political community, was directly connected to the office in Olgino and answered job inquiries there. More than 1,000 paid bloggers and commenters reportedly worked in a single building at Savushkina Street by 2015. Many more employees worked remotely. Each commentator has a daily quota of 100 comments. An employee interviewed by The Washington Post described the work: "I immediately felt like a character in the book 1984 by George Orwell — a place where you have to write that white is black and black is white. Your first feeling, when you ended up there, was that you were in some kind of factory that turned lying, telling untruths, into an industrial assembly line." According to the testimonies of the investigative journalists and former employees of the offices, the main topics for posts included: criticism of Ukraine's and the United States' foreign policies, and of the top politicians of these states; praise for Vladimir Putin and the policy of the Russian Federation; praise for and defense of Syria's Bashar al-Assad, one of Russia's most despotic and murderous allies; criticism of Alexei Navalny, his sponsors, and Russian opposition in general. Did they study Trump's tweets during troll training exercises, perhaps?
Sept. 13, 2013: Trump praises Putin for his criticism of the term "American exceptionalism," saying: "You think of the term as being fine, but all of sudden you say, what if you're in Germany or Japan or any one of 100 different countries? You're not going to like that term," Trump told CNN. "It's very insulting and Putin really put it to him (Obama) about that."
Sept. 16, 2013: Trump invites Putin to Miss Universe: "So we've invited President Putin, that'll be interesting," Trump said on Fox and Friends. "I know he'd like to go."
October 17, 2013: In an interview with David Letterman, Trump says: "Well I've done a lot of business with the Russians. They're smart and they're tough." Trump goes on to say that Putin is a "tough guy" and that he's met him "once."
Nov. 9, 2013: The Miss Universe red carpet is rolled out in Moscow. Emin Agalarov sings a song, and Miss Venezuela is crowned the winner. A story published the same day by RT (Russia Today) touts Trump's latest business plans for Russia, quoting him: "I have plans for the establishment of business in Russia. Now, I am in talks with several Russian companies to establish this skyscraper." Aras Agalarov was quoted saying he was participating in talks to be Trump's partner in the project.
November 11, 2013: Trump tweets Aras Agalarov: "I had a great weekend with you and your family ... TRUMP TOWER-MOSCOW is next."
2013: "Red Sparrow" Maria Butina meets Republican political operative Paul Erickson in Russia. The two become close, start dating, and eventually shack up.
Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin become regular guests at Golden Ring of Freedom dinners and VIP events reserved for people who typically donate $1 million or more to the NRA.
April 2014: The Russian interference operation forms a department known as the "Translator Project" to focus on operations via social media, according to the Justice Department.
May 2014: Moscow has developed a strategy with the goal of interfering in the 2016 election and "spread[ing] distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general," according to the Justice Department. Russian intelligence launches a coordinated campaign to influence US politics and undermine its institutions by spreading misinformation, US authorities later conclude. The campaign begins at the direction of Vladimir Putin, the Russian president.
June 2014: The Internet Research Agency takes steps to obscure "its conduct by operating through a number of Russian entities," according to the Justice Department.
Mid-2014: The FBI begins an investigation of Paul Manafort for potential criminal activity related to his representation of Russian interests in Ukraine.
March 24, 2015: Maria Butina allegedly emails Person 1 to propose a project titled "Diplomacy." This has come to be known as the "Diplomacy Project." (The email subject line apparently makes reference to a former KGB propagandist.) She writes that the Republican Party (identified only as POLITICAL PARTY 1 in the complaint) will likely gain power in 2016 but is "traditionally associated with negative and aggressive foreign policy, particularly with regards to Russia." The time was right, she wrote, to build a relationship with the party, using the "central place and influence" of the NRA on the Republican Party. She noted her relationship with the NRA and past interactions with Republican officials in the email, anticipating a $125,000 budget to be spent on major political conferences. Person 1 responded with suggestions about people with whom she should meet and some strategic recommendations. Butina and her American lover Paul Erikson will continue to work to create "back channels" of communication between the Russian and American governments, using conservative organizations like the NRA and The Fellowship (the secretive sponsor of the National Prayer Breakfast) as conduits. The Fellowship is also known as The Fellowship Foundation, The Family and The International Foundation.
June 16, 2015: Trump announces his candidacy for the American presidency. His announcement speech is riddled with lies. For instance: "I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I'll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border and I'll have Mexico pay for that wall." The projected cost of the wall keeps going up, there has been no construction on a wall (only minor repairs and upgrades of existing fences), and Mexico has not paid for either the non-existent wall nor the fences."
July 11, 2015: Maria Butina attended FreedomFest, where Trump gave a speech, and in what now appears to be a staged event, asked him from the audience about ending U.S. sanctions against Russia. (It has been suggested that the question may have been staged via cooperation between the Russian government and the Trump campaign.) Trump replied: "I know Putin, and I'll tell you what, we get along with Putin. Putin has no respect for President Obama. Big problem. Big problem. And Russia has been driven — you know I've always heard, for years I've heard, one of the worst things that can happen is if Russia ever gets driven to China. We have driven them together, with the big oil deals that are being made. We've driven them together. That's a horrible thing for this country. We have made them friends because of incompetent leadership. I believe I would get along very nicely with Putin, okay? And I mean where we have the strength. I don't think you'd need the sanctions." This was, very obviously, what Putin and the Kremlin had wanted to hear. Was this a signal by Trump and his campaign for Russia to aid and abet his efforts to become president of the United States?
July 13, 2015: Maria Butina attends the launch of Scott Walker's presidential campaign. According to reports, he greeted her in Russian.
August 2015: Trump meets Mike Flynn for the first time. The same month Flynn receives a payment of $11,250 from a Russian company. The reason for the payment is unknown. Flynn would receive another mysterious $11,250 payment from a Russian company at the time Trump signed the Moscow Project letter of intent. Was Flynn being paid for influencing Trump?
August 2015: Michael Cohen and "one or more members" Trump's campaign meet privately with David Pecker, the chief executive of The National Enquirer's parent company, American Media Inc. Pecker allegedly told Cohen that AMI could "deal with negative stories" about Trump's extramarital affairs by paying the women involved, then "killing" their stories. In June 2015 the Enquirer would pay former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal $150,000 for the rights to her story of an affair with Trump. That was "substantially more" than what the tabloid normally paid for such stories, but Cohen had promised to repay the money. AMI would later admit that the "principal purpose" of the payment was to influence the 2016 presidential election. The repayment was made via a false invoice for "advisory services" to a shell company set up by Cohen. Soon thereafter, a second woman, porn star Stormy Daniels, approached the Enquirer with her story of an affair with Trump. Cohen was notified and he negotiated a payment of $130,000 for the second story. But the deal was not closed, perhaps because Trump was busy campaigning, and Ms. Daniels started shopping her story elsewhere. When Pecker notified Cohen, the lawyer set up a Delaware shell company the next day and took out a home equity loan to pay Ms. Daniels. Cohen was reimbursed by the Trump Organization with $50,000 added for "tech services for the campaign" (Russian hackers, perhaps?) and an unexplained $60,000 bonus. Altogether, Cohen received $420,000 for his "services" on behalf of Trump and his campaign. Cohen would later plead guilty to five counts of tax evasion, one count of bank fraud, one count of making an illegal corporate contribution, and one count of making an illegal campaign finance contribution. Cohen said he made the corporate and campaign finance contributions "at the direction" of Trump. According to the charging document, prosecutors say Cohen approached Trump Organization executives asking to be reimbursed for "election-related" costs following the election, and that he began receiving the payments in February 2017.
August 25, 2015: Mick Mulvaney, a future Trump nanny (i.e. White House chief of staff), calls Trump "childish" and his border wall/fence a "simplistic" idea: "The fence doesn't solve the problem. Is it necessary to have one? Sure? Would it help? Sure. But to just say build the darn fence and have that be the end of an immigration discussion is absurd and almost childish for someone running for president to take that simplistic of [a] view." Mulvaney also derided the "pabulum" of Trump's "box car caucus" and implied that anyone who falls for the border wall/fence as a solution is "someone who doesn't follow the issue closely." And that, of course, would include his future boss!
September 2015: Felix Sater sets up a meeting with Trump's personal lawyer and "fixer" Michael Cohen to discuss a possible deal in Moscow. This became known as the Moscow Project and the centerpiece was to be Trump World Tower in the heart of Moscow, perhaps right across the street from the Kremlin and Trump's hero, Mr. Putin!
September 2015: According to a sentencing memo, sometime during or after September 2015, Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen reached out "to gauge Russia's interest" in a meeting between Trump and Putin. The sentencing memo does not specify the means by which Cohen reached out or specifically to whom he reached out.
October-November 2015: Dmitry Klokov's wife reportedly reached out to Ivanka Trump, claiming she had "connections in the Russian government" and could offer assistance with the Trump Tower Moscow deal. Ivanka then put Dmitry Klokov in touch with Michael Cohen. Klokov emailed Cohen claiming that "he could arrange a meeting between Donald Trump and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin to help pave the way for the tower." Cohen emailed Klokov back, reportedly turning down his offer "and saying that the Trump Organization already had an agreement in place." Klokov emailed Cohen, copying Ivanka, "question[ing] Cohen's authority to make decisions for the Trump Organization."
October 2015: Andrey Rozov, a Russian real estate developer, signs a letter of intent sent by Cohen to advance the construction of a Trump World Tower in Moscow that would feature 250 luxury condos, no fewer than 15 floors of hotel rooms, commercial and office space, a fitness center and an Ivanka Trump spa.
October 9, 2015: Sater emails Cohen to tell him he plans to meet with a Moscow developer about possible land for a building.
October 12, 2015: Sater informs Cohen via email that his associates would be meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and a deputy on October 14, and that VTB Bank would fund the Moscow project. (VTB was and remains subject to sanctions by the US government.)
October 13, 2015. Sater sends Cohen a letter of intent to move forward on the deal in Moscow, signed by Rozov. (While Trump claimed there were "no deals that could happen" in Russia because he and his people had "stayed away," that was obviously far from the truth.) Sater's email to Cohen says: "Lets make this happen and build a Trump Moscow ..."
October 28, 2015: Trump signs the letter of intent. (CNN later produced the letter of intent with Trump's signature.) That evening, he participates in the third Republican primary debate. Meanwhile, Trump continues to insist that he has no investments in Russia, no knowledge of Russia, etc.
November 2015: According to federal prosecutors, there is a phone call between Cohen and an unnamed Russian who claimed to be a "trusted person" in Moscow. The Russian explained to Cohen how the Russian government could provide the Trump campaign with "political synergy" and "synergy on a government level," and offered to set up a meeting between Mr. Trump, then a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, and Vladimir Putin. The Russian told Cohen that there was "no bigger warranty in any project than the consent" of Mr. Putin, who could have a "phenomenal" influence on both the tower project and Trump's presidential ambitions. Cohen would later lie to the Senate and House intelligence committees about these back-channel conversations with Russian agents and how long they went on.
November 3, 2015: Sater emails Cohen: "Buddy our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process." Sater also says: "My next steps are very sensitive with Putin's very, very close people. We can pull this off."
November 10, 2015: Trump says at 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." However, Trump never spoke to Putin; they appeared on 60 Minutes in completely separate interviews conducted on two very distant continents.
December 2, 2015: Trump is asked about Sater. "Felix Sater, boy, I have to even think about it," Trump said. "I'm not that familiar with him."
December 10, 2015: Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn attends Russia Today's 10th anniversary dinner. He gets paid $45,000 for the RT speaking engagement and sits just two seats from Putin. RT is funded by the Russian government. A 2017 report by the United States Intelligence Community characterized RT as "The Kremlin's principal international propaganda outlet" and said that RT America had been set up as an autonomous nonprofit organization in order to "avoid the Foreign Agents Registration Act." Flynn would become Trump's National Security Adviser and would fail to disclose the income on his government financial disclosure forms.
December 17, 2015: Cohen sends Sater a news article in which Putin calls Trump "talented" and "colorful." Knowing how susceptible Trump is to flattery, Cohen apparently sees an opportunity: "Now is the time," he replies. "Call me." Trump praises Putin in return, even though he has murdered journalists and invaded Crimea and Ukraine: "It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond."
December 19, 2015: To facilitate a trip to Russia, Sater asks Cohen to provide information about his and Trump's passports. A contact in Russia, Evgeny Shmykov (who once worked for Russian intelligence according to Sater's later testimony), needs the information to facilitate getting visas through VTB bank (which was under sanctions!). Cohen sends photos of information from his own passport but not Trump's. Shmykov made this request by calling Sater, who emailed Cohen saying "that he had Mr. Shmykov on the phone."
December 30, 2015: An unhappy note to end the year. Cohen, apparently angry with the slow pace of progress, emails Sater: "One month plus since the signing of the [letter of intent] that I wasted my time on," he writes. "I put the others all on hold and still, despite every conversation with you, nothing. … Not you or anyone you know will embarrass me in front of Mr. T when he asks me what is happening." Sater replied that he'd helped bury a story from ABC News in which Trump denied knowing Sater "because I kept my mouth shut for you and your team."
December 31, 2015: Sater informs Cohen that the new funder will be GenBank (like VTB, also subject to sanctions). Sater indicates that meetings in Moscow will include Dmitry Peskov, Putin's press secretary. Cohen responds unfavorably about how things were proceeding: "We're done. Enough. I told you last week that you thinking you are running point on this is inaccurate. You are putting my job in jeopardy and making me look incompetent. I gave you two months and the best you send me is some ... garbage invite by some no name clerk at a third-tier bank."
The Wall Street Journal reports that Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump are included on email messages about the Moscow project during this period (late 2015 and early 2016) or communicate directly with Cohen about it. Ivanka Trump even recommends an architect! She must have gotten her wish because according to BuzzFeed, "the discussions to build a tower were so advanced that architectural renderings of the proposed skyscraper existed, showing 'a sheer, glass-encased obelisk situated on a river' which 'would have soared above every other building in Moscow.'"
December 2015: "Red Sparrow" Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin invite NRA leaders to Moscow in December 2015, a delegation that includes David Keene, a former NRA president and past head of the powerful American Conservative Union. Documents reviewed by The Washington Post show the group met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. After the meeting ended, Butina sent Torshin a message in Russian that Assistant U.S. Attorney Erik Kenerson said could be rendered: "We should let them express their gratitude now, and put pressure on them quietly later." In other words, according to Butina they had been compromised and could be subject to blackmail. Butina told Torshin that she predicted a Republican presidential victory, and with her contacts and the NRA's influence, she said, "she had laid the groundwork for an unofficial channel of communication with the next U.S. administration."
While running for president in 2015-2016, Trump would almost invariably speak highly of Putin while criticizing his adversaries and detractors, including NATO, the European Union and American intelligence agencies. Trump's bromance with Putin seldom wavered, even as evidence began to emerge that Russia was interfering in the 2016 presidential election, on Trump's behalf.
2015 and 2016: "Red Sparrow" Maria Butina allegedly exchanges emails with another American ("U.S. Person 2") in an effort to arrange a series of dinners in New York and Washington to introduce Russians to people influential in American politics.
January 9, 2016: At a rally in Iowa, Trump says: "I like money. I'm very greedy. I'm a greedy person. I shouldn't tell you that, I'm a greedy — I've always been greedy. I love money, right?
To prove Trump wasn't exaggerating about his greed and love of money, let's consider his "charity." The Donald J. Trump Foundation first drew intense scrutiny after a January 2016 political event in Iowa. Trump had boycotted a Republican presidential debate after Megyn Kelly quoted insulting things he had said publicly about women, such as calling them "pigs," "dogs" and "disgusting animals." Perhaps to avoid having to explain his bad behavior, rather than attending the next debate, Trump held what he described as a fundraiser for veterans instead. Trump claimed that he personally donated $1 million to veterans' charities. Subsequent reporting from the Washington Post's David Fahrenthold could find no corroboration for that claim. Over time, Fahrenthold turned up more evidence that the Trump Foundation was in violation of numerous laws. Fahrenthold won a Pulitzer Prize in 2017 for his reporting on the foundation and Trump's charitable contributions. It turned out that Trump had stopped giving his own money to the Foundation in 2008, and that he was using other people's money as a "personal checkbook" to buy personal items and furnishings for his hotels, to fund his political campaign, and even to settle legal claims! Was he paying off porn stars with other people's charitable contributions, perhaps? The Trump Foundation also donated $25,000 to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, according to CREW, "in an apparent effort to dissuade her from investigating Trump University, another now-shuttered Trump venture."
January 14, 2016: Cohen emails Dmitry Peskov to ask for help with the stalled Moscow Project.
January 16, 2016: Cohen again emails Peskov's office, asking to speak with someone who speaks English.
January 19, 2016: Maria Butina allegedly contacts Alexander Torshin about logistics for the upcoming National Prayer Breakfast.
January 20, 2016: Cohen and Peskov's assistant (identified as "Assistant 1" in the statement of offense) speak on the phone for 20 minutes. From the statement of offense: "COHEN described his position at the Company and outlined the proposed Moscow Project, including the Russian development company with which the Company had partnered. COHEN requested assistance in moving the project forward, both in securing land to build the proposed tower and financing the construction. Assistant 1 asked detailed questions and took notes, stating that she would follow up with others in Russia." Part of this conversation, according to BuzzFeed News, allegedly included the prospect of giving the penthouse property, valued at $50 million, as a gift to Putin. Sater told BuzzFeed: "My idea was to give a $50 million penthouse to Putin and charge $250 million more for the rest of the units. All the oligarchs would line up to live in the same building as Putin."
January 26, 2016: Sater asks Cohen to take a call from Evgeny Shmykov, the former intelligence officer coordinating the deal in Moscow. Cohen says he will.
February 2016: "Maria Butina is currently in the USA. She writes me that D. Trump (an NRA member) is truly in favor of cooperation with Russia," Alexander Torshin tweeted in Russian.
February 2, 2016: Iowa holds its presidential caucuses. Trump comes in second.
February 14, 2016: On Valentine's Day, Alexander Torshin tweets that Maria Butina is in the United States, where she reports that Trump is "for cooperation with Russia," according to Mother Jones. Vodka glasses are tinkling in the Kremlin!
February 17, 2016: "Putin called me a genius!" Trump says at a campaign event in South Carolina. He will repeat the claim at other events.
February to June 2016: Cohen continues to discuss a possible Moscow deal with Trump on occasion. He also "briefed family members of [Trump] within the Company about the project," according to Mueller's team.
March 6, 2016: Around the time George Papadopoulos learns that he will be a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign. He has a conversation with a supervisory campaign official. Papadopoulos leaves the conversation with the understanding that "a principal foreign policy focus of the Campaign was an improved U.S. relationship with Russia."
March 14, 2016: Maria Butina allegedly emails Person 2 to say Torshin had informed her that "Putin's side" had approved of her outreach plan to high-profile political figures. And who was higher profile than Trump?
March 21, 2016: When asked who his foreign policy advisers are, during an interview with The Washington Post, Trump names Carter Page and George Papadopoulos. Page is an American banker who had lived in Moscow for three years, claimed to be an advisor to the Kremlin, and had been interviewed and monitored by the FBI for passing information to Russian intelligence operatives.
March 29, 2016: Trump hires Paul Manafort to help lead his delegate-gathering efforts at the upcoming Republican National Convention. Manafort had been working as a senior adviser to pro-Russia Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and various pro-Russia oligarchs. Why did Trump hire Manafort? Was it because of his Russian connections? Former senator and Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum would later claim that it was because establishment Republicans didn't want to work for Trump. However, it does seem odd that Manafort, who owed $10 to $20 million to an oligarch, offered to work for Trump for free. Did Manafort have a plan to make much more than a salary commensurate with his work?
March 30, 2016: Maria Butina allegedly emails an organizer of the national prayer breakfast to suggest Putin might attend in 2017, given certain conditions. The organizer offered ten spots at the 2017 event for Putin!
April 18, 2016: A mysterious professor introduces Papadopoulos to an individual who has connections to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Papadopoulos and the individual go on to have "multiple conversations over Skype and email about setting 'the groundwork' for a 'potential' meeting between the Campaign and Russian government officials," according to court documents.
April 25, 2016: Papadopoulos emails a senior policy adviser to the Trump campaign and says: "The Russian government has an open invitation by Putin for Mr. Trump to meet him when he is ready. The advantage of being in London is that these governments tend to speak a bit more openly in 'neutral' cities."
April 26, 2016: Papadopoulos meets the professor for breakfast at a London hotel. The professor says he has just returned from meeting with high-level Russian government officials in Moscow and that "he (the Professor) learned that that the Russians had obtained 'dirt' on then-candidate Clinton," according to court documents. Papadopoulos would later tell the FBI that the professor also said the Russians had "emails of Clinton" and "they have thousands of emails."
April 27, 2016: Papadopoulos emails a high-ranking campaign official saying he would like "to discuss Russia's interest in hosting Mr. Trump. Have been receiving a lot of calls over the last month about Putin wanting to host him and the team when the time is right." Papadopoulos also emails the senior policy adviser to say he has "some interesting messages coming in from Moscow about a trip when the time is right." On the same day, Trump delivers his first major foreign policy address in Washington. He calls for better relations with Russia in the speech. Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak is seated in the front row.
May 4, 2016: Sater texts Cohen: "I had a chat with Moscow. ASSUMING the trip does happen the question is before or after the convention. Obviously the pre-meeting trip [you only] can happen anytime you want but the 2 big guys where [sic] the question. I said I would confirm and revert." Cohen replies: "My trip before Cleveland" (the site of the convention) and "[Trump] once he becomes the nominee after the convention."
May 5, 2016: Sater texts Cohen to extend an invitation from Peskov to attend an event in St. Petersburg from June 16 to 19. The invitation includes a possible meeting with either Putin or Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
May 6, 2016: Cohen replies, saying the proposed St. Petersburg dates would work.
May 10-11, 2016: Maria Butina allegedly contacts Persons 1 and 2 to set up a series of dinners with influential political figures later that month. At some point in May, Butina is allegedly part of a group seeking a meeting with the Trump campaign, according to The Washington Post.
May 19, 2016: Paul Manafort, a man with many connections to Russia, including influencing elections, is promoted to Trump Campaign Chairman.
May 20, 2016: The next day after Manafort's promotion, at a dinner on the sideline of the NRA convention, Alexander Torshin and Donald Trump Jr. are seated near each other and finally meet.
May 21, 2016: George Papadopoulos emails Paul Manafort, informing him that "Russia has been eager to meet Mr. Trump for quite sometime and have been reaching out to me to discuss." Manafort forwards the email to future co-indictee Rick Gates: "We need someone to communicate that [Donald Trump] is not doing these trips. It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal."
May 22, 2016: In a Politico article, journalist David Cay Johnston notes Trump's relationship to Sater and Sater's ties to organized crime.
May 2016: Paul Erickson, the lover of "Red Sparrow" Maria Butina, sends an email with the subject line "Kremlin Connection" to Trump campaign adviser Rick Dearborn, asking Dearborn and then-Senator Jeff Sessions for advice on setting up a meeting between Trump and Putin at an annual NRA convention. Through two different individuals close to the Trump campaign, Torshin tries to set up a meeting with Donald Trump Jr. when the two are at the NRA convention in Kentucky later that month. In one of the emails, Dearborn explained that Russia was "quietly but actively seeking a dialogue with the U.S."
June 2016: As Franklin Foer put it, we are about to see that "A foreign power that wishes ill upon the United States has attached itself to a major presidential campaign."
June 7, 2016: The final primaries end. Trump formally clinches the Republican nomination. Around this time Donald Trump Jr. is already setting up a secret meeting with a Russian government agent at the Trump Tower. One of his father's former Russian business partners, Aras Agalarov, had been contacted by a senior Russian government official who was offering to provide dirt on Hillary Clinton. The documents "would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father," read the email which offered "obviously very high level and sensitive information" as "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump." If the future president's eldest son was surprised or disturbed by the provenance of the promised material — or the notion that it was part of a continuing effort by the Russian government to aid his father's campaign — he gave no indication. He replied within minutes: "If it's what you say I love it!" After a brief flurry of emails, the intermediary proposed a meeting in New York with a "Russian government attorney."
Ironically, Aras Agalarov may have been involved in a previous iteration of the Moscow Project, as it has been reported that he served as an intermediary between Trump and Putin when Trump was in Russia in 2013 for the Miss America pageant. Less than two weeks before the Miss Universe finals, Putin awarded Agalarov the prestigious Order of Honor medal: Was it a reward for bringing the Trumps under Russian influence? Aras Agalarov had paid Trump $20 million to host the pageant and his son Emin, a pop singer, had provided a pretty male face to go with all the lovely female ones. Rob Goldstone, Emin's rotund manager, had been one of the hangers-on. Now they were ready to act as Putin's agents. The "crown prosecutor of Russia" – assumed to be Goldstone's garbled billing for Yury Chaika, the Russian prosecutor general – wanted the Trump campaign to have documents that would "incriminate Hillary." And the Agalarovs and Goldstone would deliver them!
June 7-8, 2016: Goldstone sends Trump Jr. another email about setting up an in-person meeting with a "Russian government attorney" who will be flying from Moscow to New York on June 9, to talk to representatives from the Trump campaign at Trump Tower in New York. Trump loops in Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, so this will obviously be a very high-level meeting.
June 9, 2016: Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner meet with a Kremlin-linked attorney, Natalia V. Veselnitskaya, at the NYC Trump Tower. The meeting is set up through the Agalarovs and includes one their top executives, Irakly "Ike" Kaveladze, as the "eighth man." Meanwhile, Sater tries to get Cohen to confirm his trip to Russia, an effort that continues for several days. One of the parties involved in setting up the meeting was Rob Goldstone, a British music publicist who represented Emin Agalarov. Goldstone said in an email to Donald Trump Jr. that Ms. Veselnitskaya had obtained the documents from the top Russian prosecutor. In a July 14, 2017 interview with The Wall Street Journal, Natalia Veselnitskaya acknowledged that she was in regular contact with the Russian prosecutor general's office and with Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika "while waging a campaign against U.S. sanctions." In an interview with NBC News, Ms. Veselnitskaya admitted: "I am a lawyer, and I am an informant. Since 2013, I have been actively communicating with the office of the Russian prosecutor general." When she was shown incriminating copies of her emails by Richard Engel of NBC News, Ms. Veselnitskaya acknowledged that "many things included here are from my documents, my personal documents." She told the Russian news agency Interfax that her email accounts had been hacked and that she would report the hack to Russian authorities! Furthermore, Ms. Veselnitskaya once represented Russia's top intelligence agency in court, according to at least two public records. Ms. Veselnitskaya had represented a Russian military intelligence unit known as the F.S.B. The F.S.B. is the successor agency to the K.G.B. and was once headed by Russia President Vladimir V. Putin, whose code name was Pale Moth.
June 12, 2016: Just three days after the Trump Tower meeting, during an interview on British television, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says that the website has obtained and will publish a batch of Clinton emails.
June 14, 2016: The Washington Post reports that Russian hackers infiltrated the Democratic National Committee's computer network. That same day, Sater and Cohen meet in the lobby of Trump Tower, and Cohen says he won't attend the St. Petersburg event after all. In reality, Trump had been trying very hard to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, even while he was campaigning for president. The final attempt was headed by Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen. That effort began in September 2015 and apparently ended on June 14, 2016 with the Washington Post report that Russia was suspected to be behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee.
June 15, 2016: A Russian hacker going by the name Guccifer 2.0 posts documents stolen from the DNC.
June 16, 2016: Trump tweets about Vladimir Putin: "A guy calls me a genius and they want me to renounce him? I'm not going to renounce him."
June 19, 2016: George Papadopoulos offers in an email to a high-ranking campaign official to travel to Russia to meet with officials if Trump is unable to. He states he is willing "to make the trip off the record if it's in the interest of the Mr. Trump and the campaign to meet specific people."
June 20, 2016: Aras Agalarov moves approximately $20 million from an offshore account to the US bank account of a just-created Delaware company. The money transfer was reportedly flagged to US Treasury officials as suspicious. On the same day as the transfer, Trump fires his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, leaving his Russian-connected campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, in charge. Manafort has extensive business links to the former Soviet Union and allegedly has experience working with Russian hackers as well, from his "consulting" work in Ukraine. Is it just a coincidence that the $20 million fee Aras Agalarov paid to Trump in 2013 seems to "match" the 2016 transaction? Was Lewandowski fired and replaced by Manafort because the Trump campaign was getting into bed with Putin?
June 2016: Cohen and Sater have final conversations about the proposed Moscow Project. It has apparently become too hot to pursue because of the pending Russia investigations.
June 2016: At a closed-door foreign policy roundtable held at the Blair House in Washington, DC for visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Page praises Putin as a stronger and more reliable leader than President Obama. He adds that a Trump presidency would have a positive effective on U.S.-Russian relations.
July 4, 2016: Franklin Foer writing on Impendence Day: "If Putin wanted to concoct the ideal candidate to serve his purposes, his laboratory creation would look like Donald Trump. The Republican nominee wants to shatter our military alliances in Europe; he cheers the destruction of the European Union; he favors ratcheting down tensions with Russia over Ukraine and Syria, both as a matter of foreign policy and in service of his own pecuniary interests. A Trump presidency would weaken Putin's greatest geo-strategic competitor. By stoking racial hatred, Trump will shred the fabric of American society. He advertises his willingness to dismantle constitutional limits on executive power. In his desire to renegotiate debt payments, he would ruin the full faith and credit of the United States. One pro-Kremlin blogger summed up his government's interest in this election with clarifying bluntness: "Trump will smash America as we know it, we've got nothing to lose."
July 7-8 2016: Carter Page gives "a rambling Power Point presentation" on "the future of the world economy" in Moscow. The next day Page criticizes US policy toward Russia for being too harsh. Page later testifies to the House Intel Committee that he met with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich and Andrey Baranov, Rosneft's head of investor relations and a senior aide to Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin. The Trump campaign would refuse to acknowledge whether it had approved Page's trip for several months until Politico broke the story.
July 18-21, 2016: The Republican Party holds its convention in Cleveland. Sometime during the week of July 18 three Trump national security advisers — Carter Page, J.D. Gordon and Walid Phares — meet with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in Cleveland. They tell him they hope to see improved relations with Russia. The Washington Post reports: "The Trump campaign worked behind the scenes last week 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." It really did seem that Mr. Putin was dictating US foreign policy at this point.
In an interview with CNN's Jim Acosta, Gordon said he had promoted the softening of the language on Ukraine — a softening that Trump himself had advocated earlier in the year, in a meeting with Gordon. But in reality the idea of "softening" had come from Mr. Putin, via Sergey Kislyak. What had they offered in return? Did they offer Trump their valuable assistance to get him elected president?
July 22, 2016: WikiLeaks publishes about 20,000 emails stolen from the DNC.
July 25-26, 2016: American intelligence officials inform the White House that they have "high confidence" that Russia is behind the DNC hacks. The FBI announces publicly that it believes the DNC cyberattacks are linked to Russia. TIME will report within a week that "Russian intelligence agencies have allegedly recently digitally broken into four different American organizations that are affiliated either with Hillary Clinton or the Democratic Party since late May. All of the hacks appear designed to benefit Donald Trump's presidential aspirations in one fashion or another."
July 27, 2016: Trump invites 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," Trump said at a news conference. "I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press." Or perhaps by Trump and his administration?
July 2016: "How many times do I have to say that?" Trump complained at a news conference in July 2016, after WikiLeaks published thousands of Democratic Party emails hacked by Russian operatives. "I have nothing to do with Russia. I have nothing to do with Russia." At the time Trump insisted his only connection to Russia was a single house sale: "What do I have to do with Russia? You know the closest I came to Russia, I bought a house a number of years ago in Palm Beach, Florida. Palm Beach is a very expensive place. There was a man who went bankrupt, and I bought the house for $40 million and I sold it to a Russian for $100 million including brokerage commissions. So I sold it. So I bought it for 40, I told it for 100 to a Russian. That was a number of years ago."
Around this time Trump added in a tweet: "For the record, I have ZERO investments in Russia." Perhaps, but how many investments did Russia have in Trump?
We now know that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort met with a Russian agent with ties to the Kremlin, Natalia Veselnitskaya, at the Trump Tower in June 2016. And we know that Trump Junior was lured to the meeting because there was an offer to produce "dirt" on Hillary Clinton that could (and did) sway the 2016 presidential election. We know Trump Junior wasn't honest about the reasons for the meeting. We know Trump Senior dictated Junior's original misleading statement, with the help of Hope Hicks, when the news of the meeting became public. We know that the American intelligence community unanimously agrees that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, and yet Trump Senior has repeatedly expressed skepticism—once with Russia's Vladimir Putin standing beside him!—of that fact. We know former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn had ties to Russia, received payments from Russia, and eventually pled guilty to lying to the FBI about the nature and extent of his contacts with Russian officials. We know that Trump, in the Oval Office, told Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Russia Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that he had "just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job," and added: "I faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off." We know that Trump told NBC's Lester Holt that the real reason he had fired FBI Director James Comey was "this Russia thing." So how can Trump say that he "had nothing to do with Russia" and knows nothing about Russia?
July 15, 2016: Michael Flynn, the former lieutenant general who would very briefly became Donald Trump's national security adviser before resigning in shame, was giving a speech in Cleveland just as Turkish soldiers were taking over the bridges and airports of Istanbul. "There's an ongoing coup going on in Turkey right now—right now!" Flynn told his audience. The Turkish military, he continued, was a secular institution, whereas the country was heading "toward Islamism" under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Flynn's audience burst into applause; the event was hosted by a local branch of ACT for America, a national security group with strong Islamophobic tendencies. "Yeah," Flynn said, "that is worth applauding." Flynn has described Islam as a "cancer" and at one point tweeted: "Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL." But after the Turkish government paid Flynn's company, the Flynn Intel Group, a reported $530,000, Flynn quickly changed his tune and began lobbying on behalf of the "Islamist" government and helping it to discredit Fethullah Gülen, the person it accused of engineering the coup that Flynn had been applauding! Flynn would retroactively register as a foreign agent of Turkey, something he had failed to do until being investigated. According to the Wall Street Journal, Flynn later met with senior Turkish officials—including energy minister Berat Albayrak, Erdogan's son-in-law—to discuss kidnapping Gülen and delivering him to Turkey, an allegation now being investigated as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.
July 20, 2016: Carter Page meets with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. In spite of this meeting, Page continues to deny publicly that he met with any Russian officials during the 2016 campaign.
August 8, 2016: Trump ally and friend Roger Stone tells a group of Florida Republicans that he has "communicated with Assange."
August 14, 2016: The New York Times publishes an exposé on Ukrainian documents that appear to show that $12.7 million in cash was earmarked for Paul Manafort by the Russia-aligned Party of Regions. The illegal cash payments to Manafort were listed in a secret ledger linked to former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who resigned amid street protests. Manafort had worked as an adviser to Yanukovych and his associates dating back at least a decade.
August 19, 2016: Paul Manafort resigns as Trump's campaign chairman.
August 2016: "Red Sparrow" Maria Butina moves to the United States on a student visa, but the FBI has already been watching her, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter. After the FBI began monitoring her, Butina infiltrated the NRA, compromised NRA higher-ups, attended Trump inauguration ball, and tried to arrange a meeting between Trump and a senior Russian government official at the annual National Prayer Breakfast.
August-September 2016: According to a dossier of reports compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, Michael Cohen traveled to Prague to meet with major Russian officials in August-September 2016. The dossier notes that a Kremlin intelligence asset identified as Konstantin Kosachev, "an important figure in the Trump campaign-Kremlin liaison operation," was present at the meeting with Cohen. The meeting's agenda, according to Steele's sources, "comprised questions on how deniable cash payments were to be made to hackers who had worked in Europe under Kremlin direction against the CLINTON campaign and various contingencies for covering up these operations and Moscow's secret liaison with the TRUMP team more generally." While Cohen would later deny ever being in Prague, McClatchy has cited four different sources that place Cohen in Prague at the time in question. One source claims there are records of Cohen's cell phone accessing Prague cell towers. In response to the McClatchy reports, Cohen would again deny that he had ever been to Prague, but tweeted #Mueller knows everything!"
Sept. 23, 2016: Yahoo News reports that US intelligence agencies are investigating whether Page engaged in private communications with senior Russian officials, including talks about a potential lifting of economic sanctions should Trump be elected President. The report adds that Page's activities have been discussed with senior members of Congress during briefings about suspected Russian attempts to influence the election. Meanwhile the lies continue to mount as Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller tells Yahoo that Page "has no role…We are not aware of any of his activities, past or present."
October 2016: Trump says: "What do I know about the Russians? What do I know about the Russians? Then they said he borrows money from—I don't borrow money from the Russians. I promise you I've never made—I don't have any deals with Russia. I had Miss Universe there a couple of years ago other than that no. I had nothing to do."
October 6, 2016: DCLeaks, a self-described collective of "hacktivists" seeking to expose the influence of special interests on elected officials, publishes a batch of documents stolen from Clinton ally Capricia Marshall. DCLeaks is later identified as a front for Russian military intelligence.
October 7, 2016: The Department of Homeland Security and the Office of National Intelligence on Election Security issue a statement declaring that the intelligence community is "confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of emails from US persons and institutions." According to the statement, document releases on websites WikiLeaks and DC Leaks mirror the methods and motivations of past Russian-directed cyberattacks.
Oct. 21, 2016: The Justice Department and the FBI apply for and obtain a FISA probable cause order to surveil Carter Page's electronic communications.
September 5, 2016: 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 7, 2016: Trump prefers Mr. Putin to the American president: "He's been a leader far more than our president has been a leader."
September 8, 2016: Trump prefers the word of Mr. Putin and the Kremlin to the word of American intelligence agencies. He tells Russia Today that "it's probably unlikely" Russia is interfering in the election.
September 19, 2016: Michael Flynn meets Turkish contacts in New York and discusses US policy on the Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, a green-card holder residing in Pennsylvania. Flynn was reportedly paid $530,000 to consult for a Turkish businessman in a deal directed by the Turkish government. Flynn does not disclose his Turkish contracts until after his resignation from office, with federal prosecutors closing in. Trump would name Flynn, a foreign agent, his national security adviser a month later. In the meantime, Flynn was allegedly trying to work out a deal to kidnap Gülen or otherwise turn him over to the Turkish government he had accused of being "Islamist" in exchange for $15 million!
October 3, 2016: Roger Stone tweets: "I have total confidence that @wikileaks and my hero Julian Assange will educate the American people soon #LockHerUp"
Oct. 4, 2016: Paul Erickson, Person 1 in the federal complaint against Maria Butina, allegedly emails an acquaintance: "I've been involved in securing a VERY private line of communication between the Kremlin and key POLITICAL PARTY I (i.e., the Republican Party) leaders through, of all conduits, the [NRA]." Apparently, Alexander Torshin and Maria Butina have been successful in their efforts to create a back channel to the GOP through the NRA. (The NRA would contribute more than $30 million to Trump's campaigns and there are allegations some of the money was provided by Russia.)
Oct. 5, 2016: Butina tweets Torshin: "We made our bet. I am following our game. I will be connecting the people from the prayer breakfast to this group. ... Yesterday's dinner showed that American society is broken in relation to Russia. This is now the dividing line of opinions, the crucial one in the election race. [The Republicans] are for us, [Democrats] — against — 50/50. Our move here is very important." (The complaint obscures the identity of the parties.)
October 7, 2016: WikiLeaks publishes emails hacked from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's personal email account. The release comes just hours after the infamous Access Hollywood tape emerges in which Trump brags to Billy Bush about groping women's genitals without asking their permission. James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, says hacked documents posted on DC Leaks, Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks appear linked to Russian intelligence and accuses "Russia's senior-most officials" of directing the hacks.
October 7, 2016: Trump says "I love WikiLeaks" at a Pennsylvania rally. He specifically cites some of the hacked emails to attack Clinton.
October 7, 2016: Stone tells a Florida TV station that he has "back-channel communication" with Assange.
October 19, 2016: At the third and final presidential debate, Clinton comments that Putin backed Trump because he "would rather have a puppet as president of the United States."
November 8, 2016: Trump is elected the 45th president of the United States. Vodka glasses tinkle merrily in the Kremlin. The NRA has spent more than $30 million supporting his campaign. "Red Sparrow" Maria Butina has accomplished her plan to perfection! Butina and Torshin allegedly discuss the election results. Butina writes: "I'm going to sleep. It's 3 am here. I am ready for further orders." The Russian Official (Torshin) replies: "Think about in which areas of life we could towards bringing us closer. ISIS–understandably, what else we need to look at the American agenda." Trump is their man, Putin's man, Russia's man in the White House. Trump had trademarked his name in Russia in 1996; four of the trademarks were officially renewed the day he was elected president!
November 9, 2016: The Russian parliament bursts into applause at news of Trump's victory.
November 9, 2016: Just a few minutes after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, a man named Vyacheslav Nikonov approached a microphone in the Russian State Duma (their equivalent of the US House of Representatives) and made a very unusual statement. "Dear friends, respected colleagues!" Nikonov said. "Three minutes ago, Hillary Clinton admitted her defeat in US presidential elections, and a second ago Trump started his speech as an elected president of the United States of America, and I congratulate you on this." Nikonov is a leader in the pro-Putin United Russia Party and, incidentally, the grandson of Vyacheslav Molotov — after whom the "Molotov cocktail" was named. His announcement that day was a clear signal that Trump's victory was, in fact, a victory for Putin's Russia.
On Election Day 2016, a very curious op-ed article appeared in The Hill, under the headline: "Our ally Turkey is in crisis and needs our support." The author — Michael Flynn, soon to be named Trump's national security adviser before quickly resigning in shame — struck a remarkably positive tone toward Turkey and its controversial president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan (especially considering the fact that Flynn had previously accused the Erdogan government of being "Islamist" and a danger to the world!). The op-ed took a series of shots at Fethullah Gulen, the man accused by Erdogan of promoting a failed July 2016 coup against the Turkish government. (This was also very curious because Flynn had previously praised and applauded the coup.) The op-ed became even more curious in March, after the author belatedly registered his consulting firm under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, and disclosed that his firm had received over $530,000 from Turkish interests closely aligned with President Erdogan. The Hill, obviously embarrassed, tacked on an Editor's Note flagging the conflict of interest, and the failure of Flynn to disclose it.
Nov. 10, 2016 — Trump meets with President Barack Obama at the White House. Obama reportedly warns Trump against hiring Michael Flynn. Trump of course pays no heed. He will select Flynn as his National Security Adviser on Nov. 18.
November 10, 2016: Two days after Trump was elected president, a top Kremlin official caused a stir by asserting that Trump's associates were in contact with the Russian government before the election. "I don't say that all of them, but a whole array of them supported contacts with Russian representatives," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the Interfax news agency. Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov later tells the Associated Press that the contacts were "quite natural, quite normal." The Trump campaign denies it all. The claim was met with a hail of denials. Hope Hicks, then Trump's top spokeswoman, responded: "It never happened. There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign." After Trump took office, in February 2017, he reiterated the denial: "No. Nobody that I know of," the president told reporters when asked whether anyone who advised his campaign had contact with Russia. "I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge, no person that I deal with does." But of course Hicks and Trump were both lying through their teeth.
Trump family members and associates who allegedly interacted with Russians include: Donald Trump Sr., Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Rick Gates, Michael Cohen, Michael Flynn, Jeff Sessions, Rex Tillerson, George Papadopoulos, Wilbur Ross, Carter Page, Anthony Scaramucci, Michael Caputo, Elliot Broidy, Erik Prince, Peter W. Smith, Felix Sater, Andrei Nikolaev and Nigel Farage.
Nov. 11, 2016: Butina allegedly sends Torshin a proposal for a conference, featuring a number of members of Congress, focused on Russia.
Nov. 12, 2016: Torshin allegedly rejects the plan, saying that "they" won't go for it — a message that federal prosecutors will later allege signals instruction from the Russian government to Butina.
Nov. 13, 2016: Trump names Reince Priebus his White House Chief of Staff. Priebus would later say: "The president has zero psychological ability to recognize empathy or pity in any way."
November 18, 2016: Trump names Michael Flynn his National Security Adviser over the warnings of President Obama. It turns out Obama was right because in addition to collusion with Russia, Flynn was reportedly paid $530,000 by the Turkish government and was allegedly trying to work out another deal to kidnap Fethullah Gülen or otherwise deliver him to the Turkish government in exchange for $15 million! Did Flynn end his secret agent work for Turkey after formally becoming Trump's NSA, or did his undercover work continue? According to a report by Julia Ainsley, Robert Mueller has been investigating whether the $15 million was offered by Turkey for Flynn to use his influence after he became Trump's NSA. Ainsley has also reported that there was an American effort to restart the extradition process after Flynn became NSA, although it isn't clear where the effort originated. Reza Zarrab, a dual Turkish-Iranian national who is close to Turkish President Recep Erdogan, is cooperating with federal prosecutors in a money-laundering case and may have information about ties between the Turkish government and Flynn. Attorney Danny Cevallos, a legal analyst for MSNBC and NBC News, says Zarrab's decision to cooperate with federal prosecutors is a significant development. Curiously, Trump's personal lawyer, spokesperson and surrogate Rudy Giuliani has joined Zarrab's defense team to "explore a potential disposition of the criminal charges in the matter." Could something Zarrab knows be traced back to Trump?
On November 25, 2016, it was reported that K. T. McFarland was selected as President-elect Donald Trump's Deputy National Security Advisor. Paul Erickson, the lover of "Red Sparrow" Maria Butina, lobbied former campaign officials and Trump donors to get her the position.
Nov. 30, 2016: Maria Butina allegedly emails Person 1 about the prayer breakfast, assuring Person 1 that the people included in the Russian delegation, handpicked by Torshin and herself, were "coming to establish a back channel of communication." Person 1 is Butina's lover, Paul Erickson.
Dec. 1, 2016: Person 1 allegedly explains to "Red Sparrow" Maria Butina how to book the hotel for the Russian delegation to the national prayer breakfast and suggests that Torshin cover the cost.
Dec. 1, 2016: Michael Flynn and Jared Kushner meet with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, at Trump Tower. (The White House did not acknowledge the meeting occurred until it was disclosed in March 2017. In a statement to congressional investigators on July 24, 2017, Kushner described the contents of the meeting. He said Kislyak "wanted to convey information from what he called his ‘generals'" about "U.S. policy in Syria." Kushner said the exchange of information did not occur at that time because neither party could arrange a secure line of communication. "I asked if they had an existing communications channel at his embassy we could use where they would be comfortable transmitting the information they wanted to relay to General Flynn. The Ambassador said that would not be possible and so we all agreed that we would receive this information after the Inauguration.") The "secure line of communication" has been described as a "back channel" between Russian computers and the Trump computer network. As one national security expert put it: "The notion that a senior transition team or White House official would either propose—or even be open to discussing—using Russian secure communications channels is, to the say the least, unsettling. It indicates that individuals who occupy senior positions in the White House considered putting into place a system that would give the Russians an intelligence collection advantage by bypassing the U.S. intelligence community." And then there is the question of what they were trying to hide ...
December 13, 2016: Kushner meets Russian banker Sergey Gorkov at Trump Tower. Gorkov is the chairman of Vnesheconombank (VEB), a bank sanctioned by the United States after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. Kushner is known to have major debt problems related to his tower at 666 Fifth Avenue (an ominous address).
Dec. 22, 2016: Flynn calls Kislyak and asks if Russia would delay or defeat an upcoming U.N. Security Council resolution vote, undercutting the position of the American government under President Obama.
Dec. 26, 2016: Torshin allegedly explains who will and won't be attending the prayer breakfast, as per the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
December 26, 2016: The day after Christmas, Oleg Erovinkin, a former KGB official suspected of assisting a former British spy in compiling a dossier alleging Trump ties to Russia, is found dead in the back seat of his car in Moscow.
December 28, 2016: Obama signs an executive order to sanction Russia for its interference in the presidential election. The sanctions are to take effect the following day. Sergey Kislyak contacts Flynn.
December 29, 2016: Obama orders the ejection of 35 suspected Russian intelligence operatives from the country and imposes sanctions on two Russian intelligence services as retaliation for the election-interference campaign. Flynn has a series of phone calls with Kislyak. He would later acknowledge that 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, and became "irate and threatened a forceful Russian response." Court filings later reveal that Flynn asks Kislyak to refrain from escalating the situation in response to the sanctions. This conversation takes place after Flynn confers with a senior official on the Trump transition team about how to address the sanctions. Flynn calls the transition official after his conversation with Kislyak to update him on the call. Flynn goes on to lie to the FBI about this. Before Flynn's call to Kislyak, K. T. McFarland emails other Trump transition officials saying that Flynn will be speaking to Kislyak to try to prevent a cycle of retaliation over the newly imposed sanctions. The email is forwarded to Mike Flynn, Reince Priebus, Steve Bannon, and Sean Spicer.
December 30, 2016: Putin announces he will not retaliate against the U.S. expulsions. His foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, had previously recommended Russia respond with similar expulsions. Trump tweets: "Great move on delay (by V. Putin) — I always knew he was very smart!" Was he smart, or was he in collusion with Trump?
December 31, 2016: Trump tells reporters at Mar-a-Lago that "hacking is a very hard thing to prove." After speaking with Kislyak, Flynn transmits the good news about Russia's restraint to "senior members" of Trump's transition team, most of whom are meeting with Trump at Mar-a-Lago. At the center of those Flynn-transition team communications is K. T. McFarland. McFarland's contemporaneous email exchanges on the subject go to chief of staff-designate Reince Priebus, Steve Bannon, and Sean Spicer.
January 6, 2017: 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. The report concludes that DC Leaks, Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks all obtained documents via Russian government-backed hackers. That same day, James Clapper, FBI director James Comey and CIA director John Brennan brief Trump at Trump Tower on the intelligence community's findings. Trump ignores American intelligence agencies and tells The New York Times that the Russia controversy is a "political witch hunt." Trump releases a statement saying the hacks had "absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election."
January 9, 2017: BuzzFeed publishes a dossier of reports compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, alleging collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian actors. One of the claims was that Cohen traveled to Prague to meet with Russian officials in August-September 2016. While Cohen would deny being in Prague, McClatchy has reported four different sources that place Cohen in Prague at the time in question. One source claims there are records of Cohen's cell phone accessing Prague cell towers. In response to the McClatchy reports, Cohen again denied that he had ever been to Prague, but tweeted #Mueller knows everything!"
January 10, 2017: Jeff Sessions states under oath at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing: "I did not have communications with the Russians." This would prove to be another lie.
Jan. 13, 2017: McFarland calls The Washington Post to rebut its story that Flynn had multiple conversations with Kislyak on Dec. 29, 2016 — the day President Obama had announced new sanctions against Russia for interfering with the US election. Her memory of her interactions with Flynn around that time were vivid, she says at the time, although she would later claim to remember nothing. McFarland tells the Post that Flynn did not discuss the subject of sanctions with Kislyak. Another lie.
Jan. 12, 2017: The Washington Post reports that Flynn and Kislyak spoke on Dec. 29, the day that the U.S. announced new sanctions on Russia in response to the cyberattacks during the 2016 presidential election. Incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer denies that the call was about U.S. sanctions. "The call centered on the logistics of setting up a call with the president of Russia and the president-elect after he was sworn in," Spicer said. "And they exchanged logistical information on how to initiate and schedule that call. That was it, plain and simple." Yet another lie.
January 13, 2017: The Senate Intelligence Committee announces an investigation into interference and possible coordination.
Jan. 15, 2017: Vice President-elect Mike Pence says Flynn and Kislyak did not discuss U.S. sanctions on Russia. "They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States' decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia," Pence says.
January 20, 2017: On the way to his inauguration, Trump stops at the Trump International Hotel – Washington, D.C., where he gets out of the vehicle in what appears to be free advertising for his business. This is just one of many emolument issued raised by Trump's presidency, as he continually profits from the nation's highest office.
January 20, 2017: Trump is inaugurated. "Red Sparrow" Maria Butina attends one of the inaugural balls. The balls are invitation only, and highly select. How did a Russian agent obtain an invitation?
Jan. 22, 2017: On the same day Flynn is sworn in as national security adviser, the Wall Street Journal reports that U.S. counterintelligence agents have investigated Flynn's communications with Russian officials.
January 24, 2017: Two days after he was sworn in, during an interview with FBI agents Andrew McCabe and Peter Strzok, Flynn says that he did not urge Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to refrain from responding to new U.S. sanctions and that he did not ask the ambassador to delay a U.N. Security Council vote. The calls in question took place in December 2016 when Flynn was still a private citizen and before Trump took office. Flynn would later plead guilty to lying to the FBI about both conversations with Kislyak.
January 25, 2017: The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence announces an investigation of Russia's efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election and "any intelligence regarding links between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns."
Jan. 26, 2017: Acting Attorney General Sally Yates meets with White House counsel Donald McGahn in his office. She tells McGahn that high-ranking administration officials, including Vice President Pence, had made statements "about General Flynn's conduct that we knew to be untrue." She was referring to administration statements that Flynn did not discuss U.S. sanctions against Russia with the Russian ambassador. (Her meeting with McGahn would not be disclosed until Yates testified before Congress on May 8.)
January 27, 2017: Papadopoulos agrees to be interviewed by FBI agents. During the course of the interview, he makes a number of false statements, according to the plea deal. Trump and James Comey dine at the White House. It is reported that Trump asked Comey to pledge his loyalty to him; Comey declined.
January 27, 2017: There is a meeting between Michael Cohen, Felix Sater and Ukrainian politician Andrii V. Artemenko at a luxury hotel in New York. The three men discuss a proposed Russia-Ukraine peace agreement that would result in the lifting of economic sanctions against Russia. Artemenko told The New York Times that Cohen delivered the proposal to Michael Flynn, who was then Trump's national security advisor. Cohen has told different stories about his role, but in one interview he confirmed that he delivered a bundle of documents containing the proposal to Flynn's office while Flynn was still part of the Trump administration. Cohen has insisted he was not aware of any Kremlin involvement.
January 28, 2017: Vladimir Putin calls Trump to congratulate him on his inauguration.
January 30, 2017: Sally Yates invites the top White House lawyer to review her Mike Flynn files. Trump fires her the same day.
February 2017: Trump says: "And I can tell you, speaking for myself, I own nothing in Russia. I have no loans in Russia. I don't have any deals in Russia. President Putin called me up very nicely to congratulate me on the win of the election. He then, called me up extremely nicely to congratulate me on the inauguration, which was terrific. But so did many other leaders, almost all other leaders from almost all of the country. So that's the extent."
Feb. 2, 2017: Alexander Torshin initially set up a meeting with Trump before the national prayer breakfast on Feb. 2. But White House officials canceled after learning that Torshin, who is also a close ally of Putin, has suspected ties to organized crime and a money-laundering ring.
Feb. 2-8, 2017: Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin attend the national prayer breakfast. Butina allegedly thanks a prayer breakfast organizer for meeting with her and suggests she has "important information" for the organizer. She asks for a follow-up meeting. Butina allegedly emails Person 2 to thank him: "My dearest President [Putin] has received ‘the message' about your group initiatives and your constructive and kind attention to the Russians."
February 4, 2017: Trump defends Putin in an interview with Fox News, saying, "I do respect him," and, when pressed on allegations that Putin has been behind certain atrocities, Trump responds: "What, you think our country's so innocent?"
February 9, 2017: The Washington Post reports that Flynn did, in fact, discuss U.S. sanctions in his phone calls with Sergey Kislyak, contrary to Flynn's and the administration's previous statements.
February 13, 2017: Flynn resigns. He acknowledges that he misled Pence and others in the administration about his conversations with Kislyak, the Russian ambassador. "I inadvertently briefed the Vice President Elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian Ambassador," Flynn says.
February 14, 2017: 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." On Valentine's Day, Trump privately meets with FBI Director James Comey in the Oval Office and tries to woo him. Comey says that the president brought up the FBI investigation of Flynn. "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 gave this account of his meeting with Trump in written testimony for his June 8 hearing before the Senate intelligence committee. The account was first reported May 16 by The New York Times.)
Feb. 15, 2017: A day after Trump reportedly asked Comey to drop the investigation of Flynn, the FBI director tells U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions that "he did not want to be left alone again with the president," according to a New York Times story published June 6. (Comey also confirms the Times account in his June 8 Senate testimony.) White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus asks FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe if the agency would help the White House knock down news stories about contacts between Trump aides and Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign.
February 16, 2017: Trump again calls the Russia controversy "fake news" and said that the Times story from Feb. 14 was "a joke." Asked if anyone who advised his campaign had contacts with Russia during the election, Trump responds: "No. Nobody that I know of." When asked: "Did you direct Mike Flynn to discuss the sanctions with the Russian ambassador?" Trump responds, "No, I didn't. No, I didn't." But can anyone really believe that Flynn was creating his own international policies?
February 19, 2017: White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus says intelligence officials had cleared the Trump campaign of having any contact with Russian spies, contrary to anonymously sourced reports made the previous week by The New York Times. According to a Politico article dated March 17, 2017, a request by Priebus that the FBI refute allegations of contact by Trump associates with Russian intelligence "appears to have violated the White House's policy restricting political interference in pending investigations."
March 1, 2017: The Washington Post reports that Jeff Sessions did speak with the Russian ambassador during the campaign, contradicting his past statements. The following day Sessions announces he will recuse himself from any investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.
March 4, 2017: Trump accuses Obama of having put a "tapp" (sic) on his wires. No evidence of such wire tapping was ever produced. The charge seems to have been made up on talk radio show. Roger Stone tweets that he "never denied perfectly legal backchannel to Assange who indeed had the goods on #CrookedHillary." Stone later deletes the tweet.
March 20, 2017: During a hearing on Capitol Hill, James Comey confirms the FBI is investigating links between Russia and members of the Trump campaign.
March 2017: Mike Flynn, who had been Trump's choice for national security adviser over President Obama's warnings, retroactively registers as a foreign agent.
March 30, 2017: Mike Flynn's attorney, Robert Kelner, says that his client is willing to testify before Congress if Flynn receives immunity. "General Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should the circumstances permit," Kelner's statement says.
April 13, 2017: In his first public speech as CIA director, Mike Pompeo excoriated WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange: "We at the CIA find the celebration of entities like WikiLeaks to be perplexing and deeply troubling," he said. "WikiLeaks walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service." Pompeo also cited WikiLeaks' "overwhelming" focus on the United States. But apparently Mike Flynn, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and Roger Stone were anxious to work with hostile foreign intelligence services even as they attacked the US.
May 3, 2017: At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, James Comey says he believes the Russian government is continuing to meddle in US politics.
May 9, 2017: Trump fires FBI Director James Comey, at a time when Comey is doing his duty by trying to protect American democracy from attacks by Russia. Did Trump put protecting himself above protecting a nation of 300 million souls? Steve Bannon would later call the Comey firing the worst decision in the history of American politics. Chris Wallace of Fox News would later say that Trump had no one to blame for the subsequent Robert Mueller investigation except himself.
May 10, 2017: Trump meets with Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Kislyak at the Oval Office and reportedly divulges classified national security information to them during the course of the meeting.
May 11, 2017: Trump tells NBC's Lester Holt of his decision to fire Comey: "When I decided to just do it, 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 17, 2017: 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.
June 6, 2017: Mike Flynn provides more than 600 pages of documents to the Senate intelligence committee.
June 8, 2017: Comey testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee, describing his interactions with Trump dating back to a security briefing with Trump on January 6, 2017. In a statement that Comey released before the hearing, he says Trump asked him to affirm his loyalty during a private dinner. Comey also describes a private conversation with Trump during which the president told him "I hope you can let this go," referring to the FBI's investigation into Flynn.
June 13, 2017: Jeff Sessions says that the claim he colluded with Russians is a "detestable lie" during a hearing before the Senate intelligence committee. He declines to answer questions about private conversations he had with Trump regarding the firing of Comey and says he does not remember if he had an informal conversation with Kislyak during the reception at the Mayflower Hotel in April 2016.
June 15, 2017: The Washington Post reports that the FBI and federal prosecutors have been "examining the financial dealings" of Jared Kushner, Mike Flynn, Paul Manafort and Carter Page. The common factor appears to be Russia.
July 6, 2017: Trump arrives at the G20 summit at Hamburg, Germany.
July 7, 2017: The New York Times contacts the White House with a major breaking story—that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower—just as Trump is about to meet Putin. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's account of Trump's conversation with Putin at Hamburg is at odds with the only detail other administration officials were able to get from the interpreter. Though the interpreter refused to discuss the meeting, according to officials he conceded that Putin had denied any Russian involvement in the U.S. election and that Trump responded by saying, "I believe you." Tillerson said that Trump had "pressed" Putin more that once on the question of election interference. Senior Trump administration officials said that White House officials including National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster were never able to obtain a comprehensive account of the meeting, even from Tillerson. "We were frustrated because we didn't get a readout," a former senior administration official said. "The State Department and [National Security Council] were never comfortable" with Trump's interactions with Putin, the official said. "God only knows what they were going to talk about or agree to."
Later that day, at dinner, Trump was caught on video flashing hand signs at Putin that seemed to mean: "You, me, together!" Trump was apparently seeking to set up a second, secret, meeting with Putin. This meeting would be attended only by Trump, Putin and Putin's interpreter. Trump did not inform American officials of this second meeting with Putin.
Previous presidents had required senior aides to attend meetings with adversaries, including the Russian president, largely to ensure that there are no misunderstandings and that others in the administration are able to follow up on any agreements or plans.
A former official present in Hamburg said that Tillerson "didn't offer a briefing or call the ambassador or anybody together. He didn't brief senior staff," although he "gave a readout to the press."
Something similar would happen again at Helsinki when Trump lashed out at the media and federal investigators, and seemed to reject the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies, by saying that he was persuaded by Putin's "powerful" denial of election interference.
July 8, 2017: The New York Times breaks the story about Donald Trump Jr.'s Trump Tower meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer in June 2016. Trump Jr. provided the Times with a statement that the meeting was about an adoption program. It is later revealed by the Washington Post that Trump Sr. himself dictated the statement while flying home on Air Force One from the G20 meeting. Was the adoption ruse suggested by Putin during the previous day's secret meeting? Trump calls a Times reporter to say that Russia had been falsely accused of election interference.
July 11, 2017: The New York Times reports that the purpose of the Trump Tower meeting was to get "dirt" on Hillary Clinton.
July 19, 2017: Trump tell The New York Times that his secret huddle with Putin was about adoptions. Is that the reason Trump was frantically waving at Putin during dinner, really?
June 27, 2017: Paul Manafort finally files to retroactively be recognized as a foreign agent.
July 25, 2017: Manafort testifies behind closed doors to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
July 26, 2017: FBI agents raid Manafort's home, collecting evidence. Was the raid triggered by something he said the previous day during his testimony?
July 27, 2017: In a dispute over White House leaks, White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci tagged Priebus at the end of a Twitter post (later deleted) about such leaks, leading to speculation that Scaramucci considered Priebus responsible for them. Priebus told CNN that he resigned on July 27, 2017. The following day Donald Trump announced on Twitter that he had named John F. Kelly as new White House Chief of Staff. Kelly took office, ending Priebus' service, on July 31. This gave Priebus the shortest tenure as permanent Chief of Staff in history.
July 31, 2017: The Washington Post reveals that Trump Sr. dictated Trump Jr.'s misleading statement about Russian adoptions.
August 28, 2017: Cohen's legal team sends a two-page written statement to the House and Senate committees making false claims about the termination of the Moscow project. Cohen claimed that the effort "to build a Trump property in Moscow" had been terminated in January of 2016, before the Iowa caucus and months before the first primary. This was, of course, a bald lie that Cohen would soon confess and recant.
August 1, 2017: Sarah Huckabee Sanders changes the official Trump story to say that he "weighed in" on his son's statement about the Trump Tower meeting, but denies that the president dictated it.
August 3, 2017: Robert Mueller apparently doesn't buy the revised lie. CNN reports that Mueller has issued grand jury subpoenas for documents and testimony related to the June 2016 meeting between Trump campaign officials and a Russian lawyer.
September 1, 2017: The New York Times reports that Mueller has obtained an early draft of the president's letter informing Comey that he was being fired. Trump reportedly dictated his criticisms of Comey to Senior Adviser Stephen Miller, who drafted the letter during a long weekend at the president's New Jersey golf resort. The original version of the letter was distributed to top officials including Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Don McGahn. According to the Times, revisions were made after McGahn suggested a number of cuts, expressing concern about references to private meetings between Trump and Comey.
September 6, 2017: Facebook announces that more than 3,000 advertisements posted on the social media network between June 2015 and May 2017 were linked to a Russia. The Washington Post reports that the ads are linked to a Russian company called the Internet Research Agency. The DNI has identified the company as a Kremlin-connected organization that employs professional trolls who spread political propaganda on behalf of the Russian government. Approximately $100,000 in advertising was purchased by individuals and groups connected to about 470 inauthentic accounts. The divisive political posts included comments on gun rights, immigration, race issues and LGBT matters. The Russia-sourced political messages were viewed by about ten million users.
September 7, 2017: Donald Trump Jr. testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He's questioned about the Moscow project and claims he knew "very little" about the proposed deal, only receiving the letter of intent signed by his father. He claimed not to know about Cohen's outreach to Peskov. At another point he said that only he or Ivanka Trump would have known about other Moscow deals.
September 26, 2017: Longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone appears before the House intelligence committee behind closed doors. After the session, Stone says that he declined to answer a question about his connection to Julian Assange, claiming that he was in contact with the WikiLeaks founder via a third party he would not name. During the 2016 campaign, Stone posted several tweets with the appearance of advance knowledge that WikiLeaks was going to publish hacked emails from the Clinton campaign.
October 4, 2017: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson allegedly calls Trump "a fucking moron," as reported by The New Yorker.
October 25, 2017: Michael Cohen testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
October 27, 2017: Trump tweets: "Congratulations to @SpeakerRyan, @GOPLeader, @SteveScalise and to the Republican Party on Budget passage yesterday." The federal budget deficit for Trump's first fiscal year was $666 billion, as reported by Fox and other sources. The bavister.org Julian Date calculator confirms that a Julian date of 6666 translates to October 27, 2017, the date of Trump's tweet.
Oct. 30, 2017: The Papadopoulos plea deal is made public. Paul Manafort and a fellow former campaign aide, Rick Gates, turn themselves into the FBI after being indicted on 12 counts. The charges against Manafort and Gates include conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, acting as unregistered agents of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, false statements, and multiple counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts. The indictment alleges Manafort and Gates acted as agents for pro-Russian parties and elements of the Ukrainian government. They received millions in payments from the pro-Russia elements and then "in order to hide the Ukraine payments from United States authorities . . . laundered the money through scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships and bank accounts." They then lied about it to investigators and did not report the income on their taxes."
Nov. 2, 2017: The New York Times reports that Carter Page testified before the House Intelligence Committee, revealing that he met with Russian officials during his July and December 2016 trips to Moscow, among other things. Politico reports that Page invoked his Fifth Amendment rights when asked why he had not turned in documents relating to the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Page has a long history of claiming not to remember who he met, who he talked to, or what he talked to them about.
According to Wikipedia: Carter Page testified to the House Intelligence Committee that he had he kept senior officials in the Trump campaign such as Corey Lewandowski, Hope Hicks, and J.D. Gordon informed about his contacts with the Russians and had informed Jeff Sessions, Lewandowski, Hicks and other Trump campaign officials that he was traveling to Russia to give a speech in July 2016. Page testified that he had met with Russian government officials during this trip and had sent a post-meeting report via email to members of the Trump campaign. He also indicated that campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis had asked him to sign a non-disclosure agreement about his trip. Elements of Page's testimony contradicted prior claims by Trump, Sessions, and others in the Trump administration. Lewandowski, who had previously denied knowing Page or meeting him during the campaign, said after Page's testimony that his memory was "refreshed" and he acknowledged that he had been aware of Page's trip to Russia. Page also testified that after delivering a commencement speech at the New Economic School in Moscow, he spoke briefly with one of the people in attendance, Arkady Dvorkovich, a Deputy Prime Minister in Dmitry Medvedev's cabinet, contradicting his previous statements not to have spoken to anyone connected with the Russian government. In addition, while Page denied a meeting with Sechin as alleged in the Trump–Russia dossier, he did say he met with Andrey Baranov, Rosneft's head of investor relations. The dossier alleges that Sechin offered Page the brokerage fee from the sale of up to 19 percent of Rosneft if he worked to roll back Magnitsky Act economic sanctions that had been imposed on Russia in 2012. It also alleges that Page confirmed, on Trump's "full authority", that this was Trump's intent. Page testified that he did not "directly" express support for lifting the sanctions during the meeting with Baranov, but that he might have mentioned the proposed Rosneft transaction.
Nov. 13, 2017: Donald Trump Jr. confirms on Twitter that he had private conversations with WikiLeaks during the presidential campaign after the Atlantic publishes leaked excerpts. Vice President Mike Pence, who during the campaign dismissed any notion of the campaign being in cahoots with WikiLeaks, now conveniently denies any knowledge of the matter.
Dec. 1, 2017: Mike Flynn pleads guilty to lying to the FBI about his December 2016 conversations with the Russian ambassador. Flynn agrees to cooperate with the FBI investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election, saying: "My guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with the Special Counsel's Office reflect a decision I made in the best interests of my family and of our country." Robert Mueller's Special Counsel investigation names K. T. McFarland as one of the people involved with Michael Flynn, her former supervisor, and Jared Kushner in developments leading up to Flynn's guilty plea to lying to the FBI. In particular, Kushner and McFarland reportedly briefed Flynn on what to say about U S. sanctions against Russia on or around Dec. 29, 2016. The next day, an email McFarland wrote during the transition surfaced; it read: "If there is a tit-for-tat escalation Trump will have difficulty improving relations with Russia, which has just thrown U.S.A. election to him." After talking to Kislyak, Flynn informed McFarland of the contents of the conversation, who in turn passed on the information to one of her colleagues. On Jan. 13, 2017, McFarland would call the Washington Post to insist that her memory was vivid and that Flynn and Kislyak did not discuss sanctions and only spoke with each other prior to December 29. That statement contradicts emails between herself and Flynn. On June 15, 2017, McFarland would be formally nominated for U.S. Ambassador to Singapore, and her confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee would take place on July 20, 2017. At the time McFarland stated that she believed Russia had interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections. She was also questioned in writing by Senator Cory Booker on whether she had ever spoken to Mr. Flynn about his contacts with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, before Mr. Trump took office. "I am not aware of any of the issues or events described above," Ms. McFarland wrote in response. Mr. Booker later said that he was concerned that McFarland might have given "false testimony" in her answers. "If this is the case, this is an alarming development, and another example of a pattern of deception on the part of Trump's closest associates regarding their connections and communications to Russian government officials," he said. During interviews with the FBI in the summer of 2017, McFarland would again deny any discussions of Russian sanctions before Trump took office. In Feb. 2018, Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, would say that McFarland must resolve the discrepancies between her earlier statements denying any awareness of the Flynn-Kislyak discussions with her emails and other facts set forth in Flynn's guilty plea — all of which suggest she knew that Flynn and Kislyak were discussing sanctions on Dec. 28-29, 2016. McFarland would then withdraw her nomination. Then in September 2018 it would be reported that McFarland had recovered her vivid memory and had walked back her story to the special prosecutor.
Dec. 12, 2017: In a legal filing, Flynn admitted lying in the March filings to the Justice Department, including by falsely stating that the Flynn Intel Group did not know to what extent the Turkish government was involved in an op-ed he wrote on behalf of a government that he had previously described as "Islamist" and a danger to the world. Apparently Flynn did not write the op-ed of his own initiative. Charges were also unsealed against two Flynn associates: Bijan Kian and Kamil Ekim Alptekin. Kian, also known as Bijan Rafiekian, co-founded Flynn's consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group, and served as its vice chairman, director, secretary and treasurer. He also worked on Trump's national security transition team. Kian was charged with conspiracy and acting as an unregistered foreign agent of the Turkish government. Alptekin ran Inovo BV, which apparently funneled money from the Islamic Turkish government to the anti-Islamist Flynn and his company. Alptekin was charged with conspiracy, acting as an unregistered foreign agent and four counts of making false statements to the FBI. The Dec. 12 indictment alleges that Kian and Alptekin "conspired covertly and unlawfully to influence U.S. politicians and public opinion concerning a Turkish citizen living in the United States whose extradition was then being sought by the Government of Turkey."
The indictment narrative starts on July 27, 2016, when Kian told Alptekin that he and Flynn were "ready to engage on what needs to be done." On Aug. 10, 2016, Alptekin told Kian he had a "green light" to discuss the confidentiality, budget and scope of a contract after meetings with two Turkish government ministers. In September 2016, a contract was drawn up for $600,000 for the Flynn Intel Group to "deliver findings and results including but not limited to making criminal referrals" against Fethullah Gulen. The indictment alleges that Kian and Alptekin hid the covert effort, first branded the "Truth Campaign" and later "Operation Confidence," by listing Alptekin's company, Inovo BV, as the Flynn Intel Group's client rather than the Turkish government. On Sept. 19, 2016, Flynn, Kian and Alptekin met with two Turkish government officials in New York City to discuss Gulen, the indictment says. Throughout September and October that year, Kian and others met with a member of Congress, a congressional staffer and a state government official to "depict [Gulen] as a threat who should be returned to Turkey," the indictment adds. On Nov. 2, 2016, according to the filing, Alptekin complained to Kian that Flynn's firm had "not publicized enough negative information" about Gulen. That day, Kian sent Alptekin a draft of the op-ed, telling him that "a promise made is a promise kept." Two days before the op-ed ran, Kian emailed Aptekin that "The arrow has left the bow!" and shared another draft. "This is a very high profile exposure one day before the election," Kian added. After the op-ed was published, the Justice Department began investigating, according to the indictment. In a later memo, Robert Mueller wrote that Flynn's op-ed was "valuable to the Republic of Turkey's efforts to shape public opinion."
January 2018: Federal agents photograph "Red Sparrow" Maria Butina dining with Oleg Zhiganov, the director of the Russian Cultural Center. Zhiganov is expelled from the U.S. in March for being a suspected Russian spy. In a July hearing, prosecutors offer Butina's association with Zhiganov as one reason she should be considered a flight risk and denied bail.
Jan. 2, 2018: In a New York Times op-ed, Fusion GPS founders Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch request that congressional Republicans "release full transcripts of our firm's testimony" and add that "the Steele dossier was not the trigger for the FBI's investigation into Russian meddling." Their sources said the dossier was taken seriously because it corroborated reports from other sources, "including one inside the Trump camp."
Jan. 4, 2018: The New York Times reports that two days after Comey's congressional testimony, an aide to Jeff Sessions approached a Capitol Hill staff member to ask for any derogatory information about Comey. Sessions purportedly wanted one negative article about Comey per day in the news media. The Times also reports that Robert Mueller has handwritten notes from Reince Priebus that show that Trump talked to Priebus about how he had called Comey to urge him to say publicly that Trump was not under investigation.
Jan. 10, 2018: The United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee releases a report, "Putin's Asymmetric Assault on Democracy in Russia and Europe: Implications for U.S. National Security."
Jan. 12, 2018: The Wall Street Journal reported that Cohen arranged a $130,000 payment to porn star Stephanie Clifford – better known to the world as Stormy Daniels – ahead of the 2016 election in exchange for her silence about an alleged 2006 affair with Trump.
Jan. 13, 2018: Cohen told The New York Times that he made the Stormy Daniels payment himself. His unlikely explanation was that he used his home equity line of credit to make the payment out of friendship. Usually it's the client mortgaging his/her home to pay the lawyer. Trump would later tell reporters onboard Air Force One that he didn't know about the payment to Daniels. "You'll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney. You'll have to ask Michael," Trump said.
Jan. 17, 2018: BuzzFeed News reports that Mueller's team and Senate Intelligence Committee investigators are looking into hundreds of financial transactions flagged as suspicious between the Russian government and people in the United States.
Jan. 18, 2018: Axios reports that Bannon informed the House Intelligence Committee that he did have a discussion with Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, and Mark Corallo about the June 2016 Veselnitskaya meeting at the Trump Tower.
Jan. 18, 2018: McClatchy reports that Mueller's team is investigating the NRA's role in the 2016 election. In a letter released several months later, the NRA indicates having received only about $2,500 from "people associated with Russian addresses." Perhaps, but how much money was delivered by the Russian government through banks, offshore companies and other intermediaries?
Jan. 18, 2018: The House Intelligence Committee releases the transcript of the Glenn Simpson testimony given on November 14, 2017. Adam Schiff says the testimony contains "serious allegations that the Trump Organization may have engaged in money laundering with Russian nationals."
Jan. 19, 2018: German periodical Manager Magazin reports that Deutsche Bank has presented Germany's financial authority, BaFin, evidence of "suspicious money transfers" by Jared Kushner; this information is due to be handed to Mueller.
Jan. 20, 2018: A fundraiser for the Republican Party and President Trump's reelection campaign celebrating President Trump's first year in office was held at Mar-a-Lago, with tickets starting at $100,000 per couple. President Trump initially planned to attend but remained in Washington, D.C. to address the government shutdown. The fundraiser was instead headed by Executive Vice President of the Trump Organization Eric Trump, his wife Lara Trump, and Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. CNN reported that the president still planned to address the event with a recorded video message.
Jan. 20, 2018: Twitter announces that it will notify 677,775 US citizens that they followed or retweeted accounts linked to Russian propaganda during the election. Twitter also announces the discovery of a further 1,062 propagandist accounts linked to the Kremlin's Internet Research Agency, bringing the total to 3,814, as well as the discovery of a further 13,512 automated bot accounts based in Russia, bringing the total to 50,258. Twitter estimates that the bot accounts produced 2.12 million tweets, collectively receiving 454.7 million impressions in the first week after each posting. Twitter's analysis indicates that Russian bots retweeted Trump's account 470,000 times in the run-up to election day, and Clinton's account 48,000 times.
Jan. 24, 2018: Trump tells reporters that he's "looking forward" to sitting for an interview with Mueller. But it turns out he was lying like usual.
Feb. 1, 2018: CNN reports that former Trump team legal spokesperson Mark Corallo had concerns that White House communications director Hope Hicks could be considering obstructing justice after a comment she reportedly made about emails between Donald Trump Jr. and Russians. Hicks allegedly told President Donald Trump on a conference call that the Trump Jr. emails "will never get out."
Feb. 8, 2018: Russian interest in the National Prayer Breakfast greatly increases. There are reports that an atypically large delegation of Russians — as many as 60 — planned to attend the 2018 event. Jim Slattery, a former Democratic congressman from Kansas who maintains ties to the National Prayer Breakfast and attended in 2018, acknowledged Russia "probably had the largest group" of any country that year.
Feb. 16, 2018: Mueller's team indicts 13 Russian nationals for interfering in the election. The number would increase to 26 by the end of the year.
Feb. 20, 2018: Mueller indicts Alex Van Der Zwaan, a lawyer who worked with Paul Manafort and Rick Gates on behalf of pro-Soviet interests in the Ukraine. The indictment charges Van Der Zwaan with lying to the FBI regarding communications he had with Gates and an unidentified "Person A" and with deleting emails sought by the Special Counsel. The communications at issue were in September 2016, just after Manafort formally left the Trump Campaign and while Gates was still with the Trump Campaign.
Feb. 22, 2018 : Mueller brings a new 32-count indictment against Manafort and Gates for tax and bank fraud and money laundering, among other charges.
Feb. 23, 2018: Rick Gates immediately capitulates and agrees to cooperate with Mueller's probe. Gates pleads guilty to multiple counts of conspiracy to defraud the United States and making false statements. Muller then files additional charges against Manafort with allegations of money laundering, bank fraud and sponsoring foreign lobbyists without the required disclosures.
Feb. 27, 2018: In testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, Hope Hicks admits that she has told "white lies" for Trump; she resigns from the White House a day later.
Feb. 28, 2018: A judge in Washington sets a Sept. 17 trial date for Manafort.
March 12, 2018: On his way back from Africa, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tells reporters that the poisoning of a former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the United Kingdom was "a really egregious act" that appears to have "clearly" come from Russia though it was not yet known if it was "with the Russian government's knowledge." Trump fires Tillerson the next day. Was it a coincidence or did Tillerson cross a line by criticizing Russia?
March 13, 2018: Trump tweets that he is firing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Later, Tillerson would reveal that he was stunned at Trump's seeming lack of knowledge about not only basic geopolitics but the rule of law: "So often, the President would say, 'Here's what I want to do and here's how I want to do it,' and I would have to say to him, 'Mr. President I understand what you want to do but you can't do it that way. It violates the law.'"
April 3, 2018: Dutch Attorney Alex van Der Zwaan is sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined $20,000 for lying to Mueller's team, attempting to conceal or destroy evidence, and assisting Manafort and Gates in their money laundering schemes.
April 6, 2018: Alexander Torshin, the apparent mastermind of the Russian plot to infiltrate the GOP via the NRA and prayer breakfasts, is one of more than 20 Russians sanctioned by the American government in response to Russian interference in 2016 and other incidents. Maria Butina, the Russian agent he handled, would be arrested on July 15, 2018.
April 9, 2018: Federal agents raid Cohen's home, hotel room and office in New York, acquiring 1.3 million pieces of potential evidence, including recordings of conversations between Cohen and Trump.
May 2, 2018: Trump hired former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani as his personal attorney.
June 4, 2018: Government attorneys file a motion to revoke Paul Manafort's bail on grounds he used his freedom to attempt to illegally influence witnesses. The government now seeks incarceration.
June 8, 2018: Mueller issues a superseding indictment against Manafort, adding the name of Russian intelligence operative Konstantin Kilimnik. Manafort and Kilimnik are accused of conspiracy to defraud the United States, FARA reporting violations, money laundering and tax evasion. The new indictment also charges Manafort and Kilimnik with obstruction of justice via witness tampering.
June 14, 2018: New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood files a civil suit against President Donald Trump and his three eldest children, Donald, Jr., Ivanka, and Eric, alleging "persistently illegal conduct" and accusing them of engaging in campaign finance violations, using foundation money in their self-interest ("self-dealing"), treating the foundation as a "personal checkbook," and illegally coordinating donations with Donald Trump's presidential campaign. Underwood ordered the charity dissolved and demanded $2.8 million in restitution and penalties. She also made referrals to the Federal Election Commission and the IRS.
June 28, 2018: "NATO is as bad as NAFTA," Trump told G7 leaders in Canada.
July 15, 2018: "Red Sparrow" Maria Butina is arrested and charged with acting as an agent of a foreign government, specifically the Russian Federation, without prior notification to the Attorney General, a conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States. According to the affidavit in support of the complaint, from as early as 2015 and continuing through at least February 2017, Butina worked at the direction of a high-level official in the Russian government, widely believed to be Alexander Torshin. The court filings detail the Russian official's and Butina's efforts for Butina to act as an agent of Russia inside the United States by developing relationships with U.S. persons and infiltrating organizations having influence in American Republican and conservative politics—such as the National Rifle Association, the National Prayer Breakfast and conservative religious organizations—for the purpose of advancing the interests of the Russian Federation.
July 18, 2018: Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs claims Butina's arrest was designed to undermine the "positive results" of the Helsinki summit between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, notwithstanding that she was arrested a day before the Trump-Putin meeting
July 21, 2018: The Justice Department releases a heavily redacted version of the October 2016 FISA warrant application for Carter Page, which expressed in part the FBI's belief that the Russian government was collaborating with Page (and possibly others associated with the Trump campaign) and that Page had been the subject of targeted recruitment by Russian intelligence agencies. The FBI warrant application also said that Page and a Russian intelligence operative had met in secret to discuss compromising material (kompromat) the Russian government held against "Candidate #2" (presumed to be Hillary Clinton) and the possibility of the Russians giving it to the Trump campaign.
July 30, 2018: Rudy Giuliani tells Fox & Friends that "collusion is not a crime," even when the collusion is with a hostile foreign power that has been relentlessly attacking the United States via hackers, and undermining its most democratic foundation: the vote.
August 21, 2018: Cohen pleads guilty to eight felony counts in a New York courtroom, including two in which he implicates Trump in campaign finance violations. Cohen said he paid off Daniels and McDougal to silence them before the 2016 election at Trump's "direction," and admitted that the payments were illegal. Paul Butler, law professor at Georgetown University says: "Tuesday August 21 marks the beginning of the end of Donald Trump's presidency, and possibly his freedom."
August 22, 2018: Trump finally admitted in an interview with Fox & Friends that the money paid to Daniels and McDougal "came from me." Trump said that since the money came from him and not the Trump campaign, the payments were not illegal. He also tweeted, "If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don't retain the services of Michael Cohen!"
September 11, 2018: Bob Woodward's book Fear: Trump in the White House is released on the anniversary of 9-11. The book tell us that "Trump does not listen. He does not read. He is impossible to brief. He has no extended focus. He is immovable on almost all issues. The language in the White House is disgusting, wholly unworthy of the office; the Trump West Wing's screenplay is by Puzo and Mamet. Trump belittles and humiliates virtually all his senior advisers. And they take it." The book is "an insight into power and craven attraction to the ultimate power of the Oval Office, and how so many grovel and stay rather than resign with dignity intact." As book reviewer Burce Wolpe explains: "Woodward's coda is an extended engagement with John Dowd, formerly Trump's senior lawyer in the Mueller investigation. Read it and understand why Trump can never be trusted to testify in front of Mueller: because Trump is a liar. If he testifies, he will commit perjury." Woodward's book concludes with what Dowd wanted to say to Trump's face, but never did: "You're a f---ing liar." But Dowd did come close, at one point telling Trump: "Don't testify. It's either that or an orange jumpsuit." But Trump, "concerned about the optics of a president refusing to testify and convinced that he could handle Mueller's questions," disagreed. "I'll be a real good witness," Trump told Dowd. "You are not a good witness," Dowd replied. "Mr. President, I'm afraid I just can't help you." The next morning, Dowd resigned.
Woodward depicts Trump's "anger and paranoia" about the Russia inquiry as "unrelenting, at times paralyzing the West Wing for days." When he learned of Mueller's appointment in May 2017, Trump groused: "Everybody's trying to get me!" with paranoia and venting reminiscent of Richard Nixon's demise. Woodward also describes "an administrative coup d'état" and a "nervous breakdown" of the executive branch, with senior aides conspiring to "pluck official papers from the president's desk so he couldn't see or sign them." The book explains how Trump's national security team was "shaken by his lack of curiosity and knowledge about world affairs" and his "contempt for the mainstream perspectives of military and intelligence leaders." For instance, during a National Security Council meeting about North Korean missile launches, Trump questioned why the US government was spending resources in the region at all. "We're doing this in order to prevent World War III," Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told him. After Trump left the meeting, Woodward recounts: "Mattis was particularly exasperated and alarmed, telling close associates that the president acted like — and had the understanding of — 'a fifth- or sixth-grader.'" According to Woodward, White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly "frequently lost his temper" and told colleagues that he thought the president was "unhinged." In one meeting, Kelly allegedly said of Trump: "He's an idiot. It's pointless to try to convince him of anything. He's gone off the rails. We're in Crazytown. I don't even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I've ever had."
September 11, 2018: Also on the anniversary of 9-11, a federal judge imposes a gag order on "Red Sparrow" Maria Butina, inspiring a new round of S&M-themed internet memes!
September 19, 2018: Trump calls the FBI "a cancer in our country."
October 19, 2018: According to the US Department of Justice website: A criminal complaint was unsealed in Alexandria, Virginia, today charging a Russian national for her alleged role in a Russian conspiracy to interfere in the U.S. political system, including the 2018 midterm election. Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger of the Eastern District of Virginia, and FBI Director Christopher Wray made the announcement after the charges were unsealed. "Today's charges allege that Russian national Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova conspired with others who were part of a Russian influence campaign to interfere with U.S. democracy," said Assistant Attorney General Demers. According to allegations in the criminal complaint, Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, 44, of St. Petersburg, Russia, served as the chief accountant of "Project Lakhta," a Russian umbrella effort funded by Russian oligarch Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin and two companies he controls, Concord Management and Consulting LLC, and Concord Catering. Project Lakhta includes multiple components, some involving domestic audiences within the Russian Federation and others targeting foreign audiences in the United States, members of the European Union, and Ukraine, among others.
November 7, 2018: Jeff Sessions resigns as US Attorney General. Trump announces that the Acting Attorney General will be Matthew Whitaker, a low-ranking former U.S. Attorney whose previous company is under FBI investigation for fraudulent legal services, according to the Wall Street Journal. It is widely believed that Whitaker will try to shield Trump from the Robert Mueller investigation.
November 27, 2018: Why does Trump refuse to heed his better-informed advisers? The increasingly isolated president explained his mindset in an interview with The Washington Post: "I have a gut, and my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else's brain can ever tell me." He's listening to his grumbly tummy and it tells him what to do!
November 29, 2018: Cohen pleads guilty to lying to Congress and congressional investigators. "COHEN made the false statements," the statement of offense reads, "to (1) minimize links between the Moscow Project and [Trump] and (2) give the false impression that the Moscow Project ended before 'the Iowa caucuses and ... the very first primary,' in hopes of limiting the ongoing Russia investigations."
November 29, 2018: According to Bloomberg: "The House Financial Services Committee, which Democrats will take control of in January, has the power to subpoena Deutsche Bank for banking records and other information regarding its relationship with the president, the Trump Organization and the Kushner family. It seems almost certain that the committee will deploy that power — especially given the news that Deutsche has landed in the middle of yet another money-laundering probe." The latest probe was YUGE, involving 170 German officers and investigators ...
November 29-30, 2018: CNN and other major sources report that Deutsche Bank's headquarters and other locations in Frankfurt were raided by 170 police officers and tax investigators as part of a giant money laundering probe. The German bank is suspected of helping clients set up offshore companies in tax havens, according to prosecutors. Investigators are also looking at whether Deutsche Bank failed to report suspicious transactions. Both the lender and prosecutors said the probe is related to the Panama Papers, a 2016 investigation into money laundering networks and shell companies set up by the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca. Investigative reporter Jake Bernstein had previously reported that he found Trump's name in the Panama Papers, and Deutsche Bank is known to have funded major real estate deals for Trump when American banks and Wall Street wouldn't touch him. Also, Deutsche Bank has been accused of engaging in transactions with sanctioned Russian banks. So it seems possible that Trump could be involved in a big or YUGE way. Deutsche Bank has been forced to cough up more than $18 billion to settle lawsuits and pay fines since 2008. That includes a $7 billion settlement with the U.S. Justice Department in 2017 over its trading and sales practices in the mortgage market during the financial crisis of the mid-2000s.
November 30, 2018: According to the New York Times: "Elliott Broidy, a Los Angeles-based businessman who was a finance vice chairman of Mr. Trump's 2016 campaign and inauguration committees, was paid to lobby the Trump administration to try to end an investigation related to the embezzlement of billions of dollars from a Malaysian state-owned fund, according to court filings made public on Friday."
November 30, 2018: Here is what Trump said about Cohen before leaving for the G20 summit in Argentina: "He's a weak person. He was convicted with a fairly long-term sentence with things unrelated to the Trump Organization. What he's trying to do is get a reduced sentence." But apparently Cohen didn't trust Trump and recorded their conversations, so Trump will probably be caught in his own web of lies.
December 2018: At least five close advisers to Trump have admitted wrongdoing or been convicted since his election. Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been convicted of financial fraud related to his work in Ukraine as a political consultant for pro-Russian elements. Rick Gates, an associate of Manafort, has pled guilty to multiple charges and awaits sentencing. Michael Flynn, Trump's national security adviser, resigned over his communications with Russia's ambassador prior to Trump taking office. George Papadopoulos, a Trump foreign policy adviser, confessed to making false statements to the FBI about the scope of his contacts with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign. Michael Cohen, once Trump's personal lawyer and "fixer," has already pled guilty to charges and is cooperating with the Mueller investigation. According to Vox, there have been charges brought against 33 individuals and companies in all, including 26 Russian nationals.
December 3, 2018: The attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia are preparing to move forward with subpoenas for President Trump's businesses in their lawsuit alleging that he is in violation of the U.S. Constitution's emoluments clauses. U.S. District Court Judge Peter J. Messitte gave the order for discovery in the case to proceed to D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, who have accused Trump of illegally profiting off the presidency. "We will now serve subpoenas to third-party organizations and federal agencies to gather the necessary evidence to prove that President Trump is violating the Constitution's emoluments clauses — our nation's original anti-corruption laws," Racine said in a statement. This is the first time an emoluments case has ever gone to trial in U.S. history.
December 6, 2018: In an interview with the Swiss weekly DIE WELTWOCHE, Tucker Carlson says that he "hates" that Trump is "boastful." Carlson says Trump has not kept his main promises: "His chief promises were that he would build the wall, de-fund Planned Parenthood, and repeal Obamacare, and he hasn't done any of those things." Carlson goes on to opine that Trump is hopeless: "I don't think he's capable. I don't think he's capable of sustained focus. I don't think he understands the system. I don't think the Congress is on his side. I don't think his own agencies support him. ... He knows very little about the legislative process, hasn't learned anything, hasn't surrounded himself with people that can get it done, hasn't done all the things you need to do."
December 7, 2018: Per The New York Times in an article headlined "Is This the Beginning of the End for Trump?": On Friday, federal prosecutors in Manhattan and the special counsel, Robert Mueller, delivered a potentially devastating one-two punch against President Trump. Coming late in the day, they made for bracing end-of-the-week reading. Calling on the court to impose a sentence of substantial imprisonment against Michael Cohen, the president's former personal attorney, prosecutors in the Southern District of New York stated that Mr. Trump, the Trump Organization and the campaign were all directly involved in an illegal scheme to silence two women who claimed they had affairs with Mr. Trump. Prosecutors wrote that payments made by Mr. Cohen and other actions were taken "with the intent to influence the 2016 presidential election" and pursued "in coordination with and at the direction of Individual 1" — that is, Mr. Trump. The Trump Organization's reimbursements to Mr. Cohen for payments were fraudulently disguised as legal fees — and, according to the memo, were approved by senior executives at the organization. The New York prosecutors also disclosed that they are investigating additional unspecified matters involving Mr. Cohen and, presumably, the Trump Organization. In light of these disclosures, the likelihood that the company and the Trump campaign face charges is now high.
December 8, 2018: According to Jeremy Bash, a former CIA chief of staff, the Trump administration has produced "the most pro-Russian foreign policy coming out of Washington in our history." According to Bash, what Trump and his henchmen did is "all about the leverage." The more Russia and Putin did for Trump, the more leverage (and dirt) Russia and Putin had over Trump. This explains why Trump did everything Putin demanded in return, including weakening NATO and averting sanctions on Russia.
December 10, 2018: Maria Butina agrees to plead guilty to conspiring to violate laws prohibiting covert foreign agents and is said to be "fully cooperating" with prosecutors. Her Russian handler, Alexander Torshin, is reported to be "retiring" according to Russian media.
December 11, 2018: Trump goes into full meltdown mode during a televised meeting with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, claiming that his imaginary wall is being built and saying he will be "proud" to shut down the government unless he can get $5 billion for wall construction. After the meeting, which he entered with a "terrible disposition," Trump has a temper tantrum and scatters briefing materials on his way out. Trump is apparently putting all his election eggs in one basket, having used the term "wall" 45 times during the meeting. But polls show that only 28% of Americans consider the wall to be a pressing issue; the rest are more concerned about shoring up Obamacare and other real world issues. In private Trump continues to assist that Mexico will "pay for the wall" but the US government collects no money from NAFTA or its replacement. It seems Trump has lost touch with reality and will shut the government down because he's delusional.
December 12, 2018: Michael Cohen is sentenced to three years in prison. At the hearing Cohen said his "blind loyalty" to Trump drove him to cover up the president's "dirty deeds." It also turns out that Robert Mueller has obtained a non-prosecution agreement with The National Enquirer's parent company, American Media Inc., and its head honcho, the appropriately named David Pecker. The aforementioned have agreed to testify that AMI paid $150,000 in an attempt to influence the 2016 presidential election by working "in concert" with the Trump campaign. The purpose of the 150K payoff was to "suppress" a woman's account of her affair with Trump. The fact that this suppression and Cohen's both took place on the eve of the election seems unlikely to have been coincidental. It was also revealed that Michael Cohen was paid $420,000 when he only paid Stormy Daniels $130,000. The payments to Cohen were made by the Trump Organization against a "retainer" that did not exist under the fraudulent heading "legal fees." Only five Trump Organization employees were authorized to sign checks: Allen Weisselberg, The Donald Himself, and his three adult children. Weisselberg is cooperating with the Mueller investigation and if he didn't independently authorize and sign the checks in question, only the Trumps remain as possibilities. Lanny Davis, one of Michael Cohen's lawyers, reveals to Lawrence O'Donnell that Cohen considered Donald Trump to be a danger to his family and to his country, and that this is why he agreed to tell Robert Mueller and the FBI the truth about Trump and Russia, at considerable risk and distress to himself and his family. Davis compares Cohen to John Dean and confirms that no one at the White House told Cohen not to lie about collusion with Russia, while making it clear that he could not reveal anything that only Mueller knows at this point in time.
December 12, 2018: According to Lawrence O'Donnell, the "impeachable crimes" of Donald Trump are now "settled facts."
December 12, 2018: The AMI immunity deal, said Gene Rossi, a former federal prosecutor from Northern Virginia, "is a huge red flag and loud gong against the president." In a document released Wednesday, December 12, 2018, AMI confirmed that it paid a woman $150,000 in "cooperation, consultation and concert" with Trump's campaign to ensure she "did not publicize damaging allegations about that candidate before the 2016 presidential election and thereby influence the election."
December 12, 2018: "The entire question about whether the president committed an impeachable offense now hinges on the testimony of two men: David Pecker and Allen Weisselberg, both cooperating witnesses in the SDNY investigation," a close Trump ally told NBC News. But it could well be that Robert Mueller has yet to play his hole cards. For instance, did one of the Trumps authorize the $420,000 paid to Michael Cohen? Why was an LLC set up to make the payment to Stormy Daniels, if it was a legitimate "private transaction"? Why did both payoffs take place on the eve of the election?
December 13, 2018: Maria Butina aka "Red Sparrow" pleads guilty Thursday to conspiring with a senior Russian official—her handler Alexander Torshin—to infiltrate the conservative movement in the United States as an agent for the Kremlin from 2015 until her arrest in July 2018. Her American lover, Paul Erickson, may also be charged for working as a Russian agent. In plea documents read by prosecutors in court Thursday, Butina admitted undertaking a multiyear influence campaign coordinated through Torshin, which she proposed in March 2015 as the "Diplomacy Project." Butina's case is a vivid "part of a larger mosaic of Russian influence operations" laid out in part by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's investigation of Russian interference, said David Laufman, a former Justice Department official who headed the National Security Division's Counterintelligence and Export Control Section until earlier this year.
December 13, 2018: According to the Wall Street Journal, federal prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation of possible financial irregularities related to Donald Trump's inauguration fundraising and spending. A staggering $107 million was donated, but around $30 million is unaccounted for, and other spending seems questionable. There are also questions about influence peddling and donations by foreigners — both illegal. According to Andrew Prokop there are "many, many red flags."
December 13, 2018: Jamie Raskin, a Congressman, member of the Judiciary Committee, and former professor of constitutional law, during an appearance on All in with Chris Hayes, says that the president has been "basically conducting his affairs like a crime family" mob boss.
December 13, 2018: "Nobody got killed, nobody got robbed … This was not a big crime," Rudy Giuliani told The Daily Beast, finally admitting that a crime had been committed in the hush money payoffs. But rigging the 2016 presidential election was not a "big crime"!
December 13, 2018: It is revealed that Donald Trump was the "third man in the room" along with Michael Cohen and David Pecker when the plot was hatched to pay 130K to porn star Stormy Daniels and 150K to Playboy bunny Karen McDougal. This "hush money" was designed to buy their silence on the eve of the 2016 presidential election. Trump has constantly lied about what really happened and hasn't been able to keep his story straight. First, after the Wall Street Journal reported the 130K payment to Stormy Daniels on Jan. 12, the initial Trump response, delivered through his lawyer and "fixer" Michael Cohen, was that the claim of hush money being paid was "outlandish." It never happened! But on Feb. 13, it turned out that it did happen, but that Cohen did it completely on his own, as a favor for which he was not reimbursed, taking out a home equity loan simply out of the goodness of his heart! This became the official word: Trump has "denied all these allegations," White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on March 7. Cohen later reiterated his claim that he paid Daniels with his own money. On April 5, when asked if he knew anything about the Daniels payment, Trump replied: "No, no!" while boarding Air Force One. But after Cohen's office was raided by the FBI, Trump changed his tune. On April 26, Trump admitted that he did know something, sorta. He told Fox & Friends that Cohen had "represented me in this crazy Stormy Daniels deal." But Trump insisted that Cohen did "absolutely nothing wrong" and claimed that it was a private transaction: "There was no campaign funds going into this, which would have been a problem." (Perhaps he spoke prophetically.) On May 2, Rudy Giuliani confirmed that Trump had been lying when he told Fox News that Trump had known about the "general arrangement, and that Michael would take care of things like this." Trump had repaid Cohen for paying off Daniels, Giuliani said at the time. The new Trump lie was that it had been a "private transaction" unrelated to the presidential campaign, even though both payments had been made on the eve of the election. Trump backed up the new lie in a series of tweets. On May 3, Huckabee Sanders reinforced the new lie, saying that Trump had not been aware of the Daniels payment at the time it was made. But then it turned out that the money didn't come out of Trump's personal pocketbook, but from his Trump Organization coffers, making it an illegal and felonious undisclosed campaign contribution. And that explains why an LLC was set up by Cohen to make the Daniels payment. Extreme steps were being taken to keep the payment secret. Then it turned out that Cohen had taped the conversation where Trump instructed him to make at least one of the payments. Lanny Davis, an attorney for Cohen, told CNN that Trump can be heard on the tape, suggesting a cash payment to McDougal. Cohen pled guilty on Aug. 21 to two counts of campaign finance violations; in court filings, he said that he acted on Trump's orders, implicating the president in the violations. On Dec. 13, Giuliani finally admitted that a crime had been committed, after all, but he insisted that "This was not a big crime."
What is the truth about the matter? As the Wall Street Journal reported: "Mr. Trump was involved in or briefed on nearly every step of the agreements. He directed deals in phone calls and meetings with his self-described fixer, Michael Cohen, and others. The U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan has gathered evidence of Mr. Trump's participation in the transactions."
December 13, 2018: Trump claims that climate change is "fake news," a hoax created by the Chinese, etc. For example: "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive." But according USA Today, an "Arctic Report Card" issued by the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), the Arctic is enduring "its most unprecedented transition in human history." Who do you trust: Trump, or legions of scientists who have actually studied the evidence?
December 14, 2018: Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) tells The New Yorker that he plans to subpoena information on President Trump's personal business transactions from Deutsche Bank regarding allegations that the president's financial interests in Russia are affecting his foreign policy positions. Schiff, who will likely chair the House Intelligence Committee come January, says that he believes answers to whether Trump was involved in money laundering with Russia lie in records held by the German-owned Deutsche Bank, which Trump banked with extensively during the 1990s. "Is that why Trump is so pro-Russian? Is his financial interest guiding his foreign policy?" Schiff asked in an interview with the magazine. "We are going to be looking at the issue of possible money laundering by the Trump Organization, and Deutsche Bank is one obvious place to start," he continued. Schiff also said the House Intelligence Committee would be looking into possible "illicit foreign funding or involvement in the inauguration."
December 14, 2018: Trump's personal lawyers are trying to "pause" evidence collection in an emoluments case, according to a CNN report. The attorneys general of the District of Columbia and Maryland have been working together in a lawsuit alleging that Trump has received illegal gifts through the Washington Trump International Hotel, amid claims that foreign dignitaries stay there to curry favor with the president. The Trump hotel is the Old Post Office building and is leased from the federal government. The lease with the General Services Administration explicitly says that no elected official of the government of the United States may hold that lease. The suit was moving to its discovery phase and the attorneys general had sent out several subpoenas, including to the Trump Organization. Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh slammed the lawyers' request: "I think they may have violated Lewis Carroll's copyright on Alice in Wonderland," he told CNN, adding that the argument that the president is immune from the Constitution's Emoluments Clause is "absurd."
December 15, 2018: Trump didn't "drain" the swamp. He packed it with his crocodilian donors and other political piranha, creating the most corrupt and scandal-ridden presidency in American history. Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke becomes the latest casualty when he submits his resignation to the White House after "facing intense pressure to step down because of multiple probes tied to his real estate dealings in his home state of Montana and his conduct while in office." Zinke is the fourth Trump Cabinet member to resign under an ethics cloud in less than two years. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt also resigned after coming under scrutiny for various irregularities. "Ryan Zinke will go down as the most anti-conservation Interior secretary in our nation's history," said Jennifer Rokala, executive director of the Center for Western Priorities. "Surrounding himself with former lobbyists, it quickly became clear that Ryan Zinke was a pawn for the oil and gas industry. We can expect more of the same from Acting Secretary David Bernhardt, but without the laughable Teddy Roosevelt comparisons."
December 16, 2018: Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani publicly admits another Trump lie. On ABC's This Week, Giuliani seems to reference Trump's written responses to special counsel Robert Mueller, saying the conversations about the proposed Moscow Project continued as far as the tail end of the general election period: "According to the answer that he [Trump] gave [to Mueller], it would have covered all the way up to November of 2016."
December 16, 2018: Fox News contributor Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, criticizes Trump for describing his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen as a "rat." McCarthy tweets: "Sir, in mobster lingo, a ‘rat' is a witness who tells prosecutors real incriminating info. Perhaps a different word?" McCarthy then added that searches of lawyers' offices are common enough that the "DOJ has a procedure for them."
December 16, 2018: In an ominous note for Trump and the Republican Party, the top Google "how to" search terms for 2018 were "How to vote" and "How to register to vote."
December 16, 2018: On ABC's This Week, current Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani responds to former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen in an interview with George Stephanopoulos. Cohen said that President Trump knew the payment to Stormy Daniels was a violation of campaign finance law and he ordered Cohen to do it anyway. Even though the payment was made on the eve of the 2016 presidential election in an obvious attempt to influence the election, Giuliani lamely replied: "It's not a crime. Paying $130,000 to Stormy whatever and paying $130,000 to the other one is not a crime." (The "other one" was $150,000 paid to Karen McDougal for the same reason.) The interview also produced this amusing exchange about whether Trump or Cohen is the bigger liar:
GIULIANI: He's changed his story four or five times.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So has the president. (One of the all-time great zingers!)
GIULIANI: The president's not under oath.
Thus according to the president's lawyer, the president can lie like a dog to the American public. As long as he isn't under oath, it doesn't matter a hill of beans!
December 17, 2018: Donald Trump has a much bigger problem than Robert Mueller, because he's pissed off the wrong people with his constant cries of "Witch hunt!" Real witches do not want to be associated with The Donald! "To have him compare his situation to the worst period in our history is just infuriating," witch Kitty Randall told the Daily Beast. Some witches — including a coven in Brooklyn — have taken to casting spells on the commander-in-chief. But most sorcerers are still biding their time, according to Randall.
December 17, 2018: Federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment charging two business associates of Michael Flynn with acting as agents of the Turkish government. Throughout the fall of 2016, while Flynn served publicly as a key surrogate and foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump's presidential campaign, prosecutors say he and his business partner Bijan Kian took hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Turkish government to push for the extradition of Fethullah Gulen. Their efforts, prosecutors said, were directed by Kamil Ekim Alptekin, a Turkish businessman with close ties to the country's leadership. Flynn himself registered as a Turkish agent, but only retroactively after being caught in a web of lies and deceptions by federal prosecutors.
December 17, 2018: Michael Flynn's sentencing was postponed after Judge Emmet Sullivan told him to consider pushing it off until after he has completed assisting prosecutors. Was this a message that he needs to tell the truth about EVERYTHING if he wants to avoid spending time in prison?
December 17, 2018: A few days after a defiant Trump chose to publicly "own" a government shutdown, saying he would be "proud" to do so, he caved. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that Trump won't shut down the government over his imaginary wall, after all. Are we tired of Trump always "winning" yet?
December 17, 2018: According to the Washington Post: "President Trump has agreed to shut down his embattled personal charity and to give away its remaining money amid allegations that he used the foundation for his personal and political benefit." New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood said that the Donald J. Trump Foundation is dissolving as her office pursues its lawsuit against the charity, Trump and his three eldest children. The suit accuses the Trumps of "persistently illegal conduct" at the foundation, which Trump began in 1987. Underwood is seeking $2.8 million in restitution and has asked a judge to ban the Trumps from serving on the boards of other New York nonprofit organizations. Underwood said that her investigation found "a shocking pattern of illegality involving the Trump Foundation — including unlawful coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing, and much more." The so-called "charity" has been described as a "personal checkbook" for the Trumps. The foundation's largest gift was $264,231 given to the Central Park Conservancy in 1989 — but it paid to restore a fountain outside Trump's Plaza Hotel. Another large "charitable contribution" was $100,000 to settle a fine for Mar-a-Lago's flagpole being twice the permitted height! Trump used the charity's money to make an illegal $25,000 political donation to Florida Attorney General Pamela Bondi, who then did not pursue charges of fraud against Trump's sham "university." State investigators asked Allen Weisselberg, CFO of the Trump Organization, to explain the foundation's policies to determine whether its payments were proper. "There's no policy, just so you understand," Weisselberg said.
December 17, 2018: After testifying before House Republicans, James Comey called for them to stand up to their "fear of Fox News, fear of their base, fear of mean tweets" and said they should "stand up for the values of this country."
December 18, 2018: In an extraordinary two-hour session in Federal District Court in Washington, the judge, Emmet G. Sullivan, left no doubt that he viewed Michael Flynn's crimes as serious enough to warrant incarceration despite a recommendation from prosecutors that he receive a lenient sentence. But Judge Sullivan brought up the question of treason, calling Flynn's actions "disgusting" and pointing at an American flag at one point, then gave Mr. Flynn the option of postponing his sentencing so he had additional time to prove the value of his cooperation with federal prosecutors. Mr. Flynn accepted the offer, delaying a decision on his fate at least until March.
December 18, 2018: Appearing on MSNBC, presidential biographer John Meacham described Trump as a "witting, unwitting or partially witting agent of a foreign power." Meacham also said that the House "will have a duty to move" on impeachment. MSNBC also reported that there are now 17 federal, state and local probes related to Trump.
December 19, 2018: Ann Coulter, a conservative who has criticized the lack progress on the wall, declared she won't vote for Trump in 2020 if the wall isn't built. "They're about to have a country where no Republican will ever be elected president again," Coulter told radio station WMAL. "Trump will just have been a joke presidency who scammed the American people, amused the populists for a while, but he'll have no legacy whatsoever." Meanwhile, Trump is going around with his hat in hand, pleading for someone, anyone!, to pay for the wall he vowed Mexico would fund.
December 19, 2018: According to Rush Limbaugh, speaking on his nationally syndicated radio show, the Democrats got everything and Trump got "less than nothing" on his un-built and un-funded wall.
December 19, 2018: “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,” Trump tweeted, announcing his intention to remove all American troops from Syria immediately.
December 19, 2018: Two weeks ago, Special Envoy Brett McGurk had said the end of ISIS would be a long-term initiative, and "nobody is declaring mission accomplished." But then Trump did declare "mission accomplished" and stunned the Pentagon, senators and congressmen by tweeting an immediate recall of American forces from Syria. Once again vodka glasses were tinkling in the Kremlin, as Trump once again did exactly as Mr. Putin desired (or commanded).
December 19, 2018: Robert Mueller asks House intel for Roger Stone's testimony, a step experts said may signal that an indictment is on the way.
December 19, 2018: Donald Trump and his personal lawyer, surrogate and spokesperson Rudy Giuliani have recently claimed that Trump cannot be guilty of campaign finance crimes because he didn't know it was a crime to pay 130K to Stormy Daniels and 150K to Karen McDougal. But it turns out that Trump is the world's leading expert on American campaign finance law, according to Trump himself! In 1999, Trump told Larry King: "I think nobody knows more about campaign finance than I do because I'm the biggest contributor!" Ooops, there goes Giuliani's last best defense! Furthermore, as the Wall Street Journal reported: "Sworn statements by President Donald Trump dating back several decades indicate he has a deep understanding of campaign-finance laws, legal experts say, which could be critical if investigators ever pursue a case against him over his alleged direction of hush-money payments in the 2016 campaign. Trump's statements were made as part of a 2000 regulatory investigation into his casino company and in 1988 testimony for a government-integrity commission. They contrast with the portrayal by some of the president's allies that he is a political novice with little understanding of campaign-finance laws and therefore couldn't be charged with violating them. In 2000, the Federal Election Commission investigated allegations that Trump Hotels & Casinos violated the law related to a fundraising event for a Senate candidate. Trump's sworn affidavit 'indicates that Trump had a very thorough understanding of federal campaign finance law, especially regarding what he could and could not legally do when raising money for a federal candidate,' said Brett Kappel, an election-law lawyer at Akerman LLP. In the four-page affidavit that Trump signed, he stressed he had a particular familiarity with laws governing corporate contributions to candidates."
December 19, 2018: CNN produces the letter of intent Donald Trump signed on October 28, 2015 to proceed with the Moscow Project. Trump's distinctive signature is plain to see.
December 19, 2018: Victor Boyarkin appears on the latest Russian sanctions list. Boyarkin is a former Russian intelligence officer and arms dealer. In his only media interview, Boyarkin told TIME that he was in touch with Trump's then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, during the heat of the 2016 presidential race, on behalf of a powerful Russian oligarch. "He owed us a lot of money," Boyarkin says. "And he was offering ways to pay it back." When he joined the Trump campaign in the spring of 2016, Manafort was nearly broke, having racked up millions of dollars of debt on luxury real estate, clothing, cars and antiques. According to allegations contained in court records filed in the U.S. and the Cayman Islands, Manafort was also deeply in debt to Boyarkin's boss, the Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska. Boyarkin says it fell to him to collect the debt from Manafort. "I came down on him hard," he says. But the American proved elusive. In a petition filed in the Cayman Islands in 2014, lawyers for Deripaska, a metals tycoon with close ties to the Kremlin, complained that Manafort and his then-partner had "simply disappeared" with around $19 million of the Russian's money. In a series of emails, Manafort tried to offer "private briefings" about the presidential race to Deripaska, apparently, as one of the emails puts it, to "get whole."
However, on the same day (December 19), the US Treasury Department announces that it is planning to lift sanctions imposed on three Russian companies controlled by Oleg Deripaska. In a letter to Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, the Treasury said it will end sanctions to En+Group, U Rusal, and EuroSibEnergy in 30 days. Deripaska, who is close to Vladimir Putin, was "accused of threatening the lives of business rivals, illegally wiretapping a government official, and taking part in extortion and racketeering" when the Treasury hit him with sanctions in April.
December 19, 2018: In a late-night Senate speech, Lindsey Graham rails against Trump's decision to immediately and unilaterally withdraw all American forces from Syria, calling the decision "disastrous" and a "stain on the honor" of the US. Graham said the president's claim that ISIS had been defeated was "fake news." Graham said he'd just gotten back from a trip to the Middle East and knew for a fact that it was "inaccurate."
December 20, 2018: Newsweek reports, in an article headlined TRUMP ADMINISTRATION TO LIFT SANCTIONS ON PUTIN-LINKED OLIGARCH'S COMPANIES AND THE BANK LINKED TO TRUMP TOWER MOSCOW PROJECT WILL BENEFIT: "After eight months of lobbying to be taken off the U.S. sanctions list, companies tied to the Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska got their wish on Wednesday. The Treasury Department notified Congress on Wednesday that it plans to remove three companies belonging to Deripaska, a Russian oligarch with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, from the sanctions list on the condition that Deripaska relinquishes control over his companies. Deripaska was sanctioned in April 2018, along with six other Russian oligarchs, for supporting Russia's efforts to meddle in the internal affairs of Western governments and for a handful of other offenses related to Russia's activities in Syria and Ukraine." The companies EN+, Rusal, and ESE had been sanctioned due to their relationships with Deripaska. "There are lots of reasonable suspicions that VTB and Glencore are involved in other aspects of these schemes. So what assurances do we have that Deripaska doesn't have influence over them or that other bad actors aren't taking control?" Jed Shugerman, a professor at Fordham Law, told Newsweek. "It's part of Putin's MO to play oligarchs off of each other and simply replace them with other oligarchs. How do we know this isn't just Putin taking Deripaska out of the game and replacing him with his cronies in VTB and other co-conspirators now that Deripaska's name is known?" Shugerman added. The three companies had been "negotiating aggressively" for sanctions relief. They had enlisted the aid of the lobbying firm Mercury Public Affairs, which previously worked with President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort when his finances were deeply entwined with Deripaska's. VTB Bank will take over some of Deripaska's shares of EN+. Glencore will "swap shares in Rusal" for a direct ownership interest in EN+, according to the letter to Congress. "Glencore is under investigation for money laundering. It would be laughable if it weren't so serious, and it raises more suspicions that this is Putin and Trump playing shell games," Shugerman said. VTB, a state-owned bank associated with the Russian intelligence agency FSB that has been called "Putin's piggy bank," allegedly offered to finance Trump Tower Moscow.
December 20, 2018: Rush Limbaugh, who is all about good optics, advised Donald Trump to quickly shut down the government, then jet off to Mire-a-Lago for an extended Christmas vacation (at taxpayer expense, of course.)
December 20, 2018: Donald Trump has more flip-flops than spring break on a Florida beach. Now he's back to his original position of being "proud" to own the shutdown, a few days before Christmas. How many Tiny Tims and Tinas will suffer on both sides of his imaginary wall, thanks to Ebenezer Scrooge McTrump? Trump threatened not to sign "any of their legislation, including infrastructure, unless it has perfect Border Security." But the wall is opposed by two-thirds of Americans and everyone knows that a mega-expensive wall would not come close to providing "perfect border security," since people can sail around it, fly over it, tunnel under it, use ladders to climb over it, or just stroll across the undefended Canadian border. (Although since Trump became president, it's more likely people will cross that border into Canada.) Trump has apparently given up on an actual wall and will now settle for a see-through fence with "artistically designed steel slats." But a see-through fence is not going to produce "perfect border security," so Trump is once again just dog-whistling "Dixie."
"Republicans in Texas don't want a wall." (John Harwood)
"The biased media should stop claiming that so many Trump associates are being sent to jail. They're just moving to rooms with artistically designed steel slats that you can see through!" (Matthew Miller)
While campaigning Trump railed against "incompetent" presidents who telegraphed America's moves to its enemies. Then he tweeted advance information about American troop deployments in a "hot zone" to everyone in the world! So according to his own thesis, Trump is an incompetent president.
December 20, 2018: Senator Bob Corker (R-Tn.) said the Republican leadership "has no guidance right now ... I think they're just sort of swirling around over there at the White House." Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a member of GOP leadership, said: "I think it's all very fluid and you know the president may change his mind—a couple of times. The worst possible politics are shutdown politics. The only thing worse than shutdown politics might be shutdown politics at Christmas."
December 20, 2018: Following Trump's decision to unilaterally pull out of Syria and tweet information about American troop deployments to the whole world, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis resigned. According to CNN: "It's impossible to read Mattis' [resignation] letter as evidence of anything but a man who had been pushed well past his breaking point and, finally, snapped. Faced with a President who made enemies of our allies and allies of our enemies -- no one has arguably been happier with the Trump presidency than Russian President Vladimir Putin -- Mattis decided to walk away." Mattis's resignation contained blistering condemnation of Trump: "One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships. While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies." In other words, we can't make decisions like the one made about Syria without consulting with and informing our allies. Now no one will trust us as a nation.
With Tillerson gone and Mattis and Kelly on their way out, the prevailing sentiment among establishment Republicans in Washington was one of thinly veiled panic. "We are headed towards a series of grave policy errors which will endanger our nation, damage our alliances & empower our adversaries," tweeted Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) shortly after the news of Mattis' resignation broke. Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse (R) called it a "sad day," adding: "Secretary Mattis was giving advice the President needs to hear. Mattis rightly believes that Russia and China are clear adversaries and that we are at war with jihadists across the globe who plot to kill Americans at home."
CNN concluded its report by saying: "The simple fact of Trump's presidency is now this: All rails have been removed from the proverbial road."
There are no adults left in the room, only Trump and his enablers.
December 20, 2018: Trump later announced that he was also bringing back half the American troops in Afghanistan.
December 20, 2018: These are reactions, in the form of quotes, to the resignation of James Mattis as Secretary of Defense and Trump's impulsive, unilateral withdrawals of American troops:
"James Mattis just cut the world's safety net." (CNN)
Washington insiders, both Democrats and Republicans, are "stunned." (Ryan Browne)
"Trump is giving Putin exactly what he wants. It could not get better for Putin today." (Erin Burnett)
General Stanley McChrystal said: "The kind of leadership that causes a dedicated patriot like Jim Mattis to leave should give pause to every American."
Barry McCaffrey, a retired four-star Army general, said: "This is a rogue presidency."
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said Americans are "dramatically less safe" and called the premature withdrawals an "Obama-like move."
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cautioned that Russia is America's enemy, something Trump refuses to accept.
Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger said: "That's what happens when you ignore sound military advice."
Republican Senator Bob Corker said he doubted there were any Republican leaders who weren't "stunned" by Trump's "precipitous" decision.
Republican Senator Ben Sasse said: "This is a sad day for America because Secretary Mattis was giving advice the President needs to hear."
Former Republican Presidential candidate John Kasich said: "This chaos, both foreign and domestic, is putting America in danger and must stop immediately."
Republican Congressman Mike Turner, who sits on both the House Intelligence and Armed Services committees, said "no one has been briefed."
Senator Chris Murphy called the Mattis resignation a "national security crisis."
Former CIA Director John Brennan rebuked Trump's "policy by tweet" and observed that his is now surrounded by "yes men."
Former CIA Director Leon Panetta said that the United States is going through "a steady diet of chaos."
"Chaos reigns in President Trump's Washington." (MSNBC)
"There are no more grown-ups in the room." (Jeffrey Toobin)
Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, called Mattis "an island of stability amidst the chaos of the Trump administration."
Trump proved the Taliban's maxim: "Americans have watches, we have time." (Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's former ambassador to the US)
Republican Senator Marco Rubio said that Mattis's resignation letter "makes it abundantly clear that we are headed towards a series of grave policy errors which will endanger our nation, damage our alliances & empower our adversaries."
You can read more responses from around the globe, including the perspectives of Israel and the Kurds here: James Mattis Resignation Reactions and Quotes
December 21, 2018: Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy to the coalition fighting ISIS, tendered his resignation on Friday, according to senior administration officials. According to an email he sent his staff, McGurk decided to resign immediately after Trump chose not heed his military advisers and blindsided America's allies in the region by abruptly ordering the withdrawal of American troops stationed in Syria. Earlier in the week, McGurk had vowed that the U.S. armed forces would use common sense when executing their inevitable withdrawal, saying: "It would be reckless if we were just to say, well, the physical caliphate is defeated, so we can just leave now. I think anyone who's looked at a conflict like this would agree with that [being reckless]." McGurk has led U.S. efforts against ISIS in "Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond" since 2015 and has been described as "the glue holding together the sprawling, American-led coalition fighting the terrorist group." In his email McGurk left no doubt about his reason for leaving immediately: "The recent decision by the president came as a shock and was a complete reversal of policy that was articulated to us. It left our coalition partners confused and our fighting partners bewildered. I worked this week to help manage some of the fallout but — as many of you heard in my meetings and phone calls — I ultimately concluded that I could not carry out these new instructions and maintain my integrity." McGurk's resignation is effective December 31.
December 21, 2018: Trump warned early Friday morning that the government shutdown he was "proud" to take credit for "will last for a very long time." He also called for Republican senators to "go nuclear" in order to fund his wall, but Mitch McConnell replied that there weren't enough votes to "nuke" the filibuster and that he didn't think it was a good idea (because with a few more Senate seats the Democrats would be able to ignore Republican votes).
December 21, 2018: According to The Week, Trump decided to withdraw troops from Syria "hastily" during a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, doing so "without warning his advisers" and despite "strong objections from virtually everyone involved." During the call Erdogan pressed Trump about why the U.S. was still in Syria, and Trump "quickly capitulated" and said he would withdraw, leaving both Erdogan and National Security Adviser John Bolton "stunned." The phone call took place on Dec. 14; in the days that followed, Bolton, Defense Secretary James Mattis, and Secretary of State Mike Pomepo all desperately tried to convince Trump to change his mind or at least delay the withdrawal. But Trump persisted and that apparently led to Mattis's resignation.
December 21, 2018: Trump tweeted what he said was a "Steel Slat Barrier" design for his border wall fence, calling it "totally effective while at the same time beautiful!" The fence would be topped with sharp metal spikes, presumably to "beautifully" impale babies and toddlers if they are accidentally dropped in transit.
December 22, 2018: According to CNN, Trump has begun polling advisers about whether he has the legal authority to fire Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, because he is "furious" at the Fed chief as markets tumble. Of course Trump never looks in the mirror when things take a bad turn.
December 22, 2018: According to The New York Times, things are looking increasingly bleak for Trump: "In less than two weeks, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California will take the speaker's gavel held until now by Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, and subpoena-wielding House Democrats will be empowered to investigate Mr. Trump's family, business, campaign and administration. At some point after that, he will face the results of whatever Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, finds about campaign ties to Russia and obstruction of justice." According to the article, Trump doesn't blame himself, but explodes with anger at his aides: "When President Trump grows frustrated with advisers during meetings, which is not an uncommon occurrence, he sits back in his chair, crosses his arms and scowls. Often he erupts. 'Freaking idiots!' he calls his aides. Except he uses a more pungent word than 'freaking.'" Trump sounds as if he has descended into a dark Nixonian paranoia: "For two years, Mr. Trump has waged war against his own government, convinced that people around him are fools. Angry that they resist his wishes, uninterested in the details of their briefings, he becomes especially agitated when they tell him he does not have the power to do what he wants, which makes him suspicious that they are secretly undermining him." Trump seems to see himself simultaneously as both winner and victim: "He rails against enemies, who often were once friends, nursing a deep sense of betrayal and grievance as they turn on him. 'Can you believe this?' he has said as he scanned the torrent of headlines. 'I'm doing great, but it's a war every day.'"
December 23, 2018: CNN's Michael Smerconish says the biggest threats to Trump as president are: the market (the worst December since the Great Depression), Robert Mueller (duh!), the military (after the last adult left the room), and the media. Smerconish thinks the biggest threat to Trump is the conservative media and its talking heads: Fox News, Breitbart, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Matt Drudge, et al. According to Smerconish, the conservative talking heads are Trump's Achilles heel. Now, since Coulter and Limbaugh engineered the government shutdown and Trump meekly obliged them, it seems they are collectively the Acting President of the United States.
December 23, 2018: A poll published by Civiqs shows the Republican Party with a 27% favorable rating. The Republican leadership must be considering what to do to save the GOP from a mass exodus of voters in 2020. The logical thing to do is to dump Trump and try to regroup around Mike Pence (or James Mattis if he can be convinced to run for president as a Republican).
December 23, 2018: Former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich published this piece on Alternet:
This morning I phoned my friend, the former Republican member of Congress.
ME: So, what are you hearing?
HE: Trump is in deep sh*t.
ME: Tell me more.
HE: When it looked like he was backing down on the wall, Rush and the crazies on Fox went ballistic. So he has to do the shutdown to keep the base happy. They're his insurance policy. They stand between him and impeachment.
ME: Impeachment? No chance. Senate Republicans would never go along.
HE (laughing): Don't be so sure. Corporate and Wall Street are up in arms. Trade war was bad enough. Now, you've got Mattis resigning in protest. Trump pulling out of Syria, giving Putin a huge win. This dumbass shutdown. The stock market in free-fall. The economy heading for recession.
ME: But the base loves him.
HE: Yeah, but the base doesn't pay the bills.
ME: You mean …
HE: Follow the money, friend.
ME: The GOP's backers have had enough?
HE: They wanted Pence all along.
ME: So …
HE: So they'll wait until Mueller's report, which will skewer Trump. Pelosi will wait, too. Then after the Mueller bombshell, she'll get 20, 30, maybe even 40 Republicans to join in an impeachment resolution.
ME: And then?
HE: Senate Republicans hope that'll be enough – that Trump will pull a Nixon.
ME: So you think he'll resign?
HE (laughing): No chance. He's fu*king out of his mind. He'll rile up his base into a fever. Rallies around the country. Tweet storms. Hannity. Oh, it's gonna be ugly. He'll convince himself he'll survive.
ME: And then?
HE: That's when Senate Republicans pull the trigger.
ME: Really? Two-thirds of the Senate?
HE: Do the math. 47 Dems will be on board, so you need 19 Republicans. I can name almost that many who are already there. Won't be hard to find the votes.
December 24, 2018: On Christmas Eve, Eugene Robinson writes: "Much of the government is shut down over symbolic funding for an insignificant portion of a useless border wall that President Trump said Mexico would pay for. ... The world's leading military and economic power is being yanked to and fro as if by a bratty adolescent with anger management issues."
December 24, 2018: (CNN) It's Christmas in America: The President is home alone in the White House, ranting at his foes inside and outside; an administration lurching deeper into crisis; stock markets are in free fall and the government is paralyzed by a partial shutdown. Donald Trump is spending the festive season as he did much of the year, sparking chaos and raising concerns in the capital and around the world about his impulsive behavior and boiling with frustration as he barges right up to the limits on his power. One reason for his fury: A favorite barometer of his own success has been stripped away by days of savage losses on the markets. In a shortened Christmas Eve session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled more than 600 points after a bizarre attempt by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Sunday to calm investors by consulting with the CEOs of top banks backfired. Losses were compounded by another of Trump's Twitter attacks on the Federal Reserve -- following revelations that he has asked if he can legally fire the independent central bank's chairman, Jerome Powell. The Dow fell 2.91% and the S&P 500 dipped 2.71% in the biggest Christmas Eve declines in the two indices' history. The slump came after the stocks last week had their worst week since the Great Recession a decade ago, and the last time the market fell so far in December was in 1931, during the Great Depression.
As Bob Corker put it: "It's a spectacle, and candidly, it's juvenile. The whole thing is juvenile."
As if to confirm Corker's observation, Trump tweeted: "I am all alone (poor me) in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come back and make a deal on desperately needed Border Security."
Trump was mocked on Twitter:
Home Alone !!!
Let's hope he's visited by three spirits tonight!
Our POTUS just tweeted "poor me." OMG what alternative reality is this?
While you're whining in a Mansion, there are 800,000 Americans not being paid this Christmas, you out-of-touch baby!
Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley said Trump's 35 gloom-and-doom Christmas Eve tweets were "like Charles Dickens' Scrooge on steroids."
December 24, 2018: A senior administration official told CNN's Jim Sciutto that national security decision-making has "basically stopped working" and decisions are "made on a whim on phone calls." The official added the Syria withdrawal was "a complete reversal" and it was done "without deliberation, no consideration of risks." American allies and partners are "shocked and totally bewildered" and the Syrian Democratic Forces "don't believe this is happening," the official said.
The two top Democratic leaders, the likely House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, issued a joint statement: "It's Christmas Eve and President Trump is plunging the country into chaos. The stock market is tanking and the president is waging a personal war on the Federal Reserve — after he just fired the Secretary of Defense." What to do? Republican Senator Pat Roberts quoted a former President: "LBJ said sometimes you just have to hunker down like a jackass in a hailstorm and just take it. That's about where we are."
December 25, 2018: Just in time for Christmas, the Washington Post reports that Trump has gifted Americans with 7,546 false or misleading claims!
December 26, 2018: Speaking to members of the American military during his surprise trip to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq, Trump baldly lied about the raises they received: "You haven't gotten one in more than 10 years — more than 10 years. And we got you a big one. I got you a big one. I got you a big one." He continued: "They said: ‘You know, we could make it smaller. We could make it 3 percent. We could make it 2 percent. We could make it 4 percent.' I said: ‘No. Make it 10 percent. Make it more than 10 percent.'" The problem with those statements? They're not true. The raise was 2.6% and the military had received pay raises every year since 1983. The Military Times reported that Trump's first pay-raise proposal for the military was only 2.1%, but lawmakers approved a higher 2.4% mark. So once again Trump seems to be trying to claim great achievements that are mundane and not primarily his doing.
December 27, 2018: PBS reports that Trump's political rhetoric when he spoke to American troops was "unusually partisan" and sounded like a "campaign rally." According to Yamiche Alcindor: "This was essentially a Trump 2020 campaign rally held in front of troops in Iraq." As usual, Trump made it all about himself, saying: "I don't know if you folks are aware of what's happening. We want to have strong borders in the United States. The Democrats don't want to let us have strong borders, only for one reason. You know why? Because I want it." And of course he lied to the troops about their pay raises. Then he signed Trump MAGA caps. Mark Hertling, a retired three-star Army lieutenant general, called Trump's actions a "violation of protocol."
December 27, 2018: Trump sounds like a disgruntled child who didn't get the Legos he wanted for Christmas: "This [shutdown] is only about the Dems not letting Donald Trump & the Republicans have a win." Veteran Republican strategist Mike Murphy says Trump is threatening the GOP by "learning nothing from November and playing to the third of the country that he already has. He's trapped. He's playing poker holding two threes and suddenly putting all of his chips in. It's pure emotion, the mark of a panicking amateur." Drew Hammill agreed: "I don't think you can get elected president of the United States with 39 percent of the population supporting you. Talking only to your base while alienating the rest of the entire country is not a recipe for success."
December 28, 2018: Prominent Iraqi lawmakers and political parties responded to President Trump's surprise and unapproved visit by demanding the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country.
December 28, 2018: Trump issues an executive order freezing federal workers' pay for 2019. Apparently, Trump thinks most federal workers are Democrats and he wants to punish them.
December 28, 2018: While Michael Cohen has denied ever being in Prague, McClatchy reports that four different sources place Cohen in Prague in August-September 2016. According to reporters Peter Stone and Greg Gordon, one of their sources claims there are records of Cohen's cell phone pinging Prague cell towers. The Steele dossier claims Cohen went to Prague to meet with Russian officials. In response to the McClatchy report, Cohen again denied that he had ever been to Prague, but tweeted: "#Mueller knows everything!"
December 29, 2018: Trump threatens to completely shut down the southern border if he can't get his wall, or see-through fence, or beaded curtain.
December 30, 2018: The editorial board of the Washington Post warns that new data "suggests that Putin is preparing to attack" Ukraine. Why? Because Putin "is eager to undermine Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who faces a reelection contest in the spring." And because "Mr. Putin was infuriated by a recent move by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to establish its independence from the Russian church." Furthermore, Putin may believe that Trump, "who lately has been loudly repudiating a U.S. role as 'the policeman of the world,' is in no mood to defend a remote piece of Ukraine from Russian tanks." And perhaps because Putin wants to restore the old Soviet Union to its former "glory."
December 30, 2018: Retired four-star Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal criticized Trump for his approach to the presidency in a wide-ranging interview that saw the former top commander of the US and international forces in Afghanistan label Trump as dishonest and immoral. "I don't think he tells the truth," McChrystal told ABC's Martha Raddatz on This Week. When asked if he thought Trump was immoral, McChrystal responded: "I think he is." He also described Trump as "shady."
December 30, 2018: According to Newsmax, outgoing White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has frequently told people that Trump is not up to the role of being president. Two former administration officials have also reported that Kelly was known to tell aides that he had the "worst job in the world." Kelly has also backed up assertions by former secretary of state Rex Tillerson that Trump often pressed against the legal boundaries of his office.
December 30, 2018: In an exclusive interview with The Los Angeles Times, outgoing White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly argued that his tenure is best measured by what President Trump did not do when Kelly was at his side. It was only after Kelly's departure was confirmed on Dec. 8, for example, that Trump abruptly announced the pullout of all U.S. troops from Syria and half the 14,000 troops from Afghanistan, two moves that Kelly had opposed. Kelly's supporters say he stepped in to block or divert the president on dozens of matters large and small. They credit him, in part, for persuading Trump not to pull U.S. forces out of South Korea, or to withdraw from NATO, as he had threatened. And what about the border wall that has Trump "proud" to shut the government down for a very long time?
"To be honest, it's not a wall," Kelly said.
Kelly also disagreed with Trump's characterization of illegal immigrants as racists and drug pushers: "Illegal immigrants, overwhelmingly, are not bad people," Kelly said, describing many migrants as victims misled by traffickers. "I have nothing but compassion for them, the young kids."
December 30, 2018: Trump seems to have a fetish for nonexistent walls, tweeting: "President and Mrs. Obama built/has [sic] a ten foot Wall around their D.C. mansion/compound. I agree, totally necessary for their safety and security. The U.S. needs the same thing, slightly larger version!" Trump's assertion came as a surprise to two neighbors of the Obamas who told The Washington Post that there is no such wall. A longtime resident of the area said Trump "has a very active imagination."
December 30, 2018: Former Secretary of Defense William Cohen said that Trump has shown "disrespect" for his military advisers and the FBI and other US intelligence agencies. He called Trump's recent actions "destructive" and "unpresidential."
December 30, 2018: Senator Lindsey Graham said that Trump has promised to "destroy" ISIS. But Trump had promised to destroy ISIS before he announced the pull-out of American troops from Syria. None of Trump's military advisers believe he has actually destroyed ISIS. It seems more likely that Trump's impetuous retreat will destroy the Kurds, who suffered more than 10,000 deaths fighting ISIS while the US suffered only two combat deaths. "If we leave now, the Kurds are going to get slaughtered," Graham said. He also mentioned the danger to Israel "from having a superhighway from Beirut to Tehran in terms of delivering weapons into Lebanon." So Trump's decision doesn't seem to threaten ISIS, but only Israel and the Kurds.
December 31, 2018: Trump angrily replies to the "fake news" that his wall will not be all concrete, by admitting that it will not be all concrete: "An all concrete Wall was NEVER ABANDONED, as has been reported by the media. Some areas will be all concrete but the experts at Border Patrol prefer a Wall that is see through (thereby making it possible to see what is happening on both sides). Makes sense to me!"
December 31, 2018: Brett McGurk is the outgoing special presidential envoy to the coalition fighting ISIS. On his last day at the State Department, McGurk tweeted: "I wish my former civilian and military colleagues well as they work under extremely difficult circumstances [i.e., under Trump] to protect the interests of our great country. It was a privilege to serve alongside them." McGurk tendered his resignation earlier this month after Trump announced the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria. In his resignation letter, McGurk said ISIS militants were on the run, but not yet defeated, and that the premature pullout of U.S. forces would create the conditions that gave rise to ISIS.
December 31, 2018: Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor and now a writer for National Review and Fox News, is deeply influential in conservative legal circles—including those around the president. McCarthy told The Daily Beast that he believes the Justice Department's top leaders will claim comments made by White House insiders are subject to executive privilege—and thus not available to Congress. McCarthy said he believes acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker and Bill Barr, who Trump plans to nominate for the permanent post, would withhold information from Congress that violates this understanding of executive privilege. That could potentially mean redacting portions of Mueller's report. But Neil Eggleston, who served as White House Counsel during the Obama administration, told The Daily Beast he didn't think this view of executive privilege holds water, pointing out U.S.A. v. Nixon, when the Supreme Court forced the White House to turn over tape recordings of Nixon's conversations to Watergate prosecutors, to support his claim. He also cited materials and testimony turned over to Independent Counsel Ken Starr in the case of Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky. Bob Bauer, who also served as White House Counsel under Obama, said the executive privilege claim would be doomed for the White House: "The privilege is qualified and can be overcome by a showing of the Congress' or a grand jury's legitimate needs," he said. "It can also be waived, and the president's endless tweeting on these subjects, and even more, his lawyers' memo to Mueller in January of 2018 setting out a presidential waiver, leaves in tatters any belated attempt to resuscitate this claim." Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor who provided expert witness testimony in the Clinton impeachment hearings, and whose writings and cable news commentary draw the attention of Trump's legal advisors opined: "I think Congress would have the upper hand, ultimately" but observed that the calendar could come into play. However, "These tweets bite him in the ass eight days a week," said McCarthy. "He himself has said from the beginning, ‘I could stop this anytime I wanted to and I let this investigation go on.' Some judge could say, ‘As the president has acknowledged, he could stop this at any point and yet he let all the exchanges happen.' It's too late to unring that bell, he's waived it."
December 31, 2018: The Week observes that half of Trump's top campaign officials are either under investigation, have turned state's evidence, or are actually in prison — "and Mueller hasn't even released his official report yet." Now the Dems will be able to issue subpoenas and "as Robert Mueller has showed time and time again, the crimes of Trump and his associates are typically extremely easy to figure out."
December 31, 2018: Trump closed out the year by whining that he isn't considered a "national hero" simply because he's Trump. It's hard to imagine President Obama whining that he wasn't considered a "national hero" by the right. It's hard to imagine Ronald Reagan whining that he wasn't considered a "national hero" by the left. Trump is surely the neediest president on record, and the biggest glory hog by far. In addition to vaingloriously tweet-bragging, he dissed "some failed Generals who were unable to do the job before I arrived." But of course ISIS was in retreat before Trump became president, so the generals had been doing their jobs, as had the American military. Trump is like a Black Hole of Neediness, sucking up all the light, from which nothing escapes.
January 1, 2019: Happy New Year, care of Trump! According to the Associated Press, women and children were gassed by the American Borer Patrol. The AP reported that rocks were thrown in return only after three volleys of gas were launched at the Mexican side of the border by U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel.
January 1, 2019: Mitt Romney, who is about to be sworn into the US Senate, says Trump's actions "over the past two years" and "particularly his actions this month" are evidence that he "has not risen to the mantle of the office." Romney continued: "To a great degree, a presidency shapes the public character of the nation. A president should unite us and inspire us to follow 'our better angels.' A president should demonstrate the essential qualities of honesty and integrity, and elevate the national discourse with comity and mutual respect. As a nation, we have been blessed with presidents who have called on the greatness of the American spirit. With the nation so divided, resentful and angry, presidential leadership in qualities of character is indispensable. And it is in this province where the incumbent's shortfall has been most glaring." Romney also pointed out that in a 2016 Pew Research Center poll, 84 percent of people in Germany, Britain, France, Canada and Sweden believed the American president would "do the right thing in world affairs." One year later, that number had fallen to 16 percent.
January 2, 2019: Ronna McDaniel, the niece of Mitt Romney who removed Romney from her name at Trump's command, calls her famous uncle an "incoming Republican freshman senator" even though he was the party's nominee for president in 2012. McDaniel tweets: "POTUS is attacked and obstructed by the MSM media and Democrats 24/7. For an incoming Republican freshman senator to attack @realdonaldtrump as their first act feeds into what the Democrats and media want and is disappointing and unproductive." That should make for interesting family get-togethers!
January 2, 2019: When Jamie Raskin was asked about Trump's demand for $5 billion for his wall, he remarked that "Trump is rearranging the silverware on the Titanic." Raskin called it a "stupid medieval wall."
January 2, 2019: Rand Paul once called Donald Trump a "delusional narcissist." Here are Delusional Donald quotes that prove him correct:
Trump claims to be a Christian but said that he never asks God for forgiveness!
Trump also denigrated Holy Communion and the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ by speaking dismissively of his "little cracker" and "little wine."
"There's nobody bigger or better at the military than I am!" This from someone who used the "rich kid" excuse of "bone spurs" to avoid serving his country during the Vietnam War.
Cadet Bone Spurs claimed: "I know more about ISIS than the generals do. Believe me."
"I'm the only person in the history of our country that could really decimate ISIS." Forget about George Washington, Winfield Scott, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, George Patton, Douglas MacArthur, Black Jack Pershing and Dwight D. Eisenhower! Cadet Bone Spurs knows more than the greatest American generals!
Cadet Bone Spurs said: "Everyone gives me credit for decimating ISIS!" But in reality no one in his own party is saying that, much less his generals and other military advisers.
"He's not a war hero. He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured." Cadet Bone Spurs, who avoided being captured by dodging the draft during the Vietnam War, insulted John McCain and every American POW.
Cadet Bone Spurs assured Americans that Vladimir Putin "is not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand. He's not gonna go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down. You can put it down." But Trump was unaware that Russia had already annexed Crimea in a military invasion of Ukraine that left thousands dead. (July 31, 2016)
Cadet Bone Spurs will retreat from Syria "very powerfully."
Cadet Bone Spurs justified Russia's invasion of Afghanistan by claiming it was "because terrorists were going to Russia." But in reality the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 in an effort to prop up a communist puppet government.
"Yeah, I guess so." Cadet Bone Spurs told Howard Stern that he supported the Iraq war, despite the fact that he now claims he opposed it. He supported the Iraq war on the anniversary of 9-11. (Sept. 11, 2002)
"I know more about offense and defense than they [American generals] will ever understand, believe me. Believe me. Than they will ever understand. Than they will ever understand."
"There is nobody who understands the horror of nuclear more than me." But Trump couldn't understand why the US pays to develop nuclear weapons that it chooses not to use.
"Why can't we use nuclear weapons?" Trump asked a foreign policy adviser three times why the United States couldn't use its nukes, according to Joe Scarborough.
"When Iran, when they circle our beautiful destroyers with their little boats, and they make gestures at our people that they shouldn't be allowed to make, they will be shot out of the water." Cadet Bone Spurs threatens to go to war with Iran over rude hand gestures. (Sept. 9, 2016)
"40 Wall Street actually was the second-tallest building in downtown Manhattan ... And now it's the tallest!" Trump brags that 9-11 made his building the tallest in Manhattan.
"Nobody knows more about taxes than me, maybe in the history of the world." And yet Trump is obviously afraid to release his tax returns.
"Nobody knows more about debt. I'm like the king. I love debt."
Trump said that he knows Wall Street bankers "Better than anyone." And that may be true, since he stocked his White House swamp with so many Goldman Sachs banker-donors.
"Nobody knows more about trade than me." Trade wars, perhaps.
"Trade wars are good, and easy to win." Try telling that to a stock market suffering its worst year-end drop since the Great Depression.
"Nobody knows jobs like I do!"
"Nobody in the history of this country has ever known so much about infrastructure as Donald Trump." So where are the much-vaunted infrastructure improvements?
"Nobody builds better walls than me." And yet Mexico hasn't paid for the border wall, which Trump has downgraded to a see-through fence with huge "nature gaps" that still hasn't been built.
"Nobody knows the system [of US government] better than I do." And yet he can't get his wall built and has shut down the US government multiple times.
"Our movement is a movement built on love." Megalomaniacal self-love, perhaps.
"I know words, I have the best words." Not if you talk like that, you don't.
"No one respects women more than me. No one reads the Bible more than me." And yet Trump bragged about grabbing women by their genitals and said that he never asks God for forgiveness!
"When you're a star ... you can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything." Trump was not so biblical in an interview with Access Hollywood's Billy Bush (2005)
At the third presidential debate: "Nobody respects women more than me." (Oct. 19, 2016)
"Women: You have to treat them like shit." (New York Magazine, 1992)
"When I come home and dinner's not ready, I go through the roof." (ABC News, 1994)
"Vagina is expensive." Donald Trump, confided to Howard Stern at Trump's wedding to Marla Maples (1993)
"I sorta get away with things like that." Trump on bursting into beauty pageant dressing rooms to ogle teenage girls in the nude.
"You know, it really doesn`t matter what [the media] write as long as you`ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass." (Esquire, 1991)
"If Hillary Clinton can't satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America?" A female president has to be good in bed.
"Look at my African-American over here!" Trump sounding like a plantation owner at a campaign rally. (June 3, 2016)
"I have a great relationship with the blacks." Not if you call them "the blacks," you don't.
"There's nobody that's done so much for equality as I have." Not Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., not Gandhi, not Nelson Mandela, not Frederick Douglas, not Harriett Tubman, not Sojourner Truth!
"I can be more presidential than anybody. I would say more presidential, and I've said this a couple of times, more presidential other than the great Abe Lincoln." So Trump is more presidential than JFK, FDR, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Teddy Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson!
"I'm also honored to have the greatest temperament that anybody has." (November 3, 2016)
"I don't think I've made mistakes."
"Nobody is better on humility than me."
January 2, 2019: According to Chris Cillizza, writing for CNN.com, "Donald Trump may not realize it totally yet, but today was the last easy-ish day of his presidency." The next day—Thursday, January 3, 2019—will be the first day of the Democratic majority in the House, with Nancy Pelosi reassuming the position of Speaker of the House (third in line for the presidency). There will soon be multiple House investigations of Trump's tax returns, his probable collusion with Russia, his obstructions of justice, his criminal business dealings, his abuse of the presidency and disregard for the American rule of law, etc. And Trump will finally learn that someone who lives in a glass house shouldn't run around naked, throwing bricks.
January 3, 2019: David Ignatius opines that "Trump's Syria withdrawal snatches defeat from the jaws of victory." Ignatius reports that the Turks have been "trying to sell the notion that they can combat the Islamic State for more than two years." But American military commanders who investigated Ankara's proposals have described the force that would supposedly clear Raqqa and other extremist strongholds as a "ghost brigade." That leaves the Kurds as the most reliable opponents of ISIS. The Kurdish fighters "do what they promise to do," said one U.S. official who has worked closely with them. But as Ignatius concludes: "The same, alas, cannot be said of the Trump administration."
January 3, 2019: According to Newsweek: "Special counsel Robert Mueller is widely reported to be winding down his investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election and could submit a report to the attorney general as early as February. Former federal prosecutors, including one that worked on the Watergate investigation, have told Newsweek there is no certainty as to how much longer the probe could last, but they do believe Mueller's most consequential and important indictments are yet to come. It's probable, the former prosecutors say, that Mueller still has his sights set on individuals at the highest levels of the U.S. government: President Donald Trump and his family."
January 3, 2019: A longtime NBC News is leaving the network over what he characterized as the "Trump circus." William Arkin, an anti-war Army veteran who has been with NBC as a military analyst, reporter and consultant for three decades, wrote: "Of course [Trump] is an ignorant and incompetent impostor," but that NBC was too quick to "mechanically argue the contrary." Arkin raised a valid question: How much should we cooperate with an ignorant, incompetent impostor who may well be a danger to us and the world?
January 3, 2019: According to Fox News, a California congressman is introducing articles of impeachment against President Trump on Thursday—the first day of the new Democratic majority in the House. Rep. Brad Sherman is reintroducing the impeachment articles that he first filed in 2017 with Democratic co-sponsor Rep. Al Green of Texas.
January 3, 2019: Retired four-star Admiral James Stavridis wrote a scathing TIME opinion column in which he blasted Trump for seeing generals as macho, Rambo-like cartoon figures. Stavridis, who served as NATO's 16th Supreme Allied Commander, said that if General James Mattis's job was not "mission impossible" it was "mission very difficult." Stavridis opined that Trump "may have thought associating with them [American generals] would burnish his own credentials as an alpha male, but it has likely dawned on Trump that generals are more cerebral than he ever would have guessed, have a pesky habit of quietly judging him in ways that got under his skin, are more intellectual planners than operational Rambos, and don't quite care about the politics and media signals that the President holds dear." And while Trump recently said that he would have been a good general, Stavridis suggested that he wouldn't last long as a cadet: "There was also an ongoing sense that the President's moral structure was, shall we say charitably, unconventional to the military mind. Cadets and midshipmen at the service academies operate on a very simple honor code: to not lie, to not cheat, to not steal. Every year, a handful of young officers run afoul and are summarily dismissed. For those who follow along the career path, any officer who violates the Uniform Code of Military Justice in any way ... would be court-martialed and removed from the service. The President's style of playing loose with the truth and facts ... grates on the military mind."
January 4, 2019: Trump doubled down by announcing that the Trump Shutdown could last months or years. According to The New York Times, the billionaire Trump "expressed little concern" for the plight of 800,000 federal workers who have either been furloughed or are working without pay.
January 4, 2019: Trump blasted freshman Rep. Rashida Tlaib's expletive-laced impeachment comments as "disgraceful" to herself, her family and her country, in a fiery Rose Garden retort that made absolutely no sense. After all, how many times has Trump disgraced himself, his family and his country by saying far worse things?
January 5, 2019: When former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe was asked the worst thing Trump has done, he answered "separating families," which he called "atrocious." McAuliffe also cited "an overwhelming desire among voters for a return to reality" after two years of Trump's "grandiose bluster, bluffing and buffoonery."
January 5, 2019: Ari Melber asked why, since Trump had said many times that Mexico would pay for the wall, that Trump hadn't shut down the Mexican government rather than the American government. Melber also asked why Trump hadn't used his much-vaunted negotiating skills to obtain wall funding when Republicans controlled the presidency, the House and the Senate.
January 6, 2019: Cadet Bone Spurs recently said: "Everyone gives me credit for decimating ISIS!" But in reality no one in his own party is saying that, much less American generals and military advisers. General James Mattis, the US Secretary of Defense, resigned immediately after Trump declared a bogus "victory" over ISIS. Then, with the White House facing criticism over Trump's impetuous decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria, National Security Adviser John Bolton announced that the drawdown would be conditioned on the defeat of ISIS and the safety of Kurdish allies. Trump himself contradicted his lie that ISIS had been defeated by saying that the US withdrawal would force Russia to fight ISIS and Saudi Arabia to bear the costs. But one does not have to keep fighting an enemy who has been defeated. Trump himself finally confirmed that he had lied about defeating ISIS by saying: "We won't be finally pulled out until ISIS is gone." That could take years, or decades.
January 7, 2019: What does the Trump shutdown mean, according to Business Insider? No IRS refund checks for millions of Americans who count on them to pay off Christmas bills and other debts. Food stamps may not be available to 40 million of the sickest and poorest Americans. Americans on rent assistance may be evicted. The federal judiciary will run out of money in a few days. National parks may be damaged. Airport security workers are already calling in sick, refusing to work for free. Air traffic controllers who are working without pay may decide to do the same. Human waste is piling up in national parks.
January 7, 2019: Meanwhile, a border wall/fence does little or nothing in regard to asylum seekers, who typically come to gates to apply for asylum and to be processed. A border wall/fence does little or nothing about foreigners who enter the US legally, then overstay their visas.
January 7, 2019: David Leonhardt says: "The cost of removing a president from office is smaller than the cost of allowing this president to remain."
January 7, 2019: Lawrence O'Donnell says: "No one knows less about the [art of the] deal than Donald Trump."
January 8, 2019: Donald Trump gives his Oval Office "speech" explaining why his imaginary wall is a wonderfully good idea. These are various responses to Trump's Oval Office performance:
Rachel Maddow gave examples of what she calls Trump's "magical nonsense": Mexico will pay for the wall! The wall has already been built! We have to shut down the government for years to pay for the wall that has already been built and which Mexico is paying for!
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called Trump's Oval Office speech a "campaign fantasy."
Lawrence O'Donnell pointed out that Trump's address to the nation sounded like a 2020 campaign event and Trump Public Fundraiser. Trump actually sent out fundraising emails before and after the speech. The emails made it sound as if the donations would go toward the "Official Secure the Border Fund" but the money actually went to the "Trump Make America Great Again Committee," a joint fundraising committee for the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee. Only Trump could so demean the presidency.
John Meachem pointed out how similar Trump's vision of his apartheid wall is to that of a KKK spokesman, Georgia Gov. Clifford Walker, who at a 1924 convention of the Ku Klux Klan said that America should "build a wall of steel, a wall as high as Heaven" against the flow of immigrants.
Veronica Escobar said: "This administration had decided to use cruelty as a public policy."
Tim Kaine said: "Republican senators are hiding under their desks."
Nicolle Wallace said Trump is "terrified" and "lives in abject fear" of his base, Rush Limbaugh and Robert Mueller.
Chuck Schumer said: "We don't govern by temper tantrum." He also said "The symbol of America should be the Statue of Liberty, not a 30-foot wall."
January 8, 2019: How many known terrorists have been arrested at America's southern border? ZERO. According to The New York Times, "counterterrorism officials and experts said there had never been a case of a known terrorist sneaking into the country through open areas of the southwest border." The number of southern border "terrorists" has decreased from 4,000 (a bald lie admitted by the White House), to 3,000 persons of special interest" (a scare tactic), to six people on the terrorist watch list, to ZERO actual arrests for terrorism.
January 8, 2019: Attorneys for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort accidentally revealed that their client has been accused of lying about sharing internal Trump campaign polling data with a Russian operative, Konstantin Kilimnik. Manafort's lawyers, in a poorly redacted court filing, inadvertently revealed that Robert Mueller's team had alleged that "Manafort lied about sharing polling data with [Kilimnik] related to the 2016 presidential campaign." Kilimnik, who worked closely with Manafort, is believed to have close ties to Russian intelligence. Kilimnik was named alongside Manafort in a superseding indictment in June in connection with alleged witness tampering and obstruction of justice. Other failed redactions by Manafort's lawyers revealed that Mueller's team alleged that Manafort met with Kilimnik when they were both in Madrid, and that they discussed a "Ukrainian peace plan." Could the "Ukrainian peace plan" have involved the Trump administration removing sanctions and looking the other way, in return for favors bestowed on Trump by Putin?
January 8, 2019: CNN reports that the US attorney in Manhattan "has charged Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met in Trump Tower with Donald Trump Jr. and others in June 2016 promising dirt on Hillary Clinton, in a separate case highlighting her ties to the Russian government." Veselnitskaya was charged with obstruction of justice in connection with a money-laundering case. She was accused of concealing from the court that she "had participated in drafting those supposed independent investigative findings in secret cooperation with a senior Russian prosecutor," according to the indictment. According to CNN, "Emails released by Trump Jr. show that he agreed to the meeting after being told the 'crown prosecutor of Russia' wanted to give the Trump campaign incriminating information about Clinton. The 'crown prosecutor of Russia' is believed to be Russian Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika. Veselnitskaya has said in interviews that she has a working relationship with Chaika and that they exchanged information during her lobbying efforts against the Magnitsky Act.
January 8, 2019: Talking about his wall, Trump said: "This should have been done by all of the presidents that preceded me. And they all know it. Some of them have told me that we should have done it." But all the living presidents deny this, so apparently Trump has been in communication with multiple dead presidents!
January 9, 2019: According to Gabriel Sherman, writing for Vanity Fair, Trump's handling of the Trump Shutdown has been "total fucking chaos."
January 9, 2019: According to Senator Mark Warner, the latest Manafort findings are "the closest we've seen yet to real, live, actual collusion." But we only learned that Manafort was giving private, confidential Trump campaign polling data to a known Russian intelligence officer because of a redaction error. Thus the law of averages suggests there are more revelations to come.
January 9, 2019: According to Vanity Fair, nervous Trump aides fear that his lack of an exit strategy for the border wall will be his "personal Alamo." They say Trump sees the battle as his "last stand" because he believes he can't get reelected without the wall. Unfortunately for Trump, the Democrats know and agree. But the ever-advancing Robert Mueller investigation may be even more Alamo-ish. "The shutdown has pushed the Russia investigation out of the news cycle. But Trumpworld knows it hasn't gone away," Gabriel Sherman noted. Thus, Trumpworld is preparing the worst. Rudy Giuliani recently told a friend that he expects Mueller's report to be ‘horrific,' a person briefed on the conversation confided. But perhaps Trump does have an exit strategy, after all. "You're already hearing people speculate Trump could do a deal and resign," Vanity Fair concludes.
January 9, 2019: Lawrence O'Donnell tweeted: "Trump said Republicans are 'totally unified.' He lied."
January 9, 2019: Lawrence O'Donnell tweeted: "Is @realDonaldTrump tweet attack on msnbc during my show tonight because I exposed the fundraising emails he sent out before and after his Oval Office speech last night tricking his supporters into donating for "border security" when fine print said it's for his campaign?"
January 10, 2019: As one GOP strategist put it: "Republicans have pulled a gun and taken themselves hostage" over Trump's wall.
January 10, 2019: Historians Kevin Kruse and Julian Zelizer have noted a "fascinating paradox" about Trump's imperial presidency: He is shredding norms in ways that damage our institutions, while not getting much of what he wants. Yet crucial to Trump's "grand illusion" is creating the impression (via "manly optics") that his norm-shredding is producing results. According to Kruse and Zelizer: "The imperial presidency is, in many ways, propped up by media partisans who insist that the naked emperor has glorious new clothes."
January 10, 2019: Erick Erickson tweets: "When the next Democratic President declares a national emergency over gun violence and takes executive actions to curtail gun purchases, you can thank the people urging Donald Trump to do the same with regards to the border."
January 10, 2019: Donald Trump: "I don't think I've ever seen unity like this in the Republican party."
January 10, 2019: Lawrence O'Donnell: "There is no unity in the Republican party."
January 10, 2019: Senator Eric Swalwell: "Failure to make a deal, failure to lead, is not a national emergency."
January 10, 2019: Stuart Stevens: "Donald Trump is a moral test that the Republican party is tragically failing."
January 10, 2019: Stuart Stevens: "It's all circus theater, a cacophony of complete untruth."
January 10, 2019: Jennifer Rubin: "I don't think a shovel will ever hit anywhere." It seems very unlikely that any construction work on the downgraded fence could begin before the 2020 election, since even if billions of dollars could be diverted to the project, there would be lawsuits galore, including battles over eminent domain with American landholders on the border.
January 10, 2019: When asked about Michael Cohen's pending testimony before Congress, which will take place in public amid intense media attention, Trump told reporters: "I'm not worried about it at all." But his tweetstorms about Cohen suggest otherwise.
January 10, 2019: Rudy Giuliani expressed a "similar insouciance," saying: "I have no concerns about [Michael] Cohen at all because I can prove with very little effort that he is a total, complete and absolute liar. One can say the same things about Giuliani's client, and it seems Cohen didn't trust Trump and recorded their conversations. In private, Giuliani has been quoted saying that he expects the Mueller report to be "horrific" for Trump, and that explains Trump's efforts to suppress the report.
January 10, 2019: Neal Katyal, a former acting solicitor general, appears on the Lawrence O'Donnell show. In 1999, Katyal wrote the special-counsel regulations under which Robert Mueller was appointed and now operates. So if anyone knows what can and can't be done to stop or suppress the Mueller probe, it's probably Katyal. Fortunately, Neal Katyal did a very good thing: He anticipated what we see happening today and created a sort of legal firewall to make sure a special counsel like Mueller can complete his work and publish his findings, even if a rogue Attorney General tries to stop him. Katyal doesn't think Trump and/or the Attorney General can suppress the Mueller report, because he designed the regulations to keep that from happening. He also doesn't think claiming "executive privilege" will hold water for Trump. I think it is well worth the time to listen to his very calm, reasoned analysis of the legal problems Trump now faces, which you can do at minute 32 of this segment of the Lawrence O'Donnell program.
January 10, 2019: Neal Katyal, a former acting solicitor general, publishes a series of tweets that make "the strongest case yet" for why the Mueller report will eventually become public. Two decades ago Katyal helped write the regulations that govern Special Counsel investigations. Those rules — which now dictate what Mueller and his team can and can't do — allow two different reports to emerge from a S.C. investigation. The first is a confidential report, sent to the Attorney General at the probe's conclusion, outlining why the S.C. chose to prosecute or not. The second possible report, from the A.G. to Congress, explains why the DOJ chose to act or not act on the S.C. findings. The second report is the crucial one from a public's right-to-know perspective. In it, the A.G. must tell Congress why the S.C. probe ended and explain why the A.G. overruled the S.C. recommendations, if that happened. So if Mueller recommended prosecuting Trump for obstruction of justice and the A.G. chose not to do so, the A.G. would have to explain that decision to Congress. Katyal also doesn't buy the "executive privilege" argument. He's argued in tweets and an op-ed that Trump has an "even weaker" case than Richard Nixon did in the 1970s. Nixon tried to shield himself from the Watergate investigation by exerting executive privilege, an argument the Supreme Court roundly rejected in United States v. Nixon. (Nixon resigned just days after that decision.) Even under the Trump administration's view that a sitting president can't be indicted — a view that is hotly debated — that would mean Mueller would have to turn over all of his investigative materials to Congress as part of a possible impeachment process, according to Katyal.
January 11, 2019: A blockbuster report by The New York Times reveals that "In the days after President Trump fired James B. Comey as F.B.I. director, law enforcement officials became so concerned by the president's behavior that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests, according to former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation. The inquiry carried explosive implications. Counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether the president's own actions constituted a possible threat to national security. Agents also sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow's influence." Robert S. Mueller III took over the inquiry when he was appointed as special counsel, just days after F.B.I. officials opened it.
Responses to the blockbuster revelation were of the "we're shocked but not surprised" variety. The term "in plain sight" came up frequently ...
John McLaughlin: "Obstruction in plain sight."
Glenn Kirschner: "Collusion in plain sight ... Trump has been doing Russia's bidding."
Malcolm Nance: "It's treason in plain sight ... Imponderable ... A Benedict Arnold moment ... Donald Trump is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Vladimir Putin."
For many the only question seems to be: "Is Trump a witting, unwitting or witless agent of Russia?"
January 11, 2019: Reports from multiple sources over the last few days confirm that White House counsel Pat Cipollone has hired 17 lawyers to beef up Trump's legal team. How much money will all those lawyers cost American taxpayers, when the far less costly alternative is to let Mueller publish his report and see what it says first? It seems Cipollone's "legal" strategy will be to claim that executive privilege allows Trump to suppress and/or "correct" all or parts of the report. Giuliani confirmed the "correction" strategy in an interview. It sounds suspiciously like Al Capone's lawyers saying he should be able to "correct" unflattering things the FBI said about him.
January 12, 2019: According to The Moscow Project, the Trump campaign had 101 contacts with Russia-linked operatives, and at least 28 meetings. The report begins: "On January 6, 2017, the U.S. intelligence community issued a report that showed there were two campaigns to elect Donald Trump: one run by Trump and one run by the Russian government. Trump and many of his senior advisors and close associates have repeatedly denied any connections between the two campaigns, despite the fact that they were working towards the same goal, at the same time, and utilizing the same tactics. Yet over the past year, we've learned about a series of meetings and contacts between individuals linked to the Russian government and Trump's campaign and transition team. In total, we have learned of 101 contacts between Trump's team and Russia linked operatives, including at least 28 meetings. And we know that at least 28 high-ranking campaign officials and Trump advisors were aware of contacts with Russia-linked operatives during the campaign and transition. None of these contacts were ever reported to the proper authorities. Instead, the Trump team tried to cover up every single one of them. Why were there so many meetings? What was discussed in them? More importantly, why did Trump and his camp lie about them, including to federal law enforcement? What are they hiding? The American people deserve answers."
January 12, 2019: "I haven't actually left the White House in months," Trump says. Does he have dementia? He said this two days after his much-ballyhooed and much-photographed trip to the southern border.
January 13, 2019: The Washington Post reports that Trump "went to extraordinary lengths" to hide all records of communications between Putin and Trump, even taking possession of interpreter Marina Gross' notes after a meeting with Putin in Hamburg and instructing her not to reveal the contents of the discussion to anyone, not even senior White House officials. Trump's behavior around Putin has been "increasingly suspicious" and no one has any idea what promises he has "made in the shade."
January 13, 2019: During his photo-ops at the border, Trump said several times that he "maybe definitely" was going to declare a national emergency. He repeated this threat in an overnight tweet. Now the Washington Post reports that the military has already been ordered to prepare to begin building the wall—by stealing the money from projects that had already been approved, including funds dedicated to disaster relief. Trump is looking to take money from disaster relief in already sorely abused and neglected Puerto Rico, from fire-ravaged California, and from other areas affected by natural disasters, including the Texas coastline.
January 13, 2019: Trump once derided Republican firebrand Pat Buchanan as an anti-Semite, "Hitler lover," racist and homophobe. Now, as president, Trump is quoting the anti-Semite who expressed praise for Adolf Hitler's "great courage," waxed nostalgic for the days of segregation, opposed gay rights, and claimed that minorities were bringing down America's test scores. Trump tweeted a Buchanan quote that "America's southern border is eventually going to be militarized and defended or the United States, as we have known it, is going to cease to exist...And Americans will not go gentle into that good night."
January 14, 2019: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett demonstrates that Republicans still don't grok the Trump Shutdown. Hassett tries to spin the Trump Shutdown as a "vacation" that leaves federal workers "better off."
January 14, 2019: David Laufman, a former DOJ Counterintelligence chief, said the news that Trump kept what he said private from even his top aides was "positively chilling," that Trump showed "unbelievable acquiescence" to Putin, and that Trump is a "clear and present danger" to the United States without "historical precedent" in regard to the office of the presidency. Laufman also said that a counterintelligence investigation of the president would be like "walking on a million eggshells."
"I am not a crook!"—Richard "Tricky Dick" Nixon, Nov. 18, 1973
"I never worked for Russia!"—Donald "Tricky Don" Trump, Jan. 14, 2019
January 14, 2019: According to Lawrence O'Donnell, when Tricky Don Trump said "I never worked for Russia!" that was his "I am not a crook!" moment. Tricky Dick Nixon will always be remembered by his denial, because he really was a crook. Tricky Don Trump will always be remembered by his denial, because the evidence is overwhelming, and continues to grow, that he really did collude with Russia. Today the question "Is the president a Russian agent?" seems shocking, but not surprising. We are no longer surprised by anything Trump says or does, because he is a man without morals or values. The only remaining question about Trump is whether Republican senators can gather enough shreds of dignity and courage to either force him to resign or impeach him.
January 14, 2019: Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman observed in a op-ed piece for The New York Times that the Trump White House has "nobody left besides those with no reputation to lose." Is that why the Trump administration is going for broke, literally, with the Trump Shutdown?
January 15, 2019: Senior administration officials told The New York Times that several times over the course of 2018, Trump "privately said he wanted to withdraw from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization." Current and former officials said they feared Trump "could return to his threat as allied military spending continued to lag behind the goals the president had set." In the days around a tumultuous NATO summit meeting, they said Trump told his top national security officials that "he did not see the point of the military alliance, which he presented as a drain on the United States." Withdrawing from the NATO alliance "would be one of the most damaging things that any president could do to U.S. interests," said Michèle A. Flournoy, an a former under-secretary of defense. "It would destroy 70-plus years of painstaking work across multiple administrations, Republican and Democratic, to create perhaps the most powerful and advantageous alliance in history. And it would be the wildest success that Vladimir Putin could dream of." Retired Admiral James G. Stavridis, the former supreme allied commander of NATO, said an American withdrawal from the alliance would be "a geopolitical mistake of epic proportion" and "the gift of the century for Putin." The Times called the Trump proposal "a move tantamount to destroying NATO: the withdrawal of the United States."
January 16, 2019: When asked why Trump is “digging his heels” over the border wall, Ann Coulter replied: “It is self-preservation because he is dead in the water if he does not build that wall. Dead, dead, dead.” Coulter said that Trump has “screwed up” during the first two years of his presidency by not building the wall, but now “with three seconds on the clock, he’s finally throwing the ball.”
"Mission accomplished!"—George W. Bush, May 1, 2003
"ISIS has been defeated!"—Mike Pence, Jan. 16, 2019
January 16, 2019: On the day Vice President Mike Pence declared ISIS "crushed" and its capabilities "devastated," four Americans were killed and three more injured by an ISIS suicide bombing. Apparently ISIS didn't get the memo.
January 16, 2019: Rudy Giuliani now says that he never denied Trump's campaign colluded with the Russian government during the 2016 campaign, only that Trump himself was not involved in collusion. But of course he and Trump have not only repeatedly denied collusion with Russia in any way, shape or form, but they have made it seem as if there has been an irrational "witch hunt" and have done everything in their power to cover up the evidence with a web of lies and deception. If Trump is innocent, why hire 17 more lawyers and try to claim "executive privilege" to keep the facts hidden? Why not come clean and let justice be done?
January 16, 2019: Chris Christie writes that Trump has a "revolving door of deeply flawed individuals amateurs, grifters, weaklings, convicted and unconvicted felons who were hustled into jobs they were never suited for, sometimes seemingly without so much as a background check via Google or Wikipedia."
January 17, 2019: In a stunning rebuke of Trump's showering of favor on Putin and his oligarchs, 136 Republicans broke ranks and voted with House Democrats to oppose sanctions relief for Oleg Deripaska’s companies. The House said "nyet" to Russian sanctions relief by a vote of 362-53. The move came one day after the Senate blocked a measure proposed by Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer that would have prevented the Trump administration from lifting the sanctions. While eleven Republican senators voted for the measure, it fell three votes short of the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster. But the cracks in Trump's support within his own party seem to be showing.
January 17, 2019: A bipartisan group of senators reintroduced a bill that would prevent the president from withdrawing from NATO without Senate approval. The bill would require two-thirds approval from the Senate for a president to suspend, terminate or withdraw the United States from NATO. The co-sponsors are Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). John McCain had been a sponsor of the original bill, before his death. “President Trump’s repeated threats to withdraw from NATO are dangerous,” said Kaine in a statement announcing the bill’s reintroduction. “Our NATO allies have fought alongside our troops since World War II, yet President Trump disparages these nations and cozies up to our adversaries.”
January 17, 2019: The mysterious 50K that Michael Cohen received from the Trump Organization for "technology services" has been explained. The 50K was used in an attempt to rig online polls in Trump's favor, and to push Cohen as a "sex symbol." The money, or at least some of it, was paid to John Gauger, the owner of RedFinch Solutions LLC, according to Maggie Haberman of The New York Times.
January 17, 2019: Anastasia Vashukevich, a Belarusian model who goes by Nastya Rybka on social media, was deported from Thailand. Upon arriving in Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport, Vashukevich was "detained" according to state media RIA-Novosti. In 2018 Vashukevich and author Alexander Kirillov told CNN that after stumbling upon evidence of Russian government meddling in the 2016 US election, they were in danger of knowing too much. "They can kill me here or in Russia," Vashukevich said at the time, speaking through the bars of the Bangkok Immigration Detention Center. Vashukevich claims to be the former mistress of Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, an ex-business associate of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Vashukevich told CNN from the detention center that she had witnessed several meetings in 2016 and 2017 between Deripaska and at least three Americans. She refused to name them but said she had photographs of one of the Americans and more than an hour of audio recordings. Will we ever see her again, or hear her side of the story?
January 18, 2019: Buzzfeed News releases a sensational report in which it claims that two federal law enforcement officials have alleged that there are Trump organization emails, texts, witness testimonies and a "cache" of documents that confirm Trump instructed his former lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress. Cries of "Impeachment!" immediately resulted. But Peter Carr, a spokesman for Robert Mueller's office, issued a refutation: "BuzzFeed's description of specific statements to the Special Counsel's Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen's Congressional testimony are not accurate." How do we interpret this somewhat cryptic statement? Perhaps Mueller is telling us:
The Buzzfeed sources are not part of my team.
My team does not leak.
We get our facts straight and some of the details are wrong.
January 18, 2019: Buzzfeed announces: "We are continuing to report and determine what the special counsel is disputing. We remain confident in the accuracy of our report." Ben Smith, editor-in-chief of Buzzfeed, tweets: "We stand by our reporting and the sources who informed it, and we urge the Special Counsel to make clear what he's disputing." Chuck Rosenberg opines that the Buzzfeed report was "substantially correct." Ronan Farrow reveals that he "declined to run with parts of the narrative" Buzzfeed published. Michael Isikoff says there were "red flags" in the Buzzfeed report.
January 19, 2019: Gary Kasparov tells Chuck Todd of Meet The Press Daily that "All Trump's big decisions are somehow connected to Putin's interests and always help Putin to reach his geopolitical goals." Kasparov also points out that Putin wants chaos in the West, and of course chaos is what we are seeing in the US and the UK.
January 19, 2019: As reported by The New York Times, Newsday, The Young Turks, and other sources, Ivanka Trump has been been under serious consideration as the next president of the World Bank, and if she chooses not to pursue the position she may still "play a role" in deciding in who becomes the next president.
January 19, 2019: Acting President Ann Coulter was not impressed with Trump's shutdown solution. She tweeted: "100 miles of border wall in exchange for amnestying millions of illegals. So if we grant citizenship to a BILLION foreigners, maybe we can finally get a full border wall." Rush Limbaugh was actually happy with the Trump shutdown: "He's got a good start. There's all kinds of really good, long overdue things happening that we've wanted to happen. Like 95% of the EPA furloughed? A lot of nonessential government workers on furlough? This is exactly what we've wanted. Nice!"
January 20, 2019: While the special counsel disputes certain details in the now-infamous Buzzfeed report, according to the Washington Post it is not clear whether the central and impeachable premise—that Trump instructed Cohen to lie to Congress—is false: "While neither Cohen nor his representatives had ever said explicitly that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress, Guy Petrillo, Cohen's attorney, wrote in a memo in advance of his sentencing, 'We address the campaign finance and false statements allegations together because both arose from Michael's fierce loyalty to Client-1. In each case, the conduct was intended to benefit Client-1, in accordance with Client-1's directives.' Client-1 refers to Trump. Petrillo declined to comment Saturday. It is unclear precisely what "directives" Petrillo was referring to, though he did not allege elsewhere in the memo that Trump explicitly instructed Cohen to lie to Congress. He wrote that Cohen was "in close and regular contact with White House-based staff and legal counsel to Client-1" as he prepared his testimony and "specifically knew . . . that Client-1 and his public spokespersons were seeking to portray contact with Russian representatives in any form by Client-1, the Campaign or the Trump Organization as having effectively terminated before the Iowa caucuses of February 1, 2016."
January 20, 2019: As DailyKos observed, Trump's solution to the Trump Shutdown is a non-starter and involves holding millions of young people hostage for three years: "It appears that Trump will be looking for $5.7 billion for a very permanent wall, in exchange for his support of a very temporary extension of rights for some immigrants." Not only were Democrats uninterested in Trump's hostage-taking, but he was ridiculed by xenophobic right-wing pundits like Ann Coulter for offering any form of amnesty any immigrants for any reason whatsoever.
January 20, 2019: First Trump held 800,000 federal workers hostage for his wall. Then he added millions of Dreamers to his hostage list. When that didn't work, he upped the ante by threatening 11 million immigrants and saying: "Be careful Nancy!”
January 21, 2019: Chris Christie in his new book says of Trump: "Far too often, he's found himself saddled with the riffraff." Christie dubbed former national security adviser Michael Flynn a "Russian lackey and future federal felon," former Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt "greedy and inexperienced," former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price "high flying," former Attorney General Jeff Sessions "not-ready-for-prime-time" and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson "a stranger." But who hired the motley crew? Wasn't it the same person who bragged that he always hires the "best" people?
January 21, 2019: Mike Pence quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during an interview with Face the Nation, in an attempt to sell Trump’s border wall. “One of my favorite quotes from Dr. King was, ‘Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy,’” Pence said. “You think of how he changed America, he inspired us to change through the legislative process.” But Dr. King did not support using walls to divide people. In 1964 he told Berliners: “It is indeed an honor to be in this city, which stands as a symbol of the divisions of men on the face of the earth. For here on either side of the wall are God’s children, and no man-made barrier can obliterate that fact.”
January 21, 2019: After Mike Pence absurdly compared Trump to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., he was sternly rebuked by Martin Luther King III, who said: "Martin Luther King Jr. was a bridge builder, not a wall builder.” Trump and Pence visited the King memorial, were dwarfed by the great civil rights activist, did not bother to speak his name, then left within two minutes.
January 22, 2019: According to Politico, Trump was "apoplectic" and "enraged" after Rudy Giuliani essentially quoted what Trump had said himself about pursuing the Moscow Trump Tower right up to election day. Was Rudy on the rag? Or was he just unable to keep up with Trump's ever-changing story?
January 22, 2019: According to Trump the Trump Tower Moscow project was a fleeting notion, a castle in the air. According to Rudy Giuliani there were "no plans," "no drafts" and "nothing in the file." That was, until Buzzfeed News produced the file, which included "hundreds of pages of business documents, emails, text messages, and architectural plans." Oh, and a $50 million bribe for Vladimir Putin in the form of a free penthouse suite.
January 23, 2019: According to TIME, Trump recently hit the lowest presidential approval rating of all time at 35% and he hasn't been out of the thirties since July 2018. Thus, Trump has consistently had the lowest approval ratings since the polls were created. An AP-NORC poll had Trump even lower, at 34%. To make matters worse for Trump and the GOP, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll only 7% of voters support “dedicating funding to a border wall if it was the only way to end the government shutdown” — in other words, Trump’s strategy. The Politico poll says 54% blame Trump and congressional Republicans for the shutdown, compared to 35% who blame Democrats. And that 35% sounds like the same 35% who approve of Trump, come rain or shine, according to TIME. It appears that by always catering to his "base" Trump has alienated nearly everyone else. A CBS poll says Trump’s disapproval rating was at an all-time high of 59%. Another poll recently revealed that 57% of voters say they will not vote for Trump in the 2020 election. (According to one expert that happens to be one of the more reliable indicators.) Women especially disapprove of Trump: 76% of women with college degrees and 71% overall. What the polls seem to be telling us is that around 35% of voters will probably vote for Trump no matter what, around 57% will vote against him no matter what, and around 8% don't approve of Trump but may still consider voting for him. He was in trouble before the Trump Shutdown and latest evidence of collusion with Russia, and things seem to be getting worse for his reelection prospects.
January 24, 2019: Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says he doesn't "really quite understand why" federal workers who have missed paychecks due to the Trump Shutdown don't just take out loans to cover the gap. The billionaire Ross apparently doesn't understand that people who are living paycheck-to-paycheck, unlike billionaires, don't qualify for low-interest loans and often have to resort to the sky-high interest rates of payday and title loans.
January 24, 2019: Nancy Pelosi compares Wilbur Ross's lack of understanding to Marie Antoinette's when she said, "Let them eat cake." But in the Trump administration's case it would be borrowed cake, with the borrowers being denied the right to work.
January 25, 2019: Roger Stone is arrested on seven counts, including obstruction of an official proceeding, making false statements and witness tampering, according to the special counsel’s office. The indictment suggests Trump’s campaign knew about additional stolen emails before they were released and asked Stone to find out about them. The arrest was made in a pre-dawn raid by 29 FBI agents armed with assault weapons and a battering ram.
January 25, 2019: Former CIA Director John Brennan expects "a significant number of indictments" including "quite familiar" names within the next 60 days, explaining: "I think people are waiting for the report that is coming out from Mueller, but what I look for most is the indictments, and it's just so rich in detail. To me, I think all of these indictments are going to be basically the compendium of the Robert Mueller investigation."
January 26, 2019: The New York Times editorial board excoriates Trump, slamming his handling of the Trump Shutdown as a "debacle" and "a toddler's pageant of foot-stomping and incompetence, of vainglory and self-defeat."
January 28, 2019: Rachel Maddow connects the dots and figures out that Trump has been citing scenes from the fictional movie Sicario: Day of the Soldado. The flick features bad guys roaring across the border in "unbelievable" vehicles. They duct-tape women’s mouths shut. In one scene, prayer rugs are found near the border. These are claims Trump has been making recently. No surprise, really. This is what Americans get when they elect a Celebrity Apprentice President.
January 29, 2019: Roger Stone tells Breitbart that Trump's presidency is in mortal peril because the Russia investigation amounts to a "speeding bullet heading for his head."
January 30, 2019: Vodka glasses tinkle merrily in the Kremlin as Trump disparages Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, CIA Director Gina Haspel, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and American intelligence agencies in general. Later, Trump rage-tweets: "The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong!" Trump concluded his tweets with: "Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!" This from a dunce who doesn't know the difference between "there" and "their."
January 31, 2019: House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff says he will use testimony from American intelligence chiefs in their annual Worldwide Threat Assessment to shoot down Trump's rationale for a national emergency, should Trump play that card in an attempt to fund his border wall. Speaking on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Schiff observed the "glaring absences" of any "threats at the border" being among the most pressing dangers facing the nation, according to American intelligence. Schiff called this "Exhibit A in a challenge of a national emergency." Schiff continued: "The fact that none of the intelligence agencies think it is an emergency, the fact that Congress on both parties don't think this is an emergency … I think if anything it is going to undermine that legal case that the President may try to make; that hearing yesterday can be a central exhibit." Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee didn't bring up the border as a dire national emergency during the intel chiefs' testimony. Trump in his subsequent rage-tweets focused on more pressing issues, like Iran. It seems the consensus opinion is that Trump's border wall is more about his reelection campaign than national security.
January 31, 2019: Senator John Kennedy (R-La.) minces no words when he says Trump has no coherent policy in the Middle East: “Our Middle East policy right now looks like something my dog’s been keeping under our back porch. Nobody knows what it is, but it’s ugly,” he told NBC News.
February 1, 2019: Trump describes himself as the Shutdown Table-Setter, explaining: "By having the shutdown, we've set the table for where we are now. If I didn't do the shutdown, people wouldn't know anything about the subject. Now they understand the subject." Trump sounds like a hostage-taker making sure a family knows they have to fork over YUGE sums of money if they want to ever see their captured kids again.
February 1, 2019: Joe Cirincione, a nuclear weapons policy expert, says Trump helped fill out Putin's bucket list when he withdrew the U.S. from Ronald Reagan's landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.
February 1, 2019: Trump beseeches A.G. Sulzberger, the New York Times publisher, for better coverage: “I’m sort of entitled to a great story from my — just one — from my newspaper.”
February 4, 2019: According to the Boston Globe, citing a just-released CBS News poll, "Two-thirds of Americans oppose President Trump declaring a national emergency if Congress doesn’t offer up the funds he wants to build a wall on the US-Mexican border."
February 4, 2019: Federal prosecutors in New York subpoenaed Trump's inaugural committee for documents related to donors, vendors and finances, according to a copy of the subpoena reviewed by CNN. Areas of particular interest seem to be illegal donations by foreign individuals and organizations, payments made by donors directly to vendors, false statements and "where the money went."
February 4, 2019: Will Republican senators revolt against Trump? Senator Lindsey Graham told a room full of Republicans in Greenville, S.C. that the border wall was "the defining moment" of Trump's presidency but admitted there could be a "war" within the GOP over the wall. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell privately warned Trump that declaring an emergency could trigger a GOP revolt and a congressional resolution against the declaration, according to The Washington Post. Some Republicans are already breaking ranks. Senator Marco Rubio said that an emergency declaration was a "terrible idea" and that he would oppose it. Senator Patrick J. Toomey said: "It would be a bad precedent, I think, for the president to decide to invoke national security as a way to bypass a congressional logjam. And I can imagine future presidents using that for purposes I would find very objectionable." Similar sentiments have been expressed by at least a dozen Republican senators, publicly and privately, including Mitt Romney, Roy Blunt, Lamar Alexander, John Thune, Susan Collins, Mike Lee, Thom Tillis and Bill Cassidy. John Cornyn, among the most influential members of the GOP on immigration, said: "The whole idea that a president — whether it's President Trump or President Warren or President Sanders — can declare an emergency and then somehow usurp the separation of powers and get into the business of appropriating money for specific projects without Congress getting involved is a serious constitutional question."
February 5, 2019: According to Politico, Trump’s State of the Union address was "a dizzying and even disorienting experience, a cascade of rhetorical passages that seemed to contradict each other every few moments. Appeals for unity and bipartisanship jostled with ideological and cultural scab-picking. Theatrics used by all modern presidents to swell the heart or moisten the eye — "We are joined in the gallery tonight by…" — were followed by the honking boasts of a MAGA rally.
February 6, 2019: Just hours before Trump waxed eloquent about "love" and "unity" during his bizarre State of Union address, he had launched into snarling dog mode at a luncheon, calling Joe Biden "dumb" and Chuck Schumer a "nasty son of a bitch," and even insulting the late great John McCain.
February 7, 2019: Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, in an interview with Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC's The Last Word, says Trump is "consumed with self pity" and has been "whining up a storm." Maloney suggests that Trump should "stop whining and start governing."
February 8, 2019: As reported by Rachel Maddow, people donating money to the Trump campaign to "build the wall" are actually paying to build a wall of very expensive lawyers for Jared Kushner.
February 8, 2019: According to Dario Angulo, he lives in a "sturdy house" built with "Trump money" thanks to a pipeline that funneled undocumented workers from his Costa Rican village of Santa Teresa de Cajon to the Trump Bedminster golf club. Angulo earned $8 per hour, a fraction of what a legal heavy equipment operator would make, and he received no benefits or overtime pay. Thus the Trumps saved YUGE money by importing illegal immigrants, then looking the other way at their doctored paperwork. Bedminster has been called the “Summer White House” by Trump aides. It's where his daughter Ivanka got married. Trump wants to build a family cemetery there. But the Trumps broke the law and took advantage of their workers by paying them vastly substandard wages. "Many of us helped him get what he has today," Angulo said. "This golf course was built by illegals." The Washington Post spoke with 16 Trump hirees "from Costa Rica and other Latin American countries, including six in Santa Teresa de Cajon, who said they were employed at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster. All of them said that they worked for Trump without legal status — and that their managers knew."
February 9, 2019: Trump apparently finds the Trail of Tears joke-worthy, since he signed off his latest Pocahontas tweet with "See you on the campaign TRAIL, Liz!" The significance of the capital letters is obvious. The ghastly Trail of Tears was engineered by Trump's hero, Andrew Jackson, whose portrait hangs prominently above his Oval Office desk. Thousands of innocent, defenseless Native Americans died on the Trail of Tears—many of them babies, toddlers, children and their mothers. It was one of the most shameful acts in American history. But what does any of that mean to a man willing to rip babies from their mothers' breasts and separate them forever? Donald Trump Jr. was fully on board, tweeting "Savage!!! Love my president." More mockery. Like racist father, like racist son. "Trump jokes about genocide ... His son laughs ... There is no limit to the immorality and indecency of these people," tweeted Andrew Stroelheim of Human Rights Watch.
February 10, 2019: According to Reuters the number of tax returns through February 1, 2019 is down 25.8% and the average tax refund is down 8.4%.
February 11, 2019: Apparently Trump is prepared to sign legislation that will reduce his 2,000 miles of "beautiful" and "powerful" concrete wall to 55 miles of porous fencing. Laura Ingraham called Trump's capitulation to Nancy Pelosi "stall funding." Ann Coulter called it the "Yellow New Deal." Sean Hannity called it a "garbage compromise."
February 14, 2019: Trump's valentine to the American people? He will rob the military and/or the Treasury, forcing American taxpayers to pay for the wall he repeatedly swore Mexico would fully fund.
February 15, 2019: As is his wont, while announcing his "national emergency" Trump completely undermined his own position, saying: "I didn't need to do this, but I'd rather do it faster. I want to get it done faster, that's all." Not needing to do something quickly is the opposite of an "emergency." Neal Katyal, a legal expert on presidential emergency powers, quipped: "That quote is going right in the lawsuit." Then, to further prove that there is no "emergency," Trump quickly jetted off to Mar-a-Lago for yet another golf vacation.
During his bizarre White House "national emergency" speech, Trump seemed to be channeling Ozzy Osbourne by "going off the rails on a crazy train." For instance, Trump ...
Praised China for executing drug dealers, saying "The penalty is death. That's frankly one of the things I’m most excited about in our trade deal!"
Called his own administration's crime statistics fake news and a "disaster."
Broke out into a sad sing-song rap in which he predicted he'd be sued over his "national emergency."
Revealed his master plan to get rid of the US military: "If we had a wall we don’t need the military, because we'd have a wall!" (Apparently, a "powerful" southern border wall will protect the US from any and all attacks!)
February 15, 2019: Trump should remember what he said in 2014: “Repubs must not allow Pres Obama to subvert the Constitution of the US for his own benefit & because he is unable to negotiate w/ Congress.” Et tu, Brute?
February 15, 2019: There is “zero chance you could spin this [essentially wall-less spending bill] as a win for Republicans,” according to House Freedom Caucus extremist Rep. Mark Meadows. “Bluntly, it was a waste of three weeks” from Trump’s cave in reopening government to the “total capitulation” of the bipartisan deal to keep the federal government open. Mike Rogers, a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, says Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is eating a "manure sandwich" over Trump's decision to declare a national emergency.
February 15, 2019: According to the editorial board of The New York Times: "Trump takes executive overreach to dizzying new heights. The damage to American democracy threatens to linger long after his administration is no more than a dank memory."
February 17, 2019: Trump is apparently considering the declaration of a second "national emergency" because SNL has been poking fun at him! This is the "real collusion" according to a Trump tweet in which he called for "retribution." Shades of 1969, when Richard Nixon persuaded CBS to cancel The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour for poking fun at him.
NOTE: I do not claim most of the information here is highly original. Sources used include Fox News, Breitbart, TIME, Newsweek, Newsmax, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, Buzzfeed, CNN, The Daily Beast, Vanity Fair and Politico, among others.
As Bloomberg explained things: "Donald Trump promised to drain the Washington swamp. Instead, he has surrounded himself with family members, appointees and advisers who've been accused of conflicts of interest, misuse of public funds, influence peddling, self-enrichment, working for foreign governments, failure to disclose information and violating ethics rules. Some are under investigation or facing lawsuits, others have resigned and five have either been convicted or pleaded guilty, including three for lying to government officials." And, one might add, that seems to be only the tip of an enormous iceberg now threatening the American ship of state.
What does it all mean? Here are comments by legal experts about federal prosecutors, for all intents and purposes, apparently naming Donald Trump as an unindicted co-conspirator in court filings on December 7, 2018:
Former Nixon White House counsel John Dean: "I don't know that this will forever disappear into some dark hole of unprosecutable presidents. I think it will resurface in the Congress. I think what this totality of today's filings show that the House is going to have little choice the way this is going other than to start impeachment proceedings."
Nick Akerman, former Watergate prosecutor: The plea deal involving President Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen makes Trump an "unindicted co-conspirator" according to Akerman. The term "unindicted co-conspirator" was used by the Watergate grand jury to describe President Nixon's role in the scandal that ultimately cost him his presidency. The plea deal has prompted the question: Can a sitting president be indicted? "I absolutely see no reason why [Trump] could not be indicted," said Akerman (@nickakerman).
Laurence Tribe, law professor, Harvard Law School: WOW! The Dec 7 filing in SDNY on Michael Cohen's sentencing charges that President Trump (aka "Individual 1") directed a criminal conspiracy with his attorney Cohen to violate the federal election laws in order to increase his odds of winning the presidency by deceiving voters ... Hint: It's not pretty ... December 7, 1941 and December 7, 2018. Indeed. ("A day which will live in infamy.") ... This unambiguously *condemns* the President. If Trump truly feels "cleared" by it, either he just can't read or he's totally delusional.
Lisa Kern Griffin, law professor, Duke University: The president's personal attorney has given sworn testimony in open court that he committed campaign finance violations in coordination with and at the direction of the president. Although the president is not named in the charges, he is all but an unindicted co-conspirator. This turn in the president's fortunes is dramatic and damaging, and it should have political repercussions even if it does not have immediate legal ones. All of this is occurring in the Southern District of New York and involves wrongdoing in addition to the campaign activities that are the focus of the special counsel's investigation.
Jens David Ohlin, law professor, Cornell University: Trump is clearly guilty of violating campaign finance laws and also guilty of federal conspiracy as well (because he agreed with Cohen, and possibly others, on a plan to violate federal law). Normally he would be indicted right away. But that won't happen only because he's the president. But I suspect he'll be named as an unindicted co-conspirator and also there'll be a separate section of the Mueller report titled "Conspiracy to Violate Campaign Finance Laws" or something like that.
Michael Kang, law professor, Northwestern University: Michael Cohen's guilty plea to campaign finance violations has important implications for President Trump. Cohen reportedly admitted that the payments he arranged for Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal on Trump's behalf were campaign related, not personal expenditures, and were made with the coordination and at the direction of a federal candidate. Assuming he or prosecutors can substantiate this claim, the payments were illegal campaign contributions that exceeded the applicable limits and needed to be reported. What's more, if Trump knew the payments were campaign related and directed them, as Cohen alleges, then Trump too violated campaign finance law.
Diane Marie Amann, law professor, University of Georgia: The president's lawyer, Michael Cohen, has just pleaded guilty to violating federal tax, banking, and campaign finance laws. The big question, of course, is the extent to which the case against Cohen involves others. If the Cohen investigation unearthed evidence implicating the President in the crimes of conviction — whether through statements by Cohen or through documents seized from him — that is very good news for Mueller and very bad news for Trump.
Joshua Dressler, law professor, Ohio State University: Cohen's admission that the hush money that constituted 2 felony convictions, was done at the direction of a candidate for federal office, clearly implicates the President in those campaign violations. Essentially, Cohen, under oath, in a federal court, has alleged that the President of the United States conspired to violate federal law. If he were not a sitting president this would constitute grounds for indictment on those charges. As a sitting president this constitutes, if Congress wishes to do so, impeachable offenses. But, as we know, impeachment is a political rather than a legal concept, and it would seem pretty clear that nothing will occur with the current Congress.
Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, law professor, Stetson University: Two counts that Michael Cohen pled guilty to were for campaign finance violations: (a) for causing an illegal corporate contribution and (b) for an excessive personal campaign contribution for his payments to two women during the 2016 campaign. United States campaign finance laws have been watered down by the Roberts Supreme Court since 2006, but there are a few pillars of campaign finance law that the Supreme Court has upheld again and again: (1) bans on corporations' giving directly to federal candidates, (2) bans on foreigners' spending in US elections, (3) the lawfulness of contribution limits and (4) the requirement that money going into and going out of federal campaign be fully disclosed. Another fundamental requirement of campaign finance law is that campaign funds be used for legitimate campaign expenditures and not for personal use. The Cohen pleas on counts 7 and 8 appear to acknowledge his working with candidate Trump to violate federal campaign finance laws by violating two of those pillars (the corporate ban and the contribution limits), which aim to prevent corruption of the American political process.
Asha Rangappa, former FBI agent and senior lecturer, Yale University: It remains to be seen whether or not Michael Cohen has any valuable information to offer to prosecutors that may be able to reduce his sentence for the charges he is now pleading guilty to. Most of the focus has been on the information he could potentially provide to Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller in the Russia probe. But a potentially bigger threat to President Trump is what Cohen could provide to the Southern District of New York about potential crimes committed by Trump or members of his family that are unrelated to the Russia probe. Michael Cohen, as Trump's longtime "fixer" knows where the proverbial bodies are buried when it comes to the Trump Organization and particularly its finances going back many, many years. If Cohen provided information on potentially criminal activities to the Southern District and it opened an investigation into them, it would place the President in a double bind: First, since it would be an investigation separate and apart from the Mueller probe, he wouldn't be able to argue that the Special Counsel exceeded his mandate or crossed a "red line" — after all, any U.S. Attorney's office is legally authorized (and duty-bound) to investigate any violations of federal law it learns about. More importantly, such an investigation would be completely insulated from any steps Trump might take to fire Mueller, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, or even Attorney General Jeff Sessions (especially since his interim pick to head the Southern District who recused himself from overseeing the Cohen investigation, would undoubtedly recuse himself from any other Trump-related investigation as well). So Trump has much more to fear from Cohen than just what he knows about Russia-related matters.
Christopher Slobogin, law professor, Vanderbilt University: If Cohen pleads guilty to violating campaign finance law by making payments to Daniels, and it can be proven that Trump sought, or encouraged him to make, the payments, Trump would be guilty of conspiring to commit a federal crime. His defense might be that he did not know the payments would violate campaign finance law, but ignorance of the law is typically not an excuse. Whether that type of crime is an impeachable offense, however, is up to Congress.
Ric Simmons, law professor, Ohio State University: The fact that Cohen implicated President Trump in his plea allocation is extremely significant, since it ties Trump directly to illegal campaign activity. Although the plea agreement does not mention cooperation with the special prosecutor's office, Cohen's willingness to speak out against Trump now implies he will cooperate with the special counsel moving forward, perhaps in the hopes of obtaining a lower sentence. Also newsworthy is the fact that last week the special master in the case finished her review of the documents seized from Cohen's office and determined that almost none of the documents are protected by attorney-client privilege. Judge Wood formally adopted that finding on Monday. This means that almost all of these documents will be available to prosecutors investigating the Trump campaign. Given Cohen's admissions today, these documents from his office may prove to be very valuable to the special prosecutor's office.
Andrew Wright, law professor, Savannah Law School: If Michael Cohen engaged in federal crimes at the direction of Donald Trump, then Trump will likely be guilty of those crimes on some combination of solicitation, aiding and abetting, and conspiracy. This is not the Mueller investigation, and it is not obstruction of justice inquiry in which the Trump legal team can assert some theory of executive power impossibility for obstruction crimes grounded in his official acts. If Donald Trump conspired with to commit felonies as a candidate, the only thing that might protect him is the question of whether he couldn't be indicted for the duration of his tenure in office.
Douglas Spencer, law professor, University of Connecticut: While Cohen's guilty plea has no bearing on the question whether the Mueller investigation was properly instigated, claims that the Mueller investigation is a "witch hunt" will be further undermined as yet another individual connected to the Trump campaign admits that he broke the law. Substantively, while Michael Cohen never held an official position on the campaign team, his guilty plea reportedly says he acted at the direction of a candidate (presumably Donald Trump) with the purpose of influencing the election. President Trump admitted via tweet on May 3 that he reimbursed Cohen for his (now admittedly illegal) payment to Stormy Daniels, so Cohen's guilty plea will certainly implicate President Trump. The media is reporting that Cohen will not cooperate with Mueller. But he may not have to. Rudy Giuliani drew the dots and Cohen's admission now arguably connects them.
Victoria Nourse, law professor, Georgetown University: This was a sad day for America, but a spectacular day for the Mueller investigation. Cohen's New York plea was not handled by Mueller's office, but it told the same story as the jury verdict obtained by Mueller in the Manafort trial in Virginia. We now know that the president claimed to unearth the swamp, but he hired it. Federal law calls what Cohen and Manafort did by the simple name of fraud — lying when you have a legal obligation to tell the truth. If Cohen is correct that he aided the President in a crime, the President's only defense is to diminish the seriousness of the violation to the public or insist that Cohen lied. Aiding a crime is a crime in America — if you authorize a murder, even if you authorize your lawyer to commit a murder, you are guilty of a crime, and one would hope so. Attention will now shift from foreign threats to our nation's electoral system to porn star hush money. As I said, it's a sad day for America.
Paul Butler, law professor, Georgetown University: There are two ways that convicted felons Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen can avoid spending many years in one of those wretched places. One is to be pardoned by the president of the United States. The second is to deliver up Donald Trump to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Trump said, after the Manafort and Cohen convictions, that he "feels badly" for both. Manafort's pardon seems virtually a done deal. But Michael Cohen has already implicated Trump as his co-conspirator to violate federal campaign financing laws. Providing more evidence to Mueller would be any lawyer's recommendation to Cohen, to reduce his time in the pen. But even if Trump pardons Cohen, it would have the same effect as immunizing him, meaning Cohen could be forced to testify about everything Trump has ever done. The president has no good options — Tuesday August 21 marks the beginning of the end of Donald Trump's presidency, and possibly his freedom.
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