Unravelling President Donald J. Trump’s rumored political and business ties unveils potentially the greatest US conspiracy of all time
When delving into potential collusion between Russia and high level U.S. officials, it’s not the depravity of the participants’ actions but rather, the repute of the participants, the public’s level of trust in them, and the frequency of fraudulent activity which ultimately reveal to be the normal method of operation in the cesspool of Manhattan’s real estate market.
With the evidence currently available, we cannot yet conclude that US President Donald Trump had illicit connections to the Russian government (or the mob), shrouded channels that potentially include concessions that weaken the USA’s democracy, nor can we confirm that Donald J. Trump’s business practices, or those of any other New York real estate magnate, are illegal. We can however, reveal a series of little-noticed events that when connected, form a disturbing trail of deceit, corruption, and illegalities. If the potential links between (and activities of) the participants prove to be true, RussiaGate will go down in history as the greatest governmental conspiracy of all time.
How key players relate to the story
New York City’s Manhattan District is central to US business concerns. In fact, many would argue that it is *the* business hub of the world. Many years ago, Russians learned they could launder money through Manhattan real estate. Through shell organizations and with assistance from US-Based organized crime families, real estate investments provide an excellent vehicle in which to park illicit funds. Their task becomes easier to conceal if conducted under the façade of a prominent business leader.
Prominent business leaders will risk participation in these illicit endeavors for two reasons; (1) if profits are high enough to justify the risk or (2) they are forced to participate through threats or extortion. If profits are the motivator, the adage “follow the money” rings true. But if participation is contingent upon extortion, the process of tying the participant to the crime naturally becomes much more difficult.
To better follow the scenario, we must first introduce key cast members which include prominent politicians, well-known mobsters, large foreign (mostly Russian) business conglomerates and their owners – and a handful of unfortunates who found themselves unknowingly drawn into the combatant’s arena. Make note of the participants and their affiliations – then we will follow their path through a trail of conspiratorial activity that began more than a decade ago.
Key players in the Donald J. Trump/Russia collusion saga
Peter W. Smith
Peter W. Smith was an American investment banker and prominent financier of the Republican party. His political efforts were often conducted “under the radar”. In 2016, Smith confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that he attempted to contact Russian hackers to obtain opposition research on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign. Smith told Wall Street Journal reporters that National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and others in the Trump organization “knew of” his efforts to obtain Russian intelligence on political opponent Hillary Clinton.
Smith’s motive for revealing his actions is unknown. Possibly he stumbled upon collusion activities involving high-level government officials and recognized the severity of the actions. The answer will never be known. Smith was found dead in his hotel room on May 1, 2017, ten days after the Wall Street Journal interview. Initially the cause of his death was withheld from the public. In July 2017, more than two months after his death, it was revealed that Smith had died of “self inflicted” asphyxiation.
Michael Flynn’s credentials include Director of Defense Intelligence Agency and owner of the Flynn Intel Group. He served as National Security Advisor for President Donald J. Trump until he was forced to resign on February 13, 2017 after it was alleged he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his interactions with the Russian government. In the resulting congressional investigation, Flynn refused to hand over subpoenaed documents to the Senate Intelligence Committee pleading the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination. Insiders say a deal was worked out, the details of which were kept under wraps. Before he died, Peter Smith told reporters Michael Flynn was involved with a campaign to obtain opposition research on Hillary Clinton from Russian hackers. Many believe he not only attempted to obtain materials from Russian hackers, but actively assisted them in their efforts.
Paul Manafort joined Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in March 2016 and was promoted to campaign manager just two months later. Manafort has proven connections to former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his party. When the relationship was revealed in August 2016, Trump allowed him to retain his position in the campaign. In April 2017, Manafort registered as a “foreign agent”, disclosing that he made more than $17 million between 2012 and 2014 working for a pro-Russian political party.
Around the time of his Ukraine work, Manafort purchased at least four prime pieces of real estate in the United States worth a combined $11 million between 2006 and 2012.
Donald J. Trump
- 1978: Commodore Hotel/Grand Hyatt Hotel
- 1978-1983: Trump Tower
- 1984: Trump Plaza/Trump Castle
- 1985: Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida
- 1988-1995: Plaza Hotel
- 1988: Taj Mahal in Atlantic City
- 1994-2002: Empire State Building
- 1996: Trump Building (40 Wall Street)
- 1996-2015: Miss Universe pageants
- 1997: Trump Place
- 2001: Trump World Tower/Trump Park Avenue
- 2004: Trump University
- 2004: Trump Camelback/Trump International
- 2006: Trump Beach Club/Trump Ocean Club (Panama)
- 2008: Trump SoHo
Trump’s borrowing practices
During 1991 and 2009, Trump filed for bankruptcy six times, each time leaving lenders and developers holding the bag. It has been reported that by the late 2000’s, American lenders would no longer lend money for his ventures forcing him to seek financing overseas. German-based Deutsche Bank became his lender of choice. As we will see below, Deutsche Bank plays a prominent role in the Trump-Russia story.
Trump money laundering history
In the late 1990’s, federal authorities said Trump Taj Mahal broke anti-money laundering rules 106 times – in its first year of operation. Ultimately it was found that the organization routinely allowed questionable transactions during the 1990s, a time when Taj Mahal was the preferred gambling destination for Russian mobsters operating out of Brooklyn. Trump negotiated with authorities and paid a $10 million fine. The crimes not only demonstrated Trump’s propensity to break the rules, but showed how closely Russian crime syndicates were tied to his business practices.
Trump presidential run
Trump’s ascent to presidency came via a controversial campaign in which he made false and derogatory statements about women, minorities, and other candidates. It was even alleged his misconduct extended beyond disparaging language – at least fifteen women came forward accusing him of sexual misconduct.
In late 2016, Trump won the presidential race in a victory that stunned the world. Mass protests sprang up throughout the country. Democrats denounced his campaign behavior and refusal to release his income tax refunds. Republicans countered that Democrats were merely seeking consolation for a poorly run campaign. Insiders know that Trump’s financial records will likely contain many documented ties to Russian-based business affiliates in addition to campaign violations and shady Manhattan deals.
Russian election interference
What both parties agreed on was Russian interference in the election process. On January 1, 2017, the CIA, FBI, and NSA jointly stated with “high confidence” that the Russian government attempted to intervene in the 2016 presidential election. Russian president Vladimir Putin denied the charges and Trump called their claims the “single greatest witch hunt” in American history.
Trump’s level of involvement with the Russians may never be known. Presidents are often insulated from criminal investigations “for the good of the country”. What can easily be proven though, is that Trump had many business dealings with high-level Russians as early as 1985, that he was involved with several real estate projects that included Russian partners, and that Russians laundered billions of dollars through Manhattan real estate.
Donald Trump Jr.
Donald Trump Jr. is the son of President Donald Trump and his first wife, Ivana. With his brother Eric Trump, he is the executive director of The Trump Organization, a trust controversially established to house his father’s assets during his presidency. Although not a member of Trump’s White House team, he was an active participant in his father’s presidential campaign. He is rumored to have met with Russian operatives during the Trump election campaign.
Jared Kushner, eldest son of convicted felon Charles Kushner, married Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, on October 25, 2009. He is the CEO of Kushner Companies (and its subsidiaries) and owner of the New York Observer. He was named as White House Senior Advisor on January 9, 2017. he is also rumored to have met with Russian operatives during the Trump election campaign.
Roger Stone, a lobbyist and political consultant, describes himself as a dirty trickster. He is a close friend of Paul Manafort. He’s worked on campaigns for both Richard Nixon and Donald Trump. Stone frequently finds himself embroiled in scandal including a rumored drug problem, accusations of forgery, threatening and intimidating opponents, theft, bribery, extortion, and an admitted sex scandal involving ads in a New York newspaper where he sought orgies for him and his wife. He has been described by media outlets as “nasty” and “bigoted”. Ted Crux once told Fox News that Stone “is pulling the strings on Donald Trump. He planned the Trump campaign, and he is Trump’s henchman and dirty trickster.” Stone suspiciously left the Trump campaign on August 8, 2015. It was claimed he actively worked with Russians and Julian Assange to obtain stolen emails with dirt on Hillary Clinton and her campaign. He denies all wrongdoing. However, public Tweets seemingly confirm his role in the criminal affair.
Veselnitskaya is a prominent Russian attorney whose clients comprise several Russian “state-owned businesses” including the FSB (post KGB), Elektronintorg/Elint SP, and Rostec. Natalia famously represented Denis Katsyv, owner of Prevezon Holdings, defending his company against Russian money-laundering claims. She was formerly married to the Deputy Transportation Minister of the Moscow area. She is rumored to have several close ties withing Washington, D.C. The cases she represented, and the penalties imposed on her clients by the US government, will play a prominent role in the Trump-Russia case as we uncover incentives offered to reduce sanctions against her clients.
Aras Agalarov is a billionaire Russian oligarch and real-estate developer who has often served as a liaison between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. He was awarded the Order of Honor from Putin just ten days before the Moscow Miss America pageant that he helped organize with Trump. He is the father of Erin Agalarov.
Erin Agalarov, son of Russian oligarch Aras Agalarov, is a Moscow-based musician. He gained notoriety after Donald Trump Jr. emails revealed he sought to pass nefarious information about Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump. His actions and the communications he carelessly left behind will tie Donald Trump Jr. to the Trump-Russia crimes in a stupidly embarrassing manner.
New York publicist, former tabloid journalist, and prominent New York City playboy Rob Goldstone has been described as racy and flamboyantly gay with an affinity for young males. His clients include musician Emin Agalarov and Donald Trump’s Miss Universe competition. He became widely known after coordinating the dissemination of a Hillary Clinton dossier between the Russian-based Agalarov family and Donald Trump Jr. The knowledge he possesses about the case could prove invaluable to investigators.
Irakly (Ike) Kaveladze)
Reportedly the owner of hundreds of Russian shell companies. In 2000, he was associated with a money laundering case involving funds transferred from Russia through US banks. Kaveladze acted as interpreter during the June 9, 2017 Donald Trump Jr. meeting with Russian nationals.
James Comey is a former attorney who first gained visibility after a series of high-profile cases including the prosecution of Martha Stewart. He served as FBI Director from 2013 until May 9, 2017 when he was fired by President Donald Trump. After his dismissal, he accused Trump of pressuring him to drop the Trump-Russia collusion case. Controversially, he publicly announced an investigative maneuver in the Hillary Clinton email investigation which some claimed impacted her run for president.
Comey’s past work included several cases indirectly related to the Trump family’s business practices. He played a prominent part in the Prevezon Holdings and Fusion GPS investigations. He famously investigated former Russian spy Rinat Akhmetshin (one of the participants in the Donald Trump Jr. meeting with the Russians) in a money laundering case. His work in these prior cases provided him extensive knowledge concerning Russian business practices and Trump’s ties to not just Russian crime families, but to officials at the highest level of government office.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has a record of sponsoring activities intended to deride the interests of United States. He’s known for taking an especially hard stance (i.e., imprisonment, execution) against anyone who opposes him. He is suspected to have suspiciously close ties to businessman Donald J. Trump and was accused of sponsoring the Russian hacks with the intent of ensuring Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election.
Christopher Steele, former MI-6 British spy, headed Cambridge Union as president, headed MI 6’s Russia desk, and served as an adviser to British Special Forces. Steele investigated and was first to conclude the Alexander Litvinenko polonium-210 radiation poisoning was a Russian state-sponsored hit. He was hired by Fusion GPS to create a dossier on Donald J. Trump in which he reportedly uncovered illicit sexual encounters and suspected illicit Russian connections (see complete transcript of the Christopher Steele dossier below). Believing the Russians had compromised Donald Trump sufficiently to blackmail him, Steele turned over his dossier to British and US intelligence agencies before it ultimately leaked to the press.
Rinat Akhmetshin is a Russian national and suspected former Russian GRU intelligence officer. He acted as a lobbyist for Prevezon Holdings and is linked to Fusion GPS. He was suspected to have hired Andrey Melnichenko to hack and steal sensitive information from International Mineral Resources. He was subject of a US complaint for failure to register as a foreign agent. He has been linked to US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (aka “Putin’s favorite congressman”) and US President Donald Trump. Rinat reportedly gave secret documents to Rohrabacher in June 2017 (around the same time Donald Trump Jr. met with Russian reps) which led to Rep. Rohrabacher seeking to alter sanctions against Russia legislation.
Felix Sater (Satter)
Russian-born Felix Sater is a current and former business associate of Donald J. Trump. Despite denials by Trump, he is linked to him through documented business deals and meetings, including at least one meeting in Moscow. Sater is the Russian-born cofounder and managing directory of Bayrock-Sapir, a partner in the development of Trump SoHo. According to his FBI handler, he is the son of Semion Sater, the “Mogilevich crime syndicate boss”.
In 1991, Sater was convicted of first degree assault after stabbing a man in the face (he served one year in prison). In 1998, he was found guilty for his involvement in a $40 million stock fraud scheme. An active member of Chabad of Port Washington, he was contracted to develop the Trump SoHo property in Manhattan in 2005.
After being accused of money laundering in the mid-2000’s, Sater fled the country. Shortly after, he brokered a deal with the FBI involving information on black market Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and allowed to return to the United States. As part of the agreement, his records were sealed for ten years by US Attorney for Eastern District New York Loretta Lynch. According to Lynch, she sealed the records because Sater provided “information crucial to national security and the conviction of over 20 individuals including those responsible for committing massive financial fraud and members of the mafia.” All motions to unseal the documents have been denied.
Reports indicate that in the early period of Trump’s term (January 2017), Sater met with Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, to discuss plans to lift sanctions against Russia. It is rumored he was involved in undisclosed real estate dealings between Russia and the Trump organization. Whether or not Sater is still under the guiding hand of the FBI is unknown.
Tevfik Arif is the Russian cofounder of Bayrock-Sapir, business associate of Donald Trump, and developer of the Trump SoHo project. According to testimony against him, he “pretends to be Turkish to avoid connection to his questionable past in Russia.”
Arif formerly worked for USSR’s Ministry of Commerce and Trade. In 2010, he was arrested in a raid on a yacht in Turkey and charged with running a prostitution ring with women acquired via human trafficking from Russia and Ukraine. Two of the Russian women rescued in the raid were reportedly only 16 years old. He is one of the largest donors to the Chabad of Port Washington, an organization tied tightly to Felix Sater.
Tamir Sapir was born to a Jewish family in the USSR in 1947. His rather was a major in the Soviet Army. He founded the Sapir Organization, a developing partner in the Trump SoHo project. Sapir famously ran a electronics store in New York City that catered to Russian immigrants and was rumored to sell spy equipment to Russian operatives in the United States.
Sapir died on September 26,2014, shortly before Trump began his run for presidency.
Magnitsky was a Russian lawyer and namesake of the 2012 Magnitsky Act sponsored in part by Senator John McCain. He publicly alleged large-scale theft within the Russian government and was promptly arrested by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Seven days before the expiration of the maximum term he could be held, he died in Russian custody. Russian officials claimed he died of pancreatitis. Witnesses say he was beaten to death by Russian guards.
In 2012, it was discovered that much of the stolen funds Magnitsky referred to had been laundered through Manhattan real estate with potential ties to the Trump organization.
Katsyv is the son of Pyotr Katsyv, former vice governor of the Moscow region. He is the legal owner of Prevezon Holdings and maintains close ties with high-level Russian government officials. As part of the Prevezon case exposed by Sergei Magnitsky, Katsyv was accused of laundering millions through Manhattan real estate. The case was unexpectedly settled on May 12, 2017, two days before it was set to go to trial. Rumors hinted that Katsyv struck some sort of deal.
Lev Leviev is the Russian-born President of LLD Diamonds Group, the Federation of Jewish Communities, and VK.com, Russia’s largest social network. He is the Chairman of Africa-Israel USA, a purported shell company for Manhattan real estate deals, and a known associate of Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Key organizations and their relationship to Donald J. Trump/Russia
John Galt Corporation
John Galt Corporation is named after a character in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, which tells of a dystopian United States where successful businessmen are regulated out of business by a greedy and controlling government. The book begins with this line: “Who is John Galt?” They claim to be a construction business based in New York City.
Post 9/11, John Galt Corp was contracted by Bovis Land Lease to demolish the Deutsche Bank Building after the building suffered damage during the September 11 terror attacks. When their building and business practices were called into question, the New York Times noted the company “has apparently never done any work like it. Indeed, Galt does not seem to have done much of anything since it was incorporated in 1983.”
By the end of the Deutsche Bank Building job they would be drawn into a wide-ranging criminal indictment. One of the company’s purchasing agents would be sentenced to 7 ½ years in prison for embezzling over $1.2 million from the building’s demolition. The company and three of their managers would see manslaughter charges filed against them. It is now believed the company was nothing more than a shell company hired by a parent company – Bovis Lend Lease.
Bovis Lend Lease/Lend Lease Project Management
Bovis Lend Lease operate in more than 40 countries around the world. In 2012, the U.S. Attorney’s office charged them with defrauding clients in three separate schemes resulting in a $50 million deferred prosecution settlement. Bovis Lend Lease were hired to oversee the demolition of the Deutsche Bank Building and were the General Contractor for the Trump International and Trump SoHo projects.
Based in Germany, Deutsche Bank is the 2nd largest bank in the world. They are the former owners of Deutsche Bank Building in New York City and operate through nearly one thousand subsidiaries and special purpose entities including Taunus Crop, Bankers Trust, Deutsche Bank OOO, OJSC Deutsche Bank DBU, and Deutsche Sharp Pixley Metals. Various reports have indicated they are the Trump family’s primary bank (after American banks began refusing loans due to his many bankruptcies). Reports suggest over $3 billion dollars in loans have been distributed to the Trumps through Deutsche Bank. The bank has been involved in more than 7,800 legal disputes with charges including tax evasion, espionage, wire fraud, improper business, and money laundering.
Prevezon Holdings LLC
Prevezon is a real estate company based in New York City. In May 2017, US authorities settled a longstanding case against Prevezon alleging they were one of the companies used for laundering money ($230 million) exfiltrated from Russia and dispersed through Manhattan real estate (more below). Attorneys working the case would later be shown to have close ties to the Trump organization.
Bayrock was founded in 2001 by former Soviet official, Tevfik Arif. They are a New York based real estate company with plurality interests in more than 12 subsidiary holding companies including a strategic partnership with mysterious Icelandic investment company, FL Group.
Bayrock-Sapir were a developing partner in the Trump SoHo and other Trump Organization projects. Their office resided on the 24th floor of Trump Tower. They are the subject of several lawsuits accusing them of fraud, extortion, theft, and illicit mob connections.
FL Group/Baugur Group
In 2008, FL Group was placed into administration and parts of the company nationalized by the Icelandic government. Around this time, the FL Group Chairman stepped down after being convicted for breaking accounting laws. His wife replaced him.
The line between FL Group and Baugur Group is difficult to discern. In one instance, Baugur Group acquired 20% of FL Group. A short time later, FL Group purchased 39% of Baugur Group. Investigators found that Baugur Group’s only means of contact was a single postal mailbox in the British Virgin Islands that was shared by more than a dozen companies.
In 2002, Baugur’s headquarters were raided and its founders charged on 40 counts including accounting irregularities, fraud, and embezzlement. The founder was convicted in 2007 but inexplicably given only a 3-month suspended sentence.
Baugur Group/Fl Group were developing partners in the Trump SoHo project.
Fusion GPS was founded by Glen Simpson and Peter Fritsch. They are a research and strategic intelligence firm based in Washington D.C. When politicians need a person’s reputation destroyed, they call Fusion GPS.
Fusion GPS were lobbyists for Prevezon Holdings. They also hired Christopher Steele to compile the dossier on Donald J. Trump.
DiFama Concrete have been subject of many documented federal violations. They are owned by Joseph Fama and Joseph DiBennedetto, both reportedly members of the Lucchese crime family (aka Cosa Nostra). DiFama Concrete were subcontractors on the Trump SoHo project when they were found to be using inferior materials. As a result, construction on Trump SoHo was halted by regulators.
Federation of Jewish Communities (of Russia/of CIS) / Evraz
The Federation of Jewish Communities were founded by Roman Abramovich, owner of Evraz, a Russian steel and mining company. Interestingly, it has been reported that Evraz holds a 40% interest in the steel contract for the Keystone Pipeline project.
Africa-Israel USA first emerged in the public eye when Lev Leviev (AFI’s Chairman of the Board) was associated with the construction of Israeli settlements on the West Bank. AFI were on the verge of collapse in late 2009 when US federal government seized their properties at 40 Pine St. during the Prevezon Holdings money laundering case.
New York-based Lucchese crime family
The Lucchese crime family is one of the “Five Families” that dominate organized crime in New York City. They were the basis for the movie Goodfellas. Lucchese arrived on the scene in the 1920’s and achieved great success with illicit labor and construction contracts. On October 1, 2009, forty-nine Lucchese members were charged with bribery, racketeering, bid rigging, and extortion of businesses and construction sites in Manhattan.
On May 31, 2017, one month before details of Donald Trump Jr’s meeting with several Russians was revealed, nineteen members were charged with racketeering and murder. Only three days prior, Federal agents arrested nearly a dozen members of New York City’s Bonanno organized crime family – a mafia organization with alleged ties to Russian businessman Felix Sater.
The Lucchese crime family is still active in New York today and rumored to be run by Victor Amuso from prison. They are thought to hold an interest in at least one contractor for the Trump SoHo project and may have a close relationship with Bovis Lend Lease, the general contractor for Trump SoHo.
US Attorney Preet Bharara brings charges against Prevezon real-estate – accused of money laundering illicit Russian funds (2007)
One of the primary motivators of the Russian government is a little-known set of “adoption laws”. In 2012, the US adopted “Magnitsky Laws” to sanction Russians connected to the death of Segei Magnitsky (the attorney who exposed the Prevezon fraud). The Magnitsky sanctions, which bar many prominent Russian businessmen from operating in the United States, have tormented Russia since the Magnitsky Act was signed into law by President Obama in 2012. As a result, Russians countered with a ban on the adoption of Russian children. To date, Russia and Russian lobbyists have pressured the US to withdraw the Magnitsky sanctions to no avail. Surprisingly, when someone refers to the “ban on Russian adoptions”, it relates as much to the Prevezon case as the Magnitsky case – and neither have anything to do with the adoption of children.
The Prevezon case (US v. Prevezon Holdings, No. 13-cv-06326, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Manhattan) dates to 2007 and was initiated to expose how Russian government officials laundered $230 million through New York City (primarily Manhattan) real estate. According to court testimony, Prevezon and its owner, Moscow businessman Denis Katsyv, stole the identity of American firm, Hermitage Capital Management, and used several of the company’s subsidiaries to launder pilfered Russian federal funds. Hermitage attorney Sergei Magnitsky exposed the fraud and filed a complaint with Russian officials. He was promptly arrested by Russian authorities.
Sergei Magnitsky was held in a Russian prison for nearly a year. Three days before the maximum term he could be held expired, he was found dead in his jail cell. Russian authorities said he died of a heart failure. Witnesses say Magnitsky was beaten to death by Russian guards.
As part of the Prevezon case, US officials (SDNY) seized millions of dollars of Manhattan properties including the following:
- 250 East 49th St. Unit Comm3
- 160 Wooster Street Unit Com-1
- 127 Seventh Avenue Retail Unit 2
- 20 Pine St. Units 1810, 1816, 2009, 2308, and 1711
The case had originally been brought up by US Attorney Preet Bharara. It was scheduled to go to trial on May 15, 2017, nearly a decade after the charges were filed. Two months before trial, Bharara was fired by President Donald Trump after refusing to follow Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ order for all remaining US Attorneys to resign. A new attorney, Joon H. Kim, was appointed by Donald Trump. Without warning, the case was settled by Joon Kim two days later. The abrupt conclusion left many wondering why the Russian investigation had been cut short.
Many were stunned when it was announced that the case had been settled for $5.9 million, an astonishingly low amount considering an estimated $230 million had been laundered through U.S. real estate properties. As part of the settlement, Prevezon and its business associates did not acknowledge any wrongdoing.
The Prevezon case remained unknown to most Americans until Donald J. Trump won the presidency and appointed the US Attorney that ultimately shuttered the case. Some conclude that a criminal case held over Trump’s head could have been the reason for his complicated entry, and abrupt withdrawal, from the 2012 election. In 2012, the statute of limitations would have still been in effect. They expired in 2016.
Deutsche Bank – Trump family’s primary lender is a German bank (2005)
It has been widely reported that Deutsche Bank of Germany has been Donald Trump’s lender of choice for more than a decade. After declaring six bankruptcies and leaving many banks holding worthless debt, American banks began refusing loans to the billionaire real estate tycoon. It is believed the Trump empire has guided more than $3 billion through the German bank’s doors.
If it seems incredible that the world’s 2nd largest bank could be involved in illicit activities, understand that Deutsche is no stranger to controversial, even illegal, business practices. In the 2008 financial crisis (and resulting Great Recession), the company agreed to a $7.2 billion settlement over the sale of toxic mortgage securities believed to have poisoned the US financial system to the point of collapse. Six former employees were accused of tax fraud in 2015. From 2001 to 2007, the bank admitted to engagement in espionage. In April 2015, the bank agreed to $2.5 billion in fines for its involvement in wire fraud. In November 2015, Deutsche was ordered to pay $258 million for conducting illegal business with foreign countries. As of 2016, the bank has been involved in more than 7,800 legal disputes.
In June 2017, Deutsche Bank announced that it would not comply with a request to hand over information related to its relationship with Donald Trump and trades from the bank’s Moscow operation.
The contamination, resolution, and ultimate deadly fire in the Deutsche Bank Building in New York City (2007)
The Deutsche Bank Building was a 39-story skyscraper located at 130 Liberty Street in New York City – directly adjacent to the World Trade Center. The building was badly damaged in the September 11, 2011 terror attacks. A 24-story gash was torn into the building’s façade.
The bank maintained that the building could not be repaired and wanted it to be declared a total loss. The insurance company insisted the damage be treated as recoverable damage rather than a total loss. Complicating matters, the building was found to be contaminated with asbestos.
In 2004, an agreement was reached – the building would be declared a total loss. However, the building must be dismantled piece by piece, a much more expensive process. On August 18, 2007, a fire broke out in the building. Firefighters struggled to put out the fire and two firemen were killed during the battle. In the subsequent investigation, it was discovered that a large section of basement water pipe had been removed, thus hindering the water supply and hampering firemen’s efforts. Three supervisors and the contractor were indicted on manslaughter charges. They worked for the John Galt Corporation, a company that had done no previous demolition work and ran as a shell company. John Galt Corporation had been subcontracted by the Bovis Lend Lease, the company that acted as General Contractor for the Trump SoHo project.
Trump Beach Club/Trump Ocean Club (2007)
Trump’s Beach Club project in Panama deserves minor mention, not because of its importance in the trail of evidence but rather, because it was potentially Trump’s first foray into government sanctioned money laundering. Little is known about the project except that it began in earnest during Panamanian president Ricardo Martinelli’s term. Martinelli’s involvement in the project is well known – he was on the board of the bank that lent Trump the money for the project.
Martinelli became the subject of an Interpol “red notice” – a request for international arrest and extradition. He was accused of embezzling $45 million in government contracts. He was arrested by U.S. Marshals on June 12, 2017. Opening day photos of the Trump Beach Club project show Donald Trump and a grinning Ricardo Martinelli cutting the red ribbon.
The Trump SoHo project (2008)
The Trump SoHo project is a 45-story hotel/condominium located at 246 Spring Street in Manhattan. The project was announced in 2006 and completed two years later, at the height of the US financial crisis and onset of the Great Recession. It was a time of financial hardship for many Americans – and many American businesses. The real estate sector was hit particularly hard.
The Trump SoHo project was a combined effort between (1) the Trump Organization, (2) Bayrock Group-Sapir, and (3) the FL Group. Bovis Land Lease, the company charged with manslaughter over the Deutsche Bank Building fire, was assigned main contractor duties.
The project faced strong opposition from the beginning as locals complained that Trump had sidestepped a longstanding ordinance prohibiting hotels in the area by labelling the building a “condominium” with strict rental restrictions that left rooms uninhabited during much of the year (during which time they could be rented out daily).
Opposition to the project strengthened in January 2008 when three workers were injured and one killed after a fall from the 42nd floor. The workers were reportedly Russian immigrants employed by the DiFama Concrete company, a Brooklyn based company with suspected ties to the Lucchese crime family. Construction was stopped when investigators found the company was using substandard materials.
It is believed that Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump received “tens of millions of dollars in fees and partnership interests” for the project. One report indicated the Trumps held a nearly 20% interest. In 2001, about a dozen early SoHo buyers filed lawsuits against Trump SoHo alleging they had been “fraudulently misrepresented”. The case was ultimately settled without going to trial or admitting guilt. Plaintiffs were given 90% of their money back to drop the case.
In 2016, it was discovered that Trump SoHo partner, FL Group, appeared to be a Russian-owned shell company operating under the Baugur Group. Baugur Group was already well known to federal investigators. Owners of the company were charged on 40 counts including accounting irregularities, fraud, and embezzlement in 2002. SoHo’s second partner, Bayrock-Spair was found to be owned by two Russian nationals; Felix Sater, a known mobster convicted in a $40 million stock fraud scheme, and Tevfik Arif, who was later arrested in a raid on a yacht in Turkey and charged with running a prostitution ring. Despite court records showing otherwise, Trump repeatedly denied any association with foreign Russian entities.
Trump’s Moscow Miss Universe Pageant (2013)
Donald Trump purchased the Miss Universe rights from ITT Corp in 1996. Immediately NBC was sold exclusive rights to air the contest. In 2013, Donald J. Trump entered into a partnership with Aras Agalarov and his son, Emin, major Russian real-estate tycoons based in Moscow with close ties to the Kremlin. The contest was funded by the Agalarov’s and held in Moscow. Two years later, Trump began his controversial campaign for US President.
Because of Trump’s controversial comments about women and minorities during the presidential campaign, NBC severed all business relationships with the Trump organization and dropped rights to the Miss Universe contest. A month later, Fox News assumed all rights to the property.
The details of the arrangement between Trump and the Agalarov’s have never been fully understood. It has been proposed that it was during his time in Russia preparing for the Miss Universe contest, Russian authorities compromised the tycoon “sufficiently to be able to blackmail him” (See Christopher Steele dossier below). Others believe a massive Russian real estate deal was (or is) in the works. What is inarguable, is that a long-lasting relationship was developed, one that carried over into his presidency and triggered a public outcry when the brothers resurfaced to offer Russian assistance for his presidential campaign.
Dirt on Clinton (Clinton’s private email server, the DNC email hacks) (2016)
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” – Donald J. Trump, July 2006
The Wall Street Journal was the first to break the story that Russian hackers attempted to get stolen Democrat emails to an intermediary and then to Mike Flynn. The reports were confirmed by former equity advisor and Republican financer Peter W. Smith who admitted to newspapers that he attempted to obtain the Clinton emails from Russian hackers. Smith told reporters that Michael Flynn was aware of his efforts. Shortly after speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Smith was found dead in his hotel room. It was not revealed until two months later that Smith had been asphyxiated.
Ultimately the DNC emails were passed to Wikileaks. Notorious hacker Guccifer 2.0 claimed responsibility for the hack. Guccifer had long been suspected to be a persona, or more accurately, the media arm for a collective of Russian state-sponsored hackers.
On December 9, 2016, the CIA confirmed Russia had conducted adversarial operations during the 2016 US election, including hacking DNC email, to prevent Hillary Clinton from winning the presidency. Given Trump’s conspicuous ties to Russian entities, it was suggested he or his campaign may have colluded with Russia.
The question of Russia’s impact on the election may never be answered. At the time of the hack, polls suggested Clinton would win despite the email hacks and private email server fiasco. Only a single poll suggested Trump had pulled ahead. The IBD/TIPP Poll had been the most accurate poll in recent presidential elections. It showed Trump pulled even with Clinton on November 2 and pulled ahead on November 6 – just two days prior to the election. If this were indeed the case, Russia had not only interfered with a US election – they had determined its outcome.
The Trump dossier (the Christopher Steele report) (2016)
By late 2015, Republicans were concerned about the possibility of Donald Trump winning the presidential nomination. As a result, they secured the services of Fusion GPS to investigate Trump’s Russia-related activities. Once Trump won the nomination, making the point moot, Democrats took over funding of the Fusion GPS investigation.
Ex-British spy Christopher Steele was assigned to lead the investigation and tasked with compiling a dossier of Trump’s activities. In the end, Steele turned over his report to both British and American intelligence officials after concluding that the material should not just be in the hands of Trump’s political opponents since it seemed to him “to be a matter of national security for both countries”.
After Trump’s victory in November 2016, Steele continued working on the dossier. The dossier was made public (i.e. leaked) by BuzzFeed in early 2017. Trump denied the report’s allegations calling it “fake news”. In it were claims that Russia possessed damaging or embarrassing information about Trump which could be used for purposes of blackmail including sexual and financial dealings with Russian entities. Intelligence officials say skepticism and caution should be used when assessing the viability of the dossier claims. However, they note that there is a high degree of confidence that at least some of the claims therein are credible (read complete transcript of the Trump dossier below).
In July 2017, the Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenaed Fusion GPS’s co-founder, Glenn Simpson to testify in the Trump-Russia collusion investigation. Simpson’s attorney’s asserted their client would invoke his Fifth Amendment right in response to the subpoena.
The Donald Trump Jr. email – Don Jr. agrees to meet with the Russians (2017)
“Hillary Clinton has to go to jail. Alright, I said it. She has to go to jail. The fact that they even allow her to participate in this race is a disgrace to the United States, is a disgrace to our nation.” Donald J. Trump, June 2, 2016
The day after the above statement was made, an email chain between publicist Rob Goldstone and Donald Trump Jr., began to circulate. The email began in part, “Emin Agalarov just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting”.
Goldstone explained that Russia’s Yury Chaika (Prosecutor General of Russia) met with Russian business tycoon Aras Agalarov earlier in the day and offered to provide the Trump campaign with “official documents and information” that could “incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia.” Goldstone noted that the information was sensitive but a “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” The bait had been set.
Goldstone added that he could also “send this info to your father via Rhona” but since it was sensitive, wanted Donald Trump Jr. to see it first. Trump responded, “If it’s what you say, I love it.” He suggested they do a call “first thing next week when I’m back.”
The email chain continued and on June 7, Goldstone said Emin Agalarov asked that the meeting be scheduled two days later with the “Russian government attorney” (Natalia Veselnitskaya). “How about 3 at our offices?”, Trump Jr. wrote back.
Trump Jr. added that Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner would also join him in the meeting. Ultimately, more people attended the meeting than was reported including a representative for the Agalarov family, alleged money launderer Irakly Kaveladze, and Rinat Akhmetshin, former Russian spy and lobbyist who had already been accused of acting as an unregistered foreign agent for Russia.
That same night (June 7) at a political speech, Trump promised to reveal illicit clandestine activities conducted by the Clintons,
“I am going to give a major speech on probably Monday of next week (June 13), and we’re going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons. I think you’re going to find it very informative and very, very interesting. I wonder if the press will want to attend, who knows. Hillary Clinton turned the State Department into her private hedge fund — the Russians, the Saudis, the Chinese — all gave money to Bill and Hillary and got favorable treatment in return.”
The Trump/Russia meeting took place on Thursday, June 9 as planned but according to Trump Jr., he did not receive the information the Russians promised to deliver. Trump appeared to break the news to supporters at a New Hampshire college,
“This was going to be a speech on Hillary Clinton and how bad a president, especially in these times of radical Islamic terrorism, she would be. There will be plenty of opportunity to discuss these important issues at a later time, and I will deliver that speech soon. But today there is only one thing to discuss: the growing threat of terrorism inside of our borders.”
The New York Times revealed the meeting one year later in a series of articles. Minutes before they published the complete transcript of the Trump/Goldstone communication, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted it from his personal account explaining that he wanted to be “totally transparent”. Steven Colbert joked that night, “I’m apologize for thinking Eric was the dumb one.”
Immediately after the email chain was tweeted by Donald Trump Jr., funds were quickly withdrawn from President Donald Trump’s campaign fund and used to hire attorneys for Don Jr.
Can a high-profile businessman run a crooked business and get away with it?
The old adage, “follow the money” still rings true. However, in today’s business environment, Donald J. Trump often lends little more than his capital and expertise to real estate projects that bear his name. In these endeavors, partners (such as Bayrock) can schedule work and execute business transactions, insulating high-level partners from any potential legal or criminal responsibility.
The money trail can be further obscured though layers of corporate entities. For example, a top-level holding company may legally exist under a lower level subsidiary. Below the subsidiary may be layers of additional subsidiaries and under these, interests may be portioned to individuals through partnerships. Taxing differences in each type of entity complicate tracking of money. For instance, partnerships rarely report taxes because profits are expected to be reported as going to the partners personally. The layers-upon-layers of organizational structure offer barriers to financial reporting – and investigations.
Finally, we must consider the Statute of Limitations. Over the past decade, Donald Trump has been especially careful to ensure legal barriers are in place to protect his interests. For older projects, the Statute of Limitations has likely expired.
Given the above considerations, a scenario does indeed exist where all participants could walk away from this with no liability. The President of the United States has the power to pardon anyone for any reason. The only person he cannot pardon is himself in time of impeachment (theoretically). If Trump wishes, he could simply pardon Donald Trump Jr., his cabinet, his campaign team, and everyone else subject to prosecution. Guilt or innocence would not matter – the law could not touch them. That would leave the president himself at risk. However, with careful planning around the Statute of Limitations, he would also walk away with no penalty – and that would make this episode the greatest conspiracy in American history.
But what about China?
There are those that believe Trump colluded with Russians and evidence certainly lends credence to the theory. However, some are quick to point out that Trump has massive dealings with China too, and those dealings could involve much larger bribes and massive kickbacks. Directing attention toward Russia may purposefully defer attention from an even worse crime.
Transcripts of Donald Trump Jr. Email between Rob Goldstone
Update (8/9/17): Reports surfaced that FBI agents raided the home of Paul Manafort and seized documents and other materials.
On June 3, 2016 at 10:36 AM, Rob Goldstone wrote:
Emin just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting.
The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.
This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump—helped along by Aras and Emin.
What do you think is the best way to handle this information and would you be able to speak to Emin about it directly?
I can also send this info to your father via Rhona, but it is ultra sensitive so wanted to send to you first.
On June 3, 2016 at 10:53 AM, Donald Trump Jr. wrote:
Thanks Rob I appreciate that. I am on the road at the moment but perhaps I just speak to Emin first. Seems we have some time and if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer. Could we do a call first thing next week when I am back?
On June 6, 2016 at 12:40 PM, Rob Goldstone wrote:
Sent: Monday, June 06, 2016 at 12:40 PM
To: Donald Trump Jr.
Subject: Re: Russia – Clinton – private and confidential
Let me know when you are free to talk with Emin by phone about this Hillary info — you had mentioned early this week so wanted to try to schedule a time and day Best to you and family Rob Goldstone
On June 6, 2016 at 15:03, Donald Trump Jr. wrote:
Rob could we speak now?
Rob Goldstone’s response
From: Rob Goldstone
Sent: Monday, June 06, 2016 3:37 PM
To: Donald Trump Jr.
Subject: Re: Russia – Clinton – private and confidential
Let me track him down in Moscow
What number he could call?
On June 6, 2016 15:38, Donald Trump Jr. wrote:
My cell thanks
On June 6, 2016 at 3:43 p.m., Rob Goldstone wrote:
Ok he’s on stage in Moscow but should be off within 20 Minutes so I am sure can call Rob
On Jun 6, 2016, at 16:38, Donald Trump Jr. wrote:
Rob thanks for the help.
On Jun 7, 2016, at 4:20 PM, Rob Goldstone wrote:
Hope all is well
Emin asked that I schedule a meeting with you and The Russian government attorney who is flying over from Moscow for this Thursday.
I believe you are aware of the meeting — and so wondered if 3pm or later on Thursday works for you?
I assume it would be at your office.
On Jun 7, 2016, at 5:16 PM, Donald Trump Jr. wrote:
How about 3 at our offices? Thanks rob appreciate you helping set it up.
On June 7, 2016, at 5:19PM, Rob Goldstone wrote:
Perfect… I won’t sit in on the meeting, but will bring them at 3 pm and introduce you etc.
I will send the names of the two people meeting with you for security when I have them later today.
On Jun 7, 2016, at 18:14, Donald Trump Jr. wrote:
Great. It will likely be Paul Manafort (campaign boss) my brother in law and me. 725 Fifth Ave 25th floor.
On June 8, 2016, at 10:34 AM, Rob Goldstone wrote:
Sent: Wednesday, June 08, 2016 10:34 AM
To: Donald Trump Jr.
Subject: Re: Russia – Clinton – private and confidential
Would it be possible to move tomorrow meeting to 4pm as the Russian attorney is in court until 3 i was just informed.
On June 8, 2016, at 11:15, Donald Trump Jr. wrote:
Yes Rob I could do that unless they wanted to do 3 today instead … just let me know and ill lock it in either way.
On June 8, 2016, at 11:18 AM, Rob Goldstone wrote:
From: Rob Goldstone
Sent: Wednesday, June 08, 2016 11:18 AM
To: Donald Trump Jr.
Subject: Re: Russia – Clinton – private and confidential
They can’t do today as she hasn’t landed yet from Moscow 4pm is great tomorrow.
On June 8, 2016, at 12:03 AM, Donald Trump Jr. wrote:
From: Donald Trump Jr.
Sent: Wednesday, June 08, 2016 12:03PM
To: Jared Kushner; Paul Manafort
Subject: FW: Russia – Clinton – private and confidential
Meeting got moved to 4 tomorrow at my offices.
The Christopher Steele dossier on President Donald Trump
The Donald Trump-Russia dossier is the report compiled by former British MI6 intelligence officer, Christopher Steele. The report was made public in January 2017. Originally the report was met with skepticism in the conspiracy community. However, it is now clear that some of the outrageous claims contained in the report have been proven to be true, putting the dossier back in the spotlight. Below is the full text transcription of Christopher Steele’s original report.
COMPANY INTELLIGENCE REPORT 2016/080
US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE DONALD TRUMP’S ACTIVITIES IN RUSSIA AND COMPROMISING RELATIONSHIP WITH THE
· Russian regime has been cultivating, supporting and assisting Trump for at least 5 years. Aim, endorsed by PUTIN, has been to encourage splits and divisions in western alliance
· So far TRUMP has declined various sweetener real estate business deals offered him in Russia in order to further the Kremlin’s cultivation of him. However he and his inner circle have accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin, including on his Democratic and other political rivals
· Former top Russian intelligence officer claims FSB has compromised TRUMP through his activities in Moscow sufficiently to be able to blackmail him. According to several knowledgeable sources, his conduct in Moscow has included perverted sexual acts which have been arranged/monitored by the FSB
· A dossier of compromising material on Hillary CLINTON has been collated by the Russian Intelligence Services over many years and mainly comprises bugged conversations she had on various visits to Russia and intercepted phone calls rather than any embarrassing conduct. The dossier is controlled by Kremlin spokesman, PESKOV, directly on PUTIN’s orders. However it has not as yet been distributed abroad, including to TRUMP. Russian intentions for its deployment still unclear
1. Speaking to a trusted compatriot in June 2016 sources A and B, a senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure and a former top level Russian intelligence officer still active inside the Kremlin respectively, the Russian authorities had been cultivating and supporting US Republican presidential candidate, Donald TRUMP for at least 5 years. Source B asserted that the TRUMP operation was both supported and directed by Russian President Vladimir PUTIN. Its aim was to sow discord and disunity both within the US itself, but more especially within the Transatlantic alliance which was viewed as inimical to Russia’ s interests. source C, a senior Russian financial official said the TRUMP operation should be seen in terms of PUTIN’s desire to return to Nineteenth Century ‘Great Power’ politics anchored upon countries’ interests rather than the ideals-based international order established after World War Two. S/he had overheard PUTIN talking in this way to close associates on several occasions.
2. In terms of specifics, Source A confided that the Kremlin had been feeding TRUMP and his team valuable intelligence on his opponents, including for several years Democratic presidential candidate Hillary CLINTON, (see more below). This was confirmed by Source D, a close associate of TRUMP who had organized and managed his recent trips to Moscow, and who reported, also in June 2016, that this Russian intelligence had been “very helpful”. The Kremlin’s cultivation operation on TRUMP also had comprised offering him various lucrative real estate development business deals in Russia, especially in relation to the ongoing 2018 World Cup soccer tournament. However, so far, for reasons unknown, TRUMP had not taken up any of these.
3. However, there were other aspects to TRUMP’s engagement with the Russian authorities. One which had borne fruit for them was to exploit TRUMP’s personal obsessions and sexual perversion in order to obtain suitable ‘kompromat’ (compromising material) on him. According to Source D, where s/ he had been present, TRUMP’s (perverted) conduct in Moscow included hiring the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where he knew President and Mrs OBAMA (whom he hated) had stayed on one of their official trips to Russia, and defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) s how in front of him. The hotel was known to be under FSB control with microphones and concealed cameras in all the main rooms to record anything they wanted to.
4. The Moscow Ritz Carlton episode involving TRUMP reported above as confirmed by Source E, [REDACTED] who said that s/he and several of the staff were aware of it at the time and subsequently. S/he believed i t had happened in 2013. Source E provided an introduction for a company ethnic Russian operative to Source F, a female staffer at the hotel when TRUMP had stayed there, who also confirmed the story. Speaking separately i n June 2016, Source B (the former top level Russian intelligence officer) asserted that TRUMP’s unorthodox behavior in Russia over the years had provided the authorities there with enough embarrassing material on the now Republican presidential candidate to be able to blackmail him if they so wished.
5. Asked about the Kremlin’s reported intelligence feed to TRUMP over recent years and rumors about a Russian dossier of ‘kompromat’ on Hillary CLINTON (being circulated), Source 8 confirmed the file’s existence. S/he confided in a trusted compatriot that it had been collated by Department K of the FSB for many years, dating back to her husband Bill’s presidency, and comprised mainly eavesdropped conversations of various sorts rather than details/evidence of unorthodox or embarrassing behavior. Some of the conversations were from bugged comments CLINTON had made on her various trips to Russia and focused on things she had said which contradicted her current position on various issues. Others were most probably from phone intercepts.
6. Continuing on this theme, Source G, a senior Kremlin official, confided that the CLINTON dossier was controlled exclusively by chief Kremlin spokesman, Dmitriy PESKOV, who was responsible for compiling/handling it on the explicit instructions of PUTIN himself. The dossier however had not as yet been made available abroad, including to TRUMP or his campaign team. At present it was unclear what PUTIN’s intentions were in this regard.
RUSSIA/CYBER CRIME: A SYNOPSIS OF RUSSIAN STATE SPONSORED AND OTHER CYBER OFFENSIVE (CRIMINAL) OPERATIONS
· Russia has extensive program of state-sponsored offensive cyber operations. External targets include foreign governments and big corporations, especially banks. FSB leads on cyber within Russian apparatus. Limited success in attacking top foreign targets like G7 governments, security services and IFIs but much more on second tier ones through IT back doors, using corporate and other visitors to Russia
· FSB often uses coercion and blackmail to recruit most capable cyber operatives in Russia into its state-sponsored programs. Heavy use also, both wittingly and unwittingly, of CIS emigres working in western corporations and ethnic Russians employed by neighboring governments e.g. Latvia
· Example cited of successful Russian cyber operation targeting senior Western business visitor. Provided back door into important Western institutions.
· Example given of US citizen of Russian origin approached by FSB and offered incentive of “investment” in his business when visiting Moscow.
· Problems however for Russian authorities themselves in countering local hackers and cyber criminals, operating outside state control. Central Bank claims there were over 20 serious attacks on correspondent accounts held by CBR in 2015, comprising Rubles several billion in fraud
· Some details given of leading non-state Russian cyber-criminal groups
1. Speaking in June 2016, a number of Russian figures with a detailed knowledge of national cybercrime, both state-sponsored and otherwise, outlined the current situation in this area. A former senior intelligence officer divided Russian state-sponsored offensive cyber operations into four categories (in order of priority):- targeting foreign, especially western governments; penetrating leading foreign business corporations, especially banks; domestic monitoring of the elite; and attacking political opponents both at home and abroad. The former intelligence officer reported that the Federal Security Service (FSB) was the lead organization within the Russian state apparatus for cyber operations.
2. In terms of the success of Russian offensive cyber operations to date, a senior government figure reported that there had been only limited success in penetrating the “first tier” foreign targets. These comprised western (especially G7 and NATO) governments, security and intelligence services and central banks, and the IFIs. To compensate for this shortfall, massive effort had been invested, with much greater success, in attacking the “secondary targets”, particularly western private banks and the governments of smaller states allied to the West. S/he mentioned Latvia in this regard. Hundreds of agents, either consciously cooperating with the FSB or whose personal and professional IT systems had been unwittingly compromised, were recruited. Many were people who had ethnic and family ties to Russia and/or had been incentivized financially to cooperate. Such people often would receive monetary inducements or contractual favors from the Russia n state or its agents in return. This had created difficulties for parts of the Russian state apparatus in obliging/indulging the m e.g. the Central Bank of Russia knowingly having to cover up for such agents’ money laundering operations through the Russian financial system.
3. In terms of the FSB’s recruitment of capable cyber operatives to carry out its, ideally deniable, offensive cyber operations, a Russian IT specialist with direct knowledge reported in June 2016 that this was often done using coercion and blackmail. In terms of ‘foreign’ agents, the FSB was approaching US citizens of Russian (Jewish) origin on business trips to Russia. In one case a US citizen of Russian ethnicity had been visiting Moscow to attract investors in his new information technology program. The FSB clearly knew this and had offered to provide seed capital to this person in return for them being able to access and modify his IP, with a view to targeting priority foreign targets by planting a Trojan virus in the software. The US visitor was told this was common practice. The FSB also had implied significant operational success as a result of installing cheap Russian IT games containing their own malware unwittingly by targets on their PCs and other platforms.
4. In a more advanced and successful FSB operation, an IT operator inside a leading Russian SOE, who previously had been employed on conventional (defensive) IT work there, had been under instruction for the last year to conduct an offensive cyber operation against a foreign director of the company. Although the latter was apparently an infrequent visitor to Russia, the FSB now successfully had penetrated his personal IT and through this had managed to access various important institutions in the West through the back door.
5. In terms of other technical IT platforms, an FSB cyber operative flagged up the ‘Telegram’ enciphered commercial system as having been of especial concern and therefore heavily targeted by the FSB, not least because it was used frequently by Russian internal political activists and oppositionists. His/her understanding was that the FSB now successfully had cracked this communications software and therefore it was no longer secure to use.
6. The senior Russian government figure cited above also reported that non-state sponsored cybercrime was becoming an increasing problem inside Russia for the government and authorities there. The Central Bank of Russia claimed that in 2015 alone there had been more than 20 attempts at serious cyber embezzlement of money from corresponding accounts held there, comprising several billions Rubles. More generally, s/he understood there were circa 15 major organized crime groups in the country involved in cybercrime, all of which continued to operate largely outside state and FSB control. These included the so-called ‘Anunak’, ‘Buktrap’ and ‘Metel’ organizations.
RUSSIA/US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: FURTHER INDICATIONS OF EXTENSIVE CONSPIRACY BETWEEN TRUMP’S CAMPAIGN TEAM AND THE KREMLIN
· Further evidence of extensive conspiracy between TRUMP’s campaign team and Kremlin, sanctioned at highest levels and involving Russian diplomatic staff based in the US
· TRUMP associate admits Kremlin behind recent appearance of DNC e- mails on WikiLeaks, as means of maintaining plausible deniability
· Agreed exchange of information established in both directions. TRUM P’s team using moles within DNC and hackers in the US as well as outside in Russia. PUTIN motivated by fear and hatred of Hillary CLINTON. Russians receiving intel from TRUMP’s team on Russian oligarchs and their families in US
· Mechanism for transmitting this intelligence involves “pension” disbursements to Russian emigres living in US as cover, using consular officials in New York, DC and Miami
· Suggestion from source close to TRUMP and MANAFORT that Republican campaign team happy to have Russia as media bogeyman to mask more extensive corrupt business ties to China and other emerging countries
1. Speaking in confidence to a compatriot in late July 2016, Source E, an ethnic Russian close associate of Republican US presidential candidate Donald TRUMP, admitted that there was a well-developed conspiracy of co-operation between them and the Russian leadership. This was managed on the TRUMP side by the Republican candidate’s campaign manager, Paul MANAFORT, who was using foreign policy advisor, Carter PAGE, and others as intermediaries. The two sides had a mutual interest in defeating Democratic presidential candidate Hillary CLINTON, whom President PUTIN apparently both hated and feared.
2. Inter alia, Source E, acknowledged that the Russian regime had been behind the recent leak of embarrassing e-mail messages, emanating from the Democratic National Committee (DNC), to the WikiLeaks platform. The reason for using WikiLeaks was “plausible deniability” and the operation had been conducted with the full knowledge and support of TRUMP and senior members of his campaign team. In return the TRUMP team had agreed to sideline Russian intervention in Ukraine as a campaign issue and to raise US/NATO defense commitments in the Bal tics and Eastern Europe to deflect attention away from Ukraine, a priority for PUTIN who needed to cauterize the subject.
3. In the wider context of TRUMP campaign/Kremlin co-operation, Source E claimed that the intelligence network being used against CLINTON comprised three elements. Firstly there were agents/facilitators within the Democratic Party structure itself; secondly Russian emigre and associated offensive cyber operators based in the US; and thirdly, state- sponsored cyber operatives working in Russia. All three elements had played an important role to date. On the mechanism for rewarding relevant assets based in the US, and effecting a two-way flow of intelligence and other useful information, Source E claimed that Russian diplomatic staff in key cities such as New York, Washington DC and Miami were using the emigre ‘pension’ distribution system as cover. The operation therefore depended on key people in the US Russian emigre community for its success. Tens of thousands of dollars were involved.
4. In terms of the intelligence flow from the TRUMP team to Russia, Source E reported that much of this concerned the activities of business oligarchs and their families’ activities and assets in the US, with which PUTIN and the Kremlin seemed preoccupied.
5. Commenting on the negative media publicity surrounding alleged Russian interference in the US election campaign in support of TRUMP, Source E said he understood that the Republican candidate and his team were relatively relaxed about this because it deflected media and the Democrats’ attention away from TRUMP’s business dealings in China and other emerging markets. Unlike in Russia, these were substantial and involved the payment of large bribes and kickbacks which, were they to become public, would be potentially very damaging to their campaign.
6. Finally, regarding TRUMP’s claimed minimal investment profile in Russia, a separate source with direct knowledge said this had not been for want of trying. TRUMP’s previous efforts had included exploring the real estate sector in St Petersburg as well as Moscow but in the end TRUMP had had to settle for the use of extensive sexual services there from local prostitutes rather than business success.
RUSSIA: SECRET KREMLIN MEETINGS ATTENDED BY TRUMP ADVISOR, CARTER PAGE IN MOSCOW (JULY 2016)
· TRUMP advisor Carter PAGE holds secret meetings in Moscow with SECHIN and senior Kremlin Internal Affairs official, DIVYEKIN
· SECHIN raises issues of future bilateral US-Russia energy co-operation and associated lifting of western sanctions against Russia over Ukraine. PAGE non-committal in response
· DIVEYKIN discusses release of Russian dossier of ‘kompromat’ on TRUMP’s opponent, Hillary CLINTON, but also hints at Kremlin possession of such material on TRUMP
1. Speaking in July 2016, a Russian source close to Rosneft President, PUTIN close associate and US-sanctioned individual, Igor SECHIN, confided the details of a recent secret meeting between him and visiting Foreign Affairs Advisor to Republican presidential candidate Donald TRUMP, Carter PAGE.
2. According to SECHIN’s associate, the Rosneft President (CEO) had raised with PAGE the issues of future bilateral energy cooperation and prospects for an associated move to lift Ukraine-related western sanctions against Russia. PAGE had reacted positively to this demarche by SE CHIN but had been generally non-committal in response.
3. Speaking separately, also in July 2016, an official close to Presidential Administration Head, S. IVANOV, confided in a compatriot that a senior colleague in the Internal Political Department of the PA, DIVYEKIN (nfd) also had met secretly with PAGE on his recent visit. Their agenda had included DIVEYKIN raising a dossier of ‘kompromat’ the Kremlin possessed on TRUMP’s Democratic presidential rival, Hillary CLINTON, and its possible release to the Republican’s campaign team.
4. However, the Kremlin official close to S. IVANOV added that s/he believed DIVEYKIN also had hinted (or indicated more strongly) that the Russian leadership also had ‘kompromat’ on TRUMP which the latter should bear in mind in his dealings with them.
RUSSIA-US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: KREMLIN CONCERN THAT POLITICAL FALLOUT FROM DNC E-MAIL HACKING AFFAIR SPIRALLING OUT OF CONTROL
· Kremlin concerned that political fallout from DNC e-mail hacking operation is spiralling out of control. Extreme nervousness among TRUMP’s associates as result of negative media attention/accusations
· Russians meanwhile keen to cool situation and maintain ‘plausible deniability’ of existing /ongoing pro-TRUMP and anti-CLINTON operations. Therefore unlikely to be any ratcheting up offensive plays in immediate future
· Source close to TRUMP campaign however confirms regular exchange with Kremlin has existed for at least 8 years, including intelligence fed back to Russia on oligarchs’ activities in US
· Russians apparently have promised not to use ‘kompromat’ they hold on TRUMP as leverage, given high levels of voluntary co-operation forthcoming from his team
1. Speaking in confidence to a trusted associate in late July 2016, a Russian emigre figure close to the Republican US presidential candidate Donald TRUMP’s campaign team commented on the fallout from publicity surrounding the Democratic National Committee (DNC) e-mail hacking scandal. The emigre said there was a high level of anxiety within the TRUMP team as a result of various accusations levelled against them and indications from the Kremlin that President PUTIN and others in the leadership thought things had gone too far now and risked spiraling out of control.
2. Continuing on this theme, the emigre associate of TRUMP opined that the Kremlin wanted the situation to calm but for ‘plausible deniability’ to be maintained concerning its (extensive) pro-TRUMP and anti-CLINTON operations. S/he therefore judged that it was unlikely these would be ratcheted up, at least for the time being.
3. However, in terms of established operational liaison between the TRUMP team and the Kremlin, the emigre confirmed that an intelligence exchange had been running between them for at least 8 years. Within this context PUTIN’s priority requirement had been for intelligence on the activities, business and otherwise, in the US of leading Russian oligarchs and their families. TRUMP and his associates duly had obtained and supplied the Kremlin with this information.
4. Finally, the emigre said s/he understood the Kremlin had more intelligence on CLINTON and her campaign but he did not know the details or when or if it would be released. As far as ‘kompromat’ (compromising information) on TRUMP were concerned, although there was plenty of this, he understood the Kremlin had given its word that it would not be deployed against the Republican presidential candidate given how helpful and co-operative his team had been over several years, and particularly of late.
RUSSIA/USA: GROWING BACKLASH IN KREMLIN TO DNC HACKING AND TRUMP SUPPORT OPERATIONS
· Head of PA IVANOV laments Russian intervention in US presidential election and black PR against CLINTON and the DNC. Vows not to supply intelligence to Kremlin PR operatives again. Advocates now sitting tight and denying everything
· Presidential spokesman PESKOV the main protagonist in Kremlin campaign to aid TRUMP and damage CLINTON. He is now scared and fears being made scapegoat by leadership for backlash in US. Problem compounded by his botched intervention in recent Turkish crisis
· Premier MEDVEDEV’s office furious over DNC hacking and associated anti-Russian publicity. Want good relations with US and ability to travel there. Refusing to support or help cover up after PESKOV
· Talk now in Kremlin of TRUMP withdrawing from presidential race altogether, but this still largely wishful thinking by more liberal elements in Moscow
1. Speaking in early August 2016, two well-placed and established Kremlin sources outlined the divisions and backlash in Moscow arising from the leaking of Democratic National Committee (DNC) e-mails and the wider pro-TRUMP operation being conducted in the US. Head of Presidential Administration, Sergei IVANOV, was angry at the recent turn of events. He believed the Kremlin “team” involved, led by presidential spokesman Dmitriy PESKOV, had gone to_o far in interfering in foreign affairs with
their “elephant in a china shop black PR”. IVANOV claimed always to have opposed the handling and exploitation of intelligence by this PR “team”. Following the backlash against such foreign interference in US politics, IVANOV was advocating that the only sensible course of action now for the Russian leadership was to “sit tight and deny everything”.
2. Continuing on this theme the source close to IVANOV reported that PESKOV now was “scared shitless” that he would be scapegoated by PUTIN and the Kremlin and held responsible for the backlash against Russian political interference in the US election. IVANOV was determined to stop PESKOV playing an independent role in relation to the US going forward and the source fully expected the presidential spokesman now to lay low. PESKOV’s position was not helped by a botched attempt by him also to interfere in the recent failed coup in Turkey from a government relations (GR) perspective (no further details).
3. The extent of disquiet and division within Moscow caused by the backlash against Russian interference in the US election was underlined by a second source, close to premier Dmitriy MEDVED EV (DAM). S/he said the Russian prime minister and his colleagues wanted to have good relations with the US, regardless of who was in power there, and not least so as to be able to travel there in future, either officially or privately. They were openly refusing to cover up for PESKOV and others involved in the DNC/TRUMP operations or to support his counter-attack of allegations against the USG for its alleged hacking of the Russian government and state agencies.
4. According to the first source, close to IVAN OV, there had been talk in the Kremlin of TRUMP being forced to withdraw from the presidential race altogether as a result of recent events, ostensibly on grounds of his psychological state and unsuitability for high office. This might not be so bad for Russia in the circumstances but in the view of the source, it remained largely wishful thinking on the part of those in the regime opposed to PESKOV and his “botched” operations, at least for the time being.
RUSSIA/US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: SENIOR KREMLIN FIGURE OUTLINES EVOLVING RUSSIAN TACTICS IN PRO-TRUMP, ANTI-CLINTON OPERATION
· Head of PA, IVANOV assesses Kremlin intervention in US presidential election and outlines leadership thinking on operational way forward
· No new leaks envisaged, as too politically risky, but rather further exploitation of (WikiLeaks) material already disseminated to exacerbate divisions
· Educated US youth to be targeted as protest (against CU NTON) and swing vote in attempt to turn them over to TRUMP
· Russian leadership, including PUTIN, celebrating perceived success to date in splitting US hawks and elite
· Kremlin engaging with several high profile US players, including STEIN, PAGE and (former DIA Director Michael Flynn), and funding their recent visits to Moscow
1. Speaking in confidence to a close colleague in early August 2016, Head of the Russian Presidential Administration (PA), Sergei IVANOV, assessed the impact and results of Kremlin intervention in the US presidential election to date. Although most commentators believed that the Kremlin was behind the leaked DNC/CLINTON e-mails, this remained technically deniable. Therefore the Russians would not risk their position for the time being with new leaked material, even to a third party like Wikileaks. Rather the tactics would be to spread rumors and misinformation about the content of what already had been leaked and make up new content.
2. Continuing on this theme, IVANOV said that the audience to be targeted by such operations was the educated youth in America as the PA assessed that there was still a chance they could be persuaded to vote for Republican candidate Dona Id TRUMP as a protest against the Washington establishment (in the form of Democratic candidate Hillary CLINTON). The hope was that even if she won, as a result of this CLINTON in power would be bogged down in working for internal reconciliation in the US, rather than being able to focus on foreign pol icy which would damage Russia’s interests. This also should give President PUTIN more room for maneuver in the run-up to Russia’s own presidential election in 2018.
3. IVANOV reported that although the Kremlin had underestimated the strength of US media and liberal reaction to the DNC hack and TRUMP’s links to Russia, PUTIN was generally satisfied with the progress of the anti-CLINTON operation to date. He recently had had a drink with PUTIN to mark this. In IVANOV’s view, the US had tried to divide the Russian elite with sanctions but failed, whilst they, by contrast, had succeeded in splitting the US hawks inimical to Russia and the Washington elite more generally, half of whom had refused to endorse any presidential candidate as a result of Russian intervention.
4. Speaking separately, also in early August 2016, a Kremlin official involved in US relations commented on aspects of the Russian operation to date. Its goa Is had been threefold- asking sympathetic US actors how Moscow could help them; gathering relevant intelligence; and creating and disseminating compromising information (‘kompromat’). This had involved the Kremlin supporting various US political figures, including funding indirectly their recent visits to Moscow. S/he named a delegation from Lyndon LAROUCHE; presidential candidate Jill STEIN of the Green Party; TRUMP foreign policy adviser Carter PAGE; and former DIA Director Michael Flynn, in this regard and as successful in terms of perceived outcomes.
RUSSIA/US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: REACTION IN TRUMP CAMP TO RECENT NEGATIVE PUBLICITY ABOUT RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE AND LIKELY RESULTING TACTICS GOING FORWARD
· TRUMP campaign insider reports recent DNC email leaks were aimed at switching SANDERS (protest) voters away from CLINTON and over to TRUMP
· Admits Republican campaign underestimated resulting negative reaction from US liberals, elite and media and forced to change course as result
· Need now to turn tables on CLINTON’s use of PUTIN as bogeyman in election, although some resentment at Russian president’s perceived attempt to undermine USG and system over and above swinging presidential election
1. Speaking in confidence on 9 August 2016, an ethnic Russian associate of Republican US presidential candidate Donald TRUMP discussed the reaction inside his camp, and revised tactics therein resulting from recent negative publicity concerning Moscow’s clandestine involvement in the campaign. TRUMP’s associate reported that the aim of leaking the DNC e-mails to WikiLeaks during the Democratic Convention had been to swing supporters of Bernie SANDERS away from Hillary CU NTON and across to TRUMP. These voters were perceived as activist and anti-status quo and anti-establishment and in that regard sharing many features with the TRUMP campaign, including a visceral dislike of Hillary CU NTON. This objective had been conceived and promoted, inter aIia, by TRUMP’s foreign policy adviser Carter PAGE who had discussed it directly with the ethnic Russian associate.
2. Continuing on this theme, the ethnic Russian associate of TRUMP assessed that the problem was that the TRUMP campaign had underestimated the strength of the negative reaction from liberals and especially the conservative elite to Russian interference. This was forcing a rethink and a likely change of tactics. The main objective in the short term was to check Democratic candidate Hillary CLINTON’s successful exploitation of the PUTIN as bogeyman/Russian interference story to tarnish TRUMP and bolster her own (patriotic) credentials. The TRUMP campaign was focusing on tapping into support in the American television media to achieve this, as they reckoned this resource had been underused by them to date.
3. However, TRUMP’s associate also admitted that there was a fair amount of anger and resentment within the Republican candidate’s team at what was perceived by PUTIN as going beyond the objective of weakening CU NTON and bolstering TRUMP, by attempting to exploit the situation to undermine the US government and democratic system more generally. It was unclear at present how this aspect of the situation would play out in the weeks to come.
RUSSIA/US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: FURTHER DETAILS OF TRUMP LAWYER COHEN’S SECRET LIAISON WITH THE KREMLIN
· Kremlin insider reports TRUMP lawyer COHEN’s secret meeting/ s with Kremlin officials in August 2016 was/were held in Prague
· Russian parastatal organization Rossotrudnichestvo used as cover for this liaison and premises in Czech capital may have been used for the meeting/ s
· Pro-PUTIN leading Duma figure, KOSACHEV, reportedly involved as “plausibly deniable” facilitator and may have participated in the August meeting/ s with COHEN
1. Speaking to a compatriot and friend on 19 October 2016, a Kremlin insider provided further details of reported clandestine meeting/ s between Republican presidential candidate, Donald TRUMP’s lawyer Michael COHEN and Kremlin representatives in August 2016. Although the communication between them had to be cryptic for security reasons, the Kremlin insider clearly indicated to his/her friend that the reported contact/ s took place in Prague, Czech Republic.
2. Continuing on this theme, the Kremlin insider highlighted the importance of the Russian parastatal organization, Rossotrudnichestvo, in this contact between TRUMP campaign representative/ s and Kremlin officials. Rossotrudnichestvo was being used as cover for this relationship and its office in Prague may well have been used to host the COHEN /Russian Presidential Administration (PA) meeting/ s. It was considered a “plausibly deniable” vehicle for this, whilst remaining entirely under Kremlin control.
3.The Kremlin insider went on to identify leading pro-PUTIN Duma figure, Konstantin KOSACHEV (Head of the Foreign Relations Committee) as an important figure in the TRUMP campaign-Kremlin liaison operation. KOSA CHEV, also “plausibly deniable” being part of the Russian legislature rather than executive, had facilitated the contact in Prague and by implication, may have attended the meeting/ s with COHEN there in August.
We reported previously, in our Company Intelligence Report 2016/135 of 19 October 2016 from the same source, that COHEN met officials from the PA Legal Department clandestinely in an EU country in August 2016. This was in order to clean up the mess left behind by western media revelations of TRUMP ex-campaign manager MANAFORT’s corrupt relationship with the former pro-Russian YANUKOVYCH regime in Ukraine and TRUMP foreign policy advisor, Carter PAGE’s secret meetings in Moscow with senior regime figures in July 2016. According to the Kremlin advisor, these meeting/ s were originally scheduled for COHEN in Moscow but shifted to what was considered an operationally “soft” EU country when it was judged too compromising for him to travel to the Russian capital.
RUSSIA/UKRAINE: THE DEMISE OF TRUMP’S CAMPAIGN MANAGER PAUL MANAFORT
· Ex-Ukrainian President YANUKOVYCH confides directly to PUTIN that he authorized kick-back payments to MANAFORT, as alleged in western media. Assures Russian President however there is no documentary evidence/trail
· PUTIN and Russian leadership remain worried however and skeptical that YANUKOVYCH has fully covered the traces of these payments to TRUMP’s former campaign manager
· Close associate of TRUMP explains reasoning behind MANAFORT’s recent resignation. Ukraine revelations played part but others wanted MANAFORT out for various reasons, especially LEWANDOWSKI who remains influential
1. Speaking in late August 2016, in the immediate aftermath of Paul MANAFORT’s resignation as campaign manager for US Republican presidential candidate Donald TRUMP, a well-placed Russian figure reported on a recent meeting between President PUTIN and ex-President YANUKOVYCH of Ukraine. This had been held in secret on 15 August near Volgograd, Russia and the western media revelations about MANAFORT and Ukraine had featured prominently on the agenda. YANUKOVYCH had confided in PUTIN that he did authorize and order substantial kick-back payments to MANAFORT as alleged but sought to reassure him that there was no documentary trail left behind which could provide clear evidence of this.
2. Given YANUKOVYCH’s (unimpressive) record in covering up his own corrupt tracks in the past, PUTIN and others in the Russian leadership were skeptical about the ex-Ukrainian president’s reassurances on this as relating to MANAFORT. They therefore still feared the scandal had legs, especially as MANAFORT had been commercially active in Ukraine right up to the time (in March 2016) when he joined TRUMP’s campaign team. For them it therefore remained a point of potential political vulnerability and embarrassment.
3. Speaking separately, also in late August 2016, an American political figure associated with Donald TRUMP and his campaign outlined the reasons behind MANAFORT’s recent demise. S/he said it was true that the Ukraine corruption revelations had played a part in this but also, several senior players close to TRUMP had wanted MANAFORT out, primarily to loosen his control on strategy and policy formulation. Of particular importance in this regard was MANAFORT’s predecessor as campaign manager, Corey LEWANDOWSKI, who hated MANAFORT personally and remained close to TRUMP with whom he discussed the presidential campaign on a regular basis.
RUSSIA/US: KREMLIN FALLOUT FROM MEDIA EXPOSURE OF MOSCOW’S INTERFERENCE IN THE US PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN
· Kremlin orders senior staff to remain silent in media and private on allegations of Russian interference in US presidential campaign
· Senior figure however confirms gist of allegations and reports IVANOV sacked as Head of Administration on account of giving PUTIN poor advice on issue. VAINO selected as his replacement partly because he was not involved in pro-TRUMP, anti-CLINTON operation/s
· Russians do have further ‘kompromat’ on CLINTON (e-mails) and considering disseminating it after Duma (legislative elections) in late September. Presidential spokesman PESKOV continues to lead on this
· However, equally important is Kremlin objective to shift policy consensus favorably to Russia in US post-OBAMA whoever wins. Both presidential candidates’ opposition to TPP and TTIP viewed as a result in this respect
· Senior Russian diplomat withdrawn from Washington embassy on account of potential exposure in US presidential election operation/s
1. Speaking in confidence to a trusted compatriot in mid-September 2016, a senior member of the Russian Presidential Administration (PA) commented on the political fallout from recent western media revelations about Moscow’s intervention, in favor of Donald TRUMP and against Hillary CLINTON, in the US presidential election. The PA official reported that the issue had become incredibly sensitive and that President PUTIN had issued direct orders that Kremlin and government insiders should not discuss it in public or even in private.
2. Despite this, the PA official confirmed, from direct knowledge, that the gist of the allegations was true. PUTIN had been receiving conflicting advice on interfering from three separate and expert groups. On one side had been the Russian ambassador to the US, Sergei KISLYAK, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, together with an independent and informal network run by presidential foreign policy advisor, Yuri USHAKOV (KISLYAK’s predecessor in Washington) who had urged caution and the potential negative impact on Russia from the operation/s. On the other side was former PA Head, Sergei IVANOV, backed by Russian Foreign Intelligence (SVR), who had advised PUTIN that the pro-TRUMP, anti-CLINTON operation/s would be both effective and plausibly deniable with little blowback. The first group/shad been proven right and this had been the catalyst in PUTIN’s decision to sack IVANOV (unexpectedly) as PA Head in August. His successor, Anton VAINO, had been selected for the job partly because he had not been involved in the US presidential election operation/s.
3. Continuing on this theme, the senior PA official said the situation now was that the Kremlin had further ‘kompromat’ on candidate CLINTON and had been considering releasing this via “plausibly deniable” channels after the Duma (legislative) elections were out of the way in mid-September. There was however a growing train of thought and associated lobby, arguing that the Russians could still make candidate CLINTON look “weak and stupid” by provoking her into railing against PUTIN and Russia without the need to release more of her e-mails. Presidential Spokesman, Dmitriy PESKOV remained a key figure in the operation, although any final decision on dissemination of further material would be taken by PUTIN himself.
4. The senior PA official also reported that a growing element in Moscow’s intervention in the US presidential election campaign was the objective of shifting the US political consensus in Russia’s perceived interests regardless of who won. It basically comprised of pushing candidate CLINTON away from President OBAMA’s policies. The best example of this was that both candidates now openly opposed the draft trade agreements, TPP and TTIP, which were assessed by Moscow as detrimental to Russian interests. Other issues where the Kremlin was looking to shift the US policy consensus were Ukraine and Syria. Overall however, the presidential election was considered still to be too close to call.
5. Finally, speaking separately to the same compatriot, a senior Russian MFA official reported that as a prophylactic measure, a leading Russian diplomat, Mikhail KULAGIN, had been withdrawn from Washington at short notice because Moscow feared his heavy involvement’ in the US presidential election operation, including the so-called veterans’ pensions ruse (reported previously), would be exposed in the media there. His replacement, Andrei BONDAREV however was clean in this regard.
RUSSIA/US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: KREMLIN-ALPHA GROUP CO- OPERATION
· Top level Russian official confirms current closeness of Alpha Group- PUTIN relationship. Significant favors continue to be done in both directions and FRIDMAN and AVEN still giving informal advice to PUTIN, especially on the US
· Key intermediary in PUTIN-Alpha relationship identified as Oleg GOVORUN, currently Head of a Presidential Administration department but throughout the 1990s, the Alpha executive who delivered illicit cash directly to PUTIN
· PUTIN personally unbothered about Alpha’s current lack of investment in Russia but under pressure from colleagues over this and able to exploit it as lever over Alpha interlocutors
1. Speaking to a trusted compatriot in mid-September 2016, a top level Russian government official commented on the history and current state of relations between President PUTIN and the Alpha Group of businesses led by oligarchs Mikhail FRIDMAN, Petr AVEN and German KHAN. The Russian government figure reported that although they had had their ups and downs, the leading figures in Alpha currently were on very good terms with PUTIN. Significant favors continued to be done in both directions, primarily political ones for PUTIN and business/legal ones for Alpha. Also, FRIDMAN and AVEN continued to give informal advice to PUTIN on foreign policy, and especially about the US where he distrusted advice being given to him by officials.
2. Although FRIDMAN recently had met directly with PUTIN in Russia, much of the dialogue and business between them was mediated through a senior Presidential Administration official, Oleg GOVORUN, who currently headed the department therein responsible for Social Co-operation With the CIS. GOVORUN was trusted by PUTIN and recently had accompanied him to Uzbekistan to pay respects at the tomb of former president KARIMOV. However according to the top level Russian government official, during the 1990s GOVORUN had been Head of Government Relations at Alpha Group and in reality, the “driver” and “bag carrier” used by FRIDMAN and AVEN to deliver large amounts of illicit cash to the Russian president, at that time deputy Mayor of St Petersburg. Given that and the continuing sensitivity of the PUTIN-Alpha relationship, and need for plausible deniability, much of the contact between them was now indirect and entrusted to the relatively low profile GOVORUN.
3. The top level Russian government official described the PUTIN-Alpha relationship as both carrot and stick. Alpha held ‘kompromat’ on PUTIN and his corrupt business activities from the 1990s whilst although not personally overly bothered by Alpha’s failure to reinvest the proceeds of its TNK oil company sale into the Russian economy since, the Russian president was able to use pressure on this count from senior Kremlin colleagues as a lever on FRIDMAN and AVEN to make them do his political bidding.
RUSSIA/US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION- REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE TRUMP’S PRIOR ACTIVITIES IN ST PETERSBURG
· Two knowledgeable St Petersburg sources claim Republican candidate TRUMP has paid bribes and engaged in sexual activities there but key witnesses silenced and evidence hard to obtain
· Both believe Azeri business associate of TRUMP, Araz AGALAROV will know the details
1. Speaking to a trusted compatriot in September 2016, two well-placed sources based in St Petersburg, one in the political/business elite and the other involved in the local services and tourist industry, commented on Republican US presidential candidate Donald TRUMP’s prior activities in the city.
2. Both knew TRUMP had visited St Petersburg on several occasions in the past and had been interested in doing business deals there involving real estate. The local business/political elite figure reported that TRUMP had paid bribes there to further his interests but very discreetly and only through affiliated companies, making it very hard to prove. The local services industry source reported that TRUMP had participated in sex parties in the city too, but that all direct witnesses to this recently had been “silenced” i.e. bribed or coerced to disappear.
3. The two St Petersburg figures cited believed an Azeri business figure, Araz AGALAROV (with offices in Baku and London) had been closely involved with TRUMP in Russia and would know most of the details of what the Republican presidential candidate had got up to there.
RUSSIA: KREMLIN ASSESSMENT OF TRUMP ANO RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE. IN US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
· Buyer’s remorse sets In with Kremlin over TRUMP support operation In US presidential election. Russian leadership disappointed that leaked emails on CLINTON ‘have not had greater impact in campaign
· Russians have Injected further anti-CLINTON material into the ‘plausibly deniable’ leaks pipeline which will continue to surface, but best material already in public domain
· PUTIN angry with senior officials who “overpromised” on TRUMP and further heads likely to roll as result. Foreign Minister LAVROV may be next.
· TRUMP supported by Kremlin because seen as divisive, anti-establishment candidate who would shake up current international status quo In Russia’s favor. Lead on TRUMP operation moved from Foreign Ministry to FSB and then to presidential administration where it now sits
1. Speaking separately in confidence to a trusted compatriot in early October 2016, a senior Russian leadership figure and a Foreign Ministry official reported on recent developments concerning the Kremlin’s operation to support Republican candidate Donald TRUMP in the US presidential election. The senior leadership figure said that a degree of buyer’s remorse was setting in among Russian leaders concerning TRUMP. PUTIN and his colleagues were surprised and disappointed that leads of Democratic candidate Hillary CLINTON’s hacked emails had not had greater impact on the campaign.
2. Continuing on this theme, the senior leadership figure commented that a stream of further hacked CLINTON material already had been injected by the Kremlin into complaint western media outlets like Wikileaks, which remained at least “plausibly deniable”, so the stream of these would continue through October and up to the election. However s/he understood that the best material the Russians had already was out and there were no real game-changers to come.
3. The Russian Foreign Ministry official, who had direct access to the TRUMP support operation, reported that PUTIN was angry at his subordinate’s “over-0promising” on the Republican presidential candidate, both in terms of his chances and reliability and being able to cover and/or contain the US backlash over Kremlin interference. More heads therefore were likely to roll, with the MFA the easiest target. Ironically, despite his consistent urging of caution on the issue, Foreign Minister LAVROV could be the next one to go.
4. Asked to explain why PUTIN and the Kremlin had launched such an aggressive TRUMP support operation in the first place, the MFA official said that Russia needed to upset the liberal International statuss quo, including on Ukraine-related sanctions, which was seriously disadvantaging the country. TRUMP was viewed as divisive in disrupting the whole US political system; anti-Establishment; and a pragmatist with whom they could do business. As the TRUMP support operation had gained momentum, control of it had passed from the MFA to the FSB and then into the presidential administration where it remained, a reflection of its growing significance over time. There was still a view in the Kremlin that TRUMP would continue as a (divisive) force even if he lost the presidency and may run for and be elected to another public office.
RUSSIA/US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: FURTHER DETAILS OF KREMLIN LIAISON WITH TRUMP CAMPAIGN
· Close associate of SECHIN confirms his secret meeting in Moscow with Carter PAGE in July
· Substance included offer of large stake in Rosneft in return for lifting sanctions on Russia. PAGE confirms this is TRUMP’s intention
· SECHIN continued to think TRUMP could win presidency up to 17 October. Now looking to reorientate his engagement with the US
· Kremlin insider highlights importance of TRUMP’ s lawyer, Michael COHEN in covert relationship with Russia. COHEN’s wife is of Russian descent and her father a leading property developer in Moscow
1. Speaking to a trusted compatriot in mid October 2016, a close associate of Rosneft President and PUTIN ally Igor’ SECHIN elaborated on the reported secret meeting between the latter and Carter PAGE, of US Republican presidential candidate’s foreign policy team, in Moscow in July 2016. The secret meeting had been confirmed to him/her by a senior member of SECHIN’s staff, in addition to by the Rosneft President himself. It took place on either 7 or 8 July, the same day or the one after Carter PAGE made a public speech to the Higher Economic School in Moscow.
2. In terms of the substance of their discussion, SECHIN’s associate said that the Rosneft President was so keen to lift personal and corporate western sanctions imposed on the company, that he offered PAGE/TRUMP’s associates the brokerage of up to a 19 per cent (privatized) stake in Rosneft in return. PAGE had expressed interest and confirmed that were TRUMP elected US president, then sanctions on Russia would be lifted.
3. According to SECHIN’s close associate, the Rosneft President had continued to believe that TRUMP could win the US presidency right up to 17 October, when he assessed this was no longer possible. SECHIN was keen to re-adapt accordingly and put feelers out to other business and political contacts in the US instead.
4. Speaking separately to the same compatriot in mid-October 2016, a Kremlin insider with direct access to the leadership confirmed that a key role in the secret TRUMP campaign/ Kremlin relationship was being played by the Republican candidate’s personal lawyer Michael COHEN. [REDACTED]
5.SECHIN’s associate opined that although PAGE had not stated it explicitly to SECHIN, he had clearly implied that in terms of his comment on TRUMP’s intention to lift Russian sanctions if elected president, he was speaking with the Republican candidate’s authority.
RUSSIA/US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: THE IMPORTANT ROLE OF TRUMP LAWYER, COHEN IN CAMPAIGN’S SECRET LIAISON WITH THE KREMLIN
· Kremlin insider outlines important role played by TRUMP’s lawyer COHEN in secret liaison with Russian leadership
· COHEN engaged with Russians in trying to cover up scandal of MANAFORT and exposure of PAGE and meets Kremlin officials secretly in the EU in August in pursuit of this goal
· These secret contacts continue but are now farmed out to trusted agents in Kremlin-linked institutes so as to remain “plausibly deniable” for Russian regime
· Further confirmation that sacking of IVANOV and appointments ofVAINO and KIRIYENKO linked to need to cover up Kremlin’s TRUMP support operation
l. Speaking in confidence to a longstanding compatriot friend in mid- October 2016, a Kremlin insider highlighted the importance of Republican presidential candidate Donald TRUMP’s lawyer, Michael COHEN, in the ongoing secret liaison relationship between the New York tycoon’s campaign and the Russian leadership. COHEN’s role had grown following the departure of Paul MANNAFORT as TRUMP’s campaign manager in August 2016. Prior to that MANNAFORT had led for the TRUMP side.
2. According to the Kremlin insider, COHEN now was heavily engaged in a cover up and damage limitation operation in the attempt to prevent the full details of TRUMP’s relationship with Russia being exposed. In pursuit of this aim, COHEN had met secretly with several Russian Presidential Administration (PA) Legal Department officials in an EU country in August 2016. The immediate issues had been to contain further scandals involving MANNAFORT’s commercial and political role in Russia/Ukraine and to limit the damage arising from exposure of former TRUMP foreign policy advisor, Carter PAGE’s secret meetings with Russian leadership figures in Moscow the previous month. The overall objective had been to “to sweep it all under the carpet and make sure no connections could be fully established or proven”
3. Things had become even “hotter” since August on the TRUMP-Russia track. According to the Kremlin insider, this had meant that direct contact between the TRUMP team and Russia had been farmed out by the Kremlin to trusted agents of influence working in pro-government policy institutes like that of Law and Comparative Jurisprudence. COHEN however continued to lead for the TRUMP team.
4. Referring back to the (surprise) sacking of Sergei IVANOV as Head of PA in August 2016, his replacement by Anton VAINO and the appointment of former Russian premier Sergei KIRIYENKO to another senior position in the PA, the Kremlin insider repeated that this had been directly connected to the TRUMP support operation and the need to cover up now that it was being exposed by the USG and in the western media.
The Kremlin insider was unsure of the identities of the PA officials with whom COHEN met secretly in August, or the exact date/sand locations of the meeting/s. There were significant internal security barriers being erected in the PA as the TRUMP issue became more controversial and damaging. However s/he continued to try to obtain these.
US/RUSSIA: FURTHER DETAILS OF SECRET DIALOGUE BETWEEN TRUMP CAMPAIGN TEAM, KREMLIN AND ASSOCIATED HACKERS IN PRAGUE
· TRUMP’s representative COHEN accompanied to Prague in August/September 2016 by 3 colleagues for secret discussions with Kremlin representatives and associated operators/hackers
· Agenda included how to process deniable cash payments to operatives; contingency plans for covering up operations; and action in event of a CLINTON election victory
· Some further details of Russian representatives/operatives involved; Romanian hackers employed; and use of Bulgaria as bolt hole to “lie low”
· Anti-CLINTON hackers and other operatives paid by both TRUMP team and Kremlin, but with ultimate loyalty to Head of PA, IVANOV and his successor/s
1. We reported previously (2016/135 and /136) on secret meeting/s held in Prague, Czech Republic in August 2016 between then Republican presidential candidate Donald TRUMP’s representative, Michael COHEN and his interlocutors from the Kremlin working under cover of Russian ‘NGO’ Rossotrudnichestvo.
2. [REDACTED] provided further details of these meetings and associated anti- CLINTON/Democratic Party operations. COHEN had been accompanied to Prague by 3 colleagues and the timing of the visit was either in the last week of August or the first week of September. One of their main Russian interlocutors was Oleg SOLODUKH(N operating under Rossotrudnichestvo cover. According to [REDACTED], the agenda 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.
3. [REDACTED] reported that over the period March-September 2016 a company called XBT/Webzilla and its affiliates had been using botnets and porn traffic to transmit viruses, plant bugs, steal data and conduct “altering operations” against the Democratic Party leadership. Entities linked to one Aleksei GUBAROV were involved and he and another hacking expert, both recruited under duress by the FSB, Seva KAPSUGOVICH, were significant players in this operation. In Prague, COHEN agreed contingency plans for various scenarios to protect the operation, but in particular what was to be done in the event that Hillary CLINTON won the presidency. It was important in this event that all cash payments owed were made quickly and discreetly and that cyber and other operators were stood down/able to go effectively to ground to cover their traces. (We reported earlier that the involvement of political operatives Paul MANAFORT and Carter PAGE in the secret TRUMP- Kremlin liaison had been exposed in the media in the run-up to Prague and that damage limitation of these also was discussed by COHEN with the Kremlin representatives).
4. In terms of practical measures to be taken, it was agreed by the two sides in Prague to stand down various “Romanian hackers” (presumably based in their homeland or neighboring eastern Europe) and that other operatives should head for a bolt-hole in Plovdiv, Bulgaria where they should “lay low”. On payments, IVANOV’s associate said that the operatives involved had been paid by both TRUMP’s team and the Kremlin, though their orders and ultimate loyalty lay with IVANOV, as Head of the PA and thus ultimately responsible for the operation, and his designated successor/s after he was dismissed by president PUTIN in connection with the anti-CLINTON operation in mid August.
List of Russian individuals banned from the US per the Magnitsky Act
The following Russians were banned from the United States per the Magnitsky Act.
Artyom Kuznetsov, a tax investigator for the Moscow division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs
Pavel Karpov, a senior investigator for the Moscow division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs
Oleg F. Silchenko, a senior investigator for the Ministry of Internal Affairs
Olga Stepanova, head of Moscow Tax Office No. 28
Yelena Stashina, Tverskoy District Court judge who prolonged Magnitsky’s detention
Andrey Pechegin, deputy head of the investigation supervision division of the general prosecutor’s office
Aleksey Krivoruchko, Tverskoy District Court judge
Sergei G. Podoprigorov, Tverskoy District Court judge
Ivan Pavlovitch Prokopenko
Dmitri M. Tolchinskiy
Natalya V. Vinogradova
Kazbek Dukuzov, Chechen acquitted of the murder of Paul Klebnikov
Lecha Bogatyrov, implicated by Austrian authorities as the murderer of Umar Israilov
U.S. officials banned from Russia
In retaliation for the Magnitsky Act, on April 13, 2013, Russia released a list naming 18 Americans banned from entering Russia over their alleged human rights violations.
David Addington, Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney (2005–2009)
John Yoo, Assistant US Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice (2001–2003)
Geoffrey D. Miller, retired US Army Major General, commandant of Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO), the organization that runs the Guantanamo Bay detention camps (2002–2003)
Jeffrey Harbeson, US Navy officer, commandant of JTF-GTMO (2010–2012)
The Russian lawmakers also banned several U.S. officials involved in the prosecution and trial of Russian arms smuggler Viktor Bout and drug smuggler Konstantin Yaroshenko, both serving prison time in the United States:
Jed Rakoff, Senior US District Judge for the Southern District of New York
Preet Bharara, former US Attorney for the Southern District of New York
Michael J. Garcia, former US Attorney for the Southern District of New York
Brendan R. McGuire, Assistant US Attorney
Anjan S. Sahni, Assistant US Attorney
Christian R. Everdell, Assistant US Attorney
Jenna Minicucci Dabbs, Assistant US Attorney
Christopher L. Lavigne, Assistant US Attorney
Michael Max Rosensaft, Assistant US Attorney
Louis J. Milione, Special Agent, US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
Sam Gaye, Senior Special Agent, US DEA
Robert F. Zachariasiewicz, Special Agent, US DEA
Derek S. Odney, Special Agent, US DEA
Gregory A. Coleman, Special Agent, US Federal Bureau of Investigation
H.R. 4405 Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012
The following was introduced in the House on April 19, 2012. The result was a bipartisan bill passed by U.S. Congress and signed by President Obama in November-December 2012 with the intent to punish Russian officials responsible for the death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow prison in 2009.
H. R. 4405
To impose sanctions on persons responsible for the detention, abuse, or death of Sergei Magnitsky, and for other gross violations of human rights in the Russian Federation, and for other purposes.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
April 19, 2012
Mr. McGovern (for himself, Mr. Wolf, Mr. Levin, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, Mr. Hastings of Florida, Mr. Royce, Mr. McDermott, Mr. Burton of Indiana, Mr. Connolly of Virginia, Mr. Smith of New Jersey, Mr. Towns, Mr. Roskam, Mr. Michaud, Mr. Pitts, Mr. Rangel, and Mr. Turner of Ohio) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and in addition to the Committees on the Judiciary and Financial Services, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned
To impose sanctions on persons responsible for the detention, abuse, or death of Sergei Magnitsky, and for other gross violations of human rights in the Russian Federation, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the “Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012”.
Congress finds the following:
(1) The United States aspires to a mutually beneficial relationship with the Russian Federation based on respect for human rights and the rule of law, and supports the people of the Russian Federation in their efforts to realize their full economic potential and to advance democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.
(2) The Russian Federation—
(A) is a member of the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Council of Europe, and the International Monetary Fund;
(B) has ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the United Nations Convention against Corruption; and
(C) is bound by the legal obligations set forth in the European Convention on Human Rights.
(3) States voluntarily commit themselves to respect obligations and responsibilities through the adoption of international agreements and treaties, which must be observed in good faith in order to maintain the stability of the international order. Human rights are an integral part of international law, and lie at the foundation of the international order. The protection of human rights, therefore, particularly in the case of a country that has incurred obligations to protect human rights under an international agreement to which it is a party, is not left exclusively to the internal affairs of that country.
(4) Good governance and anti-corruption measures are instrumental in the protection of human rights and in achieving sustainable economic growth, which benefits both the people of the Russian Federation and the international community through the creation of open and transparent markets.
(5) Systemic corruption erodes trust and confidence in democratic institutions, the rule of law, and human rights protections. This is the case when public officials are allowed to abuse their authority with impunity for political or financial gains in collusion with private entities.
(6) The Russian nongovernmental organization INDEM has estimated that bribes by individuals and businesses in the Russian Federation amount to hundreds of billions of dollars a year, an increasing share of the country’s gross domestic product.
(7) Sergei Leonidovich Magnitsky died on November 16, 2009, at the age of 37, in Matrosskaya Tishina Prison in Moscow, Russia, and is survived by a mother, a wife, and 2 sons.
(8) On July 6, 2011, Russian President Dimitry Medvedev’s Human Rights Council announced the results of its independent investigation into the death of Sergei Magnitsky. The Human Rights Council concluded that Sergei Magnitsky’s arrest and detention was illegal; he was denied access to justice by the courts and prosecutors of the Russian Federation; he was investigated by the same law enforcement officers whom he had accused of stealing Hermitage Fund companies and illegally obtaining a fraudulent $230,000,000 tax refund; he was denied necessary medical care in custody; he was beaten by 8 guards with rubber batons on the last day of his life; and the ambulance crew that was called to treat him as he was dying was deliberately kept outside of his cell for one hour and 18 minutes until he was dead. The report of the Human Rights Council also states the officials falsified their accounts of what happened to Sergei Magnitsky and, 18 months after his death, no officials had been brought to trial for his false arrest or the crime he uncovered. The impunity continued in April 2012, when Russian authorities dropped criminal charges against Larisa Litvinova, the head doctor at the prison where Magnitsky died.
(9) The systematic abuse of Sergei Magnitsky, including his repressive arrest and torture in custody by officers of the Ministry of the Interior of the Russian Federation that Mr. Magnitsky had implicated in the embezzlement of funds from the Russian Treasury and the misappropriation of 3 companies from his client, Hermitage Capital Management, reflects how deeply the protection of human rights is affected by corruption.
(10) The politically motivated nature of the persecution of Mr. Magnitsky is demonstrated by—
(A) the denial by all state bodies of the Russian Federation of any justice or legal remedies to Mr. Magnitsky during the nearly 12 full months he was kept without trial in detention; and
(B) the impunity since his death of state officials he testified against for their involvement in corruption and the carrying out of his repressive persecution.
(11) The Public Oversight Commission of the City of Moscow for the Control of the Observance of Human Rights in Places of Forced Detention, an organization empowered by Russian law to independently monitor prison conditions, concluded on December 29, 2009, “A man who is kept in custody and is being detained is not capable of using all the necessary means to protect either his life or his health. This is a responsibility of a state which holds him captive. Therefore, the case of Sergei Magnitsky can be described as a breach of the right to life. The members of the civic supervisory commission have reached the conclusion that Magnitsky had been experiencing both psychological and physical pressure in custody, and the conditions in some of the wards of Butyrka can be justifiably called torturous. The people responsible for this must be punished.”.
(12) Sergei Magnitsky’s experience, while particularly illustrative of the negative effects of official corruption on the rights of an individual citizen, appears to be emblematic of a broader pattern of disregard for the numerous domestic and international human rights commitments of the Russian Federation and impunity for those who violate basic human rights and freedoms.
(13) The second trial, verdict, and sentence against former Yukos executives Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev evoke serious concerns about the right to a fair trial and the independence of the judiciary in the Russian Federation. The lack of credible charges, intimidation of witnesses, violations of due process and procedural norms, falsification or withholding of documents, denial of attorney-client privilege, and illegal detention in the Yukos case are highly troubling. The Council of Europe, Freedom House, and Amnesty International, among others, have concluded that they were charged and imprisoned in a process that did not follow the rule of law and was politically influenced. Furthermore, senior officials of the Government of the Russian Federation, including First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, have acknowledged that the arrest and imprisonment of Khodorkovsky were politically motivated.
(14) According to Freedom House’s 2011 report entitled “The Perpetual Battle: Corruption in the Former Soviet Union and the New EU Members”, “[t]he highly publicized cases of Sergei Magnitsky, a 37-year-old lawyer who died in pretrial detention in November 2009 after exposing a multimillion-dollar fraud against the Russian taxpayer, and Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the jailed business magnate and regime critic who was sentenced at the end of 2010 to remain in prison through 2017, put an international spotlight on the Russian state’s contempt for the rule of law. . . . By silencing influential and accomplished figures such as Khodorkovsky and Magnitsky, the Russian authorities have made it abundantly clear that anyone in Russia can be silenced.”.
(15) The tragic and unresolved murders of Nustap Abdurakhmanov, Maksharip Aushev, Natalya Estemirova, Akhmed Hadjimagomedov, Umar Israilov, Paul Klebnikov, Anna Politkovskaya, Saihadji Saihadjiev, and Magomed Y. Yevloyev, the death in custody of Vera Trifonova, the disappearances of Mokhmadsalakh Masaev and Said-Saleh Ibragimov, the torture of Ali Israilov and Islam Umarpashaev, the near-fatal beatings of Mikhail Beketov, Oleg Kashin, Arkadiy Lander, and Mikhail Vinyukov, and the harsh and ongoing imprisonment of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Alexei Kozlov, Platon Lebedev, and Fyodor Mikheev further illustrate the grave danger of exposing the wrongdoing of officials of the Government of the Russian Federation, including Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, or of seeking to obtain, exercise, defend, or promote internationally recognized human rights and freedoms.
In this Act:
(1) ADMITTED; ALIEN.—The terms “admitted” and “alien” have the meanings given those terms in section 101 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101).
(A) the Committee on Armed Services, the Committee on Financial Services, the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Homeland Security, and the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives; and
(B) the Committee on Armed Services, the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, the Committee on Foreign Relations, the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate.
(3) FINANCIAL INSTITUTION.—The term “financial institution” has the meaning given that term in section 5312 of title 31, United States Code.
(A) a United States citizen or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence to the United States; or
(B) an entity organized under the laws of the United States or of any jurisdiction within the United States, including a foreign branch of such an entity.
(a) In General.—Not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, shall publish in the Federal Register a list of each person the Secretary of State has reason to believe—
(1) is responsible for the detention, abuse, or death of Sergei Magnitsky, participated in efforts to conceal the legal liability for the detention, abuse, or death of Sergei Magnitsky, financially benefited from the detention, abuse, or death of Sergei Magnitsky, or was involved in the criminal conspiracy uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky; or
(A) to expose illegal activity carried out by officials of the Government of the Russian Federation; or
(B) to obtain, exercise, defend, or promote internationally recognized human rights and freedoms, such as the freedoms of religion, expression, association, and assembly, and the rights to a fair trial and democratic elections; or
(3) acted as an agent of or on behalf of a person in a matter relating to an activity described in paragraph (1) or (2).
(b) Updates.—The Secretary of State shall update the list required by subsection (a) as new information becomes available.
(c) Removal From List.—A person shall be removed from the list required by subsection (a) if the person demonstrates to the Secretary of State that the person did not engage in the activity for which the person was added to the list.
(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 120 days after receiving a written request from the chairperson and the ranking member of one of the appropriate congressional committees with respect to whether a person meets the criteria for being added to the list required by subsection (a), the Secretary of State shall submit a response to the chairperson and ranking member of the committee which made the request with respect to whether or not the Secretary determines that the person meets those criteria.
(2) FORM.—The Secretary of State may submit a response required by paragraph (1) in classified form if the Secretary determines that it is necessary for the national security interests of the United States to do so.
(3) REMOVAL.—If the Secretary of State removes from the list required by subsection (a) a person who has been placed on the list at the request of the chairperson and the ranking member of one of the appropriate congressional committees, the Secretary shall provide that chairperson and ranking member with any evidence that contributed to the removal decision. The Secretary may submit such evidence in classified form if the Secretary determines that such is necessary for the national security interests of the United States.
(e) Nonapplicability Of Confidentiality Requirement With Respect To Visa Records.—The Secretary of State shall publish the list required by subsection (a) without regard to the requirements of section 222(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1202(f)) with respect to confidentiality of records pertaining to the issuance or refusal of visas or permits to enter the United States.
(a) Ineligibility For Visas.—An alien is ineligible to receive a visa to enter the United States and ineligible to be admitted to the United States if the alien is on the list required by section 4(a).
(b) Current Visas Revoked.—The Secretary of State shall revoke, in accordance with section 221(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1201(i)), the visa or other documentation of any alien who would be ineligible to receive such a visa or documentation under subsection (a).
(A) is necessary to permit the United States to comply with the Agreement between the United Nations and the United States of America regarding the Headquarters of the United Nations, signed June 26, 1947, and entered into force November 21, 1947; or
(B) is in the national security interests of the United States; and
(2) prior to granting such a waiver, the Secretary provides to the appropriate congressional committees notice of, and a justification for, the waiver.
(d) Regulatory Authority.—The Secretary of State shall prescribe such regulations as are necessary to carry out this section.
(a) Freezing Of Assets.—The Secretary of the Treasury shall, pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.), freeze and prohibit all transactions in all property and interests in property of a person that the Secretary determines has engaged in an activity described in paragraph (1), (2), or (3) of section 4(a) if such property and interests in property are in the United States, come within the United States, or are or come within the possession or control of a United States person.
(b) Waiver For National Security Interests.—The Secretary of the Treasury may waive the application of subsection (a) if the Secretary determines that such a waiver is in the national security interests of the United States. Prior to granting such a waiver, the Secretary shall provide to the appropriate congressional committees notice of, and a justification for, the waiver.
(1) PENALTIES.—A person that violates, attempts to violate, conspires to violate, or causes a violation of this section or any regulation, license, or order issued to carry out this section shall be subject to the penalties set forth in subsections (b) and (c) of section 206 of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1705) to the same extent as a person that commits an unlawful act described in subsection (a) of such section.
(A) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Treasury shall prescribe regulations to require each financial institution that is a United States person to certify to the Secretary that, to the best of the knowledge of the financial institution, the financial institution has frozen all assets within the possession or control of the financial institution that are required to be frozen pursuant to subsection (a).
(B) PENALTIES.—The penalties provided for in sections 5321(a) and 5322 of title 31, United States Code, shall apply to a financial institution that violates a regulation prescribed under subparagraph (A) in the same manner and to the same extent as such penalties would apply to any person that is otherwise subject to such section 5321(a) or 5322.
(d) Regulatory Authority.—The Secretary of the Treasury shall issue such regulations, licenses, and orders as are necessary to carry out this section.
Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act and annually thereafter, the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Treasury shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on—
(A) the number of persons added to or removed from the list required by section 4(a) during the year preceding the report, the dates on which such persons have been added or removed, and the reasons for adding or removing them; and
(B) if few or no such persons have been added to that list during that year, the reasons for not adding more such persons to the list; and
(2) efforts by the executive branch to encourage the governments of other countries to impose sanctions that are similar to the sanctions imposed under this Act.
The provisions of this Act shall terminate on the date that is 10 years after the date of the enactment of this Act.
Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act
This act shares the Magnitsky moniker and allows the US to “target individual human rights abusers without punishing entire countries.”
Referred in House (04/18/2016)
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
April 18, 2016
Referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and in addition to the Committee on the Judiciary, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned
To impose sanctions with respect to foreign persons responsible for gross violations of internationally recognized human rights, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the “Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act”.
SEC. 2. DEFINITIONS.
In this Act:
(1) FOREIGN PERSON.—The term “foreign person” means a person that is not a United States person.
(2) PERSON.—The term “person” means an individual or entity.
(3) UNITED STATES PERSON.—The term “United States person” means—
(A) a United States citizen or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence to the United States; or
(B) an entity organized under the laws of the United States or of any jurisdiction within the United States, including a foreign branch of such an entity.
SEC. 3. AUTHORIZATION OF IMPOSITION OF SANCTIONS.
(a) In General.—The President may impose the sanctions described in subsection (b) with respect to any foreign person the President determines, based on credible evidence—
(1) is responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights committed against individuals in any foreign country who seek—
(A) to expose illegal activity carried out by government officials; or
(B) to obtain, exercise, defend, or promote internationally recognized human rights and freedoms, such as the freedoms of religion, expression, association, and assembly, and the rights to a fair trial and democratic elections;
(2) acted as an agent of or on behalf of a foreign person in a matter relating to an activity described in paragraph (1);
(3) is a government official, or a senior associate of such an official, that is responsible for, or complicit in, ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, acts of significant corruption, including the expropriation of private or public assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, bribery, or the facilitation or transfer of the proceeds of corruption to foreign jurisdictions; or
(4) has materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services in support of, an activity described in paragraph (3).
(b) Sanctions Described.—The sanctions described in this subsection are the following:
(1) INADMISSIBILITY TO UNITED STATES.—In the case of a foreign person who is an individual—
(A) ineligibility to receive a visa to enter the United States or to be admitted to the United States; or
(B) if the individual has been issued a visa or other documentation, revocation, in accordance with section 221(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1201(i)), of the visa or other documentation.
(2) BLOCKING OF PROPERTY.—
(A) IN GENERAL.—The blocking, in accordance with the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.), of all transactions in all property and interests in property of a foreign person if such property and interests in property are in the United States, come within the United States, or are or come within the possession or control of a United States person.
(B) INAPPLICABILITY OF NATIONAL EMERGENCY REQUIREMENT.—The requirements of section 202 of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701) shall not apply for purposes of this section.
(C) EXCEPTION RELATING TO IMPORTATION OF GOODS.—
(i) IN GENERAL.—The authority to block and prohibit all transactions in all property and interests in property under subparagraph (A) shall not include the authority to impose sanctions on the importation of goods.
(ii) GOOD.—In this subparagraph, the term “good” has the meaning given that term in section 16 of the Export Administration Act of 1979 (50 U.S.C. App. 2415) (as continued in effect pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.)).
(c) Consideration Of Certain Information In Imposing Sanctions.—In determining whether to impose sanctions under subsection (a), the President shall consider—
(1) information provided by the chairperson and ranking member of each of the appropriate congressional committees; and
(2) credible information obtained by other countries and nongovernmental organizations that monitor violations of human rights.
(d) Requests By Chairperson And Ranking Member Of Appropriate Congressional Committees.—Not later than 120 days after receiving a written request from the chairperson and ranking member of one of the appropriate congressional committees with respect to whether a foreign person has engaged in an activity described in subsection (a), the President shall—
(1) determine if that person has engaged in such an activity; and
(2) submit a report to the chairperson and ranking member of that committee with respect to that determination that includes—
(A) a statement of whether or not the President imposed or intends to impose sanctions with respect to the person; and
(B) if the President imposed or intends to impose sanctions, a description of those sanctions.
(e) Exception To Comply With United Nations Headquarters Agreement And Law Enforcement Objectives.—Sanctions under subsection (b)(1) shall not apply to an individual if admitting the individual into the United States would further important law enforcement objectives or is necessary to permit the United States to comply with the Agreement regarding the Headquarters of the United Nations, signed at Lake Success June 26, 1947, and entered into force November 21, 1947, between the United Nations and the United States, or other applicable international obligations of the United States.
(f) Enforcement Of Blocking Of Property.—A person that violates, attempts to violate, conspires to violate, or causes a violation of subsection (b)(2) or any regulation, license, or order issued to carry out subsection (b)(2) shall be subject to the penalties set forth in subsections (b) and (c) of section 206 of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1705) to the same extent as a person that commits an unlawful act described in subsection (a) of that section.
(g) Termination Of Sanctions.—The President may terminate the application of sanctions under this section with respect to a person if the President determines and reports to the appropriate congressional committees not later than 15 days before the termination of the sanctions that—
(1) credible information exists that the person did not engage in the activity for which sanctions were imposed;
(2) the person has been prosecuted appropriately for the activity for which sanctions were imposed;
(3) the person has credibly demonstrated a significant change in behavior, has paid an appropriate consequence for the activity for which sanctions were imposed, and has credibly committed to not engage in an activity described in subsection (a) in the future; or
(4) the termination of the sanctions is in the vital national security interests of the United States.
(h) Regulatory Authority.—The President shall issue such regulations, licenses, and orders as are necessary to carry out this section.
(i) Identification Of Sanctionable Foreign Persons.—The Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, in consultation with the Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs and other bureaus of the Department of State, as appropriate, is authorized to submit to the Secretary of State, for review and consideration, the names of foreign persons who may meet the criteria described in subsection (a).
(j) Appropriate Congressional Committees Defined.—In this section, the term “appropriate congressional committees” means—
(1) the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate; and
(2) the Committee on Financial Services and the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives.
SEC. 4. REPORTS TO CONGRESS.
(a) In General.—The President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees, in accordance with subsection (b), a report that includes—
(1) a list of each foreign person with respect to which the President imposed sanctions pursuant to section 3 during the year preceding the submission of the report;
(2) a description of the type of sanctions imposed with respect to each such person;
(3) the number of foreign persons with respect to which the President—
(A) imposed sanctions under section 3(a) during that year; and
(B) terminated sanctions under section 3(g) during that year;
(4) the dates on which such sanctions were imposed or terminated, as the case may be;
(5) the reasons for imposing or terminating such sanctions; and
(6) a description of the efforts of the President to encourage the governments of other countries to impose sanctions that are similar to the sanctions authorized by section 3.
(b) Dates For Submission.—
(1) INITIAL REPORT.—The President shall submit the initial report under subsection (a) not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.
(2) SUBSEQUENT REPORTS.—
(A) IN GENERAL.—The President shall submit a subsequent report under subsection (a) on December 10, or the first day thereafter on which both Houses of Congress are in session, of—
(i) the calendar year in which the initial report is submitted if the initial report is submitted before December 10 of that calendar year; and
(ii) each calendar year thereafter.
(B) CONGRESSIONAL STATEMENT.—Congress notes that December 10 of each calendar year has been recognized in the United States and internationally since 1950 as “Human Rights Day”.
(c) Form Of Report.—
(1) IN GENERAL.—Each report required by subsection (a) shall be submitted in unclassified form, but may include a classified annex.
(2) EXCEPTION.—The name of a foreign person to be included in the list required by subsection (a)(1) may be submitted in the classified annex authorized by paragraph (1) only if the President—
(A) determines that it is vital for the national security interests of the United States to do so;
(B) uses the annex in a manner consistent with congressional intent and the purposes of this Act; and
(C) not later than 15 days before submitting the name in a classified annex, provides to the appropriate congressional committees notice of, and a justification for, including the name in the classified annex despite any publicly available credible information indicating that the person engaged in an activity described in section 3(a).
(d) Public Availability.—
(1) IN GENERAL.—The unclassified portion of the report required by subsection (a) shall be made available to the public, including through publication in the Federal Register.
(2) NONAPPLICABILITY OF CONFIDENTIALITY REQUIREMENT WITH RESPECT TO VISA RECORDS.—The President shall publish the list required by subsection (a)(1) without regard to the requirements of section 222(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1202(f)) with respect to confidentiality of records pertaining to the issuance or refusal of visas or permits to enter the United States.
(e) Appropriate Congressional Committees Defined.—In this section, the term “appropriate congressional committees” means—
(1) the Committee on Appropriations, the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, the Committee on Foreign Relations, and the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate; and
(2) the Committee on Appropriations, the Committee on Financial Services, the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives.
Passed the Senate December 17, 2015.
Julie E. Adams,
Russia’s Dima Yahovlev Law
This law is Russia’s reply to the US Magnitsky Act. It is the frequently mentioned law that prohibits Russian adoption of American children. The law takes its name from Dima Yahovlev, a Washington-area toddler who died of heatstroke after his father left him in a parked vehicle for nine hours. The English translation was provided by Russia Today (RT), a known distributor of Russian propaganda.
“Measures against persons involved in abuse of fundamental human rights and freedoms including those of Russian citizens”
Approved by the State Duma on December 21, 2012 and approved by the Federation Council on December 26, 2012.
Measures against persons involved in abuse of fundamental human rights and freedoms of Russian citizens shall include:
1) a ban to enter Russia for those citizens of the United States of America
a) who have been involved in abuse of fundamental human rights and freedoms;
b) who have committed or been complicit in crimes against Russian citizens abroad;
c) who hold public office and by their actions or lack thereof have exempted from responsibility for persons who committed or aided to crimes against Russian citizens;
d) who were supposed to take decisions which exempted from responsibility persons who committed or were complicit in crimes against Russian citizens;
e) who have been involved in kidnapping and arbitrary imprisonment of Russian citizens;
f) who have passed arbitrary and biased sentences on Russian citizens;
g) who are engaged in arbitrary prosecution of Russian citizens;
h) who have taken arbitrary decisions that violated the rights and justified interests of Russian citizens;
2) seizure of financial and other assets owned by the US citizens who are prohibited from entering Russia and a ban to conduct any deals involving property and investment of these citizens.
1. The list of the citizens of the United States of America forbidden from entering the Russian Federation and organizations, the activity of which has been suspended in compliance with Article 3 of this Federal law, is kept by a federal executive body in charge of developing and implementing the state policy and legal regulation in terms of foreign relations of the Russian Federation..
2. In respect of those citizens of the United States citizens, included into the list, provided by Part 1 of this Article:
1) they are forbidden from disposing of property located in the Russian Federation;
2) activity of legal entities run by these persons is suspended in the Russian Federation;
3) membership in board of directors or other governing bodies of organizations, registered in the Russian Federation, is suspended.
3. Amendments into the list, provided by Part 1 of this Article, are to be submitted to a federal executive body in charge of developing and implementing the state policy and legal regulation in terms of foreign relations of the Russian Federation, by members of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, members of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, Human Rights Ombudsman of the Russian Federation, political parties, the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation as well as by government bodies.
4. Procedure for keeping the list, provided by Part 1 of this Article, is determined by a federal executive body in charge of developing and implementing the state policy and legal regulation in
terms of foreign relations of the Russian Federation.
5. Head of a federal executive body in charge of developing and implementing the state policy and legal regulation in terms of foreign relations of the Russian Federation is to report on the course of this Federal Law to the chambers of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation at least once a year.
1. In accordance with the current federal law, activities of non-governmental organizations that take part in political activities carried out in the Russian Federation or get grants in cash or other kind of property from citizens (organizations) of the United States of America or implement projects, programs in the Russian Federation or get involved in other activities that pose a threat to the interests of the Russian Federation are suspended by a federal executive body in charge of working out and implementing the state policy and of legal regulation in terms of registering non-governmental organizations. The federal executive body in charge of working out and implementing the state policy and of legal regulation in terms of registering non-governmental organizations forwards the information about the non-governmental organizations the activities of which are suspended, to the federal executive body in charge of working out and implementing the state policy and of legal regulation in terms of the Russian Federation’s’ international relations.
2. A Russian Federation citizen who has a United States of America citizenship cannot be a member or head a non-governmental organization, its structural division or of the structural division of an international or foreign non-governmental organization (department, branch, or representation) engaged in political activity carried out in the Russian Federation. An infringement of this ban entails a suspension by a federal executive body in charge of working out and implementing the state policy and of regulation in terms of registering non-governmental organizations and the activity of the said non-governmental organization or its structural subdivision.
3. Suspending of the non-governmental organization’s activity (or its structural division) in accordance with Parts 1 and 2 of the this Article entails consequences envisaged by paragraph one of Item 61 of Article 32 of the Federal Law dated 12 January 1996, No. 7-ФЗ On Non-Governmental Organizations.” As regards the property of non-governmental organizations (or structural divisions) the activities of which are suspended in accordance with Parts 1 and 2 of this Article, the said property is seized following a court ruling in response to a request of the federal executive body in charge of working out and implementing the state policy and of legal regulation in terms of registering non-governmental organizations.
4. If a non-governmental organization the activity of which is suspended in accordance with this federal law, stops receiving grants in cash or other property from citizens (organizations) of the United State of America or stops implementing its projects, programs or doing anything in the Russian Federation which poses a threat to the interests of the Russian Federation, the operation of this organization is resumed following a decision by a federal executive body in charge of working out and implementing the state policy and of legal regulation in terms of registering non-governmental organizations.
1. It is forbidden to pass children, citizens of the Russian Federation over for adoption by citizens of the United States of America. Operation of organizations and bodies involved in selecting and passing children, citizens of the Russian Federation over for adoption by citizens of the United States of America willing to adopt the indicated children is prohibited on the territory of the Russian Federation.
2. Due to the prohibition on passing children, citizens of the Russian Federation over for adoption by the citizens of the United States of America as imposed in Part 1 of this Article, on the part of the Russian Federation terminate the operation of the Agreement between the United States of America and the Russian Federation Regarding Cooperation in Adoption of Children that had been signed in Washington, DC on July 13, 2011.
To amend Subparagraph 7 of part one, Article 27 of the Federal Law of August 15, 1996 # 114-FZ ‘On the Procedure for Exit from the Russian Federation and Entry into the Russian Federation’ ( Collected Legislation of the Russian Federation, 1996, #34, Article 4029; 2003, #2, Article 159; 2006, #31, Article 3420; 2007, #3, Article 410; 2008, # 19, Article 2094; #30, Article 3616) and lay it out in the following edition:
“7) in regard to foreign citizens or individuals without a citizenship, a decision is taken on undesirability of their stay (residence) in the Russian Federation, including citizens on the list of citizens of the United States who are prohibited from entering the Russian Federation;”.
This Federal law and Subparagraph 7 of part one, Article 27 of the Federal Law of August 15, 1996 # 114-FZ ‘on the Procedure for Exit from the Russian Federation and Entry into the Russian Federation’ (this edition of the Federal law) is applied to citizens of countries that had taken the decision on forbidding entry of citizens of the Russian Federation to their territories, and on arresting assets of citizens of the Russian Federation based on involvement of these citizens of the Russian Federation in human rights violation in the Russian Federation.
This Federal law comes to force as of January 1st, 2013.
President of the Russian Federation
Working investigative board attempting to outline the relationships in the Trump-Russia collusion case
1979: Roger Stone is introduced to Donald Trump by notorious attorney Roy Cohn.
1980: Roger Stone founds a lobbying practice with Paul Manafort; Trump becomes one of Stone’s first clients. In the 1980s, Trump hires Manafort as his lawyer on gambling and real estate issues. By 1988, Stone is one of Trump’s closest advisers.
1984: David Bogatin, a 38-year-old former Soviet Army pilot and Russian émigré who arrived in America seven years earlier with just $3 in his pocket, pays $6 million for five condominium units in a luxurious new Manhattan high-rise, Trump Tower. At the time, Russian mobsters were beginning to invest in high-end US real estate as a way to launder money from their criminal enterprises. Three years later, Bogatin — eventually revealed to be a leading figure in the Russian mob in New York — pleads guilty to a money laundering scheme. According to prosecutors, the scheme involved a network of Russian and Eastern European immigrants acting with Michael Franzese, an admitted captain of the Colombo organized-crime family. (In 1986, Franzese pleads guilty and receives a 10-year sentence for the scheme.) In 2003, Bogatin’s brother, Jacob, is indicted for allegedly running a $150 million stock scam and money-laundering scheme with Semion Mogilevich, whom the FBIconsiders the “boss of bosses” of Russian organized crime. [Added July 17, 2017]
Trump’s efforts to develop business in Russia date to 1987. In 1996, he applies for his trademark in that country. Discussing ambitions for a Trump hotel in 2007, he declares, “We will be in Moscow at some point.”
1991: In the opening episode of The Apprentice on Jan. 8, 2004, Trump says, “About 13 years ago, I was seriously in trouble. I was billions of dollars in debt.” [Added July 17, 2017]
August 1998: Russia defaults on its debt and its stock market collapses. As the value of the ruble plummets, Russian millionaires scramble to get money out of their country and into New York City, where real estate provides a safe haven for overseas investors. [Added March 20, 2017]
October 1998: Demolition of a vacant office building near the United Nations headquarters is making way for Trump World Tower. Donald Trump begins selling units in the skyscraper, which is scheduled to open in 2001 and becomes a prominent depository of Russian money. By 2004, one-third of the units sold on the 76th through 83rd floors of Trump World Tower involve people or limited liability companies connected to Russia or neighboring states. Assisting Trump’s sales effort is Ukrainian immigrant Semyon “Sam” Kislin, who issues mortgages to buyers of multimillion-dollar Trump World Tower apartments. In the late 1970s, Kislin had co-owned an appliance store with Georgian immigrant Tamir Sapir, and they had sold 200 television sets to Donald Trump on credit. By the early 1990s, Kislin had become a wealthy commodities trader and campaign fundraiser for Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who in 1996 appoints him to the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Meanwhile, Sapir makes a fortune as a New York City real estate developer. [Added March 20, 2017]
2000: Roger Stone serves as chairman of Donald Trump’s presidential exploratory advisory committee. [Added March 27, 2017]
2002: Russian-born Felix Sater and his company, Bayrock Group — a Trump Tower tenant — begin working with Trump on a series of real estate development deals, one of which becomes Trump SoHo. Another development partner in Trump SoHo is the Sapir Organization, founded by Tamir Sapir.
Sater has an interesting history: Allegedly, Sater’s father, Michael Sheferofsky (aka Mikhail Sater) was a lieutenant for Russia’s most powerful mobster, Semion Mogilevich. After a 1991 barroom fight in which Felix Sater stabbed a man in the face with the broken stem of a large margarita glass, he received a prison sentence. In 1993, Sater then became part of a stock scheme that allegedly relied on four New York Mafia crime families for protection. He pled guilty, and in return for a reduced sentence, entered into a 1998 cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors pursuing members of organized crime. Reportedly, he also helped the CIA track down and purchase stinger missiles on the black market in Central Asia, thereby keeping them out of terrorists’ hands. In April 2002, Felix Sater is still cooperating with the Justice Department when the US attorney for the eastern district of New York requests a postponement of Sater’s sentencing to September. [Revised July 17, 2017]
Also in 2002: Efforts to sell Russians apartments in Trump World Tower, Trump’s West Side condominiums, and Trump’s building on Columbus Circle expand with presentations in Moscow involving Sotheby’s International Realty and a Russian realty firm. In addition to buying units in Trump World Tower, Russians and Russian-Americans flood into another Trump-backed project in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida. In South Florida alone, members of the Russian elite invest more than $98 million in seven Trump-branded luxury towers. [Added March 20, 2017]
2005: In a sworn deposition in 2008, Sater testifies that Trump gave Bayrock Group an exclusive deal to develop a project in Russia. “I’d come back, pop my head into Mr. Trump’s office and tell him, you know, ‘Moving forward on the Moscow deal.’ And he would say ‘All right… I showed him photos, I showed him the site, showed him the view from the site. It’s pretty spectacular.” But that early effort to develop a Trump Tower in Moscow fails. [Added March 3, 2017]
June 2005: Paul Manafort proposes that he undertake a consulting assignment for one of President Vladimir Putin’s billionaire oligarchs. Manafort suggests a strategy for influencing politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe and former Soviet republics to benefit Putin’s government. [Added March 27, 2017]
February 2006: Two of Trump’s children, Don Jr. and Ivanka, travel to Moscow. According to Sater, Donald Trump Sr. asked him to show them around: “He asked if I wouldn’t mind joining them and looking after them while they were in Moscow.” He summarizes the attitude of Trump’s children as “nice, big city, great. Let’s do a deal here.” Ten years later — October 2016 — Trump Organization general counsel Alan Garten tells Forbes that the presence of Sater and Trump’s adult children in Moscow at the same time had been a coincidence. [Added March 3, 2017]
Sept. 19, 2007: As Trump speaks at the launch party for Trump SoHo, Sater and his Bayrock partner, Kazakhstan native Tevfik Arif, stand next to him. [Added March 3, 2017]
Oct. 15, 2007: In an interview with Larry King, Trump says: “Look at Putin — what he’s doing with Russia — I mean, you know, what’s going on over there. I mean this guy has done — whether you like him or don’t like him — he’s doing a great job.”
November 2007: Paul Manafort’s firm receives a $455,000 wire transfer from Ukraine Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions. Manafort had been hired to improve the image of Putin-backed Yanukovych, who was portraying himself falsely as an anti-corruption reformer seeking to move Ukraine closer to the West. “The West has not been willing to move beyond the Cold War mentality and to see this man and the outreach that he has extended,” Manafort says about Yanukovych at the time. Ukraine’s richest man — a billionaire industrialist — had introduced Manafort to Yanukovych. [Added April 17, 2017]
Dec. 19-20, 2007: Two days after a Dec. 17, 2007 article in The New York Timesabout Felix Sater’s criminal past, a lawyer deposing Trump in his libel suit against journalist Timothy O’Brien — author of TrumpNation: The Art of Being The Donald — asks, “[W]hat kind of interaction did you have with Mr. Sater prior to the article appearing?” Trump answers, “Not that much, not very much….I would say that my interaction with Felix Sater was, you know, not — was very little.” Discussing Bayrock’s unsuccessful development efforts for Trump in Russia, Trump says, “This was going to be a hotel in Moscow. And I really can say the same things for all of the sites…a hotel in Moscow, a hotel in Kiev, a hotel in Poland, et cetera,…. Bayrock knew the people, knew the investors, and in some cases I believe they were friends of Mr. Arif. And this was going to be Trump International Hotel and Tower in Moscow, Kiev, Istanbul, et cetera, Poland, Warsaw.” Trump is referring to the Bayrock Principal, Tevfik Arif. A few minutes later, Trump says Arif “did bring people up from Russia… I believe he brought the people from Moscow up to meet me.” [Added July 3, 2017]
July 2008: As the Florida real estate market began to crash, Trump sells a Florida residence to a Russian oligarch for $95 million, believed to be the biggest single-family home sale in US history. The Russian oligarch never lived in the house and, since then, it has been demolished. Three years earlier, Trump had bought the home at auction for $41 million. [Added March 3, 2017]
September 2008: Donald Trump Jr. tells a real estate conference: “In terms of high-end product influx into the US, Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets; 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. There’s indeed a lot of money coming for new-builds and resale reflecting a trend in the Russian economy and, of course, the weak dollar versus the ruble.” [Revised May 30, 2017]
Oct. 14, 2009: Paul Manafort’s firm receives a $750,000 wire transfer from Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions. The Russian-leaning Yanukovych was running for president and, in February 2010, he won. [Added April 17, 2017]
January 2010—January 2011: After leaving Bayrock, Sater becomes “senior adviser to Donald Trump,” according to his Trump Organization business card. He also has a Trump Organization email address and office. The phone number listed on the card had belonged previously to a lawyer in Trump’s general counsel’s office. [Added March 3, 2017]
Sometime in 2010: At a key moment in the financially troubled Trump International Hotel and Tower in Toronto, the Russian-Canadian developer of the project receives $850 million from the sale of his share in a Ukrainian steel mill. A “Ukrainian industrial group” purchased the mill through five offshore companies, but the money came ultimately from Russia’s state-owned bank (VEB), whose supervisory board Vladimir Putin chaired. The developer thereafter put $15 million into Trump Toronto. [Added May 22, 2017]
Nov. 16, 2011: Answering deposition questions in a case involving a Fort Lauderdale project, Trump says he has only “limited involvement” with Bayrock Group, which was a Trump tenant “for a period of time.” (pp. 10-11) Trump testifies that he spoke with Felix Sater “for a period of time” when he was an executive with Bayrock. (p.18) [Added July 3, 2017]
April 8, 2013: Three Russians whom the FBI later accused of spying on the United States discuss efforts to recruit American businessman Carter Page. According to The Washington Post, “[T]he government’s application for the surveillance order targeting Page included a lengthy declaration that laid out investigators’ basis for believing that Page was an agent of the Russian government and knowingly engaged in clandestine intelligence activities on behalf of Moscow, officials said.” [Added April 17, 2017]
June 18, 2013: Trump announces that the 2013 Miss Universe beauty pageant, which he owns, will take place in Moscow. The next day, he tweets:
Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow – if so, will he become my new best friend?
While preparing for the pageant, Trump says, “I have plans for the establishment of business in Russia. Now, I am in talks with several Russian companies to establish this skyscraper.”
July 8, 2013: After a BBC reporter questions Trump about Felix Sater’s alleged prior connections to organized crime, Trump ends the interview. [Added March 3, 2017]
Oct. 17, 2013: On The Late Show, David Letterman asks Trump, “Have you had any dealings with the Russians?” Trump answers, “Well I’ve done a lot of business with the Russians…” Letterman continues, “Vladmir Putin, have you ever met the guy?” Trump says, “He’s a tough guy. I met him once.”
Nov. 5, 2013: In a deposition, an attorney asks Trump about Felix Sater. “If he were sitting in the room right now, I really wouldn’t know what he looked like,” Trump answers. When asked how many times he had ever spoken with Sater, Trump says, “Not many.” When asked about his July 2013 BBC interview during which he was questioned about Sater’s alleged connections to organized crime, Trump says he didn’t remember it. [Added March 3, 2017]
Nov. 11, 2013: Trump tweets:
@AgalarovAras I had a great weekend with you and your family. You have done a FANTASTIC job. TRUMP TOWER-MOSCOW is next. EMIN was WOW!
10:39 AM – 11 Nov 2013
November 2013: At the Miss Universe pageant, Trump says: “I do have a relationship [with Putin] and I can tell you that he’s very interested in what we’re doing here today… I do have a relationship with him… He’s done a very brilliant job in terms of what he represents and who he’s represented.” While Trump is in Moscow for the pageant, he and Alex Sapir (whose family’s company was one of the co-developers of Trump SoHo with Trump and Felix Sater) meet with the Russian real estate developer who had facilitated Trump’s $20 million deal to host the Miss Universe contest in Moscow. They discuss plans for a new Trump project in Russia. “The Russian market is attracted to me,” Trump tells Real Estate Weekly upon his return. “I have a great relationship with many Russians, and almost all of the oligarchs were in the room.” [Added March 3, 2017]
Feb. 22, 2014: Popular uprisings lead the Ukraine Parliament to oust President Viktor Yanukovych from office for gross human rights violations and dereliction of duty. With the help of Putin’s security forces, Yanukovych flees the country. But he leaves behind a handwritten ledger — the “Black Ledger” — with 22 entries for 2007 to 2012 purporting to show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Paul Manafort or his firm from Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions. [Added April 17, 2017]
March 6, 2014: At the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference, Trump says: “You know, I was in Moscow a couple of months ago. I own the Miss Universe Pageant and they treated me so great. Putin even sent me a present, a beautiful present.” On the same day, President Obama signs an executive order imposing sanctions on Russia for its unlawful annexation of Crimea.
Sometime in 2014: Golf writer and co-author of Arnold Palmer’s memoir James Dodson plays golf with Donald and Eric Trump at Trump National Charlotte in North Carolina. In an interview airing May 5, 2017 on Boston’s public radio station, Dodson describes the episode, beginning with a question he asks Donald Trump before the round: “‘What are you using to pay for these courses?’ And he just sort of tossed off that he had access to $100 million. So when I got in the cart with Eric, as we were setting off, I said, ‘Eric, who’s funding? I know no banks — because of the recession, the Great Recession — have touched a golf course. You know, no one’s funding any kind of golf construction. It’s dead in the water the last four or five years.’ And this is what he said. He said, ‘Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.’ I said, ‘Really?’ And he said, ‘Oh, yeah. We’ve got some guys that really, really love golf, and they’re really invested in our programs. We just go there all the time. Now that was three years ago, so it was pretty interesting.’” On May 7, 2017, Eric Trump calls Dodson’s claim “categorically untrue” and “complete garbage.” [Added May 8, 2017]
June 16, 2015: Trump announces he is running for president.
Aug. 6, 2015: The Trump campaign says it has fired Roger Stone; Stone claims he’d quit. Either way, Stone remains a prominent Trump surrogate for the rest of the campaign. [Added March 27, 2017]
Aug. 21, 2015: Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions makes a surprise appearance at a Donald Trump rally and dons a “Make America Great Again Cap.”
Late summer 2015: A member of Trump’s campaign staff calls Lt. Gen. Mike Flynnto ask if he’s willing to meet with Trump. Flynn agrees. Later, Flynn says four other Republican presidential candidates also reached out to him: Carly Fiorina, Scott Walker, Ben Carson and Ted Cruz. [Added May 15, 2017]
Fall 2015: As Felix Sater works on a plan for a Trump Tower in Moscow, Trump’s bid for the presidency brings the project to a halt, according to a Feb. 19, 2017 article in The New York Times citing Sater. [Added July 11, 2017]
September 2015: An FBI special agent contacts the Democratic National Committee to report that at least one DNC computer system had been hacked by an espionage team linked to the Russian government. The agent is transferred to a tech-support contractor at the help desk, who did a cursory check of DNC server logs and didn’t reply to follow-up calls from the FBI agent. [Added March 13, 2017]
Sept. 21, 2015: On Hugh Hewitt’s radio program, Trump says, “The oligarchs are under [Putin’s] control, to a large extent. I mean, he can destroy them, and he has destroyed some of them… Two years ago, I was in Moscow… I was with the top-level people, both oligarchs and generals, and top-of-the-government people. I can’t go further than that, but I will tell you that I met the top people, and the relationship was extraordinary.” [Added March 3, 2017]
Sept. 29, 2015: Trump tells Bill O’Reilly: “I will tell you in terms of leadership he [Putin] is getting an ‘A,’ and our president is not doing so well.”
Nov. 10, 2015: At a Republican primary debate, Trump says: “I got to know [Putin] very well because we were both on 60 Minutes. We were stablemates, and we did very well that night.”
Nov. 30, 2015: When an Associated Press reporter asks Trump about Felix Sater, he answers, “Felix Sater, boy, I have to even think about it. I’m not that familiar with him.” Trump refers questions about Sater to his staff. [Added March 3, 2017]
Dec. 10, 2015: Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who would become Trump’s national security adviser, sits at Putin’s table for the 10th anniversary gala of Russia’s state-owned television propaganda network, RT. Flynn had made a paid appearance on the network. For his December speech, he nets $33,500 of the $45,000 paid to his speakers’ bureau. For all of 2015, Flynn receives more than $65,000 from companies linked to Russia. [Revised March 20, 2017]
Late 2015: Late 2015: Britain’s spy agency GCHQ became aware of suspicious “interactions” between members of Trump’s campaign and Russian intelligence operatives. Over the next six months, a number of western agencies from Germany, Estonia and Poland share more information on contacts between Trump’s inner circle and Russians. [Added May 22, 2017] [Added May 22, 2017]
Mid-January 2016: Flynn applies for a five-year renewal of his security clearance. [Added May 25, 2017]
Feb. 11, 2016: According to a May 22, 2017 letter from Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), investigators meet with Flynn to discuss his security clearance application. When asked about his Moscow appearance, Flynn reportedly says, “I didn’t take any money from Russia, if that’s what you’re asking me.” [Added May 25, 2017]
Feb. 17, 2016: As questions about Russia swirls around Trump, he changes his story: “I have no relationship with [Putin], other than he called me a genius.”
Feb. 28, 2016: Jeff Sessions formally endorses Donald Trump’s candidacy for president. Three days later, Trump names Sessions chairman of his campaign’s national security advisory committee. [Added March 3, 2017]
Feb. 29, 2016: Paul Manafort submits a five-page, single-spaced, proposal to Trump. In it, he outlines his qualifications for helping Trump secure enough convention delegates to win the Republican presidential nomination. Manafort describes how he had assisted rich and powerful business and political leaders, including oligarchs and dictators in Russia and Ukraine: “I have managed presidential campaigns around the world.” [Added April 10, 2017]
March 14, 2016: Investigators issue a report on Flynn’s security clearance application. According to the summary in Rep. Cummings’ May 22 letter, Flynn told investigators that he was paid by “US companies” when he traveled to Moscow in
December 2015. The report also says that Flynn told investigators he had not received any benefit from a foreign country. [Added May 25, 2017]
March 17, 2016: Jeff Sessions discusses Trump’s foreign policy positions, saying, “I think an argument can be made there is no reason for the US and Russia to be at this loggerheads. Somehow, someway we ought to be able to break that logjam. Strategically it’s not justified for either country.” [Added March 3, 2017]
March 21, 2016: In a Washington Post interview, Trump identifies Carter Page as one of his foreign policy advisers. Page had helped open the Moscow office of investment banking firm Merrill Lynch and had advised Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom, in which Page is an investor. He blames 2014 US sanctions relating to Russia’s annexation of Crimea for driving down Gazprom’s stock price. Earlier in March 2016, Iowa tea party activist Sam Clovis had recommended Page to the Trump campaign. [Supplemented April 24, 2017]
March 29, 2016: On Roger Stone’s recommendation, Paul Manafort joins the Trump campaign as convention manager, tasked with lining up delegates. [Added March 27, 2017]
April through November 2016: Mike Flynn and other advisers to the Trump campaign have at least 18 phone calls and emails with Russian officials, including six contacts involving Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. According to a later report by Reuters, Jared Kushner has at least two phone calls with Kislyak. [Revised May 30, 2017]
April to December 2016: Russia’s patent office grants 10-year extensions for six unused Trump trademarks that are set to expire in 2016. Trump had originally acquired the trademarks for hotel and branding deals that never materialized — including “Trump Tower” in 1996 and four more hotel-related trademarks in 2007, when Felix Sater and Bayrock Group were scouting potential deals in Russia. [Added June 19, 2017]
April 20, 2016: Paul Manafort becomes Trump’s campaign manager. Reports surface about his 2007 to 2012 ties to Ukraine’s pro-Putin former president, whom Manafort had helped to elect.
Late April 2016: The Democratic National Committee’s IT department notices suspicious computer activity, contacts the FBI, and hires a private security firm, CrowdStrike, to investigate. [Added March 13, 2017]
May 2016: CrowdStrike determines that highly sophisticated Russian intelligence-affiliated adversaries — denominated Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear — had been responsible for the DNC hack. Fancy Bear, in particular, had indicators of affiliation with Russia’s Main Intelligence Department (also know as the GRU). [Added March 13, 2017]
May 19, 2016: Paul Manafort becomes Trump’s campaign chairman and chief strategist. [Added March 27, 2017]
Early June 2016: At a closed-door gathering of high-powered foreign policy expertsvisiting with the prime minister of India, Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page hails Vladimir Putin as stronger and more reliable than President Obama and touts the positive effect that a Trump presidency would have on US-Russia relations. [Added March 6, 2017]
June 3, 2016: Rob Goldstone, a music publicist, sends Donald Trump Jr. an emailstating that one of his clients, Russian pop star Emin Agalarov, had “something very interesting” he wanted to pass along to Donald Jr.: “The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father. This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump — helped along by Aras and Emin.” (Aras Agalarov — a Putin ally and wealthy real estate developer sometimes referred to as the “Trump of Russia” — had helped sponsor the Trump-owned 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. In a later interview with Forbes in March 2017, Emin Agalarov says he and his father had previously signed a letter of intent with their Trump counterparts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. “He ran for president, so we dropped the idea,” Agalarov said of Trump and the project. “But if he hadn’t run we would probably be in the construction phase today.”) [Added July 11, 2017]
Also on June 3, 3016: Responding to Goldstone’s email, Donald Jr. says, “[I]f it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.” Donald Jr. suggests they talk early during the week of June 6, when he’s back from the road. [Added July 11, 2017]
June 7, 2016: Rob Goldstone sends Donald Jr. a follow-up email: “Emin asked that I schedule a meeting with you and the Russian government attorney who is flying over from Moscow this Thursday. I believe you are aware of the meeting — and so wondered if 3 p.m. or later on Thursday works for you? I assume it would be at your office.” Confirming the date and time, Donald Jr. says that then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner will also attend. The following day, they move the meeting to 4 p.m. because “the Russian attorney is in court until 3….” [Added July 11, 2017]
Also on June 7, 2016: After winning the New Jersey Primary as the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee for president, Trump includes this line in his victory speech: “I am going to give a major speech on probably Monday of next week [June 13] and we’re going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons.” [Added July 11, 2017]
June 9, 2016: Natalia Veselnitskaya, the “Russian government attorney” referenced in Goldstone’s earlier emails to Donald Jr., meets at Trump Tower with Donald Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner. The lawyer was formerly married to a former deputy transportation minister of the Moscow region. Her clients include state-owned businesses and a senior government official’s son, whose company is under investigation in the United States at the time. [Added July 11, 2017]
Also on June 9, 2016: Trump tweets:
How long did it take your staff of 823 people to think that up–and where are your 33,000 emails that you deleted? https://twitter.com/hillaryclinton/status/740973710593654784 …
3:40 PM – 9 Jun 2016
June 15, 2016: A hacker with the online persona “Guccifer 2.0” claims credit for the DNC hack and begins posting internal DNC documents on the Guccifer 2.0 website. CrowdStrike reiterates its conclusion that the hack had been a Russian intelligence operation. [Added March 13, 2017]
Also on June 15, 2016: After the Ukrainian prime minister visits Capitol Hill, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and other Republican leaders meet privately. During the session, McCarthy says, “I’ll guarantee you that’s what it is… The Russians hacked the DNC and got the opp [opposition] research they had on Trump.” Moments later he says, “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” referring to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) who is known in Congress as a fervent defender of Putin and Russia. Some of the lawmakers laugh, but McCarthy continues, “Swear to God.” According to a transcript preparedfrom a tape of the discussion, Ryan immediately interrupts the conversation, saying, “This is an off the record… [laughter] …NO LEAKS… [laughter] …alright? This is how we know we are a real family here… What’s said in the family, stays in the family.” When The Washington Post obtains the transcript in May 2017, it seeks comment from Ryan and McCarthy. Ryan’s spokesperson says, “That never happened. The idea that McCarthy would assert this is false and absurd.” As detailed in the Post video accompanying its eventual story, the Post reporter then says that he has a transcript of the discussion. Ryan and McCarthy respond that the transcript is false, maybe even made up, and certainly inaccurate. When the reporter says he has listened to an audio recording of the conversation, Ryan’s spokesperson says it was a failed attempt at humor. [Added May 18, 2017]
June 2016: Jared Kushner assumes control of all data-driven Trump campaign efforts, turning a nondescript building outside San Antonio, Texas into a 100-person data hub. Among the firms he retains is Cambridge Analytica, which reportedly has created “profiles” consisting of several thousand data points for 220 million Americans. Cambridge Analytica’s financial backers include hedge fund tycoon Robert Mercer, who also has a $10 million investment in Breitbart News, which, at the time, is run by Steve Bannon. [Revised May 30, 2017]
July 2016: According to Politico, Felix Sater visits Trump Tower on business that he described as “confidential.” Sater declines to answer whether he’s had recent contact with the Trump Organization or Trump’s children. “I don’t see the relevance of that,” Sater says. When Politico asks the Trump campaign about Sater, Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks says, “We are not aware of a contribution or visit to Trump Tower.” Trump Organization General Counsel Alan Garten tells Politico that he has no knowledge of Sater’s visit to Trump Tower, that Sater was not advising the Trump Organization, and that the Trump Organization was not seeking business in Russia. [Added July 3, 2017]
July 5, 2016: FBI Director James Comey holds a press conference announcing that the bureau has closed its yearlong investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. Comey says Clinton had been “extremely careless” in handling “very sensitive, highly classified information,” but does not recommend prosecution. Typically, when the FBI recommends closing a case, the Justice Department agrees and no public statement follows. One possible reason for Comey’s unusual announcement in the Clinton case could be the contents of a document that the FBI knew Russians had stolen when they hacked the DNC. In it, a Democratic operative suggested that Attorney General Lynch would not let the Clinton email investigation go too far. Comey may have worried that if Lynch announced an end of the investigation, and Russia later leaked the document, voters would doubt the investigation’s independence. [Added April 24, 2017]
July 6, 2016: Another batch of hacked DNC documents appears on the Guccifer 2.0 website. [Added March 13, 2017]
July 7, 2016: In a lecture at the New Economic School in Moscow, Carter Page criticizes American foreign policy. He says that many of the mistakes spoiling relations between the US and Russia “originated in my own country.” Page says he had sought and received permission from the Trump campaign to make the trip. [Revised March 20, 2017]
July 14, 2016: Another batch of hacked DNC documents appear on the Guccifer 2.0 website. [Added March 13, 2017]
July 15, 2016: Trump tweets:
I am pleased to announce that I have chosen Governor Mike Pence as my Vice Presidential running mate. News conference tomorrow at 11:00 A.M.
9:50 AM – 15 Jul 2016
July 18, 2016: The Washington Post reports that the Trump campaign worked behind the scenes ahead of the Republican Convention on a plank of the 2016 party platform that gutted the GOP’s longstanding support for Ukrainians’ popular resistance to Russia’s 2014 intervention.
Also on July 18, 2016: At a Heritage Foundation event during the Republican Convention, Jeff Sessions speaks individually with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. [Added March 3, 2017]
July 19, 2016: Bloomberg reports that over the past year, Trump’s debt load has almost doubled from $350 million to $630 million. [Added May 8, 2017]
Also during the July 2016 Republican Convention: Carter Page and J.D. Gordon, national security advisers to the Trump Campaign, meet with ambassador Kislyak. They stress that Trump would like to improve relations with Russia. [Revised March 6, 2017]
July 22, 2016: On the eve of the Democratic National Convention, WikiLeaks releases its first trove of emails stolen from the DNC.
July 24, 2016: When ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos asks whether there were any connections between the Trump campaign and Putin’s regime, Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort answers, “No, there are not. And you know, there’s no basis to it.” [Added March 6, 2017]
July 25, 2016: Trump tweets:
The new joke in town is that Russia leaked the disastrous DNC e-mails, which should never have been written (stupid), because Putin likes me
6:31 AM – 25 Jul 2016
July 27, 2016: At a press conference, Trump says, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” At the same press conference, he insists, “I never met Putin. I’ve never spoken to him.” In an interview with CBS News, he reiterates: “But I have nothing to do with Russia, nothing to do, I never met Putin, I have nothing to do with Russia whatsoever.”
During the summer of 2016: American spies are intercepting conversationsinvolving senior Russian intelligence and political officials. Russians discuss using Paul Manafort and Mike Flynn — both of whom had prior contacts with Russia — to shape Trump’s opinions on Russia. Former CIA Director John Brennan notices suspicious contacts between Russian government officials and associates of Trump’s campaign. Brennan believes that the American election is under attack and worries that Trump’s campaign might be aiding the effort. Brennan refers his concerns to the FBI, the intelligence agency leading the investigation. [Revised May 30, 2017]
By the end of July 2016: The FBI has opened an investigation into possible collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian operatives. [Added April 24, 2017]
July 31, 2016: Manafort denies knowing anything about the change in the Republican platform. That afternoon, Boris Epshteyn, Trump’s Russian-born adviser, spouts the Kremlin’s party line telling CNN: “Russia did not seize Crimea. We can talk about the conflict that happened between Ukraine and the Crimea… But there was no seizure by Russia. That’s an incorrect statement, characterization, of what happened.”
Also on July 31, 2016: On CNN, Jeff Sessions defends Trump’s approach to Russia: “This whole problem with Russia is really disastrous for America, for Russia and for the world,” he says. “Donald Trump is right. We need to figure out a way to end this cycle of hostility that’s putting this country at risk, costing us billions of dollars in defense, and creating hostilities.” [Added March 3, 2017]
And also on July 31, 2016: Trump tells ABC News he was not involved in the Republican Party platform change that softened America’s position on Russia’s annexation of Crimea. [Added March 6, 2017]
August 2016: The consulting firm headed by Trump’s national security adviser Mike Flynn begins lobbying for a company owned by a businessman close with Turkey’s President Erdogan. [Added May 22, 2017]
Early August 2016: According to a subsequent report in The Washington Post, the CIA informs President Obama that based on intelligence sources within the Russian government, Putin had given Russian officials specific objectives for the ongoing cyberattack on the US election: defeat or at least damage Hillary Clinton and help elect Donald Trump. Upon receiving the news, Obama directs the entire intelligence community to provide him with as much information as soon as possible. CIA Director John Brennan convenes a secret task force composed of several dozen analysts and officers from the CIA, NSA and FBI. [Added June 26, 2017]
Aug. 4, 2016: CIA Director John Brennan warns the director of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) not to meddle in the election. [Added May 30, 2017]
Aug. 5, 2016: Trump surrogate Roger Stone writes an article for Breitbart News. Stone argues that Guccifer 2.0 had nothing to do with Russia. [Added March 13, 2017]
Also on Aug. 5, 2016: Carter Page’s ongoing public criticism of US sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine and his praise for Putin generate increasing attention and concern. In response, Trump campaign spokesman Hope Hicks describes Page as an “informal policy adviser” who “does not speak for Mr. Trump or the campaign.” Later that month, after the FBI believes Page was no longer part of the Trump campaign, it obtains a Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (“FISA”) warrant to monitor his communications. The initial 90-day warrant is renewed more than once. [Added April 17, 2017]
Aug. 6, 2016: NPR confirms the Trump campaign’s involvement in the Republican platform change on Ukraine.
Aug. 8, 2016: Roger Stone addresses a Broward County, Florida Republican Party group. An audience member asks (near the 46-minute mark of the video) about his predictions for an “October surprise” based on materials in the possession of WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange. In response, Stone says, “I actually have communicated with Assange.” [Updated May 8, 2017]
Aug. 12, 2016: On a #MAGA podcast (around the 7-minute mark), Stone says, “I believe Julian Assange — who I think is a hero fighting the police state — has all of the emails that Huma [Abedin] and Cheryl Mills, the two Clinton aides, thought they had erased…. I think Assange has them. I know he has them. And I believe he will expose the American people to this information, you know, in the next 90 days.” [Added April 24, 2017]
Also on Aug. 12, 2016: A batch of hacked Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) documents appear on the Guccifer 2.0 website. [Added March 13, 2017]
Also on Aug. 12, 2016: Stone tells Alex Jones that he was “in communication with Julian Assange.” Later, Stone continues, “I am not at liberty to discuss what I have.” [Added April 24, 2017]
Also on Aug. 12, 2016: Florida GOP consultant Aaron Nevins reaches out to hacker Guccifer 2.0, who had invited journalists to send questions via Twitter direct messages relating to information that Guccifer 2.0 had hacked from the DNC and the DCCC. Under his pseudonymous blog, Nevins begins posting links to Guccifer 2.0, along with highlights of the material. Nevins tells Guccifer 2.0 that releasing fresher data would have more impact and that the hacker should “feel free to send any Florida-based information.” [Added May 30, 2017]
Aug. 13, 2016: After receiving complaints about the publication of private information, Twitter and wordpress.com (host for the Guccifer 2.0 website) suspends the Guccifer 2.0 accounts. [Added March 13, 2017]
Aug. 14, 2016: Roger Stone tweets, “Now Guccifer 2.0 – why are those exposing the truth banned?” Without explanation, Twitter reinstates the Guccifer 2.0 account. In a private message to Guccifer 2.0, Roger Stone writes, “Delighted you are reinstated. Fuck the State and their MSM lackeys.” [Added March 13, 2017]
Also on Aug. 14, 2016: The New York Times reports that Ukraine anti-corruption investigators were seeking to identify and recover assets that it claims former President Viktor Yanukovych had stolen from the Ukrainian people. Investigators had discovered the Black Ledger from Yanukovych’s pro-Russia Party of Regions. Later, Manafort questions the authenticity of the Black Ledger, claims it had been falsified and asserts that no public evidence exists that he or others received the payments listed on the ledger. [Added April 17, 2017]
Aug. 15, 2016: Continuing their private exchange, Guccifer 2.0 responds to Stone: “wow thank u for writing back and thank you for an article about me!!! do u find anything interesting in the docs I posted?” [Added March 13, 2017]
Also on Aug. 15, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 releases hacked DCCC documents on primaries in Florida. [Added March 13, 2017]
Also on Aug. 15, 2016: Concerned about additional intelligence reports about Russia’s cyberattack efforts, the Obama administration seeks bipartisan support from the states to designate election systems as “critical infrastructure” that would entitle them to priority in shoring up defenses against such attacks. The reaction from the states ranges “from neutral to negative,” according to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. [Added June 26, 2017]
Aug. 16, 2016: Stone publishes an article in The Hill and asks Guccifer 2.0 to retweet it, “PLZ RT: How the election can be rigged against Donald Trump — thehill.com/blogs/pundits-…” Guccifer 2.0 responds: “done” and “I read u’d been hacked” [Added March 13, 2017]
Also on Aug. 16, 2016: With “TRUMP 2000” posters in the background from what appears to be Stone’s home office, he again tells radio host Alex Jones (around the 6 1/2-minute mark of the interview) that he has had “back-channel communications” with WikiLeaks and Julian Assange who have “political dynamite” on the Clintons. [Added April 24, 2017]
Also on Aug. 16, 2016: In an interview on The Blaze, Stone says he has “communicated” with Julian Assange through a “mutual acquaintance.” He continues, “I think that Assange is going to be very influential in this election….” [Added April 24, 2017]
Aug. 17, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 sends another private message to Stone: “I’m pleased to say that u r great man and I think I gonna read ur books” “please tell me if I can help u anyhow it would be a great pleasure to me.” [Added March 13, 2017]
Also on Aug. 17, 2016: The Associated Press reports that in 2012 Paul Manafort had secretly routed more than $2 million from Ukraine President Yanukovych’s governing pro-Russia governing party to two US lobbying firms working to influence American policy toward Ukraine. [Added April 17, 2017]
Aug. 18, 2016: In a C-SPAN interview, Stone says (around the 48-minute mark of the broadcast) that he’s never met Julian Assange, but he has been in touch with him “through an intermediary — somebody who is a mutual friend.” He continues, “I expect you’re going to see more from Mr. Assange.” [Added April 24, 2017]
Aug. 19, 2016: As reports of Manafort’s financial connections to Ukraine intensified, he resigns from the Trump campaign.
Also on Aug. 19, 2016: On the day he resigns from the Trump campaign, Manafort records documents creating Summerbreeze LLC, a shell company that he controls. Shortly thereafter, Summerbreeze receives a $3.5 million loan from Spruce Capital, a small New York investment firm. Spruce’s co-founder is a developer of Trump hotel projects, including Trump International Hotel and Tower in Waikiki. One of Spruce’s financial backers, Alexander Rovt, is a billionaire who made his fortune in the privatization of the fertilizer industry in post-Soviet Ukraine. On Feb. 1, 2016, Rovt had shared a Manor College stage forum about Ukraine with Andrii Artemenko, a pro-Putin member of the Ukraine Parliament. In January 2017, Artemenko would resurface at the Manhattan Loews Regency hotel on Park Avenue with long-time Trump business associate Felix Sater and Trump’s personal lawyer Michael D. Cohen. During their meeting, Sater gives Cohen a sealed envelope containing Artemenko’s Ukranian-Russian peace plan and asks him to deliver it to Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn. The plan would have leased Crimea to Russia for 50 or 100 years, essentially ceding to Putin the territory he had annexed illegally. [Added April 17, 2017]
Aug. 21, 2016: Trump surrogate Roger Stone tweets:
Trust me, it will soon the Podesta’s time in the barrel. #CrookedHillary
9:24 AM – 21 Aug 2016
Also on Aug. 21, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 posts hacked DCCC documents on Pennsylvania’s congressional primaries. [Added March 13, 2017]
Also on Aug. 21, 2016: On a local Maryland radio program, Stone denies (around the 6-minute mark of the broadcast) that Guccifer 2.0 is connected to the Russians: “The DNC leaks that nailed Deborah Wasserman Schultz in the heist against Bernie Sanders was not leaked by the Russians, it was leaked by Cruccifer [sic] 2, I should say hacked and leaked first by Cruccifer 2, well known hacker who is not in the employment of the Russians, and then WikiLeaks. So that whole claim is a canard.” [Added April 24, 2017]
Aug. 22, 2016: Responding to Florida GOP consultant Aaron Nevins’ Aug. 12 request, Guccifer 2.0 uploads almost 2.5 gigabytes of stolen documents — including the Democratic Party’s get-out-the-vote strategy for Florida — to Nevins’ Dropbox. Guccifer 2.0 then sends Roger Stone a link to Nevins’ blog. Nevins continues posting hacked documents through the end of August, culminating in the Sept. 8, 2016 release of the DCCC’s “Democrats Turnout Model” for Florida. [Added May 30, 2017]
Aug. 26, 2016: In an interview with Breitbart Radio, Stone says (near the 10-minute mark of the interview), “I’m almost confident Mr. Assange has virtually every one of the emails that the Clinton henchwomen, Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, thought that they had deleted, and I suspect that he’s going to drop them at strategic times in the run up to the rest of this race.” [Added April 24, 2017]
Aug. 29, 2016: Stone tells a local Florida radio interviewer (around the 7-minute mark of the interview), “We’re going to, I think, see from WikiLeaks and other leakers see the nexus between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department.” About Assange, he says, “Perhaps he has the smoking gun that makes this handcuff time.” [Added April 24, 2017]
Aug. 31, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 posts documents hacked from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s personal computer. [Added March 13, 2017]
Late August 2016: CIA Director John Brennan briefs the top eight members Congress’ Intelligence Committees — the “Gang of Eight” — on intelligence that Russian cyberattacks were aimed at getting Trump elected. [Added May 22, 2017]
Labor Day weekend 2016: According to a June 29, 2017 article in The Wall Street Journal and a July 1, 2017 follow-up piece, wealthy GOP operative Peter W. Smith sets out to get his hands on any emails that were stolen from the private email server that Hillary Clinton used while she was secretary of state. Smith assembles a team of technology experts, lawyers and a Russian-speaking investigator in Europe to help him find the emails. They identify five groups of hackers, two of which are Russian. In recruiting experts, Smith claims to be in contact with Trump adviser Mike Flynn and Flynn’s son. With one potential collaborator, he shares a packet of opposition research articles with a cover sheet listing Trump campaign officials Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway and Sam Clovis. Responding to the 2017 articles in The Wall Street Journalabout Smith’s effort, a Trump campaign official says Smith didn’t work for the campaign, and if Flynn coordinated with Smith, it would have been in his capacity as a private individual. Bannon says he’s never heard of Smith. Conway says she knew Smith from Republican politics, but never met with him during the campaign. About 10 days after his May 2017 interview with The Wall Street Journal, Smith dies at the age of 81. [Added July 3, 2017]
Early September 2016: Stung by unsuccessful effort to enlist the states’ bipartisan support for shoring up the nation’s election system, senior members of the Obama administration meet with 12 key congressional leaders to seek their help. The response devolves into partisan wrangling, with Democrats wanting to alert the public about Russia’s efforts and Republicans dissenting. According to a later report in The Washington Post, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) voices skepticism about whether the underlying intelligence truly supports the White House’s claims about Russian interference. [Added June 26, 2017]
Sept. 8, 2016: Jeff Sessions meets Russian ambassador Kislyak in his Senate office. [Added March 3, 2017]
Sept. 9, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 sends Roger Stone a link to a blog post about voter turnout, along with this message: “hi what do u think of the info on the turnout model for the democrats entire presidential campaign? Basically how it works is there are people who will vote party line no matter what and there are folks who will actually make a decision. The basic premise of winning an election is turnout your base (marked turnout) and target the marginal folks with persuadable advertising (marked persuadable). They spend millions calculating who is persuadable or what we call a ‘soft democrat’ and who is a ‘hard democrat.’” [Added March 13, 2017]
Sept. 15, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 posts hacked DCCC documents on New Hampshire, Ohio, Illinois and North Carolina. [Added March 13, 2017]
Sept. 16, 2016: Stone says on Boston Herald Radio (around the 12-minute mark), “I expect Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks people to drop a payload of new documents on Hillary on a weekly basis fairly soon. And that of course will answer the question of exactly what was erased on that email server.” He says he’s in touch with Assange “through an intermediary.” He also says that Hillary Clinton’s association with Putin and Russia’s oligarchs was “far more troubling to me than Donald Trump’s.” [Added April 24, 2017]
Sept. 22, 2016: Frustrated that the White House won’t inform the public about Russian cyberattacks on the election, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) issue a statement that they had learned from intelligence briefings that Russia was directing a campaign to undermine the election. [Added June 26, 2017]
Sept. 23, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 posts hacked DCCC documents on chairman Rep. Ben Ray Lujan. [Added March 13, 2017]
Also on Sept. 23, 2016: Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News reports US intelligence officials are seeking to determine whether Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page had opened up private communications with senior Russian officials, including talks about the possibility of lifting economic sanctions if Trump became president. [Added April 17, 2017]
Sept. 25, 2016: Carter Page writes to FBI Director James Comey that in 2016 he “had not met with any sanctioned official in Russia….” [Added April 17, 2017]
Sept. 26, 2016: Amid accusations that he has ties to Russia, Carter Page takes a leave of absence from the Trump campaign. [Added April 17, 2017]
Sept. 28, 2016: FBI Director Comey appears before the House Judiciary Committeeand refuses to answer questions about whether the bureau is investigating connections between members of the Trump campaign and Russia. “We do not confirm or deny investigations,” Comey says. [Added April 24, 2017]
October 2016: Jared Kushner’s real estate company finalizes a $285 million loan with Deutsche Bank as part of a refinancing package for its property near Times Square. In total, the refinancing deal reportedly results in Kushner’s company receiving $74 million more than it had paid for the property in 2015, when Kushner had negotiated the purchase with Lev Leviev. According to a 2007 New York Times report, Leviev — a Uzbek-born Israeli citizen who is one of the world’s wealthiest men — kept a framed photo of Vladimir Putin on his office shelf and described Putin as a “true friend,” who has helped him in his work with an influential Jewish organization in Russia. At the time of the October 2016 refinancing with Kushner’s company, Deutsche Bank was negotiating to settle New York state regulators’ charges that it had aided a possible Russian money-laundering scheme. Eventually, the state cases were settled in December and January. [Added June 26, 2017]
Oct. 1, 2016: Six days before WikiLeaks releases emails that Russian hackers had acquired from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s email account, Trump’s informal adviser and surrogate Roger Stone tweets:
Wednesday@HillaryClinton is done. #Wikileaks.
11:52 PM – 1 Oct 2016
Oct. 4, 2016: Trump tweets:
CLINTON’S CLOSE TIES TO PUTIN DESERVE SCRUTINY:http://bit.ly/2dvfUPV #VPDebate
9:16 PM – 4 Oct 2016 · Nevada, USA
Also on Oct. 4, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 posts documents hacked from the Clinton Foundation. [Added March 13, 2017]
Oct. 7, 2016: In a joint statement, the Department of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence says, “The US Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of emails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations… We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.” But two other stories dominate the news cycle: WikiLeaks begins publishing stolen emails from the account of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, and Trump’s infamous Access Hollywoodtapes become public.
Oct. 12, 2016: Roger Stone tells NBC News, “I have back-channel communications with WikiLeaks.”
Mid-October 2016: The FISA court approves a secret surveillance order authorizing the Department of Justice to investigate two banks suspected of participating in Russia’s undercover influence operation relating to the US election. [Added May 22, 2017]
Oct. 19, 2016: During the third presidential debate, Trump dismisses the Oct. 7 US intelligence findings: “[Clinton] has no idea whether it is Russia, China or anybody else… Our country has no idea.” And he says this: “I don’t know Putin. I have no idea… I never met Putin. This is not my best friend.”
Oct. 28, 2016: In a letter to key leaders in the House and Senate, FBI Director Comey says that in connection with the bureau’s closed investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, it was reviewing emails on a computer belonging to Clinton adviser Huma Abedin. Comey says nothing about the ongoing FBI investigation into connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. [Added April 24, 2017]
Oct. 30, 2016: According to reporting by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, the $100 million plane belonging to the Russian oligarch who had bought a Florida residence from Trump for $95 million in 2008 was in Las Vegas on the same day Trump was holding a rally there. [Added March 6, 2017]
Oct. 31, 2016: Asked about news reports that the FBI was investigating connections between the Trump campaign and Russia, former campaign manager Manafort says, “None of it is true… There’s no investigation going on by the FBI that I’m aware of.” [Added March 6, 2017]
Nov. 3, 2016: According to reporting by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, the plane belonging to the Russian oligarch who had bought a Florida residence from Trump for $95 million in 2008 was at the single-runaway airport near Concord, North Carolina, where Trump was holding a rally. [Added March 6, 2017]
Nov. 5, 2016: In a letter to key leaders in Congress, Comey confirms that the FBI has completed its review of the additional Abedin emails and, as a result, has not changed its earlier recommendation not to recommend prosecuting Clinton for her use of a private email server. [Added April 24, 2017]
Nov. 8, 2016: Election Day.
Nov. 9, 2016: After Putin announced Trump’s election victory, Russia’s Parliament erupts in applause.
Nov. 10, 2016: Russia’s deputy foreign minister admits that during the campaign, the Kremlin had continuing communications with Trump’s “immediate entourage.”
Also on Nov. 10, 2016: During their first meeting after the election, President Obama warns Trump about appointing Mike Flynn to a top national security post. In 2014, Obama had removed Flynn as the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. [Added May 15, 2017]
Nov. 11, 2016: Vice President-elect Pence replaces Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) as chair of Trump’s transition team. [Added May 25, 2017] [Added May 25, 2017]
Nov. 14, 2016: Reporters ask Mike Flynn’s business associate Robert Kelley if Turkish interests had retained their consulting firm from August through Election Day because of Flynn’s close relationship with Trump. “I hope so,” Kelley says. The subject of Flynn’s lobbying activities for Turkey comes up again periodically in news reports throughout November and December. [Added May 22, 2017]
Nov. 18, 2016: Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sends Trump transition team chair (and Vice President-elect) Mike Pence a letter expressing concerns about national security adviser-designate Mike Flynn’s conflicts of interest. Specifically, Cummings worries about Flynn’s work for an entity affiliated with the government of Turkey, as well as a paid trip to Moscow in December 2015 during which Flynn was “highly critical of the United States.” [Added May 8, 2017]
Nov. 28, 2016: Trump’s transition team acknowledges receipt of Cummings’ Nov. 18 letter regarding Mike Flynn. [Added May 30, 2017]
Late November 2016: In a meeting that includes senior Trump transition national security team members, national security adviser-designate Mike Flynn reveals he has scheduled a conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. In attendance is Marshall Billingslea, a member of the team who had been a senior Pentagon official for President George W. Bush. He warns Flynn that any such communications carry risks because US intelligence agencies are almost certainly monitoring Kislyak’s conversations. After the meeting, Billingsea asks national security officials in the Obama White House for a copy of the classified CIA profile of Kislyak. [Added May 8, 2017]
Winter 2016: According to US Attorney Rod Rosenstein, during one of his first interviews with then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to become deputy attorney general in the Trump administration, they discuss “the need for new leadership at the FBI.” [Added May 30, 2017]
Early December 2016: In Moscow, Russians arrest a Russian computer security expert and two high-level intelligence officers who worked on cyber operations. They are charged with treason for providing information to the United States. The arrests amount to a purge of the cyber wing of the FSB, successor to the KGB and the main Russian intelligence agency. [Added March 3, 2017]
Also in December 2016: Officials in the Obama administration become concernedthat the incoming administration would cover up or destroy previously gathered intelligence relating Russia’s interference with the election. To preserve that intelligence for future investigations, they spread it across the government. [Added March 3, 2017]
Dec. 1 or 2, 2016: Unbeknownst to the press covering the comings and going at Trump Tower, Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak visits Trump Tower to meet with Kushner and Trump’s national security adviser-designate Mike Flynn. According to a later report in The Washington Post, Kislyak reports to his superiors in Moscow that Kushner makes a surprising suggestion: use Russia’s diplomatic facilities in the US for a secret and secure communications channel between Trump and the Kremlin prior to the inauguration. According to The Post, Kushner wanted to use the Russian embassy so that American officials could not monitor the discussions. Later that month, an anonymous letter tipped off The Washington Post to what Kushner had supposedly said at the meeting. [Added May 30, 2017]
Dec. 8, 2016: Carter Page is in Moscow for several days to meet with “business leaders and thought leaders.” [Added March 6, 2017]
Dec. 9, 2016: In response to a Washington Post report that the CIA had concluded Russia had intervened in the election to help Trump win, he says, “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and ‘Make America Great Again.’ ”
Also on Dec. 9, 2016: Paul Manafort tells CBS News he is not active in the Trump transition. Asked if he is talking to President-elect Trump, Manafort says, “I don’t really want to talk about who I’m speaking to, but I’m aware of what’s going on.” Interviewers also question him about the appearance of his name among the handwritten entries in the Ukraine Party of Regions’ Black Ledger from 2007 to 2012 (purporting to show more than $12 million in payments to him). Manafort responds that the ledger was fabricated. [Added April 17, 2017]
Dec. 11, 2016: Trump praises Rex Tillerson, chairman of ExxonMobil and recipient of Russia’s “Order of Friendship” Medal from Vladimir Putin in 2013, as “much more than a business executive” and a “world-class player.” Trump says Tillerson “knows many of the players” and did “massive deals in Russia” for Exxon. Two days later, Trump nominates him to be secretary of state.
Also on Dec. 11, 2016: Asked about the earlier US intelligence report on hacking, Trump says, “They have no idea if it’s Russia or China or somebody. It could be somebody sitting in a bed some place. I mean, they have no idea.”
Dec. 12, 2016: While in Moscow, Trump’s former campaign surrogate Jack Kingston meets with Russian businessmen to discuss what they might expect from a Trump administration. “Trump can look at sanctions,” Kingston says. “They’ve been in place long enough.” [Added March 3, 2017.]
Dec. 13, 2016: NBC News’ Richard Engel reports from Moscow on Trump’s secretary of state pick, Rex Tillerson. Former Russian Energy Minister Vladimir Milov tells Engel that Tillerson was a “gift for Putin.”
Sometime in December 2016: At Kislyak’s request, Kushner meets secretly with Sergey Gorkov, chief of Russia’s state-owned bank VEB. US intelligence reportedly views Gorkov as a “Putin crony” and a graduate of a “finishing school” for spies. In 2010, VEB had been involved in a financial transaction that assisted the struggling Trump International Hotel and Tower project in Toronto. Since 2014, VEB has been subject to US sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea and meddling in Ukraine. In December 2016, Kushner is still looking for more than $1 billion from investors to refinance Kushner Companies’ debt on its troubled 666 Fifth Avenue building. The public remains unaware of the Kushner/Gorkov meeting until March 2017, when The New York Times breaks the story. The White House characterizes it as a routine diplomatic encounter that went nowhere, but VEB says it was part of the bank’s ongoing business strategy. For months thereafter, the White House refuses to disclose the date of the meeting. On June 1, 2017, The Washington Post reports the results of its independent investigation: On Dec. 13, 2016, a private plane associated with VEB (and on which its executives travel) flew from Moscow to Newark airport outside New York City. The following day, the plane then flew to Japan, where Putin met with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Dec. 15. [Revised June 5, 2017]
Dec. 29, 2016: On the same day President Obama announces sanctions against Russia in retaliation for its interference in the 2016 election, national security adviser-designate Lt. Gen. Flynn places five phone calls to the Russian ambassador.
Dec. 30, 2016: After Putin makes a surprise announcement that Russia would not retaliate for the new sanctions, Trump tweets:
Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!
1:41 PM – 30 Dec 2016
Late December 2016: Steve Bannon joins Flynn and Kushner for a secretive meetingwith the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who made an undisclosed visit to New York later in December. [Added May 30, 2017]
Jan. 3, Jan. 4 and Jan. 5, 2017: Trump tweets a series of attacks on the integrity of the US intelligence community’s findings that Russia had hacked the election.
Also on Jan. 4, 2017: National security adviser-designate Mike Flynn tells the transition team’s chief counsel Donald F. McGahn II that he is under federal investigation for secretly working as a paid lobbyist for Turkey. Flynn’s lawyer followed up, but did not get a call back until Jan. 6. [Added May 18, 2017]
Jan. 6, 2017: The CIA, FBI and NSA release their unclassified report, concluding unanimously, “Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election.” The three intelligence agencies agree that “the Russian government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible.” The report also states that WikiLeaks had been Russia’s conduit for the effort, writing “We assess with high confidence that Russian military intelligence (General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate or GRU) used the Guccifer 2.0 persona and DCLeaks.com to release US victim data obtained in cyber operations publicly and in exclusives to media outlets and relayed material to WikiLeaks.” [Updated March 13, 2017]
Also on Jan. 6, 2017: FBI Director Comey meets Trump for the first time at a meeting with the intelligence community to brief him on the investigation into Russian interference with the election. At the end of the meeting, Comey remains alone to brief Trump on some personally sensitive aspects of the information assembled, referred to as the “Steele dossier.” During that meeting, Comey says that the FBI does not have an open counter-intelligence case on him personally. Comey prepares a memo to document his conversation with Trump. [Added June 12, 2017]
Jan. 10, 2017: At Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing to become attorney general, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) asks him, “If there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?” Sessions answers: “I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.” [Updated March 4, 2017]
Also on Jan. 10, 2017: President Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, informs Trump of the military plan to retake the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa with the help of Syrian Kurdish forces. Obama’s team informed Trump because execution of the plan would not occur until after the inauguration. Turkey has long opposed US forces partnering with Kurdish forces in the region. Trump national security adviser-designate Flynn tells Rice to hold off on approving the mission. [Added May 22, 2017]
On or around Jan. 11, 2017: Erik Prince — the founder of the Blackwater private security firm, $250,000 donor to the Trump campaign, and brother of Trump’s nomination for secretary of education Betsy DeVos —
meets secretly in the Seychelles Islands with a Russian close to Putin. Russia’s goal is to establish a back-channel line of communication with the Trump administration. The meeting had been arranged by the United Arab Emirates, and came soon after a meeting between the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Mike Flynn and Jared Kushner in December. [Added May 22, 2017]
Jan. 11, 2017: At his first news conference, Trump says, “As far as hacking, I think it was Russia. But I think we also get hacked by other countries and other people.” The final question of Trump’s first news conference comes from Ann Compton of ABC News: “Mr. President-elect, can you stand here today, once and for all, and say that no one connected to you or your campaign had any contact with Russia leading up to or during the presidential campaign?” Trump never answered her. Away from cameras and heading toward the elevators, he reportedly says, “No,” his team didn’t have contact with Russia.
Also on Jan. 11, 2017: Sheri Dillon, Trump’s outside lawyer and a partner in the Morgan, Lewis & Bockius law firm, presents the plan to deal with Trump’s business conflicts of interest during his presidency. The plan allows Trump to retain beneficial ownership in all of his businesses. Across the political spectrum, legal experts agree the plan is a sham because, among other things, it does not require Trump to divest his holdings. [Added May 15, 2017]
Jan. 13, 2017: In response to The Washington Post’s article about Flynn’s Dec. 29 conversations with the Russian ambassador, press secretary Sean Spicer says it was only one call. They “exchanged logistical information” for an upcoming call between Trump and Vladimir Putin after the inauguration.
Jan. 14, 2017: A member of Trump’s transition team says that Maryland US Attorney Rod Rosenstein will replace Sally Yates as deputy attorney general. In a statement to Congress on May 19, Rosenstein said that prior to his nomination, in one of his first meetings with then-Sen. Jeff Sessions after the election, he and Sessions had discussed the need for new leadership at the FBI. [Added May 22, 2017]
Jan. 15, 2017: “We should trust Putin,” Trump tells The Times of London. Expressing once again his skepticism about NATO, Trump lambastes German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Also on Jan. 15, 2017: Appearing on CBS’ Face the Nation, Vice President Pence saysFlynn’s call to the Russian ambassador on the same day President Obama announced new sanctions was “strictly coincidental,” explaining: “They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure on Russia…. What I can confirm, having to spoken with [Flynn] about it, is that those conversations that happened to occur around the time that the United States took action to expel diplomats had nothing whatsoever to do with those sanctions.” Host John Dickerson asks Pence, “Just to button up one question, did any advisor or anybody in the Trump campaign have any contact with the Russians who were trying to meddle in the election?” Pence replies, “Of course not. And I think to suggest that is to give credence to some of these bizarre rumors that have swirled around the candidacy.” [Revised May 30, 2017]
Also on Jan. 15, 2017: On Fox News Sunday, Pence denies contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign. Responding to Chris Wallace, Pence says, “All the contact by the Trump campaign and associates were with the American people.” On a third try, Wallace asks if Pence had ever asked Donald Trump if there were any contacts in the campaign between Trump or his associates and Russians, Pence answers, “Of course not.” [Added May 25, 2017]
Jan. 18, 2017: On his application for national security clearance, Jared Kushner omits his December meetings with Russian Ambassador Kislyak and the chief of the Russian bank VEB. [Added May 30, 2017]
Jan. 19, 2017: The New York Times reports that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, along with advisers Roger Stone and Carter Page, are under investigation in connection with possible links to Russia. [Added March 3, 2017]
Jan. 20, 2017: Trump is inaugurated.
Jan. 22, 2017: Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn was sworn in as national security adviser, a position that does not require Senate confirmation.
Also on Jan. 22, 2017: FBI Director James Comey is reluctant to attend a White House ceremony honoring law enforcement because, according to his friend Benjamin Wittes, he doesn’t want the director of the bureau to have a close relationship with any president. But Comey ultimately decides to go. Wittes later tells The New York Timesand writes at Lawfare that Comey, noticing that the drapes were a similar shade of blue to his blazer, tried to blend in with them at the far end of the room — as far from Trump as he could get. As the ceremony concludes, Trump calls him over, saying, “Oh, and there’s Jim. He’s become more famous than me.” According to Wittes’ account, as Comey takes the long walk across the room, he is determined that he will not hug Trump. To protect the bureau’s integrity, Comey wants to avoid showing warmth toward him. As Comey preemptively reaches out to shake hands, Trump grabs his hand and attempts an embrace. Comey is “disgusted” and, according to Wittes, regards the move as a “physical attempt to show closeness and warmth in a fashion calculated to compromise him before Democrats who already mistrusted him.” [Added May 22, 2017]
Jan. 23, 2017: At Sean Spicer’s first press briefing, Spicer says that none of Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador touched on the Dec. 29 sanctions. That got the attention of FBI Director James Comey. According to The Wall Street Journal, Comey convinced acting Attorney General Sally Yates to delay informing the White House immediately about the discrepancy between Spicer’s characterization of Flynn’s calls and US intelligence intercepts showing that the two had, in fact, discussed sanctions. Comey reportedly asked Yates to wait a bit longer so that the FBI could develop more information and speak with Flynn himself. The FBI interviews Flynn shortly thereafter.
Jan. 24, 2017: According to a subsequent article in The Washington Post, Flynn reportedly denied to FBI agents that he had discussed US sanctions against Russia in his December 2016 calls with the Russian ambassador.
Jan. 26, 2017: Acting Attorney General Sally Yates informs White House Counsel Don McGahn that, based on recent public statements of White House officials including Vice President Mike Pence, Flynn had lied to Pence and others about his late-December conversations with Russian Ambassador Kislyak. According to Sean Spicer, Trump and a small group of White House advisers were “immediately informed of the situation.” [Added May 15, 2017]
Jan. 27, 2017: McGahn asks Yates to return to the White House for another discussionabout Flynn. He asks Yates, “Why does it matter to the Department of Justice if one White House official lies to another?” Yates explains that Flynn’s lies make him vulnerable to Russian blackmail because the Russians know that Flynn lied and could probably prove it. [Added May 15, 2017]
Also on Jan. 27, 2017: At lunchtime, Trump calls FBI Director Comey and invites him to dinner that evening. In a one-on-one White House dinner in the Green Room, Trump asks Comey if he would like to stay on as director, which strikes Comey as odd because Trump had told him in two earlier conversations that he wanted Comey to remain. Comey says that he intends to serve out his full 10-year term. He also says that he’s not “reliable” in the way politicians use that word, but that Trump could always count on him to tell the truth. A few moments later, Trump says, “I need loyalty; I expect loyalty.” An awkward silence follows. The conversation moves to other subjects, including Comey’s explanation of why the FBI must remain independent of the White House. At the end of the dinner, Trump repeats, “I need loyalty.” Comey responds, “You will always get honesty from me.” Trump replies, “That’s what I want, honest loyalty.” To end the awkward conversation, Comey says, “You will get that from me.” Afterward, Comey writes a detailed memo about the dinner and describes it to the FBI’s senior leadership team on the condition that they not disclose it while he remains director. [Revised June 12, 2017]
During the week following the Jan. 20, 2017 inauguration: Trump administration officials are considering an executive order to lift unilaterally the US sanctions against Russia. Removing the sanctions also would have expanded greatly the Russian bank VEB’s ability to do business in the US, and allowed Americans to borrow from and provide financing to the bank. Five months later, Yahoo News’ Michael Isikoff breaks the rest of the story: “Unknown to the public at the time, top Trump administration officials, almost as soon as they took office, tasked State Department staffers with developing proposals for the lifting of economic sanctions, the return of diplomatic compounds and other steps to relieve tensions with Moscow.” State Department officials are so alarmed that they urge congressional leaders to pass legislation that would lock the sanctions in place. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) become involved. [Added June 5, 2017]
Jan. 29, 2017: TIME photographs Trump at his desk in the Oval Office. Sitting across from him are Kushner and Flynn, about whom Acting Attorney General Sally Yates warned the White House earlier that week. The caption indicates that Trump is speaking on the phone with King Salman of Saudi Arabia. [Added May 30, 2017]
Jan. 30, 2017: Trump fires Acting Attorney General Sally Yates. According to his statement, the reason was that she had “betrayed the Department of Justice” by refusing to defend Trump’s travel ban in court.
Jan. 31, 2017: The White House announces its intention to nominate Rod Rosenstein as deputy attorney general. [Added May 22, 2017]
Late January 2017: At the Manhattan Loews Regency hotel on Park Avenue, Trump’s personal attorney, Michael D. Cohen, meets with Felix Sater and Andrii Artemenko, a pro-Putin lawmaker from Ukraine. Artemenko and Sater gave Cohen a peace plan whereby Russia would lease Ukraine for 50 or 100 years and, eventually, get relief from US sanctions. According to The New York Times, Cohen says he would give the plan to national security adviser Michael Flynn. Responding to questions from The Washington Post, Cohen denies that statement, calling it “fake news.” [Added March 3, 2017]
Feb. 7, 2017: Sens. Cardin and Graham introduce bipartisan legislation that would bar Trump from granting sanctions relief to Russia without congressional involvement. [Added June 5, 2017]
Feb. 8, 2017: Flynn tells reporters at The Washington Post he did not discuss US sanctions in his December conversation with the Russian ambassador.
Also on Feb. 8, 2017: Jeff Sessions, the first senator to endorse Trump’s candidacy and the former chair of the Trump campaign’s national security advisory committee, becomes attorney general. Every Republican senator and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia votes to confirm him. During the confirmation process, Sessions had saidhe was “not aware of a basis to recuse myself” from the Justice Department’s Russia-related investigations of Trump.
Feb. 9, 2017: Through a spokesman, Flynn changes his position: “While [Flynn] had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.”
Feb. 10, 2017: Trump tells reporters he was unaware of reports surrounding Flynn’s December conversations with the Russian ambassador.
Also on Feb. 10, 2017: On the Friday preceding Trump’s weekend at Mar-A-Lago, the plane belonging to the Russian oligarch who had bought a Florida residence from Trump for $95 million in 2008 flies from the south of France to Miami International Airport. [Added March 6, 2017]
Feb. 13, 2017: The Washington Post breaks another story: Then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates had warned the White House in late January that Flynn had mischaracterized his December conversation with the Russian ambassador, and that it made him vulnerable to Russian blackmail. Later that evening, Flynn resigns.
Feb. 14, 2017: The New York Times corroborates the Russian deputy foreign minister’s admission on Nov. 10. Based on information from four current and former American officials, The Times reports, “phone records and intercepted calls show 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.” (On June 8, 2017, former FBI Director James Comey said of the Times story: “In the main, it was not true,” without specifying its inaccuracies.) Meanwhile, on Feb. 14, advisers to Attorney General Jeff Sessions reiterate his earlier position: Sessions sees no need to recuse himself from the ongoing Justice Department investigations into Trump/Russia connections.[Revised June 12, 2017]
Also on Feb. 14, 2017: Press secretary Sean Spicer denies that anyone in the Trump campaign had any contacts with Russia during the campaign. [Added March 3, 2017]
Also on Feb. 14, 2017: At the conclusion of an Oval Office meeting that includes Vice President Pence, Attorney General Sessions and FBI Director Comey, Trump asks everyone except Comey to leave. The last person to leave is Jared Kushner. When Comey and Trump are alone, Trump says, “I want to talk about Mike Flynn.” In a June 8 statement to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey recalls that Trump “began by saying Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong in speaking with the Russians, but he had to let him go because he had misled the vice president. He added that he had other concerns about Flynn, which he did not then specify.” After discussing the subject of classified information leaks, Trump returns to the topic of Flynn, saying, “He is a good guy and has been through a lot.” He repeats that Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong on his calls with the Russians, but had misled Pence. He then says, “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.” Comey replies only that “he is a good guy.” Comey later testifies that he understood Trump to be requesting that the FBI drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December. He writes up a memorandum of his conversation and discusses the matter with the FBI’s senior leadership. [Revised June 12, 2017]
Feb. 15, 2017: Trump tweets a series of outbursts attacking the Trump/Russia connection as “nonsense,” diverting attention to “un-American” leaks in which “information is illegally given out by ‘intelligence’ like candy.” Shortly thereafter, Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz and other congressional Republicans formally ask the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate the leaks, but they and their GOP colleagues resist the creation of an independent bipartisan commission with the power to convene public hearings and discover the truth about the Trump/Russia connections.
Also on Feb. 15, 2017: During an afternoon appearance with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump refuses to answer questions about connections between his presidential campaign and Russia. That evening, The New York Times reports that Trump is planning to appoint Stephen Feinberg, a billionaire hedge fund manager and Trump ally, to lead “a broad review of American intelligence agencies.” Feinberg has no prior experience in intelligence or government, but he has close ties to Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner.
Also on Feb. 15, 2017: FBI Director Comey asks Attorney General Jeff Sessions to prevent any further direct communication between Trump and him. He tells Sessions that what had just occurred — that he, the attorney general, had been asked to leave so that the president could be alone with the FBI director — was inappropriate and should never happen. Sessions doesn’t answer. [Added June 12, 2017]
And also on Feb. 15, 2017: Chief of staff Reince Priebus asks FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to rebut publicly The New York Times’ story about Trump aides’ contacts with Russia during the campaign. McCabe and FBI Director Comey refuse. The White House then asks senior intelligence officials and key lawmakers — including the chairmen of the Senate and House intelligence committees conducting the Trump/Russia investigation — to contact the media and counter the Times story themselves. [Added March 3, 2017]
And also on Feb. 15, 2017: Former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page deny having any meetings in 2016 with Russian officials inside or outside Russia: “I had no meetings, no meetings.” [Added March 6, 2017]
Feb. 16, 2017: Trump continues his diversionary twitter assault on the intelligence leaks that were fueling intensified scrutiny of his Russia connections. At Trump’s afternoon press conference, he says: “I own nothing in Russia. I have no loans in Russia. I don’t have any deals in Russia… Russia is fake news. Russia — this is fake news put out by the media.” Reporters ask repeatedly about anyone else involved with Trump or his campaign. “No,” Trump says. “Nobody that I know of.”
Feb. 17, 2017: FBI Director Comey meets privately with members of the Senate Intelligence Committee to discuss the Russia investigation. Immediately thereafter, the Committee sends a letter asking more than a dozen agencies, organizations and individuals — including the White House — to preserve all communications related to the Senate panel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. [Added March 3, 2017]
Also on Feb. 17, 2017: The Senate Intelligence Committee sends Roger Stone a letter asking him to preserve any records he had in connection with the Committee’s inquiry into Russia’s interference in the US election. [Added March 20, 2017]
Feb. 19, 2017: NBC’s Chuck Todd questions Reince Priebus about Flynn’s firing. The White House line was that Trump had fired Flynn because he’d lied to Vice President Pence about his conversations with the Russians about US sanctions. But that left an awkward gap of more than two weeks during which Trump apparently knew about Flynn’s deception before firing him. “Why did more than a week go by before the vice president was informed of this issue?” Todd asks. “Well, I think he was always aware of the issue as to whether or not he talked about sanctions,” Priebus answers. Later, Todd asks about the more than two-week delay between Yates’ disclosure of Flynn’s deception and Trump’s decision to fire him. “Waiting that long, do you regret that it looks like that the vice president is essentially not in the loop?” Todd asks. “No,” Priebus replies, “the vice president’s in the loop on everything, Chuck.” [Added May 25, 2017]
Feb. 20-26, 2017: Trump continues his attacks on the media and the FBI leaks that were generating the Trump/Russia stories. [Added March 3, 2017]
Feb. 25, 2017: Nigel Farage, ex-leader of the UK Independence Party, key Brexit campaigner and one of Donald Trump’s most visible foreign supporters during and after the presidential campaign, dines with Trump, daughter Ivanka, son-in-law Jared Kushner and Florida Gov. Rick Scott at the Trump International Hotel in Washington. [Added March 13, 2017]
Feb. 26, 2017: NBC’s Chuck Todd notes a pattern: Trump’s attacks on the press followed immediately after a new and unflattering Trump/Russia story breaks. [Added March 3, 2017]
Feb. 28, 2017: On a party line vote, the House Judiciary Committee kills Rep. Jerrold Nadler’s Resolution of Inquiry calling for Trump to provide documents relating to Trump/Russia connections and his business conflicts of interest. [Added March 3, 2017]
Also on Feb. 28, 2017: More than 10 days after the Senate Intelligence Committee had requested that the White House and other agencies preserve Trump/Russia-related communications, the White House counsel’s office instructs Trump’s aides to preserve such materials, according to a March 1 report by the Associated Press. [Added March 3, 2017]
March 1, 2017: In response to reports in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times about Jeff Sessions’ pre-election contacts with the Russian ambassador, Sessions issues a statement saying he “never met with any Russian officials to discuss any issues of the campaign.” [Added March 3, 2017]
Also on March 1, 2017: As Director Comey prepares to board a helicopter, he receives a message from the White House: Trump wants to speak with him urgently. Comey delays his flight but, according to Wittes, soon realizes that Trump wants only to “chitchat.” [Added May 22, 2017]
March 2, 2017: Trump says he has “total confidence” in Jeff Sessions and he shouldn’t recuse himself from the Russia investigation. An hour later, Sessions recuses himself“from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for President of the United States.” [Revised March 13, 2017]
Also March 2, 2017: Despite an earlier denial, former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page admits to meeting with Russian ambassador Kislyak during the campaign. Another adviser, J.D. Gordon, admits that he’d met with Kislyak during the Republican Convention in July. Gordon says he had successfully urged changes in the party platform that Trump had sought to soften US policy regarding Ukraine. [Added March 6, 2017]
Also March 2, 2017: The New York Times reports, and the White House confirms, a previously undisclosed meeting involving Mike Flynn, Jared Kushner, and Russian Ambassador Kislyak. According to The Times, “Michael T. Flynn, then Donald J. Trump’s incoming national security adviser, had a previously undisclosed meeting with the Russian ambassador in December to ‘establish a line of communication’ between the new administration and the Russian government, the White House said on Thursday. Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and now a senior adviser, also participated in the meeting at Trump Tower with Mr. Flynn and Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador.” [Added May 30, 2017]
March 4, 2017: Trump is reportedly furious that Jeff Sessions had recused himself from the Trump/Russia investigation. He unleashes a tweet-storm, claiming that President Obama had wiretapped his phones during the presidential campaign. Stunned by Trump’s outburst, White House staffers begin searching for evidence to support his false wiretap claim. Among those reportedly involved in the effort are White House Counsel Donald McGahn II and Ezra Cohen-Watnick, a 30-year-old Trump transition team member whom former national security adviser Mike Flynn had brought to the White House as senior director for intelligence programs. [Revised April 3, 2017]
Also on March 4, 2017: Stone tweets — then deletes — about his communications with Assange: “[N]ever denied perfectly legal back channel to Assange who indeed had the goods on #CrookedHillary.” Forty minutes later, the tweet was gone. [Added April 24, 2017]
March 5, 2017: FBI Director Comey asked the Justice Department to rebut publicly Trump’s assertion that President Obama had ordered the wiretapping of Trump’s phones. Meanwhile, Sean Spicer announces that neither Trump nor the White House would comment further on Trump/Russia matters until Congress completes an investigation into whether President Obama’s executive branch abused its powers during 2016 election. [Added March 6, 2017]
March 7, 2017: WikiLeaks releases a trove of alleged CIA documents relating to the agency’s hacking tools for smartphones, computers and internet-connected devices. [Added March 13, 2017]
Also on March 7, 2017: Michael Ellis, 32-year-old general counsel to Nunes’ intelligence committee, joins White House Counsel McGahn’s office as “special assistant to the president, senior associate counsel to the president and deputy National Security Council legal adviser.” [Added April 3, 2017]
Also on March 7, 2017: Former national security adviser Mike Flynn files registration documents confirming that between August 2016 and Election Day, he’d earned $530,000 for lobbying work on behalf of a company owned by a Turkish businessman. Flynn acknowledges that his work as a foreign agent could have benefitted the Turkish government. [Added May 22, 2017]
March 8, 2017: Nigel Farage meets with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Embassy of Ecuador in London, where Assange had found sanctuary since 2012. [Added March 13, 2017]
March 9, 2017: In an online press conference, Assange threatens to release more documents relating to CIA’s hacking capabilities and methods. [Added March 13, 2017]
Also on March 9, 2017: When reporters ask Sean Spicer about Nigel Farage’s meeting with Julian Assange and whether Farage was delivering a message from Trump, Sean Spicer says, “I have no idea.” [Added March 13, 2017]
Also on March 9, 2017: Responding to questions about Mike Flynn’s lobbying activities for Turkish interests during the campaign and thereafter, Vice President Mike Pence tells Fox News’ Bret Baier twice that he’d just learned of it: “Well, let me say, hearing that story today was the first I’d heard of it. And I fully support the decision that President Trump made to ask for Gen. Flynn’s resignation.” BAIER: “You’re disappointed by the story?” PENCE: “The first I heard of it, and I think it is, uh, it is an affirmation of the president’s decision to ask Gen. Flynn to resign.” Asked whether Trump knew about Flynn’s activities on behalf of Turkish interests, Sean Spicer says, “I don’t believe that that was known.” [Added May 22, 2017]
March 10, 2017: Trump campaign surrogate Roger Stone admits that in August 2016 he had engaged in private direct messaging with Guccifer 2.0, whom US intelligence agencies later identified as the persona for the Russian hacking operation. Describing the messages as “completely innocuous,” Stone says, “It was so perfunctory, brief and banal I had forgotten it.” [Added March 13, 2017]
Also on March 10, 2017: Mike Flynn’s replacement as national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, tells Ezra Cohen-Watnick that he is reassigning him. Unhappy with the decision, Cohen-Watnick appeals to Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner. They interveneand take the issue to Trump, who orders that Cohen-Watnick should remain in his position. [Added April 3, 2017]
Also on March 10, 2017: Senior Democratic members of the House Committee on Financial Services write to the committee’s chairman requesting “a formal assessment of the [Justice] Department’s investigation into Deutsche Bank’s Russian money-laundering scheme, including a review of Attorney General Session’s role in conducting the investigation.” The letter cites the bank’s recent payment of more than $600 million to settle claims that its inadequate controls failed to prevent “a group of corrupt traders from improperly and secretly transferring more than $10 billion out of Russia.” The letter also expresses concern that Deutsche Bank “is one of Trump’s top creditors with an estimated $360 million in outstanding loans to his companies.” [Added June 26, 2017]
Also on March 10, 2017: In the British Virgin Islands, the luxury yacht owned by the Russian oligarch who had purchased Trump’s Palm Beach mansion for $95 million in 2008 is anchored within a few hundred feet of Robert Mercer’s luxury yacht. Mercer has a multimillion-dollar investment in Breitbart News and is one of Trump’s biggest financial supporters. The two yachts remain near each other through the weekend. [Added July 17, 2017]
March 12, 2017: John McCain tells CNN’s Jake Tapper that former Trump adviser and surrogate Roger Stone “obviously” needs to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee concerning his communications with Guccifer 2.0. McCain says that Stone should also explain fully his involvement matters relating to Ukraine’s pro-Putin former president. [Added March 20, 2017]
March 13, 2017: Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr says Roger Stone’s communications with Guccifer 2.0 are part of the Committee’s ongoing investigation and that Stone could be called to testify. [Added March 20, 2017]
March 14, 2017: House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes and ranking member Adam Schiff invite former acting Attorney General Sally Yates to testify before their committee at an open hearing on March 28, 2017. [Added April 3, 2017]
March 15, 2017: Roger Stone is riding in the front passenger seat of a car near Pompano Beach, Florida, when another car broadsides his, shifts gears, backs up and speeds away. In January, Stone had claimed that he was poisoned in late 2016 with polonium, a radioactive material manufactured in a nuclear reactor and used to kill former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko in 2006. Litvinenko had defected to Britain and become an outspoken critic of Putin. As he lay in a hospital bed, he said Putin had been responsible for his impending death. On Jan. 21, 2016, retired British High Court Judge Sir Robert Owen concluded a House of Commons inquiry and issued a 328-page reportfinding that Litvinenko’s accusation was probably correct. [Added March 20, 2017]
Also on March 15, 2017: The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, says the committee has no evidence to support Trump’s March 4 wiretapping claim. “I don’t think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower,” Nunes says. “Are you going to take the tweets literally? If you are, clearly the president is wrong.” [Added March 20, 2017]
Also on March 15, 2017: On the subject of his wiretapping claims, Trump tells Fox News, “I think you’re going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.” [Added April 3, 2017]
March 16, 2017: Senate Intelligence Committee leaders issue a joint statementrebutting Trump’s unfounded assertion that President Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower: “Based on the information available to us, we see no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016.” [Added March 20, 2017]
March 17, 2017: Roger Stone says he had only just received the letter from the Senate Intelligence Committee, dated Feb. 17, asking him to preserve his records relating to Russian election interference. Quoted in The New York Times, Stone says, “I had never heard allegations that Guccifer 2.0 was a Russian asset until now, and am not certain it’s correct.” He says that his 16 interactions with Guccifer 2.0, which included public Twitter posts and private messages, were all part of “exchanges,” not “separate contacts.” [Added March 20, 2017]
March 20, 2017: On the morning of FBI Director Comey’s testimony before Congress on his agency’s investigation into Russian election interference, Trump tweets:
Donald J. Trump
The Democrats made up and pushed the Russian story as an excuse for running a terrible campaign. Big advantage in Electoral College & lost!
5:49 AM – 20 Mar 2017
Twitter Ads info and privacy
Hours later, Comey testifies that the FBI was investigating Russian interference with election, including “the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.” With respect to Trump’s wiretapping claims, Comey says, “I have no information that supports those tweets.” [Revised May 22, 2017]
March 20, 2017: In a House Intelligence Committee public hearing, Paul Manafort’s name comes up more than two dozen times. [Added March 27, 2017]
Within days of March 20, 2017: Less than a week after FBI Director Comey’s testimony, Trump personally calls the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, and the director of the National Security Agency, Adm. Mike Rogers, and asks them to deny publicly the existence of any evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia prior to the election. A senior intelligence official later tells The Washington Postthat Trump’s goal is to “muddy the waters” about the scope of the FBI probe at a time when Democrats are ramping up their calls for the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel. A NSA official reportedly documents Rogers’ conversation with Trump in a contemporaneous memo. Coats and Rogers deem Trump’s request inappropriate and refuse. Testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 7, 2017, Rogers refuses in open session to answer questions about his conversations with Trump about FBI Director Comey. But Rogers goes on to assert that he does not recall ever feeling “pressured” to interfere with any ongoing investigation. Coats adopts Rogers’ response, as do fellow testifying witnesses Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe. [Revised June 12, 2017]
March 21, 2017: In his daily press briefing, Sean Spicer says that, with respect to the Trump campaign, Paul Manafort had “played a very limited role for a very limited period of time.” [Added March 27, 2017]
March 22, 2017: Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, bypasses his fellow committee members and goes directly to the White House with alleged evidence that Trump associates may have been “incidentally” swept up in foreign surveillance by American spy agencies. Nunes refuses to release the information or name his sources, even to fellow committee members. And he confirms that he still had seen no evidence to support Trump’s claim that President Obama had ordered his wires tapped. [Added March 27, 2017]
Also on March 22, 2017: In a joint letter to White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, the chairman and ranking member of the House Oversight Committee request information and documents relating to payments that former national security adviser Mike Flynn received from entities affiliated with foreign governments, including Russia and Turkey. [Added May 2, 2017]
Also on March 22, 2017: As a briefing from several government agencies concludes in the Oval Office, Trump asks everyone to leave, except recently confirmed Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Trump then complains to them about FBI Director Comey’s Trump/Russia investigation and asks Coats to intervene and get Comey to back off. Coats discusses the matter with other officials and decides that Trump’s request is inappropriate. Testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 7, 2017, Coats refuses in open session to discuss his conversations with Trump. [Added June 12, 2017]
March 23, 2017: In a letter to acting Assistant Attorney General Samuel R. Ramer, Sally Yates’ lawyer disagrees with the Justice Department’s objections to Yates’ anticipated congressional testimony. Associate Deputy Attorney General Scott Schools responds that Yates’ testimony is “likely covered by the presidential communications privilege and possibly the deliberative process privilege.” But Schools adds that Yates needs only the consent of the White House, not the Justice Department, to testify. [Added April 3, 2017]
March 24, 2017: Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Roger Stone volunteer to be interviewed by the House Intelligence Committee. [Added March 27, 2017]
Also on March 24, 2017: Yates’ lawyer writes to White House Counsel McGahnabout Yates’ upcoming testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. He notes that unless McGahn objects before 10 a.m. on March 27, Yates will appear and answer the committee’s questions. [Added April 3, 2017]
Also on March 24, 2017: Rep. Nunes cancels public hearings scheduled for March 28. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan and former acting Attorney General Sally Yates had been slated to testify before his committee. Nunes postpones their appearances indefinitely. [Added March 27, 2017]
March 26, 2017: In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Roger Stone says, “I reiterate again, I have had no contacts or collusions with the Russians. And my exchange with Guccifer 2.0, based on the content and the timing, most certainly does not constitute collusion.” [Added March 27, 2017]
March 27, 2017: Trump tweets that the House Intelligence Committee should be looking into Bill and Hillary Clinton’s ties to Russia: “Trump Russia story is a hoax.” [Added April 3, 2017]
Also on March 27, 2017: During lunch with Benjamin Wittes, Comey says he’s worried about Trump’s nominee for deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein. “Rod is a survivor,” he says, explaining that a person doesn’t survive for more than 25 yearsacross Republican and Democratic administrations without making compromises. “So I have concerns.” Wittes later says he thinks Comey’s concerns stemmed, in part, from his “loyalty dinner” with Trump. If Trump had asked Comey for personal loyalty, what had he asked of Rosenstein? [Added May 22, 2017]
Also on March 27, 2017: The New York Times reports the previously undisclosed December meeting between Kushner and Sergey Gorkov, head of the Russian bank VEB. On May 29, 2017, the White House says that Kushner met the banker “in his capacity as a transition official.” The Senate Intelligence Committee wants to question Kushner about both of Kushner’s December meetings with Kislyak and Gorkov. [Added June 5, 2017]
March 30, 2017: The Senate Intelligence Committee opens its hearings into the Trump/Russia investigation. Clinton Watts, senior fellow at George Washington University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security and former FBI agent, testifiesthat the committee should follow the money funding misinformation websites. Watts then adds a more ominous suggestion: “Follow the trail of dead Russians,” he says. “There’s been more dead Russians in the past three months that are tied to this investigation who have assets in banks all over the world. They are dropping dead, even in Western countries.” Eight Russian politicians, activists, ambassadors and a former intelligence official have died since Trump’s election. Some were apparent assassinations. [Added April 3, 2017]
Also March 30, 2017: The New York Times reports that Nunes’ sources for the information that he’d reviewed nine days earlier on White House grounds — and then reported to Trump directly without informing anyone on his committee — are two members of the Trump administration: Ezra Cohen-Watnick (the NSC staffer whose job Trump had saved personally around March 13) and Michael Ellis (who had served as general counsel of Nunes’ committee before becoming Trump’s “special assistant, senior associate counsel and deputy National Security Council legal adviser” on March 7). [Added April 3, 2017]
Also on March 30, 2017: The Wall Street Journal reports that Mike Flynn is seeking immunity from prosecution in return for testifying before congressional intelligence committees. The next day, his lawyer confirms, “Gen. Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should circumstances permit.” [Added April 3, 2017]
Also on March 30, 2017: In the morning, according to Comey’s June 8 statement, Trump calls Comey at the FBI, asking what Comey can do to “lift the cloud” of the Russia investigation overhanging the presidency. Trump asks Comey to “get out” the fact that Trump personally is not a subject of the FBI investigation. According to Comey, Trump says “he had nothing to do with Russia” and “had not been involved with hookers in Russia,” referring to allegations in the “Steele dossier.” Trump “went on to say that if there were some ‘satellite’ associates of his who did something wrong, it would be good to find that out…” [Added June 12, 2017]
March 31, 2017: Trump tweets:
Donald J. Trump
Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!
6:04 AM – 31 Mar 2017
Twitter Ads info and privacy
[Added April 3, 2017]
Also on March 31, 2017: During an appearance with Bill Maher, Roger Stone denies that Guccifer 2.0 was an arm of Russia. “I’ve had no contacts with Russians,” he insists. [Added April 3, 2017]
Also on March 31, 2017: Jared Kushner submits his financial disclosure form to the Office of Government Ethics. It reports that he holds jointly with his mother a $25 million personal line of credit from Deutsche Bank. [Added June 26, 2017]
April 5, 2017: In an interview with The New York Times, Trump says, “The Russia story is a total hoax.” [Added April 10, 2017]
April 6, 2017: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) recuses himself from the Trump/Russia investigation. Texas Rep. Mike Conaway assumes control. [Added April 10, 2017]
Also on April 6, 2017: The New York Times reports that Jared Kushner’s application for national security clearance had failed to disclose his December meetings at Trump Tower with Russian Ambassador Kislyak and the CEO of the Russian bank, VEB. In a statement, Kushner’s attorney says that after learning of the error, Mr. Kushner told the FBI: “During the presidential campaign and transition period, I served as a point-of-contact for foreign officials trying to reach the president-elect. I had numerous contacts with foreign officials in this capacity. … I would be happy to provide additional information about these contacts.” [Added May 30, 2017]
April 11, 2017: In the morning, according to Comey’s June 8 statement, Trump calls Comey to ask what he’d done to “get out” the fact that he wasn’t personally being investigated. Comey replies that he’d sent Trump’s request to the acting attorney general, but had not heard back. Trump says that “the cloud” was getting in the way of his ability to do his job. Comey replies that White House counsel should contact the Department of Justice leadership to make the request. Trump says he would do that and adds, “Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know.” Comey does not reply or ask him what Trump means by “that thing.” Comey says only that the way to handle it was to have the White House counsel call the acting deputy attorney general. Trump says that was what he would do and the call ends. [Added June 12, 2017]
April 12, 2017: The Associated Press confirms that newly obtained financial records show Paul Manafort’s firm had received two wire transfers — one in 2007 and another in 2009 — corresponding to two of the 22 entries next to Manafort’s name in Ukraine’s Party of Regions Black Ledger. Manafort’s spokesman says Manafort intended to register retroactively with the US Justice Department as a foreign agent for the work he had done on behalf of political interests in Ukraine through 2014. [Added April 17, 2017]
April 13, 2017: Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page tells ABC’s George Stephanopoulos he won’t reveal who brought him into the Trump campaign. Page also says he didn’t recall discussing the subject of easing Russian sanctions in conversations with Russian officials during his July 2016 trip to Moscow. “We’ll see what comes out in this FISA transcript,” Page says, referring to surveillance collected after the FBI obtained a secret court order to monitor him under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. “Something may have come up in a conversation… I have no recollection.” Later he continues, “Someone may have brought it up. I have no recollection. And if it was, it was not something I was offering or that someone was asking for.” Page says that from the time of his departure as an adviser to the Trump campaign through Inauguration Day, he maintained “light contact” with some campaign members. [Added April 17, 2017]
April 19, 2017: The White House refuses the March 22 bipartisan request from the House Oversight Committee for more information and documents relating to payments that former national security adviser Mike Flynn received from entities affiliated with the Russian and Turkish governments. [Added May 2, 2017]
April 25, 2017: The Senate Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism reveals that it has scheduled former acting Attorney General Sally Yates and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to testify on May 8, 2017. [Added May 2, 2017]
Also on April 25, 2017: The Senate confirms Rod Rosenstein as deputy attorney general. Because Attorney General Jeff Sessions had recused himself from matters relating to the 2016 presidential election, including the Trump/Russia investigation, Rosenstein becomes the top Justice Department official supervising FBI Director Comey on that investigation. FBI Director Comey later testifies (at the 1:18 mark) that he explains to Rosenstein his “serious concern about the way in which the president is interacting, especially with the FBI….” [Revised June 12, 2017]
Also on April 25, 2017: Flynn reportedly receives a message from Trump to “stay strong.” When the story appears on May 18, the White House does not respond to a request for comment. [Added May 25, 2017]
April 28, 2017: The chair and vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee send letters to several former Trump campaign advisers, including Carter Page, Mike Flynn, Paul Manafort and Roger Stone. Among other requests, the letters ask for a “list of all meetings between you and any Russian official or representative of Russian business interests which took place between June 16, 2015 and Jan. 20, 2017.” The letters also request information about any such meetings of which they are aware, as well as all documents relating to Trump campaign communications with Russian officials or business representatives. The committee also seeks information about any financial and real estate transactions related to Russia from June 15, 2015 through Trump’s inauguration. [Added May 8, 2017]
April 29, 2017: In an interview airing on Trump’s 100th day in office, he tells CBS’ John Dickerson, “The concept of Russia with respect to us [the Trump campaign] is a total phony story.” Dickerson then asks, “You don’t think it’s phony that they, the Russians, tried to meddle in the election?” Trump answers, “That I don’t know.” Later, Trump says, “I’d love to find out what happened.” [Added May 2, 2017]
May 2, 2017: On the eve of FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Trump tweets: “FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds! The phony… Trump/Russia story was an excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election. Perhaps Trump just ran a great campaign?” [Added May 8, 2017]
May 3, 2017: In response to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who asks FBI Director Comey about Trump’s April 29, 2017 interview in which he said that the hacking of the DNC “could’ve been China, could’ve been a lot of different groups,” Comey answers, “The intelligence community with high confidence concluded it was Russia.” [Added May 8, 2017]
May 5, 2017: The chair and vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee issue a joint statement, saying: “Three days ago, Carter Page told Fox News he was cooperating with the Committee’s investigation into Russian activities surrounding the 2016 Election. Today we have learned that may not be the case.” The statement expresses the hope that Page “will live up to his publicly-expressed cooperation with our effort.” [Added May 8, 2017]
May 6-7, 2017: Trump spends the weekend at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey. Since March, he’s been fuming over Comey’s congressional appearance, in which the FBI director had acknowledged the FBI’s ongoing investigation into Trump campaign ties to Russia and had refuted Trump’s false claim that President Obama had wiretapped him. In the weeks that followed, Trump grew angrier and talked about firing Comey. At Bedminister, Trump grouses over Comey’s May 3 congressional testimony — especially his comment about being “mildly nauseous” at the thought that his actions relating to the Clinton investigation might have affected the outcome of the election. [Added May 15, 2017]
May 8, 2017: Trump informs a small group of his closest advisers, including Vice President Mike Pence, Jared Kushner and White House counsel Don McGahn, that he plans to fire FBI Director James Comey. According to The New York Times, McGahn counsels Trump to delay dismissing Comey; Kushner urges him to proceed. [Revised May 30, 2017]
Also on May 8, 2017: Trump follows Kushner’s advice and, according to ABC News, Kushner, White House counsel Don McGahn, Vice President Pence and chief of staff Reince Priebus begin to prepare talking points about Comey’s planned firing. Meanwhile, Trump summons Attorney General Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein to the White House, where he instructs them provide a written justification for removing Comey. Before Rosenstein prepares the requested memo, he knows Trump intends to fire Comey. [Revised May 30, 2017]
Also on May 8, 2017: With former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates scheduled to testify later in the day, Trump tweets:
Donald J. Trump
General Flynn was given the highest security clearance by the Obama Administration – but the Fake News seldom likes talking about that.
6:57 AM – 8 May 2017
Twitter Ads info and privacy
Donald J. Trump
Ask Sally Yates, under oath, if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers soon after she explained it to W.H. Counsel.
9:43 AM – 8 May 2017
Twitter Ads info and privacy
[Added May 15, 2017]
Days before May 9, 2017: According to The New York Times FBI Director Comey asks Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein for additional resources to expand the bureau’s Trump/Russia investigation. Department of Justice spokesperson Sarah Flores denies the story, calling it “100 percent false.” [Added May 15, 2017]
May 9, 2017: Citing the May 9 recommendations of Attorney General Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, Trump fires FBI Director Comey, ostensibly because of his inappropriate statements about the Clinton email investigation prior to the 2016 election. Trump, Sessions and Rosenstein write that terminating Comey is necessary to restore trust, confidence and integrity in the FBI. In his termination letter to Comey, Trump also says he “greatly appreciates you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation.” [Added May 15, 2017]
Also on May 9, 2017: CNN reports that a federal grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia had recently issued subpoenas to associates of former national security adviser Mike Flynn. [Added May 15, 2017]
Also on May 9, 2017: Late in the evening and amid bushes on the White House grounds, press secretary Sean Spicer tells reporters to “turn the lights off” before answering questions about Comey’s firing. He says that the impetus came from the deputy attorney general. “No one from the White House,” Spicer says. “That was a DOJ decision.” Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway echoes that position on CNN, reading excerpts from Rosenstein’s memo to Anderson Cooper. [Added May 15, 2017]
Also on May 9, 2017: Over Turkey’s objections, the Pentagon announces that the US will partner with Kurds to retake the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa. On Jan. 10, the Obama administration had presented President-elect Trump with a plan to partner with the Kurds against ISIS, but his then-national security adviser-designate Mike Flynn had killed it. [Added May 22, 2017]
May 10, 2017: Vice President Mike Pence says repeatedly that Comey’s firing occurred because Sessions and Rosenstein recommended it: The deputy attorney general “came to work, sat down and made the recommendation for the FBI to be able to do its job that it would need new leadership. He brought that recommendation to the president. The attorney general concurred with that recommendation.” [Added May 15, 2017]
Also on May 10, 2017: Deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says Trump had been thinking about firing Comey “since the day he was elected,” but reiterates Pence’s position that Sessions and Rosenstein were “absolutely” the impetus for the firing. [Added May 15, 2017]
Also on May 10, 2017: The Washington Post and The New York Times report that Trump had been the impetus for Comey’s firing, not Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein. [Added May 15, 2017]
Also on May 10, 2017: Rod Rosenstein speaks by phone with White House counsel Don McGahn. According to The Wall Street Journal, Rosenstein insists that the White House correct the misimpression that Rosenstein initiated the process leading to Comey’s firing. He suggests that he can’t work in an environment where facts aren’t reported accurately. [Added May 15, 2017]
Also on May 10, 2017: The White House releases a new timeline of the events relating to Comey’s firing. It recites that the impetus for removing Comey had come from Trump, not the deputy attorney general. But the White House acknowledges that Trump met with Sessions and Rosenstein on May 8 to discuss “reasons for removing the director” and that the attorney general and his deputy sent their written recommendations to Trump on May 9. [Added May 15, 2017]
Also on May 10, 2017: House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) asks the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate Comey’s firing. [Added May 15, 2017]
And Also on May 10, 2017: At an Oval Office meeting with Russia’s Ambassador Kislyak, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and their aides, Trump reveals highly classified intelligence about the Islamic State and American counterterrorism plans. The meeting occurs because Putin previously had asked Trump to meet with Lavrov, and, Trump later says, he didn’t feel he could say no. Kislyak’s presence was unexpected. The intelligence that Trump reveals is so sensitive that it has not been shared with American allies and has been tightly restricted within the US government. Minutes after the meeting ends, Kislyak’s presence becomes known when the Russian news agency TASS publishes photographs that a Russian photographer had taken of the session. The White House had not permitted any US news organization to attend any part of the meeting, even for photographs. During the meeting, Trump also discusses the Comey firing. “I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Trump says. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.” Then he adds, “I’m not under investigation.” [Revised May 22, 2017]
May 11, 2017: Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe testifies that James Comey enjoyed “broad support within the FBI and still does to this day…. The majority, the vast majority of FBI employees enjoyed a deep, positive connection to Director Comey.” [Added May 15, 2017]
Also on May 11, 2017: Trump tells NBC’s Lester Holt that he had already decided to fire Comey before his meeting with Sessions and Rosenstein: “Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey, knowing there was no good time to do it. And in fact, when I decided to do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story….” Trump also says that on three different occasions — once in person and twice over the phone — he’d asked Comey if he was under investigation for alleged ties to Russia, and Comey told him he wasn’t. And Trump tells Holt that he had sent Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) a “certified letter” from “from one of the most prestigious law firms in the country” confirming that he has “nothing to do with Russia.” [Added May 15, 2017]
Also on May 11, 2017: The New York Times reports on Trump’s one-on-one dinner with Comey on Jan. 27, when Trump asked Comey for a personal loyalty pledge that Comey refused to provide. [Added May 15, 2017]
Also on May 11, 2017: The Senate Intelligence Committee sent Mike Flynn a subpoena for documents that he’d refused to produce voluntarily in response to the committee’s April 28 letter request. [Added May 15, 2017]
May 12, 2017: Trump tweets:
Donald J. Trump
James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!
7:26 AM – 12 May 2017
Twitter Ads info and privacy
[Added May 15, 2017]
Also on May 12, 2017: In response to questions about Trump’s early morning tweet about Comey and “tapes,” press secretary Sean Spicer refuses to answer whether Trump was taping Oval Office conversations. “The president has nothing further to add on that,” Spicer says repeatedly. [Added May 15, 2017]
Also on May 12, 2017: The White House releases a one-page March 8, 2017 letterfrom Trump’s outside lawyers — Sheri Dillon and William Nelson at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. The carefully worded letter states that “with a few exceptions” totaling about $100 million, Trump’s tax returns from 2005 “do not reflect” any “income from Russian sources,” “debt owed by you or [The Trump Organization] to Russian lenders,” “equity investments by Russian persons or entities,” or “equity or debt investments by you or [The Trump Organization] in Russian entities.” The letter does not define “Russian” or purport to determine whether or to what extent individuals from Russia, Ukraine, or other former Soviet-bloc countries may have used shell corporations through which they may have conducted transactions with Trump businesses. Months earlier, Dillon had developed and presented Trump’s business conflicts of interest plan whereby Trump retained all ownership in his businesses. [Added May 15, 2017]
Also on May 12, 2017: The Wall Street Journal reports that the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) — a unit that specializes in combating money-laundering — will share financial records with the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating Trump’s ties to Russia. [Added May 15, 2017]
Between May 13 and May 15, 2017: After seeing Trump’s “tapes” tweet, Comey remembers that he has contemporaneous memos of his conversations with Trump. He gives them to a friend at Columbia Law School and asks his friend to provide them to the press. [Added June 12, 2017]
May 15, 2017: At his daily press conference, Sean Spicer refuses — seven times — to answer whether Trump is secretly recording his conversations. [Added May 18, 2017]
Also May 15, 2017: National security adviser H.R. McMaster issues a 40-second “non-denial denial” of the Washington Post story that Trump disclosed highly classified intelligence to Russian Ambassador Kislyak and Foreign Minister Lavrov. McMaster says, “The story that came out tonight as reported is false… At no time, at no time were intelligence sources or methods discussed. And the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known.” The Post story had said nothing about disclosure of “intelligence sources and methods.” “I was in the room,” McMaster concludes, “It didn’t happen.” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who also attended the Oval Office meeting with the Russians, issues a statement saying the group “did not discuss sources, methods or military operations.” [Added May 18, 2017]
Also on May 15, 2017: Trump meets in the Oval Office with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who had arranged the January 2017 meeting in the Seychelles Islands between Erik Prince and a Russian close to Putin. [Added June 5, 2017]
May 16, 2017: In response to press reports that former FBI Director James Comey had written a contemporaneous memorandum documenting Trump’s Feb. 14 request to halt the Flynn investigation, the White House issues an unattributed statement that concludes: “This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey.” [Added May 17, 2017]
Also on May 16, 2017: Trump tweets:
Donald J. Trump
As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining….
6:03 AM – 16 May 2017
Twitter Ads info and privacy
Donald J. Trump
…to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.
6:13 AM – 16 May 2017
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[Added May 18, 2017]
Also on May 16, 2017: National security adviser McMaster tells reporters repeatedly that Trump’s disclosure of intelligence with the Russians was “wholly appropriate.” As his press conference ends, McMaster says that Trump “wasn’t even aware where this information came from. He wasn’t briefed on the source or method of the information either.” [Added May 18, 2017]
May 17, 2017: Putin offers to provide the US Congress with transcripts of the May 10 Oval Office conversations among Trump, the Russian ambassador, and Russia’s foreign minister. [Added May 18, 2017]
Also on May 17, 2017: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein names former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to oversee the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference with the election. In a White House statement, Trump says, “As I have stated many times, a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know — there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity. I look forward to this matter concluding quickly.” [Revised May 22, 2017]
May 18, 2017: Trump tweets:
With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel appointed!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2017
Donald J. Trump
This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!
6:52 AM – 18 May 2017
Twitter Ads info and privacy
[Added May 18, 2017]
Also on May 18, 2017: At a joint news conference with the president of Colombia, a reporter asks Trump whether he ever asked former Director Comey to close or back down the investigation into Michael Flynn. “No. No,” Trump answers. “Next question.” He goes on to characterize the ongoing Trump/Russia investigation as “totally ridiculous” and a “witch hunt.” Then he adds, “Director Comey was very unpopular with most people, I actually thought when I made that decision. And I also got a very, very strong recommendation, as you know, from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.” [Added May 22, 2017]
Also on May 18, 2017: TIME reports that congressional investigators are reviewing whether Cambridge Analytica or Breitbart News played any role in working with Russian efforts to help Trump win the election. [Added May 30, 2017]
May 19, 2017: The Washington Post reports that federal investigators in the Trump/Russia matter have identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest. On May 25, news reports identify the official as Jared Kushner. [Revised May 30, 2017]
Also on May 19, 2017: Vice President Pence faces added scrutiny on what he knew about Flynn’s connections to Turkey and Russia — and when he knew it. Democrats on the House Oversight Committee post a Nov. 18, 2016 letter from Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) to Pence, who at the time was vice president-elect and chair of the presidential transition team. The letter expressed concerns about national security adviser-designate Flynn’s ties to those countries. In response to the posting, Pence’s spokesperson states, “The vice president stands by his comments in March upon first hearing the news regarding Gen. Flynn’s ties to Turkey and fully supports the President’s decision to ask for General Flynn’s resignation.” A White House aide adds, “I’m not sure we saw the letter.” Democrats on the House Oversight Committee then post the formal Nov. 28, 2016 transition team message acknowledging receipt of Cummings’ letter. [Added May 22, 2017]
Also on May 19, 2017: The Senate Intelligence Committee announces that former FBI Director Comey will testify in a public hearing after Memorial Day. [Added May 22, 2017]
Also on May 19, 2017: Reuters reports on efforts by White House lawyers to undermine Robert Mueller’s credibility. They’re particularly interested in a rule that restricts newly hired government lawyers from investigating clients of their former employer for at least one year. By executive order on Jan. 28, 2017, Trump had extended that period to two years; however, the Justice Department can waive the rule. Mueller’s law firm WilmerHale represents Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, but the firm says that Mueller has not personally worked with any Trump-related clients. Meanwhile, CNN reports that White House lawyers are also researching impeachment procedures. [Added May 22, 2017]
May 22, 2017: Rather than produce documents in response to a subpoena from the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mike Flynn invokes his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Paul Manafort and Roger Stone produced some documents in response to the committee’s request. [Added May 25, 2017]
May 23, 2017: Former CIA Director John Brennan testifies before the House Intelligence Committee that during the summer of 2016, he noticed suspicious contacts between Russian government officials and associates of Trump’s campaign. Brennan says that he knew the US election was under Russian attack and feared that the Trump campaign might be aiding the effort. [Added May 30, 2017]
Also on May 23, 2017: Senior Democrats on the House Financial Services Committee ask Deutsche Bank to provide information about the bank’s internal reviews relating to: 1) alleged Russian money laundering, and 2) the personal accounts of Trump and his family. Citing US privacy laws, the bank refuses. [Added June 26, 2017]
May 24, 2017: In response to media reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ application for national security clearance had failed to disclose his contacts with Russian officials, Sessions says he was “instructed not to list meetings with foreign dignitaries and their staff connected with his Senate activities.” [Added May 30, 2017]
May 26, 2017: The Washington Post reports on Kushner’s Dec. 1 or 2 meeting with Russian Ambassador Kislyak at which, according to Kislyak, Kushner requested a secret and secure communication channel between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. In mid-December, an anonymous letter had tipped off The Post to what Kushner had supposedly said at the meeting. Former US intelligence officials described the idea of a backchannel using a hostile foreign power’s facilities as “disturbing” and “dangerous.” [Added May 30, 2017]
Also on May 26, 2017: The Washington Post reports that the Senate Intelligence Committee has demanded that the Trump campaign produce all Russia-related documents, emails and phone records dating to June 2015, when the campaign was launched. [Added May 30, 2017]
May 27, 2017: Reuters reports that Jared Kushner had at least three previously undisclosed contacts with Russian Ambassador Kislyak during and after the presidential campaign. Two were phone calls between April and November. His attorney says that Kushner “has no recollection of the calls as described” and asks Reuters for the dates that they allegedly occurred. [Added May 30, 2017]
May 28, 2017: In three Sunday morning talk show appearances, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly says that if Kushner was trying to a create a backchannel to communicate with the Russian government, it was a “good thing.” Veteran diplomatic and intelligence experts remain unconvinced. [Added May 30, 2017]
May 31, 2017: The House Intelligence Committee approves the issuance of subpoenasto Mike Flynn, Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen, and the businesses that each of them runs. Separately, several news outlets report that House Committee Chairman Nunes, who had recused himself from the committee’s Trump/Russia investigation, issued subpoenas to former Obama administration officials on the issue of “unmasking” — revealing the names of persons referenced in intelligence reports. [Added June 5, 2017]
Also on May 31, 2017: The Washington Post reports that the Trump administration is moving toward returning two suspected espionage compounds to Russia. When President Obama issued new sanctions on Dec. 29, he said that the compounds — located in New York and Maryland — were being “used by Russian personnel for intelligence-related purposes” and had given Russia 24 hours to vacate them. [Added June 5, 2017]
Also on May 31, 2017: Sergey Gorkov, head of Russian bank VEB, refuses to comment in response to reporters’ questions about his December 2016 meeting with Jared Kushner. [Added June 5, 2017]
June 1, 2017: Putin tells reporters that “patriotically minded” private Russian hackers might have been involved in cyberattacks that interfered with the US election. “We’re not doing this on the state level,” Putin says. [Added June 5, 2017]
June 2, 2017: Special counsel Robert Mueller assumes control over a federal grand jury criminal investigation of Mike Flynn’s ties to Turkey, as well as the criminal investigation involving Paul Manafort. [Added June 5, 2017]
June 8, 2017: FBI Director Comey testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee. He expands on prepared remarks detailing his conversations with Trump on Jan. 27 (“loyalty dinner”), Feb. 14 (“let Flynn go”), March 30 (“lift the cloud”), and April 11 (“get out the word”). Asked why Trump fired him, Comey says, “It’s my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia investigation. I was fired in some way to change, or the endeavor was to change, the way the Russia investigation was being conducted.” On the subject of whether Trump recorded their conversations, Comey says, “Lordy, I hope there are tapes.” Later, he continues: “It never occurred to me before the president’s tweet. I’m not being facetious. I hope there are, and I’ll consent to the release of them … All I can do is hope. The president knows if he taped me, and if he did, my feelings aren’t hurt. Release all the tapes. I’m good with it.” [Added June 12, 2017]
Also on June 8, 2017: Trump’s personal attorney, Marc Kasowitz, issues a statementsaying that Trump “feels completely vindicated” by Comey’s testimony. Shortly thereafter, reports circulate that Trump’s legal team is planning to file a complaint with the Justice Department inspector general against Comey for “leaking” memos of his conversations with Trump. [Added June 12, 2017]
June 9, 2017: Trump tweets:
Donald J. Trump
Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication…and WOW, Comey is a leaker!
5:10 AM – 9 Jun 2017
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[Added June 12, 2017]
Also on June 9, 2017: Trump accuses Comey of lying under oath to the Senate Intelligence Committee and agrees “100 percent” to provide his version of events under oath. He refuses to answer whether he has tapes of his conversations with Comey. [Added June 12, 2017]
Also on June 9, 2017: The House Intelligence Committee sends two letters relating to its investigation. One requests that Comey produce any notes or memoranda relating to his conversations with Trump. The second asks White House counsel Don McGahn to inform the Committee whether any White House recordings or memoranda of Comey’s conversations with Trump have ever existed and, to the extent they still exist, produce them by June 23. [Added June 26, 2017]
June 11, 2017: Trump tweets:
Donald J. Trump
I believe the James Comey leaks will be far more prevalent than anyone ever thought possible. Totally illegal? Very ‘cowardly!’
7:29 AM – 11 Jun 2017
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[Added June 12, 2017]
Also on June 11, 2017: The New York Times reports that in recent days, White House aides had asked Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, if it was also time for them to hire personal lawyers. Kasowitz, according to a Times source, said it was not yet necessary. [Added June 19, 2017]
June 12, 2017: After visiting the White House, Trump’s longtime friend and chief executive of Newsmax Media, Chris Ruddy, says on the PBS NewsHour that Trump “is considering, perhaps, terminating the special counsel,” Robert Mueller. When asked about the report, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders says, “While the president has the right to, he has no intention to do so.” [Added June 19, 2017]
June 13, 2017: Trump tweets:
Donald J. Trump
A.G. Lynch made law enforcement decisions for political purposes…gave Hillary Clinton a free pass and protection. Totally illegal!
7:45 AM – 13 Jun 2017
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[Added June 19, 2017]
Also on June 13, 2017: Testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein says he would need “good cause” to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and he hasn’t seen any yet. [Added June 19, 2017]
Also on June 13, 2017: Testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee about earlier news reports that he had met in April 2016 with Russian Ambassador Kislyak at the Mayflower Hotel, Attorney General Jeff Sessions says, “If any brief interaction occurred in passing with the Russian ambassador during that reception, I do not remember it.” When asked for details about his September 2016 meeting with Kislyak, Sessions can’t recall them. Sessions acknowledges that after Trump met privately with then-FBI Director Comey on Feb. 14, 2017, Comey told Sessions the next day never to leave him alone with Trump again. When asked about his conversations with Trump about Comey prior to Comey’s firing on May 9, Sessions refers back to Rosenstein’s memo. Beyond that, Sessions admits that Trump has not invoked executive privilege to block Sessions from answering, but Sessions refuses to answer anyway. [Added June 19, 2017]
June 14, 2017: The Washington Post reports that special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice. [Added June 19, 2017]
June 15, 2017: Trump tweets:
Donald J. Trump
They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story. Nice
5:55 AM – 15 Jun 2017
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Donald J. Trump
You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history – led by some very bad and conflicted people! #MAGA
6:57 AM – 15 Jun 2017
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Donald J. Trump
Why is that Hillary Clintons family and Dems dealings with Russia are not looked at, but my non-dealings are?
2:43 PM – 15 Jun 2017
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Donald J. Trump
Crooked H destroyed phones w/ hammer, ‘bleached’ emails, & had husband meet w/AG days before she was cleared- & they talk about obstruction?
2:56 PM – 15 Jun 2017
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[Added June 19, 2017]
Also on June 15, 2017: Vice President Pence hires an outside attorney to deal with issues arising from the Trump/Russia investigation. [Added June 19, 2017]
Also on June 15, 2017: The Washington Post reports that, “according to US officials familiar with the matter,” special counsel Mueller is investigating the finances and business dealings of Jared Kushner. [Added June 19, 2017]
Also on June 15, 2017: Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein issues a press releasecautioning Americans against reliance on stories based on “anonymous ‘officials’” and “anonymous allegations.” [Added June 19, 2017]
June 16, 2017: Trump tweets:
Donald J. Trump
After 7 months of investigations & committee hearings about my “collusion with the Russians,” nobody has been able to show any proof. Sad!
6:53 AM – 16 Jun 2017
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Donald J. Trump
Despite the phony Witch Hunt going on in America, the economic & jobs numbers are great. Regulations way down, jobs and enthusiasm way up!
7:54 AM – 16 Jun 2017
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Donald J. Trump
I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt
8:07 AM – 16 Jun 2017
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[Added June 19, 2017]
Also on June 16, 2017: ABC News reports that Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein has acknowledged to colleagues that he may have to recuse himself from the Trump/Russia investigation. Reportedly, he informed Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand — whom the Senate had confirmed on May 18 — that she would then assume supervisory responsibility for special counsel Mueller’s investigation. [Added June 19, 2017]
Also on June 16, 2017: House investigators reportedly want to interview Brad Parscale, digital director of Trump’s campaign. Investigators were digging into Jared Kushner’s role overseeing data operations for the campaign. [Added June 19, 2017]
Also on June 16, 2017: Trump adds veteran Washington lawyer John Dowd to his legal team. [Added July 17, 2017]
June 18, 2017: Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press, one of Trump’s attorneys, Jay Sekulow, counters Trump’s tweet about “being investigated.” Sekulow says, “There is not an investigation of the president of the United States, period.” He asserts a similar position on Fox News Sunday and CNN’s State of the Union. Appearing on CBS’ Face the Nation, Sekulow says, “The fact of the matter is the president has not been and is not under investigation.” Later in the interview, he says, “There has been no notification from the special counsel’s office that the president is under investigation.” When asked if the special counsel had an obligation to notify Trump if he were under investigation, Sekulow responds, “I can’t imagine a scenario where the president would not be aware of it.” Referring to the president’s power to fire the FBI director, Sekulow adds, “The president cannot be investigated, or certainly cannot be found liable for engaging in an activity he clearly has power to do under the constitution.” [Added June 19, 2017]
Also on June 18, 2017: In response to reports that Jared Kushner is seeking to supplement his legal team with experienced criminal defense lawyers, his lead attorney, Jamie Gorelick, says, “After the appointment of our former partner Robert Mueller as special counsel, we advised Mr. Kushner to obtain the independent advice of a lawyer with appropriate experience as to whether he should continue with us as his counsel.” [Added June 19, 2017]
During the week of June 19, 2017: According to a July 13, 2017 report by Michael Isikoff of Yahoo! News, Trump lawyers Marc Kasowitz and Alan Garten inform Trump that Donald Trump Jr. had sent and received emails confirming a June 9, 2016 meeting among Don Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner and a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin. [Added July 17, 2017]
June 20, 2017: White House press secretary Sean Spicer says he doesn’t know if Trump believes that Russia interfered with the 2016 election. [Added June 26, 2017]
June 21, 2017: Testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Department of Homeland Security’s acting director of the Office of Intelligence and Analysis Cyber Division says that individuals connected to the Russian government tried to hack election-related computer systems in 21 states. A week earlier, Bloomberg had reportedthat Russian hackers had tried to penetrate voting systems in 39 states. [Added June 26, 2017]
Also on June 21, 2017: The New York Times reports that the White House has been lobbying the House of Representatives to weaken the Senate bill that would limit Trump’s power to curtail Russian sanctions. The bipartisan legislation had passed the Senate a week earlier, and would allow Congress to thwart any effort by the White House to curtail those sanctions without congressional approval. On June 20, the Treasury Department issued sanctions directed against more than three dozen Russian individuals and organizations that had participated in the country’s incursion into Ukraine. [Added June 26, 2017]
Also on June 21, 2017: Jared Kushner submits another revision to his security clearance application, adding Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya — who met with Kushner, Don Jr. and Paul Manafort on June 9, 2016. Two days later, FBI agents question Kushner for the second time about his application. According to later reporting by The New York Times, Kushner has now supplemented his list of foreign contacts three times, adding more than 100 names. [Added July 17, 2017]
June 22, 2017: Trump tweets:
Donald J. Trump
With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea…
Donald J. Trump
…whether there are “tapes” or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings.
11:55 AM – 22 Jun 2017
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[Added June 26, 2017]
June 23, 2017: In an interview on Fox & Friends, Trump says that special counsel Robert Mueller is “very, very good friends with Comey, which is very bothersome… Look, there has been no obstruction. There has been no collusion. There has been leaking by Comey.” Asked about Mueller’s legal team, Trump says, “I can say that the people that have been hired are all Hillary Clinton supporters. Some of them worked for Hillary Clinton. I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous if you want to know the truth.” [Added June 26, 2017]
Also on June 23, 2017: In a two-sentence response to the House Intelligence Committee’s prior request for any and all records memorializing conversations between Trump and James Comey, the White House refers to and quotes from Trump’s June 22, 2017 tweets (above) and provides no other information. [Added June 26, 2017]
Also on June 23, 2017: The New York Times reports that federal investigators and the New York state attorney general are looking into Paul Manafort’s real estate dealings in recent years. [Added June 26, 2017]
Also on June 23, 2017: Trump tweets:
Donald J. Trump
Just out: The Obama Administration knew far in advance of November 8th about election meddling by Russia. Did nothing about it. WHY?
7:43 PM – 23 Jun 2017
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[Added June 26, 2017]
June 24, 2017: Trump tweets:
Donald J. Trump
Since the Obama Administration was told way before the 2016 Election that the Russians were meddling, why no action? Focus on them, not T!
3:28 PM – 24 Jun 2017
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[Added June 26, 2017]
June 25, 2017: Interviewing Kellyanne Conway on ABC News’ This Week, George Stephanopoulos says, “The president said he did not tape James Comey, but I am confused by the top part of that [tweet]. Does the president have any evidence at all that his personal conversations were somehow taped? And has he asked the intelligence agencies for that evidence?” When Conway doesn’t answer those questions directly, Stephanopoulos persists, “Has the president asked the intelligence agencies if they have any tapes of his conversations? Does he know if they have that? Does he have any evidence to back up that suggestion that he put out in the tweet?” Conway answers, “I’m not going to comment on his conversations with his intelligence community… I mean, what are we talking about here with this never-ending Russian discussion?” [Added June 26, 2017]
June 26, 2017: Trump tweets:
Donald J. Trump
The real story is that President Obama did NOTHING after being informed in August about Russian meddling. With 4 months looking at Russia…
7:59 AM – 26 Jun 2017
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Donald J. Trump
..under a magnifying glass, they have zero “tapes” of T people colluding. There is no collusion & no obstruction. I should be given apology!
8:05 AM – 26 Jun 2017
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[Added June 26, 2017]
Also on June 26, 2017: Jared Kushner’s lawyers confirm that he has added a prominent criminal defense trial lawyer, Abbe Lowell, to his legal team. [Added July 3, 2017]
June 27, 2017: Paul Manafort registers retroactively as a foreign agent. Between 2012 and 2014 he received more than $17 million from the pro-Russia political party (“Party of Regions”) that dominated Ukraine before its leader, then-President Viktor Yanukovych, fled to Moscow amid a popular uprising in 2014. As part of the filing, Manafort discloses that he met in 2013 with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, an outspoken California Republican who has often called for a closer relationship between the US and Russia. [Added July 3, 2017]
July 6, 2017: En route to the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany where he will meet privately with Vladimir Putin, Trump stops in Poland to deliver a speech. At a news conference NBC News’ Hallie Jackson asks: “Can you once and for all, yes or no, definitively say that Russia interfered in the 2016 election?” Trump answers, “I think it could very well have been Russia, but I think it could have been other people in other countries and I won’t be specific.” He then excoriates President Obama for doing “nothing” in the face of the Obama administration’s conclusion that Russian meddling was underway. “The reason is, he thought Hillary was going to win,” Trump continues. Pressed again on whether he agrees with the “definitive” conclusion of his own intelligence agencies that Russia meddled in the election, Trump says, “I think it was Russia, but I think it was probably other people and/or countries…. Nobody really knows for sure. I remember when I was sitting back listening about Iraq. Weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. How everybody was 100 percent sure that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Guess what — that led to one big mess. They were wrong.” [Added July 11, 2017]
Also on July 6, 2017: The Financial Times reports that Felix Sater has agreed to cooperate in an international investigation of a Kazakh family’s real estate dealings. The head of the family — Viktor Khrapunov, a former Kazakh minister now exiled in Switzerland — is reportedly under investigation for allegations that he embezzled government funds and hid the cash in other countries throughout the world, including the US. Deeds and banking records obtained by the Financial Times show that in April 2013, members of the Khrapunov family purchased three apartments in Trump SoHo for a grand total price of $3.1 million from a holding company in which Trump held a stake. [Added July 11, 2017]
July 7, 2017: For the first time since the 2016 election, Trump meets Vladimir Putin. The only other attendees to their private two-and-a-half hour session are Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and two interpreters. [Added July 11, 2017]
Also on July 7, 2017: In an off-camera interview with the press after the Trump/Putin meeting, Tillerson says that Trump opened the session by “raising the concerns of the American people regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election…. The president pressed President Putin on more than one occasion regarding Russian involvement. President Putin denied such involvement, as I think he has in the past.” Responding to a later question about whether Trump “was unequivocal in his view that Russia did interfere in the election,” Tillerson says, “The Russians have asked for proof and evidence. I’ll leave that to the intelligence community to address the answer to that question. And again, I think the president, at this point, he pressed him and then felt like at this point let’s talk about how do we go forward.” [Added July 11, 2017]
Also on July 7, 2017: Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov offers a different version of the Trump/Putin meeting, saying, “President Trump said he’s heard Putin’s very clear statements that this is not true and that the Russian government didn’t interfere in the elections and that he accepts these statements. That’s all.” [Added July 11, 2017]
July 8, 2017: At a press conference concluding the G-20 summit, Putin responds to questions about whether Russian meddling in the 2016 election was a subject of their private meeting. “[Trump] really was interested in some details. I, as far as I could, answered all this in detail,” Putin says through a translator at the press conference, which a Russian state-owned news channel broadcasted. “He asked me, I answered. He asked clarifying questions, I explained. He appeared to me satisfied with these answers.” [Added July 11, 2017]
Also on July 8, 2017: The New York Times first reports the story of the June 9, 2016 meeting that Donald Jr. had arranged with Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and a Kremlin-connected lawyer. In response, Donald Jr. issues this statement: “It was a short introductory meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to stop by. We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no follow up… I was asked to attend the meeting by an acquaintance, but was not told the name of the person I would be meeting with beforehand.” [Added July 11, 2017]
July 9, 2017: On Fox News, chief of staff Reince Priebus dismisses Don Jr.’s June 9, 2016 meeting with Manafort, Kushner and a Russian lawyer as “a big nothingburger.” [Added July 17, 2017]
Also on July 9, 2017: As The New York Times prepares to report that the Russian lawyer with whom Donald Jr., Kushner and Manafort met on June 9, 2016 was supposedly going to be offering them damaging information on Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump Jr. issues a new statement changing his story from less than 24 hours earlier: “I was asked to have a meeting by an acquaintance I knew from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant with an individual who I was told might have information helpful to the campaign. I was not told her name prior to the meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to attend, but told them nothing of the substance. We had a meeting in June 2016. After pleasantries were exchanged, the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton. Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information. She then changed subjects and began discussing the adoption of Russian children and mentioned the Magnitsky Act. It became clear to me that this was the true agenda all along and that the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting. I interrupted and advised her that my father was not an elected official, but rather a private citizen, and that her comments and concerns were better addressed if and when he held public office. The meeting lasted approximately 20 to 30 minutes. As it ended, my acquaintance apologized for taking up our time. That was the end of it and there was no further contact or follow-up of any kind. My father knew nothing of the meeting or these events.” [Added July 11, 2017]
July 10, 2017: Donald Trump Jr. tweets:
Donald Trump Jr.
Obviously I’m the first person on a campaign to ever take a meeting to hear info about an opponent… went nowhere but had to listen. https://twitter.com/DRUDGE_REPORT/status/884390823881719808 …
7:55 AM – 10 Jul 2017
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[Added July 11, 2017]
Also on July 10, 2017: Donald Trump Jr. confirms that he has hired a criminal defense attorney to represent him in connection with the Trump/Russia probe. [Added July 11, 2017]
Also on July 10, 2017: The New York Times reports on the email from Rob Goldstone to Donald Jr. preceding the June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower among Donald Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner and a Russian lawyer with Kremlin ties. [Added July 11, 2017]
July 11, 2017: Donald Jr. posts his June 3-8, 2016 email exchanges with Rob Goldstone that culminate in the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting with the person Goldstone described as a “Russian government attorney.” In his accompanying statement, Donald Jr. says that he knew Emin from the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow. “Emin and his father have a very highly respected company in Moscow,” he continues. “The information they suggested they had about Hillary Clinton I thought was political opposition research…To put this in context, this occurred before the current Russian fever was in vogue.” [Added July 11, 2017]
Also on July 11, 2017: Yahoo! News’ Michael Isikoff reports that earlier plans with the Agalarovs to build a Trump Tower in Moscow continued into 2014 and collapsed because the US imposed sanctions on Russia. [Added July 17, 2017]
July 12, 2017: Trump tells Reuters that he had learned only recently about the June 9, 2016 meeting among Don Jr., Kushner, Manafort and a Russian lawyer. “I didn’t know until a couple of days ago when I heard about this,” he said. Trump repeats that assertion while speaking with reporters that night on Air Force One en route to Paris. “I only heard about it two or three days ago,” he says. But then he adds, “In fact maybe it was mentioned at some point,” but when asked if he had been told that the meeting was about sharing “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, he says no. [Added July 17, 2017]
Also on July 12, 2017: In a Fox News interview, Vice President Mike Pence’s spokesperson refuses to answer directly whether Pence ever met with any Russians during the presidential campaign. [Added July 17, 2017]
Also on July 12, 2017: AP reports that on May 12, 2017 — two days before a scheduled start of a major Russian money laundering criminal trial in New York federal court — the Justice Department approved a settlement of the case for less than $6 million. Allegedly, the action involved more than a $230 million fraud scheme. Natalia Veselnitskaya — the Russian lawyer who had met with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort on June 9, 2016 — had represented the defendant (the owner of a Russian real estate investment firm). When he announced the filing of the complaint in 2013, then-US Attorney Preet Bharara said, “As alleged, a Russian criminal enterprise sought to launder some of its billions in ill-gotten rubles through the purchase of pricey Manhattan real estate.” Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee request that the Justice Department provide information about the circumstances surrounding the settlement by July 26, 2017. [Added July 17, 2017]
July 13, 2017: The Chicago Tribune reports that on May 14, 2017, Peter W. Smith was found dead in a Rochester, Minnesota hotel room. The GOP operative from Lake Forest, Illinois had died about 10 days after an interview with The Wall Street Journal, in which he claimed during the campaign to have connections to Trump adviser Mike Flynn. Smith had told The Journal that over the Labor Day weekend 2016, he began trying to recruit a team of experts to find any emails that were stolen from the private email server that Hillary Clinton used while she was secretary of state. Smith’s Minnesota state death record says he committed suicide by asphyxiation. The police had recovered a note that included these lines; “NO FOUL PLAY WHATSOEVER” — “RECENT BAD TURN IN HEALTH SINCE JANUARY, 2017” and timing related “TO LIFE INSURANCE OF $5 MILLION EXPIRING.” The Wall Street Journal reporter who had interviewed Smith in May tweets:
When I spoke to Peter Smith I had no indication that he was ill or planning to take his own life.
6:15 PM – 13 Jul 2017
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[Added July 17, 2017]
Also on July 13, 2017: Yahoo News’ Michael Isikoff reports that President Trump’s legal team had been informed more than three weeks earlier about the email chain arranging a June 2016 meeting between his son Donald Jr. and a Kremlin-connected lawyer. [Added July 17, 2017]
July 14, 2017: NBC News reports, “The Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. and others on the Trump team after a promise of compromising material on Hillary Clinton was accompanied by a Russian-American lobbyist — a former Soviet counterintelligence officer who is suspected by some US officials of having ongoing ties to Russian intelligence.” The lobbyist, Rinat Akhmetshin, confirms to the Associated Press that he attended the meeting. He tells AP he served in the Soviet military in a unit that was part of counterintelligence, but was never formally trained as a spy. Akhmetshin also says the Russian lawyer at the meeting, Natalia Veselnitskaya, presented the Trump associates with details of what she believed were illicit funds that had been funneled to the Democratic National Committee. And she suggested that making the information public could help the Trump campaign. “This could be a good issue to expose how the DNC is accepting bad money,” Akhmetshin recalls her saying. He says the attorney brought with her a plastic folder with printed-out documents, but he was unaware of the content of the documents or whether they were provided by the Russian government, and it was unclear whether she left the materials with the Trump associates. [Added July 17, 2017]
Also on July 14, 2017: CNN reports that the June 9, 2016 meeting included more than just the six previously reported participants: Kushner, Manafort, Don Jr., Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, former Soviet counterintelligence officer Rinat Akhmetshin and a translator. According to CNN, at least two others — including a representative of the Agalarov family — also attended. [Added July 17, 2017]
Also on July 14, 2017: Jared Kushner’s attorney, Jamie Gorelick, announces she is no longer representing Kushner on Russia-related inquiries. [Added July 17, 2017]