I kept reading about Trump’s many ties to Russia, but none of the news outlets ever presented a timeline, so I decided to assemble one myself with links to the source articles. I started in 2016, but I’ve been updating it every day or two as events unfold.
When the award-winning history book gets written, not every event in this timeline will turn out to have be relevant. Some things mentioned below are doubtless meaningless coincidences. I leave it to investigators and journalists — or you, the reader — to assemble a possible narrative; this is just a timeline of events.
I’ve collected this info via too many people to count, but one key set of days in September 2016 was pieced together by @RVAwonk on Twitter. I also recommend following John Schindler, a former NSA guy.
16 Jun 1986
Roger Stone, up-and-coming Washington lobbyist, is working at Manafort, Stone and Kelly, a high profile lobbying firm.
?? Jan 1987
Soviet travel agency Intourist invites Trump to visit the Soviet Union in July. He meets many members of the Politburo.
02 Sep 1987
Trump takes out full page newspaper ads criticizing US foreign policy, saying that America should stop defending (NATO) countries who can’t afford to defend themselves. Trump is later interviewed by Manhattan, inc. magazine and suggests that the US should join forces with the Soviet Union to dominate other nations and prevent them gaining nuclear capability.
22 Oct 1987
Trump gives a speech where he first floats the idea of running for President, and repeats his idea that the US should make its allies pay for their protection.
On the Howard Stern show, Trump argues with gossip columnist A. J. Benza:
Trump: I assume A.J.’s clean. I hope he’s clean.
Benza: Meanwhile, he bangs Russian people…
Stern: Russian people?
Trump: Who are you talking about, Russian people, A.J.? I don’t know anything.
Benza: He used to call me when I was a columnist and say, “I was just in Russia, the girls have no morals, you gotta get out there.” [Trump’s] out of his mind.
13 Feb 2005
Donald Trump Jr writes to Russian-born property developer Felix Satter. Satter, originally named Sater, is listed as Managing Director of company Bayrock Group LLC, headquartered in Trump Tower. The letter states that Trump will partner with Sater/Satter on a proposed Trump hotel tower in Fort Lauderdale.
30 Aug 2005
Trump makes a bid to redevelop Denver’s Union Station. The developing company is Bayrock Group LLC.
16 May 2007
Russia is accused of launching a cyberattack on Estonia.
19 Sep 2007
Trump holds a party to launch the development of Trump SoHo. He is photographed next to Felix H. Sater.
15 Oct 2007
Trump is interviewed by Larry King:
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 …in rebuilding the image of Russia and also rebuilding Russia period. Forget about image.
12 Dec 2007
The New York Times profiles Bayrock Group LLC and Felix H. Sater. The article explains that he now spells his name ‘Satter’ to distance himself from his past:
A federal complaint brought against him in a 1998 money laundering and stock manipulation case was filed in secret and remains under seal. A subsequent indictment in March 2000 stemming from the same investigation described Mr. Sater as an “unindicted co-conspirator” and a key figure in a $40 million scheme involving 19 stockbrokers and organized crime figures from four Mafia families.
The story also identifies Alex Sapir, from the former Soviet republic of Georgia, as president of the Sapir Organization and a partner in Trump SoHo. Sater is identified as a partner in the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Fort Lauderdale. The “boss of all bosses” at Bayrock, according to Sater, is Kazakhstan-born Tevfik Arif.
15 Jul 2008
As the housing crash begins, Trump sells a mansion in Florida to Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev for $95M. Trump purchased it four years earlier for $40M. It is believed that Rybolovlev has never set foot in the house.
15 Sep 2008
Donald Trump Jr is interviewed by a travel industry trade publication. He says:
After spending half a dozen trips to Russia in the last 18 months, several buyers have been attracted to our projects there and everything associated therewith. […] 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.
13 Oct 2008
Rudy Giuliani gives a keynote address for Alfa Bank.
?? ??? 2010
A US army investigation finds that Major General Michael T Flynn inappropriately shared classified information with foreign agents in Afghanistan. The information concerned US monitoring of the Haqqani network, an insurgent group in Afghanistan responsible for attacks on US forces. Several months later, the Haqqani network had carried out a successful suicide bombing on a Coalition convoy, killing two US soldiers and a colonel.
25 Feb 2010
Viktor Yanukovych is declared President of Ukraine. A Wikileaks cable from 2006 identifies Davis, Manafort & Freedman as the PR firm behind his unexpected revival of fortunes. Paul Manafort previously represented Ferdinand Marcos in 1985.
26 Oct 2010
Wikileaks tweets that they are “ready to drop a bombshell on Russia”.
10 Nov 2010
Russia’s FSB threatens Wikileaks, saying:
Preliminary analysis shows that there is no threat posed to Russia by Julian Assange’s resource. You have to understand that if there is the desire and the right team, it’s possible to shut it down forever
01 Dec 2010
WikiLeaks cables condemn Russia as a corrupt “mafia state”, reporting that the Kremlin is heavily involved in bribery and corruption.
02 Dec 2010
Julian Assange is interviewed by Time magazine:
Asked if he wanted to expose the secret dealings of China and Russia the way WikiLeaks has done with the U.S., Assange said, “Yes, indeed. In fact, we believe it is the most closed societies that have the most reform potential.”
09 Dec 2010
Russia suggests that Julian Assange should be awarded the Nobel peace prize.
20 Jan 2011
Julian Assange is issued a Russian visa, and Russia Today says that he is planning to visit the country soon.
31 Jan 2011
The Guardian reports that Wikileaks employee Israel Shamir has traveled to Belarus and met with President Alexander Lukashenko, an authoritarian dictator. The state-run newspaper Soviet Belarus begins serializing information from unredacted Wikileaks cables which were not published by Wikileaks, identifying dissidents.
15 Apr 2011
Daniel Domscheit-Berg, formerly Julian Assange’s official spokesman at Wikileaks, publishes a memoir:
Although he began as an idealistic supporter of WikiLeaks’s whistle-blowing mission, Domscheit-Berg left the organization because he was dismayed by Assange’s paranoid resistance to transparency, lack of political neutrality, and addiction to concentrating power in his own hands […]
16 Apr 2011
Four men are convicted of running a prostitution ring on Tevfik Arif’s yacht, having been arrested in December 2010 — allegedly along with a foreign minister of Kazakhstan. Arif is acquitted of all charges.
30 Aug 2011
ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson negotiates multiple multi-billion-dollar deals between ExxonMobil and the Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft to drill for oil in the Arctic.
24 Oct 2011
Wikileaks announces that it is running out of money due to credit card payment processors refusing to do business with it.
05 Dec 2011
Donald Trump releases his book “Time To Get Tough”. In it, the following appears:
Putin has big plans for Russia. He wants to edge out its neighbors so that Russia can dominate oil supplies to all of Europe. Putin has also announced his grand vision: the creation of a “Eurasian Union” made up of former Soviet nations that can dominate the region. I respect Putin and the Russians but cannot believe our leader allows them to get away with so much–I am sure that Vladimir Putin is even more surprised than I am. Hats off to the Russians.
16 Apr 2012
Julian Assange is given his own TV chat show on Russia Today (RT), Putin’s state-run broadcasting network. Assange begins the series by interviewing Hassan Nasrallah of Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah.
19 June 2012
As President Obama meets with Putin, Trump tweets: “Putin has no respect for our President — really bad body language.”
16 Apr 2013
The FBI raids an apartment in Trump Tower, in connection with a money laundering investigation involving an illegal gambling ring run by Russian organized crime:
Assistant U.S. Attorney Harris Fischman told a U.S. magistrate judge in Manhattan that Vadim Trincher, 52, directed much of the international racketeering enterprise from his $5 million apartment at Trump Tower.
The named suspects include Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov. Also arrested and indicted is Helly Nahmad, an art dealer who owns the 51st floor of the Trump Tower. Many defendents plead guilty over the next few months. The case is prosecuted by Preet Bharara, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
18 Jun 2013
Trump 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?”
I had a great trip. I was the first U.S. officer ever allowed inside the headquarters of the GRU [Russian intelligence]. I was able to brief their entire staff. I gave them a leadership OPD. [Professional development class on leadership] and talked a lot about the way the world’s unfolding.
21 Jun 2013
Rex Tillerson is awarded the Russian Order of Friendship — one of its highest civilian honors — by Vladimir Putin.
23 Jun 2013
NSA leaker Edward Snowden flees the USA for Russia, at the suggestion of Julian Assange.
14 Aug 2013
Russia Today interviews Richard Spencer, the white nationalist who will go on to become a prominent Trump supporter.
11 Sep 2013
Vladimir Putin writes an op-ed published by the New York Times, asking the USA not to carry out airstrikes on Syria.
12 Sep 2013
Trump responds to Putin’s editorial in a CNBC interview:
I thought it was an amazingly well-written letter… I think [Putin] wants to become the world leader and right now he’s doing it… He’s making it look like he’s the professor and the President is a school child… This letter was brilliantly done from the standpoint of Russia.
28 Oct 2013
Boris Epshteyn moderates a panel of Russian government officials at the “Invest in Moscow!” conference.
09 Nov 2013
Trump holds the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, describing it as “A big deal that will bring our countries together!” Interviewed by MSNBC and asked about his relationship with Putin, Trump says “I do have a relationship, and I can tell you that he’s very interested in what we’re doing here today.” Putin cancels his attendance at the last minute, but sends Trump a gift and a warm personal note. Trump receives $14m from Russian investors including Aras Agalarov in return for his bringing the pageant to Moscow; Trump brags “Almost all of the oligarchs were in the room”. The story is repeated in Real Estate Weekly, with a photo. One guest at the pageant is VIP Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, still wanted by the FBI.
?? Nov 2013
During a deposition following lawsuits over the Trump SoHo project, Trump states that he barely knows Bayrock executives Arif and Sater. Of Sater, he says “If he were sitting in the room right now I really wouldn’t know what he looked like.” (See photo).
21 Feb 2014
Viktor Yanukovych unexpectedly pulls out of a proposed trade deal with the EU and instead signs an agreement surrendering power. He flees Ukraine, and Putin later reveals that he helped his ally escape. Yanukovych is found to have been living in a huge mansion featuring gold bathroom fixtures and a golf course.
24 Feb 2014
Russia claims that the new government of Ukraine is violating the rights of ethnic Russians.
03 Mar 2014
Forbes runs a profile of Victor Pinchuk, the Ukrainian oligarch who made his fortune selling seamless pipe technology to the Russian oil industry.
06 Mar 2014
Addressing CPAC, Trump mentions the nice gift Putin sent him a few months previously.
18 Mar 2014
Russia annexes Crimea from Ukraine.
21 Mar 2014
Trump tweets “I believe Putin will continue to re-build the Russian Empire. He has zero respect for Obama or the U.S.!”
13 Mar 2014
Dmytro Firtash, Ukrainian oligarch, is arrested in Vienna on an FBI warrant. He is a former business partner of Paul Manafort, thought to have ties to Russian organized crime, and he proceeds to fight extradition to the US.
17 Apr 2014
Trump tweets “America is at a great disadvantage. Putin is ex-KGB, Obama is a community organizer. Unfair.”
18 Apr 2014
Russia annexes Crimea.
19 Apr 2014
ExxonMobil announces that it will return to drill in the Arctic with Russian government oil company Rosneft as soon as sanctions are lifted.
28 Apr 2014
Trump tweets “Putin has shown the world what happens when America has weak leaders. Peace Through Strength!”
30 Apr 2014
Michael T Flynn is fired from the Defense Intelligence Agency.
27 May 2014
Trump attends a National Press Club dinner. He mentions Putin, saying “I was in Moscow recently and I spoke, indirectly and directly, with President Putin, who could not have been nicer, and we had a tremendous success.” Video of his comments is broadcast on C-SPAN. However, Trump will later deny ever having met Putin.
28 May 2014
ExxonMobil CEO Ray Tillerson insists that sanctions against Russia are not damaging his company’s business and are generally ineffective.
10 Jun 2014
ExxonMobil negotiates another deal with Russia, to explore for shale oil in Siberia and build a liquefied natural gas plant in Vladivostok.
29 Jul 2014
Senator Roger F. Wicker writes to Attorney General Eric Holder, asking the Department of Justice to investigate one Mikhail Y. Lesin. Lesin was Russia’s Minister of Communications and Mass Media from 1999 to 2004, helping Putin to create TV station Russia Today. He later served as director general of Russia’s largest media group Gazprom Media Holding — owned by Russian oil and gas company Gazprom — before moving to the USA. Senator Wicker believes that Lesin may be in breach of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and may be laundering money through expensive real estate deals.
04 Nov 2014
Trump announces Trump Baku, to be built in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan. The backers of the project are close relatives of Ziya Mammadov, one of the country’s wealthiest and most powerful oligarchs, described in the Wikileaks cables as “notoriously corrupt even for Azerbaijan”, and tied to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. The Guard Corps has been accused of money laundering, drug running and sponsoring terrorism. The hotel never opens, and Trump publicly abandons licensing deals in Azerbaijan in December 2016.
26 Nov 2014
A profile of Rudy Giuliani’s law firm mentions that one of his clients is Russian oil company Rosneft.
?? Dec 2014
Ukrainian prosecutors ask US authorities for help questioning Paul Manafort, concerning corruption charges.
?? Jan 2015
Matthew Parrott and Matthew Heimbach found the Traditionalist Workers Party, a white nationalist political party favoring racial separatism and the expulsion of Jews from the USA.
10 Feb 2015
Carter Page writes an article comparing the US’s unfair treatment of Russia to the civil rights movement. He decries “sanctimonious expressions of moral superiority” and argues that “…it has been the more recent resuscitation of old security archetypes by the Western powers that have created a new economic disaster in both Ukraine and Russia.”
23 Feb 2015
Rudy Giuliani is noted to be consulting for Qatar, having rejoined Giuliani Partners as chairman and CEO.
21 Mar 2015
Senator Jeff Sessions declares that the US and EU need to “unify and push back more firmly against Russian overreach.”
24 Mar 2015
Julian Assange is interviewed by an Argentinian newspaper. He accuses the US of having interfered in relations between Russia and Ukraine: “The U.S. has long been trying to draw Ukraine into the Western orbit, to pluck it out of Russia’s sphere of influence as a minimum if not to make it a NATO member.”
?? Apr 2015
DNC consultant Alexandra Chalupa begins researching Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, including his ties to Russia. The Yahoo security team sends a warning about her personal email account: “We strongly suspect that your account has been the target of state-sponsored actors.”
24 Jul 2015
RT again interviews Richard Spencer.
26 Jul 2015
Al Jazeera interviews Matthew Heimbach, who says:
Making connections with our Russian and European counterparts is what will eventually make us successful. Golden Dawn has stood on the same principles forever, and eventually the Greek people came around. And Russia’s our most powerful ally. […] Imagine what could happen to our party when Russia takes interest.”
30 Jul 2015
Interviewed in Scotland, Trump tells reporters:
I think I would get along very well with Vladimir Putin. I just think so. People say, ‘What do you mean?’ I think I would get along well with him. He hates Obama, Obama hates him. We have unbelievably bad relationships.
08 Aug 2015
Long-time Trump associate Roger Stone is officially fired from the Trump campaign.
21 Aug 2015
In an article about Wikileaks, it is mentioned that while in hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy, Julian Assange requested that he be allowed his own security team — made up of Russians.
07 Sep 2015
At the Commander in Chief Forum, Trump tells Matt Lauer that Putin has been a strong leader and that “If he says great things about me, I’m going to say great things about him.”
01 Oct 2015
Trump tells Bill O’Reilly: “I will tell you, in terms of leadership, [Putin]’s getting an ‘A,’ and our president is not doing so well.”
14 Oct 2015
When asked if he would hold Russia accountable for shooting down a commercial airliner over Ukraine in 2014, Trump disagrees with U.S. intelligence and insists there is not enough evidence to blame pro-Russian separatists. “No one really knows who did it.”
?? Oct 2015
Some time in the fall of 2015, Britain’s GCHQ ECHELON systems pick up material from Democratic party e-mails as it flows to Russia. They warn US intelligence services that the DNC’s e-mail systems have been hacked.
?? Oct 2015
Interviewed on the Michael Savage radio show, Trump is asked if he has met Vladimir Putin:
“Have you ever met Vladimir Putin?” Savage asks.
“Yes,” Trump answers, emphatically.
“You have?” Savage follows up.
“Yes, a long time ago. We got along great, by the way.”
5 Nov 2015
Mikhail Lesin is found dead in a Washington DC Hotel. RT reports the cause as “heart attack”, but the chief medical examiner attributes it to “blunt force injuries to his head”. Trauma is also noted to his neck, torso, arms, and legs. Lesin was in DC at the invitation of Pyotr Aven of Alfa Bank.
11 Nov 2015
At a GOP debate, when asked how he would combat Putin’s aggression in Syria, Trump says “If Putin wants to go and knock the hell out of ISIS, I am all for it – 100 percent.”
11 Dec 2015
Vladimir Putin celebrates the 10th anniversary of Russia Today (RT). Retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn attends the celebration, ostensibly to interview RT correspondent Sophie Shevardnadze. He sits next to Putin at dinner.
14 Dec 2015
The Center for the National Interest, formerly known as the Nixon Center for Peace and Freedom, publish a new document: “The United States and Russia after the Ukraine crisis: Three scenarios”. It advocates for normalizing friendly relations with Russia, complaining that US and European political leaders “…see greater stability in democracy than strong leaders and, in supporting democracy, undermine systems and individuals that Russian officials see as broadly friendly bulwarks against terrorism.”
17 Dec 2015
Putin praises Trump, saying “He’s a very lively man, talented without doubt. It’s not our job to judge his qualities, that’s a job for American voters, but he’s the absolute leader in the presidential race.” Trump returns Putin’s praise, saying “It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond.”
18 Dec 2015
After Putin comments positively about Trump, Richard Spencer is interviewed by Russia Today. He praises Putin and Trump:
Remember, Mitt Romney who wasn’t even the craziest of the conservative bunch said that our number one geopolitical adversary is Russia. That is ridiculous. Anyone who would say that is not looking at the world as it is; they are looking at the world through some 1980’s Cold War rosy glasses. Trump, I think, would really deepen the relations in a sense he wouldn’t treat Russia as the Soviet Union or as Nazi Germany or some rogue state.
18 Dec 2015
On MSNBC Morning Joe, Trump defends Putin from allegations that he has murdered journalists and political opponents.
?? ??? 2015
Some time in late 2015, the UK’s GCHQ becomes aware of suspicious interactions between people connected to Donald Trump, and known or suspected Russian agents. They alert US intelligence.
26 Jan 2016
Trump defends Putin again over the assassination of of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko in London, saying “Many people say it wasn’t him”.
01 Mar 2016
At a Trump rally in Louisville, a black protester is attacked and subjected to racist abuse by a bearded white man in a red “Make America Great Again” hat — who turns out to be Matthew Heimbach of the Traditionalist Workers Party, who writes that “White Americans are getting fed up and they’re learning that they must either push back or be pushed down.”
13 Mar 2016
The Independent reports that someone with Mikhail Lesin’s passport flew out of LA on 15 December 2015, some 40 days after Lesin was reported dead in a Washington DC hotel. (See 5 Nov 2015.) The New York Times later states:
A final notation of his departure in December was a clerical record closing out his travel record, a spokesman for the customs service said, not evidence he had departed the country, as was reported widely in Russia.
29 Mar 2016
Paul Manafort joins the Trump campaign as Chairman.
30 Mar 2016
Trump names Carter Page as one of his principal financial advisers. Page comments that his business has suffered as a result of the US sanctions against Russia. Bloomberg notes Page’s deals with Russian state energy company Gazprom, and his relationship with Victor Pinchuk, Ukrainian oligarch.
03 Apr 2016
The Guardian announces The Panama Papers, files leaked from offshore law firm Mossack Fonseca. The papers reveal that Putin has enriched himself and his associates by having the state-controlled Russian Commercial Bank give a billion dollar unsecured loan to an offshore entity.
05 Apr 2016
Wikileaks criticizes the Panama Papers leaks on Twitter: “#PanamaPapers Putin attack was produced by OCCRP which targets Russia & former USSR and was funded by USAID & Soros.”
05 Apr 2016
Trump, who says that he doesn’t settle lawsuits, quietly settles a lawsuit, refunding 90% of deposited funds. The New York Times comments:
The backdrop to that unusual denouement was a gathering legal storm that threatened to cast a harsh light on how he did business. Besides the fraud accusations, a separate lawsuit claimed that Trump SoHo was developed with the undisclosed involvement of convicted felons and financing from questionable sources in Russia and Kazakhstan.
08 Apr 2016
Trump picks Paul Manafort to be his campaign chairman.
08 Apr 2016
At a media forum in St Petersburg, Putin is asked about the Panama Papers. He says that he is not personally implicated at all, that there is no corruption, and that “We now know from WikiLeaks that officials and state agencies in the United States are behind all this.”
27 Apr 2016
Trump gives his first big foreign policy speech under the auspices of the Center for the National Interest.
06 May 2016
The leaker of the Panama Papers says that he attempted to provide the material to Wikileaks, but that they weren’t interested in covering the story.
31 May 2016
Ex-Ukraine leader Viktor Yanukovych is revealed to have spent around $1.4m per day in bribes during his brief time in office.
08 Jun 2016
Russian oil company Rosneft posts a 75% profit drop.
14 Jun 2016
Computer security firm CrowdStrike states that two groups of Russian hackers, working for the Russian government, have hacked systems belonging to the Democratic National Committee. It is announced that the hackers stole the entire database of opposition research on Donald Trump.
15 Jun 2016
Igor Sechin, head Rosneft, says that Russia is considering selling up to a fifth of the company to “strategic investors” — but that this is being hampered by US sanctions. Bloomberg comments that this would help Putin meet economic targets.
16 Jun 2016
Vice reports on suspicions from independent security researchers that the “Guccifer 2.0” hacker allegedly responsible for providing Wikileaks with the DNC emails is actually a sloppy attempt by Russian state-sponsored hackers to cover up their own involvement in the hack.
16 Jun 2016
Rex Tillerson of ExxonMobil attends an economic forum in St Petersburg, Russia. Igor Sechin is keynote speaker.
17 Jun 2016
At the St Petersburg forum, Putin announces that “We expect growth to resume already in the near future”.
18 Jul 2016
It emerges that during the Republican convention, the Trump campaign intervened to change the party policy on Ukraine and remove wording suggesting arming the nation to help it resist Russian advances.
20 Jul 2016
Trump states that in the event of a Russian attack on a NATO country, he would only back aid if the country in question had “fulfilled their obligations to us”.
22 Jul 2016
Wikileaks publishes around 20,000 e-mails stolen from the Democratic National Committee’s e-mail servers.
25 Jul 2016
Trump credits the DNC email hack to “China, Russia or one of our many, many ‘friends’”.
25 Jul 2016
Motherboard reviews the evidence linking Russia to the hack.
26 Jul 2016
CNN states that federal investigators tried to warn the DNC about their servers being hacked months before action was taken.
26 Jul 2016
Interviewed on Fox News, George Will says “Perhaps one more reason why we’re not seeing his [Trump’s] tax returns — because he is deeply involved in dealing with Russian oligarchs and others. Whether that’s good, bad or indifferent, it’s probably the reasonable surmise.”
26 Jul 2016
The “Guccifer 2.0” hacker responsible for the DNC hacks is revealed to be Russian after investigation by independent security firm ThreatConnect. He had previously claimed to be Romanian, but refused to speak the language.
27 Jul 2016
Donald Trump calls a press conference. In it, he says that he hopes Russian intelligence services have hacked Hillary Clinton’s e-mail. He also says “I never met Putin, I don’t know who Putin is.” He adds that he hopes to consider recognizing Crimea as Russian territory and lifting sanctions against Russia. It ends up being his last press conference of 2016.
29 Jul 2016
An article in The Spectator predicts:
…the signature Russian intelligence operation of the future, and indeed of the present, is not going to unfold in secret, but rather in public. It’s not going to involve stolen documents, but rather disinformation operations designed to influence democratic elections. It’s not going to use cash, but rather open support for candidates who will weaken Nato and the European Union, the two organisations which pose the greatest threat to President Vladimir Putin’s personal power.
How do I know this? Because this kind of operation has already taken place in several European countries, as I described in this magazine back in 2015: the use of secret tapes and hacked email in Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine; bank loans for Marine le Pen in France; even loud Russian media support for Brexit.
31 Jul 2016
Interviewed on ABC and asked again about his relationship with Putin, Trump says “I have no relationship with him.” Asked about the changes to the Republican platform position on Ukraine, he confirms that his people were involved in softening it. On the same day, Paul Manafort denies Trump campaign involvement.
31 Jul 2016
Senator Jeff Sessions suddenly U-turns and backs Trump’s policies on Russia, saying that we must “end this cycle of hostility” and have a “more peaceful, effective relationship with Russia”.
01 Aug 2016
Trump says that the people of Crimea want to be part of Russia, but that he will prevent Putin from attacking Ukraine.
05 Aug 2016
Roger Stone writes an article on Breitbart stating that the DNC hack was carried out by a hacker named “Guccifer 2.0”, and was nothing to do with Russia.
08 Aug 2016
Roger Stone reveals that he has been in contact with Julian Assange.
14 Aug 2016
Soviet-born Trump spokesman Boris Epshteyn appears on Fox News and says that attempt to link Trump with Russian business interests are ridiculous. His own work as a consultant for Russian business interests is not mentioned.
14 Aug 2016
Ledgers are found in Ukraine which show previously undisclosed cash payments totalling $12.7 million between 2007 and 2012, from the pro-Russian political party of Viktor Yanukovych to Donald Trump’s campaign head Paul Manafort.
17 Aug 2016
Trump is briefed by US intelligence officials, and told that Russian hackers are behind the DNC hacks and e-mail leaks.
19 Aug 2016
Paul Manafort steps down as head of the Trump campaign. Later the same day, he creates a shell company which receives $13 million in loans from two businesses with ties to Trump.
21 Aug 2016
Roger Stone tweets “Trust me, it will soon the Podesta’s time in the barrel. #CrookedHillary”
26 Aug 2016
Felix Sater is reported to have visited Trump Tower for undisclosed reasons, and to have donated the maximum allowable contribution to the Trump presidential campaign. Sater refuses to say whether he met with the Trump family, saying “I don’t see the relevance of that”.
31 Aug 2016
In an interview, Julian Assange accuses Hillary Clinton of “whipping up a neo-McCarthyist hysteria about Russia”.
05 Sep 2016
Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin meet at the G20 summit. Obama tells Putin that sanctions will continue unless there is a cease-fire with Ukraine. The Kremlin responds that the US position is not consistent with talks over possible cooperation between Russia and the United States in other areas.
07 Sep 2016
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says that Russians are trying to hack US networks “all the time”, but avoids a definitive statement on whether they were responsible for the DNC hack.
07 Sep 2016
During the Commander in Chief Forum in Manhattan, Trump states that Putin is a better leader than Obama, and says:
Russia wants to defeat ISIS as badly as we do. If we had a relationship with Russia wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could work on it together and knock the hell out of ISIS?
08 Sep 2016
Jeff Sessions, while acting as one of Trump’s foreign policy advisers, meets with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
08 Sep 2016
Mike Pence says he agrees that Putin is a stronger leader than Obama.
08 Sep 2016
Tass reports “Moscow expects Washington to display political will on building good relations with Russia after the presidential elections, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday.”
08 Sep 2016
Trump is interviewed by Russia Today, and asked if he thinks Russia is trying to influence the election. He says:
I think it’s probably unlikely. Maybe the Democrats are putting that out – who knows?
14 Sep 2016
A hacker believed to be associated with the Russian government releases a new batch of documents stolen from the Democratic National Committee’s computer system.
14 Sep 2016
Handwritten ledgers are uncovered in Ukraine which detail payments of $12.7m in cash from Yanukovych’s pro-Russian political party to Paul Manafort between 2007 and 2012. Manafort responds “I have never received a single ‘off-the-books cash payment’ as falsely ‘reported’ by The New York Times.”
14 Sep 2016
Buzzfeed News obtains e-mails which were originally sent by Colin Powell to his son. They comment on why Michael T. Flynn was fired from DIA in 2014:
“Flynn got fired as head of DIA. His replacement is a black Marine 3-star. I asked why Flynn got fired. Abusive with staff, didn’t listen, worked against policy, bad management, etc. He has been and was right-wing nutty every [sic] since.”
?? Sep 2016
Intelligence agencies brief the “gang of twelve”, a group including House and Senate leaders and members of both chambers’ committees on intelligence and homeland security. They lay out the evidence they have that Russia has hacked elector databases in two states and is responsible for the DNC e-mail hacks. Mitch McConnell blocks a public announcement, saying that he will consider any public statement to be partisan politics.
18 Sep 2016
NBC interviews an Internet security expert from RSA, and names some of the Russian hacking teams behind the DNC and Colin Powell e-mail hacks.
19 Sep 2016
Paul Manafort resigns his position with the Trump campaign.
23 Sep 2016
Trump spokesman Jason Miller states of Carter Page: “He’s never met Trump, never briefed him.”
25 Sep 2016
Carter Page says that accusations against him are “complete garbage” and that he did not meet with any Russian oil industry contacts during his trips to Moscow earlier in the year, adding that he has sold his shares in Gazprom. Trump campaign spokesperson Kellyanne Conway states that Carter Page is no longer associated with the Trump campaign.
30 Sep 2016
The Chicago Tribune reveals that hackers have targeted voter databases in more than 20 states.
02 Oct 2016
Roger Stone tweets “Wednesday@HillaryClinton is done. #Wikileaks.”
04 Oct 2016
Guccifer 2.0 claims to have hacked the Clinton Foundation, and dumps another 800MB of stolen data. Metadata analysis and data checks soon confirm that the stolen data is not from the Clinton Foundation, but is in fact previously withheld data from the DNC hack.
07 Oct 2016
All 17 US intelligence agencies release a joint statement. In it, they state:
The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations. The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts.
07 Oct 2016
Congressional lobbying disclosures reveal that Trump advisor Richard Burt received $365,000 for lobbying for a Gazprom pipeline, at the same time he said he was helping to draft Trump’s first foreign policy speech.
07 Oct 2016
Wikileaks begin releasing e-mail messages stolen from the account of John Podesta.
09 Oct 2016
During the Presidential debates, Trump says “[Hillary Clinton] doesn’t know if it’s the Russians doing the hacking. Maybe there is no hacking… I know nothing about Russia”. Hillary Clinton says “Believe me, they’re not doing it to get me elected. They’re doing it to influence the election for Donald Trump.”
12 Oct 2016
Roger Stone responds to claims that he knew the Podesta e-mails were going to be released by Wikileaks, describing it as a vile smear.
13 Oct 2016
Carter Page publishes an op-ed in the Russian government news agency Sputnik, in which he complains that the US shows a “a complete disregard for Russia’s interests”.
14 Oct 2016
ExxonMobil is reported to have lost $1 billion due to sanctions against Russia.
14 Oct 2016
A security researcher publishes a compilation of evidence Russia was behind the DNC hacks.
20 Oct 2016
Esquire publishes a detailed article about the DNC email hack.
21 Oct 2016
Private security experts at Dell SecureWorks announce that they believe Russia was behind the leaking of the Podesta e-mails. They describe how Podesta was spear-phished by a fake Google login page hidden behind the Bitly URL shortener, via a Bitly account known to belong to a Russian hacker.
26 Oct 2016
The Observer lists the evidence tying Russia to the hacks.
27 Oct 2016
Nadya Tolokno of Pussy Riot is interviewed and talks about her meeting with Julian Assange in 2014:
I understood his position: he’s in a state of war with the American government. He’s smart and charismatic and will use any means to destroy the American government. And we had a conversation if it was really the ethical thing to do that with the hands of another government [Russia] which is, in fact, much worse and a real authoritarian government. […] On the next day after I visited the Ecuadorian Embassy, the head of Russia’s biggest propaganda network, Russia Today, the editor-in-chief came to him and they had a project together. He often works with the Russia propaganda machine, and doesn’t try to hide it. Julian Assange doesn’t try to hide that fact because he hosts at the Ecuadorian Embassy the editor-in-chief of the Russian propaganda team, Russia Today, and has projects with them.
28 Oct 2016
Ukrainian hackers release e-mails from a senior Kremlin official, showing that the Kremlin was involved in the rebel uprising in eastern Ukraine in 2014.
28 Oct 2016
FBI director James Comey releases a statement saying that additional e-mails pertinent to the Clinton investigation have been found.
28 Oct 2016
US authorities conclude that Mikhail Lesin’s death on 5 Nov 2015 was due to a drunken fall after “days of excessive consumption of alcohol”.
30 Oct 2016
DOJ officials comment that they opposed the public statement, and that it is contrary to FBI practice.
30 Oct 2016
Senator Harry Reid writes to FBI director Comey, saying “In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become dear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordinatlon between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government”.
31 Oct 2016
The FBI states that it has found no clear link between Russia and the Trump campaign.
31 Oct 2016
Mother Jones magazine obtains a copy of a report to the FBI from a former intelligence officer. It states that “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.”
31 Oct 2016
Slate publishes a story about an e-mail server belonging to the Trump Organization which only appears to communicate with Alfa Bank.
02 Nov 2016
Michael Flynn is interviewed on MSNBC, and says that “We cannot make Russia an enemy”.
03 Nov 2016
Wikileaks alleges that Hillary Clinton sold political favors to Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk.
03 Nov 2016
In the New York Daily News, Kenneth F McCallion writes:
How did it come about that Trump Organization projects came to be financed with dirty money originating with international financial criminals from Russian, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, the former Soviet Republic of Georgia and other Eastern European and Central Asian sources?
The answer is simple: It had no choice, if it wanted to survive. After four business bankruptcies, nearly all the legitimate U.S. banks realized that any further loans to Trump would be reckless. The Trump business empire was on the verge of collapse. Salvation was found in Russian money of questionable origin.
05 Nov 2016
Julian Assange holds an exclusive pre-election interview on Russia Today. He claims that Saudi Arabia and Qatar were funding ISIS, and that Hillary Clinton knew but did nothing.
06 Nov 2016
FBI director James Comey abruptly releases a statement saying that the new e-mails announced on 2016-10-28 are irrelevant and do not change their conclusions regarding Clinton’s handling of classified e-mails.
07 Nov 2016
Russia signs a decree committing to sell 19.5% of Rosneft by December 5th, so that proceeds can be received by the end of the year.
08 Nov 2016
A Russian man named Sergei Krivov is found dead on the floor of the Russian consolate.
08 Nov 2016
US election day. Donald Trump wins the Electoral College vote. Russian Trump supporters watch in Moscow at a party decorated with a 10 foot triptych featuring Trump and Putin.
09 Nov 2016
Some time after the election, the US agency charged with voting machine security is breached by a Russian hacker. This is not revealed until 16 Dec 2016.
13 Nov 2016
Alexandr Dugin, Stalinist political scientist close to Putin, writes on Facebook “Так. Вашингтон наш. Кишинев наш. София наша. Осталось высушить болото в самой России”. Translated: “So. Washington is ours. Chișinău (Moldova) is ours. Sofia is ours. Now we just have to drain the swamp at home.”
16 Nov 2016
A billboard appears in Danilovgrad, Montenegro, showing Putin and Trump with the caption “Let’s make the world great again — together!”
18 Nov 2016
Trump picks Michael T. Flynn for National Security Advisor, and Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General.
21 Nov 2016
Richard Spencer holds a meeting of white nationalists to celebrate Trump’s victory. They chant “Hail Trump!” and perform Nazi salutes.
23 Nov 2016
The New Yorker reveals that Michael T Flynn had technicians install a secret Internet connection to his Pentagon office, even though it was forbidden.
30 Nov 2016
Paul Manafort is reported to be advising Trump again.
30 Nov 2016
Trump picks Wilbur Ross to be Commerce Secretary. Ross is a business partner of Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian billionaire oligarch who is a friend of Putin, and Vladimir Strzhalkovskiy, a former KGB official and friend of Putin.
03 Dec 2016
Viktor Nazarov, the governor of Omsk, Russia, declares that “It turns out that United Russia won the elections in America”.
07 Dec 2016
Russia sells a 19.5% stake in state-owned oil and gas company Rosneft. The buyers are secretive investment fund Glencore, who are based in Switzerland and known for dealings with “rogue states”.
08 Dec 2016
Carter Page visits Moscow, saying only that he will be meeting with “business leaders and thought leaders”.
10 Dec 2016
A CIA document leaked to the New York Times concludes that hackers associated with the Russian government were responsible for leaking the DNC’s emails via Wikileaks. The CIA concludes: “It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favour one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected.” A separate CIA report, also reported in the NYT, states that Russia is believed to have e-mails from the Republican National Committee, but is choosing to keep them secret for now. The RNC denies this. The NYT also reports that the CIA and NSA have identified specific GRU (Russian Military Intelligence) individuals responsible for overseeing the hacking efforts.
10 Dec 2016
The Washington Post reports on a House Intelligence Committee meeting to discuss the CIA document. The FBI are reported to be refusing to link Russia to the hacks on the grounds that they only comment on legally actionable evidence which meets courtroom standards beyond all reasonable doubt.
11 Dec 2016
The Trump transition team issues a brief statement. It suggests that CIA intel said Saddam Hussein had WMDs (it didn’t, that was a Bush administration lie as you can check by reading the full CIA report), fails to deny any of the CIA’s assertions, and then casually lies about Trump’s electoral college victory:
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.’
12 Dec 2016
At a lecture in Moscow, Carter Page announces that Rex Tillerson is to be Secretary of State. This information has not been announced in the US yet. Page continues to state that he is not involved in the Trump transition.
13 Dec 2016
The New York Times reports that Democratic candidates downticket of Hillary Clinton were also targeted by Russian hacking and leaking of documents.
15 Dec 2016
US intelligence officials state that they now believe with “a high level of confidence” that Putin was personally involved by the covert Russian campaign to interfere in the US elections. The White House formally concurs.
15 Dec 2016
Interviewed by Sean Hannity, Julian Assange admits that some of the leaked DNC documents may have been from Russia:
“Now, who is behind these, we don’t know,” he said. “These look very much like they’re from the Russians. But in some ways, they look very amateur, and almost look too much like the Russians.”
15 Dec 2016
A Russian hacker is identified as having hacked systems of the US Election Assistance Commission, responsible for testing and certifying voting equipment.
16 Dec 2016
Hillary Clinton says that Putin, like Julian Assange, had a personal beef against her.
16 Dec 2016
The FBI joins the CIA in concluding that Russia intervened in the US election in order to help get Donald Trump elected.
18 Dec 2016
A leak reveals that Rex Tillerson, Trump’s choice for Secretary of State, was director of a US-Russian oil firm notionally located in the Bahamas.
20 Dec 2016
Trump administration National Security Adviser Michael T Flynn meets with Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of Austria’s “Freedom Party” which was founded in the 1950s by a former Nazi and SS officer. Shortly afterwards, the “Freedom Party” signs a cooperation agreement with Vladimir Putin.
20 Dec 2016
A DoD memo is obtained listing Trump’s defense priorities. It doesn’t mention Russia, even though senior military officials believe Russia to be the biggest threat to the US.
22 Dec 2016
Security firm CloudStrike links malware used in the DNC hack to malware used against the Ukrainian army in its battle against pro-Russian separatists, providing more evidence that Russia was behind the DNC hacks.
26 Dec 2016
A top exec of Rosneft is found dead of unknown causes in the back of a company Lexus.
28 Dec 2016
Carter Page writes a letter to John McCain, reported by Sputnik, warning him that attempting to set up a government panel to investigate Russia’s actions during the election will result in further national security threats.
29 Dec 2016
The Obama administration expels 35 Russian operatives from the USA, and announces sanctions on two Russian intelligence agencies. Trump nominee Michael T. Flynn telephones the Russian ambassador five times, for undisclosed reasons.
30 Dec 2016
The Department of Homeland Security and FBI publish a joint report on the Russian hacking.
05 Jan 2017
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, NSA Cyber Command Director Rogers and the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence issue a memo which states:
We assess that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized the recent election-focused data thefts and disclosures, based on the scope and sensitivity of the targets. Russia also has used cyber tactics and techniques to seek to influence public opinion across Europe and Eurasia.
05 Jan 2017
U.S. intelligence agencies obtained what they considered to be conclusive evidence after the November election that Russia provided hacked material from the Democratic National Committee to WikiLeaks through a third party, three U.S. officials said on Wednesday.
06 Jan 2017
The US Intelligence Community releases a declassified version of its report into the Russian hacking. The report says that the US has identified the individuals who passed information from Russia to Wikileaks, even though Julian Assange continues to insist that the e-mails did not come from Russia.
06 Jan 2017
The New York Times updates its report on the apparent trail of the hacked emails, based on the information in the declassified intelligence report. It states that the GRU created a hacker persona “Guccifer 2.0”, which passed the emails to Wikileaks.
10 Jan 2017
The Guardian reports that the FBI requested a FISA warrant during summer 2016, so that they could monitor four members of the Trump team, but that the court turned down the application. It’s possible that they got a warrant in October but the source for that is less reliable.
Note that the FISA court’s historical rejection rate is 12 rejected requests out of 38,365, with 0 requests out of 1,457 being rejected in 2015. On 10 Jan 2017 I guessed the four suspect individuals were Paul Manafort, Carter Page, Richard Burt and Rick Gates. On 14 Feb 2017, the NYT revealed that they were Paul Manafort, Carter Page, Roger Stone and Michael Flynn.
10 Jan 2017
Buzzfeed publishes a compilation of documents “prepared for political opponents of Trump by a person who is understood to be a former British intelligence agent” who worked for MI-6. The full document is made available with only minimal redaction. (You can read my OCR of the text.)
10 Jan 2017
The FBI confirms that the Republican Party was also hacked, but that none of the material stolen from them has surfaced.
11 Jan 2017
Trump takes his first press conference in 6 months. He reveals that he is taking advice on business divestment from Morgan, Lewis and Bockius, who were named Russia Law Firm of the Year 2016. For the first time he concedes that Russia was behind the hacking. He also makes curious comments about hotel security:
And I always tell them — anywhere, but I always tell them if I’m leaving this country, “Be very careful, because in your hotel rooms and no matter where you go, you’re gonna probably have cameras.” I’m not referring just to Russia, but I would certainly put them in that category. […] I was in Russia years ago, with the Miss Universe contest, which did very well — Moscow, the Moscow area did very, very well. And I told many people, “Be careful, because you don’t wanna see yourself on television. Cameras all over the place.”
11 Jan 2017
The Kremlin dismisses the leaked documents as “a total fake”, stating that it “does not engage in compromising material”. The media point out counterexamples, such as the 1999 Yuri Skuratov case.
11 Jan 2017
BBC correspondent Paul Wood states that the leaked documents are not the only source for the US intelligence community dossier on Trump.
11 Jan 2017
Trump supporters on 4chan begin a disinformation campaign, spreading fake copies of the leaked documents with additional obviously fake claims, and posting screenshots to make it look as if they made up the claims in the documents.
11 Jan 2017
The UAE arranges a meeting between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a Russian close to Putin, in an attempt to set up a back channel from the Kremlin to Trump.
12 Jan 2017
The author of the report is identified, and his credibility discussed.
14 Jan 2017
Trump is interviewed by the Wall Street Journal.
In excerpts from an hourlong interview published by the Journal on Friday, Trump said: “If you get along and if Russia is really helping us, why would anybody have sanctions if somebody’s doing some really great things?”
15 Jan 2017
Interviewed on CBS, Mike Pence states:
I talked to General Flynn about that conversation and actually was initiated on Christmas Day he had sent a text to the Russian ambassador to express not only Christmas wishes but sympathy for the loss of life in the airplane crash that took place. It was strictly coincidental that they had a conversation. They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia.
17 Jan 2017
Putin holds a news conference, and “defends” Trump:
It is true that when (Trump) came to Moscow – I don’t remember when, a few years ago – he was not a political actor. We did not know about his political ambitions. He was just a businessman, one of the rich people of America. What do you think – we have special security services running after every American billionaire? Of course not. It is complete rubbish […] Did Trump really come and meet with Moscow prostitutes? Firstly he is an adult, and secondly he is a person who for many years has organized a beauty pageant, socialized with the most beautiful women in the world. It is hard to believe that he ran to a hotel to meet with our girls of a low social class, although they are the best in the world.
18 Jan 2017
News breaks that the FBI, CIA, NSA, Justice Department, Treasury Department Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and Office of the Director of National Intelligence have been collaborating for months on an inquiry into Russia’s influence over Donald Trump and the election. Noted in the article:
One of the allegations involves whether a system for routinely paying thousands of Russian-American pensioners may have been used to pay some email hackers in the United States or to supply money to intermediaries who would then pay the hackers, the two sources said.
Note that this corresponds directly to one of the claims from the leaked Orbis intelligence documents:
• 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
19 Jan 2017
The NYT confirms that intelligence agencies have intercepted communications and financial transactions as part of their investigation into Trump and his associates, implying that they did obtain a FISA warrant in October. (See 10 Jan 2017 entry.)
19 Jan 2017
Congressman Elijah Cummings comments on why many members of Congress are skipping the inauguration:
You’ve got to understand that members of Congress have a lot of information that the public does not have, and I can tell you over the last week or two, the classified briefings that I have been to, and if the public knew what members of Congress know…
20 Jan 2017
At a black tie dinner in Washington DC, Trump comments to donors “next time we’re going to win the old-fashioned way.” Further explanation of what he means is not forthcoming.
20 Jan 2017
Russian politician Ernest Makarenko tweets (in Russian) “That’s it! Trump is President! The US is ours!”
24 Jan 2017
A new web site called factcheck.net claims that the Orbis documents are filled with falsehoods. The site is quickly revealed to be the work of an American living and working in Moscow, who previously posted an article in Foreign Policy repeating Kremlin talking points claiming that Hillary Clinton wanted to start a war with Russia.
26 Jan 2017
Ivanka Trump’s web site begins promoting a mobile phone app created by a Russian company which has received investment from the Russian government. The app tracks users’ plane flights through the air — and also continues to track users once they have landed, regardless of whether they close the app.
27 Jan 2017
Two Russian FSB agents are reported to have been arrested on charges of treason, along with the head of Kaspersky’s investigation unit. The NYT reports on a Russian newspaper report that the arrests are linked to hacking during the US Presidential election. The precise dates of the arrests are unknown, but the victims last logged into social media on December 4th-5th. Their names are subsequently revealed to be Sergei Mikhailov and Major Dmitry Dokuchaev. Another man named Ruslan Stoyanov is also arrested. A month later, Reuters reports that the arrests have nothing to do with the election hacking, and concerned allegations from 7 years earlier.
28 Jan 2017
During the press furor over the Muslim immigration ban, Trump quietly removes the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from the National Security Council, replacing them with white nationalist Steve Bannon of Breitbart. This means that the military and the broader US intelligence community will no longer attend national security meetings unless specifically invited.
28 Jan 2017
Trump has a telephone call with Putin. No transcript is made available.
29 Jan 2017
Russian-aligned forces step up rocket attacks on Ukraine.
31 Jan 2017
Moscow Times confirms that the two FSB agents arrested for treason are accused of passing information to the US CIA, and that two other people have also been arrested.
02 Feb 2017
The US eases sanctions on the FSB, the Russian intelligence agency behind the 2016 election hacking. The Treasury Department suggests that the change is a fix to allow US companies to export software and computing devices to Russia. Tass says that it’s actually about the US joining with Russia in an anti-terrorist coalition.
02 Feb 2017
Trump is scheduled to meet Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of the Bank of Russia and a close ally of Putin. At the last minute the White House cancels the meeting when a National Security Council staffer mentions Torshin’s alleged links to Russian organized crime. Torshin is also reported to be an enthusiastic life member of the NRA since 2013. Along with his “protegé” and conservative journal contributor Maria Butina, he has founded a Russian version of the NRA called The Right to Bear Arms.
03 Feb 2017
Senator Ron Wyden of the Senate Intelligence Committee comments:
Let’s put it this way. There is a big gap between what the public had a right to know and what came out. And that continues to be true to this day.
09 Feb 2017
Michael Flynn admits that he discussed US sanctions against Russia when he called Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, after officials who listened in on the call confirm the fact. The New York Times summarizes:
Throughout the discussions, the message Mr. Flynn conveyed to the ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak — that the Obama administration was Moscow’s adversary and that relations with Russia would change under Mr. Trump — was unambiguous and highly inappropriate, the officials said.
10 Feb 2017
CNN reports that US intelligence operatives have confirmed some of the details from the Orbis dossier — specifically, some of the conversations between Russians:
… the intercepts do confirm that some of the conversations described in the dossier took place between the same individuals on the same days and from the same locations as detailed in the dossier, according to the officials.
12 Feb 2017
The Observer quotes a Pentagon staffer:
What’s going on was explained lucidly by a senior Pentagon intelligence official, who stated that “since January 20, we’ve assumed that the Kremlin has ears inside the SITROOM,” meaning the White House Situation Room, the 5,500 square-foot conference room in the West Wing where the president and his top staffers get intelligence briefings. “There’s not much the Russians don’t know at this point,” the official added in wry frustration.
13 Feb 2017
The Washington Post reveals that before she was fired, Attorney General Sally Yates warned the Trump administration that Michael Flynn had lied about the content of his phone calls to Russia, and that he might be subject to Russian blackmail, with James Clapper (Director of National Intelligence) and John Brennan (CIA director) in agreement.
14 Feb 2017
Michael Flynn resigns or is fired, in spite of Russian lawmakers mounting a vigorous defense of his position. (The Trump administration claims Flynn was fired, but the initial announcement says he resigned. I don’t trust either party to tell the truth, so I’m not going to take a position on it unless I see some paperwork.)
16 Feb 2017
Having checked records, the Pentagon discovers that Michael Flynn was never approved to make a paid trip to celebrate Russia Today in Moscow. As a retired military officer, he was legally required to at least file paperwork reporting the income, but did not do so.
19 Feb 2017
Reince Priebus violates DoJ rules and contacts the FBI about the ongoing investigation of Trump administration contact with Russia. He asks James Comey to make a statement saying that a 14 Feb NYT article is false, but Comey refuses. The White House then turns to two anonymous officials to make a statement saying that Trump’s contact with Russia was inconsequential. Priebus appears on Fox News, and says that allegations of contact with Russia were “not only grossly overstated, but also wrong.”
19 Feb 2017
The NYT reports that a week before Flynn was fired, Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen hand-delivered a proposal for a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine. The proposal was apparently being pushed by Felix Sater, Ukrainian politician Andrii V. Artemenko — and Paul Manafort, who is now acting as Artemenko’s adviser. Later in the day, Cohen denies that he hand-delivered the message, and says that even if he had delivered it, which he didn’t, there’s nothing wrong with that.
20 Feb 2017
Russia’s envoy to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, dies suddenly and unexpectedly in New York, one day before his 65th birthday. Churkin was one of the two men who invited Trump to visit Russia in 1986. (See also 07 Oct 2016.)
21 Feb 2017
Cohen tells Business Insider that he has no idea what is in the plan that he didn’t hand-deliver to Flynn.
21 Feb 2017
NYC’s medical examiner says that the death of Vitaly Churkin needs further examination.
23 Feb 2017
Ukrainian politician Andrii Artemenko states that he discussed a pro-Russia peace plan for Ukraine with Michael Cohen and Felix Sater, with the understanding that Cohen would present the plan to Michael Flynn.
23 Feb 2017
Russian/Ukrainian citizen Konstantin Kilimnik states that he was in contact with Paul Manafort every couple of months during the 2016 election. There is speculation that Kilimnik may still have ties to Russian military intelligence.
23 Feb 2017
Stolen text messages are released which suggest that Paul Manafort was the subject of attempted blackmail by a Serhiy Leshchenko. The blackmail message mentions that Donald Trump met with a Yanukovych associate named Serhiy Tulub. Manafort confirms the text messages, but says that he did not broker a meeting between Trump and Tulub, and was not working for Trump in 2012.
24 Feb 2017
Rudy Giuliani takes a trip to Turkey to meet with Turkish President Erdogan and plead for a diplomatic solution to the case of Reza Zarrab.
24 Feb 2017
The White House is revealed to have contacted lawmakers including Rep Devin Nunes and persuaded them to attempt to challenge the idea of links between the Trump campaign and Russia.
01 Mar 2017
The Washington Post reports information from Justice Department officials that Jeff Sessions spoke twice with Russia’s ambassador to the US during the 2016 elections. However, when asked at his confirmation hearings, he said “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.”
01 Mar 2017
The medical examiner contradicts earlier reports that Sergei Krivov died from blunt force trauma to the head, stating that there is no evidence of head injury.
02 Mar 2017
Jeff Sessions recuses himself from investigating the Trump campaign’s links to Russia.
02 Mar 2017
The White House pre-emptively reveals that Michael Flynn and Jared Kushner met Russian ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak at Trump Tower in December to “establish a line of communication”. Meanwhile, J.D. Gordon and Carter Page are revealed to have met Kislyak at the GOP Convention in July 2016, when the Republican party’s policy on Ukraine was changed at the request of the Trump team.
03 Mar 2017
Roger Stone says that actually, he never communicated directly with Julian Assange.
07 Mar 2017
Wikileaks announces a dump of hacking tools allegedly taken from the CIA. Russia Today promptly states that this means the CIA can falsely attribute attacks to other organizations. The Intercept says not so fast…
09 Mar 2017
The Smoking Gun reveals that Roger Stone was in private contact with “Guccifer 2.0”, the hacker who the intelligence community have identified as a member of Russia’s GRU. (It’s therefore possible that “Guccifer 2.0” is the intermediate Stone used to communicate with Julian Assange.) Stone admits it but says the conversations were inconsequential.
09 Mar 2017
Michael Flynn retroactively files paperwork stating that he lobbied on behalf of a foreign power during the election campaign. Specifically, he states that he received $530,000 from the Turkish government for lobbying, including an op-ed article published on election day. (See editor’s note at bottom of op-ed!)
10 Mar 2017
The State Department instructs the New York chief medical examiner not to reveal Vitaly Churkin’s cause of death after Russian officials complain about recent public comments.
11 Mar 2017
The White House acknowledges that OK, yes, they did know that Flynn was a foreign agent when they made him head of national security.
14 Mar 2017
Roger Stone admits he contacted Russian hacker ‘Guccifer 2.0’ at least 16 times during the election campaign, describing his activities as “networking”.
16 Mar 2017
The WSJ reports that Michael Flynn worked for several other Russian companies before being picked as Trump’s adviser — even though he was supposedly maintaining a US top-secret level security clearance at the time.
17 Mar 2017
Reuters traces 63 Russians who have bought at least $98.4 million of Trump real estate.
20 Mar 2017
Emin Agalarov boasts that he continues to have ties to Trump, including post-election meetings.
20 Mar 2017
New documents are released showing that Paul Manafort was involved in laundering $750,000 from Yanukovich’s Ukrainian “Party of Regions”, via a company in Belize. Manafort insists that the ledgers are a forgery.
20 Mar 2017
FBI director Comey states that the bureau has been investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia since July 2016, and that the investigation is ongoing.
21 Mar 2017
Deutsche Bank, which loaned $300m to Trump, is revealed to have played a prominent role in a money laundering scam run by Russian criminals with ties to the Kremlin.
23 Mar 2017
US officials reveal that the FBI has information suggesting that the Trump campaign may have coordinated the release by Russian operatives of information damaging to Hillary Clinton.
23 Mar 2017
The Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network is revealed to be investigating Manafort’s use of Bank of Cyprus to obfuscate millions of dollars of financial transactions which could be part of an Eastern European money laundering scheme.
27 Mar 2017
Senate investigators announce that they will be questioning Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner. Kushner reportedly met with Russian ambassador Kislyak during the transition, along with Michael Flynn. Kushner subsequently met with the head of Russia’s state-owned Vnesheconombank, which is on the US sanctions list. In 2016 Preet Bharara prosecuted and had deported a supposed banker from Vnesheconombank who was in fact a spy working for Russian intelligence.
30 Mar 2017
The BBC reports that Russian diplomat Mikhail Kalugin was determined by the FBI to be a spy — confirming another detail from the Orbis dossier.
01 Apr 2017
The NYT obtains a financial disclosure form relating to Michael Flynn’s accepting a White House job, and discovers that he omitted mentioning payments from Russia Today during the 2016 election campaign.
13 Apr 2017
AP finds financial records confirming that Paul Manafort received at least $1.2 million in off-the-books payments from a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine. (Previously Manafort had claimed that the Ukrainian ledgers were fake; see 14 Sep 2016.) Manafort’s lawyers are revealed to have been discussing his work with federal authorities, and he is said to be expected to retroactively register as a foreign agent.
10 May 2017
Trump meets with Sergei Kislyak and Russian foreign minister Sergey V Lavrov. No US press are allowed, but the Russian state-owned news agency Tass is invited into the Oval Office to take photographs. The meeting was at Putin’s insistence. The White House subsequently claims that they were tricked.
15 May 2017
Trump is reported to have disclosed classified intelligence material to the Russians during their visit. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster dismisses the story as false. Russia also [denies the report]().
16 May 2017
Trump says on Twitter that he did share information with the Russians. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster makes a second statement saying that yes, Trump did disclose information, but it was “wholly appropriate” for him to do so.
16 May 2017
CNN reveals that they were asked to keep the information Trump disclosed a secret earlier in the year, because it could tip off adversaries. The intel source turns out to be Israel, who presumably did not give permission for the information to be shared with Russia. Officials say that a spy embedded inside ISIS is now at risk.
16 May 2017
The NYT reveals that Trump asked Comey to shut down the investigation into Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia.
17 May 2017
The Wall Street Journal reports that a Russian state-owned bank, whose CEO met with Jared Kushner in December, helped to finance the construction of the Trump Tower in Toronto. The December meetings were reportedly arranged by Kislyak.
17 May 2017
Sheriff David Clarke accepts a job as assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security. Clarke received around $20,000 to cover his 2015 trip to Russia to speak at an event organized by “The Right to Bear Arms”, the organization founded by Alexander Torshin (see 2 Feb 2017).