Episode 13: Russia Investigation Part 2 - From the Election of Donald Trump to the Appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller

In the second part of their series on the Russia Investigation, Dylan and Brent cover the events between Donald Trump's inauguration to Robert Mueller's appointment as special counsel to investigate Russian collusion with Trump's campaign to interfere in the 2016 election. How many times will Comey tell Trump he is not under investigation? Will we ever find out what "that thing" is? You'll have to listen to find out!

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NOVEMBER 2016

Post-Election Hijinks

November 8, 2016

Trump wins presidential election.

Flynn posts a pro-Turkey op-ed the day Trump is elected.

November 10, 2016

Trump is invited to the White House. Obama reportedly warns Trump against hiring Michael Flynn.

November 11, 2016

Devin Nunes, House Intelligence Committee Chair named to Trump’s transition team.

November 18, 2016

Trump names Michael Flynn as national security advisor.

November 18, 2016

Trump picks Jeff Sessions as Attorney General.

November 15, 2016

NSA director Admiral Michael S. Rogers states that the email leak to WikiLeaks was

A conscious effort by a nation-state to attempt to achieve a specific effect.

November 28, 2016

Time Magazine names Trump “person of the year”. In the interview Trump expresses further his disbelief in the U.S. intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Russia was responsible for the hacks. He says,

It could be Russia. And it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey.

DECEMBER 2016

Still Colluding After All These Years

December 1, 2016

Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Michael Flynn meet with the Russian ambassador Kislyak at Trump Tower. BTW: The Trump White House didn’t acknowledge this meeting had happened until March 2017 when it was disclosed. The content of the meeting wasn’t disclosed until May 2017. The Washington Post reported Kislyak and Kushner,

discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin.

Factcheck.org writes, 

In a statement to congressional investigators on July 24, 2017, Kushner says Kislyak “wanted to convey information from what he called his ‘generals’” about “U.S. policy in Syria.” Kushner said the exchange of information did not occur during the transition because neither party could arrange a secure line of communication. “I asked if they had an existing communications channel at his embassy we could use where they would be comfortable transmitting the information they wanted to relay to General Flynn. The Ambassador said that would not be possible and so we all agreed that we would receive this information after the Inauguration. Nothing else occurred,” Kushner’s statement reads.

December 13, 2016

Jared Kushner meets with chief of Vnesheconombank, Sergey N. Gorkov. This is a Russian state-run bank which was sanctioned by the Obama administration in 2014 right after Russia annexed Crimea. According to Factcheck.org, “Under the sanctions, US entities are prohibited from conducting any financial deals with Vnesheconombank.” Putin appointed Gorkov to run the bank. 

The scope of the meeting was not revealed until March 2017. At this time Sean Spicer, White House Press Secretary stated that “throughout the campaign and the transition, Jared served as the official primary point of contact with foreign governments and officials until we had State Department officials up.” However, in a statement, this bank said that Gorkov did meet with Kushner in his capacity as the then-chief executive officer of Kushner Companies, which is his family’s real estate company.

On July 24, 2017 Kushner stated to congressional investigators that he spoke to Gorkov for 20 to 25 minutes and,

he told me a little about his bank and made some statements about the Russian economy… At no time was there any discussion about my companies, business transactions, real estate projects, loans, banking arrangements or any private business of any kind.

December 22, 2016

Michael Flynn invites Kislyak to the U.S., if Russia would defeat or at least delay an upcoming U.N. Security Council resolution vote which condemned Israel’s building of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The resolution was allowed to come up for a vote by the Obama administration, which angered Israeli Prime MInister Benjamin Netanyahu. The UN resolution did pass a day later, Russia voted in favor and the US abstained from voting. 

December 25, 2016

Michael Flynn texts Kislyak “Merry Christmas”

Start of IC and Congressional Investigations

December 9, 2016

the Washington Post reports that the CIA claims the Russians were trying to help Trump win the election. Trump, in response, issues a statement criticizing the U.S. intelligence community, 

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.’

President Obama makes a statement that he ordered a detailed review of hacks committed by the Russians during the 2016 Presidential campaign. 

December 12, 2016

Congressional Republican leaders make an announcement saying they will investigate Russian attempts to disrupt the 2016 presidential election. 

RUSSIA!

December 9, 2016

Russian parliament claps for Trump’s victory. 

December 15, 2016

Putin sends Trump a letter asking to restore U.S. and Russian relations. 

Obama Sanctions

December 29, 2016

President Obama in his last month in office announces sanctions against Russia for its attempts to interfere with the Presidential election.

A number of actions in response to the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of U.S. officials and cyber operations aimed at the U.S. election in 2016.

Michael Flynn makes a total of 5 phone calls to Russian ambassador Kislyak regarding the sanctions. Flynn pleads with Kislyak to refrain from retaliating to these new sanctions. Kislyak responds that Russia would “moderate its response to the sanctions” as a result of Flynn’s request. We’ll explain more on this later.

December 30, 2016

Putin issues a statement stating Russia will not retaliate against US sanctions. 

While we reserve the right to take reciprocal measures, we’re not going to downgrade ourselves to the level of irresponsible ‘kitchen’ diplomacy’

In our future steps on the way towards the restoration of Russia - United States relations, we will proceed from the policy pursued by the administration of D Trump.

Via Twitter, Trump praises Putin’s decision stating that the Russian president is “very smart!”

JANUARY 2017 (Pre-Inauguration)

January-August 2017

The PBS News Hour timeline states, 

Cohen receives payments totalling $500,000 from investment firm Columbus Nova, whose biggest client is Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg. Columbus Nova said there was no connection between Vekselberg and the Cohen hire.

January 9, 2017

Jared Kushner joins White House as special advisor. 

Remember Flynn?

January 4, 2017

Michael Flynn tells a transition team lawyer that his work as a secretly paid lobbyist for Turkey is under investigation. 

January 12, 2017

The Washington Post reports that Kislyak and Flynn spoke on Dec. 29th, the very day that the US announced new sanctions on Russia due to election meddling. Sean Spicer says,

The call centered on the logistics of setting up a call with the president of Russia and the president-elect after he was sworn in… And they exchanged logistical information on how to initiate and schedule that call. That was it, plain and simple.

January 14, 2017

On Meet the Press when asked about the call between Kislyak and Flynn incoming chief-of-staff Reince Priebus says, “the subject matter of sanctions or the actions taken by the Obama [administration] did not come up in the conversation.”

January 15, 2017

Mike Pence, Vice President-elect states on Face the Nation that Flynn and Kislyak did not discuss U.S. sanctions on Russia. He said,

They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia.

Intelligence Community Investigation

Sometime in early January

The FISA court agrees to extend the FBI’s surveillance of Carter Page.

January 3, 2017

Just before Trump is to meet with US intelligence officials about Russia’s interference in the US elections, Trump tweets out, 

The ‘Intelligence’ briefing on so-called ‘Russian hacking’ was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very Strange!

January 4, 2017

Trump quotes Assange who said a 14-year old could have hacked the DNC. “Why was the DNC so careless.” 

January 6, 2017

A declassified intelligence report is released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election.

The report states that from July 2015 to June 2016 Russian intelligence services had access to the Democratic National Committee computer network and released various hacked material to WikiLeaks as well as other outlets “to help President-elect Trump’s election chances.” The DNI report contains no evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Trump is briefed by US intelligence officials on their findings. After this briefing Trump releases a statement saying, 

While Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations including the Democrat National Committee, there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines.

January 11, 2017

In a news conference Trump finally admits that he believes Russia was behind the DNC hack. He also tweets out, 

Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?

Comey

January 6, 2017

After Trump’s IC briefing on Russian interference, FBI director James Comey remains alone in the room with the President-elect to brief Trump on what Comey later said were, “some personally sensitive aspects of the information assembled during the assessment” that were “salacious and unverified.” to reassure Trump that he is not personally under investigation. 

Comey stated later in his written testimony prior to his June 8th Senate Hearing.  “that was true; we did not have an open counter-intelligence case on him.” Directly after this one on one encounter with Trump Comey types up some notes in his car - which is one of seven memos he wrote about his one-on-one meetings with Trump. 

Congressional Investigations

January 10, 2017

Senate Intelligence Committee launches its Russia investigation. In Jeff Sessions confirmation hearing as Attorney General he says, “I did not have communications with Russians.” However, Sessions later acknowledged that he actually had two meetings with Russian ambassador Kislyak during the campaign, though he would say neither was related to the Trump campaign. 

James Comey won’t say if FBI is investigating Trump in Senate intelligence hearing. 

January 13, 2017 

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence announces it will investigate “Russian intelligence activities” during the 2016 Presidential election, “including any intelligence regarding links between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns.”

Steele Dossier

January 10, 2017

Buzzfeed publishes the dossier from the former British intelligence officer that has salacious and lengthy allegations of how Russians attempted to compromise trump and his campaign. Trump tweets that it is “fake news”. 

January 10, 2017

Michael Cohen tweets, “I have never been to Prague in my life.” This was in regards to a charge from the Steele dossier that in 2016 he met Russians there. 

Clinton Email Investigation

January 12, 2017

DOJ inspector general announces investigation into the actions by FBI and the DOJ in the Clinton email probe, which included whether the actions by top officials were motivated by political bias.

Misc. Russia Events

January 11, 2017

Erik Prince, Blackwater founder, meets with Kirill Dmitriev, head of a Russian-government backed fund with ties to Putin, in Seychelles. Washington Post and NYT reported that this was to open up a backchannel between Trump and Moscow. 

January 13, 2017

Trump tells the Wall Street Journal that he is considering lifting the sanctions on Russia.

January 16, 2017

Anthony Scaramucci, Trump transition aide and hedge fund CEO, meets up with Kirill Dmitriev of the Russian Direct Investment Fund in Davos. RDIF was under sanctions at this time. 

January 17, 2017

Scaramucci tells the Russian state news that he believes that the Russian sanctions have had “in some ways an opposite effect.”

January 18, 2017

Jared Kushner leaves out meetings with Russians on security clearance disclosure. 

January 19, 2017

Sens. Warren and Cardin asks US Treasury to investigate Scaramucci-Russia Fund interaction.

January 20, 2017

Donald Trump is inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States

According to the NYT Michael Cohen meets with Russian oligarch and Putin ally Viktor Vekselberg at Trump’s inauguration. Vekselberg was the guest of his cousin and RNC donor Andrew Intrater. 

Natalia Veselnitskaya,  Russian lawyer attends the DC inauguration party hosted by Rep. Dana Rohrbacher R-California.

JANUARY 2017 (Post-Inauguration)

Flynn

January 22, 2017

Michael Flynn is sworn in as national security adviser at the same time the Wall Street Journal reports that U.S. counterintelligence agents investigated the communications between Russian officials and Flynn.

January 24, 2017

Flynn is interviewed by FBI agents. Specifically he is asked about two conversations he had with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Kislyak on December 2016 when he was still a private citizen. Flynn says that he did not ask Kislyak on that date for Russia to refrain from retaliating after Obama administration announced sanctions that day against Russia for 2016 election interference. 

He also mentions that he did not ask Kislyak on December 22, 2016, for Russia to defeat or delay a U.N. Security council resolution approved Dec. 23rd, which we mentioned earlier condemning Israel’s building of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. 

January 25, 2017

Acting Attorney General Sally Yates hears about the Flynn FBI interview.

January 26, 2017 

Sally Yates meets with Donald McGahn, White House Counsel in his office. She tells McGahn that high-ranking administration officials, that include VP Mike Pence, had made statements, about General Flynn’s conduct that we knew to be untrue.” Yates was referring to specific administration statements that said Flynn did not discuss U.S. sanctions against Russia with the Russian ambassador. This will be explained more later when Yates testifies before congress later on. White House discovers that Michael Flynn misled Pence about his conversation with the Russians.

January 30, 2017

Sally Yates invites McGahn to DOJ to look over the Flynn files; it is uncertain if he came or not. 

Comey

January 22, 2017

James Comey called over by Trump to come over to and shake hands with him during a White House reception. He really should have worn his outfit made of window drapes so he could blend in better in the background.

January 27, 2017

Trump and Comey privately dine together at the White House. Comey would later testify that 

the President said, ‘I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.’ … I replied, ‘You will always get honest from me.’ He paused and then said, ‘That’s what I want, honest loyalty.’

Comey also tells Trump that he is not personally under investigation at this time. More detail about this later when we discuss Comey’s testimony in June.

Investigations

January 25, 2017

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence states that it will investigate Russia’s actions to influence the 2016 presidential election and “any intelligence regarding links between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns.” 

January 27, 2017

The FBI interviews Big Papa. He’s asked about contacts he may have made with Russians during the 2016 campaign. This is when Big Papa makes false statements to the FBI. More on this later as well. 

Odds and Ends

January 27, 2017

Michael Cohen meets with Felix Sater, a businessman, and Ukranian Andrey Artemenko. In this meeting they pitch a plan for Russia to lease Crimea and sanctions to be dropped.

January 28, 2017

Trump receives a phone call from Putin congratulating him on his victory. 

January 30, 2017 

Sally Yates is fired by Trump for telling the DOJ to not defend Trump’s travel ban. Mnuchin, the Treasury Sec., doesn’t say if Scaramucci violated sanctions policy. 

FEBRUARY 2017

Investigations

February 2, 2017

The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee launches election/Russia investigation.

Sessions

February 8, 2017

Jeff Sessions is confirmed as Attorney General.

Comey

February 14, 2017

In the Oval Office, President Trump privately asks Comey to shut down the investigation into Michael Flynn, saying, 

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.

(This is according to the memo Comey wrote in which we’ll discuss more later.) 

February 15, 2017

According to the NYT, FBI director, James Comey tells U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions that “he did not want to be left alone again with the President,” 

Shenanigans

February 15, 2017

Reince Priebus, the White House Chief of Staff, asks FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe if the agency would help the White House get rid of news stories about contacts between Trump aides and Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign. 

RUSSIA!

February 16, 2017

At a press conference Trump is asked by a reporter, “Did you direct Mike Flynn to discuss sanctions with the Russian ambassador?” He answers with, “No, I didn’t. No I didn’t.” For the 2nd time the FBI interviews Trump foreign policy adviser, Papadopoulos, who we lovingly call Big Papa. 

February 17, 2017

Big Papa deactivates a Facebook account that contained some info on his contact with the aforementioned “professor”. Carter Page says on the PBS NewsHour that he had no Russian meetings in the last year.

February 27, 2017

Nunes states to reporters that Flynn and Trump didn’t coordinate over Russian sanctions.

MARCH 2017

Sessions

March 1, 2017

The Washington Post reports that then-Sen. Sessions “spoke twice last year with Russia’s ambassador to the United States,” This included a private meeting in Session’s office on Sept. 8, 2016. This report directly contradicts what Sessions said to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary during his confirmation hearing.

March 2, 2017

At a press conference Sessions acknowledges he did in fact meet with the Russian ambassador and failed to disclose these meetings to the Senate. Saying, “In retrospect, I should have slowed down and said, ‘But I did meet one Russian official a couple of times. That would be the ambassador.” Sessions then announces that he would recuse himself “from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for President of the United States.” 

The deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, later became the top Justice Department official that oversees the Russia inquiry.

March 4, 2017

According to the NYT while vacationing in Mar-a-largo Trump asks Sessions to reverse his recusal from the Russia investigation. Sessions reportedly refuses.

March 6, 2017

Sessions writes official letter clarifying his meetings with Russians. 

WIRETAP!

March 4, 2017

In a barrage of tweets President Trump accuses Obama of illegally “tapping my phones in October” during the “very sacred election process.” Trump also compares Obama’s actions to Watergate and says of Obama that he’s a very “bad (or sick) guy!” Trump offers no evidence of this accusation. 

In a reversal to previous statements, Carter Page says he did meet with the Russians.

Roger Stone tweets, “perfectly legal back channel” with Assange, then deletes the tweet. 

March 5, 2017

Comey asks the DOJ to refute publicly Trump’s unfounded Obama wiretapping charge.

March 22, 2017

Chairman of the House intelligence committee, Devin Nunes holds a press conference to state that he had reviewed intelligence reports that show “incidental collection” on some unnamed Trump transition team members had taken place after the election was over. Keep in mind Nunes is a former Trump transition team member. He states that information was illegally obtained and was unrelated to Russia, but rather raises questions about whether the intelligence community was improperly unmasking US citizens whose identities should have been protected.

Trump states to Time magazine that this “new information” brought to light by Nunes proves he was “right” when he tweeted that Obama was tapping his phones. Nunes himself stated the information reviewed “doesn’t mean that Obama wiretapping Trump Tower”.

March 27, 2017

Nunes acknowledges that he went to the White House to look over intelligence reports on the “incidental collection” of info on Trump transition team members.

RUSSIA(LEAKS)!

March 4, 2017 

In a reversal to previous statements, Carter Page says he did meet with the Russians.

Roger Stone tweets, “perfectly legal back channel” with Assange, then deletes the tweet.

March 7, 2017

Wikileaks releases 1000s of pages of CIA documents regarding their techniques for breaking into cell phones and computers.

Michael Flynn retroactively registers as a foreign agent for his work on behalf of Turkish interests during the 2016 presidential campaign. 

March 20, 2017

(on or around this date) Trump reportedly asks the intelligence chiefs to deny coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

White House Press Sec. Sean Spicer states that Paul Manafort had a “very limited role” in the trump campaign.

March 10, 2017

President Trump fires NY US attorney Preet Bharara and also orders the resignation of 45 other U.S. attorneys. 

Investigations

March 20, 2017

At a hearing of the House intelligence committee, FBI Director James Comey confirms the existence of an FBI investigation at a hearing of the House intelligence committee. Comey says that the agency is investigating,

the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that includes investigating 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.

March 22, 2017

Trump asks Daniel Coats, Director of National Intelligence, to get Comey to back off investigating into Michael Flynn.

March 24, 2017

Nunes cancels House intelligence hearing with formal intelligence heads and Sally Yates.

March 27, 2017

NYT reports that Senate intelligence committee informed the White House it wants to question Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner about his meetings in December with Russian ambassador, Kislyak and the head of Russia’s state-owned bank, Gorkov.

Flynn

March 7, 2017

Michael Flynn retroactively registers as a foreign agent for his work on behalf of Turkish interests during the 2016 presidential campaign. 

March 30, 2017

Robert Kelner, Michael Flynn’s attorney says in a statement that his client is willing to testify before Congress if Flynn receives immunity, --“General Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should the circumstances permit.”

March 31, 2017

President Trump tweets,

Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!

A revised financial disclosure form for Flynn was released by the White House that shows he received speaking fees from RT TV (Russian television network Flynn did not report this income when he initially filed his disclosure form in Feb.

Comey

March 30, 2017

President Trump calls FBI director James Comey to ask what can be done to “lift the cloud” of the Russia investigation from his administration. Comey told Trump he was not personally under investigation saying, “He finished by stressing ‘the cloud’ that was interfering with his ability to make deals for the country and said he hoped I could find a way to get out that he wasn’t being investigated… I told him I would see what we could do, and that we would do our investigative work well and as quickly as we could.” (*more on this later)

APRIL 2017

Investigations

April 6, 2017

Nunes makes an announcement that he will no longer oversee the House intelligence committee’s Russia investigation.

April 11, 2017

Washington Post reports that the FBI obtained a secret court order the previous summer under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to monitor the communications of Carter Page. The Justice Dept. convinced the FISA judge that Carter Page “was acting as an agent of a foreign power, in this case Russia.”

Comey

April 11, 2017

Comey calls Trump back and they speak for about 4 min. Comey states that the president,

asked what I had done about his request that I ‘get out’ that he is not personally under investigation.” Comey suggests to Trump he should contact the acting deputy attorney general to make this request. “He said he would do that and added, ‘Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know.

This is the last time the two men spoke. 

Manafort

April 12, 2017

The Associated Press publishes a story with evidence that Paul Manafort received two seperate payments laid out in the so-called “Black Ledger” in Ukraine.

Sometime in Mid April

The Justice Dept. requests Paul Manafort’s banking records.

Flynn

April 28, 2017

The Senate intelligence committee requests that Flynn turn over any documents that are relevant to the Russian investigation. Flynn denied but the committee would later subpoena the documents. 

Jeff Sessions tells the Today Show that he is also recusing himself from any investigation into Michael Flynn. 

May 2017

Comey

May 2, 2017

Trump states that Comey is a “phony” tweeting that he was “the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton.” 

May 3, 2017

James Comey states at a Senate judiciary committee hearing that the FBI has “opened investigations on” more than one “U.S. persons” in connection with the FBI investigation into whether the Trump campaign cooperated with Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 campaign. 

Comey doesn’t answer when asked if Trump is under investigation. He says that FBI investigators are “always open-minded” and no matter what will “follow the evidence wherever it takes us.” 

He also said,

I’m not going to comment on anyone in particular, because that puts me down a slope of — because if I say no to that then I have to answer succeeding questions. So what we’ve done is brief the chair and ranking on who the U.S. persons are that we’ve opened investigations on. And that’s — that’s as far as we’re going to go, at this point.

Comey also defends his decisions in the Clinton email probe. 

May 5, 2017

The NYT reports that a Justice Department Sessions aide asked a congressional staffer if they had any dirt on James Comey. 

May 8, 2017

Trump tweets, that story about campaign collusion with Russia is a complete hoax.

Sally Yates testifies at a Senate hearing that she had two face to face meetings and one phone with the McGahn to discuss Flynn’s meetings with Russian ambassador Kislyak. 

Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General, drafts a memo making the case for firing Comey after learning that Trump intends to fire Comey. It is not clear on who directed him if anyone to write the memo. He would later tell Congress,

On May 8, I learned that President Trump intended to remove Director Comey and sought my advice and input. Notwithstanding my personal affection for Director Comey, I thought it was appropriate to seek a new leader.

May 9, 2017

President Trump fires FBI director James Comey.

Just before 3pm ET White House press sec. Sean Spicer was asked by reporters if President Trump still had “full confidence” in his FBI director, James Comey. He said,

I have no reason to believe - I haven’t asked him, so I don’t. I have not asked the President since the last time we spoke about this

Three hours later Trump fires Comey. Comey didn’t receive the news directly right away. He wasn’t in Washington at the time. He received the news of his firing via cable television news. He was talking with a group of FBI agents in LA at the time and it was cut awkwardly short as the news hit.

The White House released a statement that said that President Trump acted “based on the clear recommendations” of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Rosenstein cited in a two-and-a-half-page memo that Comey’s handling of the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server for official government business while secretary of state under President Obama. Rosenstein criticized Comey for holding a press conference on July 5, 2016, in which he publically announced his recommendation to not charge Clinton, and for disclosing on Oct. 28, 2016, that the FBI had reopened its investigation of Clinton. 

A letter firing Comey was delivered to the FBI by Trump’s longtime armed personal bodyguard now director of Oval Office Operations at the White House, Keith Schiller. The letter from Trump to Comey stated,

While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau.

May 10, 2017

Trump meets in the Oval Office with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak and Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The official White House readout of this meeting does not mention that Kislyak was in attendance. President Trump tells the Russian officials in the Oval Office that firing Comey had relieved “great pressure” on him, saying,

I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.

May 11, 2017

In an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt Trump says that he was thinking of “this Russia thing” when he decided to fire Comey. He also said he would have fired Comey with our without Rosenstein’s recommendation saying,

He made a recommendation, but 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 just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this whole Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.

May 12, 2017

Trump tweets,

James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!

This was the date senators were expected FBI director James Comey to brief them on whether Att. Gen. Jeff Sessions could be investigated for perjury. But he was fired so this was cancelled. Comey should have just gone to this anyways.

May 13, 2017

In an interview with Judge Jeanine Pirro on Fox News, Trump denies that he asked for Comey’s loyalty saying, “But I don’t think it would be a bad question to ask.”

Investigation

May 10, 2017

CNN reports that the Senate intelligence committee subpoenas Michael Flynn seeking “documents relevant to the Committee’s investiegation into Russian interference with the 2016 election.” 

Jared Kushner submits revised security form that contain the Kislyak and Gorkov meetings but not the 2016 meeting with Russian lawyer.

May 14, 2017

Manhattan’s district attorney and NY attorney general opened investigations into Manafort real estate transactions.

Trump meeting with Russians

May 15, 2017

The Washington Post reports that on the May 10th meeting with Russian officials Trump discussed classified information about an ISIS terrorist threat which involved laptop computers aboard commercial airlines.

May 16, 2017

The NYT reports that the source of the intelligence information that Trump disclosed to Russian officials in the Oval Office was from Israel.

The NYT also reports the existence of the Comey memos.

May 17, 2017: The deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein appoints the former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III as special counsel to oversee the investigation into any possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government’s actions to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Sources

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