Trump–Russia Collusion Timeline

Public Reports

Steele Dossier

Comments / Corroboration of Steele Dossier

Background – Russia

Alfa Group Consortium is a privately owned Russian investment group with interests in oil and gas, banking, insurance, telecom, utilities, etc. The Consortium was founded in 1989 by Mikhail Fridman. Key leaders also include German Khan, Alexei Kuzmichov, and Petr Aven. Wiki

 

Alfa Bank JSC was founded by Russian Mikhail Fridman in 1990. It is the largest private commercial bank in Russia. Wiki

 

Oleg Govorun worked as Deputy Head of Department for Relations with Public Authorities at Alfa-Bank prior to becoming Deputy Chief of Territorial Administration of the President of the Russian Federation in 2000. Govorun has become one of the top senior officials within the Russian government. Wiki

P.26: The Alpha Group of businesses (Russian oligarchs) held ‘kompromat’ on Putin (then deputy mayor of St. Petersburg) and his corrupt business activities from the 1990s.
P.26: Putin gained pressure to use over the Alpha Group in relation to Alpha’s failure to reinvest into the Russian economy the proceeds they received from the sale of their TNK oil company. March 2013: Alfa owned a 1/4 stake in TNK-BP, and gained $14 billion when Rosneft purchased TNK.

 

June 2013: Alfa Group announced investments of upwards of $20 billion in global oil and gas projects through a new L1 Energy Fund run by German Khan. The fund was planned to invest the bulk of Alfa’s proceeds from the sale of TNK-BP. Source

P.25: Putin is currently on very good terms with the Alpha Group of businesses led by Russian oligarchs Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven, and German Khan. Alpha provides political favors for Putin (including giving Putin informal advice on foreign policy, especially about the US), and Putin provides business/legal favors for Alpha. This is potentially relevant to allegations below about secret communication between an Alfa Bank server and a server at Trump Tower.
P.25–26: 1990s: Oleg Govorun (future Russian Presidential Administration official) was Head of Government Relations at Alpha, and was Alpha’s “driver” and “bag carrier” for delivery of large amounts of illicit cash to Putin.
P.2–3: 1992–present: Russia’s FSB’s Department K has been collating a file of ‘kompromat’ on Hillary Clinton since Bill Clinton’s presidency. It includes many eavesdropped conversations, e.g., from bugged comments Clinton had made during trips to Russia. Examples are things she said that contradicted her current position on various issues.

 

The ‘kompromat’ file on Clinton was previously controlled exclusively by Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov, under explicit instruction of Vladimir Putin.

Partial:

 

Published emails sent to Donald Trump Jr. on June 3–9, 2016 confirm that Russia provided, or at least attempted to provide to the Trump campaign “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia.” Source

 

Clinton having public policies that contradicted her private statements was a significant theme among Trump campaign attacks on her candidacy.

2000: Irakly Kaveladze was implicated by a Congressional inquiry as being involved in a money laundering operation moving over $1.4 billion in Russian funds into the US.

Source

“Illegals Program”: In 2010, a Russian spy network including 10 Russian “sleepers” living in the US (SVR’s “Directorate S”) was broken up by the FBI in “Operation Ghost Stories.” The spies were deported to Russia in a prisoner exchange. Wiki
2008–2012: Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer and auditor, investigated Russia’s treatment of investment advisory firm Hermitage Capital Management. Magnitsky alleged substantial misconduct and corruption, including a complex scheme that used false claims of tax evasion to justify police raids that seized Hermitage documents and gave them to organized criminals, who used them to take over Hermitage operations and obtain $230 million via tax fraud. When Magnitsky’s investigation report was given to the Russian government, they opened a criminal case against Magnitsky and arrested him in 2008. Magnitsky died in jail under suspicious circumstances about a year later. International attention to the matter eventually resulted in 2012 in the US imposing visa and banking restrictions on Russian officials implicated in related human rights abuses. In retaliation, Russia passed a law banning Americans from adopting Russian children. Wiki
2012: The FBI warned Dana Rohrabacher, a Congressional representative from California, that Russian spies were trying to recruit him as an “agent of influence,” and informed Rohrabacher that Moscow looked at him as someone who could be influenced. Source
September 10, 2013: US Attorney Preet Bharara announced a complaint being filed for civil asset forfeiture of many high-end real estate properties owned by several New York corporations, including Prevezon Holdings, Ltd. The complaint alleged the corporations engaged in a money laundering and tax fraud scheme involving corrupt Russian officials, as revealed by Sergei Magnitsky. Source Prevezon’s owner Denis Katsyv, a Russian oligarch with close ties to Putin, hired attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya, who would become active lobbying US politicians to remove the sanctions relating to the Magnitsky Act. Source
2011–2013: Russian opposition parties conducted widespread protests against Vladimir Putin and his United Russia Party, some becoming violent. Russia passed laws in 2012 strictly limiting protests, and Vladimir Putin implicated Hillary Clinton as pushing for a Russian version of a “color revolution” recently seen in other countries. Some US officials believe these protests may have damaged Putin’s confidence in his viability as a politician. DNI James Clapper alleged that this may have caused Putin to respond with the subject propaganda operation. Source1 Source2 Wiki
2011–present: Syrian Civil War. During an “Arab Spring” across the Middle East, public protests and a civil uprising began in Syria in early 2011. Local militias began an insurgency against the Assad government, with generally increasing violence through a presidential election in June 2014, which Assad won with nearly 90% of the vote. The US and EU viewed the election as illegitimate. Around the time of the election, the Islamic State group (ISIL) began to take control of Syrian territory, and the U.S. and its allies began to conduct airstrikes on ISIL in September 2014, and began arming and training rebel forces against ISIL and against the Assad government. Beginning September 2015, Russia also began airstrikes against both ISIL and US-allied rebels to support the Assad government. Peace talks in late October 2015 failed to achieve any agreement between the US and Russia on the Assad government’s future. The war continued, with US-backed rebel forces clashing with Russian-backed Assad forces as both fought ISIL. Wiki

 

March 2016: US General Philip Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commander of Europe with NATO, told the US Senate Armed Services Committee that Russia was “weaponizing” migration. Russian war efforts, in partnership with Assad (e.g., the indiscriminate use of barrel bombs, chemical weapons, airstrikes, and heavy artillery on neighborhoods, hospitals, and schools), were intentionally driving citizens out of Syria and into Europe as refugees, in an attempt to destabilize European countries and to stoke right-wing anti-migrant sentiment. Source1, Source2

 

Summer 2015–March 2016: Finland and Norway reported a flow of refugees and asylum seekers from Syria & Afghanistan entering their countries from Russia. Initially, thousands of migrants arrived via bicycle across Russia’s previously tightly controlled border with Norway; after Norwegian officials lobbied Russia to reintroduce tight border control, the migrants’ route shifted to enter into Finland, fist via bicycle, and later, in decrepit Soviet-era cars. They speculated Russian government involvement. Source

 

More generally, this appears only to be one facet of Putin’s broad efforts to drive right-wing nationalist, isolationist sentiment in the West to weaken Western alliances such as NATO. Source

2014: Euromaidan and Ukrainian Revolution. Months of public protests led to the downfall of Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych’s government. Pro-Russian gunmen in Crimea responded with violence, taking over government buildings and holding a referendum with the support of Russian forces. Voters voted to rejoin Russia, and Russia annexed Crimea. In response, the US and other countries protested and imposed sanctions on Russia. Source
April 28, 2014: In relation to the situation in Ukraine, the US Treasury Dept. announced additional sanctions against seven Russian government officials and 17 entities, including against Igor Sechin, leader of Russian state-owned petroleum company Rosneft. “Sechin has shown utter loyalty to Vladimir Putin – a key component to his current standing.” Source
June 2015: On Russia National Day, Vladimir Putin visited Italy along with Rosneft’s Igor Sechin and Gazprom’s Alexei Miller. They conducted a private meeting with Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Armando Varricchio (future Italian ambassador to the US, see below info about Mayflower event). In a speech, Putin said, “Sanctions are to be eliminated or modified to support companies that want to cooperate with us.” Source, Machine translation

Background – Trump

2005–2010: In early 2005, Deutsche Bank loaned Donald Trump $640 million to finance a hotel and building tower in Chicago. In late 2008, Deutsche sued Trump for failing to pay the debt. Trump claimed that he was not liable under the loan’s force majeure clause, due to the 2008 financial crash. Further, Trump countersued for $3 billion, alleging damages because Deutsche was in part responsible for the financial crash. The parties settled the lawsuit in 2010, restructuring the debt. Nevertheless, Deutsche bank oddly continued to lend Trump more money for future endeavors. Source Trump had been blacklisted by most other banks for poor business practices and serial bankruptcies before he received this loan from Deutsche. Trump decided not to pay his debt, and filed a blatantly frivolous countersuit against his lender. Without some undisclosed, salient relationship between Trump and Deutsche Bank (e.g., relating to laundering Russian money, see below), it is virtually inconceivable that Deutsche would continue to lend Trump money.

 

Further – Trump currently owes hundreds of millions to Deutsche. If a sitting president defaults (which based on past behavior seems likely), would the lender be willing to sue? Would Trump retaliate?

“Since the 1980s, Trump and his family members have made numerous trips to Moscow in search of business opportunities, and they have relied on Russian investors to buy their properties around the world.” Source P.1–2, 11: 2008–Present: Russia began cultivating and supporting Trump in his political efforts, with exchanges of intelligence taking place over a period of at least 8 years up to 2016. This operation was supported and directed by Vladimir Putin with the aim to sow discord and disunity within US and among its allies.

 

P.2, 11: As part of this relationship, Russia fed Trump and his team intelligence on his opponents, including Clinton. In exchange, Trump and his associates obtained and supplied to Russia intelligence on the activities in the US, business and otherwise, of leading Russian oligarchs and their families.

Partial.

 

Emails dated June 3–9, 2016, released by Donald Trump, Jr. confirm that Russia shared, or at least tried to share, intelligence on Clinton with the Trump campaign.

 

US Intelligence has officially named Putin as personally directing Russia’s pro-Trump, anti-Clinton campaign. Source

 

Also: Circumstantial.

 

Lots of info about Trump’s interest in Russia and contacts with senior officials.

 

Fits with Putin’s apparent long-term global strategy to drive right-wing sentiment and destabilize Western countries, weakening alliances such as NATO. Source

 

 

2008: Donald Trump’s son Donald Trump, Jr. spoke at a real estate conference in Latvia, saying that he frequently traveled to Russia. “In terms of high-end product influx into the U.S., 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.” Source
2011: Donald Trump settled a lawsuit filed by buyers of units in Trump SoHo, a Manhattan condo–hotel, who claimed Trump and his children had defrauded them by making inflated claims about brisk sales in the struggling project. During the lawsuit, it was revealed that funding for the project was provided in part by Bayrock, a development company controlled by Tevfik Arif, a former Soviet commerce official from Kazakhstan, and Felix Sater, a Russian immigrant. Sater had been implicated in a previous stock manipulation scam involving Mafia figures and Russian criminals, and had become a confidential FBI informant. It was also revealed that Bayrock occasionally received unexplained infusions of cash from accounts in Kazakhstan and Russia. In 2010, Arif was on board a luxury yacht raided by police in Turkey, who were investigating a suspected prostitution ring that catered to wealthy businessmen. Source
2013: Journalist James Dodson alleged that Donald Trump’s son Eric Trump told him, while golfing together, that the Trumps relied on Russian backers to finance their golf courses. Trump later denied it, but Dodson insisted, and multiple colleagues of Dodson later recalled him telling them about the statement in 2013. Source
2013: In an interview that aired on MSNBC, Donald Trump said he had a relationship with Vladimir Putin. Trump was effusive in his praise of Putin and his actions in Syria, comparing him directly to Obama and judging Putin to be superior. Source
2013: Donald Trump attends a private dinner with Aras and Emin Agalarov. Ike Kaveladze (one of the attendees at the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower) is photographed with the dinner party. Source
2004–2008: Donald Trump purchased “Maison de l’Amitie,” a huge, some say tasteless mansion in Palm Beach, Florida, for $41 million at a bankruptcy auction. After performing very minor renovations, Trump put it on the market in 2006 at an apparently, unreasonably high price of $125 million. After being on the market for 2 years, on July 15, 2008, Russian fertilizer magnate Dmitry Rybolovlev purchased the home for $100 million, a profit of around $50 million for Trump. Rybolovlev never lived in the home, and appears only to have visited once before demolishing the property. The lot was subdivided into three parcels, the largest one of which sold in 2015 for $34 million. It is speculated Rybolovlev may lose around $20 million in the deal. Source Money laundering? Rybolovlev paid Trump exorbitantly over the market rate for this ugly property, without visiting beforehand, and virtually immediately demolished it. He then sold off the land for a huge loss. This only makes sense if (1) Rybolovlev is very stupid, or (2) Rybolovlev didn’t care about taking a loss, because he purchased the property using dirty money, and sold it for clean US dollars.
2013: Trump met Emin Agalarov, Russian pop star and son of Russian billionaire, real estate developer, and Putin ally Aras Agalarov, via Emin’s relationship with the 2012 miss universe winner. Source P.27: Donald Trump visited St. Petersburg, Russia on several occasions (dates not given), attempting to enter business deals involving real estate. Trump paid bribes there to further his interests, and participated in sex parties. Azeri business figure Araz [sic, Aras] Agalarov may have been closely involved with Trump in these dealings.

 

P.2: 2013: Russia obtained ‘kompromat’ on Trump in which the FSB recorded, with hidden microphones and cameras at the Moscow Ritz Carlton hotel, Trump having stayed in the Presidential suite and hiring prostitutes to urinate in front of him on the bed where Pres. & Mrs. Obama had previously slept. This is only part of the ‘kompromat’ Russia has on Trump based on his “unorthodox” behavior over the years in Russia. Thus, Russia could blackmail Trump if they so wished.

Partial:

 

The Agalarovs had a close relationship with the Trump family, and based on the emails of June 3–9, 2016 released by Donald Trump, Jr., the Agalarovs are connected to the Russian government and actively created a channel between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. Source

 

BBC’s Paul Wood had sources that said the CIA found these claims in the Steele dossier credible, and that the CIA had “more than one tape… audio and video… on more than one date… in more than one place… of a sexual nature.” Source

November 9, 2013: Trump held the Miss Universe pageant at Agalarov property Crocus City Hall in Moscow, Russia. The Agalarovs paid the Trump Organization $20 Million for this event. Source  Trump met with Russian oligarchs Agalarov, Alex Sapir, and Rotem Rosen to discuss potential Russian real estate deals. Source Aras Agalarov acted as a “liaison” between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin when Trump held the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. Source
November 11, 2013: Donald Trump posts a note to Aras Agalarov on Twitter: “I had a great weekend with you and your family. You have done a FANTASTIC job. TRUMP TOWER-MOSCOW is next. EMIN was WOW!” Source
November 12, 2013: Itar-Tass reports a conversation with Donald Trump where he said, “’I have plans to start business in Russia… I am currently in talks with several Russian companies to build a skyscraper on the model of Trump Tower in New York.’ The businessman did not name his partners or the size of the investment.” Source
November 2014–January 2015: Donald Trump publishes a series of tweets on Twitter to various Russian accounts, about running for President. Source

Background – Manafort

2006–2007: Paul Manafort leveraged contacts with American diplomats to help pro-Russian candidate Yanukovych win elections and return to office as Prime Minister of Ukraine. Source
2007–2012: Yanukovych’s Party of Regions paid at least $12.7 million in kick-backs to Paul Manafort. The previously undisclosed payments to Manafort were revealed by a “black ledger,” a handwritten document found in the deposed Party’s headquarters in a room with two safes stuffed with cash, as part of an ongoing investigation by Ukraine’s new government’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau. Investigators say Ukraine election officials were among other recipients of the payouts documented in the black ledger, suggesting Ukraine elections were rigged via bribery. Source

 

Journalists have corroborated several of the black ledger entries showing payments to Manafort, which were routed to Manafort through shell companies in Belize. Source

2008: Paul Manafort worked with Vladimir Putin ally Oleg Deripaska to broker an $18.9 million deal to sell Ukrainian cable television assets from Black Sea Cable. This transaction is among many being investigated as allegedly being part of a corrupt scheme to enrich Yanukovych and his allies, including a palatial presidential residence with a private zoo, golf course, and tennis court. Source
2008: Paul Manafort partnered with Vladimir Putin ally Dmytro Firtash to buy the Manhattan Drake Hotel. The deal ended up failing. Source
2012–2014: Manafort’s consulting firm DMP International LLC, and his deputy Rick Gates’s Washington lobbying firms Mercury LLC and the Podesta Group Inc., orchestrated a covert lobbying operation on behalf of Yanukovych’s party to sway American public opinion in their favor and to undercut sympathy for their rival party’s leader Yulia Tymoshenko, imprisoned at the time. Their efforts included setting up meetings between US senators and congressmen with a Ukraine foreign minister (but avoiding the Ukrainian embassy to remain covert), and attempting to sway press coverage in the NYT, WSJ, and AP. Neither Manafort nor Gates, nor their firms, registered as foreign agents or disclosed their work to the DOJ as required by law. Source

 

Manafort would later (in June 2017) update his official filings to admit receipt of $17.1 million for his work with the Party of Regions, and would retroactively register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Source

This Manafort-led propaganda effort appears very similar to the disinformation campaign waged by Russia in connection with the hacked emails they fed to Wikileaks. If the conspiracy is real, it seems they picked the right guy to help in Manafort.
2014: Paul Manafort again helped Yanukovych and his party in a Ukrainian election. Source
2014: Oleg Deripaska sued Manafort’s company, trying to recover his investment relating to Black Sea Cable. Source In late 2015, Deripaska stopped pursuing this action. Source

Background – Page

2000s: Carter Page worked for 3 years in Russia as an investment banker for Merrill Lynch, with some involvement with Russian government-owned natural gas company Gazprom. Source
2010–2015: A Russian spy ring including Igor Sporyshev, Victor Podobnyy (both with Russian intelligence agency SVR), and Evgeny Buryakov (also SVR, posing as a banker) carried out espionage, gathering information on sanctions against Russia and other intelligence useful to Russian businesses. The FBI began investigating this spy ring soon after the Illegals Program concluded, and successfully broke up the spy ring in 2015. Source

 

2013: This spy ring attempted to recruit intelligence sources in New York City. In 2013, Podobnyy targeted Carter Page, and conversations about Carter Page between Podobnyy and another member of the ring were recorded and were published in the FBI complaint filed against the spy ring in 2015. Podobnyy apparently hinted to Page he could use his Russian connections to “push contracts” with Gazprom in exchange for Page providing him with certain documents. He thought it would succeed because Page was an “idiot” who wanted to earn a lot of money and was seeking to establish some sort of business deal with Gazprom. Page confirmed he provided Podobnyy with documents with information about the energy industry. Source (Page’s identity as “Male 1” was first reported by Buzzfeed, and later confirmed by Page.)

2014–2015: Carter Page published several articles online praising Russia and Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin, and criticizing American policy. Page endorsed the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which he wrote was “precipitated by U.S. meddling,” and compared US support for Ukrainian independence to police killings of black youth. Source: primary, secondary1, secondary2

Background – Flynn

February 2014: Michael Flynn, then director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency, met Russian–British grad student and historian Svetlana Lokhova on a trip to Cambridge, UK. Lokhova claimed to have unique access to previously classified Soviet-era material in Moscow, including Russia’s military spy agency GRU. Flynn and Lokhova remained in contact via unclassified email, where Flynn signed off as “General Misha,” Russian for Mike. Lokhova listed Flynn as one of four referees who would endorse her book about Russian spies who penetrated the US atomic weapons program. Flynn failed to disclose his conversations and relationship with Lokhova to the US government, in violation of federal law. Source
April 2014: Michael Flynn was forced out of the Defense Intelligence Agency for poor management, and became a contributor to Russia Today (RT), a Russian government-controlled English language news channel. Source US military generals are prohibited from being employed by foreign government-controlled agencies by the emoluments clause of the US Constitution.
October 2014: Michael Flynn founded Flynn Intel Group, a lobbying company. In response to an ethical inquiry he sent to the US Army regarding the new company, the Army replied laying out the details of the statutory implementation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause, clearly prohibiting him from engaging in business with foreign governments. Source
Summer 2015: Michael Flynn met Donald Trump for the first time. Source
Summer 2015: Michael Flynn received $11,250 from Russian cargo airline Volga-Dnepr Airlines, a company under UN scrutiny for bribery by two Russian officials serving at the UN. Source
October, 2015: Flynn received $11,250 from Kaspersky Government Security Solutions, founded by Eugene Kaspersky, long suspected of having ties to Russian intelligence services, and having studied cryptography at a school run by the KGB and Soviet Defense Ministry, and later working for the Russian Military. Source
December 10, 2015: Michael Flynn traveled to Moscow on behalf of Russian government-controlled news agency Russia Today (RT), receiving more than $45,000 (plus airfare, accommodations, and expenses for him and his son) to deliver a speech at a gala where he famously sat next to Vladimir Putin for dinner. Source P.15: In an attempt to cultivate US political figures that was ultimately “successful in terms of perceived outcomes,” Russia indirectly funded recent visits to Moscow of a delegation from Lyndon Larouche; Jill Stein; Carter Page; and Michael Flynn. RT’s 10-year anniversary conference featured speakers and panelists:

·  Ken Livingstone, mayor of London during the 2005 terrorist attacks and recently appointed co-chair for the UK’s opposition defense review;

·  Cyril Svoboda, former- deputy prime minister, minister of foreign affairs, and interior minister of the Czech Republic, who led the negotiations on Czech accession to the EU;

·  Jill Stein, a US politician and the Green Party’s 2012 presidential candidate;

·  Willy Wimmer, German statesman and ex-VP of the OSCE;

·  Patricia Villegas, president of pan-Latin American news network teleSUR;

·  Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, former head of the US Defense Intelligence Agency, the country’s main foreign military espionage organization;

·  Raymond McGovern, noted CIA whistleblower; and

·  Margarita Simonyan, RT’s editor in chief

Source

Conspiracy

P.7: Paul Manafort, along with Carter Page and others, managed a conspiracy of cooperation between the Trump campaign and Russian leadership. Partial:

 

The first Steele memo was written/published in June 20, 2016, and before that date, there does not appear to be any other published suspicion that Carter Page was acting as an agent of Russia. (It was later publicly revealed, see above entry on spy recruitment of page.)

 

My gut is that the Carter Page allegations that paint him as masterminding large aspects of the conspiracy are overblown. Russian spies are on tape saying they think he is an idiot, and this profile of him paints him as a nobody with essentially no connections in Russian energy. His pro-Russia blog publications don’t demonstrate high intelligence. Maybe he was acting as a Russian agent, and maybe he facilitated a conspiracy in some ways, but it’s hard to see him as a ringleader.

P.32: Manafort took the initial lead role in a secret liaison relationship between the Trump campaign and Russian leadership. Based on Manafort’s relationships with pro-Russian Ukrainians and Russian oligarchs, this seems plausible.
June 16, 2015: Donald Trump announced his candidacy for President. Source
July 11, 2015: In a Q&A session following a speech at FreedomFest in Las Vegas, Donald Trump took a question from a Russian audience member:

 

Q: “…Do you want to continue the politics of sanctions that are damaging to both economies?…”

 

A: “…I know Putin, and I’ll tell you what, we get along with Putin. Putin has no respect for President Obama. It’s a big problem. Big problem… I believe I would get along very nicely with Putin. Okay? And I mean where we have the strength. I don’t think you need the sanctions; I think that we would get along very, very well. I really believe that.“ Source

September–November 2015: Felix Sater, a Russian immigrant and member of Bayrock, an investment company that had done business with the Trump Organization, works with Michael Cohen, a Trump Organization executive and Donald Trump’s lawyer, to attempt to license the Trump brand for a new skyscraper tower in Moscow. As part of this effort, Donald Trump signed a letter of intent to sell a license to the Trump brand to Russia.

 

Sater lined up financing via VTB Bank, a Russian bank under US sanctions at the time. Sater further claimed he would arrange for Putin to publicly praise Trump. Sater’s publicly released emails included: “Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it… I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.” Also, “I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected.” Source

Contrary to his strong and numerous denials, Trump was personally pursuing business deals in Russia during his campaign. He personally signed the non-binding letter of intent in October 2015 to license the Trump brand for the proposed Moscow tower.

 

Further, Sater made many explicit aversions to Michael Cohen about getting Putin to help Trump win the election.

January 2016: Michael Cohen, a Trump company executive and Donald Trump’s lawyer, emailed a general press account for the Kremlin with a letter addressed to Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri Peskov. The letter asked for Peskov’s help with the Trump Tower project, which had been stalled. Cohen stressed how important the project was, and requested Peskov personally to contact him to advance the project.

 

The deal ended up falling through weeks later. Source1 Source2

**Note that Peskov was named in the Steele Dossier as previously being in control of the kompromat file on Clinton.**

 

During a statement to Congress on 8/28/2017, Cohen said he didn’t recall whether he received a response from Peskov, or that he had any further contact with any Russian officials about the project. Cohen characterized the project as simply one of many opportunities the Trump Organization ended up rejecting.

 

The nearly immediate cancellation of the project, and Cohen’s assertions that the project was just one of many, contradicts Cohen’s personal plea to top Kremlin official Peskov about the importance of the project.

January 25, 2016: Donald Trump hired Stephen Miller, an aide to Senator Jeff Sessions, to join his campaign for President as a senior policy adviser. Source
February 2016: Donald Trump asked Michael Flynn to serve as an adviser to the Trump campaign. Source
February 2016: While applying for a renewal of his security clearance using form SF-86, Michael Flynn falsely stated that he had received no income from foreign companies, and had only “insubstantial contact” with foreign nationals. Source
February–June, 2016: Republican lobbyist Richard Burt lobbied for a natural gas pipeline owned by New European Pipeline AG, a firm controlled by the Russian government. This pipeline would enable Russian NG to reach Europe while bypassing Ukraine and Belarus. Source Unclear but potentially important to Russia’s motivations in Ukraine despite all the international sanctions. Plus, Burt had some level of involvement in the Mayflower Hotel meeting.
February 28, 2016: Senator Jeff Sessions became the first Senator to endorse Donald Trump for President. Source Sessions was almost immediately, officially brought into the campaign to lead Trump’s National Security Advisory Committee. Source
March 2016: The Kremlin instructed state-backed media outlets, including RT and Sputnik, to report positively about Trump. Source See RSSI strategy papers in June and October, below. This ‘overt’ propaganda campaign coupled with a ‘covert’ hacking campaign to influence the US election.
March 21, 2016: Donald Trump publicly identified Carter Page as being part of his foreign policy team. Source

Page indicated he would be advising Trump on energy policy and Russia. Insiders were surprised by the announcement because Page was an apparent unknown in US and Russian circles familiar with the energy industry. Source

March 28, 2016: Trump publicly confirmed he had hired Paul Manafort to lead campaign efforts relating to delegates. Source Manafort failed to disclose his work as a foreign agent, as required under US federal law. Source At the time, Manafort was in debt to pro-Russia interests by as much as $17 million, in connection to his activities in Ukraine. Source Note that Manafort had $17 million in debt to pro-Russia interests, which is the same amount he admitted in 2017 to have received in payments from the Party of Regions. Unclear what this means.
April 11, 2016: Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican representative from California, visited Rinat Akhmetshin in Moscow and discussed US sanctions including the Magnitsky Act, and an ongoing money laundering lawsuit in New York.

 

Upon his return to the US, Rohrabacher delayed passage of the Global Magnitsky Act and tabled an amendment to remove Magnitsky’s name from its title, as suggested by the Kremlin.

 

Source1 Source2

April 27, 2016: The Center for National Interest hosted an event at the Mayflower Hotel, with Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions attending. (source) Additional attendees included Bud McFarlane (source), Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak (source), Italian Ambassador Armando Varricchio (source machine translation), and the Singapore Ambassador. Source (some shaky sourcing here) Trump gave a speech written largely by Richard Burt, Republican lobbyist for Russian natural gas pipeline New European Pipeline AG. Source There are many rumors that the Mayflower meeting was significant, possibly where deals were struck relating to the conspiracy. Nothing appears to be publicly confirmed, other than the attendees appearing to be involved in aspects of the conspiracy, and several participants having repeatedly lied about the event.
October 2015–June 2016: Russian hackers were suspected in a broad “dragnet” operation hacking into a broad variety of entities related to the US election, including the Democratic National Committee, the offices of the Hillary Clinton campaign, and the Clinton Foundation. The hackers reportedly breached law firms, lobbyists, consultants, foundations, and policy groups in a campaign that targeted, in part, thousands of Gmail accounts. Source

 

Late April 2016: Democratic National Committee chief executive Amy Dacey received a tip that their IT team noticed unusual network activity, and hired CrowdStrike to investigate. Source

 

May 18, 2016: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper publicly announced that cyberattacks were being detected on 2016 presidential campaigns. He indicated he anticipated the hacking to intensify. Source

 

Summer/Fall 2016: Russian hackers with the GRU were detected scanning voting systems for vulnerabilities and gaining access to election-related computer systems in 21 states. Source The hackers accessed systems linked to the US electoral system in at least 39 states (Source), although Obama Administration officials assumed they had probed all 50 states (Source). In Illinois, hackers gained access to the state’s voter database and tried to delete or alter voter data, and accessed software designed to be used by poll workers on election day; and in at least one state, accessed a campaign finance database. Source Voter data was found to have been manipulated by hackers in at least one county database, but these alterations were discovered and rectified at the time. Source

 

In one campaign revealed in a leaked, classified document from the NSA, the hackers sent spoofed emails purporting to be from Google to employees of VR Systems, a private contractor managing critical election systems. The email linked to a faux-Google website requesting Gmail login credentials. From these phishing emails, the hackers apparently obtained information on VR’s elections-related software and hardware solutions. 2 months later, in October, the hackers set up an “operational” Gmail account and sent spear-phishing emails to 122 local government organizations and officials involved in the management of voter registration systems across the US. The emails included MS Word documents purporting to be documentation for VR Systems’ EViD voter database product line, but they were infected with PowerShell scripts allowing control over the user’s computer. Source

P.4–5: Russia is conducting broad offensive cyber operations. Russia has had little success on primary targets, but massive effort invested in secondary targets with greater success, including western private banks and the governments of some smaller states allied with the west, including Latvia. Partial:

Russian cyber official Andrey Krutskikh publicly admitted at a security conference in Moscow in February 2016 that Russia was working on information warfare against the United States, making the analogy to the Soviet Union developing their first nuclear bomb in 1949 and saying their hacking would “allow us to talk to the Americans as equals.” Source

P.5: Hundreds of agents, either consciously cooperating or unwittingly having their IT systems compromised, were part of the program. Many were given money or contractual favors in return; The Central Bank of Russia knowingly covered up those agents’ money laundering operations through the Russian financial system. Partial:

“Throughout the Republican primary elections in early 2016, Russia sent armies of bots carrying pro-Trump messages and deployed human ‘trolls’ to comment in his favor on Internet stories and in social media.” Source

 

The web brigades (Russian: Веб-бригады), or Russia’s “troll army” (Wiki), were identified in St. Petersburg posing as American conservatives pushing pro-Trump propaganda, or “dezinformatsiya.” Source Russian “trolls” paid to influence the US election were interviewed by Samantha Bee. Source When a Finnish reporter published reports of these Russian “trolls,” she was subjected to retaliation in the form of extended online harassment, publication of true and false reports about her past, and small protests outside her office. Source The European Union’s East StratCom Task Force established The Disinformation Review, an online resource providing examples of such “dezinformatsiya” with news and analysis. Link

P.35: March–September, 2016: A company named XBT/Webzilla and its affiliates used botnets and porn traffic to transmit viruses, plant bugs, steal data, and conduct “altering operations” against US Democratic Party leadership. Aleksei Gubarov [sic] and Seva Kapsugovich, another hacking expert recruited under duress by the FSB, were heavily involved.
May 26, 2016: Donald Trump secured sufficient delegates to clinch the Republican nomination for President. Source  
May 2016: As Donald Trump was locking up the Republican presidential nomination, a U.S. intelligence intercept picked up Russians discussing ways to spread news damaging to Clinton. Source  
June 2016: The Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS), a Russian government think-tank, published a strategy paper circulated among top Russian officials, recommending the Kremlin launch a propaganda campaign in support of Trump on social media (e.g., Twitter) and Russian state-backed global news outlets targeting US voters. The approach in this paper was a broadening of an effort the Putin administration had launched in March 2016, when the Kremlin instructed state-backed media outlets, including RT and Sputnik, to report positively about Trump. Source Note second paper published in October 2016.

 

The timing of this memo dovetails nicely with the meeting with Don Jr. in Trump Tower, and the subsequent leaks by Guccifer 2.0 and Wikileaks.

June 3, 2016: Rob Goldstone, a music publicist and manager for Emin Agalarov, emailed Donald Trump, Jr. The email states that the “Crown Prosecutor of Russia” had asked Aras Agalarov, Emin’s father, to provide to the Trump campaign certain intelligence including “official documents and information” as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” The documents “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.” Trump Jr.’s replies enthusiastically accepted: “I love it.” Source1 Source2 Source3 The offer being made via Aras and Emin Agalarov demonstrated that the Agalarovs were acting as agents of the Russian Government to provide a channel between Russia and the Trump campaign.

 

The Agalarovs were previously known to act as an intermediary or liaison between Putin and Trump (see above re: Miss Universe pageant in Moscow; Source), and a close relationship had been maintained between the Agalarovs and the Trumps since that time.

June 6–7, 2016: Further emails were exchanged between Rob Goldstone and Donald Trump, Jr. to schedule a phone call between Trump, Jr. and Emin Agalarov, and later, to schedule a meeting between Trump, Jr. and the “Russian government attorney.” Source Presumably, Trump, Jr. spoke with Emin Agalarov by phone as they planned, and they discussed additional details of Russian efforts to help Trump, and about the intelligence being offered.
June 7, 2016: In a speech in New Jersey, Donald Trump announced plans to give “a major speech on probably Monday of next week [6/13] and we’re going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons… I think you’re going to find it very informative and very, very interesting.” Source Trump’s speech came a few hours after the presumed phone call between Trump, Jr. and Agalarov would have took place. It appears Trump, Jr. told Trump about the pending dirt on Clinton, and Trump couldn’t resist hinting about it in this speech.
June 9, 2016: Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort met at Trump Tower with Natalia Veselnitskaya (a Russian lawyer with connections to the Kremlin), Rinat Akhmetshin (a Russian–American lobbyist and former Soviet counterintelligence officer suspected of having ongoing ties to Russian intelligence), Irakly “Ike” Kaveladze (a Georgian–American executive at Crocus Group, the real estate development company run by Aras Agalarov), and Anatoli Samochornov (a translator for Veselnitskaya).

 

The parties discussed the offer to provide potentially incriminating information about Hillary Clinton. Trump, Jr. and Veselnitskaya claimed they only met to discuss issues relating to the Magnitsky Act and Russia’s retaliatory ban on American adoptions of Russian children.

 

Paul Manafort’s notes from the meeting mentioned political contributions, and the RNC. Source

 

Donald Trump was at the Trump Tower at the time of the meeting. Source Trump acknowledged spending the day preparing a “charge sheet” including various attacks he planned to unveil against Hillary Clinton at his speech planned the next week (i.e., June 13). Source He delayed the speech after the Pulse nightclub shooting on June 12, but delivered the speech prepared this day on June 22. In the speech, he indicated that “our enemies have a blackmail file” on Hillary Clinton. Source

 

Source1 Source2 Source3 Source4 Source5

P.2: The Kremlin had been feeding Trump and his team valuable intelligence on his opponents, including Hillary Clinton. This information was confirmed by a close associate of Trump (Source D) who had organized and managed his recent trips to Moscow, and had reported in June 2016 that this Russian intelligence had been “very helpful.” So it’s confirmed with certainty that (1) Russia supported Trump and was taking active steps to provide the campaign with intelligence; and (2) at least some Trump campaign members were openly receptive to accepting this help.

 

Since he lied about everything else, it’s also still a strong possibility that this meeting resulted in the transfer of intelligence, or some other act or deal in furtherance of the conspiracy.

 

Donald Trump Sr.’s presence at the same location, and his day’s activity working on the same subject matter (attacks on Clinton) very, very strongly suggests Trump Sr. was either present in the meeting or at least discussed it with Trump, Jr.

 

Especially given their own statements that they discussed certain US sanctions against Russia, appearances are that this meeting, shortly after Trump clinched the Republican nomination for President, was part of an effort to make a deal for quid pro quo: pushing for elimination of US sanctions against Russia in exchange for Russia’s forthcoming release of DNC documents via Guccifer 2.0.

Also: Steele Dossier “Source D” appears pretty clearly to be Emin Agalarov.
June 12, 2016: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange publicly announced plans to publish stolen emails relating to Hillary Clinton. Source Circumstantially appears that this was among the subject matter discussed at Trump Tower on June 9.
June 13, 2016: Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya had a front-row seat at a US House Foreign Relations Committee hearing in D.C. that discussed sanctions and other aspects of US-Russia relations.

 

During this hearing, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher advocated an end to sanctions against Russia, approvingly compared Donald Trump to Vladimir Putin, and submitted testimony that Russia was not behind the radioactive poisoning of former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko in London. Source

 

That evening Veselnitskaya attended a movie event showing a film alleging that US businessman William Browder (of Hermitage Capital Management) was behind falsification of the facts that underlie the Magnitsky Act. Several congressional staffers and State Dept. officials attended the movie. Veselnitskaya also attended a dinner with about 20 guests including Rinat Akhmetshin and Dana Rohrabacher. Source1 Source2 Invitations to attend the movie were distributed by an intern on Rohrabacher’s committee, who promised the movie would convince viewers that Magnitsky was no hero. The intern, Catherine O’Neill, would later take a job on the Trump transition team. Source

Circumstantially appears that this was among the subject matter discussed at Trump Tower on June 9.
June 14, 2016: Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya filed a report with US Congress, outlining the allegations in the anti-Magnitsky Act movie. Source She had been planning to attend a House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee meeting on this date with Dana Rohrabacher. Rohrabacher had received briefings against Browder and Magnitsky from Russia’s Prosecutor General’s office (the same source as the intelligence offered to Trump Jr. on June 3), and scheduled the meeting to air the movie in Congress and present Veselnitskaya and the movie’s director, Nekrasov, to present the Kremlin view. The committee chairman Ed Royce cancelled the meeting as potentially embarrassing for the Republican Party, instead scheduling a full committee hearing on Russia relations (held June 13). Source  
June 14, 2016: First public reports appeared about Russian government hackers penetrating the Democratic National Committee. One group of hackers (believed to be Russian intelligence FSB) had gained full access to all email and chat traffic, maintaining access for about a year. Another group of hackers (believed to be Russian military intelligence GRU) targeted opposition files, gaining access to the computers of the entire research staff and stealing files, including the DNC’s opposition research on Trump, and voter info. Source
June 15, 2016: A hacker going by the name Guccifer 2.0 leaked documents stolen from the Democratic National Committee, including an opposition research file on Donald Trump. Source Circumstantially appears that this was among the subject matter discussed at Trump Tower on June 9.
June 15, 2015: House majority leader Kevin McCarthy is secretly recorded in a private conversation with other Republican leaders at the US Capitol saying that, “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.” House Speaker Paul Ryan interrupted to stop the conversation and swore everyone to secrecy. Source Fellow Republicans believed Trump, and some other Republicans, were receiving support from the Russian government. And still, their leadership actively concealed the concerns.
June 20, 2016: Donald Trump fired campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and promoted Paul Manafort to the position. Source  
JUNE 20, 2016: DATE OF FIRST STEELE MEMO, PAGES 1–3  
July 7–9, 2016: Carter Page travelled to Moscow for 3 days and gave a speech at a graduation event at the New Economic School, where he criticized the United States and other Western nations for a “hypocritical focus on ideas such as democratization, inequality, corruption and regime change” in Russia and in other parts of the former Soviet Union. Source P.9, 30: July 7 or 8: Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin held a secret meeting with Trump’s foreign affairs advisor Carter Page, where Sechin discussed issues of future bilateral energy cooperation, and prospects for an associated move to lift Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia. Page reacted positively but was generally non-committal. Circumstantial: Page was in Moscow at the time.

 

Ongoing: US Intelligence officials confirmed that allegations that Page met with senior Russian officials close to Putin on this trip were being “actively monitored and investigated.” Source

P.30–31: Sechin offered Page and Trump’s associates the brokerage of up to a 19% (privatized) stake in Rosneft in return for the lifting of personal and corporate western sanctions imposed on Rosneft. Page expressed interest and confirmed that, if Trump were elected President, the sanctions on Russia would be lifted. Page implied to Sechin that he was speaking with Trump’s authority. Circumstantial.

 

Regarding the Rosneft stake: the timing of meetings between Trump campaign leaders and Rosneft officials is very tight with the sale, and Trump officials have repeatedly lied to conceal these meetings. The parties to the Rosneft sale made false statements about the identity of who made the purchase and took steps to conceal the true parties’ identities. The value of the stake actually sold (19.5%) lines up with the alleged payment of the brokerage fee on a 19% sale.

 

April 27, 2016: The Center for National Interest hosted an event at the Mayflower Hotel, with Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions attending. (source) Additional attendees included Bud McFarlane (source), Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak (source), Italian Ambassador Armando Varricchio (source machine translation), and the Singapore Ambassador. Source (some shaky sourcing here) Trump gave a speech written largely by Richard Burt, Republican lobbyist for Russian natural gas pipeline New European Pipeline AG. Source

 

December 5–7: Bud McFarlane and Sergey Kislyak visited Trump Tower. (shaky sourcing here) Michael Flynn and Jared Kushner also met with Sergey Kislyak at Trump Tower. (Source)

 

December 7, 2016: Igor Sechin announced that Russia completed the sale of a 19.5% stake in Russian oil company Rosneft for US$11 billion, to Qatar and commodities trader Glencore. Because the money from the sale went to the Russian state, rather than to Rosneft, US sanctions imposed on Russia for its actions in Ukraine did not apply. Source

 

Rosneft claimed the buyer was a 50/50 joint venture between Qatar and Glencore. However, public records show the ownership went to a Cayman Islands company whose owners cannot be traced, and a Singapore investment vehicle, funded partly by a loan from Italian bank SanPaolo, and partly by Qatar. Because they used the Cayman Islands company, it is not possible to determine from public records who now owns that 19.5% stake of Rosneft, or who was the source of substantial other, undisclosed funding. Source

 

December 8, 2016: Carter Page traveled to Moscow to meet with some of the top managers of Rosneft. Source (machine translation)

 

Regarding the sanctions: when this document was prepared, the sanctions were still in place, but Trump has made attempts to lift them and still appears to wish to do so.

 

July 27, 2016: Trump told a news conference he would consider recognizing Crimea as Russian territory and lifting US sanctions on Russia. Source

 

December 29, 2016: Obama imposed additional sanctions on Russia for its election interference. Sergey Kislyak was summoned to the US State Dept. and briefed on the new sanctions. Kislyak was irate and threatened a forceful Russian response. Kislyak left and called Michael Flynn, in a call recorded by US intelligence. Flynn urged Russia not to respond, saying relations would improve once Trump was in office, and implying that Trump would lift the sanctions. Source

 

January 2017: Almost immediately after taking office, Trump administration officials pressed State Department staffers to develop plans to remove sanctions against Russia. The State Dept. coordinator of sanctions Dan Fried responded to objections from State officials and contacted Congress to attempt to have the sanctions codified, to complicate Trump efforts to lift them. Another State Dept. official, Tom Malinowski, also alarmed, brought up the issue with Congress. Source

P.9: During that trip, Carter Page also secretly met with Igor Divyekin in the Internal Political Department. Divyekin told Page that the Kremlin possessed a dossier of ‘kompromat’ on Hillary Clinton and said it could be released to the Trump campaign. Partial:

 

Published emails sent to Donald Trump Jr. on June 3–9, 2016 confirm that Russia provided, or at least attempted to provide to the Trump campaign “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia.” Source

 

Not sure how this conversation would get out – was Page’s phone bugged? This was before the Fisa warrant on Page that’s now publicly known. Maybe the Russian government offices were bugged?

P.9: Divyekin may also have hinted or indicated (threatened?) to Carter Page that the Kremlin possessed ‘kompromat’ on Trump.
July 11–12, 2016: During the Republican National Convention, the Trump campaign pushes the Republican Party to change its official policy on Ukraine: no longer proposing sending “lethal weapons” to the Ukrainian army to fend off Russian aggression, but instead, softened to say only “provide appropriate assistance.” Source1 Source2
July 18, 2016: Russian hacking group “Guccifer 2.0” leaked further stolen internal documents from DNC servers. Source
July 18–19, 2016: Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak attended the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, meeting with Jeff Sessions. Trump foreign policy aides Carter Page and J.D. Gordon met Kislyak at a Global Partners in Diplomacy event, linked to the ongoing RNC. Page would later falsely claim that he had “no meetings” with Russian officials in 2016. Source Gordon discussed with Kislyak the issues of sanctions against Russia, and advocated for Republican platform changes to soften action against Russia in response to their Ukraine intervention. Gordon later falsely described his discussion with Kislyak, omitting the discussion about sanctions. Source1 Source2

 

Also in attendance at the RNC was Andrii Artemenko, a Ukrainian lawmaker who joined their Parliament in 2014 and opposes their new President Poroshenko. Source

Is it common for foreign ambassadors to attend US party conventions?
JULY 19, 2016: DATE OF THIRD STEELE MEMO, PAGES 7–10  
July 22, 2016: WikiLeaks published a collection of leaked DNC emails in the first of a series of such leaks. Source

 

July–October 2016: Wikileaks continued to serially publish leaked emails from the DNC, John Podesta, and others. Source

P.7: Russia was behind the leak of DNC emails to Wikileaks.

 

(Note: this portion of the dossier was dated before Wikileaks published any of these emails, but Assange had announced in June that he had them and planned to leak them.)

Confirmed.

Crowdstrike, Fidelis Cybersecurity, Mandiant, SecureWorks, and ThreatConnect agreed. Source 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

 

DNI report (PDF) said US intelligence agreed with “high confidence,” and that Vladimir Putin directed the effort.

 

US Intelligence said that Russia’s intentions with the email leaks were to help Trump. Source

 

Apparently they have Putin on audio!?

P.17: Carter Page and others devised and promoted a strategy of leaking hacked emails to WikiLeaks in order to swing Bernie Sanders supporters from Clinton to Trump, leveraging their apparent “visceral dislike” of Hillary Clinton. Carter Page’s alleged mastermind role seems unlikely.
P.8: Leaks of DNC emails from Wikileaks were conducted with the full knowledge and support of Trump and senior members of his campaign team. Partial:

June 3–9, 2016: Senior Trump campaign officials met a Russian attorney and others at Trump Tower to discuss an offer from the Russian government to deliver to the Trump campaign official documents and information that would allegedly incriminate Clinton.

 

June 7, 2016: In a speech in New Jersey, Donald Trump announced plans to give “a major speech on probably Monday of next week [6/13] and we’re going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons… I think you’re going to find it very informative and very, very interesting.” Source The Guccifer 2.0 documents were released on June 15.

 

August, 2016: Trump’s friend Roger Stone repeatedly discussed having backchannel communications with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and claimed to have knowledge of forthcoming leaks from the group. Before these leaks, Stone openly talked about forthcoming leaks of emails of John Podesta, Huma Abedin, and Cheryl Mills; and emails relating to the Clinton Foundation. Source

P.8: In return for Russia leaking hacked emails to Wikileaks, the Trump team agreed to sideline Russian intervention in Ukraine as a campaign issue, and to raise US/NATO defense commitments in the Baltics and Eastern Europe to deflect attention away from Ukraine. Circumstantial: Trump’s team and Russia both took these actions. But were they in consideration for one another? Is it reasonable to argue that Trump would otherwise try to unilaterally lift sanctions on Russia, during Russia’s ongoing cyberwar against the US, and without the US receiving anything in return other than Russia’s goodwill?

 

Easing Up on US Response to Russian Intervention in Ukraine

July 2016: Trump told a German reporter at a news conference that he was considering backing Russian annexation of Crimea and lifting sanctions. Source

 

July 11–12, 2016: only a few days before Wikileaks began publishing hacked DNC emails, Republican Party policy on Ukraine was officially changed: no longer proposing sending “lethal weapons” to the Ukrainian army to fend off Russian aggression, but instead, softened to say only “provide appropriate assistance.” There are claims this change was prompted by Trump campaign request. Source

 

Raising NATO defense commitments:

March 27, 2016: Trump, on ABC News This Week, said that NATO was obsolete and that the US should “readjust NATO.” Source

 

February 2017: Michael Flynn recommended that Trump support Montenegro to join NATO, extending NATO’s defense guarantee to another Eastern European country. Source (Not sure what to make of this – Russia publicly opposed this move. Would this actually deflect NATO attention away from Ukraine?)

July 24, 2016: on ABC’s This Week, Paul Manafort asserted there were no connections between the Trump campaign and the Putin regime, and said there was no basis for the allegations. Source (probably should source ABC instead) Knowingly false, given that Manafort met with Russian parties at Trump Tower on June 9 to receive Russian government intelligence on Clinton barely a month before.
July 24, 2016: On CNN’s State of the Union, Donald Trump Jr. called out those alleging Russian hacking efforts being part of a plot to help Trump and hurt Clinton, saying, “It’s disgusting. It’s so phony… I can’t think of bigger lies… the DNC and … Clinton… will lie and do anything to win.” Later: the election is “not going to be about divisive politics and emails. You know, accusing people of working with the Russian government…. If the RNC did that, if my father’s campaign did that they’d be calling for people to get the electric chair.” Source Knowingly false, given that Trump Jr. was explicitly told that the Russian government was working to help Trump, and that he met with Russian parties at Trump Tower on June 9 to receive Russian government intelligence on Clinton barely a month before.
July 25, 2016: The FBI announced it had opened an investigation into the hacking of the DNC. It later revealed that their investigation also targeted Donald Trump’s advisors’ contacts and links with Russian government officials and intelligence operatives, and whether there was coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia’s efforts. Source (Comey testimony)

 

The Trump–Russia investigation involved a joint taskforce including the FBI, Department of Treasury, and Department of Justice for domestic inquiries; and the CIA, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the NSA for foreign and intelligence aspects of the investigation. Source

 

As part of their investigation, the FBI examined computer data showing a link between a Trump Organization server and two banks, including Alfa Bank. In part, two servers at Alfa looked up the unique Internet address of the Trump server, mail1.trump-email.com, 2,820 times, representing 80% of all the lookups for that Trump server. Nearly all the other lookups were by Spectrum Health, a medical facility chain led by Dick DeVos, husband of Trump’s Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. That address, registered to the Trump organization, points to an IP address in Lititz, PA. Source

 

Further investigations looked into the possibility that the Trump campaign assisted Russian “bots” to specifically target high-impact states and important districts in those states for distribution of negative or fabricated “fake news” anti-Clinton stories. “There appears to have been significant cooperation between Russia’s online propaganda machine and individuals in the United States who were knowledgeable about where to target the disinformation.” -Mike Carpenter, who held a senior Pentagon post working on Russian matters at the time of the events. Evidence indicated that the Russian bots targeted women and African-Americans in decisive states of Wisconsin and Michigan. Source

July 25–26, 2016: Donald Trump wrote on Twitter: “The new joke in town is that Russia leaked the disastrous DNC e-mails, which should never have been written (stupid), because Putin likes me.” Later: “In order to try and deflect the horror and stupidity of the Wikileakes disaster, the Dems said maybe it is Russia dealing with Trump. Crazy!” Source (Should source the Tweets directly) If Donald Trump Sr. knew about the June 9 meeting with the Russians in Trump Tower, or anything about the Russian government effort to help Trump that resulted in that meeting, then this was knowingly false.
July 26, 2016: Widespread news reports stated that US intelligence officials concluded with high confidence that Russia was behind the DNC hacks and Wikileaks publication of DNC emails. Source
JULY 26, 2016: DATE OF SECOND STEELE MEMO, PAGES 4–6
July 27, 2016: On CBS’s This Morning, Donald Trump said of Russia, “We have no relationship.” Source  
July 27, 2016: During a press conference on national television, Donald Trump acknowledged the Russian hacking efforts and half-jokingly requested Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s campaign, saying, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” Source This was Trump’s last major press conference until the election. If Trump acknowledges that Russia is conducting a cyberwar against the US, and takes no action against it, yet still moves to lift US sanctions against Russia, would this alone constitute treason under Article III of the US Constitution, which defines treason to include levying war against the US, adhering to their enemies, or giving them aid and comfort? See also 18 USC §2381.
JULY 30, 2016: DATE OF FOURTH STEELE MEMO, PAGES 11–12  
August 3, 2016: US Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson proposed designating the electronic ballot -casting system for the elections as “critical infrastructure,” which would provide State elections with streamlined access to classified threat information sharing, opportunities for added training, etc. Source   Predictably, Republicans objected to the DHS proposal as a “federal power grab,” and publicly downplayed any risk of election-related cyber attacks. Source The proposal was implemented about a month after the election. Source
AUGUST 5, 2016: DATE OF FIFTH STEELE MEMO, PAGES 13–14  
August 9, 2016: Michael Flynn signed a contract with Inovo, a Dutch firm owned by Ekim Alptekin, a Turkish businessman connected to Turkey President Recep Erdogan. Under the contract, Flynn’s company would receive $600,000 for investigating and producing a film about Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric living in Pennsylvania whom Erdogan blamed for instigating a failed coup. The film was not completed, but Flynn’s company eventually received $530,000. Source    
AUGUST 10, 2016: DATE OF SIXTH STEELE MEMO, PAGES 15–16; AND SEVENTH STEELE MEMO, PAGE 17  
P. 13: August 2016: Sergei Ivanov, Russian Head of Presidential Administration, expressed anger at the Kremlin team involved with the leaking of DNC emails and the wider pro-Trump operation. Ivanov believed they had gone too far with their “elephant in a china shop black PR,” and claimed he always opposed the handling and exploitation of intelligence by this PR team.
P. 15: Ivanov said Russia’s target audience for this disinformation would be American educated youth. Circumstantial: the volume of disinformation pushed to reddit at this time (weak)

 

I think the DIA report from January that attributed the hacking campaign to Russia might support this – need to confirm.

August 12, 2016: Vladimir Putin unexpectedly dismissed Sergei Ivanov as his chief of staff in a televised, choreographed meeting on Russian state television. Source P.22–23: Putin unexpectedly sacked head of the Russian Presidential Administration Sergei Ivanov, who, backed by Russian foreign intelligence (SVR), advised Putin that the pro-Trump, anti-Clinton operations would be both effective and plausibly deniable with little blowback. The television broadcasted dismissal was a hilarious farce, giving other, benign reasons for Ivanov’s dismissal.
August 2016: Russian diplomat Mikhail Kalugin left his position at the Russian Embassy in Washington DC and returned to Moscow. At the time of his departure, US investigators were examining whether he had a role in Russia’s payments to hackers for their efforts to help Trump. Source US intelligence confirmed that they had identified Kalugin as a spy with either the SVR or GRU while he was still at the embassy, and that Kalugin was under surveillance before he left the US. Source P.23: Russian diplomat Mikhail Kulagin [sic, Kalugin] was withdrawn from Washington at short notice because Moscow feared his heavy involvement in the US presidential election operation, including the “veterans’ pensions ruse” (where cash was allegedly moved to hackers and other operatives through a system that distributes pension benefits to Russian military veterans living in the US (source)), would be exposed in the US media. Partial.

 

This report from the Embassy dated 8/15/2016 mentions Kalugin departing the Embassy.

 

Contrary to statements from Moscow, Kalugin was suspected of being a spy, and during his stint at the embassy, he didn’t meet with US State Dept. officials as would have been expected of a non-spy.

P.14: Russian prime minister Dmitriy Medvedev was unhappy with the backlash against Russian interference with the US election, and was openly refusing to cover up for Peskov and others involved in the DNC/Trump operations, or to support their counter-attack of allegations against the US for its alleged hacking of the Russian government.
August 14, 2016: First story published about Paul Manafort’s kickbacks from the pro-Russian Ukrainian political party. Source

 

August, 2016: Paul Manafort met with Konstantin Kilimnik, a business associate from Ukraine who once served in the Russian army. Kilimnik was suspected of having ties to Russian intelligence and was a person of interest in the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation into Trump–Russia collusion. Source

 

August 19, 2016: Paul Manafort officially resigned from his position as campaign manager for the Trump campaign following blowback from news reports about Manafort’s dealings in Ukraine. Source

 

August 19, 2016: Paul Manafort created a holding company Summerbreeze LLC. Two weeks later, Summerbreeze took out a $3.5 million loan from S C 3, a subsidiary of Spruce Capital (backed by Ukrainian fertilizer magnate Alexander Rovt), using Paul Manafort’s home in Bridgehampton as collateral. The lender did not record the mortgage. The loan was repaid in December 2016. Summerbreeze also received $13 million in loans from two businesses tied to Donald Trump. Source

P.20: August 15, 2016: (2 days after the New York Times published a report about Manafort’s connections with Yanukovych, and 3 days before Manafort resigned (source)), Vladimir Putin met with Victor Yanukovych in Volgograd, Russia. They discussed recent media revelations about Paul Manafort, and Yanukovych confirmed to Putin that he did authorize and order substantial kick-back payments to Manafort as the reports alleged. See entry above about the “black ledger”

 

Many allegations in the Dossier, such as this one, only seem possible via extensive bugs of Russian government offices (or possibly diplomats’ phones)

P.32: Paul Manafort’s role in the Trump campaign was irreparably damaged after news reports revealed his dealings in Ukraine. Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen’s role and importance grew in the ongoing secret liaison relationship between Trump’s campaign and Russian leadership.
August 17, 2016: As part of a campaign shake-up relating to Manafort’s dismissal, the Trump campaign appointed Steve Bannon as chief executive of the campaign, and Kellyanne Conway as campaign manager. Bannon was a former banker who, at the time, was running the far-right tabloid Breitbart News. Source
P.32: Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen was heavily engaged in a cover-up and damage control operation, attempting to prevent the full details about Trump’s relationship with Russia from being exposed.
P.18: August 2016 (P.34: possibly September): Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen attended a clandestine meeting with Russian representatives in Prague, Czech Republic, using the cover of (and maybe the location of) the NGO Rossotrudnichestvo office in Prague. They met to “clean up the mess” left behind by revelations of Paul Manafort’s corrupt relationship with the Yanukovych regime, as well as Carter Page’s secret meetings with senior Russian regime figures in July 2016. CNN’s Jake Tapper reported that he was aware of an investigation that indicated that there was a different Michael Cohen, with a passport from a different country, who visited Prague. Tapper seemed to believe this allegation from the dossier was disproven. Source
P.34: Cohen was accompanied by 3 colleagues. Oleg Solodukhin was among the Russian attendees.
P.18: Putin’s ally in the Duma, Konstantin Kosachev (head of the Foreign Relations Committee) was an important figure in the Trump campaign–Kremlin liaison operation. Kosachev facilitated the contact in Prague, and may have attended the meeting(s) with Cohen.
P.34: The Prague agenda included questions on how deniable cash payments would be made to hackers who had worked in Europe under Kremlin direction against the Clinton campaign, and how to cover up those operations. (see entry above re: XBT/Webzilla, Gubarov, and Kapsugovich)
P.35: Trump’s team and the Kremlin both paid the operatives involved.
P.35: Parties at the Prague meeting agreed to stand down certain “Romanian hackers,” and that other operatives should lay low at a “bolt hole” in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
August 2016: Donald Trump’s friend Roger Stone repeatedly discussed having backchannel communications with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and claimed to have knowledge of forthcoming leaks from the group. Before these leaks, Stone openly talked about forthcoming leaks of emails of John Podesta, Huma Abedin, and Cheryl Mills; and emails relating to the Clinton Foundation. Source
August 17, 2016: Donald Trump received his first top-secret intelligence briefing at FBI headquarters. Source This is the latest possible date where it can be said that Trump learned that Russia was actively engaged in a cyber war against the US (although his earlier statements, such as the July 27 press conference, clearly implied he knew much earlier.)
AUGUST 22, 2016: DATE OF NINTH STEELE MEMO, PAGES 20–21  
September 8, 2016: Jeff Sessions met Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in Sessions’s office. Sessions would later report that they discussed issues of terrorism and Ukraine (sanctions?), and that the meeting was “contentious.” Source Source2 Sessions later denied during his AG confirmation hearings that he had any meetings with Russian officials during the campaign, or that he had had been in contact with anyone connected to Russian government about the election. After this meeting was revealed, Sessions continued to deny having any “campaign-related” discussions, although the issues he admitted discussing were clearly campaign-related, especially Ukraine.
September 2016: After the allegations about Carter Page meeting with Sechin in Moscow became public, Page announced he was taking a “leave of absence” from the Trump campaign. Source
September 13, 2016: Russian hacking group “Guccifer 2.0” leaked a large file including additional internal documents stolen from the DNC at a cybersecurity conference in London, UK. Source
SEPTEMBER 14, 2016: DATE OF TENTH STEELE MEMO, PAGES 22–24; ELEVENTH STEELE MEMO, PAGES 25–26; AND TWELFTH STEELE MEMO, PAGE 27
September 19, 2016: Michael Flynn met in New York with a group of government officials from Turkey to discuss ways to covertly take Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen out of the United States without going through the legal extradition process. Source  
October 4, 2016: In a hoax, Russian hacking group “Guccifer 2.0” falsely purported to leak documents stolen from the Clinton Foundation. However, the release did not contain any Clinton Foundation documents, but rather only included documents already previously released that were stolen from the DNC; other publicly available documents; and other documents that were fabricated as propaganda (including a fake Clinton Foundation document titled, “Pay for Play,” showing false evidence of bribery). Source P. 28: October 2016: The Kremlin had injected a stream of further hacked Clinton material into compliant western media outlets like Wikileaks. However, the Russians’ best material was already out there, and there were no real game-changers to come.

 

P.15: Sergei Ivanov indicated in confidence to a close colleague that Russian responsibility for the DNC hack and leaks to Wikileaks remained technically deniable, so Russia would not leak further material. Instead, they would spread rumors and disinformation about the content of what had already been leaked, and would make up new content.

Circumstantial (strong):

 

Note that the Steele memo at P.15 was dated in mid-August. The Guccifer 2.0 hoax of October 4 strongly supports this allegation. Also, the September 13 dump of everything else they had from the DNC didn’t cause substantial press because there wasn’t anything good left.

 

Also, October 10, 2016: Sputnik, a Russian government-controlled news agency, published an article including a falsified version of a hacked email from Clinton adviser Sidney Blumenthal. The doctored email falsely showed Blumenthal was critical of Clinton’s handling of the Benghazi embassy incident. Only hours after the article appeared on Sputnik, at a campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, PA, Donald Trump read quotes from the falsified version of the leaked email to “prove” that Clinton lied about Benghazi, resulting in chants of “lock her up.” Source1 Source2

October 7, 2016: The Obama administration formally accused Russia of election-related hacking activity, including stealing and disclosing DNC emails, and “scanning and probing” election rolls in states across the country. Source  
October 2016: After Carter Page left the Trump campaign, the FBI obtained a 90-day FISA warrant (since, renewed more than once) to monitor Page, based on a belief that Page was acting as an agent of the Russian government, and that he knowingly engaged in clandestine intelligence activities on their behalf. Source

 

The warrant request was based on Page’s 2013 conversation with Podobnyy, in addition to other as-yet undisclosed contacts between Page and Russian operatives. Source (Probably safe to assume it was also partly based on the Steele dossier)

 

The warrant also covered two Russian banks. It was based in part on intelligence passed to the CIA by a Baltic country, including a tape recording of a conversation about money from the Kremlin going into the US presidential campaign. Source

 

***UPDATE: It was later reported that Page had been under FISA surveillance since 2014. Source

An Eastern European country apparently provided the US with an audio recording of “a conversation” about Russia funding the Trump campaign. Depending on who was in this conversation, this could be among the most important pieces of evidence.
October 2016: The Democratic National Committee reported to the FBI that it found evidence its headquarters may have been bugged. Source
October 2016: The Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS) published a second strategy document warning that Hillary Clinton was likely to win the US general election, and therefore, Russia should end its pro-Trump propaganda and instead, intensify its messaging about voter fraud, to undermine the legitimacy of the US electoral system and to damage Clinton’s presidency. Source Voter Fraud has been a very popular “issue” used by right-wing candidates in elections around the country. Might be worthwhile investigating those Republican candidates who most strongly criticized voter fraud issues around this timeframe.

 

(Of course, Donald Trump’s famous false allegation that millions of votes cast for Clinton were made by illegal aliens, and that was the only reason she won the popular vote, is a perfect example…)

October 2016: Barack Obama contacted the Kremlin on a back channel “red phone” to complain about the hacking, offering detailed documents of what it said was Russia’s role in election meddling, and to warn that the attacks risked setting off a broader conflict. Source
October 2016: Deutsche Bank loaned Jared Kushner $370 million to refinance his company’s commercial property in Manhattan. Kushner and his brother Joshua both agreed to personally guarantee the debt. Kushner did not disclose the loan or his personal guarantee in his financial disclosure form filed with the Office of Government Ethics (although it’s unclear if disclosure would have been required). Source1 Source2
OCTOBER 12, 2016: DATE OF THIRTEENTH STEELE MEMO, PAGES 28–29
OCTOBER 18, 2016: DATE OF FOURTEENTH STEELE MEMO, PAGES 30–31
OCTOBER 19, 2016: DATE OF FIFTEENTH STEELE MEMO, PAGES 32–33
OCTOBER 20, 2016: DATE OF EIGHTH STEELE MEMO, PAGES 18–19
P.30: October 17: Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin assessed that it was no longer possible for Trump to win the US presidency, and tried to find other business and political contacts in the US. Evidently Sechin was wrong.
November 8, 2016: Donald Trump was elected President.
November 8, 2016: Michael Flynn published an op-ed in The Hill, criticizing Fethullah Gulen as “a shady Islamic mullah” and “radical Islamist,” evidently as an assignment for his lobbying firm under contract by Ekim Alptekin’s company Inovo. Flynn did not disclose that he was being paid by Inovo. Source
November 10, 2016: The US government officially, publicly accused Russia of conducting a hacking campaign to interfere with the US election. (source) I don’t think I’ll ever understand why this wasn’t done before the election.
2016: US intelligence recorded a conversation between Russian officials who said Michael Flynn was their ally, and they had successfully cultivated a strong relationship with him. They believed they could use him to influence Donald Trump and his team. Source
November 10, 2016: President Obama warned President-elect Trump against hiring Michael Flynn. Source
November 18, 2016: Michael Flynn accepted Trump’s offer to become National Security Advisor. Source
November 24, 2016: Donald Trump nominated Wilbur Ross for US Secretary of Commerce. Ross had previously served under Bill Clinton on the board of the US-Russia Investment Fund, and since 2014, had been the vice-chairman of the board of Bank of Cyprus PCL. Wiki
December, 2016: Michael Flynn and Jared Kushner met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Russian banking executive Sergey Gorkov (from Vnesheconombank, or VEB) at Trump Tower. Source

 

Kislyak was later recorded saying to another Russian official that at this meeting, Flynn and Kushner asked the Russians to set up a direct, encrypted communications channel with Russia, so that Flynn could regularly speak directly with Russian military officials without the knowledge of American intelligence agencies. Source

Very fishy having the Russian ambassador and a senior officer at a Russian bank meet with the president-elect’s son-in-law / advisor, and the future national security advisor. Other than the subject conspiracy, would there be any legitimate explanation for these parties to meet?

 

If they were discussing establishing secure communications between US and Russian intelligence about war efforts, why is a banker there? Would he even have clearance to hear that kind of classified info?

 

See news entry of 1/25/2017: Rosneft was seeking to purchase a portion of VEB. This is even further circumstantial evidence that the sale of the 19.5% Rosneft stake was used as part of a quid pro quo.

December, 2016: Michael Flynn met with Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of the Freedom Party of Austria (FPA), at Trump Tower. FPA is a far-right party founded by ex-Nazis in the 1950s, and FPA had just recently entered a cooperation agreement with Putin’s ruling United Russia party. Source This is relevant to the possibility that Flynn was working to support Russia’s efforts to empower the far-right (e.g., Nazis and the alt-right) across the west, since that would weaken international alliances such as NATO.
DECEMBER 13, 2016: DATE OF SIXTEENTH STEELE MEMO, PAGES 34–35  
December 26, 2016: Russian intelligence officer Oleg Erovinkin, a key aide to Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin, was found murdered in the back of his car in Moscow. Media has speculated that Erovinkin was one of Steele’s sources in the Trump–Russia Dossier. Source  
December 28–29, 2016: President Barack Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats from the US as intelligence operatives, seized two Russian compounds, and imposed additional economic sanctions on Russia (on top of the Ukraine sanctions and the Magnitsky Act) for their interference in the US presidential election. Source1 Source2 Sergey Kislyak was summoned to the US State Dept. and briefed on the new sanctions. Kislyak was irate, and threatened a forceful Russian response. Kislyak left and called Michael Flynn, in a call recorded by US intelligence. Flynn urged Russia not to respond, saying relations would improve once Trump was in office. Source Source2 Source3 Kislyak clearly believed Flynn would take Russia’s side and push Trump to remove these sanctions once he took office.

 

Flynn having lied about this call (at least to VP Mike Pence), by denying that he had discussed sanctions with Kislyak, was the ostensible reason he was later fired.

December, 2016: Carter Page travelled to Moscow. Source While there, he gave another speech at the New Economic School, complaining that “fake news” had hurt US–Russian relations. Source He also met with some of the top managers of Rosneft, immediately following Rosneft’s sale of a 19.5% stake to unknown private investors. Source (machine translation) Source2 This meeting between Page and Rosneft officers circumstantially supports the allegations that Page brokered a quid pro quo agreement during his trip to Russia in July 2016.
January 6, 2017:The  US Department of Homeland Security announced that it would designate US election infrastructure as “critical infrastructure,” bringing federal protections to the state-controlled voting systems. Source Republicans blocked this proposal before the election.
January 11, 2017: The UAE arranged a 2-day secret meeting in the Seychelles between Blackwater founder Erik Prince, and a Russian close to Vladimir Putin. They discussed establishing a back-channel line of communication between Trump and Russia. UAE’s main goal was to get Trump to help separate Russia from Iran. The FBI is scrutinizing this meeting as part of its overall Trump–Russia probe. Source Erik Prince is related to the DeVoss family, whose company’s server was somehow involved with whatever was going on between Trump’s server and Alfa Bank.
January 4, 2017: Weeks before Trump’s inauguration, Michael Flynn disclosed to President-Elect Trump’s transition team that he was under federal investigation for secretly working as a paid lobbyist for Turkey without registering as a foreign agent, as required by law. Source Trump implausibly says he didn’t know about this when he nominated Flynn.
January 10, 2017: Michael Flynn speaks with Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice, who explained a plan to retake the Islamic State’s de facto capital of Raqqa, in partnership with Syrian Kurdish forces. Because the operation would be carried out during Trump’s administration they sought Flynn’s sign-off. Flynn told Rice to hold off, delaying the operation against Raqqa for months. It was widely speculated that his decision was influenced by his secret agency with Turkey via his lobbying firm’s client Inovo (Turkey has domestic political problems with the Kurds). Source  
January 10, 2017: During his confirmation hearing for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions is asked if “there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign.” Mr. Sessions replies, “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign, and I didn’t have — did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.” Source Perjury? – Sessions later said that during his Sept. 8 meeting in his office with Kislyak, they discussed Ukraine. US policy relating to Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula was an important issue in the campaigns, as well as US sanctions against Russia in response, which Trump frequently suggested he would eliminate. Unless they only spoke about how beautiful Ukraine is, they discussed a key election issue.
January 17, 2017: In a response to a written questionnaire, nominee for Attorney General Jeff Sessions directly denies that he had been “in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election.” Source
January 2017: Before Trump’s inauguration, Michael Flynn’s attorneys told incoming White House Counsel Don McGahn that Flynn might need to register as a foreign agent. After Trump’s inauguration, Flynn’s attorneys also told another member of the White House legal team. Source

Flynn also informed Trump’s transition team that he was under federal investigation for secretly working as a paid lobbyist for Turkey during the campaign. Source

Note that Trump’s transition team was led by Mike Pence, so this is essentially hard confirmation that Mike Pence personally knew about Flynn’s status as a foreign agent of Turkey and his precarious legal situation.
January 20, 2017: Donald Trump is inaugurated as President.
January 2017: Almost immediately after taking office, Trump administration officials pressured State Department staffers to develop plans to remove sanctions against Russia for their intervention in Ukraine. The State Dept. coordinator of sanctions Dan Fried responded to objections from State officials and contacted Congress to attempt to have the sanctions codified, to complicate Trump efforts to lift them. Another State Dept. official, Tom Malinowski, also brought up the issue with Congress. Source Russia engaged in cyber warfare to compromise the US elections process, and one of Trump’s first actions as President was to reward them. Giving aid and comfort to the enemy?
January 2017: Officials at the FBI, CIA, DOJ, and DNI agreed that Michael Flynn was vulnerable to Russian blackmail, evidently because Russia might threaten to expose Flynn’s public lies about his conversations with Sergey Kislyak. Nevertheless, new CIA director Mike Pompeo continued to give President Trump intelligence briefings nearly every day for three weeks in Flynn’s presence. Source It’s unclear if Pompeo was briefed about others’ warnings about Flynn. If so, this is extremely damaging to Pompeo; and if not, it’s damaging on those whose job it was to brief Pompeo. It is possible, likely even, that Flynn was feeding intelligence to Russia.
January 23, 2017: Donald Trump falsely claimed that widespread voter fraud was the reason he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton, alleging that between 3–5 million illegal votes were cast for Clinton. It’s interesting that Trump would cast doubt on the legitimacy of an election he won. My guess is that this piece of propaganda was already prepared before the election, and Trump had it ready for a campaign to claim Clinton’s victory was illegitimate. When he won, he had no reason to use this lie, but he couldn’t resist and said it anyway.
January 24-27, 2017: After a January 24 FBI interview of Michael Flynn , acting Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates urgently requested to meet with White House Counsel Don McGahn to inform him that Michael Flynn was “compromised” and possibly open to blackmail by Russia, because Flynn had misled Pence and other US officials about his conversation with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Yates also hinted about a “whole lot more” classified information that was problematic about Flynn. Source1 Source2 Really interested in the “whole lot more” statement.
January 25, 2017: Rosneft sought to purchase a subsidiary company of Vnesheconombank (VEB).

Source (Machine Translation)

Note that the VEB executive Gorkov met with Kushner and Flynn at Trump Tower in December. Gorkov is mentioned in the linked article regarding the acquisition by Rosneft.
January 31, 2017: Deutsche Bank paid $630 million to settle claims against the bank for “mirror trades” used to launder $10 billion out of Russia in a scheme operating from 2011–2015.

 

In the mirror trading scheme, Russian clients would buy securities in rubles through Deutsche’s Moscow office, and then (through a shell company) sell identical securities through Deutsche’s London office for foreign currency (including US dollars). Source1 Source2

Deutsche Bank, essentially the only non-Russian bank that will lend Trump money anymore, participated in the “mirror trading” scheme and the “Global Laundromat” scheme, both of which enabled tens of billions of dollars of money with criminal origins to be laundered out of Russia.

 

These are only some of the schemes Deutsche Bank has been discovered to have undertaken, for which they have paid billions in settlements and fines – e.g., LIBOR rate rigging, and illegal dealings with toxic mortgage-backed securities.

February 2017: News reported that after the US election, Deutsche Bank, to whom Donald Trump owed about $300 million, had secretly reviewed multiple loans it had made to Trump and his family members to look for connections to Russia or if they were backed by guarantees from Moscow, because the loans were allegedly made in “highly unusual circumstances.” Deutsche refused to comment on its investigation, but anonymous sources said the bank discovered no evidence of a Moscow link. US Congress has made unsuccessful attempts to obtain materials from this review. Source
February 2017: Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen hand-delivered to Michael Flynn a document describing a proposed “peace plan” between Russia and Ukraine, which involved the US dropping all sanctions on Russia; holding a Ukrainian referendum on whether to lease Crimea to Russia for 50–100 years; and disseminating “kompromat” on President Poroshenko purportedly showing corruption among him and his closest associates, with the goal of installing a more Russia-friendly government in Ukraine. The plan was prepared by Andrii Artemenko, a Ukrainian lawmaker who joined their Parliament in 2014 and opposed their new President Poroshenko. Artemenko indicated that top aides to Vladimir Putin had provided input. Artemenko got the plan to Cohen via Felix Sater, a Russian-American businessman formerly with Bayrock Group (located in Trump Tower and with whom Trump had done business before), who had previously pleaded guilty for his role in a stock manipulation scheme that involved the Russian Mafia. Source
February 13, 2017: Although Trump had ignored Sally Yates’s advice about Michael Flynn, and fired Yates in the meanwhile, Flynn was forced to resign as National Security Advisor after it became publicly known that he had lied about his prior communications with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Source
February 14, 2017: Following an Oval Office meeting with FBI Director James Comey in attendance, Donald Trump requested everyone but Comey to leave the room. Once alone, Trump requested that Comey shut down the FBI investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Source
March 1, 2017: News reported that Jeff Sessions had, in fact, met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak at least twice in 2016, contrary to Sessions’s denials of any meetings during his confirmation hearing.
March 2, 2017: Jeff Sessions announced that, over Trump’s objections, he would recuse himself from federal probes into Russian interference in the US election. Source
March 7, 2017: Michael Flynn revised disclosure papers previously made, now admitting that he worked as a foreign agent during 2016, representing interests of the Turkish government in a dispute with the United States involving an operation in Syria. The Trump administration claimed it did not know Flynn as acting as a foreign agent when Flynn was appointed National Security Advisor. Source
March 9, 2017: During an interview on Fox News, Vice President Mike Pence said that this day was the first he had ever heard about Michael Flynn’s status as a foreign agent of Turkey and having received over $500,000 from Turkey. Source Note that Pence led Trump’s transition team, and Michael Flynn had informed the incoming White House legal counsel during the transition that he might need to register as a foreign agent.
March 10, 2017: The Trump administration abruptly fired 46 US Attorneys, including Preet Bharara, the US Attorney in New York. Source
March 20, 2017: FBI Director James Comey publicly confirmed the FBI was investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in their interference in the 2016 presidential election. Source
March 2017: Donald Trump requested Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers to make public statements that there was no collusion between his campaign and the Russians. They refused. Source
March 2017: Journalists published information about another Deutsche Bank–Russian money laundering scheme. The “Russian Laundromat,” “Global Laundromat,” or “Modovan Scheme” ran from about 2010–2015, where wealthy Russians laundered between $20–80 billion of criminal origin out of Russia, using fake debt agreements in Moldova and shell companies around the world. Deutsche Bank officials involved in this scheme had also been involved in the Mirror Trading scheme. Source
April 21, 2017: A federal grand jury indicted Russian national Peter Yuryevich Levashov, aka Petr Levashov, for multiple offenses relating to his alleged operation of the Kelihos botnet (wiki). Kelihos was a global network of tens of thousands of infected computers, which Levashov allegedly used to harvest login credentials, distribute bulk spam emails, and install ransomware and other malicious software. Source Russian state media RT reported that Levashov’s wife said that he had been suspected of being connected to the hacking attacks relating to the 2016 US elections. Source
May 9, 2017: Donald Trump abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey, head of the Trump–Russia investigation. The administration offered varying explanations for why Comey was fired, including his alleged poor handling of the earlier investigation during the presidential campaign into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. Later, Trump contradicted his own staff and acknowledged he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation. Source
May 10, 2017: Donald Trump met with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the Oval Office. Trump barred American reporters but allowed Russian press into the meeting. Source During the meeting, Trump told the Russians that Comey was “crazy, a real nutjob,” and that his firing of Comey would relieve great pressure that he was under due to the FBI investigation. Source Trump also revealed to the Russians sensitive classified intelligence, including information about Israeli cyber operations that penetrated a small terrorist group in Syria, and learned that they were working on explosives that looked like laptop batteries and could fool X-ray machines and other airport screening. Israeli officials were “infuriated.” Source
May 12, 2017: The US Department of Justice abruptly settled for $6 million their lawsuit against Prevezon and other corporations, formerly being led by Preet Bharara, relating to the alleged money laundering and tax fraud scheme revealed by Sergei Magnitsky. The Russian attorneys representing the defendants, including Natalia Veselnitskaya, expressed surprise and characterized the settlement as an “apology” from the US. Source
June 13, 2017: Attorney General Jeff Sessions appeared before the Senate intelligence committee and claimed he did not recall meeting Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak at the Mayflower Hotel in April 2016. Source
August 3, 2017: First reports emerge that the Mueller investigation has impaneled a grand jury to investigate Trump–Russia collusion. Source1 Further, it is reported that another grand jury has been impaneled for several months investigating Michael Flynn.

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