In an effort to determine the possibility and extent that our President of these United States and his administration/campaign staff colluded with a foreign power (because he is compromises by them or wanted damaging information on a political opponent, or some combination of these, or possibly for more reasons that have not been determined yet), special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed to lead an investigation with broad authority to determine what is relevant and related criminal activity.
For those of you who make your homes in some sort of karst system and have never before heard that this is happening (or if you're like me and just like to see events organized neatly), here is a timeline with credit to the Washington Post. I have taken the liberty of interjecting some related events that the timeline has not been updated with thus far (if you see -J, that means it is something I added to the timeline personally):
Cohen emails Putin’s personal spokesman seeking help in advancing the proposed development in Moscow. “As this project is too important, I am hereby requesting your assistance. I respectfully request someone, preferably you, contact me so that I might discuss the specifics as well as arranging meetings with the appropriate individuals. I thank you in advance for your assistance and look forward to hearing from you soon,” he writes.
Jan. 29, 2016
Goldstone emails Donald Trump Jr. to pitch the Trump team on setting up a page on Russian social media site Vkontakte. Trump Jr. passes it on to Dan Scavino, the person in charge of Trump’s social media. “Please feel free to send me whatever you have,” Scavino replies. Konstantin Sidorkov, director of partnership marketing for Vkontakte, follows up a few days later. “Nice to meet you and your team,” he writes in an email to Scavino, Trump Jr. and Trump’s assistant.
Late January 2016
The Moscow development is abandoned.
Feb. 1, 2016
Republican primary voting begins in Iowa.
March 6, 2016
George Papadopoulos is named a foreign-policy adviser by the campaign.
March 14, 2016
Papadopoulos meets in Italy with a London-based professor named Joseph Mifsud, director of the London Academy of Diplomacy. Until he learns that Papadopoulos is tied to the Trump campaign, Mifsud is uninterested in talking.
March 19, 2016
Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta is sent an email that encourages him to change his email password, probably precipitating the hack of his account.
March 21, 2016
During an interview with The Washington Post, Trump lists Page as part of his foreign-policy team. Page had been recommended by a son-in-law of President Richard Nixon, New York Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox. Trump also mentions Papadopoulos.
March 28, 2016
Political veteran Paul Manafort is hired to help the Trump campaign manage the delegate process for the Republican National Convention. He is recommended by Trump confidant Roger Stone. Before joining the campaign, Manafort lobbied on behalf of Oleg Deripaska, a Putin ally. That business relationship followed a memo from Manafort in which he offered a plan that could “greatly benefit the Putin Government.” His relationship with Deripaska ended in 2009. Manafort also worked on behalf of the Russia-friendly Party of Regions in Ukraine, helping guide the party’s leader, Viktor Yanukovych, to the country’s presidency. Yanukovych was later ousted.
March 31, 2016
Trump’s foreign-policy team meets. Included in the meeting are Papadopoulos, Trump and then-Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions (R). Papadopoulos says he can facilitate a meeting between Trump and Putin based on his interactions with Mifsud, the professor. Sessions says it shouldn’t happen.
Hackers believed to be linked to Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) also gain access to the DNC network.
The same month, Fusion GPS is hired by the law firm Perkins Coie on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
April 11, 2016
Manafort emails longtime aide Konstantin Kilimnik (who himself may have ties to Russian intelligence) to ensure the oligarch Deripaska’s “operation” has seen his media coverage, presumably about the Trump campaign. “How do we use to get whole?” he asks.
April 18, 2016
Papadopoulos is introduced via email to someone who has contacts at Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Papadopoulos and the contact begin communicating regularly to try to set up a meeting between Trump and Putin.
April 26, 2016
Papadopoulos is told by Mifsud that the Russians have “dirt” on Clinton. “They have thousands of emails,” he is told.
April 27, 2016
Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, meets Kislyak at a reception at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington before a foreign-policy speech given by Trump. Sessions may have spoken with Kislyak, as well.
The same day, Papadopoulos emails senior campaign adviser Stephen Miller to say he had “some interesting messages coming in from Moscow about a trip when the time is right.”
During a night of drinking in London, Papadopoulos tells Australian High Commissioner to Great Britain Alexander Downer that he is aware that Russia has dirt on Clinton.
During this month, two different people who support Trump email the campaign to set up a meeting between a Trump staffer and a Russian official named Alexander Torshin. The emails, sent to adviser Rick Dearborn, are titled “Kremlin Connection” and “Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite.” Kushner rejects the latter overture.
May 20 or 21, 2016
Torshin and Trump Jr. meet at a dinner related to the National Rifle Association convention in Louisville.
May 26, 2016
Trump clinches the Republican nomination on paper.
During the general election
At a closed-door meeting of foreign-policy experts and the prime minister of India, Page praises Putin effusively.
June 3, 2016
Goldstone emails Trump Jr.:
“The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with [Emin Agalarov’s] father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father,” Goldstone wrote. “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and it’s government’s support for Mr. Trump — helped along by Aras and Emin.”
“Seems we have some time and if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer,” Trump Jr. replied.
June 6, 2016
Goldstone appears to connect Emin Agalarov and Trump Jr. by phone.
June 7, 2016
Goldstone and Trump Jr. finalize “a meeting with you and The Russian government attorney.”
Trump formally clinches the nomination later in the day. During a speech that evening, Trump says he is “going to give a major speech on probably Monday of next week, 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.”
June 9, 2016
Trump Jr., Manafort and Kushner meet at Trump Tower with a Kremlin-connected attorney named Natalia Veselnitskaya. Veselnitskaya’s efforts to reverse a law passed in 2012 sanctioning Russians suspected of human rights violations at some point drew the attention of the FBI. The meeting was not initially reported to the government by Kushner as required when he took a position with the administration. After the meeting was originally reported, Trump, Jr. admitted that the pretext for the conversation was that he believed Veselnitskaya to have information incriminating Hillary Clinton.
The meeting also included a lobbyist named Rinat Akhmetshin, who also has links to Russian intelligence.
June 12, 2016
In an interview with ITV, WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange says the organization has more emails from Hillary Clinton.
June 13, 2016
Instead of his promised speech about the Clintons, Trump talks about national security in the wake of the shooting massacre in Orlando
June 15, 2016
A hacker calling himself Guccifer 2.0 releases the Democratic National Committee’s research file on Donald Trump. News reports already link the stolen data to Russian hackers.
June 20, 2016
Former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, working for Fusion GPS, compiles the first of 17 reports that will become part of a dossier of information alleging contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian actors. The first report cites conversations suggesting that Russia actively sought to compromise Trump beginning in 2011 and that the Russians had compromising information on Trump and Clinton.
June 29, 2016
Goldstone reaches out to Scavino again about Vkontakte.
“I’m following up on an email [from] a while back of something I had mentioned to Don and Paul Manafort during a meeting recently,” he wrote in an email, cc-ing Sidorkov. “At the time, Paul had said he would welcome it …”
June 30, 2016
Page tells Sessions he plans to travel to Moscow to give a speech. He later indicates the campaign approved his travel as long as he made clear he wasn’t representing the campaign.
At some point this month, the FBI begins investigating possible links between the Russian government and Trump’s campaign. The investigation is triggered when Australian authorities contact the agency — realizing that Papadopoulos‘s May mention of Russian dirt to Downer, the diplomat, was validated by the release of stolen data.
Early in July, Fusion GPS’s Steele contacts the FBI to inform them about what he’s heard concerning Trump. (Steele had been a source for the FBI in the past.)
July 7, 2016
Page travels to Moscow to give a lecture.
The same day, Manafort contacts Kilimnik again to invite Deripaska to get a private briefing on the campaign.
July 8, 2016
Page sends a memo to campaign staff with an overview of his travel. It reads, in part, “Russian Deputy Prime Minister and [New Economic School] Board Member Arkadiy Dvorkovich also spoke before the event. In a private conversation, Dvorkovich expressed strong support for Mr. Trump and a desire to work together toward devising better solutions in response to the vast range of current international problems.”
July 11 or 12, 2016
Trump campaign staffers apparently intervene with the committee developing the Republican Party’s national security platform to remove language calling for arming Ukraine against Russian aggression.
July 18, 2016
At an event hosted by the Heritage Foundation as part of the Republican National Convention, Sessions and Kislyak have a brief conversation.
Flynn delivers a speech at the Republican convention, joining in the crowd’s “lock her up” chant, cheering Clinton’s imprisonment. “If I, a guy who knows this business, if I did a tenth of what she did,” Flynn said, “I would be in jail today.”
July 19, 2016
Steele files a report in which he alleges that Page‘s trip to Moscow included meetings with the chief executive of the energy firm Rosneft and Kremlin official Igor Diveykin, the latter of whom mentioned the possession of compromising material on Clinton.
July 22, 2016
WikiLeaks releases emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee. The Democratic convention begins on the 25th.
July 27, 2016
During his last news conference of the campaign, Trump asks Russia to release emails hacked from Clinton’s private server. He later says he was joking.
Aug. 9, 2016
Flynn Intel Group, a consulting firm founded by Flynn, signs a contract with Inovo BV, a firm run by a Turkish businessman close to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for more than $500,000.
Aug. 14, 2016
The New York Times reports on secret ledgers from the Party of Regions showing off-the-books payments to Manafort‘s consulting firm. Those payments allegedly were hidden by being passed them through third parties, according to Ukrainian leaders.
Aug. 19, 2016
Manafort is fired from the campaign. He’d reportedly lost the confidence of Trump’s family, including Kushner.
Aug. 21, 2016
Stone tweets, “Trust me, it will soon [be] Podesta’s time in the barrel.”
Aug. 23, 2016
Stone communicates with Guccifer 2.0 privately over Twitter.
At some point in September, congressional leaders are briefed about the CIA’s belief that Russia was intervening in the election to benefit Trump.
Sept. 8, 2016
Sessions and Kislyak meet in Sessions‘s Senate office.
September 9, 2016 -J
James Woolsey pitches a $10 million contract to two Turkish businessmen to discredit a US-based cleric to have him deported back to Turkey.
Sept. 20, 2016
WikiLeaks messages Trump Jr. privately over Twitter, pointing to a new site linking Putin to Trump. The next day, Trump Jr. responds to say he’ll “ask around” about it. Trump Jr. then emailed senior campaign staff about the message. “Do you know the people mentioned,” he wrote, apparently referring to those behind the Putin-Trump site, “and what the conspiracy they are looking for could be?”
Sept. 23, 2016
Yahoo News, apparently after interviews with Steele, reports that Page may have met with officials from Rosneft and the Kremlin.
Sept. 26, 2016
In an interview with The Post, Page separates publicly from the Trump campaign.
Early October 2016
Steele again meets with the FBI, this time in Rome, to discuss what he’s heard in his research.
Oct. 2, 2016
Stone tweets about upcoming WikiLeaks revelations: “Wednesday [Oct. 5] @Hillary
Clinton is done. #Wikileaks.”
Oct. 3, 2016
WikiLeaks again contacts Trump Jr. This time, WikiLeaks asks him to have the campaign offer a response to a quote from Hillary Clinton. Trump Jr. replies that he already had. Shortly afterward, he asks about the new information apparently referenced by Stone, but he gets no response.
Oct. 7, 2016
The director of national intelligence and the head of the Department of Homeland Security release an unusual joint statement in which they warn of Russian efforts to meddle in the election and suggest that Russia had a hand in the WikiLeaks document releases.
Shortly after the publication of a 2005 “Access Hollywood” video in which Trump discusses sexually assaulting women, WikiLeaks releases the first emails from Podesta’s email account. The leaks continue for weeks.
Oct. 11, 2016
Trump Jr. travels to Paris to give a paid speech to a group that supports Russian interests. After his speech, one of the hosts travels to Moscow, where she discusses the speech with a senior Russian official.
Oct. 12, 2016
WikiLeaks again contacts Trump Jr. to share a link to file archives. Shortly afterward, the candidate tweets about the leaks.
Stone tells a reporter from a local news station in Florida that he has “back-channel communication with [WikiLeaks’ Julian] Assange,” although he’d never spoken to Assange directly. WikiLeaks later denies the assertion.
Oct. 14, 2016
Trump Jr. tweets the link he’d received two days earlier. In an interview with Fox News, Mike Pence denies any connection between the campaign and WikiLeaks.
Oct. 18, 2016
Steele files a report suggesting that Page‘s discussions with Rosneft in July included an exchange of a stake in the company for the lifting of sanctions against Russia.
Oct. 19, 2016
During the final presidential debate, Trump says Putin has no respect for his opponent, Hillary Clinton. She responds, “That’s because he’d rather have a puppet as president of the United States.”
“No puppet,” Trump replies. “You’re the puppet.”
Trump then argues that Clinton doesn’t know who’s behind the hacking, if it’s “Russia, China, or anybody else.”
Oct. 21, 2016
The FBI applies for and is granted a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant to surveil Page, by this point no longer part of the Trump campaign.
Oct. 28, 2016
FBI Director Comey sends a letter to Congress announcing the discovery of new emails related to an investigation into Clinton’s use of a private server while she was secretary of state.
Oct. 30, 2016
Then-Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid sends a public letter to Comey alleging that the FBI “possess[ed] explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government.”
Oct. 31, 2016
The New York Times runs a story suggesting that the FBI didn’t see a clear link between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Hours later, Mother Jones reports on the existence of the Steele dossier. The FBI subsequently cuts off its relationship with Steele.
Nov. 5, 2016
Vkontakte again pitches setting up a page for Trump on the site, saying it would be “the top news in Russia.”
Nov. 8, 2016
An opinion piece supporting the Turkish government runs at the Hill under Flynn‘s byline.
Trump is elected president.
During the transition
Nov. 10, 2016
In his Oval Office meeting with Trump, Barack Obama warns the president-elect against hiring Flynn as national security adviser.
Nov. 18, 2016
Trump offers Flynn the job of national security adviser. Trump offers Sessions the job of attorney general. These are two of the first appointments Trump makes.
Late November 2016
Trump transition team members warn Flynn that his communications with Kislyak will be monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies. To impress upon Flynn the risks of cozying up to the Russian ambassador, the team requests a dossier on Kislyak to share with Flynn. It’s not known whether he ever read it.
Nov. 28, 2016
In an interview with Time magazine, Trump denies interference from Russia. “I don’t believe they interfered,” he said. “That became a laughing point, not a talking point, a laughing point. Any time I do something, they say, ‘Oh, Russia interfered.’”
He also addressed the hacking: “It could be Russia. And it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey.”
Nov. 30, 2016
The Justice Department informs Flynn that he is under investigation for his unreported lobbying on behalf of Turkey.