Tuesday, June 5, 2018

COMRADE TRUMP—The Definitive Trump-Putin Bromance and "This Russia Thing" Timeline (UPDATED)

Having trouble keeping up with the drip-drip of revelations about U.S. President Donald Trump and his cozy ties with Russian leader Vladimir Putin? 

Stay up to date and check your facts with my definitive "Comrade Trump" timeline, compiling the latest Trump-Putin bromance news. Feel free to send in your own tidbits via the comments. I don't necessarily endorse the articles linked below.

Click here to see my earlier Trump-Putin bromance timeline for Oct. 2017-May 2018, here to see my Aug.-Sept. 2017 timeline and here to see my June 2015-July 2017 timeline.


New report on Russian disinformation, prepared for the Senate, shows the operation’s scale and sweep
The report, a draft of which was obtained by The Washington Post, is the first to analyze the millions of posts provided by major technology firms to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

(The Washington Post) December 17, 2018, by Craig Timberg and Tony Romm—A report prepared for the Senate that provides the most sweeping analysis yet of Russia’s disinformation campaign around the 2016 election found the operation used every major social media platform to deliver words, images and videos tailored to voters’ interests to help elect President Trump — and worked even harder to support him while in office.... Read the full article here and a CNN article here on how the Russian efforts included attempts to recruit assets via social media.


Michael Cohen Sentenced to 3 Years After Implicating Trump in Hush-Money Scandal

(The New York Times) December 12, 2018, by Benjamin Weiser and William K. Rashbaum—Michael D. Cohen, the former lawyer for President Trump, was sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday morning in part for his role in a scandal that could threaten Mr. Trump’s presidency by implicating him in a scheme to buy the silence of two women who said they had affairs with him.... Read the full article here, a Politico article on the sentence here, a Bloomberg article here on the AMI media company's cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors, saying it killed stories about Trump and a Washington Post article here on Trump's response to the developments.


Maria Butina set to plead guilty to conspiring to act as agent of Kremlin, documents show

(The Washington Post) December 11, 2018, by Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger—The young Russian operative called her strategy the “Diplomacy Project,” an elaborate, multiyear scheme to infiltrate the conservative movement in the United States in hopes of cementing bonds to benefit the Kremlin.... Read the full article here, a Dec. 13 Washington Post article on Butina pleading guilty here and Butina's plea agreement here.


Prosecutors Say Trump Directed Illegal Payments During Campaign

(The New York Times) December 7, 2018, by Sharon LaFraniere, Benjamin Weiser and Maggie Haberman—Federal prosecutors said on Friday that President Trump directed illegal payments to ward off a potential sex scandal that threatened his chances of winning the White House in 2016, putting the weight of the Justice Department behind accusations previously made by his former lawyer.... Read the full article here and a Washington Post analysis here on the takeaways from the latest Cohen and Manafort filings.


Mueller says Manafort told ‘discernible lies,’ including about contacts with an employee alleged to have Russian intelligence ties

(The Washington Post) December 7, 2018, by Rosalind S. Helderman, Rachel Weiner and Spencer S. Hsu—Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III said Friday that Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, told “multiple dis­cern­ible lies” during interviews with prosecutors, including about his contacts with an employee who is alleged to have ties to Russian intelligence.... Read the full article here and Mueller's filing here.


Mueller seeks no prison time for former national security adviser Michael Flynn, citing his ‘substantial assistance’

(The Washington Post) December 4, 2018, by Carol D. Leonnig, Rosalind S. Helderman and Devlin BarrettSpecial counsel Robert S. Mueller III on Tuesday recommended that former national security adviser Michael Flynn serve no prison time, citing his “substantial assistance” with several ongoing investigations, according to a new court filing.... Read the full article here, the sentencing memo herethe Lawfare Blog's take on the memo here and a good round-up of other reactions to the memo here.


Cohen was in ‘close and regular contact’ with Trump White House staff, legal team while crafting misstatement to Congress

(TheHill.com) December 1, 2018, by Morgan Gstalter—President Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen was in “close and regular contact” with White House staff and Trump’s legal team while he was crafting misstatements to Congress, according to a new court filing late Friday night.... Read the full article here.


The Trump Organization Planned To Give Vladimir Putin The $50 Million Penthouse In Trump Tower Moscow
During the presidential campaign, Michael Cohen discussed the matter with a representative of Putin’s press secretary, according to two US sources.

(BuzzFeed News) November 29, 2018, by Anthony Cormier and Jason Leopold—President Donald Trump’s company planned to give a $50 million penthouse at Trump Tower Moscow to Russian President Vladimir Putin as the company negotiated the luxury real estate development during the 2016 campaign, according to four people, one of them the originator of the plan.... Read the full article here.


‘Very legal & very cool’: Trump dismisses criticism of his 2016 business project in Russia

(The Washington Post) November 30, 2018, by Philip Rucker and John Wagner—President Trump on Friday defended his pursuit of a real estate project in Russia at the same time he was securing the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, saying it was “very legal & very cool.”... Read the full article here and a November 29 New York Times backgrounder on the Moscow deal here.


Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, pleads guilty to lying to Congress

(The Washington Post) November 29, 2018, by Rosalind S. Helderman and Matt Zapotosky—Michael Cohen, a former personal attorney to President Trump, pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of making false statements to Congress about a Moscow real estate project Trump pursued during the months he was running for president.... Read the full article here, the Cohen plea documents here and a Nov. 29 Washington Post analysis of the plea deal here.


If Manafort is counting on a pardon, he shouldn’t

(The Washington Post) November 28, 2018, by Jennifer Rubin, Opinion—On Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told the White House press corps that she’s was “unaware” of any conversations about a pardon for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, whose plea deal broke down Monday amid claims by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III that Manafort violated the agreement by lying to the FBI and prosecutors about multiple subjects.... Read the full article here and a Nov. 28 New York Times article here on Trump saying a Manafort pardon "is not off the table."


Manafort’s Lawyer Said to Brief Trump Attorneys on What He Told Mueller

(The New York TimesNovember 27, 2018, by Michael S. Schmidt, Sharon LaFraniere and Maggie Haberman—A lawyer for Paul Manafort, the president’s onetime campaign chairman, repeatedly briefed President Trump’s lawyers on his client’s discussions with federal investigators after Mr. Manafort agreed to cooperate with the special counsel, according to one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers and two other people familiar with the conversations.... Read the full article here and a Nov. 28 Washington Post opinion piece here on the briefings.


Corsi provided early alert to Stone about WikiLeaks release, according to draft special counsel document

(The Washington Post) November 27, 2018, by Carol D. Leonnig, Rosalind S. Helderman and Manuel Roig-Franzia—Conservative author Jerome Corsi alerted longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone in early August 2016 that WikiLeaks planned to release material damaging to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, including documents related to her campaign chairman John Podesta, according to a draft court filing.... Read the full article here and a Nov. 28 Washington Post article here on Trump's late-night calls to Stone.


Manafort held secret talks with Assange in Ecuadorian embassy
Exclusive: Trump ally met WikiLeaks founder months before emails hacked by Russia were published

(The Guardian) November 27, 2018, by Luke Harding and Dan Collyns—Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort held secret talks with Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and visited around the time he joined Trump’s campaign, the Guardian has been told.

Sources have said Manafort went to see Assange in 2013, 2015 and in spring 2016 – during the period when he was made a key figure in Trump’s push for the White House.... Read the full article here and a Nov. 27 New York Times article here on Manafort denying he met Assange.


Mueller says Manafort lied after pleading guilty, should be sentenced immediately

(The Washington Post) November 26, 2018, by Spencer S. Hsu, Rachel Weiner and Devlin Barrett—Prosecutors with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III said Monday that Paul Manafort breached his plea agreement, accusing President Trump’s former campaign chairman of lying repeatedly to them in their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.... Read the full article here.


Conservative author and Roger Stone associate Jerome Corsi says he is rejecting plea deal from special counsel

(The Washington PostNovember 26, 2018, by Rosalind S. Helderman—Conservative author Jerome Corsi said Monday that he has rejected a deal offered by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to plead guilty to one count of perjury, saying he would have been forced to untruthfully say that he intentionally lied about his interactions with WikiLeaks.

In interviews with CNN, NBC and other news organizations, Corsi said he was merely forgetful when investigators spent hours pressing him about his contacts with WikiLeaks, which released hacked Democratic emails during the 2016 campaign.... Read the full article here.


Associate of Roger Stone in plea talks with Mueller

(The Associated Press) November 23, 2018, by Chad Day—A conservative writer and associate of Trump confidant Roger Stone said Friday that he is in plea talks with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.

Jerome Corsi told The Associated Press he has been negotiating a potential plea but declined to comment further.... Read the full article here.


Litigation Documents Related to the Mueller Investigation

(Lawfare Blog) November 20, 2018—Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference and related matters has so far yielded a range of prosecutions and appellate litigation. Lawfare will be collecting significant documents from these lawsuits on this page as the investigation and litigation moves forward.

This page is maintained by Victoria Clark and Quinta Jurecic. Any queries or additional documents should be directed to Quinta Jurecic at quinta.jurecic@lawfareblog.com.... View the full Mueller investigation resource page here.


‘Preparing for the worst’: Mueller anxiety pervades Trump world
Half a dozen people in contact with the White House and other Trump officials say a deep anxiety has started to set in.

(Politico) November 15, 2018, by Darren Samuelsohn—Lawyers for President Donald Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. insist they aren’t worried about special counsel Robert Mueller.... Read the full article here.


Trump’s Appointment of the Acting Attorney General Is Unconstitutional
The president is evading the requirement to seek the Senate’s advice and consent for the nation’s chief law enforcement officer and the person who will oversee the Mueller investigation.

(The New York Times) November 8, 2018, by Neal K. Katyal and George T. Conway III, Opinion—Mr. Katyal and Mr. Conway are lawyers.

What now seems an eternity ago, the conservative law professor Steven Calabresi published an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal in May arguing that Robert Mueller’s appointment as special counsel was unconstitutional. His article got a lot of attention, and it wasn’t long before President Trump picked up the argument, tweeting that “the Appointment of the Special Counsel is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!”... Read the full article here.


Trump’s acting attorney general, Matt Whitaker, has no intention of recusing from Russia probe, associates say

(The Washington Post) November 8, 2018, by Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky and Josh Dawsey—Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker has no intention of recusing himself from overseeing the special counsel probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to people close to him who added they do not believe he would approve any subpoena of President Trump as part of that investigation.... Read the full article here. 


Jeff Sessions’ Replacement, Matthew Whitaker, Led Secretive Anti-Dem Group
Acting AG Matthew Whitaker ‘is on record as being more interested in propping up Trump than in upholding the rule of law,’ one Justice Department lawyer says.

(The Daily Beast) November 7, 2018, by Betsy Woodruff, Asawin Suebsaeng, Erin Banco, Maxwell Tani and Will Sommer—Acting Attorney General Mark Whitaker, named to head the Justice Department after Jeff Sessions was fired Wednesday, has a close relationship with President Trump and has expressed hostility toward special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe—which he may now oversee.... Read the full article here and Whitaker's August 6, 2017, CNN op-ed piece, "Mueller's investigation of Trump is going too far," here.


Has Mueller Subpoenaed the President?
A careful reading of court filings suggests the special counsel hasn’t been quiet. Far from it.

(Politico) October 31, 2018, by Nelson W. Cunningham—Nelson W. Cunningham has served as a federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York under Rudy Giuliani, general counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee under then-Chair Joe Biden, and general counsel of the White House Office of Administration under Bill Clinton.

These months before the midterm elections are tough ones for all of us Mueller-watchers. As we expected, he has gone quiet in deference to longstanding Justice Department policy that prosecutors should not take actions that might affect pending elections. Whatever he is doing, he is doing quietly and even further from the public eye than usual.... Read the full article here.


Revealed: What Erik Prince and Moscow’s Money Man Discussed in That Infamous Seychelles Meeting
Mueller’s team and Congressional investigators have looked into a meeting in the Seychelles between allies of Trump and Putin. Now we have the Russian read-out of what was said.

(The Daily Beast) September 26, 2018, by Betsy Woodruff and Erin BancoJoint U.S.-Russian raids to kill top terrorists. Teamwork between an American government agency and a sanctioned Russian fund. Moscow pouring money into the Midwest.

These are just a few of the ideas the head of a Russian sovereign wealth fund touched on during his meeting with former Blackwater head Erik Prince in the Seychelles, just weeks before President Donald Trump’s inauguration, according to a memo exclusively reviewed by The Daily Beast.... Read the full article here.


Trump Lawyers Demand Mueller Probe ‘Time Out’ if Rosenstein Is Ousted
It’s not even clear yet if the deputy attorney general is actually going anywhere. But Trump’s lawyers still want his exit to block, if temporarily, the Russia investigation.

(The Daily Beast) September 24, 2018, by Lachlan Markay and Asawin SuebsaengPresident Donald Trump’s legal team is calling for a pause of the investigation into Russian election meddling should deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the investigation, resign or be fired.... Read the full article here.


Former top White House official revises statement to special counsel about Flynn’s calls with Russian ambassador

(The Washington Post) September 22, 2018, by Shane Harris and Devlin Barrett—A former top White House official has revised her statement to investigators about a key event in the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, after her initial claim was contradicted by the guilty plea of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to people familiar with the matter.

K.T. McFarland, who briefly served as Flynn’s deputy, has now said that he may have been referring to sanctions when they spoke in late December 2016 after Flynn’s calls with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, these people said.... Read the full article here.


Revealed: Russia’s secret plan to help Julian Assange escape from UK
Tentative plot to whisk fugitive from London embassy on Christmas Eve was considered too risky

(The Guardian) September 21, 2018, by Stephanie Kirchgaessner, Dan Collyns and Luke Harding—Russian diplomats held secret talks in London last year with people close to Julian Assange to assess whether they could help him flee the UK, the Guardian has learned.

A tentative plan was devised that would have seen the WikiLeaks founder smuggled out of Ecuador’s London embassy in a diplomatic vehicle and transported to another country.... Read the full article here.


Michael Cohen spoke to Mueller team for hours; asked about Russia, possible collusion, pardon: Sources

(ABC News) September 20, 2018, by George Stephanopoulos, Eliana Larramendia and James Hill—President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, has participated over the last month in multiple interview sessions lasting for hours with investigators from the office of special counsel, Robert Mueller, sources tell ABC News.... Read the full article here.


Judge sets Dec. 18 sentencing for Michael Flynn

(The Associated Press) September 20, 2018, by Chad Day—After months of delay, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn now has a sentencing date.

A federal judge on Wednesday set Flynn’s sentencing for Dec. 18, more than a year after the retired U.S. Army lieutenant general pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia during the presidential transition.... Read the full article here.


Trump feels angry, unprotected amid mounting crises

(The Washington PostSeptember 19, 2018, by Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker—President Trump’s declaration that “I don’t have an attorney general” was not merely the cry of an executive feeling betrayed by a subordinate.... Read the full article here.


How a Ukrainian Hairdresser Became a Front for Paul Manafort

(The New York TimesSeptember 15, 2018, by Andrew E. Kramer—At first glance, what happened to Yevgeny G. Kaseyev hardly seems like misfortune.

Without his knowledge, he says, unknown individuals set up multiple companies in his name and deposited tens of millions of dollars into those companies’ bank accounts.... Read the full article here.


Speed Read: ‘Obama Jews’ and Other Shocking Highlights From New Manafort Docs
Special counsel Robert Mueller dropped fresh revelations about Paul Manafort ahead of the ex-Trump aide’s guilty plea in federal court Friday.

(The Daily Beast) September 14, 2018, September 19, 2018, by Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker—President Trump’s declaration that “I don’t have an attorney general” was not merely the cry of an executiby Spencer Ackerman—Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman just pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of justicee feeling betrayed by a subordinate.... Read the full article here.


The Manafort Guilty Plea, the Mueller Investigation, and the President

(Lawfare Blog) September 14, 2018, by Victoria Clark, Mikhaila Fogel, Matthew Kahn, Susan Hennessey, Quinta Jurecic, Benjamin Wittes—Only three weeks ago, the president of the United States lauded Paul Manafort for bravely rejecting any cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller... Read the full article here.


Manafort's surrender shows Mueller probe's overwhelming force
A surprise guilty plea from Trump's former campaign chairman shows that Mueller's high-powered probe has been nearly impossible to resist.

(Politico) September 14, 2018, by Darren Samuelsohn—Paul Manafort vowed he’d never flip on Donald Trump. After Manafort’s conviction in federal court last month in Virginia, the president declared he had “such respect for a brave man!” because his former campaign chairman hadn’t folded.

About three weeks later, Manafort broke.... Read the full article here, and see here for the superseding criminal information in the case, the plea agreement and the statement of offense.


Alleged Russian spy Butina tried to score Trump meeting a year before government claimed
The early outreach illustrates Mariia Butina's intent to cultivate Trump months before most were taking him seriously.

(Politico) September 13, 2018, by Josh Meyer—In July 2015, a young Russian gun rights activist now alleged to be a Kremlin covert agent was trying to meet Donald Trump, nearly a year earlier than prosecutors have publicly claimed.... Read the full article here.


Papadopoulos sentenced to 14 days in prison
The former Trump campaign aide was also sentenced to one year of supervised release after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI during its Russia probe.

(Politico) September 7, 2018, by Josh Gerstein, Kyle Cheney and Josh Meyer—George Papadopoulos, the former Trump campaign adviser whose loose talk overseas about Russians having “dirt” on Hillary Clinton triggered an FBI investigation into election interference, was sentenced Friday to 14 days in federal prison for lying to the FBI early in that inquiry.... Read the full article here.


Putin’s ‘Friend’ Had Early Access to Trump’s Infamous Pro-Russia Speech
Photos obtained by The Daily Beast show that think tank chief Dimitri Simes—whom Putin called a ‘friend and colleague’—was closer than previously known to the speech’s drafting.

(The Daily Beast) September 6, 2018, by Betsy Woodruff—In the morning of April 21, 2016, a staffer at the Center for the National Interest, a Washington D.C., think tank, wandered into the office of Dimitri Simes, the group’s president.

The staffer saw a pile of papers on the desk titled “FOREIGN POLICY AND DEFENSE OUTLINE.”... Read the full article here.


Former Trump adviser Papadopoulos asks judge to spare him jail time

(The Washington PostSeptember 1, 2018, by Spencer S. Hsu and Rosalind S. Helderman—Candidate Donald Trump “nodded with approval” when a former campaign adviser suggested a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladi­mir Putin in 2016, according to a court filing by lawyers seeking a lighter sentence for the adviser, who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his Russia contacts during the campaign.... Read the full article here.


American political consultant admits foreign money was funneled into Trump inaugural

(The Washington PostAugust 31, 2018, by Rosalind S. Helderman and Spencer S. HsuAn American political consultant who is cooperating with federal prosecutors admitted in court Friday that he steered $50,000 from a Ukrainian politician to President Trump’s inaugural committee — the first public confirmation that illegal foreign money was used to help fund the January 2017 event.

W. Samuel Patten, 47, pleaded guilty Friday to failing to register as a foreign lobbyist while working on behalf of a Ukrainian political party, with help from a Russian associate of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort..... Read the full article here.


AP sources: Lawyer was told Russia had ‘Trump over a barrel’

(The Associated Press) August 31, 2018, by Eric Tucker and Chad Day—A senior Justice Department lawyer says a former British spy told him at a breakfast meeting two years ago that Russian intelligence believed it had Donald Trump “over a barrel,” according to multiple people familiar with the encounter.

The lawyer, Bruce Ohr, also says he learned that a Trump campaign aide had met with higher-level Russian officials than the aide had acknowledged, the people said.... Read the full article here.


Trump privately revived the idea of firing Sessions this month, according to people familiar with the discussions

(The Washington PostAugust 28, 2018, by Carol D. Leonnig, Josh Dawsey and Gabriel Pogrund—President Trump, who levied extraordinary public attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions in recent weeks, has privately revived the idea of firing him in conversations with his aides and personal lawyers this month, according to three people familiar with the discussions.... Read the full article here.


What you might have missed in the Cohen plea

(The New York Times) August 22, 2018, by Jennifer Rubin, Opinion—President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen has accused Trump of directing him to commit crimes with the intention of improperly influencing the 2016 election. That is stunning and will have ramifications, I suspect, for voters and every Republican officeholder who does not support an immediate serious investigation by the House and/or Senate Judiciary committees. If the accusations are true, Trump will have committed a crime, should be impeached and, after leaving office, prosecuted. The framers surely would agree that committing a crime in order to obtain the presidency falls in the category of “High Crimes & Misdemeanors.” This is not a prediction of what will occur, but what should follow from our constitutional system.... Read the full article here.


Trump’s company approved $420,000 in payments to Cohen, relying on ‘sham’ invoices, prosecutors say

(The Washington Post) August 21, 2018, by Carol D. Leonnig and Michelle Ye Hee Lee—President Trump’s real estate company authorized paying $420,000 to lawyer Michael Cohen in his effort to silence women during the presidential campaign and then relied on “sham” invoices from Cohen that concealed the nature of the payments, according to legal filings released Tuesday.... Read the full article here.


Manafort convicted of 8 counts, judge will declare mistrial in 10 others

(The Washington Post) August 21, 2018, by Matt Zapotosky, Lynh Bui, Tom Jackman and Devlin Barrett—A jury has found former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort guilty after a three-week trial on tax and bank fraud charges — a major if not complete victory for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III as he continues to investigate the president’s associates.

The jury convicted Manafort on eight of the 18 counts against him. The jury said it was deadlocked on the other 10. U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis declared a mistrial on those other charges.... Read the full article here.


Michael Cohen Says He Paid Off Woman Who Claimed Affair at Trump’s Direction

(The New York Times) August 21, 2018, by William K. Rashbaum, Maggie Haberman and Ben Protess—Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former fixer, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to campaign finance and other charges. He made the extraordinary admission that he paid a pornographic actress “at the direction of the candidate,” referring to Mr. Trump, to secure her silence about an affair she said she had with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Cohen told a judge in United States District Court in Manhattan that the payment was “for the principal purpose of influencing the election” for president in 2016.... Read the full article here.


Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former longtime personal attorney, tentatively reaches a plea deal: Sources

(ABC News) August 21, 2018, by Matthew Mosk and James Hill—Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former longtime personal attorney, has tentatively reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, ABC News has learned.

Given Cohen’s proximity to Trump during the past decade, including throughout his meteoric rise from mogul and reality television star to the White House, observers consider him one of most potent legal thorns to confront Trump’s presidency since he took office.... Read the full article here.


Trump Lawyers’ Sudden Realization: They Don’t Know What Don McGahn Told Mueller’s Team

(The New York TimesAugust 19, 2018, by Maggie Haberman and Michael S. SchmidtPresident Trump’s lawyers do not know just how much the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, told the special counsel’s investigators during months of interviews, a lapse that has contributed to a growing recognition that an early strategy of full cooperation with the inquiry was a potentially damaging mistake.... Read the full article here.


Trump Revokes Ex-CIA Director John Brennan’s Security Clearance
The president ties the move to the investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election

(The Wall Street Journal) August 15, 2018, by Peter Nicholas and Michael C. Bender—President Trump drew a direct connection between the special counsel investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election and his decision to revoke the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan and review the clearances of several other former officials.... Read the full article here.


Handler of alleged spy Butina tied to suspicious U.S.-Russia exchange program
Russian politician Alexander Torshin’s meetings with American students, coupled with his role managing alleged covert Russian agent Mariia Butina, suggest he may be a more important Kremlin operative than previously known.

(Politico) August 14, 2018, by Josh MeyerSix years before he was exposed for allegedly managing a covert agent on U.S. soil, the Russian politician Alexander Torshin hosted young Americans visiting Moscow as part of two cultural exchange programs, including one that has drawn the FBI’s scrutiny.... Read the full article here.


Manafort trial Day 9: Witness suggests Trump role helped Manafort nab loans
Afternoon testimony indicated that Paul Manafort's role managing the Trump campaign helped him win millions of dollars in loans at a time he was badly short on cash.

(Politico) August 10, 2018, by Darren Samuelsohn and Josh GersteinThe bank- and tax-fraud trial of former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort resumed Friday afternoon without any public explanation for an unusual delay in the proceedings, but quickly produced revealing testimony suggesting that Manafort's role managing the Trump campaign helped him win millions of dollars in loans at a time he was badly short on cash.... Read the full article here.


The Manafort scramble: Raising millions for himself even as he ran Trump’s campaign

(The Washington Post) August 10, 2018, by Rosalind S. Helderman, Rachel Weiner and Marc FisherPaul Manafort, a valued customer of the Trump Organization who had spent $3.7 million to buy Apartment 43G in Trump Tower, appeared to be just what Donald Trump wanted in March 2016: A consummate Washington insider, deeply experienced in the byzantine art of wrangling convention delegates, yet also someone who could claim to be an outsider, a successful entrepreneur with overseas clients.... Read the full article here.


Paul Manafort trial Day 6: Live coverage

(The Washington Post) August 7, 2018, by Justin Jouvenal, Rachel Weiner, Matt Zapotosky and Rosalind S. HeldermanPaul Manafort, President Trump’s onetime campaign chairman, is on trial in federal court in Alexandria on bank and tax fraud charges. Prosecutors allege he failed to pay taxes on millions he made from his work for a Russia-friendly Ukrainian political party, then lied to get loans when the cash stopped coming in.... Read the full article here.


President Admits Trump Tower Meeting Was Meant to Get Dirt on Clinton

(The New York Times) August 5, 2018, by Michael D. Shear and Michael S. SchmidtPresident Trump said on Sunday that a Trump Tower meeting between top campaign aides and a Kremlin-connected lawyer was designed to “get information on an opponent” — the starkest acknowledgment yet that a statement he dictated last year about the encounter was misleading.

Mr. Trump made the comment in a tweet on Sunday morning that was intended to be a defense of the June 2016 meeting and the role his son Donald Trump Jr. played in hosting it. The president claimed that it was “totally legal” and of the sort “done all the time in politics.”... Read the full article here.


Paul Manafort Was Deep in Debt. He Saw an Opportunity in Trump.

(The New York Times) August 3, 2018, by Matt Apuzzo, Eileen Sullivan and Sharon LaFranierePaul Manafort’s services did not come cheap. His consulting work helped prop up foreign strongmen, who in turn kept him in $12,000 bespoke suits from Beverly Hills.

But by 2016, Mr. Manafort was broke.... Read the full article here.


'Manhattan Madam' met with Mueller's team

(CNN) August 3, 2018, by MJ Lee and Sara MurrayKristin Davis, the woman famously known as the "Manhattan Madam," met with special counsel Robert Mueller's team for a voluntary interview on Wednesday, according to four sources familiar with the situation.

Investigators appear to be interested in her ties to longtime Donald Trump adviser Roger Stone, whom she has known for a decade.... Read the full article here.


Administration releases application to wiretap Trump campaign adviser

(The Washington Post) July 22, 2018, by Shane HarrisThe Justice Department on Saturday released a previously classified application to wiretap former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, who was under suspicion by the FBI of being a Russian agent.

The government had monitored Page under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and the heavily redacted documents were made public after media organizations sued for their release under the Freedom of Information Act.... Read the full article here.


Russia continues to shape narrative of Helsinki summit

(The Washington Post) July 20, 2018, by Karen DeYoungRussia provided additional details Friday of what it said were agreements made at the presidential summit in Helsinki this week, shaping a narrative of the meeting with no confirmation or alternative account from the Trump administration.... Read the full article here.


‘That’s going to be special’: Tensions rise as Trump invites Putin to Washington

(The Washington Post) July 19, 2018, by Shane Harris, Felicia Sonmez and John WagnerThe White House announced Thursday that Vladimir Putin has been invited to Washington this fall, even as leaders in Washington tried to fully understand what happened when President Trump and the Russian leader met earlier this week in Helsinki.... Read the full article here and click here to watch video of Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats reacting to breaking news that Trump invited Putin to the White House.


U.S. Officials ‘at a Fucking Loss’ Over Latest Russia Sell Out
The White House’s refusal to rule out turning over former U.S. ambassador Michael McFaul to the Russians has current and former State Department officials seeing red.

(The Daily Beast) July 18, 2018, by Spencer AckermanCurrent and former American diplomats are expressing disgust and horror over the White House’s willingness to entertain permitting Russian officials to question a prominent former U.S. ambassador.

One serving diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was “at a fucking loss” over comments that can be expected to chill American diplomacy in hostile or authoritarian countries – a comment echoed by former State Department officials as well.... Read the full article here.


Alleged Russian agent Maria Butina had ties to Russian intelligence agency, prosecutors say

(The Washington Post) July 18, 2018, by Tom Jackman and Rosalind S. HeldermanThe Russian woman arrested on charges of being a foreign agent had ties to Russian intelligence operatives and was in contact with them while in the United States, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

Maria Butina, 29, also had an ongoing relationship with a Republican operative, strictly for business purposes according to prosecutors, and offered another individual “sex in exchange for a position within a special interest organization.”... Read the full article here.


Trump says Russia is no longer targeting the U.S., contradicting statement from U.S. intelligence chief

(The Washington Post) July 18, 2018, by John Wagner and Felicia SonmezPresident Trump, who has been under fire for not aggressively confronting Russian President Vladmir Putin over election interference, on Wednesday said he believes Russia is no longer targeting the United States.

“Thank you very much, no,” Trump said in response to a question from a reporter about whether Russia is still targeting the United States.... Read the full article here.


MH17 victims' father condemns Trump over Russian 'lie'

(BBC) July 18, 2018The father of three Australian children killed when a Malaysia Airlines jet was shot down has delivered a scathing attack on Donald Trump over his attitude to Russia.

Anthony Maslin's children were among 298 people who died when flight MH17 was downed over Ukraine in 2014.

Investigators found that Russia was responsible for the missile used in the strike - a conclusion denied by Moscow.... Read the full article here and a timeline of the evidence in the downing of flight MH17 here.


Trump, at Putin’s Side, Questions U.S. Intelligence on 2016 Election

(The New York Times) July 16, 2018, by Julie Hirschfeld DavisPresident Trump stood next to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Monday and publicly challenged the conclusion of his own intelligence agencies that Moscow interfered in the 2016 presidential election, wrapping up what he called a “deeply productive” summit meeting with an extraordinary show of trust for a leader accused of attacking American democracy.

In a remarkable news conference, Mr. Trump did not name a single action for which Mr. Putin should be held accountable.... Read the full article here and a transcript of the press conference here.


Maria Butina, Russian gun-rights advocate who sought to build ties with NRA, charged with acting as a covert Russian agent

(The Washington Post) July 16, 2018, by Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Jackman and Devlin BarrettA Russian woman with ties to a senior Russian government official was charged in Washington on Monday with conspiracy to act as an agent of the Russian Federation, including by building ties to the leadership of the National Rifle Association and other conservative political organizations.

Maria Butina, 29, who recently received a graduate degree from American University, was arrested Sunday in the District and made her first appearance in U.S. District Court before Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson, where she was ordered held without bond.... Read the full article here.


Russia Indictment 2.0: What to Make of Mueller’s Hacking Indictment

(Lawfare Blog) July 13, 2018, by Autumn Brewington, Mikhaila Fogel, Susan Hennessey, Matthew Kahn, Katherine Kelley, Shannon Togawa Mercer, Matt Tait, Benjamin WittesThe indictment Friday morning of 12 Russian military intelligence officials in connection with the 2016 election hacks and the resulting distribution of purloined emails was not a total surprise. Observers of the Mueller investigation have been expecting it for a long time, particularly since the Feb. 16 indictment of 13 Russian individuals and three companies over the social media campaign conducted by the so-called Internet Research Agency.... Read the full article here.


Trump Invited the Russians to Hack Clinton. Were They Listening?

(The Associated Press) July 13, 2018, by Michael S. SchmidtItwas one of the more outlandish statements in a campaign replete with them: In a news conference in July 2016, Donald J. Trump made a direct appeal to Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails and make them public.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Mr. Trump said, referring to emails Mrs. Clinton had deleted from the private account she had used when she was secretary of state. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”... Read the full article here.


Mueller Indicts 12 Russian Officers for Hacking Dems in 2016
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced that 12 Russian officials would be indicted in the Russia investigation.

(The Daily Beast) July 13, 2018, by Betsy Woodruff and Julia ArcigaDeputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Friday announced that 12 Russian intelligence officers have been indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the ongoing probe of alleged collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

The officers, members of the Russian foreign-intelligence agency GRU, were all named as having hacked the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic National Committee, and the Hillary Clinton campaign.... Read the full article here and read the indictment here.


Former Putin adviser has secret investment in US energy firm praised by Trump Exclusive: Alexander Voloshin has undisclosed stake in American Ethane - which has been hailed by Donald Trump

(The Guardian) July 10, 2018, by Luke HardingVladimir Putin’s former chief of staff has a secret investment in an American energy company hailed by Donald Trump as creating jobs for American workers.

Alexander Voloshin – who served as Boris Yeltsin’s chief of staff before working for Putin between 2000 and 2003 – has an undisclosed stake in American Ethane, a Houston-based firm that recently signed a multibillion dollar export deal with China.... Read the full article here.


US ‘threatened Ecuador with trade sanctions’ if it introduced UN breastfeeding resolution
The US backed the resolution after Russia said it would 

(The Independent) July 9, 2018, by Mythili SampathkumarDonald Trump’s administration has threatened Ecuador with trade sanctions if it introduces a United Nations resolution to encourage breastfeeding.

The US had supposedly asked for language asking governments to “protect, promote, and support breastfeeding” to be removed.... Read the full article here.


House G.O.P. Breaks Into Open Warfare With Rosenstein, Demanding Files

(The New York Times) June 28, 2018, by Nicholas FandosFor months, their sparring had been indirect, stern letters exchanged, pointed threats traded through the news media. But on Thursday, the ever-intensifying skirmishes between Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein and conservative House Republicans broke into an ugly public fight.... Read the full article here.


How the ‘Bad Boys of Brexit’ forged ties with Russia and the Trump campaign — and came under investigators’ scrutiny

(The Washington Post) June 28, 2018, by Manuel Roig-Franzia, Rosalind S. Helderman, William Booth and Tom HamburgerOn Aug. 19, 2016, Arron Banks, a wealthy British businessman, sat down at the palatial residence of the Russian ambassador to London for a lunch of wild halibut and Belevskaya pastila apple sweets accompanied by Russian white wine.

Banks had just scored a huge win. From relative obscurity, he had become the largest political donor in British history by pouring millions into Brexit, the campaign to disentangle the United Kingdom from the European Union that had earned a jaw-dropping victory at the polls two months earlier.... Read the full article here.


Mueller Poised to Zero In on Trump-Russia Collusion Allegations
  • Special counsel to focus once he resolves obstruction inquiry
  • The meetings with Russians stretched as far back as 2015
(Bloomberg) June 26, 2018, by Chris Strohm  and Shannon PettypieceSpecial Counsel Robert Mueller is preparing to accelerate his probe into possible collusion between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russians who sought to interfere in the 2016 election, according to a person familiar with the investigation.... Read the full article here.


Did Putin Buy the World Cup? The FBI’s Not Saying—Yet
Before Christopher Steele, ex-MI6, wrote the infamous Trump dossier, he helped the feds nail FIFA for corruption. The investigation is far from over.

(The Daily Beast) June 20, 2018, by Nico HinesWhen players break the rules on the soccer pitch, the referee blows the whistle. When politicians and oligarchs break the rules, and laws, to win the multibillion-dollar hosting rights for the soccer World Cup, they seem to think they’re untouchable, that nobody sees what they’re up to, or will have the guts to call them out.... Read the full article here.


Manafort ordered to jail after witness-tampering charges

(The Washington Post) June 15, 2018, by Spencer S. Hsu and Ellen NakashimaPaul Manafort will be jailed after being accused of witness tampering while awaiting trial on federal conspiracy and money-laundering charges brought by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

The order to imprison President Trump’s former campaign manager came Friday in a federal court hearing after Manafort had been asking to post a $10 million bond and end seven months of home detention.... Read the full article here.


Trump Told World Leaders Crimea Is Russian Because Everyone There Speaks Russian
Trump made the remarks over dinner with other world leaders at the G7 summit in Canada.

(BuzzFeed News) June  14, 2018, by Alberto Nardelli and Julia IoffePresident Donald Trump told G7 leaders that Crimea is Russian because everyone who lives there speaks Russian, according to two diplomatic sources.

Trump made the remarks over dinner last Friday during a discussion on foreign affairs at the G7 summit in Quebec, Canada, one of the diplomats told BuzzFeed News.... Read the full article here.


Michael Cohen, Trump’s Fixer, Parting With Lawyers as Federal Investigation Continues

(The New York Times) June 13, 2018, by Alan Feuer, William K. Rashbaum and Maggie HabermanMichael D. Cohen, President Trump’s longtime personal fixer, will soon be parting from the lawyers who are representing him in a potentially damaging and wide-ranging federal investigation into his business dealings, according to two people familiar with the case.familiar with the situation.... Read the full article here.


Pressure on Michael Cohen intensifies as Mueller stays focused on the Trump attorney

(The Washington Post) June 13, 2018, by Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom HamburgerMichael Cohen, President Trump’s personal attorney, is facing mounting pressure from two active federal investigations, contending with skyrocketing legal bills and planning to change lawyers in the near future, according to people familiar with the situation.... Read the full article here.


Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen likely to cooperate as his attorneys leave case, sources say

(ABC News) June 13, 2018, by George StephanopoulosAs attorneys for Michael Cohen rush to meet Judge Kimba Wood’s Friday deadline to complete a privilege review of over 3.7 million documents seized in the April 9 raids of Cohen’s New York properties and law office, a source representing this matter has disclosed to ABC News that the law firm handling the case for Cohen is not expected to represent him going forward....

Cohen, now with no legal representation, is likely to cooperate with federal prosecutors in New York, sources said. This development, which is believed to be imminent, will likely hit the White House, family members, staffers and counsels hard.... Read the full article here.


Brexit donor Arron Banks 'met with Russian officials in months leading up to EU referendum'
Leave.EU founder responds to revelations in leaked emails by saying: 'Bite me. It’s a convenient political witch-hunt, both over Brexit and Trump'

(The Independent) June 10, 2018Arron Banks, a major funder of the Brexit campaign, met with the Russian Ambassador to the UK three times in the run up to the EU referendum, it has emerged.

The millionaire co-founder of Leave.EU also made repeated contact with Russian officials and flew out to Moscow to discuss business opportunities, according to reports.... Read the full article here.


Special counsel Mueller indicts Paul Manafort, Russian associate on obstruction charges

(The Washington Post) June 8, 2018, by Devlin Barrett, Spencer S. Hsu and Rosalind S. HeldermanPaul Manafort and his longtime business associate were indicted Friday on new charges that they conspired to obstruct justice — ratcheting up the pressure on President Trump’s former campaign chairman as he tries to stay out of jail while awaiting trial.

The indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Washington marked the first such charges for Manafort’s associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, who is believed to be in Moscow — and therefore probably safe from arrest because Russia does not extradite its citizens. Prosecutors have previously said Kilimnik has ties to Russian intelligence, which he denies.... Read the full article here.


John Bolton’s New Top Aide Is a Russia Truther
The national security adviser’s new chief of staff said intelligence was ‘rigged’ by Obama and that Trump should ‘pardon everyone’ under investigation.

(The Daily Beast) June 8, 2018, by Justin GlaweNational Security Adviser John Bolton’s top aide hire said last year that U.S. intelligence reports on Russia’s election meddling were “rigged.”

That’s just one of the conspiracies Fred Fleitz espoused before he was hired last week as Bolton’s chief of staff. Fleitz has also said it’s “impossible” to know if Russia was responsible for election-related hacks, and speculated that the Obama administration manipulated intelligence about Russia and that it schemed to “trap” Trump officials by sanctioning Moscow.... Read the full article here.


Trump calls for Russia to be reinstated to G-7, threatens allies on trade

(The Washington Post) June 8, 2018, by Damian Paletta, Anne Gearan and John WagnerPresident Trump on Friday said Russia should be readmitted to the Group of Seven leading economies, breaking with other world leaders who have insisted that Moscow remain ostracized following its 2014 annexation of Crimea.

“Now, I love our country. I have been Russia’s worst nightmare … But with that being said, Russia should be in this meeting,” Trump said Friday as he left the White House. “It may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run. … They should let Russia back in.”... Read the full article here.


With Mueller Closing In, Manafort’s Allies Abandon Him

(The New York Times) June 7, 2018, by Kenneth P. Vogel, Sharon LaFraniere and Jason HorowitzThe special counsel’s accusation this week that Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, tried to tamper with potential witnesses originated with two veteran journalists who turned on Mr. Manafort after working closely with him to prop up the former Russia-aligned president of Ukraine, interviews and documents show.... Read the full article here.


Trump Team Pushed False Story Line About Meeting With Kremlin-Tied Lawyer, Memo Shows

(The New York Times) June 4, 2018, by Matt ApuzzoFor nearly a year, the denials from President Trump’s lawyers and spokeswoman were unequivocal. No, the president did not dictate a misleading statement released in his son’s name.

“He certainly didn’t dictate,” said the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders.... Read the full article here.


Mueller accuses Paul Manafort of witness tampering

(The Washington Post) June 4, 2018, by Spencer S. Hsu, Rosalind S. Helderman, Matt Zapotosky and Devlin BarrettFederal prosecutors accused former Trump presidential campaign chairman Paul Manafort of witness tampering late Monday in his criminal case and asked a federal judge to consider revoking or revising his release.

Prosecutors accused Manafort and a longtime associate they linked to Russian intelligence of repeatedly contacting two members of a public relations firm and asking them to falsely testify about secret lobbying they did at Manafort’s behest.... Read the full article here and Special Counsel Robert Mueller's motion here.


Trump’s Lawyers, in Confidential Memo, Argue to Head Off a Historic Subpoena

(The New York Times) June 2, 2018, By Michael S. Schmidt, Maggie Haberman, Charlie Savage and Matt ApuzzoPresident Trump’s lawyers have for months quietly waged a campaign to keep the special counsel from trying to force him to answer questions in the investigation into whether he obstructed justice, asserting that he cannot be compelled to testify and arguing in a confidential letter that he could not possibly have committed obstruction because he has unfettered authority over all federal investigations.... Read the full article here.


Click here to see my earlier Trump-Putin bromance timeline for Oct. 2017-May 2018, here to see my Aug.-Sept. 2017 timeline and here to see my June 2015-July 2017 timeline.

See links to my investigative journalism here, including my book Police Wife: The Secret Epidemic of Police Domestic Violence, a finalist in the American Book Fest's 2017 Best Book Awards and winner or finalist in 12 other book prizes.