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Trump-Russia connection

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For the Mueller report itself, see Mueller investigation.
Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one querter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union?
Alexander Hamilton[1]
When we confront foreign interference in American elections, it is important for us to avoid thinking politically as Republicans or Democrats and instead to think patriotically as Americans.
—Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein[2]
While Donald Trump's position on a lot of issues is unclear, he has a firm position on Putin, and I'm going to guess it's missionary.
—Stephen Colbert on the November 17th, 2016, episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.[3]
God, guns, and freedom
U.S. Politics
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Starting arguments over Thanksgiving dinner
Persons of interest

The Trump-Russia connection or Russiagate refers to the possible collusion[note 1] between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and the Russian government to unfairly influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. It's become the subject of not only controversy, but also of a full-fledged FBI investigation.[6][note 2]

Despite its popular name, the Trump-Russia investigation or the Russia probe examines more than ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Other countries with potentially illegal connections to Trump and his associates include China, Israel, Qatar, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates; in particular, Trump, his daughter Ivanka, and her husband Jared Kushner have business interests in Qatar, the UAE, Israel, and China.[7] Nor is it limited to the office of the Special Counsel; there is a separate criminal investigation by the FBI.[8] In fact, by December 2018, investigators had begun scrutinizing virtually all aspects of Trump's public life, his campaign, his inaugural committee, his charity, his business dealings, and his presidency itself.[note 3][9] Meanwhile, the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the House Oversight Committee are conducting their own investigations on alleged Russian meddling and any collusion with Trump aides. These are arguably some of the most high-profile criminal cases in United States history.[10]

After 22 months of investigation, Special Counsel Robert Mueller submitted his final report to Attorney General William Barr, who quoted Mueller as saying that the Special Counsel investigation neither concluded that the President committed a crime nor exonerated him. Barr concluded that Trump did not collude with Russia, but this did not clear the President of all misconduct. Regardless, Trump insisted that the investigation had completely vindicated him.[11] During the course of the investigation, FBI agents traveled across the United States and to numerous other countries. Some witnesses were interviewed immediately after they had landed at an American airport. Charges were brought against dozens of individuals. However, no Americans were charged with colluding with Russia.[12]

The accused remain innocent until proven guilty. Caution against speculation is advised.

Policy advisers

Paul Manafort at the 2016 GOP Convention/Clownshow.
He is a very flamboyant man, very talented, no doubt about that [...] He is the absolute leader of the presidential race, as we see it today. He says that he wants to move to another level of relations, to a deeper level of relations with Russia. How can we not welcome that? Of course we welcome it.
Vladimir Putin on Donald Trump, before he became the official GOP nominee[13]
He said Donald Trump is a genius and he is going to be the leader of the party and he's going to be the leader of the world or something [...] These characters that I'm running against said, 'We want you to disavow that statement.' I said, 'What, he called me a genius, I'm going to disavow it? Are you crazy?' [...] I think I'd have a good relationship with Putin.
—Donald Trump, gracefully embellishing his praise[14]

Trump's Russia adviser, Carter Page, made a business on dealings with Russia, and has a lifelong fascination of Russia from the days of the Soviet Union. Page has supported Putin in his writings for a while as a staunch defender of Russian intentions, and has accused the U.S. of red-baiting and adopting a Cold War mindset with regards to Russia – that and the fact that the economic sanctions imposed on Russia affected his business dealings with GazpromWikipedia and other Russian businesses.[15]

After hiring recruiting Paul Manafort, former consultant to pro-Kremlin Ukrainian politician Victor Yanukovich,Wikipedia[16] as a volunteer campaign chairman,[17] Trump changed his initial position on the Russian seizure of Crimea from demanding stronger Western intervention from "weak", "ineffective", "worst president"[18] Barack Obama.[19] Manafort's lobbying firm (Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly) worked for a number of unsavory dictators and human rights-abusing regimes, earning them a top-five spot in fees earned from the so-called torturers' lobby in 1991 and 1992.[20]

Another Trump foreign policy advisor and retired army Lt. General Michael Flynn flew to Moscow in 2015 in order to attend a gala banquet in honor of RT, a channel on which he has regularly appeared,[21][22][23] and was seated at the head table, two seats away from Putin.[23] Flynn, now the shortest-serving National Security Adviser in history, was forced to resign after being accused of lying about never talking to the Russians during the election. Since then, Manafort, Page, Kushner (Trump's son-in-law), and several other Trump administration officials (e.g., Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce)[24] have received flak for their own connections to Russian oligarchs.

Business and mafia connections

Alimzhan Tokhtakhunov in 2011
I couldn't care less. They do not represent the interest of the Russian state. Maybe they're not even Russians. Maybe they're Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, just with Russian citizenship.
—Vladimir Putin, questioning the statehood of about 17% of Russian citizens[25] as well as that of most of his oligarch buddies[26]
Almost all of the oligarchs were in the room.
—Donald Trump, excitedly reminiscing about the 2013 Miss Universe contest in Moscow[27]
Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!
—Donald Trump, 2017[28]

While a large number of the Russian oligarchs aren't actually ethnic Russians, this fact does not diminish their close connection to Russia and Putin. Many were born in now-independent former Soviet States and/or are ethnically Jewish.[29] Many of them wield the power of mobsters: for one, a person could easily end up getting iced having a most unfortunate accident heart attack, simply by reporting something previously unpublished about an oligarch. In fact, this happens quite a lot.[30]

Trump, who has had known American mafia ties,[31] would have no problems doing business with mafia-connected oligarchs in other countries. In fact, much of his known business dealings with Russian oligarchs boil down to his ties to the mafia, such as Felix Sater,Wikipedia a businessman who has dealt with Russian mobsters.[32]

According to Time magazine, the most obvious example of Trump and his Russian satellite business' interests is Trump SoHo:Wikipedia

A lawsuit claimed that the business group, Bayrock, underpinning Trump Soho was supported by criminal Russian financial interests. While its initial claim absolved Trump of knowledge of those activities, Trump himself later took on the group's principal partner as a senior advisor in the Trump organization.

Bayrock went on to be involved with a number of Trump projects globally.[33] Tevfik Arif,Wikipedia born in Kazakhstan, was the founder of Bayrock Group.[34] Arif was accused of running an underage prostitution ring on his yacht, the Savarona, in 2010 by Turkish authorities, but was acquitted of all charges a year later.[35][36] "Turkey deported nine Russian and Ukrainian women, including two under the legal age of consent, after authorities said they broke a prostitution ring aboard the Savarona…"[36]

The other development for Bayrock was the Sapir Organization, whose founder Tamir SapirWikipedia was from Georgia (the former Soviet republic, not the U.S. state). A Bayrock official also "brokered a $50 million investment in Trump SoHo and three other Bayrock projects by an Icelandic firm preferred by wealthy Russians 'in favor with' President Vladimir V. Putin", according to The New York Times.[37] The suspicion surrounding the project meant that Bayrock's finance chief Jody Kiss sued Trump for fraud.[37] Russian-born Felix Sater, another important Bayrock figure, has deep business connections to Trump; in 2010, he was his "Senior Advisor".[38] Sater has two felony convictions (assault and racketeering) and organized crime ties (Genovese and Bonanno crime families).[38][39] As it turns out, Sater is a long-time FBI informant who has relationships with six people on special counsel Robert Mueller's team.[40]

Alimzhan "Taiwanchik" Tokhtakhounov,Wikipedia an ethnic Uyghur from Uzbekistan, has been accused of running an illegal gambling operation out of Trump Tower.[41][42] Tokhtakhounov was also indicted for rigging the 2002 Olympics.[41][42] Tokhtakhounov was a VIP attendee at Trump's Miss Universe 2013 pagent held in Moscow.[41][42] He is reportedly now living in Russia and is still wanted by the FBI[42] (at least until January 20, 2016). Aras Agalarov,Wikipedia an ethnic Azeri, was reportedly Trump's liaison to Putin during the 2013 pageant, for which he and others paid Trump $14 million.[43]

Trump's first real estate venture in Toronto was a partnership with two Russian-Canadian entrepreneurs. "The hotel's developer Talon International is run by Val Levitan and Alex Shnaider,Wikipedia two Russian-Canadian entrepreneurs. Levitan made his fortune manufacturing slot machines and creating bank note validation technology, and Shnaider earned his in the post-glasnost steel trade," wrote Toronto Life in 2013.[44] When Trump Sr. built a tower in Panama in 2008, Trump Jr. said at a real estate conference, "Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia".[45]

59 individuals connecting Trump to Russia

Journalist Craig Unger documented 59 people that connected Trump to Russia.[46] Not all of these connections necessarily involved criminality, but they at least demonstrate the extent of Trump's deceit about having "nothing to do with Russia".[46]

  1. Roman AbramovichWikipedia (1966–) — oligarch, has hosted Ivanka Trump
  2. Aras AgalarovWikipedia (1955–) (see above and below)
  3. Emin AgalarovWikipedia (see below)
  4. Evsei AgronWikipedia (1932–1985) — Russian mafia boss in Brooklyn, operated out of a El Caribe Country Club, once co-owned by Michael Cohen's uncle
  5. Rinat AkhmetshinWikipedia — former Soviet counterintelligence, attended the 2016 Trump Tower meeting
  6. Tevfik Arif (see above)
  7. Marat BalagulaWikipedia (1943–) — Agron's successor, also operating out of El Caribe; purchased 5 apartments at Trump Tower
  8. Boris BirshteinWikipedia (1947–) — founded Seabeco SA under KGB direction, worked with his son-in-law Alex Shnaider, who built Trump Tower in Toronto
  9. David Bogatin — bought 5 apartments in Trump Tower as an alleged money laundering scheme
  10. Jacob Bogatin — David's brother, part of Semion Mogilevich's mafia family
  11. Oleg BoykoWikipedia — purchased a Trump Tower apartment that he sold to Vadim Trincher
  12. Mikhail ChernoyWikipedia (1952–) — oligarch, believed by the FBI to be a mafia figure, partner of Semyon Kislin
  13. Vitaly ChurkinWikipedia (1952–2017) — Russian ambassador to the United Nations, arranged for Trump's 1987 Moscow trip
  14. Michael CohenWikipedia (1966–) — Trump's consigliere; his uncle was co-owner of the Russian Mafia's base of operations in Brooklyn, El Caribe Country Club; Cohen's father-in-law is connected to a Russian oligarch; also see below
  15. Oleg DeripaskaWikipedia (1968–) — Paid Paul Manafort $10 million to advance Putin's agenda; Manafort owed Deripaska $19 million after a failed business deal, a debt that was forgiven allegedly in return for Trump campaign information
  16. Natalie Dubinina — daughter of former-ambassador Dubinin, stated that there was a concerted Soviet effort to recruit Trump
  17. Yuri DubininWikipedia (1930–2013) — former Soviet ambassador to the UN, US and France, invited Trump to Moscow in 1987
  18. Dmitry FirtashWikipedia (1965–) — Ukrainian pro-Putin oligarch, partner of Mogilevich and Manafort
  19. Michael Flynn (see above and below)
  20. Rick Gates (see above and below)
  21. David Geovanis — arranged for Trump's 1996 meetings in Moscow, later worked for Deripaska
  22. Rob GoldstoneWikipedia (1960–) — music promoter, worked with Emin Agalarov, arranged the Trump Tower meeting
  23. Anatoly Golubchik — convicted of running a gambling ring out of Trump Tower, owned a Trump condo in Florida, listed as affiliated with Mogilevich in the Panama Papers
  24. Vyacheslav "Yaponchik" IvankovWikipedia (1940–2009) — Brooklyn Russian mafia boss who resided in Trump Tower, frequented Trump's Atlantic City casino, co-owner of Arbat company with Mogilevich
  25. Irakly KaveladzeWikipedia (1965–) — business associate of Aras Agalarov, attended the Trump Tower meeting
  26. Viktor KhrapunovWikipedia — Kazkah energy minsiter, alleged to have stolen billions in public funds and laundered the funds through shell companies and through apartments in Trump SoHo
  27. Konstantin KilimnikWikipedia (1970–) — worked for Manafort, met with Manfort during the 2016 Trump campaign regarding obtaining briefings for Deripaska, found a company with ties to Cambridge Analytica
  28. Semyon "Sam" Kislin — supplied televisions for Trump in the 1970s, partnered with Tamir Sapir and Bayrock to fund Trump Soho
  29. Sergey KislyakWikipedia (1950–) — Russian ambassador to the US, had secret meetings with Trump campaign officials (including Flynn and Sessions)
  30. Simon KukesWikipedia (1946–2019) — picked by Putin to head Yukos Oil, contributed more than $280,000 to Trump entities, owned an apartment at Trump Parc
  31. Bennett LeBowWikipedia (1937–) — accompanied Trump to Moscow in 1996
  32. Lev LevievWikipedia (1956–) — business relationship with Jared Kushner, close ties with Tamir Sapir
  33. Howard LorberWikipedia (1948–) — accompanied Trump to Moscow in 1996
  34. Yuri LuzhkovWikipedia (1936–) — Moscow mayor from 1992-2010, was at the top of the Moscow corruption pyramid according to the former US ambassador to Russia, Trump's meetings in Moscow were held in the city hall under his aegis
  35. Paul Manafort (see above and below)
  36. Alexander MashkevichWikipedia (1954–) — Kazakh oligarch, alleged ties to the Russian mafia, was a primary investor in Bayrock
  37. Sergei MikhailovWikipedia (1958–) — longtime partner of Mogilevich, involved in sophisticated financial scams and money laundering, expressed interested in 2013 in backing a Trump Tower in Moscow, allegedly met with Trump
  38. Semion MogilevichWikipedia (1946–) — FBI Ten Most Wanted list, Russian mafia, his underlings have paid for a lot of Trump properties
  39. Hillel "Helly" NahmadWikipedia (1978–) — operated an illegal gambling operation, owned a whole floor of Trump Tower, alleged money launderer
  40. Eduard Nektalov (–2004) — Uzbek diamond dealer who owned a condo in Trump Tower, was investigated by the US Treasury Department for money laundering, murdered on 6th Avenue after it was rumored that he would cooperate
  41. Alexandre Ventura Noguiera — primary broker of Trump Ocean Beach in Panama, marketed primarily to Russians
  42. Carter PageWikipedia (1971–) — Trump campaign's foreign policy adviser, met with senior Russian officials in Moscow in July 2016, Russian intelligence had attempted to recruit him in 2013
  43. George PapadopoulosWikipedia (1987–) — see below
  44. Sergei PolonskyWikipedia (1972–) — Russian oligarch, convicted of fraud in Russia but served no time, Felix Sater worked for Polonsky at the same time as for Trump
  45. Vadim RabinovichWikipedia (1953–) — pro-Russia Ukrainian oligarch; with Lorber and LeBow, he escorted Trump around Moscow
  46. Vladimir Rezin – former-deputy mayor of Moscow, negotiated with Trump over a proposed residential complex
  47. Rotem Rosen — chief lieutenant of Lev Leviev, married to Tamir Sapir's daughter, negotiated the proposed Trump Tower Moscow
  48. Dmitry RybolovlevWikipedia (1966–) — owns a 3.3% stake in the Bank of Cyprus, reputed to be a haven for money laundering, purchased a mega-mansion from Trump at an inflated price in 2008
  49. Tamir SapirWikipedia (1946/1947–2014) — associated with the Brooklyn Russian mafia, partnered with Bayrock to finance Trump SoHo
  50. Felix SaterWikipedia (1966–) — plead guilty to a mafia-orchestrated $40 million stock fraud in 1998, childhood friend of Michael Cohen, accompanied to Ivanka and Donald Jr. to Russia in 2006, senior adviser to Bayrock including on Trump SoHo
  51. Alex ShnaiderWikipedia (1968–) — developed the Trump Tower in Toronto, son-in-law of Boris Birshtein
  52. Eric Sitarchuk — lawyer for Jacob Bogatin (Mogilevich's lieutenant) and for Trump
  53. Roger Stone — see below
  54. Gennady TimchenkoWikipedia (1952–) — Russian oligarch; his company Sibur is one of the largest clients of Navigator Holdings, of which Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWikipedia owns the majority share
  55. Vadim Trincher — leader of two Russian-American crime families, laundered money from the 63rd floor of Trump Tower until his arrest in 2013
  56. Alimzhan "Taiwanchik" Tokhtakhounov (1949–) — see above
  57. Viktor VekselbergWikipedia (1957–) — within Putin's inner circle, became the largest shareholder of the Bank of Cyprus at the time the Wilbur Ross was its vice chair
  58. Natalia VeselnitskayaWikipedia (1975–) — see below
  59. Viktor YanukovychWikipedia (1950–) — Putin's puppet, became president of the Ukraine under the aegis of Manafort

Investigations into the Trump-Russia connection and their revelations

I wanna caution you that the people who speculate about federal investigations usually do not know all the relevant facts. We do not try cases on television or Congressional hearings. Most anonymous leaks are not from officials who are actually conducting these investigations.
—Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein[2]

2016 and earlier

Buddy our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putins [sic] team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.
— An email from Felix Sater to Michael Cohen[47]

In November 2013, Donald Trump went to Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant, hosted at a property belonging to Aras Agalarov. Trump praised Agalarov on Twitter and wrote that a Trump Tower in Moscow is next. Since the early 2000s, Russian-born developer Felix Sater has been in contact with the Trump Organization. His Bayrock Group partnered with the Trump Organization on the Manhattan hotel Trump Soho.[note 4] His primary contacts are Donald Trump himself, his son Donald Trump Jr., his daughter Ivanka Trump, and Michael Cohen, who joined the Trump Organization in 2007. In September 2015, after Trump announced he was running for President, Sater arranged for a meeting with Cohen to discuss a possible project in Moscow. In a letter to Cohen, Sater wrote he wanted to "help world peace and make a lot of money", in spite of allegedly having ties to organized crime. Cohen continued to communicate with Sater and other Russian contacts about the Moscow Project until June 2016. In July, Trump went on Twitter to deny that he had any investments in Russia.[47]

A 2019 court filing revealed that the Russian effort to interfere in the U.S. 2016 presidential election began as early as 2014 in St. Petersburg, Russia. An organization known as the Internet Research Agency (IRA) employed technologically savvy Russians for its troll farm, tasked with manipulating American public opinion using popular social media networks—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube—and homegrown techniques of deception and misinformation. The goal was to spread and exacerbate mistrust in not just political candidates, but also in political institutions. The IRA secretly sent agents to various U.S. states to gather information on the various political issues on which Americans were divided, such as gun control. It purchased American IT infrastructure, such as server space, in order to safeguard its true origins and purpose. Trolls were to present themselves as Americans and to make numerous sockpuppet accounts appearing to be associated with various political and religious activist groups. In February 2016, the order was given to "use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump— we support them)."[48]

In March 2016, when it became clear that Trump and Hillary Clinton were the top candidates of their respective parties, agents from the Russian military intelligence unit, the GRU, began sending malicious emails to members of the Clinton campaign, tricking them into sharing their email passwords. Within weeks, the GRU gained access to the personal email account of John Podesta, the chairman of Clinton's campaign.[48]

In April 2016, while traveling in Europe, Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos met Joseph Mifsud, an academic from Malta who claimed he had connections with senior Russian officials interested in helping Trump win the presidency. Mufsud told Papadopoulos that Russia had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of stolen compromising emails. Meanwhile, Michael Cohen signed a letter of intent in order to secure a business deal of building a Trump Tower in Moscow. Cohen discussed the matter with Trump himself and his children and appealed to the Kremlin itself for help with securing land and financing for the project.[48]

Paul Manafort, who was making princely sums as a political consultant in Ukraine and Russia, saw a new business opportunity in the Trump campaign. Manafort and Richard Gates worked their way up to the highest echelons of the Trump campaign and made sure their old clients knew of their new positions. After Trump became the Republican presidential nominee, the IRA escalated its campaign to aid Trump and to undermine Clinton. The troll farm began using stolen identities and bank accounts to purchase political advertisements on social media networks. At the same time, GRU hackers began planting malicious software into the computer systems of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), giving them the ability to search for and to steal what they wanted. Another group of Russian intelligence agents registered, a website that published the stolen materials.[48]

In May, the DNC and DCCC realized they had been hacked and hired a private cyber security firm to address the issue, but kept quiet about it until June 14, 2016, and claimed that Russia was responsible. By then, however, was ready, and the Russians escalated their leaking campaign. They created a fake online persona named Guccifer 2.0, a supposedly "lone Romanian hacker" who took credit for the hacking and began publishing compromising materials online. This came into the attention of Julian Assange, leader of the anti-secrecy website Wikileaks, then living in the Ecuadorean embassy in London. Wikileaks emailed Guccifer asking for the documents, claiming that their release through Wikileaks would have a much higher impact, to which the Russians agreed.[48]

While Papadopoulos unsuccessfully tried to arrange a meeting between Trump and Putin, the Russians found a receptive audience in Donald Trump Jr., Trump's eldest son. Rob Goldstone, a British publicist for Russian singer Emin Agalarov, son of Aras Agalarov, served as the intermediary between the two sons. Goldstone arranged a meeting at the Trump Tower in New York between Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer, telling the former that the Russians had dirt on Clinton. Manafort and Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, also attended the meeting, which took place on June 9, 2016. However, it turned out to be about the adoption of Russian children by American citizens and U.S. sanctions on Russia.[48]

On July 22, 2016, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced her running mate for Vice President to be Tim Kaine, Senator from Virginia. On the same day, Wikileaks released over 20,000 stolen DNC emails, immediately capturing the imagination of the press. In the wake of the FBI investigation on Clinton herself, conservative pundits and Trump supporters were all too happy with the outcome. Trump himself weighed in, making his now-infamous call for Russia to find "the 30,000 emails that are missing".[49] Trump campaign officials reached out to Trump confidant Roger Stone, who claimed he had connections with Wikileaks. As the presidential election season entered its final stretch, Russian trolls, who had by then garnered hundreds of thousands of followers on social media, began unleashing loads of anti-Clinton and pro-Trump posts.[48]

On October 7, 2016, Donald Trump was entangled in a scandal after The Washington Post published a leaked video from years earlier of him bragging about sexually harassing and groping women. But another load of stolen documents released by Wikileaks gave him a respite. An associate of Trump campaign chief strategist Steve Bannon sent Stone a message of gratitude.[48]

FBI counterintelligence specialists routinely provide briefings to presidential candidates and their top aides on the threats posed to their campaigns by foreign spies because after their nominations, they begin receiving classified information, making them inviting targets. 2016 was no exception. Then-candidate Trump was warned that Russian agents could infiltrate his campaign. At this time, he FBI was already aware of the contacts between members of the Trump campaign and Russia. Former CIA director James Brennan said that his agency had observed suspicious communications between the Trump campaign and Russia, and had promptly informed the FBI.[50]

The FBI began investigating possible Trump-Russia collusion on July 31, 2016, a hundred days before the election, codenamed Crossfire Hurricane, as its investigation on Hillary Clinton was winding down. It was initially kept a secret so that the FBI could avoid the appearance of being lenient on Clinton and biased against Trump. Agents understood they would not be able to solve the case before Election Day and took the calculated risk that Clinton was going to defeat Trump, judging from poll results.[51] Then-President Barack Obama was aware of the Russian plot, but did not want to be too public about it; he did not want to be perceived as trying to tilt the scale in favor of Clinton.[52] It was, however, later revealed on television by none other than then-FBI director James Comey himself.[note 5]

In January 2019, the New York Times reported that U.S. intelligence agencies concluded in 2016 that it was Russian agents who attempted to interfere in the U.S. presidential election that year in order to boost candidate Donald Trump at the expense of Hillary Clinton by planting fake news stories in social media and by cyber attacks.[53]


I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off.
—Donald Trump to senior Russian officials at the White House, May 2017[54]
In the U.S., a Special Counsel has the power of an attorney. He can issue subpoenas and indictments. He may also prosecute those who interfere with this investigation in anyway, including perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, or intimidation of witnesses. When his work is complete, he will submit a confidential report to the Attorney General (or his Deputy), who will notify Congress and decide whether or not to make the report, or parts of the report, public. The final report will explain investigative steps and will consist of either a list of bullet points or a detailed account running for hundreds of pages.
BBC,[55] AP[56]

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein oversaw the ongoing Special Counsel investigation.
Special Counsel Robert Swan Mueller III.

In early January, Buzzfeed published the Steele Dossier, named after former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, alleging collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.[47] Michael Flynn was appointed Trump's chief national security adviser and became the primary contact between Trump and Russia. However, he lied to the FBI about conversations he had with Sergey Kislyak, Russia's ambassador to the U.S., about a U.N. vote to condemn Israeli settlements in the West Bank. He wanted Russia to delay or to reject the vote and to refrain from escalating tensions. This came after the outgoing Obama administration imposed sanctions on Russia for election-meddling. George Papadopoulos lied to the FBI about his conversations with Mifsoud, the Maltese academic.[48]

Feeling he could not control Comey and deeply upset by the negative media coverage, Trump fired Comey on May 9, 2017 for refusing to terminate the ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign's possible collusion with Russia.[57] A week later, Robert S. Mueller III was appointed as Special Counsel in charge of that investigation.[58] A day before being appointed Special Counsel, Mueller was interviewed by Trump to serve as FBI director but was not hired. If Mueller knew of his future job beforehand, he likely did not divulge this information to Trump.[59][note 6] Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself, citing a conflict of interest as he was part of the Trump campaign in 2016.[60] Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, as Acting Attorney General, tasked Mueller with investigating whether or not Trump and his associates colluded with Russia and "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation."[61][note 7] This last point gives the Special Counsel especially broad investigative powers. Rosenstein reasoned that given the "unique circumstances", it was appropriate for the appointment of a Special Counsel independent "from the normal chain of command" to lead the investigation, which would be protected from interference, including from the White House. This is in accordance with regulations from the Justice Department, which allow for an outside Special Counsel to be appointed for an investigation of individuals or matters that present conflicts of interest for the Department or under other "extraordinary circumstances".[62]

Amid the chaos, then-acting FBI director Andrew McCabe ordered preparations to be made to make sure the evidence gathered by the FBI investigation would survive further leadership changes, especially if Mueller was fired and his team disbanded.[63]

In his testimony before Congress, Michael Cohen lied about the Trump Tower Project in Moscow; he told them it ended before June 2016.[48]

In a CBS interview aired in February 2019, then FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe expressed worries that Trump would terminate the ongoing investigation into his ties to Russia and obstruction of justice right after the firing of Comey. He and other Justice Department officials discussed how to continue the investigation in the event he was fired or reassigned, and bringing the Cabinet together to discuss removing Trump from office using the 25th Amendment.[64] McCabe claimed that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein offered to wear a wire during his meetings with Trump. Although the official statement from the Justice Department was that Rosenstein was being sarcastic, McCabe said he was taken seriously.[65]

According the transcript of a meeting between Trump and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak in May read to The New York Times by an unnamed U.S. official, Trump said he fired "nut job" James Comey in order to reduce the pressure of the investigation. Trump initially justified the sacking of Comey using a memo by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that pointed to Comey's mismanagement of the investigation of Hillary Clinton's private email server, but later stated that his decision had nothing to do with the memo. Prior to the firing, Trump had asked Comey to halt an investigation into Michael Flynn. The Washington Post reported that during this same meeting, Trump gave classified information on ISIS to the Russians forwarded to the U.S. by Israel, a key ally.[54]

In September, Donald Trump Jr. testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. When asked about the Moscow Project, he said he had known "very little" about it, but also said he and Ivanka would have known about other Moscow deals.[47]

In late November, aboard Air Force One, Trump said the following to reporters about his business activities:

My focus was running for president. But when I run for president, that doesn't mean I'm not allowed to do business. I was doing a lot of different things when I was running... There would have been nothing wrong if I did do it. I was running my business while I was campaigning. There was a good chance that I wouldn't have won, in which case I would have gone back into the business, and why should I lose lots of opportunities?[47]


January to July

It's a disgrace, it's frankly a real disgrace. It's an attack on our country in a true sense. It's an attack on what we all stand for.
—Trump on camera after the Cohen raids[66]

In January, The Washington Post revealed, citing Dutch media reports, that the Dutch home intelligence agency AIVD, which had been infiltrating the notorious Russian hacking group "Cozy Bear" since mid-2014, had obtained evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and had forwarded this information to U.S. authorities. AIVD is presumably the Western intelligence agency that discovered in 2014 that it was Cozy Bear who launched a cyber attack against the U.S. State Department and notified the National Security Agency (NSA). They managed to access the computers of Russian hackers, watch them maneuver inside U.S. government computer systems, and even obtained CCTV footage of those involved. On top of that, analysts succeeded in tracking the locations of the Russian hackers down to a university building near Red Square. In that case, the Netherlands is the first ally to inform the U.S. of Russian cyber attacks.[67][note 8]

In April, the FBI raided the office, residence, hotel suite, and safe-deposit boxes of Michael Cohen in New York City, seizing financial records, computers, phones and privileged communications.[68] Despite a history of being one of Trump's most loyal aides, Cohen signaled he was willing to cooperate with prosecutors as he was a target of a criminal investigation himself for various kinds of fraud.[69] The loss of Cohen and his likely cooperation with law enforcement are devastating blows against Trump. In August 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts of bank fraud, tax fraud, and illegal campaign contributions. Cohen's illegal campaign contributions include $130,000 to Stephanie Clifford (Stormy Daniels) and $150,000 to Karen McDougal as part of nondisclosure agreements on their extramarital affairs with Trump. Altough Trump denied knowledge of the payments, he later admitted he reimbursed Cohen but insisted that it had nothing to do with his presidential campaign.[70]

In May, ABC News reported that the Mueller team questioned multiple witnesses about donors to Trump's inauguration, including those with ties to Russia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE. One of the people interviewed was Thomas Barrack, a close friend of the President. Another was Viktor Vekselberg, who allegedly directed funding to a corporate entity created by Michael Cohen to pay various women in exchange for their silence on their affairs with Trump.[71]

By July, it was more accurate to call this a corruption probe, as Mueller both expanded the scope of his special counsel and worked with state officials to uncover all crimes involved with the Trump campaign. By this point, Trump and his inner circle were being investigated for (aggravated) identity theft, various kinds of frauds, unauthorized computer access (hacking), money laundering, accepting illegal campaign contributions, making false statements to law enforcement, failure to register as foreign agents, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy against the United States.[72] In fact, the Special Counsel investigation resulted in 191 criminal charges against 35 individuals and three companies, resulting in five guilty pleas and one sentencing.[73] At least one person was fined and sentenced to prison.[74]

In fact, the investigation became so complex that Mueller had to recruit more prosecutors for his team;[75] they come from a variety of backgrounds, with experience ranging from the prosecution of corruption scandals, sanctions dodging, to hacking cases.[76] Mueller had no fewer than 17 federal prosecutors working for him.[62]

In mid-July, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, appointed by Trump himself, revealed that there is a broad effort by the Department of Justice to combat Russian "information warfare" waged against the United States to undermine her democracy and critical infrastructure. Indeed, the Russian attempt to influence the 2016 Election was "just one tree in a growing forest," he said.[52]

Roger Stone, a political agitator and Nixon fan who worked for the Trump campaign,[77] thought he was the unnamed person on indictment from July 13, 2018.[78](Details below.) His associate Jerome Corsi not only rejected a plea deal offered by the Special Counsel in November of the same year, but also made preparations for a legal challenge against him. Corsi admitted he would probably be indicted by Mueller because of his links to Julian Assange and Wikileaks; the latter was a potential intermediary between the Trump campaign and Russia, assuming they colluded.[79] Besides Stone, Wikileaks also communicated with Donald Trump Jr.[80] Corsi worked for the far-right website Infowars, known for propagating conspiracy theories and running smear campaigns.[note 9] An email exchange between Corsi and Stone from the summer of 2016 obtained by ABC News revealed that they wanted to contact Assange about the release of information stolen by Russian intelligence, including allegedly hacked emails, in order to damage the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. Stone denied this[81] and pleaded the Fifth Amendment.[82] The Special Counsel was also interested in the links between Roger Stone and Guccifer 2.0, a Twitter persona believed to be used by one or more Russian military intelligence agents who stole the emails from the Clinton campaign and gave them to Wikileaks. It was revealed in 2018 that Stone was messaging Guccifer 2.0 on Twitter just weeks before election day.[80][83]

Mueller has begun looking into Trump's tweets for evidence of the latter obstructing justice.[84]

August to December

I write the answers. My lawyers don't write answers. I write answers. I was asked a series of questions. I've answered them very easily -- very easily. I'm sure they're tripped up, because you know they like to catch people.
—Trump on his written answers to Mueller[85]

Curiously, Trump admitted that his son, Trump Jr., met with a Russian lawyer for information on a political opponent, contradicting previous statements that the meeting concerned the adoption of Russian children by American citizens. Trump insisted that there was no collusion and that it was completely legal, and also denied knowing about it at the time.[86]

Although Trump previously said he was willing to be interviewed by Mueller's investigators in person, his lawyers advised him otherwise. Lawyer Jay Sekulow questioned the need for the President's testimony and pointed out that if Mueller were to subpoena the President, the case would go to the Supreme Court because the question of whether or not a sitting President may be subpoenaed had never been tested in the courts before.[87]

White House Counsel Don McGahn, one of the key witnesses in this investigation, voluntarily sat down for about 30 hours of interview by the Mueller team over nine months. Trump said he allowed McGahn to do so in order to end the inquiry as soon as possible.[88] McGahn was the main point of contact between the White House and the Mueller team. He left the White House in October.[89]

In November, a court filing in error suggested that the U.S. government was preparing to charge Julian Assange. It is not clear whether these charges, if any, were related to the Mueller investigation; the Justice Department made no comment.[90]

In September, the Mueller team reportedly stopped insisting on a personal interview and agreed to accept written answers from Trump.[91] Just before Thanksgiving, Trump announced he had finished answering Mueller's questions in writing, and argued that Mueller was setting up a perjury trap.[85]

In November, Jerome Corsi told the press that he had been questioned by Mueller's team about Nigel Farage, a politician pushing for the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union. Farage forged ties with the Trump campaign and White House through his friendship with Steve Bannon, the former editor of the far-right website Breitbart and White House chief strategist. The Guardian reported that Farage was a "person of interest" for the Mueller probe. Corsi was also questioned about Ted Malloch, an American academic living in London who had ties with Farage and informally advised the Trump campaign. When he arrived at Boston's Logan International Airport, Malloch himself was interrogated by FBI agents on his involvement in the Trump campaign, his relationship with Roger Stone, and any meetings he might have had with Julian Assange. According to The New York Times and The Washington Post, the Mueller team took an interest in Aaron Backs, the top funder of the pro-Brexit campaign.[92]

In late November, The Guardian reported that Paul Manafort had meetings with Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2013, 2015, and 2016, when he became a key figure in the Trump campaign. Wikileaks released a store of emails stolen from the Democratic Nomination Committee by Russian intelligence after Manafort met Assange in March 2016. Although it remains unclear why Manafort visited Assange, their communication is likely to be of interest to the Mueller probe. Manafort could have been a key witness and cooperator, but was accused of lying to investigators on a "variety of subject matter."[93]

In December, a foreign company, whose identity has been kept a secret, was fined for refusing to obey a grand jury subpoena. After it appealed to the United States Supreme Court, and Chief Justice John Roberts granted a temporary freeze in the daily fine. The Court would issue its final decision the following year. An entire floor of a D.C. courthouse was closed during arguments to prevent the public from learning the identities of the lawyers involved.[94]

Towards the end of 2018, one could argue that the Trump-Russia investigation was moving at a rapid pace, given the number of people who were indicted or who pleaded guilty in such a short amount of time, the aspects that involve cyber security and intelligence, and the international complexity involved. Another way to gauge its progress and success is how the people in Trump's inner circles changed their tunes, usually from defiance and confidence to diffidence and obedience. Paul Manafort thought of the investigation as "the battle to prove our innocence", but then accepted a plea deal with Mueller. Michael Cohen started out saying that he was fine with "taking a bullet for Trump", but later fully cooperated with the Mueller team. Trump's lawyer and lead spokesperson Rudy Giuliani initially insisted, as the President did, that "there was no collusion", but changed his line to "collusion is not a crime". Trump, for this part, became more and more defiant.[66]

The U.S. federal government faced a partial shutdown in late 2018, which did not affect the Special Counsel investigation. Employees of the Special Counsel's Office were expected to go to work as usual.[95]



I'm a criminal lawyer. I am not an ethicist. And I defend people against unfair criminal charges.
— Rudolph W. Giuliani on serving Donald J. Trump[96]
In the U.S., grand juries are citizens tasked with hearing evidence behind closed doors. They have the power to subpoena testimonies and documents, and to decide whether the evidence warrants an indictment or a trial. They do not decide whether or not an individual is guilty. A federal grand jury usually consists of 16 to 23 individuals.
What is a US grand jury? BBC News.

In early January, the grand jury used by Mueller had its term extended by six months as its initial 18-month term was about to expire. There was speculation that the Russia probe could be ending soon, but the judge issuing the extension made no comment[97] as she did not sit on the jury's confidential sessions. Mueller's grand jury began meeting in July 2017. Under federal law, the term of a grand jury may be extended for up to six months if it is "in the public interest."[98] By this time, Mueller's grand jury had heard dozens of witnesses and approved numerous indictments.[97]

Multiple news outlets reported that Rod Rosenstein was preparing to leave his job as Deputy Attorney General, sparking speculations that the Mueller probe was ending soon, or at least had gathered too much momentum to be stopped. It remains unclear when the exact date of Rosenstein's departure would be. While acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker assumed direct control of the probe, Rosenstein continued to help supervise it. Historically speaking, Deputy Attorney Generals typically stay for no longer than two years, meaning Rosenstein's departure was likely not motivated by any particular events.[99]

According to legal experts, Mueller almost certainly had Trump's tax returns, but could not release them unless they are relevant to a criminal case.[100] But perhaps the House Intelligence Committee poses a much greater threat to Trump, since they have the power to investigate his business ties and to issue subpoenas. Of interest is Deutsche Bank, which has a history of laundering Russian money and was the one bank willing to do business with the Trump Organization.[101] Regulators raised questions about how Deutsche Bank handled transactions from Danske Bank, currently the center of a massive money laundering scandal.[102]

The New York Times reported in January that the FBI initiated a counterintelligence and criminal investigation after the sacking of FBI director James Comey by Trump in 2016. The counterintelligence component of the probe sought to answer the question of whether or not Trump "had unwittingly fallen under Moscow's influence", advancing Russian interests at the expense of the United States; the criminal part concerned with whether or not the firing of Comey constituted obstruction of justice.[53]

In a rare move, the Office of the Special Counsel issued a statement in mid-January disputing the accuracy of a report by Buzzfeed claiming that Michael Cohen told investigators that Trump had told him to lie about plans for the construction of a Trump Tower in Moscow. Buzzfeed editor Ben Smith said he stood by the story and requested that the Special Counsel clarify which aspects of it were inaccurate. Trump denied the report, claiming that Cohen lied in order to "reduce his jail time", and said that the Mueller statement was "very appropriate". In court, Cohen said he had a "blind loyalty" that motivated him to cover up Trump's "dirty deeds".[103] Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff said he would like to have Cohen testify before his committee by subpoena "if necessary". In a public statement, Cohen said he looked forward to giving "a full and credible account of the events" in February.[104] Cohen was due to appear before the House on a voluntary basis in early February, before reporting to prison in March. However, he postponed his Congressional testimony indefinitely, citing "ongoing threats against his family from President Trump".[105] However, the Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenaed his testimony behind closed doors in mid-February, and Schiff said he expected Cohen's presence before his Committee regardless of his decision to postpone. Schiff also said the House would release all remaining transcripts of the interviews conducted in its investigation of possible Russian interference in the 2016 election to the Special Counsel.[106][107]

In mid-January, the Special Counsel subpoenaed three witnesses linked to Jerome Corsi to testify before a grand jury. In November 2018, Corsi rejected a plea deal that Mueller offered to him, saying that he could not plead guilty to a crime he did not commit. This deal would have allowed him to plead guilty to one count of perjury.[81]

William Barr, Trump's nominee to replace Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, stated in his confirmation hearing that under him, the Special Counsel would be allowed to finish his investigation. However, he stopped short of promising to release the report that would be handed to him; he said he hoped to release as much of it as possible in accordance with rules and regulations.[108] Indeed, special counsels and grand juries are obligated to keep the information they obtained about an individual secret if that individual is not charged with a crime.[109] Furthermore, any information that could jeopardize national security would have to be redacted.[110] Barr's comment in a legal memo that the Special Counsel investigation was "fatally misconceived" was a cause for concern.[108] A bipartisan bill was introduced requiring the Special Counsel to submit a report to Congress.[111]

In late January, one of Trump's lawyers, Rudy Giuliani, admitted to The New York Times and NBC that his client had been involved in discussions on the construction of a Trump Tower in Moscow from the day he announced his candidacy to the day of his electoral victory, contradicting Trump's public statements. Giuliani also said that his client might have talked to Michael Cohen before Cohen made false testimony to Congress, claiming discussions ended in January 2016. When he pleaded guilty to lying to Congress, Cohen told prosecutors that discussions extended to at least June 2016. However, Giuliani later retracted his statements, saying he was merely talking in the hypothetical sense and insisted that even if Trump did talk to the Russians about his Moscow Project during his entire campaign, "it wouldn't be a crime".[96]

In late January, the federal appellate court in the District of Columbia upheld a daily fine of $50,000 for failure to comply with a grand jury subpoena against the unnamed foreign company that appealed to the Supreme Court the previous month. Chief Justice John Roberts had granted a pause in the daily fine in December, but a brief decision from the Court removed that pause. The Supreme Court also refused to block the subpoena. The appellate court rejected the company's argument that it was immune from subpoenas under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act and that compliance with the subpoena would violate the laws of its country of origin.[112]

The Mueller team expressed an interest in the relations between the Trump campaign and the National Rifle Association (NRA). Trump spoke at the organization's meeting in 2015, just months before announcing his presidential bid. The NRA was already facing scrutiny for its massive spending in support of the Trump campaign ($30 million in total) and for its ties to Russian nationals, including Maria Butina (who pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the United States in court) and Alexander Torshin (a former central banker sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department), both life-long NRA members. Trump became a favorite for the NRA when he was running for President, despite his well-documented support for gun control.[113]

Russian singer Emin Agalarov said on his social media account that he was "forced" to cancel his North American tour. His father, Aras Agalarov, became an associate of Trump in hosting the Miss Universe pageant in 2013. The singer's lawyer said the Mueller team was looking to question him on the ties between his family business and the Trump campaign.[114]

A new poll conducted by CBS from mid- to late-January showed that more Americans considered the Russia investigation to be justified. This was thanks to an increase in support for the Mueller probe from Democrats; the number of Republicans who thought it to be politically motivated remained the same at 83%. However, just under two-thirds of Americans, including a slight majority of Democrats, believed that Democrats in Congress should focus more on passing legislation rather than investigating the President. This poll was conducted by telephone on a random sample of 1,102 adults nationwide; the margin of error is about three percent.[115]

The arrest and indictment of Roger Stone suggest that the Trump campaign was aware that Wikileaks was in possession of stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee beforehand. In an email from October 4, 2016, Stone informed a senior Trump campaign official that Julian Assange was about to release the stolen emails. Stone communicated with Wikileaks via an intermediary, reported to be comedian Randy Credico.[116] According to a court filing by Mueller's prosecutors, the FBI seized terabytes of hard-drive contents from Stone's Florida home, including emails, bank and financial records.[117]

By this stage in the investigation, it became evident that various individuals in Trump's inner circle were turning against each other.[note 10] Michael Cohen not only pledged his full cooperation with the Special Counsel, but also urged Americans to vote for Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections in order to constrain President Trump. Rick Gates served as the star witness in the trial of Paul Manafort, in which he was convicted on several charges of fraud. Roger Stone stepped up his efforts to insult former colleagues, including Jerome Corsi,[118] who said he would be "happy" to testify against Stone.[119]

Just before the end of the month, acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said he was "fully briefed" on the progress of the Special Counsel investigation and announced that it was close to completion, but gave no details.[120]


We will use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well.
—New York Attorney General Letitia James[9]

On the first Monday of this month, federal prosecutors in Manhattan subpoenaed documents related to donors and financial information from Donald Trump's inaugural campaigns. In particular, investigators are for evidence of foreign money laundering, election fraud, and illegal campaign contributions. Under federal law, foreign donations to federal campaigns are illegal. Separately, investigators from the United States attorney's office in Brooklyn opened an inquiry into the possibility of inaugural officials helping foreigners donate to the Trump campaign by masking their identities using "straw donors." However, no one from the committee was accused of any wrongdoing. This new inquiry stemmed out from the investigation of Michael Cohen, who has spent more than 70 hours being interviewed by investigators from the United States attorney's office in Manhattan as well as Mueller's team.[121] New York prosecutors requested interviews with executives of the Trump Organization. People close to Trump told CNN that he and his legal team viewed the New York investigations as a greater threat than the Special Counsel.[122]

Tom Barrack, head of Trump's inaugural committee, confirmed he was interviewed by Mueller's team in 2017, but said he was not the target of the investigation.[123]

Just twelve hours after Trump's 2019 State of the Union address, delayed for two weeks because of a government shutdown, the House Intelligence Committee voted to share the documents related to its Russia probe in 2017 and 2018 with the Special Counsel, including the full and unredacted transcripts of interviews it conducted. Chairman Adam Schiff said Mueller had already had access "to the substance of the transcripts" but could only act on them after their release. He also said his Commmittee would look beyond Trump's ties to any "foreign actors" who might have influenced him, his family, and his associates.[124]

A federal judge found that Paul Manafort made multiple false statements to the FBI, the Office of the Special Counsel, and the grand jury, and voided his plea deal. Manafort remained bound by the deal and could not withdraw his guilty pleas. But the Special Counsel was liberated from his end of the bargain.[125]

Michael Cohen's attorney confirmed to Reuters his client would testify in public before the House Oversight Committee, and the House and Senate intelligence committees before reporting to prison in March. However, Cohen will not talk about the ongoing investigations of the Special Counsel or federal prosecutors in New York; he will only discuss his personal experience serving Trump for a decade. This announcement came right after Senator Richard Burr criticized Cohen for delaying his testimony. Cohen was recovering from shoulder surgery.[126]

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed with the press that she was interviewed by the Mueller team. She said that she was "happy to voluntarily" sit for an interview and that the President urged her to "fully cooperate."[127]

In mid-February, the attorney general of New Jersey subpoenaed the Trump inaugural committee. It uses similar language to the previous one by New York, but specifically asks for records pertaining to activities in New Jersey, ledgers, tax forms, contracts and "all documents related to any benefits provided to donors."[128]

William Barr began his second stint as attorney general on February 15. He previously served in this capacity from 1991 to 1993.[129] House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff threatened a legal fight if his committee is not satisfied with the level of access they have to the findings of the Special Counsel investigation. In particular, Schiff said he was willing to subpoena Mueller himself as well as his report. Democrats could use Mueller's findings to start impeachment proceedings. Many Republicans came out in favor of releasing the full report.[130]

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals affirming the legality of Mueller's appointment.

A federal judge in the District of Columbia imposed a limited gag order to Roger Stone in order to ensure a fair trial and "to maintain the dignity and seriousness of the courthouse and these proceedings," citing the “size and vociferousness” of crowds attracted to Stone’s court appearances and the possibility of his statements prejudicing his jurors. This order bars him from speaking on matters directly related to his trial. It also prohibits him and his lawyers from talking to reporters on they way in and out of the courthouse.[131] That judge later imposed a strict gag order after Stone posted a picture of her with what appeared to be crosshairs of a gun near her head on Instagram. It was later deleted. Now, Stone may not comment publicly about his case at all, although he may still raise funds for his legal defense.[132]

In February 17, The Guardian reported that Robert Mueller subpoenaed Brittany Kaiser, former business development director of the data mining and political consulting from Cambridge Analytica, which became defunct after news broke that it misused Facebook data. According to Damian Collins, who chairs the British parliamentary inquiry into fake news, this is not a surprise given that Kaiser's work connected her to Wikileaks and Brexit. Collins added that it has become vital for the U.K. to start its own investigation into foreign interference. Her spokesperson said she was cooperating fully with the Special Counsel. She is the first person with links to both the Trump and Brexit campaigns known to have been interviewed by Mueller.[133]

In late February, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously rejected the argument that the appointment of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III was unconstitutional. The court also found that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's decision to appoint Mueller was impeccable. This legal challenge came from Andrew Miller, an associate of Roger Stone. Miller was subpoenaed by Mueller to appear before a federal grand jury. Miller's lawyer said he was considering to bring the case to a full appellate court or even to the Supreme Court.[134]

In his public testimony before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on February 27, Michael Cohen stated that he had arranged for the payment of hush money to an adult film actress and a Playboy model who had had sexual relations with Donald Trump then lied about it to the public and the first lady at Trump's request. He presented a copy of a check from Trump reimbursing him for paying the women. Cohen claimed that Trump considered his campaign to be a marketing opportunity and never expected to win the Republican primary election, or the general election. He recounted overhearing a conversation between Trump and Roger Stone, in which Stone informed Trump that Wikileaks was about to unleash troves of damaging documents about Hillary Clinton. However, he contended he had no concrete evidence that Trump colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential election. Cohen also presented financial documents which he said showed Trump to be wealthier than he really was.[135]


Over the last several years, President Trump has evaded accountability for his near-daily attacks on our basic legal, ethical, and constitutional rules and norms. Investigating these threats to the rule of law is an obligation of Congress and a core function of the House Judiciary Committee.
—Jerrold Nadler, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee[136]

In early March, Michael Cohen returned to Capitol Hill for a closed-door testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, bringing with him additional documents to back up his claims. He pledged to continue to cooperate with investigators.[137]

Shortly after Cohen's assertion that Donald Trump inflated the value of his assets in order to reduce his insurance premiums in his public testimony before the House Oversight Committee, prosecutors in New York subpoenaed Trump's insurance broker, Aon. This subpoena requested a wide range of documents, but did not allege any wrongdoing. Michael Cohen agreed to cooperate with this particular probe.[138]

Letter from Attorney General William Barr to Congress informing members that he had received the final report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The House Intelligence Committee reopened and expanded a probe into possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election which the Republican majority closed in 2018. Chairman Schiff announced his committee would also be looking into Trump's overseas financial interests. The House Oversight and Reform Committee, whose jurisdiction extends to all parts of government, wants to call in people repeatedly mentioned by Michael Cohen in his testimony. Chairman Elijah Cummings requested documents related to security clearances from the White House after a New York Times report that the President order security clearance be given to his son-in-law Jared Kushner despite objections from security officials. The House Oversight Committee also voted to subpoena Trump administration officials over Trump's family-separation policy at the southern border. The House Judiciary Committee initiated an investigation into possible obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power by Trump and has issued document requests to 81 individuals with ties to him. The National Rifle Association (NRA) is also under scrutiny. The House Financial Services Committee is focused on Deutsche Bank, which has given millions of dollars in loans to the Trump Organization over the years, and Trump's charitable foundation. It is also working with the House Intelligence Committee to investigate possible money laundering by the Russians and the Trump Organization. The House Foreign Affairs Committee is looking into ties between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, including a one-on-one meeting between them in 2018 in Helsinki, Finland, and Trump's policy toward Saudi Arabia and response to the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. These could be setting up the stage for impeachment. However, while some liberal Democrats have been calling for immediate impeachment, other Democrats have been more cautious.[139][136]

According to a court filing unsealed in mid-March, Richard Gates was not ready to be sentenced, as he continue to be useful to the investigation.[140]

Court records made public (with redactions) in late March revealed that Michael Cohen was a target of investigation starting July 2017, much earlier than previously thought. Robert Mueller's early efforts focused on possible bank fraud and failure to register as a foreign agent.[141]

While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.

—William Barr quoting the Mueller report in his summary.[11]

On March 22, 2019, Special Counsel Robert Mueller submitted his final report to Attorney General William Barr. Barr informed Congress in writing he would brief them on the "principal conclusions" and restated his commitment to "as much transparency as possible." Polls show that Americans would like to see the report. Earlier this month, the House voted unanimously in favor of a non-binding resolution urging the Justice Department to make the report public.[142] According to Barr's summary of the report's findings, released on the same weekend, Mueller found no evidence of any collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia. Because Mueller did not really answer the question of whether or not Trump obstructed justice, Barr asserted there was no concrete evidence for it. However, Barr acknowledged that Russian officials had made an offer to assist the Trump campaign. The end of the Special Counsel probe does not mean the end of legal troubles for Donald Trump, who still faces many investigations from New York state prosecutors and from Congress.[143]

Barr is expected to release a redacted version of Mueller's report within weeks. It is reportedly 300 pages long.[144] Although the Special Counsel investigation officially concluded when Robert Mueller submitted his report to William Barr, a federal prosecutor told reporters that Mueller's grand jury was continuing work "robustly." Moreover, Mueller referred several matters to other law enforcement offices.[145]


If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgement.
—Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report[146]

The House Judiciary Committee voted to subpoena the full Mueller report. Democrats are not satisfied with a redacted version, even though Barr said he was censoring classified information, details related to the grand jury, and anything else related to individuals not indicted. Although the vote will not automatically result in a subpoena, it did authorize chairman Jerrold Nadler to issue one. The vote also allowed the Committee to subpoena Trump's former strategist Steve Bannon, former Communications Director Hope Hicks, former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, former White House Counsel Donald McGahn and counsel Ann Donaldson. These people were likely key witnesses of obstruction of justice in Mueller's probe.[147]

As part of Congressional investigations into Donald Trump and his ties to Russia, the House Financial Services Committee issued subpoenas to nine banks from the U.S. and abroad. They were JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., Morgan Stanley, Bank of America Corp., Wells Fargo & Co., Capital One Financial Corp., Deutsche Bank AG, Royal Bank of Canada and Toronto Dominion Bank. In particular, Deutsche Bank, which has lent Trump $340 million, is the primary target of investigation. The House Financial Services Committee focuses on possible money laundering.[148]

At 11 am, local time, April 18, 2019, Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III's report on his investigation into possible collusion between Donald Trump and Russia was released. Media outlets, journalists, and commentators quickly jumped on it, as is to be expected in a world of instant reporting. Trump's lawyer, Rudolph Guiliani appeared within half an hour of the release of the report on Fox News.[149] The full text of the report is 448 pages long, with 23 pages of redacted materials. Mueller's questions and Trump's written answers are also included. This was the only instance of direct communication between the Special Counsel and the President. In an introductory passage, Mueller noted the inadequacy of the written format since his team was unable to ask follow-up questions. Mueller's team considered dozens answers to be incomplete, or imprecise. The final set of questions went unanswered.[150]

Trump and members of his inner circle quickly asserted that Trump did not obstruct justice and the report exonerated him. In reality, the Special Counsel left open the possibility of obstruction of justice. He wrote in his report that his team was unable to reach that conclusion based on the available evidence and applicable legal standards. Although the Robert Mueller had to follow Justice Department guidelines which say that a sitting President should not be prosecuted, he pointed to the possibility of Trump being charged after leaving office. The purpose of the Special Counsel investigation was to "preserve the evidence when memories were fresh and documentary material were available." The report neither implicates nor exonerates the President.[151]

Mueller chose not to indict former Attorney General Jeff Sessions for perjury to Congress because of the wording and context of the questions to him. On the other hand, Mueller noted that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and other Trump staff members were in legally problematic positions for their June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer, even though Mueller could not find any evidence that they "willfully" broke the law.[152]

Mueller's report is now available in book form for purchase from various publishers as well as in PDF for free download from the Internet.[153]

Rudy Giuliani claimed that Trump's lawyers had seen the Mueller report two days before its public release and that Trump legal team had been preparing a rebuttal to the report.[154]

The House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed the full unredacted report. Chairman Jerrold Nadler argued his committee was entitled to it and that the redacted version leaves to many questions unanswered. In response, the Justice Department called the subpoena "premature and unnecessary" but said it would "continue to work with Congress to accommodate its legitimate requests consistent with the law and long-recognized executive branch interests."[146]


Stephen Calk, CEO and founder of Federal Savings Bank of Chicago and former economic adviser to the 2016 Trump campaign, had an indictment unsealed against him in the Southern District of New York, accusing him of approving $16 million in loans to Manafort in an attempt to get a senior-level position in the cabinet.[155]

Progress summary

It is better to be infamous than never be famous at all.
— Roger Stone[116]
Michael Flynn with Vladimir Putin at the 2015 RT celebration
Gates in 2016
Butina in 2014
Manafort 2018 mugshot.
Cohen in 2014
Veselnitskaya at the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on “U.S. Policy Toward Putin’s Russia,” on June 14, 2016

The following lists summarize the progress of the Special Counsel investigation thus far.

Guilty pleas

  • Michael Flynn, former national security adviser, guilty of lying to investigators. Flynn is cooperating with prosecutors.[61] His sentencing was delayed because he continues to be a credible and useful witness. His sentence will likely be lenient as a result.[82]
  • Richard Pinedo, computer programmer, guilty of identity fraud for selling dummy bank accounts to Russian agents.[61] He was sentenced to six months in prison, six months of home detention and two years of supervised release.[10][156]
  • George Papadopoulos,Wikipedia former campaign aide, guilty of lying to investigators. Papadopoulos was cooperating with investigators.[61] He initially faced up to six months in prison,[157] but was ultimately sentenced to two weeks in prison and one year supervised release.[158][note 11]
  • Richard Gates III, former campaign and White House aide, guilty of conspiracy to defraud the United States and making false statements. Gates is cooperating with prosecutors.[61] His sentencing is being delayed so that he could continue to cooperate with the investigation.[82]
  • Alex van der Zwaan,Wikipedia Dutch lawyer,[note 12] guilty of lying to investigators about his work with Gates. He was deported after serving a 30-day sentence on his conviction.[61]
  • W. Samuel Patten,Wikipedia guilty of one count of "failing to register with the Justice Department when he represented a Ukrainian political party known as the Opposition Bloc from 2014 through this year."[159] In his guilty plea, Patten admitted to illegally arranging for an American straw donor to funnel money from a Ukrainian businessman to fund Trump's inauguration.[159] Patten had worked with Manafort (convicted) and suspected Russian intelligence operative Konstantin KilimnikWikipedia (indicted by Mueller's team); he has worked for Cambridge Analytica's parent company, SCL.[159] In his plea agreement, Patten agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.[159]
  • Maria ButinaWikipedia (Мария Бутина), a lifetime NRA member and the first Russian to be incarcerated, charged on July 15, 2018 with "conspiracy to act as an agent of the Russian Federation, and was ordered held without bond."[8] At her detention hearing, the FBI alleged that Butina has extensive contacts with the Russian spy agency FSB, and she has exchanged sex for business purposes (presumably espionage), including an ongoing relationship with a Republican operative.[160] She was charged by the FBI but not by the Special Counsel's office, a sign that Trump's signaling of intent to obstruct justice by firing the Special Counsel[161] might fail. In December 2018, Butina pleaded guilty to conspiracy to act as an illegal foreign agent in the United States, admitting that she acted under the direction of Russian official Aleksandr TorshinWikipedia (the only other Russian lifetime NRA member).[162] In 2019, Butina was sentenced to 18 months of prison.[163]

Convicted/guilty pleas

  • Paul Manafort, former campaign chairman, was charged with obstruction of justice, money laundering, tax fraud, failure to register as a foreign agent, failure to report foreign bank accounts, and making false statements.[61][164] Manafort was convicted in his first trial on 8 counts of tax and bank fraud charges with mistrials on 10 other charges in August 2018.[165]
As part of a plea agreement to avoid a second trial, on September 14, 2018, Manafort pleaded guilty to two criminal charges, that he cheated the IRS and that he violated foreign lobbying laws.[166] As part of the agreement, Manafort also agreed to fully cooperate with the Mueller investigation,[166] but then allegedly lied to the Special Counsel thereby invalidating his plea agreement.[167] He also allegedly lied about sharing polling data with Russian business partner Konstantin Kilimnik.[168]
In early March 2019, Manafort was sentenced to 47 months in prison for tax and bank frauds related to his work in Ukraine.[169] By late March, his total prison sentence was seven and a half years.[170]
  • Michael Cohen,Wikipedia Trump's longtime lawyer and personal fixer, pleaded guilty to 8 counts of bank fraud, tax fraud, and illegal campaign contributions in August 2018.[70] In his guilty plea, Cohen implicated Trump directly in some of his acts.[171] Although the charges that Cohen plead guilty to were not related to the Russia investigation (the case was not handled in court by Mueller's team), the FBI had previously raided Cohen's house, hotel and office, seizing a trove of documents.[172] Mueller's team has been investigating whether this any evidence in the documents connect Trump to Russian illegal activity.[172] Due to Cohen's guilty pleas, Trump is now effectively an unindicted co-conspirator.[172][173] Cohen's lawyer, Lanny Davis, said that Cohen has information on whether Trump participated in a criminal conspiracy to hack into Democratic emails in 2016, and that Cohen would be "more than happy to tell the special counsel all that he knows."[174] In November 2018, Cohen also plead guilty to lying to Congress about a Moscow real estate project that Trump ("Individual 1") was pursuing at the same time as the 2016 election campaign.[175] In December 2018, Cohen was sentenced to 3-years in prison.[176]
  • Roger Stone was convicted in November 2019 on seven counts of lying to Congress and jury tampering, and is facing up to 50 years in prison.[177] He was sentenced to 40 months in prison.[178] On July 10th, 2020, Donald Trump commuted his sentence.[179]

Not guilty

  • In a spin-off case from the Mueller investigation, Gregory Craig (lawyer and former-White House consel to Obama) was found not guilty of lying to investigators regarding his work in the Ukraine.[180]


  • 13 Russian nationals and three companies with Russian ties, charged with plotting to tamper with the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, espionage, and using stolen IDs.[61][note 13] Many of them, however, are outside U.S. jurisdiction.[182] Among the 13 was Yevgeny Prigozhin (Евгений Викторович Пригожин),Wikipedia known as "Putin's chef" for his catering business and close personal ties to Putin. In 2018, Elena Khusyaynova,Wikipedia an employee of Prigozhin under "Project Lakhta", was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States for interfering in the 2018 US midterm elections.[183] Among the activities conducted under Prigozhin were pushing disinformation about divisive issues "including immigration, the Confederate flag, gun control and National Football League protests during the national anthem."[183][184] An attempt by the troll farm allegedly led by Prigozhin, a St. Petersburg-based firm named Concord Management and Consulting, to dismiss Mueller's indictments was rejected by a D.C. Circuit judge (appointed by Trump). This may be an attempt to catch a glimpse of Mueller's progress as no human defendant will likely appear at a U.S. court.[185]
  • 12 Russian military intelligence officers, charged with hacking the Democratic National Committee, infiltrating government agencies and state election boards, unauthorized computer access, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering (using cryptocurrency).[note 14][187][188] The indictments were announced on July 13th, 2018. Said individuals are outside U.S. jurisdiction.
  • Konstantin Kilimnik, former aide of Manafort, charged with obstruction of justice.[10]
  • Natalia VeselnitskayaWikipedia (Ната́лья Влади́мировна Весельни́цкая), a Russian lawyer, charged with obstructing justice in a money-laundering investigation.[189] Veselnitskaya was present at the infamous Trump Tower meeting that discussed the possibility of repealing the Magnitsky Act;Wikipedia the Act allowed the US to financially sanction human rights violators, and initially targeted those involved in the murderer of accountant Sergei MagnitskyWikipedia who uncovered an elaborate money-laundering scheme involving Veselnitskaya's clients.[189][190]
  • Roger Stone, charged with one count of obstruction of proceedings, five counts of making false statements, and one of witness tampering. He was arrested by the FBI in Florida before dawn on January 25, 2019. He was released on a $250,000 bail but was only allowed to travel for court appearances in Florida, Washington, D.C., and New York.[83]
  • Stephen Calk, charged with attempted bribery of Manafort in an attempt to get a senior-level position in the Trump cabinnet.[155]

Rogues gallery

Attempts to interfere with the Special Counsel investigation

This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further.
—Donald Trump[66]

Trump considered firing Mueller (at least) twice. In August 2018, he tried to get Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end the probe.[191] In case that becomes a reality, a bipartisan bill was put forward to prevent the Special Counsel from getting fired, unless there is a "good cause". Furthermore, the firing may only be done by a senior official from the Department of Justice. However, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell refused to bring the legislative proposal to the floor.[192] Visibly uncomfortable with the investigation, Trump has been using fiery rhetoric on Twitter to turn public opinion against it with some success,[193] calling the investigation a "witch hunt," and asserting that it is a waste of money. In reality, the Mueller probe has, by June 2018, cost only a fraction of the annual budget of a large district court.[61] In December 2018, the Special Counsel Office released an expenditure report revealing that in the first 16 months of operations, the Office spent 25 million dollars but seized 48 million dollars by uncovering tax evasion cases. In other words, the investigation is actually making money, at least at this stage.[194] Trump is also upset that Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation, saying that he "never took control" of the Justice Department. Sessions responded that the Department should be free from "political considerations."[195]

The New York Times reported September 2018 that Rod Rosenstein wanted to secretly record Trump back in 2017, leading to widespread speculation that Trump would fire Rosenstein, who called the report "inaccurate and factually incorrect," or that Rosenstein would resign. If Rosenstein resigns, Trump has more leeway to pick a successor. Firing Rosenstein makes him more difficult to replace.[196] Trump later said he had no plans to fire Rosenstein.[197]

In any case, the more Mueller and his team investigate, the more evidence of wrongdoing they find.[61] Because this is an ongoing investigation, Mueller and his team know much more than what has been made public.[58] Given the charter of this Special Counsel and the nature of this investigation, it is clear that the Mueller probe must be allowed to reach its logical conclusion. Any attempt by Donald Trump or any of his associates to "fight back" may be considered obstruction of justice, as are the firing of James Comey,[58] and refusing to be interviewed by investigators.[198] Trump's steadfast refusal to cooperate with law enforcement may lead to the Special Counsel issuing a subpoena to compel his testimony before a grand jury. The situation might escalate into a (multi-year) legal battle between Trump's attorneys and Mueller's team.[193]

After the 2018 midterm elections, Democrats gained control of the House of Representatives, providing the Mueller probe with additional protection.[note 15] In the scenario that Trump fires the Justice Department leadership and shuts down the Russia investigation, House Democrats can summon Robert Mueller for a televised hearing on his findings. If Trump tries to prevent the final report from the Special Counsel from being released to the public, a Democrat-controlled House has the subpoena power to fight it. Moreover, the House will not ignore the Special Counsel report now that it is in Democratic hands.[199] However, Trump immediately fired Jeff Sessions. Sessions' chief of staff Matthew Whitaker is now acting replacement. It is still unclear what this means for Rod Rosenstein.[60] Whitaker, a GOP loyalist and Trump supporter[200] who worked for a company that was shut down and fined for scamming,[201] is of the opinion that the Special Counsel has overstepped his mandate by investigating Trump's finances.[60] Whitaker is openly critical of the investigation and asserted there was no evidence for collusion or Russian interference in 2016 U.S. Presidential elections.[202] His appointment attracted bipartisan criticisms.[203] In particular, critics question his impartiality[204] and worry that Whitaker will be unwilling to protect the Special Counsel investigation from political interference.[200] Some top Democrats and protesters have asked Whitaker to recuse himself, but this seems unlikely.[202] Meanwhile, legal scholars are debating the constitutionality and legality of Whitaker's appointment, as he has not been confirmed by the Senate. Once again, there are calls for legislation to protect the Special Counsel, this time from Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah.[205][206] The state of Maryland filed a legal challenge against Whitaker's appointment. In any case, given the progress made by the Mueller probe, it may be too late to attempt to stop it now.[203]

In mid-February 2019, Whitaker was transferred to the office of the associate attorney general, overseeing the Justice Department’s civil litigation and matters including civil rights, environmental and antitrust.[129] In March, Whitaker resigned.[207]

Robert Mueller's report, released in April 2019, points to ten instances of possible obstruction of justice, some of which, such as the firing of then-FBI director James Comey, have already been covered by the media. According to Mueller, Trump failed to obstruct justice only because his subordinates, Comey, former White House counsel Don McGahn and former campaign manager Corey Lewandowksi disobeyed him.[152]

False information about the Special Counsel or his investigation

Media reports

The former President and his team have, on multiple occasions, sought to mislead the public about the Mueller probe. Trump in particular has the tendency to dismiss unfavorable media coverage as "fake news." In reality, the findings of Special Counsel investigation generally support mainstream news reporting on the Trump-Russia connection.[note 16] There are exceptions, however. Robert Mueller debunked a story from Buzzfeed News stating that Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about the timing of a project in Moscow. He also contradicted an article from McClatchy claiming that Cohen went to Prague, Czechia, in the summer of 2016 to meet with Russian officials involved in the attempt to interfere with the presidential election that year.[208]

Attempts to smear the Special Counsel

In late 2018, Jacob Wohl alleged that Robert Mueller had raped a woman. It is extremely obvious that the allegation is a fabrication.

The office of the Special Counsel broke its silence announcing that it was aware of the matter and had referred it to the FBI for investigation.

In February 2019, posts of a quote reportedly from Mueller advocating for a "one-world government" went viral on social media. There is no evidence that Mueller actually said this.[209]

See also

  • Rule of law—what Trump threatens with his attacks on the investigation
  • Pissgate
  • Dana Rohrabacher claims he is the unnamed Congressman in the July 15, 2018 Maria Butina indictment.[210]
  • Iran-Contra
  • Watergate - What this may well end up being a second run of.
  • Internet Research Agency - A Russian troll farm that pushed pro-Trump propaganda on American social networks as part of the wider Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

External links

Factual information

Fun and memes


  1. The word "collusion" has gotten bandied about frequently with regard to the Trump-Russia connection. Collusion is not a crime in and of itself, however. Conspiracy to commit a crime is a crime even if the conspired-to crime was never committed. Collusion is defined as:
    A deceitful agreement or compact between two or more persons, for the one party to bring an action against the other for some evil purpose, as to defraud a third party of his right.[4]
    Conspiracy is defined as:
    A combination or confederacy between two or more persons formed for the purpose of committing, by their joint efforts, some unlawful or criminal act, or some act which is innocent in itself, but becomes unlawful when done by the concerted action of the conspirators, or for the purpose of using criminal or unlawful means to the commission of an act not in itself unlawful.[5]
  2. There are no allegations that Russian interference actually affected the outcome of the Election, at least not yet.
  3. He faces lawsuits for possible violations of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.
  4. Its name was changed in November 2017.
  5. This is only fair since, after all, he did the same thing during the Clinton investigation.
  6. Mueller had previously served as FBI director from September 4, 2001, just a week before the 9/11 terrorist attack, to September 4, 2013. He would have left the job in 2011, but had been asked by President Obama to stay for another two years, with unanimous Senate approval. Comey replaced him in 2013.
  7. See the order appointing Robert S. Mueller III as Special Counsel.
  8. The United States is not the only target. Various European intelligence agencies have been struggling to counter Russian interference as well.
  9. For example, Corsi was a leading proponent of the false rumor that President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S. and therefore ineligible to run for President.
  10. This illustrates what game theorists call the 'prisoners' dilemma'.
  11. This suggests he has outlived his usefulness for the investigation.
  12. The lying Dutchman.
  13. Internet Research Agency LLC a/k/a Mediasintez LLC a/k/a Glavset LLC a/k/a Mixinfo LLC a/k/a Azimut LLC a/k/a Novinfo LLC, Concord Management and Consulting LLC, Concord Catering, Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, Mikhail Ivanovich Bystrov, Mikhail Leonidovich Burchik a/k/a Mikhail Abramov, Aleksandra Yuryevna Krylova, Anna Vladislavovna Bogacheva, Sergey Pavlovich Polozov, Maria Anatolyevna B Ovda a/k/a Maria Anatolyevna Belyaeva, Robert Sergeyevich Bovda, Dzheykhun Nasimi Ogly Aslanov a/k/a Jayhoon Aslanov a/k/a Jay Aslanov, Vadim Vladimirovich Podkopaev, Gleb Igorevich Vasilchenko, Irina Viktorovna Kaverzina, and Vladimir Venkov[181]
  14. Viktor Borisovich Netyksho, Boris Alekseyevich Antonov, Dmitriy Sergeyevich Badin, Ivan Sergeyevich Yermakov, Aleksey Viktorovich Lukashev, Sergey Aleksandrovich Morgachev, Nikolay Yuryevich Kozachek, Pavel Vyacheslavovich Yershov, Artem Andreyevich Malyshev, Aleksandr Vladimirovich Osadchuk, Aleksey Aleksandrovich Potemkin, and Anatoliy Sergeyevich Kovalev[186]
  15. For completeness, Republicans expanded their majority in the Senate.
  16. This is surprising, given the amount of rumors and speculations that surround the Mueller probe.


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  4. What is Collusion? Black's Law Dictionary, 2nd ed.
  5. What is Conspiracy? Black's Law Dictionary, 2nd ed.
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  17. Donald J. Trump Announces Campaign Convention Manager Paul J. Manafort March 29, 2016.
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  30. See the Wikipedia article on List of journalists killed in Russia.
  31. Just What Were Donald Trump's Ties to the Mob? by David Cay Johnston (May 22, 2016) Politico.
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  34. Aston Villa takeover: Business associate of US billionaire Donald Trump current 'front-runner'. Exclusive: Club need owner with deep pockets after annual losses of £52m last year and may have found them in Tevfik Arif by Russell Lynch (Thursday 29 May 2014) The Independent (archived copy from March 26, 2016).
  35. Trump pal busted for allegedly running hooker ring on yacht by Brian Kates & Rich Schapiro (Friday, October 1, 2010, 4:00 AM) Daily News.
  36. 36.0 36.1 Kazakh businessman Tevfik Arif denies sex party allegations. Arif describes charges that he bankrolled party on Turkish yacht – once used by Kemal Ataturk – as 'imaginary'. Update: In April 2011, Tevfik Arif was acquitted of all charges Monday 2 April 2012 07.26 EDT) Associated Press' (archived copy from March 30, 2016).
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  42. 42.0 42.1 42.2 42.3 How Did an Alleged Russian Mobster End Up on Trump's Red Carpet? And here's a coincidence: The guy was indicted for being part of a global gambling ring run out of Trump Tower The ring was busted in Trump Tower in 2013 but Tokhtakhounov was not present by David Corn and Hannah Levintova (Sep. 14, 2016 5:00 AM) Mother Jones
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  113. Mueller wants to know about 2016 Trump campaign's ties to NRA. CNN. January 22, 2019.
  114. Russian singer with ties to Trump cancels US tour. Associated Press. January 23, 2019.
  115. More Americans now see Mueller probe as justified, CBS News poll finds. CBS News. January 23, 2019.
  116. 116.0 116.1 After indictment, pressure on Stone is ‘significant,’ says former prosecutor. PBS Newshour. January 25, 2019. Accessed January 25, 2019.
  117. Stone heads to court; Mueller cites potential evidence trove. Associated Press. February 1, 2019. Accessed February 1, 2019.
  118. The circular firing squad: Mueller targets turn on each other. Politico. January 17, 2019.
  119. Jerome Corsi says he’s ‘happy’ to testify against Stone. Politico. January 27, 2019. Accessed January 28, 2019.
  120. Mueller probe is ‘close to being completed,’ acting AG says. Associated Press. January 28, 2019. Accessed February 7, 2019.
  121. Trump Inaugural Committee Ordered to Hand Over Documents to Federal Investigators. The New York Times. February 4, 2019. Accessed February 5, 2019.
  122. First on CNN: New York federal prosecutors seek interviews with Trump Organization executives. CNN. Updated February 6, 2019. Accessed February 7, 2019.
  123. Federal prosecutors subpoena Trump's inaugural committee. Associated Press. February 5, 2019. Accessed February 5, 2019.
  124. House Committee votes to send documents to Mueller as investigations ramp up. NBC News. February 6, 2019. Accessed February 7, 2019.
  125. Judge voids Paul Manafort plea deal, says he 'intentionally' lied to the FBI, special counsel and grand jury. CNN. February 13, 2019. Accessed February 13, 2019.
  126. Former Trump lawyer Cohen to testify in public hearing: attorney. Reuters. February 14, 2019. Accessed February 14, 2019.
  127. White House spokeswoman confirms special counsel interview. Associated Press. February 15, 2019. Accessed February 16, 2019.
  128. NJ attorney general subpoenas Trump's inaugural committee. Associated Press. February 15, 2019. Accessed February 16, 2019.
  129. 129.0 129.1 Whitaker remains at Justice Dept. but in different role. Associated Press. February 15, 2019. Accessed February 16, 2019.
  130. Democrats ready to fight to make Mueller report public. Associated Press. February 25, 2019. Accessed February 25, 2019.
  131. Judge limits public comments in Trump confidant Stone’s case. Associated Press. February 15, 2019. Accessed February 16, 2019.
  132. Judge puts strict gag order on Roger Stone, allows him to remain out of jail. NBC. February 21, 2019. Accessed February 25, 2019.
  133. Mueller questions Cambridge Analytica director Brittany Kaiser. The Guardian. February 17, 2019. Accessed February 17, 2019.
  134. Mueller scores big win as court rejects challenge to his appointment. Politico. February 26, 2019. Accessed March 4, 2019.
  135. 'Racist,' 'con man': Cohen assails Trump before Congress. Associated Press. February 27, 2019. Accessed March 4, 2019.
  136. 136.0 136.1 House Democrats launch aggressive new Trump probe. Associated Press. March 4, 2019. Accessed March 8, 2019.
  137. The Latest: Cohen delivers more documents to lawmakers. Associated Press. March 6, 2019. Accessed March 8, 2019.
  138. New York authorities subpoena Trump insurance broker. Associated Press. March 5, 2019. Accessed March 8, 2019.
  139. Looking beyond Mueller, Democrats cast investigative nets. Associated Press. March 3, 2019. Accessed March 8, 2019.
  140. Court filing: Ex-Trump aide Gates continues to cooperate. Associated Press. March 15, 2019. Access March 23, 2019.
  141. Records show special counsel zeroed in on Cohen early on. Associated Press. March 19, 2019. Access March 23, 2019.
  142. Mueller Delivers Report on Trump-Russia Investigation to Attorney General. The New York Times. March 22, 2019. Accessed March 22, 2019.
  143. No collusion: Key takeaways from Mueller's Russia findings. Associated Press. March 25, 2019. Accessed March 25, 2019.
  144. Mueller report is more than 300 pages long (March 28, 2019) Associated Press.
  145. Prosecutor: Grand jury in Russia probe ‘continuing robustly’. Associated Press. March 27, 2019. Accessed March 28, 2019.
  146. 146.0 146.1 Mueller report: Subpoena issued for unredacted version. BBC News. April 20, 2019. Accessed April 2019.
  147. Democrats to prepare subpoenas for full Mueller report. Associated Press. April 1, 2019. Accessed April 2, 2019.
  148. Democrats Subpoena Nine Banks in Probe of Trump Finances. Bloomberg. April 17, 2019. Accessed April 20, 2019.
  149. Report release an event unsuited to instant media world. Associated Press. April 18, 2019. Accessed April 20, 2019.
  150. Full text of Mueller’s questions and Trump’s answers. Associated Press. April 18, 2019. Accessed April 20, 2019.
  151. AP FACT CHECK: Skewed Trump, Barr claims on Mueller report. Associated Press. April 18, 2019. Accessed April 20, 2019.
  152. 152.0 152.1 Mueller report: Eight things we only just learned. BBC News. April 18, 2019. Accessed April 18, 2019.
  153. Publishers hurry to release book editions of Mueller Report. Associated Press. April 18, 2019. Accessed April 20, 2019.
  154. Giuliani: Trump lawyers saw Mueller report Tuesday as they prepared rebuttal. The Hill. April 18, 2019. Accessed April 20, 2019.
  155. 155.0 155.1 Chicago bank CEO indicted on accusations of bribing Manafort for administration job: Stephen Calk used the bank’s resources to curry favor with Trump’s campaign chairman, ignoring internal standards and lying to regulators, prosecutors say. by Renae Merle & Rosalind S. Helderman (May 23, 2019 at 1:07 PM) The Washington Post.
  156. Calif. man ensnared in Mueller probe sentenced to 6 months in prison. The Hill. October 10, 2018.
  157. George Papadopoulos: Mueller Proposes Sentence For Ex-Trump Aide. BBC News. August 18, 2018.
  158. Papadopoulos sentenced to 14 days in jail in Mueller probe. The Hill. September 7, 2018.
  159. 159.0 159.1 159.2 159.3 In guilty plea, American political consultant agreed he steered an illegal foreign donation to Trump's inauguration by Spencer S. Hsu & Rosalind S. Helderman (August 31, 2018 at 2:02 PM) The Washington Post.
  160. Alleged Russian agent Maria Butina had ties to Russian intelligence agency, prosecutors say by Tom Jackman & Rosalind S. Helderman (July 18, 2018 at 12:26 PM) The Washington Post.
  161. Trump tried to fire Mueller in December: report by Jacqueline Thomsen & Max Greenwood (04/10/18 07:16 PM EDT) The Hill.
  162. Alleged Russian spy Maria Butina pleads guilty to engaging in conspiracy against US by Katelyn Polantz, Veronica Stracqualursi & Marshall Cohen (Updated 12:48 PM ET, Thu December 13, 2018) CNN Politics.
  163. Maria Butina, Russian who conspired to infiltrate conservative U.S. political groups, sentenced to 18 months by Spencer S. Hsu & Rosalind S. Helderman (April 26, 2019 at 12:01 PM) The Washington Post.
  164. Trump ex-campaign chief Manafort lied, court told. BBC News. August 1, 2018.
  165. Manafort convicted on 8 counts; mistrial declared on 10 others by Matt Zapotosky et al. (August 21, 2018 at 7:48 PM) The Washington Post.
  166. 166.0 166.1 Manafort will cooperate with Mueller as part of guilty plea, prosecutor says by Spencer S. Hsu, Devlin Barrett & Justin Jouvenal (September 14 at 12:53 PM) The Washington Post.
  167. Mueller ended plea agreement because Manafort allegedly lied about business dealings: report by Chris Mills Rodrigo (11/28/18 09:16 PM EST) The Hill.
  168. Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chief, accused of lying about sharing polling data with Russian. USA Today. January 8, 2019.
  169. Ex-Trump campaign boss Manafort gets 47-month sentence. Associated Press. March 9, 2019. Accessed March 8, 2019.
  170. The Latest: Manafort gets more prison time, new NY charges. March 14, 2019. Associated Press. Accessed March 23, 2019.
  171. Michael Cohen says he worked to silence two women ‘in coordination’ with Trump to influence 2016 election by Devlin Barrett et al.(August 21, 2018 at 10:30 PM) The Washington Post.
  172. 172.0 172.1 172.2 Michael Cohen: Trump’s greatest fear comes true by Jennifer Rubin (August 21, 2018 at 5:07 PM) The Washington Post.
  173. Whether or not *called* an unindicted co-conspirator, that’s what the sitting president IS as of close of business today, August 21, 2018, a day that will live in legal infamy. That's the import of two of Michael Cohen’s guilty pleas. by Laurence Tribe (11:58 PM - 21 Aug 2018) Twitter.
  174. Cohen lawyer Lanny Davis suggests his client has knowledge implicating Trump in ‘criminal conspiracy’ to hack Democratic emails by Isaac Stanley-Becker (August 22, 2018 at 2:20 AM) The Washington Post.
  175. Michael Cohen, Trump's former lawyer, pleads guilty to lying to Congress about Moscow project by Rosalind S. Helderman et al. (November 29, 2018 at 2:16 PM) The Washington Post.
  176. Michael Cohen sentenced to three years in prison for crimes committed while working for Trump by Matt Zapotosky & Matt Zapotosky (December 12, 2018 at 7:09 PM) The Washington Post.
  177. Roger Stone guilty on all counts in federal trial of lying to Congress, witness tampering by Rachel Weiner et al. (November 15, 2019 at 8:52 a.m. PST) The Washington Post.
  178. Roger Stone’s sentencing shows what the ‘rule of law’ is all about by Jennifer Rubin (Feb. 20, 2020 at 11:32 a.m. PST) The Washington Post.
  180. Gregory Craig found not guilty of lying to investigators probing work to aid Ukraine president by Spencer S. Hsu (September 4 at 3:36 PM) The Washington Post.
  181. United States of America v. Internet Research Agency LLC a/k/a Mediasintez LLC a/k/a Glavset LLC a/k/a Mixinfo LLC a/k/a Azimut LLC a/k/a Novinfo LLC, Concord Management and Consulting LLC, Concord Catering, Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, Mikhail Ivanovich Bystrov, Mikhail Leonidovich Burchik a/k/a Mikhail Abramov, Aleksandra Yuryevna Krylova, Anna Vladislavovna Bogacheva, Sergey Pavlovich Polozov, Maria Anatolyevna B Ovda a/k/a Maria Anatolyevna Belyaeva, Robert Sergeyevich Bovda, Dzheykhun Nasimi Ogly Aslanov a/k/a Jayhoon Aslanov a/k/a Jay Aslanov, Vadim Vladimirovich Podkopaev, Gleb Igorevich Vasilchenko, Irina Viktorovna Kaverzina, and Vladimir Venkov Criminal No. (18 U.S.C. §§ 2, 371, 1349, 1028A) Case 1:18-cr-00032-DLF, Department of Justice.
  182. Russian troll farm, 13 suspects indicted in 2016 election interference by Devlin Barrett, Sari Horwitz & Rosalind S. Helderman (February 16, 2018) The Washington Post.
  183. 183.0 183.1 Justice Dept. charges Russian woman with interference in midterm elections by Matt Zapotosky et al. (October 19, 2018) The Washington Post.
  184. United States of America v. Elena Alekssevna Khusyaynova Case No. 1:18-MJ-464 (2018) United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
  185. U.S. judge rejects move to dismiss Mueller indictment against Russian firm. Politico. November 15, 2018.
  186. In The United States District Court For The District Of Columbia. United States Of America v. Viktor Borisovich Netyksho, Boris Alekseyevich Antonov, Dmitriy Sergeyevich Badin, Ivan Sergeyevich Yermakov, Aleksey Viktorovich Lukashev, Sergey Aleksandrovich Morgachev, Nikolay Yuryevich Kozachek, Pavel Vyacheslavovich Yershov, Artem Andreyevich Malyshev, Aleksandr Vladimirovich Osadchuk, Aleksey Aleksandrovich Potemkin, and Anatoliy Sergeyevich Kovalev Criminal No. (18 U.S.C. 2, 1956, And 3551 Et Seq.)
  187. 12 Russian Agents Indicted in Mueller Investigation Eileen Sullivan and Katie Benner. New York Times. JUL.13.18
  188. Robert Mueller charges 12 Russian intelligence officers. The Financial Times. July 13th, 2018.
  189. 189.0 189.1 Russian lawyer at Trump Tower meeting charged in separate case by Devlin Barrett & Matt Zapotosky (January 8, 2019 at 2:29 PM) The Washington Post.
  190. Russians followed up on Trump Tower meeting after election, Democrats say by Jeremy Herb (Updated 10:35 PM ET, Fri April 27, 2018) CNN.
  191. Trump says Sessions should end Mueller investigation 'right now'. CNN August 1, 2018.
  192. McConnell: I won't put legislation to protect Mueller on Senate floor. CNN. April 18th, 2018.
  193. 193.0 193.1 Trump resists Mueller interview, leaving difficult decision on subpoena before fall elections. Los Angeles Times. July 15th, 2018.
  194. Mueller Probe Cost $25 Million So Far, Report Says. It’s Pulled in $48 Million From Tax Cheats. Fortune. December 14, 2018.
  195. Sessions Hits Back at Trump: DOJ Won't Be 'Improperly Influenced'. CNN. August 23, 2018.
  196. After chaotic day, Rosenstein stays in job but will meet with Trump. Reuters. September 24, 2018.
  197. Trump says he has no plans to fire Rosenstein. The Hill. October 8, 2018.
  198. White House close to refusing interview with Russia investigation. The Guardian. July 9th, 2018.
  199. Mueller has powerful new House allies as he bears down on Trump. Politico. November 7, 2018.
  200. 200.0 200.1 New acting attorney general is a GOP loyalist from Iowa. Associated Press. November 7, 2018.
  201. Acting Attorney General Sat on Board of Company Accused of Bilking Customers. The New York Times. November 8, 2018.
  202. 202.0 202.1 What the acting attorney general thinks of the Mueller probe. PBS NewsHour. November 8, 2018.
  203. 203.0 203.1 How Trump’s move to put a loyalist over Mueller is already backfiring. Politico. November 13, 2018.
  204. Former Attorney General Says Whitaker Appointment 'Confounds Me'. NPR. November 10, 2018.
  205. Future seems uncertain for Trump's acting attorney general. The Associated Press. November 10, 2018.
  206. Collins: Mueller 'must be allowed' to continue Russia probe. The Hill. November 7, 2018.
  207. Matthew Whitaker has left the Justice Department. NBC News. March 4, 2019.
  208. Fake news? Mueller isn't buying it. Associated Press. April 19, 2019. Accessed April 21, 2019.
  209. No, Robert Mueller didn't say we need a one-world government. PolitiFact. February 14, 2019. Accessed February 17, 2019.
  210. Rep. Rohrabacher: Indictment of NRA-linked Russian is 'stupid' by Kyle Cheney (07/17/2018 03:09 PM EDT) Politico.