Untwisting the Strands: Trump-Russia Collusion
This page provides a quick, easy-to-navigate series of events that, taken together, illustrates the deliberate, criminal collusion engaged in by the Trump campaign with Russian governmental and business operatives to "win" the presidency. Click on the individual panels for more information.
2011 - Present: Putin Launches Massive, Multifaceted Cyberwarfare Operation Against US
After the Putin administration is rocked by protests in over 70 cities throughout Russia, the Kremlin launches an aggressive cyberwarfare campaign against multiple nations, including the US. Learn more.
January 2013: Private "PsyOps" Firm Begins Working for Right-Wing Political Concerns; Will Become Critically Involved in Trump and Brexit Campaigns
A young American postgraduate student meets with the head of London's SCL Elections, Alexander Nix. She was once an intern at the firm. According to a former employee: "She said, 'You really need to get into data.' She really drummed it home to Alexander. And she mentioned to him a firm that belonged to someone she knew about through her father." Learn more.
January - June 2013: Future Trump Advisor Passes Information to Russian Spy
Oil industry consultant Carter Page meets with Russian intelligence operative Victor Podobnyy and passes documents to him concerning the oil industry and US sanctions against Russia. In 2016, Page will become a foreign affairs advisor for the Trump presidential campaign. Learn more.
February 2013: "Gerasimov Doctrine" Calls for "Permanently Operating" State of "Non-Linear War" Against Targeted Nations
Valery Gerasimov, the Russian chief of general staff, publishes an article in the Military-Industrial Courier entitled "The Value of Science in Prediction." The article deliniates and urges the adoption of a Western strategy that involves military, technological, media, political and intelligence tactics that will destabilize enemies at minimal cost. Learn more.
November 8-10, 2013: Russian Intelligence Likely Conducts Covert Surveillance on Trump
Western intelligence officials later say it is almost certain that Russian intelligence agents conduct covert surveillance on Donald Trump during his high-profile visit to Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant, which includes a two-night stay at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Learn more.
2014-2016: Obama Administration Warned about Russian Attempts to Disrupt US Political System
The Obama administration receives multiple warnings from national security officials that Moscow is intensifying its intelligence operations and building what they call disinformation networks, to be used to disrupt Western political systems, including the US's own system. Ultimately, it chooses to take no actions until well after the November 2016 elections. Learn more.
Summer 2014: FBI Begins Surveilling Page Under Suspicion of Being Russian Intel Asset
The FBI begins monitoring American businessman Carter Page's communications under a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant, because in 2013, Page passed documents about US sanctions on Russia to a Russian intelligence agent. Learn more.
Summer 2015: Russian Hackers Breach DNC Servers
A Russian hacking group dubbed COZY BEAR (also COZY DUKE or Advanced Persistent Threat 29) infiltrates the Democratic National Committee (DNC) computer network and begins gathering information from personal and organizational emails. Learn more.
Summer 2015: Congressional Leaders Learn of Russian Cyberattacks on Democrats, Forbidden to Reveal Knowledge
Top Republican and Democratic Congressional members are briefed that Russian hackers are attacking the Democratic Party. However, the lawmakers are unable to warn party officials due to secrecy concerns. Learn more.
August 31, 2015: Security Expert Concludes WikiLeaks a Russian "Cut-Out"
Security expert John Schindler, a former NSA analyst and counterintelligence officer and current War College professor and author, writes on his personal blog that evidence clearly shows the "whistleblower" or "hacktivist" group WikiLeaks is little more than a "cut-out" working for the Russian government. Learn more.
Fall 2015: British Intelligence Alerts US to DNC Hacks
British intelligence provides what the Guardian later calls "a vital tipoff" to the White House that Russian hackers are successfully hacking the Democratic National Committee's computer network. Learn more.
September-November 2015: DNC Learns from FBI that Russians Hacking Computers, Fails to Properly Respond
FBI agent Adrian Hawkins calls the DNC to inform the committee that their computer network may have been hacked by a Russian group known as "the Dukes." The agent is referring to a shadowy group of hackers working for the Russian government also called COZY BEAR. Neither Hawkins nor the DNC tech specialists respond properly to the threat. Learn more.
December 17, 2015: Trump Calls for Closer Relations between US, Russia after Putin Praises Him
Donald Trump doubles down on his effusive praise of Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin, saying it is a "great honor" to receive a compliment from Putin. The day before, Putin called Trump a "colorful, talented person" and "the absolute leader" in the US presidential race. Trump calls for closer relations between the two nations. Learn more.
December 2015 and Beyond: Russian "Trolls" Flood Social Media with Fake Pro-Trump, Anti-Clinton Propaganda
The Internet Research Agency, a secretive, online Russian propaganda operation, produces blog posts, comments, infographics, "memes," and viral videos that push an anti-Clinton, pro-Trump message on both the Russian and English-language Internet, at the behest of the Kremlin. Learn more.
December 10, 2015: Flynn Sits Near Putin at Celebratory Dinner for Kremlin Propaganda Outlet
RT, formerly Russia Today, the Kremlin's foreign-language propaganda outlet, celebrates its 10-year anniversary by hosting a conference about "Information, messages, politics." Among the invited guests is retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, the former head of the US Defense Intelligence Agency and a frequent guest on RT. Learn more.
Early to Mid-2016: Russia Begins Hacking US Presidential Campaign
Russian officials, at the behest of President Vladimir Putin, begin a clandestine effort to interfere with the American presidential elections, using cyberwarfare and propaganda in their attempt to bolster the candidacy of Republican Donald Trump. Learn more.
After March 6, 2016: Papadopoulos: Trump Knows about Efforts to Set Up Putin Meeting
Former Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, who will later plead guilty to lying to the FBI and begin cooperating with the Mueller investigation, will say that Donald Trump knew he intended to meet with Russians as part of his campaign duties. Learn more.
March 10 - April 7, 2016: FANCY BEAR Targets 109 Clinton Staffers, Clinton Herself
Russian hackers known as FANCY BEAR, working for the GRU, target at least 109 full-time Clinton campaign staffers, attempting to hack their emails. Hillary Clinton's own personal email account iss also targeted at least twice, but she does not fall for the hack. Learn more.
Mid-March to Mid-May 2016: FBI Warns Clinton Campaign of Hacking Attempt
The FBI warns the Clinton campaign that it has been targeted by a cyberattack. In July, sources will tell reporter Michael Isikoff that FBI agents request that the campaign turn over internal computer logs and personal email addresses of senior campaign officials, a request the campaign denies as being too broad and intrusive. Learn more.
March 19, 2016: Fake Gmail Message Gives Russian Hackers Access to Clinton Campaign Emails
Aides for Clinton campaign chairperson John Podesta receive an email purporting to be from Google and warning him to change his password. The email is actually a fake that allowed the senders to hack into his Gmail account. Learn more.
March 21, 2016: Trump Names Foreign Policy Advisory Team
In a wide-ranging, rambling, and sometimes incoherent interview with the Washington Post, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump announces his foreign policy advisory committee, which includes Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.Learn more.
March-September 2016: Trump Aide Tries to Set Up Meetings with Russian Officials
Newly named Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos engages in a months-long attempt to schedule meetings between campaign team members and Russian government officials. Three days after Trump names Papadopoulos as one of his foreign policy advisors, Papadopoulos sends an email to seven campaign officials titled: "Meeting with Russian Leadership – Including Putin." Learn more.
March 24, 2016: Russian Governmental Media Promoting Trump, Attacking Clinton
Reuters examines why the Russian government is so strongly pro-Donald Trump and anti-Hillary Clinton. As reporter Andrew Osborn explains the dominant viewpoint in the Kremlin: "Donald Trump is a brave pro-Putin political maverick who would end US foreign wars and perhaps lift sanctions on Moscow. Hillary Clinton, however, is a warmonger beholden to the military-industrial complex." Learn more.
March 28, 2016: Manafort Takes Over Trump Campaign
Donald Trump hires lobbyist and veteran Republican operative Paul Manafort to head his campaign. Manafort has deep ties to pro-Putin lawmakers and wealthy businessmen in Russian and a number of former Soviet client states. Learn more.
April 2016: Joint Task Force Created to Investigate Claims of Russian Money Being Funneled into Trump Campaign
CIA director John Brennan is given an audio recording of a conversation about money from the Kremlin being funneled into the Trump campaign. The recording comes from the intelligence service of an unnamed Baltic nation. Since the CIA cannot operate domestically, Brennan creates a joint counterintelligence task force to investigate the claims. Learn more.
April-November 2016: Kushner Has Secret Contacts with Russian Ambassador
Seven current and former US officials confirm that senior Trump campaign advisor Jared Kushner, Donald Trump's son-in-law, has at least two contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak which he will refuse to disclose to the FBI and the general public after the election. Learn more.
April-May 2016: Russian Hackers Breach DNC, Other Political Organizations
A Russian hacking group dubbed FANCY BEAR (also Sofacy or APT 28) breaches the computer network of the Democratic National Committee. FANCY BEAR is apparently a computer hacking group that works for the GRU, Russia's military intelligence agency. Learn more.
April 26, 2016: Trump Foreign Policy Advisor Told Russian Officials Have "Dirt," "Emails" on Clinton
Trump campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos, who has been working diligently to bring about a meeting between Donald Trump, campaign officials, Kremlin officials, and Vladimir Putin, meets one of his Russian contacts, Joseph Mifsud, at a London hotel. Mifsud tells Papadopoulos that he has met with high-level Kremlin officials, who told him that the Russians have "dirt" (damaging information) about Hillary Clinton. Learn more.
April 27, 2016: Lobbyist with Russian Ties Co-Authors Trump's Foreign Policy Speech
Richard Burt, a former senior official in the Reagan administration, helped write the speech Trump delivers tonight, his first major pronouncement on foreign policy. Both Burt and the venue for the speech, the Center for the National Interest (CNI), have deep ties to the Putin regime and to Russian business interests. Learn more.
April 27, 2016: Trump, Sessions, Kushner Meet with Russian Ambassador
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the Trump campaign advisor for national security matters, meets with Donald Trump and a group of two dozen guests at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC. The event is hosted by a conservative foreign policy organization, the Center for the National Interest (CNI), and organized by Dimitri Simes, the publisher of the National Interest. The attendees includes four ambassadors, including Sergey Kislyak, Russia's ambassador to the US, who was invited by the CNI. Learn more.
May-August 2016, A Critical Period
Summer 2016: RNC Employs Firm Using Russian Spy to Compile Damaging Information on Clinton
The Republican National Committee employs a private firm founded by former CIA agents to compile two dossiers of damaging information against Hillary Clinton. That firm, Hamilton Trading Group (HTG), employs a former Russian spy to help dig up "dirt" on Clinton. HTG is a deliberately low-profile firm, partly because of its extensive intelligence connections in Russia, where it performs background checks and provides security services for American officials and firms. Learn more.
Summer 2016: WikiLeaks Refuses to Publish Documents Detailing Crimes of Russian Government, Says It Is Focused Soley on US Election
WikiLeaks founder and controlling partner Julian Assange refuses to public a trove of documents detailing crimes carried out by the Russian government. Assange and the organization say they are focused entirely on the US presidential election. Learn more.
Summer 2016: Cambridge Analytica Reaches Out to WikiLeaks Regarding Clinton Emails
Cambridge Analytica co-founder and chief Alexander Nix contacts WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to ask whether his firm can assist in finding and disseminating Hillary Clinton's "missing" emails. Nix is referring to some 30,000 emails former Secretary of State Clinton deleted as "personal and private" after turning over emails from her private server to the State Department. Cambridge Analytica works for the Trump campaign. Learn more.
May 2016: Papadopoulos Tells Australian Diplomat Moscow Has Clinton Emails
Three weeks after being told that the Russians had "thousands of emails" that would damaged Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, Trump presidential advisor George Papadopoulos tells senior Australian diplomat Alexander Downer about the emails, in a drunken conversation with the diplomat at an elite London bar. Learn more.
May 2016: NRA Operative with Deep Kremlin Ties Tries to Facilitate Trump-Putin Meeting
Conservative political operative Paul Erickson, who has close ties to the far-right National Rifle Association, emails Trump campaign aide Rick Dearborn that he can arrange a backchannel meeting between Trump and Vladimir Putin. The email, titled "Kremlin Connection," asks Dearborn and Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a top Trump advisor who once employed Dearborn as his chief of staff, for advice about setting up such a meeting. Russia is "quietly but actively seeking a dialogue with the US," Erickson writes, and wants to use the NRA's annual convention in Louisville to make "first contact." Learn more.
May 2016: Russian Banker Attempts to Facilitate Meeting Between Trump, Putin
Senior Russian official and banker Alexander Torshin attempts to facilitate a meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, using Rick Clay, an American advocate for Christian political outreach and veterans' causes. Clay emails the campaign saying that Torshin, the deputy governor of the Russian central bank, wants to broker a meeting between Putin and Trump. The email is titled "Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite." Torshin is the former director of the Russian FSB and has murky connections to Russian organized crime. Learn more.
May 4-May 21, 2016: Papadopolous, Manafort Work to Facilitate Campaign Meeting with Russians
Trump campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos works with campaign chair Paul Manafort to facilitate a meeting between campaign aides and Russian officials, using Papadopoulos's contact at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Learn more.
May 9, 2016: Fox News Analyst Says Russia Has Hacked "20,000" Clinton Emails
Judge Andrew Napolitano, a frequent guest on Fox News's various political analysis and opinion shows, tells host Megyn Kelly that Russia has 20,000 of Hillary Clinton's emails. "There's a debate going on in the Kremlin between the Foreign Ministry and the Intelligence Services about whether they should release the 20,000 of Mrs. Clinton's emails that they have hacked into and received and stored," he says. It is not known how Napolitano knows this piece of information. Learn more.
May 17, 2016: Trump Posts about Deleted Clinton Emails
Eight days after a Fox News analyst talked about the Russians having "20,000" Clinton emails, Trump posts about "30,000" deleted emails on Twitter. Learn more.
May 18, 2016: DNI Says Attempts Made to Cyberattack Presidential Campaigns
James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, publicly acknowledges that computer hackers have attempted to hack the presidential elections. He does not, yet, name Russia as the perpetrator. Learn more.
June-October, 2016: Russian Think Tank Creates Strategy to Undermine Elections, Promote Trump Candidacy
The Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS), a Moscow-based think tank controlled by Vladimir Putin, creates a plan designed to swing the US presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine American voters' faith in their electoral system. Learn more.
June 2016: Trump Campaign Aide Emails Team about Possible Meeting with Putin
Trump campaign aide Rick Dearborn, formerly chief of staff to Trump advisor Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), sends an email to other Trump campaign officials regarding an attempt to set up a meeting between campaign officials and Vladimir Putin. Learn more.
June 2016: Russians Lead Republican Congressman in Holding "Show Trial" Hearing Based on Kremlin Propaganda
Representative Dana Rohrabacher (D-CA), a vocal supporter and defender of Moscow, agrees to host a show hearing for the subcommittee he chairs, the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe. The hearing will actually be a show trial of American billionaire William Browder, whom the Kremlin argues is the real culprit behind a massive Russian fraud and money-laundering ring that was uncovered in 2007 by Browder's employee, Russian tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. Learn more.
Early June 2016: Page Praises Putin, Lambasts Obama in Foreign Policy Meeting
Carter Page, representing Trump's foreign policy advisory team, addresses a meeting of foreign policy experts by lavishing praise on Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, and verbally attacking the Obama administration. The meeting, held at Washington's Blair House, is a round table held for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Participants are stunned at Page's off-topic, unwarranted commentary. Learn more.
June 3-9, 2016: Trump Jr. Sets Up Meeting with Russian Government Agent to Receive "Dirt" on Clinton
Rob Goldstone, a former British tabloid journalist and publicist with close ties to the Agalarov family in Moscow, contacts Donald Trump Jr and offers to set up a meeting between him and a Russian lawyer whom, he says, has damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Trump Jr. responds, "I love it." Learn more.
June 3, 2016: WikiLeaks Creates Torrent File for DNC Emails
WikiLeaks creates the torrent for the file that includes the hacked DNC emails. Learn more.
June 7, 2016: Trump Implies Release of New and Damaging Information on Clinton
Donald Trump clinches the Republican primary. In his combative victory speech, he repeatedly insults and slanders Hillary Clinton, and tells his audience: "I am going to give a major speech on probably Monday of next week [June 13] and we're going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons. I think you're going to find it very informative and very, very interesting." Learn more.
June 8, 2016: DCLeaks Begins Posting DNC Hacked Material
The obscure website DCLeaks.com begins posting stolen DNC emails, apparently hacked by the GRU-backed FANCY BEAR group of Russian computer hackers. DCLeaks is operated by Russian hackers. Learn more.
June 9, 2016: Trump's Son, Senior Campaign Officials Secretly Meet with Russians
Donald Trump Jr, Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner meet with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and several other Russians, having been promised "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. Trump Jr, his father, and administration officials will lie repeatedly about the actual content of the meeting when it is revealed in July 2017. Some of the Russians in the meeting are suspected of being Russian intelligence assets. Learn more.
June 9, 2016: Trump Digs at Clinton about "33,000" Deleted Emails; Possibly Indicates Knowledge of Son's Secret Meeting with Russian Lawyer
Less than an hour after his son Donald Jr. met with a Russian lawyer to receive a promised a trove of damaging information about Hillary Clinton from the Russian government, Donald Trump insults Clinton via Twitter with his first mention of the "33,000 emails" Clinton deleted from her private server before turning the server over to the State Department. Learn more.
June 12, 2016: Assange Threatens Email Leaks
Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks who is currently holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, tells a British reporter that WikiLeaks has emails from the Clinton presidential campaign it plans to release. Learn more.
June 14, 2016 and After: DCCC Breached by Russian Computer Hackers
A cyber attack targets the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). Sources will tell Reuters that the hack may well be related to the earlier attacks against the Democratic National Committee, and are likely also conducted by hackers working for the Russian government. Learn more.
June 14, 2016: Media Reports Russians Hacked Democratic National Committee Computers
The Washington Post reports that hackers working for the Russian government illegally breached the computer network of the Democratic National Committee as early as the summer of 2015, and gained access to the DNC's entire database of "oppo research" on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as well as campaign communications about strategies and talking points, including what are apparently some negative communications about Clinton primary opponent Senator Bernie Sanders. Learn more.
June 15, 2016: "Guccifer 2.0" Claims Responsibility for DNC Hack, Leaks Trump Oppo Document
One day after the DNC announced that Russian actors had hacked into their servers, an entity using the online moniker "Guccifer 2.0" claims to be responsible for the hacks to the DNC email servers. It does not take long before US intelligence and private cybersecurity agencies and firms determine "Guccifer 2.0" is a constructed persona designed to obscure Russian responsibility for the hacks and the leaks. Learn more.
June 15, 2016: Congressional Republican Leader Tells Colleagues Trump Paid by Putin
During a private conversation with fellow Congressional Republicans, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), a close ally of Donald Trump, says that he believes Trump is being paid by Vladimir Putin. After McCarthy makes his statement, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) shuts down the conversation and swears all of the participants to secrecy. Learn more.
June 20, 2016: Trump-Russia Dossier Surfaces in Washington
A dossier compiled by former MI6 agent Christopher Steele begins circulating among a small number of political operatives and media outlets in Washington. Learn more.
July 2016: Trump Advisor Under Surveillance for Acting as Foreign Agent for Russia
The FBI renews a FISA Court warrant to monitor the communications of Carter Page, a foreign policy advisor to the Trump presidential campaign, as part of its larger investigation into links between Russia and the campaign. Learn more.
July-September 2016: Secretive Communications between Trump Computer, Russian Bank Documented
A group of American cybersecurity experts locate suspicious communications between a server in Trump Tower belonging to the Trump Organization, and Alfa Bank, a Russian financial institution. Learn more.
July 7, 2016: Manafort Offers Russian Oligarch "Private Briefings" on Campaign
Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort offers his former business partner Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch with powerful connections to the Putin regime, "private briefings" about the status of the Trump campaign. Learn more.
July 7-8, 2016: Trump Advisor Visits Moscow, Insults US Government, Meets with Deputy Prime Minister and Oil CEO
Trump campaign advisor Carter Page, a billionaire investment banker with deep ties to Russia and other former Soviet client states, takes a secretive trip to Moscow to meet with Russian business leaders, including Igor Sechin, the head of the Russian government-owned oil firm Rosneft, and Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich. The newsletter announcing his visit reads, "You are invited to a lecture by Carter Page, foreign policy adviser for Donald Trump's election campaign." Learn more.
July 11-17, 2016: Trump Campaign Removes Anti-Russian Language from GOP Platform, Lies About It
Trump campaign staffers, and likely Trump himself, successfully transform a section of the GOP presidential platform from opposing Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea to a more neutral stance. This will be confirmed in November 2017 by testimony to Congress from then-campaign aide Carter Page. Learn more.
July 20, 2016: Sessions, Two Other Trump Advisors Meet with Russian Ambassador During Convention
During the Republican National Convention, Senator Jeff Sessions, a senior advisor for the Trump campaign, speaks at an event, the Global Partners in Diplomacy meeting, held by the Heritage Foundation. After the speech, Sessions speaks with a small group of ambassadors. Among that group is Russia's ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak. Two other Trump advisors, Carter Page and J.D. Gordon, also meet with Kislyak. Learn more.
July 22, 2016: WikiLeaks Releases Hacked DNC Emails
As promised, WikiLeaks releases approximately 19,252 illegally hacked emails belonging to the Democratic National Committee and 8,034 attachments. The hack is initially credited to "Guccifer 2.0," who self-represents as a lone hacker with no ties to Russia, but is later learned to be a constructed persona used to obscure Russian responsibility for the hacks. Learn more.
After July 22, 2016: Australians Tell US Officials that Trump Advisor Boasted about Russian-Hacked Clinton Emails in May
Two months after Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos tells Australian diplomat Alexander Downer about Russia's hack of private Clinton campaign emails, Australian officials tell US government officials about the conversation between Papadopoulos and Downer. Learn more.
July 23, 2016: Trump Publicizes WikiLeaks Release of Hacked DNC Emails, Accuses Elections of Being "Rigged"
In a Twitter post, Donald Trump says that emails from the DNC leaked by WikiLeaks shows the DNC attempted to "destroy" the Bernie Sanders primary campaign, and proclaims the election to be rigged, presumably by the Clinton campaign. Learn more.
July 25, 2016: FBI Announces Ongoing Investigation into DNC Hacks, Suspects Russia
The FBI announces that it is investigating the DNC hack, and several officials say the agency suspects Russia as the source of the breach. The agency says it has been looking into the issue for months. Now it announces that it will "investigate and hold accountable those who pose a threat in cyberspace." The announcement comes one day after the Clinton campaign publicly accused the Russian government of deliberately trying to manipulate the US presidential election in order to help Donald Trump win. Learn more.
July 26, 2016: Cybersecurity Firm: "Guccifer 2.0" a Russian Agent, Part of Larger Plan to Influence Media Coverage of US Presidential Election
The Virginia cybersecurity firm ThreatConnect says it has enough evidence to conclude that "Guccifer 2.0," who has identified himself as a lone Romanian hacker, works for the Russian government and has hacked the DNC as part of a larger, orchestrated attempt to influence the US media coverage of the Clinton and Trump presidential campaigns. Learn more.
July 27, 2016: Trump Invites Russia to Hack Clinton's Emails
At a press conference in Doral, Florida, Donald Trump invited Russia to commit espionage against the United States in order to damage his opponent's candidacy. Talking about deleted emails from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's private account, Trump says: "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you'll be able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you'll probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let's see if that happens. That will be next. … They probably have her 33,000 emails that she lost and deleted … I hope they do … because you'd see some beauties there." Learn more.
August-September 2016: GOP Operative Hunts for Private Clinton Emails Hacked by Russians, Says He Works with Flynn
Republican opposition researcher Peter Smith attempts to obtain emails purportedly stolen from Hillary Clinton's private server by Russian hackers, and tells his colleagues he is working with Trump foreign policy advisor Michael Flynn. Learn more.
August-September 2016: GOP Operative Works with "Guccifer 2.0" to Spread Hacked Information
Florida GOP operative and registered lobbyist Aaron Nevins, who once served as chief of staff for a prominent Florida Republican state senator, answers a call for "journalists" from the Russian construct "Guccifer 2.0" to help him spread illegally obtained information from the Democratic Party's private computer networks. Learn more.
August 2, 2016: Trump Advisor Predicts Podesta Email Release
Former Trump campaign advisor Roger Stone, who continues to have an "informal" relationship with the campaign, posts ominously on Twitter: "Trust me, it will soon the [sic] Podesta's time in the barrel." Stone is secretly in contact with both WikiLeaks and "Guccifer 2.0." He is accurately predicting the release of hacked emails from Clinton chair John Podesta's email account. Learn more.
August 4, 2016: CIA Director Tells Russia's FSB to Stop Interfering in Election
CIA Director John Brennan, alarmed by the US intelligence community's knowledge of Russian contacts with the Trump campaign, calls the head of Russia's FSB, Alexander Bortnikov. Brennan warns Bortnikov to cease and desist Russia's efforts to interfere in the election. Bortnikov denies any knowledge of Russia's incursions. Learn more.
August 5, 2016: Trump "Dangerous," "Unwitting Agent of the Russians," Says Former CIA Chief
Former acting CIA Director Mike Morell writes an op-ed for the New York Times endorsing Hillary Clinton for president, and blasting Republican candidate Donald Trump. Trump has no experience in national security matters, Morell writes, and worse, he writes, "[t]he character traits he has exhibited during the primary season suggest he would be a poor, even dangerous, commander in chief." Morell even calls Trump "an unwitting Russian agent." Learn more.
August 8, 2016: Trump Advisor Says WikiLeaks May Release Clinton Foundation Documents
Roger Stone, a longtime colleague of Donald Trump's and an informal advisor to the campaign, says he has been in touch with the founder of WikiLeaks and has information about that organization's plans to release more documents that could damage Hillary Clinton's campaign, including documents hacked from the Clinton Foundation. Stone is secretly in contact with both WikiLeaks and "Guccifer 2.0." Learn more.
August 9-10, 2016: WikiLeaks Fuels Conspiracy Theory about Murder of DNC Staffer
WikiLeaks offers a $20,000 reward for "information leading to [the] conviction for the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich," according to a tweet from the organization. Rich died on July 10, after being shot while being mugged in a Washington, DC neighborhood. Although police have repeatedly said his death had nothing to do with his employment at the DNC, far-right conspiracy sites have advanced groundless theories that Rich was killed as part of some larger conspiracy involving the Clinton campaign. Learn more.
August 12, 2016: "Guccifer 2.0" Releases First Batch of Hacked DCCC Documents
The "lone hacker" calling "himself" "Guccifer 2.0" releases a batch of files hacked from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in June. Learn more.
August 14-September 9, 2016: Trump Campaign Advisor Exchanges Private Messages with "Guccifer 2.0"
Trump campaign advisor Roger Stone engages in a surreptitious conversation with "Guccifer 2.0," the construct created by Russian intelligence officials to cloud Russia's involvement in the Democratic Party computer hacks, via Twitter's private messaging function. Learn more.
August 19, 2016: Manafort Resigns from Trump Campaign
Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort abruptly resigns after a spate of news stories show he received $12.7 million in payments from the political party of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Manafort has long been the focus of criticism for his previous work for pro-Russian oligarchs such as Yanukovych as well as the unfocused nature of the Trump campaign. Learn more.
Late August, 2016: FBI Informs Congressional Leaders that Russia is Directly Helping Trump, Evidence Exists of Trump Collusion
In urgent classified briefings, the CIA tells senior lawmakers that Russia is working to get Donald Trump elected. This information will not be made public until April 2017. The briefings feature intelligence officials sharing evidence that proves Russia is working on Trump's behalf, and has been doing so much earlier than previously thought. Learn more.
August 27-30, 2016: Democrats Ask FBI to Investigate Russian Hacks, Trump Advisors for Ties to Russia
Democratic lawmakers send two letters to the FBI asking that it investigate senior Trump campaign advisors for what they call collusion in the Russian hacking of DNC servers and election systems. Learn more.
August 31 - September 1, 2016: "Guccifer 2.0" Release of Pelosi Documents Fraudulent
he Russian intelligence construct calling "himself" "Guccifer 2.0" releases a spate of documents "he" claims were hacked directly from the computers of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. But Pelosi says the documents did not come from her computer, and a document detailing "tactics" for dealing with the Black Lives Matter movement is not her work nor does it reflect her beliefs. Learn more.
September-November 2016, The Final Push
September-November 2016: Trump Campaign Inundates Social Media with Targeted Stories to Influence Voters
A spate of real and fake news stories supporting Trump and denigrating Clinton's candidacy, much of it produced by Eastern Europeans paid by Russians, are "microtargeted" to American Facebook accounts using data provided by a firm called Cambridge Analytica. The Trump campaign spends $5 million a week during the last weeks of the campaign spamming this false information to millions of Facebook users. Learn more.
September 4-5, 2016: Obama to Putin on Hacking: "Cut It Out"
President Obama instructs Russian President Putin to "cut it out" with regard to the Russian "active measures" campaign to sabotage the US presidential election, and specifically the cyberattacks against Democratic Party computer networks. He warns Putin of "serious consequences" if he does not comply. Learn more.
September 6, 2016: Pelosi Asks Ryan to Join in Repudiating Campaign Use of Hacked Information; Ryan Ignores Request
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) writes a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) asking that both parties refrain from using information released by the Russian hackers. Ryan refuses to respond to the letter, and some of the hacked material was referenced in Ryan's own campaign advertisements. Ignoring President Obama's admonishment to Vladimir Putin to stop interfering with the election, the Trump campaign saturates social media with information released by the hackers between now and the election. Learn more.
September 8-9, 2016: Trump Interviewed on Russian Propaganda Outlet
Trump gives an interview to Larry King that is aired on RT, a Russian propaganda network. Trump officials later claim they did not know the interview would air on Russian television. Learn more.
September 8, 2016: Assange Promises Huge Document Leak on Clinton Before Election, Admits DNC Leak was Timed to Impact Convention
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says his organization will release as many as 100,000 pages of new material concerning Hillary Clinton before the election. Speaking with Fox News talk show host Sean Hannity on Hannity's daily radio program, Assange credits "new sources" stepping forward after WikiLeaks released thousands of emails hacked from the DNC in July. "We have tens of thousands, possibly as many as a hundred thousand, pages of documents of different types, related to the operations that Hillary Clinton is associated with," he tells Hannity. Learn more.
September 20, 2016 and After: Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks Begin Long Correspondence, Apparently Documenting Collusion and Cooperation
The WikiLeaks Twitter account sends a direct, private message to Donald Trump Jr, a senior Trump campaign advisor and surrogate. The message is the first in a series of communications between WikiLeaks and Trump Jr that will last until July 2017 and perhaps beyond, where the organization asks Trump Jr for his cooperation in sharing their work in leaking Clinton emails obtained from Russia, in contesting the results of the presidential election should Clinton win, and in securing Julian Assange's position as US Ambassador to Australia should Trump win. WikiLeaks also asks for Trump's tax returns. Learn more.
September 26, 2016: Trump Says DNC, DCCC Hacks Perhaps Carried Out by Someone Sitting on Their Bed That Weighs 400 Pounds
Trump denies that the Russians hacked the Democratic computer networks, and says that the hacks could have been carried out by "someone sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds." Learn more.
September 30, 2016: GOP Leaders Block Russia-Trump Investigations
Congressional Republicans are assiduously blocking any efforts to investigate the ties between Russia, Donald Trump, and the Trump campaign, heedless of the government's belief that Russia is attempting to manipulate the presidential election. Lacking any GOP support, Congressional Democrats cannot muster the votes to force subpoenas or any other attempts to investigate the charges. In private, some Republican Congressional staffers say they are concerned about the Russia-Trump connections, but both House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have refused to allow any attempts to probe the connections. Learn more.
October 2, 2016: Trump Advisor May Predict Next Hacked Document Leak
Trump advisor Roger Stone posts on Twitter: "Wednesday HillaryClinton is done. #WikiLeaks" Learn more.
October 4, 2016: "Guccifer 2.0" Releases Documents Falsely Claimed to be from Clinton Foundation; Some Information Fabricated
The Russian construct calling themselves "Guccifer 2.0" releases a huge batch of documents "he" claims were hacked from the Clinton Foundation. The release comes after WikiLeaks teased a release of new documents the organization promised would damage the Clinton presidential campaign; when WikiLeaks failed to release anything, "Guccifer 2.0" releases documents on "his" blog. Learn more.
October 7, 2016: Department of Homeland Security, Director of National Intelligence Conclude Russian Government Hacking US Elections
In a joint statement from the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the two agencies declare that "[t]he U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations." The statement says that WikiLeaks, DCLeaks, and "the Guccifer 2.0 online persona" all show the same "methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts." The statement says flatly that the "thefts and disclosures" effected by these organizations "are intended to interfere with the US election process." Moreover, "[w]e believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia's senior-most officials could have authorized these activities." Learn more.
October 7, 2016: WikiLeaks Releases Over 2,000 Hacked Emails from Clinton Campaign Chair
WikiLeaks publishes a database of some 2,060 documents it claims were hacked from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's emails. The emails span the time period from 2007 through 2016. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange calls the document dump "Part I of the Podesta emails," and says the documents released on the WikiLeaks website focus on Podesta's "communications relating to nuclear energy, and media handling over donations to the Clinton Foundation from mining and nuclear interests." Learn more.
October 10, 2016: Trump Says Hacks May Never Have Happened, Lies about Ties to Russia
During the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, the question of Democratic hacked emails and the concerns that surround them comes up. Hillary Clinton notes that the US intelligence community has pinned the responsibility for the hacks directly onto the Russian government, and has said WikiLeaks is part of the organized attempt "to influence our election." She says: "We have never in the history of our country been in a situation where an adversary, a foreign power, is working so hard to influence the outcome of the election, and believe [me], they're not doing it to get me elected. They are doing it to try to influence the election for Donald Trump." Trump responds by calling Clinton's answer "ridiculous," saying: "I don't know Putin. I think it would be great if we got along with Russia because we could fight ISIS together, as an example, but I don't know Putin. But I notice, any time anything wrong happens, they like to say the Russians, well she doesn't know if it's the Russians doing the hacking. Maybe there is no hacking, but there is – now Russia – and the reason they blame Russia is they think they're trying to tarnish me with Russia. I know nothing about Russia. I know about Russia, but I know nothing about the inner workings of Russia. I don't deal there, I have no businesses there, I have no loans from Russia." Learn more.
October 10, 2016: Trump Uses False Tweet Publicized by Russian Propaganda Site to Attack Clinton
>Donald Trump spreads disinformation published by a Russian propaganda outlet to denigrate Hillary Clinton and a close campaign aide and family associate, Sidney Blumenthal, with the false claim that Blumenthal believed the Benghazi investigation was legitimate. An email hacked from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta and leaked by WikiLeaks appears to show that Blumenthal, a close confidante of the Clinton family, "believed that the investigation into [the 2012 Benghazi attack] was legitimate because it was 'preventable' and the result of State Department negligence," according to Sputnik, a known Russian propaganda outlet controlled by the Kremlin. The outlet calls the supposed Blumenthal email "the big October surprise" from the Podesta email dump. The claim is false, and the email as it appears in the Sputnik story and in other social media outlets does not exist as published; it was fabricated by unknown parties in order to besmirch Clinton. Learn more.
October 12, 2016: Russians Hack Florida, Illinois Voting Computer Systems; Arizona Also Possibly Breached
Russian hackers breached the Florida election system, federal investigators say. FBI investigators believe the the hacks and attempted intrusions of state election sites were carried out by hackers working for Russian intelligence. So far, officials say, the hacks have not accessed the portions of the US election system that counts votes. Learn more.
October 31, 2016: Reid Sends Letter to Comey Excoriating Him for Not Releasing Trump Information
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid writes to FBI Director James Comey, accusing him of withholding "explosive information" about Donald Trump. Reid and the so-called "Gang of Eight" – the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, and the Democratic and Republican leaders of Congress, had recently been briefed by the FBI on the investigation into the Russia-Trump connections being conducted by a joint law enforcement and intelligence task force. Reid writes: "In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and co-ordination between Donald Trump, his top advisers, and the Russian government – a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Mr Trump praises at every opportunity. The public has a right to know this information. I wrote to you months ago calling for this information to be released to the public. There is no danger to American interests from releasing it. And yet, you continue to resist calls to inform the public of this critical information." Learn more.
October 31, 2016: Reporter Details Dossier on Trump in Hands of FBI
David Corn of Mother Jones reports that "a former senior intelligence officer for a Western country who specialized in Russian counterintelligence" has told him that he has given information to the FBI concerning the Russian government's years-long attempt to co-opt and use Trump, and that the FBI has asked for more information. "This is something of huge significance, way above party politics," the source told Corn. "I think [Trump's] own party should be aware of this stuff as well." A senior US government official has told Corn that his source is highly credible, with a long working relationship with the US government. Corn goes into detail about his source, who is later confirmed to be Christopher Steele, the author of a controversial and as yet unverified dossier containing information about Trump's financial ties to Russia as well as allegations of sexual escapades he participated in while in Moscow. Learn more.
November 6, 2016: Russian Propaganda Effective in Turning Voters Away from Clinton
Russian propaganda efforts were extremely effective in turning US voters away from Clinton, studies prove. Learn more.
December 27, 2016 and After: Veselnitskaya Tries to Recruit Swiss Official as Intel Asset for Russia
Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who played a central role in the now-infamous Trump Tower meeting between three top Trump campaign officials and Russian intelligence assets, tries to recruit a Swiss law enforcement official as a "double agent" for Russian intelligence, according to a Swiss court case. "Victor K.," a former top Swiss investigator, will be fired and charged with bribery, violating secrecy laws, and "unauthorized clandestine behavior" as a result of his encounters with Veselnitskaya. Learn more.
December 30, 2017: Media Reports on Papadopoulos's May 2016 Boast to Australian Official about Clinton Emails
The Washington Post reports that in May 2016, then-Trump foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos told Australian diplomat Alexander Downer about his contacts with a Russian asset who informed him that the Kremlin had hacked copies of sensitive Clinton campaign emails. Two months later, after some of the hacked emails are made public, the Australians told US government officials about the Papadopoulos revelation, which quickly led the FBI to open an investigation into the Trump campaign's contacts with Russia. Claims that the FBI began investigating the campaign because of the Steele dossier are false, as the FBI did not learn about the dossier for months after the investigation began. Learn more.
January 26, 2018: Dutch Intelligence Gave FBI "Crucial" Info about Russian Hacks
The Dutch Volkskrant news outlet, along with the Dutch current affairs TV program Nieuwsuur, reports that the Netherlands' AIVD, that nation's General Intelligence and Security Service, provided the FBI with what it calls "crucial intelligence" that helped the agency launch its probe into Russia's sabotage of the 2016 elections. AIVD officials penetrated networks being used by Russian hackers in the summer of 2014, and observed them breaking into computer systems operated by the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Learn more.