You've been hearing a lot about Russia and the Trump campaign and the US presidential election.
Yes, what the eff is going on?
The FBI and CIA say that Russia did things like hack the DNC network and the Clinton campaign's emails. They then allegedly turned around and released the stolen docs to WikiLeaks, which released them to the press in slow drips. Russia also created armies of social media bots to spread fake news. But there is zero evidence that Russia manipulated voting machines on election day.
What happened then?
Ever since all of this came out, there have been investigations – and investigations into the investigations – trying to get to the bottom of what happened. And whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia while this was going on.
Tell me more about those investigations.
The FBI started looking into all this last summer. House and Senate Intelligence Committees have also been conducting their own investigations. And now there's a special counsel on the case. It’s going to take a looooong time before there are any real answers. Hint: years.
So who do I need to know?
Here are all the people at the center of this controversy...
Former Trump campaign manager. You know him as the guy who was charged with 12 counts
Manafort's former business associate and former deputy campaign manager for President Trump. You know him as the one sharing the same fate
as Manafort. Gates was also indicted on charges like conspiracy against the US and money laundering. He worked with Manafort to promote a pro-Russia political party
Former foreign policy adviser for President Trump’s campaign. You know him as the one who tried to set up a meeting
with Russian officials who claimed to have “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. And was charged with lying to the FBI about it. He pleaded guilty and seems to be cooperating
Former national security adviser and retired three-star Army general. You know him as the one who was forced to step down
Michael Flynn Jr.:
Michael Flynn’s son and chief of staff. You know him as the one who spread fake news like ‘Pizzagate’
while working for the Trump transition team. And then got fired for it. The FBI is reportedly looking into his work at his dad’s lobbying firm
Attorney General. You know him as the guy who, when asked during his confirmation hearings whether he met with the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, didn’t mention that he had.
Senior adviser to President Trump, and his son-in-law. You know him as the guy who also met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. And whose family business dealings
have raised eyebrows about potential conflicts of interest while he’s in the White House. He also once got a bag of dirt
Donald Trump Jr.:
Former campaign adviser to President Trump. He also lived and worked in the energy sector in Moscow for three years. You know him as the guy that the FBI has had a warrant
Ex-s enior White House adviser and former Trump campaign national co-chairman. You know him as the guy who knew George Papadopoulos was trying to collect promised "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. And OK’d his request to meet up with the Russians promising the dirt, though that meeting didn't end up happening
Founder of private security firm Blackwater and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos's brother. You know him as the guy who apparently had a non-honeymoon meeting in the Seychelles
Former FBI director. You know him as the guy whose bureau was investigating both presidential candidates last year. He got criticism for giving public updates
on the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server – but not disclosing the Trump investigation until March 2017.
Former Russian ambassador to the US. You know him as the guy whose calendar invites
include former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and others from Team Trump. He also once trolled Carrie Bradshaw
Former British spy. You know him as the man behind that dossier
. Research firm Fusion GPS paid Steele
to write the document. It includes claims about ties between the Trump campaign and Russia...and golden showers. Mueller reportedly interviewed Steele
What exactly happened and when?
, Trump's future campaign manager, allegedly agrees
It comes out that Hillary Clinton used a personal email account
Retired Army General Michael Flynn
at a gala for a Russian gov-backed TV network in Moscow. He also sits next to Russian President Putin at the dinner. He says the event was a “great learning opportunity.”
– the guy who was once paid to promote Russian interests in the US – joins Trump’s campaign team.
After a loooonnnnng investigation into whether Clinton mishandled classified info while using a private email server as sec of state, FBI Director James Comey
says he will not recommend charges
Around the same time, the FBI starts looking into
, who is now on Trump's campaign team and who the FBI is investigating for potentially being a Russian spy (more on that later), gives a speech in Moscow
The Republican National Convention aka the GOP's Coachella kicks off in Cleveland. Kislyak
, the Russian ambassador to the US, makes a cameo appearance. And meets with a few Trump campaign officials
, including Page
and Jeff Sessions
But during this convention, Team Trump convinces the GOP to roll back its policies toward helping Ukraine
are found in Ukraine, showing Manafort
was paid by the pro-Russian Ukrainian political party that ended up winning the presidential election there. It’s unclear if the docs are legit and if Manafort actually received that money. Investigators in Ukraine say the docs are part of their investigation into the party's illegal activities. A few days later, Manafort resigns
meets with then-senator Sessions
Less than two weeks to go until Election Day, Comey
decides to send Congress a postcard
saying the FBI is reviewing new evidence related to its investigation into Clinton's private email server. Thank Anthony Weiner.
there's a thing called the Hatch Act, which means no federal agents can directly support one presidential candidate over the other. Then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) – and many other lawmakers – called out Comey
for drawing new attention to Clinton's emails, while not releasing info on Trump's alleged ties to Russia.
President Obama's administration officially accuses Russia
FBI Director Comey
says he's not going to recommend charges
Election day. Trump wins. A few days later, Clinton's team looks at what went wrong and decides Comey’s partly to blame
President-elect Trump taps Flynn
EARLY DECEMBER 2016
, and Jared Kushner
President Obama orders the intelligence community to review
Both the CIA and FBI raise their hands to say publicly for the first time that Russia meddled with the election in part to put Trump in the White House.
President Obama says 'you've been very Vlad' and slaps Russia with some sanctions
On the same day, Flynn
hotline blings Kislyak
. He allegedly tells Kislyak ‘don’t worry about those sanctions’
AROUND JANUARY 11
, founder of private security firm Blackwater, jets off to the Seychelles
in The Washington Post reports on Flynn's
December phone call with Russian Ambassador Kislyak
Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Flynn's
phone call with Kislyak
was just to schedule a phone call
VP Mike Pence goes on the record
to say that he asked Flynn
, who at this point is the nominee for Attorney General, gets grilled at his confirmation hearing
Acting Attorney General Sally Yates warns the White House
is misleading them about his calls with Kislyak
Unnamed US officials say 'guess what? Flynn spoke about sanctions against Russia
in that phone call with Kislyak
for misleading the White House about his phone call with Kislyak
Trump has a private meeting with Comey
. He apparently asks Comey to drop the FBI's investigation into Flynn's
' past meetings with the Russian ambassador are made public.
President Trump tweets that former President Obama wiretapped his phones at Trump Tower
during the election. He gives no evidence to back up this claim. This will later come into play when Rep. Devin Nunes
testifies before Congress. He confirms that the FBI has been investigating
, the guy in charge of the House’s investigation into whether Team Trump colluded with Russia, takes a surprise Uber trip
says he’s seen reports that show intelligence agencies may have “incidentally”
picked up conversations involving members of the Trump transition team. This was during routine surveillance of foreigners. He shared this information with the press before sharing it with the rest of his committee. Trump says he feels “somewhat” vindicated
makes a comeback. He says he’s willing to testify
On the same day, it comes out that Nunes
allegedly got those intel reports showing incidental surveillance...from White House officials.
It's made public that the FBI’s been keeping an eye on Trump's former campaign adviser, Carter Page
Remember those docs connected to Manafort
? Psst...the one that shows he might've been paid millions for work with a pro-Russian political party. The AP reports
retired in 2014, he went on to work with the Russian and Turkish governments, accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments.
These biz deals were previously reported. But it turns out, that work was not OK'd by the US military. So now the Pentagon is investigating
, saying he damaged the FBI's reputation by mishandling the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails. He says the decision is based on recommendations from Attorney General Jeff Sessions
and the deputy attorney general. Supporters say Comey had lost trust within the bureau. Since Comey was also leading the FBI's Trump-Russia probe, critics compared his firing to that time President Nixon fired
Trump hosts Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and Kislyak
Remember the notes Comey
wrote about his private meeting with Trump? The one where Trump asked Comey to drop the FBI's investigation into Flynn's
It comes out that Kushner
is now a focus
in the FBI's Russia investigation. He hasn't been accused of any wrongdoing, but the feds are especially interested in meetings he had last year with Kislyak
Let's go back to December. Remember that meeting between Kushner
, and Flynn
The Justice Department charges Reality Winner
Former FBI Director James Comey
about those memos. He says that he wrote these memos because he worried Trump "might lie" about their convos. That he asked a friend to leak the contents of the memo about Flynn
Remember that time Trump Jr.
caught up with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower? Word of that meeting comes out. It was set up so that the Russian gov could give the Trump campaign some info on Hillary, as part of its "support for Mr. Trump." Kushner
were also there. We know this because Donnie posted the entire email exchange
At first, Don Jr. says the meeting was about a US-Russia adoption program
. Then... never mind. Team Trump says meetings like this during a presidential campaign are normal. Critics say 'not so' and that it's potentially illegal
Congress passes a bi-partisan sanctions bill
against Russia for interfering in the election. They include an asterisk that says the president can't get rid of or dial down any of these sanctions without getting an OK from lawmakers first. Both the House and the Senate warned Trump that if he vetoed the bill, they would override him. So Trump signed on the dotted line. Moscow says the sanctions are 'nyet cool' and forced the US to cut hundreds of diplomatic staff in Russia as a response. Then in a diplomatic tit-for-tat
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