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The Timeline

Last Updated February 14th, 2017, 9:39 AM ...

As the allegations surrounding National Security Advisor Michael Flynn escalate, I wanted to put together for my own use a timeline of key events in this story. The story, as I see it, is the pervasive evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 election and widespread, though murky, evidence of ties between the Russian government the Trump campaign.

I've always been partial to timelines because ... well, we live in time. Chronology is the basic organizing principle of our existence. It allows us to get our heads around scatterings of facts in much the way a good chart allows us to synthesize numerical data. Of course, a timeline can create the impression of causation where none exists. It's important to keep that in mind. Still, it's helpful to get a lot of information in one place organized in time. It helps us bound what events can possibly be causally related as well as how they may or may not be related.

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Writing to you as readers, I've told you that we here at TPM plan to dramatically expand our original reporting capacity - particularly our investigative reporting capacity - as we move into this addled and antic new era in which corruption appears pervasive and the public trust is abused at seemingly every turn. Today I wanted to write again to fellow journalists.

We're looking to immediately hire three experienced investigative reporters to start filling out our expanded team. We plan to hire two to work from our Washington office and one to work from our New York headquarters. (The precise mix of where the three are stationed might shift depending on where we find the best people available.) For specifics on what we're looking for and how to apply, here's the listing. If you think you fit the bill, please apply. If you have questions, drop me a line directly at the site comments address linked just below the TPM logo at the upper left ( talk at talkingpointsmemo dot com ). I'd love to chat.

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The Josh Marshall Show, Episode #13

In Episode #13 of The Josh Marshall Show I talk to South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is a candidate to be the next Chair of the DNC. Buttigieg is less known to Democrats nationwide or in Washington than some of the other candidates, but I strongly recommend giving him a listen. Check out our talk here.

As with our episodes with Keith Ellison and Tom Perez, we're making this episode available to the public in its entirety because of the special importance of the DNC Chair race.

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Trump's Day of Living Cuckorously

There's always something new in the never-ending, hyperventilating Trump drama. Over the last day or so, however, we're seeing something a bit new: Trump caving or getting rolled on numerous fronts all at once. Just in the last 24 hours he appears to have been rolled so many times that one imagines his rough edges might start to be worn down until he becomes something more like a clumpy and perhaps oblong ball.

Here are just three examples.

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The Basic Question

The New York Times reports that Gen. Mike Flynn had a back channel line of communication to the Russian Ambassador to the United States during the 2016 campaign. Did President Trump know this at the time? If so, did he discuss the conversations with Flynn? Authorize them? Use them as a conduit for passing his own messages? If he did not know about them at the time, when did he learn of them?

What About the Other Calls?

Overnight articles from the Washington Post and New York Times report that National Security Advisor Michael Flynn did more than speak to Russian Ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak the day before then-President Obama imposed a series of punitive sanctions on Russia. We knew that. He also appears to have lied when he claimed that he didn't discuss those sanctions. Not only he but also Vice President Pence - apparently conveying Flynn's denial - denied this. Both papers have multiple sources who say this is not true. Flynn told Kislyak that anything that Obama could do could be undone by Trump in a matter of weeks. Hold tight, Flynn apparently insinuated. Help was on the way.

Published reports also suggest Flynn may have violated the Logan Act, which bars private citizens from carrying on unauthorized diplomacy with foreign powers. But I think this specific legal question is a distraction. The Logan Act is seldom enforced and possibly unenforceable - all the more so with an incoming top national security official who is not simply an ordinary private citizen. Indeed, I don't think it's the lying or even the late December calls themselves that are the biggest part of these new revelations.

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Remember Your History

We are hearing again now that the repeated protests and aggressive questioning at Republican townhalls is Democrats taking a page from the Tea Party playbook of 2009 and 2010. People have short memories. The real reference is to 2005 when Democrats turned out at Republican townhalls to protest President Bush's plan to partially phaseout Social Security. Those protests (or in many cases simply turnout) helped kill the plan by scaring off congressional Republicans. They also presaged the Democratic blowout in the 2006 midterms. It was 2005 that Tea Partiers (and the GOP pressure groups organizing them) explicitly referenced in 2009.