Over the weekend, as the import of the Donald Trump Jr meeting became clear, but before this morning’s emails release, I started going back through my notes to piece together the timeline of events and whether they looked different in the light of the new revelations. And? Good guess! They look a lot different. For the moment, look at the timeline after the jump starting in April and running through August. That is the critical part. The critical addition of the Don Jr meeting fits right into a critical period when what we understand were Russian intelligence operatives were trying various vehicles to surface emails that were stolen during the spring. Look at the timeline after the jump – again, go ahead to April 2016.
June 16th, 2015: Donald Trump announces his candidacy for President of the United States.
Circa Summer 2015: The US government alleges that Russian hackers first gain access to DNC computer networks.
Circa August 2015: Trump staff arranges first meeting between Trump and General Flynn, according to Flynn’s account in an August 2016 interview with The Washington Post. “I got a phone call from his team. They asked if he would be willing meet with Mr. Trump and I did. … In late summer 2015.”
August 8th, 2015: Roger Stone leaves formal role in Trump campaign. Whether he quits or was fired is disputed. Stone will continue as a key, albeit informal advisor, for the remainder of the campaign.
December 10th, 2015: Michael Flynn attends conference and banquet in Moscow to celebrate the 10th anniversary of RT (formerly Russia today). Flynn is seated next to Russian President Vladimir Putin at the concluding banquet.
March 19th, 2016: Hackers successfully hack into Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta’s email.
March 21st, 2016: In a meeting with The Washington Post editorial board, Trump provides a list of five foreign policy advisors. The list includes Carter Page but not Michael Flynn. The list is Walid Phares, Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, Joe Schmitz, and ret. Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg.
March 28th, 2016: Trump campaign hires Paul Manafort to oversee delegate operations for campaign. Manafort becomes the dominant figure running the campaign by late April and takes over as campaign manager on June 21st with the firing of campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
February-April 2016: Flynn advisory relationship with Trump appears to have solidified over the Spring of 2016. In late January Flynn is mentioned as an advisor who has “regular interactions” with Trump. There are similar mentions in February and March. Yet as late as mid-March, Flynn appeared to downplay his ties to Trump. By May Flynn is routinely listed as an advisor and by late May is even being mooted as a possible vice presidential pick.
April 2016: DNC network administrators first notice suspicious activity on Committee computer networks in late April, 2016, according to The Washington Post. The DNC retains the services of network security firm Crowdstrike which expels hackers from the DNC computer network. Crowdstrike tells The Washington Post it believes hackers had been operating inside the DNC networks since the Summer of 2015.
April 19th, 2016: “DCLeaks.com” url/address registered.
May 3rd, 2016: Donald J. Trump becomes becomes presumptive nominee after Ted Cruz and John Kasich withdraw from race.
May 26th, 2016: Donald J. Trump officially secure majority of GOP delegates, officially clinching the nomination of the Republican party.
June 3rd, 2016: First email contact between Rob Goldstone and Donald Trump Jr. about meeting with “Russian government lawyer” with damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
June 7th, 2016: Donald J Trump gives speech in which he promises a major speech about Hillary Clinton’s crimes on June 13th. “I am going to give a major speech on … probably Monday [June 13th] of next week 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.”
June 8th, 2016: First tweet posted to “DCLeaks” Twitter account.
June 9th, 2016: Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort meet with Natalia Veselnitskaya. Trump agreed to take the meeting after being told by Trump associate Rob Goldstone that Veselnitskaya had damaging information about Hillary Clinton which came from a Russian government operation to help his father Donald J. Trump.
June 12th, 2016: Julian Assange first announces that Wikileaks has Clinton emails which are soon to be released. “Wikileaks has a very big year ahead … We have emails related to Hillary Clinton which are pending publication.”
June 14, 2016: Washington Post publishes first account of hacking of the DNC computer networks, allegedly by hackers working on behalf of the Russian government.
June 15th, 2016: “Guccifer 2.0”, later identified by US government officials and other private sector analysts as a fictive persona created by Russian intelligence operatives, contacts The Smoking Gun to take credit for hacking the DNC.
June 27th, 2016: First hacked DNC emails posted to “DCLeaks” website.
July 11th-12th, 2016: Trump campaign officials intervene to remove language calling for providing Ukraine with lethal aid against Russian intervention is Crimea and eastern Ukraine. It is, reportedly, the only significant Trump campaign intervention in the platform in which the Trump campaign has allowed activists a free hand.
July 12th, 2016: Official publication date, The Field of Fight by Michael Flynn and Michael Ledeen.
July 22, 2016: Wikileaks releases first tranche of DNC emails dating from January 2015 to May 2016.
July 27th, 2016: Donald Trump asks Russia to hack Clinton’s email to find 33,000 alleged lost emails: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you can find the 33,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
August 1st, 2016: Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort denies Trump campaign changed GOP platform on Russia and Ukraine.
August 8th, 2016: Trump Advisor Roger Stone tells Southwest Broward Republican Organization “I actually have communicated with Assange. I believe the next tranche of his documents pertain to the Clinton Foundation but there’s no telling what the October surprise may be.”
August 14th, 2016: The New York Times publishes story detailing handwritten ledgers showing “$12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort from Mr. Yanukovych’s pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012, according to Ukraine’s newly formed National Anti-Corruption Bureau.”
August 17th, 2016: Nominee Donald Trump receives his first intelligence briefing with Gen. Michael Flynn and Gov. Chris Christie in attendance.
August 19, 2016: Paul Manafort resigns from Trump campaign.
August 21, 2016: Trump advisor Roger Stone tweets: “Trust me, it will soon [sic] the Podesta’s time in the barrel.”
September 26th, 2016: Trump Russia-Europe Policy Advisor Carter Page steps down from campaign while disputing allegations that he engaged in private communications with Russian government officials. A Yahoo News article from three days earlier reported that US intelligence officials were probing whether he met privately with Russian officials in Moscow in July, including an alleged meeting with close Putin ally Igor Sechin, Chairman of Russian oil company Rosneft.
September 26th, 2016: At first presidential debate, Donald Trump casts doubt on Russian role in hacking campaign: “It could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.”
October 7, 2016: A “Joint Statement from the Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence” officially accuses the Russian government of being behind hacking of the DNC “to interfere with the US election process.”
October 12th, 2016: Stone says he has been in contact with Assange through an intermediary.
October 30th, 2016: In response to FBI Director James Comey’s letter to Congress about new developments in the Clinton email server probe, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid writes a public letter to Comey in which he claims: “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 coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government.”
December 9th, 2016: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) hand delivers a selection of memos (aka ‘the Steele dossier’) to FBI Director James Comey.
December 29th, 2016: President Barack Obama outlines a wave a sanctions and expulsions of Russian diplomat in response to Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election.
December 29th, 2016: Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov vows retaliation for sanctions.
December 29th, 2016: Incoming National Security Michael Flynn has multiple phone conversations with Russian Sergey Kislyak. It is later reported that the calls covered US sanctions and suggestions that Obama’s punitive actions could be undone in a matter of weeks. Trump administration officials had repeatedly denied that the conversations involved more than pleasantries and logistics about future meetings.
December 29th-30th, 2016: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announces preliminary plans to expel American diplomats.
December 30th, 2016: Russian President Vladimir Putin says he will not retaliate against sanctions and expulsions but await presidency of Donald Trump.
January 19th, 2017: The New York Times reports that the FBI is leading an interagency task force probing ties between Russia and three close Trump associates: Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Roger Stone.
January 26th, 2017: Acting Attorney General Sally Yates and a senior intelligence official visit to White House Counsel Donald McGahn to deliver the message that National Security Advisor Flynn has deceived the Vice President about the subject matter of his calls and may be subject to Russian blackmail.
February 13th, 2017: Michael Flynn resigns as National Security Advisor.