ON A BEAR HUNT CHASING RABBITS: TRUMP-RUSSIA TIMELINE UPDATES THROUGH JAN. 15, 2018

During the Watergate investigation, Republicans wanted the Select Committee chaired by Sen. Sam Ervin (D-NC) to expand the scope of its inquiry to alleged Democratic skulduggery during the 1964 and 1968 elections. Ervin warned that such a diversion would be “as foolish as the man who went bear hunting and stopped to chase rabbits.”

The key difference between 1972 and 2018 is that the GOP-controlled Congress is directing the hunt for wrongdoing by a Republican president. On Jan. 9, 2018, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) reiterated Sen. Ervin’s sentiment on the Senate floor, chastising Republicans for sending the Trump-Russia investigation down rabbit holes. It’s the theme for this week’s Trump-Russia Timeline Update.

Grassley Revealed, Again

Last week’s Update — the “Complicit GOP Edition” — saw Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) joining with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in a public relations ploy, namely, referring former MI6 intelligence officer Christopher Steele to the FBI for criminal investigation. It was a publicity stunt because the referral related to alleged misstatements that Steele had made to…the FBI! And it was based on information that the Senate Judiciary Committee had received from… the FBI!

In June 2016, Fusion’s Glenn Simpson hired Steele to investigate Trump’s connections to Russia. On Aug. 22, 2017, the staff attorneys on Grassley’s committee interviewed Simpson. Shortly thereafter, Grassley said he’d hold a committee vote on whether to release the transcript, but he never did.

On Jan 9, 2018, Sen Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) released the transcript unilaterally, revealing why Grassley and other Trump defenders wanted to suppress it. The questions from attorneys working for the Republicans on Grassley’s committee reflect a desperate attempt to gain Simpson’s support for two false GOP narratives. One Republican talking point is that Russia paid for the creation of the Steele dossier. Another is that the dossier was the genesis of the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation. Simpson’s answers destroyed both. Even so, two days after Feinstein released the transcript, Trump tweeted the lies again.

Grassley’s constituents want to know why he’s protecting Trump.

More Detail On Hacks

Beyond rebutting two key GOP diversionary talking points, Simpson worsened Trump’s Russia plight. Using the Trump-Russia Timeline provides context for the newest entries:

March 19, 2016: Russians hack the email account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta and obtain at least 50,000 emails.

— But until April 29, 2016, the DNC itself didn’t realize that its computer system had been hacked. Go to the Timeline and click on George Papadopoulos to see that three days earlier Russians had told Papadopoulos that they had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton — thousands of stolen emails — and wanted to help Trump win the election. In mid-May, Papadopoulos tells an Australian diplomat about the Russian “dirt” on Clinton, and the information makes its way to the FBI.

— June 12, 2016: The DNC tries to get ahead of the hacking story, only to find that Julian Assange says his organization, WikiLeaks, possesses Clinton emails “pending publication.” (In January 2017, the US intelligence community reports its unanimous conclusion that Russia used WikiLeans to disseminate the stolen DNC emails. Even more revealing, go to the Timeline, click on Julian Assange, and see the intersections among Assange, Jared Kushner, Roger Stone, and Cambridge Analytica — where Steve Bannon had previously been a vice president.)

— Meanwhile in June 2016, Fusion GPS — originally retained by Republicans investigating then-candidate Trump — hires Christopher Steele to dig more deeply into Trump’s Russia connection. (For more go to the Timeline and click on Christopher Steele.)

— By early July 2016, according to Simpson, Steele believes that he has discovered an ongoing criminal conspiracy — what Simpson later tells Grassley’s staff is a “crime in progress.” Specifically, Russia seeks to divide the Western alliance by cultivating Trump as a presidential candidate. Even worse, the Russians have compromising material on Trump. Steele contacts the FBI’s Rome field office about what he views as a grave US national security threat.

— In September 2016, according to Simpson, the FBI tells Steele that it has Trump-Russia intelligence from a human source inside the Trump organization. Now the FBI wants to see what Steele has compiled on Trump-Russia.

Another Crime In Progress?

That takes us to the Update entries concerning a story in The New York Times on Oct. 31, 2016 — a “Halloween surprise” that becomes central to Steele’s subsequent actions.

Oct. 25-26, 2016: Trump campaign adviser Rudy Giuliani speaks publicly about an upcoming “surprise.”

Oct 28: FBI Director James Comey announces the FBI’s renewed interest in Clinton’s emails. Commenting on the news, Giuliani says he’s heard from FBI agents that there was a “revolution” going on inside the FBI” about Comey’s closing of the Clinton investigation in July, and Comey was “feeling the pressure.”

Oct. 31: The New York Times publishes a story that the FBI had investigated Trump and, essentially, found no connection to Russia. According to Simpson, Steele finds the Times report an unpleasant “Halloween surprise.” He worries that someone is manipulating the FBI for political purposes. It appears to him that FBI insiders may be feeding false information to the Times, and the Times is running with it. Steele concludes that the FBI is no longer a reliable actor in getting to the truth about Trump-Russia. So he stops talking to the FBI about his findings.

Who inside the FBI was feeding Giuliani? Who was feeding false information to the Times about the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation? If there is a scandal to be found in the FBI relating to the 2016 election, it may well involve surreptitious efforts of rogue agents wanting Trump to win — not current GOP diversions relating to Hillary Clinton’s email server or “Uranium One.”

Democracy At Work

Meanwhile, Sen. Grassley’s town hall visit to what he thought would be a friendly, conservative rural county in Iowa gave him an unwelcome taste of democracy:

“I think you’re protecting the president and protecting his game about shifting the attention away from Russia,” a 72-year-old constituent told him.

It’s getting hotter in the rabbit holes.

Other nuggets appear this week’s Trump-Russia Timeline updates. Here’s the complete list:

SEPTEMBER 2015: Anti-Trump Republicans Hire Fusion GPS To Investigate Trump

SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER 2015: FBI Notifies DNC of Possible Russian Hacking (revision of previous entry)

NOVEMBER 2015: FBI Again Tells DNC About Russian Hacking

MARCH 19, 2016: Russians Hack Podesta’s Email

APRIL 29, 2016: DNC Notices Suspicious Computer Activity (revision of previous entry)

MAY 2016: Fusion GPS’s Republican Funders Bow Out

MAY-JUNE 2016: Fusion Hires Christopher Steele

JUNE 12, 2016: WikiLeaks Has Clinton Emails; DNC Tries To Get Ahead Of Hacking Story

EARLY JULY 2016: Steele Contacts FBI About His Trump Findings

MID-TO-LATE SEPTEMBER 2016: “A Crime In Progress…”

OCT. 25-26, 2016: Giuliani Discusses Coming “Surprise”

OCT. 28, 2016: Comey Announces FBI Is Investigating New Clinton Emails; Giuliani Speaks About FBI “Revolution” (revision of previous entry)

OCT. 31, 2016: NYT Story Sours Steele on FBI

AUG. 22, 2017: Simpson Appears Before Senate Judiciary Committee Attorneys (revision of previous entry)

EARLY NOVEMBER 2017: Mueller Adds Veteran Cyber Prosecutor To Team

DEC. 29, 2017: Trump Grants Deutsche Bank Waiver On Penalty

JAN. 3, 2018: Trump’s Selects Interim US Attorney With Deutsche Bank Connection

JAN. 5, 2018: Interim US Attorney Chooses Former Deutsche Bank General Counsel As Deputy

JAN. 9, 2018: Feinstein Releases Fusion GPS Transcript

JAN. 9, 2018: Cohen Sues Fusion GPS and BuzzFeed

JAN. 9, 2018: Sen. Whitehouse Blasts GOP Investigations

JAN. 10, 2018: Trump Tweets

JAN. 10, 2018: Trump Waffles On Mueller Interview

JAN. 10, 2018: Deripaska Sues Manafort and Gates

JAN. 11, 2018: Trump Tweets

JAN 11, 2018: Trump To WSJ: Russia Investigation Is A Hoax

JAN. 12, 2018: Mueller Seeks May 14 Trial Date For Manafort

JAN. 12, 2018: Grassley Under Fire At Town Hall Meeting

JAN. 12, 2018: Will Pence Testify?

THE “COMPLICIT GOP” EDITION: TRUMP-RUSSIA TIMELINE UPDATES THROUGH JAN. 8, 2017

Last week, Michael Wolff’s book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, dominated the news. A far more important story is unfolding in real time: As new facts emerge about Trump’s attempts to obstruct the Trump-Russia investigation, the GOP is intensifying efforts to thwart serious inquiry into the scandal.

The Obstruction Story Line Continues To Develop

The New York Times reported that in March 2017, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions faced increasing pressure to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, Trump gave White House counsel Don McGahn an assignment: lobby Sessions to remain where he could protect Trump. When McGahn failed, Trump was furious.

“Where’s my Roy Cohn?” he reportedly asked, referring to Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s dark aide — a “fixer” who, decades ago, had represented Trump personally.

Students of the Trump-Russia Timeline aren’t surprised at this latest news about Trump’s obstruction efforts. Go to the Timeline and click on “James Comey” to see the complete story, which includes these highlights:

On Jan. 27, 2017, then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates told the White House that Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn was in serious legal trouble over Russia. Immediately thereafter, Trump had a private dinner with then-FBI Director James Comey and asked for Comey’s personal loyalty.

— In February, Trump talked to Comey about “letting Flynn go,” despite the FBI’s ongoing criminal investigation of Flynn and other Trump players in the Russia story.

— In March, Trump reportedly sought assistance from the CIA director and the director of national intelligence in getting Comey to back off the Russia investigation.

— In March and April, Trump asked Comey to help him “lift the cloud” of Russia from his presidency.

— In May, Trump fired Comey — admittedly because of the Russia investigation — and turned to witness intimidation, a standard element in Trump’s Russia playbook.

A short video of these and other key items prepared in August 2017 appears here.

A More Insidious Story In Real Time

With every new revelation about Trump’s pressure on federal law enforcement officials to protect him from whatever truth he fears, the congressional GOP doubles down on aiding and abetting his wrongdoing. Here are the new Timeline entries on that subject:

— Jan. 2: The founders of Fusion GPS described the GOP’s continued obfuscation of the Trump-Russia investigation and its refusal to follow obvious leads that could produce disastrous news for Trump. Rather than focus on the message, congressional Republicans have directed their fire at the messenger. (Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) just released the 300-page transcript of Simpson’s Senate Judiciary Committee staff interview; more about that in the next update.)

— Jan. 3: House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) sided with a former Trump transition team member, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), and against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray. Ryan allowed Nunes to continue diverting attention away from the Trump-Russia story and toward questions about the integrity of the FBI itself. (To understand Nunes’ ongoing role as a Trump enabler, go to the Timeline and click on “Devin Nunes.”)

— Jan. 4-5: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) joined Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in a letter to Rosenstein and Wray. Their missive completed a circle: It referred Christopher Steele to the Justice Department for criminal investigation based on alleged misstatements to the FBI as supposedly revealed in FBI documents that the Senate had received from the FBI!

Consulting the Timeline and clicking on “Christopher Steele” reveals, among other notable entries, December 2016: Graham’s closest ally in the Senate, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), personally delivered Steele’s material to the FBI. Only a year ago, Graham sat with McCain on national television and said that Congress should follow the Trump-Russia investigation “wherever it leads.” Reporters should be asking Graham what happened. In fact, it’s the only question reporters should be asking Sen. Graham.

Meanwhile, we’ve also learned that the Justice Department has been looking at the Clinton Foundation and the Hillary Clinton email server issues, again. Cynics might conclude that the GOP is setting up a Trump-friendly deal: If Democrats back away from Trump-Russia, Republicans will back away from Fusion FPS, Steele, interviews of FBI employees, the Clintons, and any other sand that congressional Republicans can throw in the public’s face.

In short, the GOP’s eagerness to help Trump undermine the Trump-Russia investigation with diversions, distractions, and attacks should be front page news. It’s not.

One More Thing

Finally, Brad Pascale, digital media director of Trump’s 2016 campaign, issued a tweet last week that put Jared Kushner and Eric Trump on the hot seat: “Not one person made a decision without their approval.” Go to the Timeline and click on Brad Pascale and Cambridge Analytica for more context on the significance of that bombshell.

Kushner also got unpleasant shout-outs from Steve Bannon — first in Fire and Fury, and then in Bannon’s subsequent apology to Don Jr., which notably omitted Kushner and nailed Manafort.

Here’s a complete list of this week’s new Timeline entries:

JULY 30, 2014: Manafort Meets With DOJ

APRIL 27, 2016: Sessions, Kushner and Kislyak at the Mayflower Hotel (revision of previous entry)

JUNE 9, 2016: Don Jr., Manafort, Kushner Meet With Russian Lawyer (revision of previous entry)

LATE FEBRUARY 2017: Attorney General Sessions Decides To Recuse Himself

AROUND MARCH 1, 2017: White House Lobbies Sessions Not To Recuse Himself

MARCH 20, 2017: Trump Tweets; Comey Testifies; Trump Is Infuriated (revision of previous entry)

MAY 3, 2017: Comey Testifies Again; Trump Erupts

MAY 5, 2017: Sessions Aide Looking For “Dirt” On Comey

MAY 6-7, 2017: Trump Decides to Fire FBI Director Comey (revision of previous entry)

JAN. 2, 2018: Fusion GPS Owners Blast GOP Congressional Cover-up

JAN. 3, 2018: Wolff Book: Bannon Bashes Kushner and Don Jr.

JAN. 3, 2018: Trump Breaks With Bannon

JAN. 3, 2018: Manafort Sues Mueller

JAN. 3, 2018: Rosenstein And Nunes Meet with Ryan And Wray

JAN. 3-4, 2018: Trump’s Attorney Seeks To Block Publication  Of Fire and Fury

JAN. 4, 2018: The Daily Beast: DOJ Looking At Clinton Private E-Mail Server, Again

JAN. 4, 2018: GOP Lawmakers Call On Sessions To Resign

JAN. 4, 2018: Rebekah Mercer Distances Herself From Bannon

JAN. 4, 2018: Trump Tweets

JAN. 5, 2018: Grassley and Graham Ask DOJ To Investigate Steele

JAN. 5, 2018: Trump Tweets

JAN. 5, 2018: DOJ Reopens Clinton Foundation Investigation

JAN. 5, 2018: Brad Parscale Tweets

JAN. 5, 2018: Dowd Calls NYT Report Another “Nothing Burger”

JAN. 6, 2018: Trump Tweets

JAN. 6, 2018: WSJ: Feds Investigating Kushner Cos.

JAN. 7, 2018: Bannon Apologizes To Don Jr.

“THE BEST PEOPLE” EDITION: TRUMP-RUSSIA TIMELINE UPDATES THROUGH JAN. 2, 2018

Many thanks to readers who made the Trump-Russia Timeline on BillMoyers.com the site’s #1 most popular post in 2017. It’s reassuring to know that so many people still care about facts. Without an informed electorate, democracy cannot survive.

Next week’s update will include the Bannon-Trump falling out and the breaking news about Trump’s previously unreported efforts to obstruct the Russia investigation.

The theme for this week’s Trump-Russia Timeline update comes from Trump himself:

“I Hire Only The Best People”

One of Trump’s best people — George Papadopoulos — has achieved an important new prominence in the scandal. Previously, The New York Times had reported that Papadopoulos helped Trump draft his first major foreign policy address. Here are the newest bombshells about Papadopoulos from the Times.

1) The April 27, 2016 speech was Trump’s “signal” to Russia.

2) In May, Papadopoulos boasted about Russia’s “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.

3) In July, after the release of Clinton’s emails, Australian officials “passed the information about Mr. Papadopoulos to their American counterparts,” alerting the US that a member of the Trump campaign may have had inside information from a Russian source.

The Larger Context

Now follow these 15 steps to the finish line:

#1: In March 2016, Papadopoulos is 28 years old and has no foreign policy experience. Nevertheless, he lands a spot on Trump’s national security team and learns that Trump wants improved relations with Russia. A week later, he’s having conversations with a Russian intermediary. Ten days after that, he meets with a Russian who says she’s Putin’s niece.

#2: At a meeting with Trump and the national security team on March 31, 2016, Papadopoulos tells the group about his Russian contacts and says that he can arrange a meeting between Trump and Putin or their representatives. Reportedly, Trump hears him out, telling the team that he “doesn’t want to go to war over Ukraine.”

#3: Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who chaired the meeting, later testifies that he knew of no contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia. The Trump campaign’s lies about “no contacts with Russia” become pervasive.

#4: In April, Papadopoulos’ contact says the Russians had obtained “dirt” on Clinton, specifically thousands of emails that could help Trump win the election.

#5: Meanwhile, Papadopoulos helps Trump draft his first major foreign policy address — the “signal” that he’d get tougher with NATO allies while seeking “an easing of tensions, and improved relations with Russia.” Attending a VIP reception before that April 27 speech are Jared Kushner, Jeff Sessions, and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

#6: In May, while drinking at a London bar with an Australian diplomat, Papadopoulos spills the beans on Russia’s “dirt.”

#7: During the summer, Papadopoulos hears from Sergei Millian, founder of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce. Millian has boasted about his importance in bringing wealthy Russians into a Trump real estate project in Florida and about his efforts to develop business opportunities for Trump in Russia. Continuing into the fall, Millian and Papadopoulos exchange messages and meet in Manhattan. Some of their email communications go to Jared Kushner — who later fails to produce those messages in response to a Senate Judiciary Committee request.

#8: In early June 2016, Donald Trump Jr. embraces the prospect of a meeting with Russians who promise “dirt” on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government. “I love it,” he declares in an email.

#9: At about the same time, Jared Kushner assumes control of Trump’s digital campaign and retains Cambridge Analytica, whose CEO contacts WikiLeaks about sharing Clinton-related emails. Later in June, the Kremlin-linked online persona Guccifer 2.0 releases the first batch of hacked DNC documents. At the end of July, WikiLeaks disseminates 20,000 hacked documents.

#10: After the WikiLeaks release of Clinton’s emails, Australia’s ambassador to the US directs Papadopoulos’ May revelation to the FBI. (So much for the GOP red-herring talking point about the origins of the FBI investigation. It wasn’t the infamous Steele dossier after all; it was intelligence from Australia and other concerned US allies.)

#11: At the Republican convention in July, Trump campaign aides defeat a platform plank that would have toughened the US position supporting rebel forces in Ukraine.

#12: After Trump wins the election, Papadopoulos exchanges messages with Millian, who says he knows a billionaire interested in developing a Trump Tower in Moscow: “I know the president will distance himself from business, but his children might be interested,” Millian reportedly writes.

#13: According to a whistleblower, on Inauguration Day, national security adviser Mike Flynn promises that Trump will “rip up” US sanctions on Russia. During his first week as president, Trump turns to the task of doing exactly that.

#14: Meanwhile, at a Manhattan hotel in late January 2017, pro-Putin lawmaker Andrii Artemenko and Trump’s longtime business associate Felix Sater give Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen a proposed plan for Ukraine that would eliminate US sanctions. Cohen is tasked with delivering the plan to Flynn.

#15: On Feb. 14, Flynn — another of Trump’s “best people” — resigns. Since then, he has pled guilty to lying about his Russian contacts and has become a cooperating witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Reportedly, Trump’s lawyers are preparing to attack Flynn’s credibility, as they already have Papadopoulos’. That’s a standard defense tactic, but when the defendant himself is a notorious serial liar, it becomes a suicide mission.

Here’s the list of this week’s new entries in the Timeline:

  • June 15, 2013: The Agalarovs — and Ike Kaveladze — Meet With Trump in Las Vegas [revision of previous entry]
  • Nov. 8-10, 2013: The Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow [revision of previous entry]
  • April 27, 2016: Trump Delivers First Major Foreign Policy Speech [revision of previous entry]
  • Mid-May 2016: Papadopoulos Tells Australian Diplomat That Russians Have “Dirt” On Hillary Clinton
  • Summer 2016: Millian Contacts Papadopoulos
  • November-December 2016: Millian Business Proposal to Papadopoulos
  • Early December 2016: Russians Arrest Cybersecurity Expert[revision of previous entry]
  • Jan. 20, 2017: Millian Attends VIP Events At Inaugural
  • Dec. 26, 2017: Flynn’s Brother Asks Trump to Pardon Mike Flynn
  • Dec. 27, 2017: Trump Lawyers Plan To Attack Flynn’s Credibility
  • Dec. 27, 2017: Mueller Reportedly Focusing On Trump Campaign Data Operation
  • Dec. 28, 2017: Another Trump Interview with The New York Times
  • Dec. 31, 2017: Nunes Readies For Fight Against Mueller
  • Jan. 2, 2017: Trump Tweets

OBSTRUCTION TEAM AT WORK: TRUMP-RUSSIA TIMELINE UPDATE FOR DEC. 26, 2017

Enjoy the holiday season!

Meanwhile, the Trump-Russia scandal marches onward.

The theme of this week’s Trump-Russia Timeline Update: Obstruction of justice is a team sport.

The Republican party has become the Trump Team, and it is working diligently to save him.

Ever since special counsel Robert Mueller’s appointment in May, the White House has paid lip-service to cooperation while systematically undermining his investigation. At first, GOP members of Congress embraced Mueller. The decorated Vietnam War veteran and former US attorney received unanimous consent from the Senate to serve as President George W. Bush’s FBI director. President Obama then reappointed Mueller — with the Senate’s unanimous consent — to extend his 10-year term.

Mueller’s fellow Republicans hailed him as above reproach, fair-minded, and possessing unquestionable integrity. They declared that Mueller’s conclusions about the Trump-Russia issue would satisfy skeptics on both sides of the political aisle.

Mueller is still who he was. But now that he is generating results — including two quick guilty pleas from cooperating witnesses and an indictment of Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort (and deputy Rick Gates) — congressional Republicans have reversed course. No longer seeking the truth, they are soldiers in Trump’s war to impede the investigation that imperils the Trump presidency.

Last week, congressional Republicans pursued a flanking maneuver — an attack from the rear aimed at discrediting witnesses whose testimony bolsters Mueller’s obstruction of justice case — while Trump launched a frontal assault.

The Trump Team’s Targets

In June 2017, Vox reported that shortly after Trump had asked then-FBI Director James Comey to “let Flynn go” at a time when Flynn was under FBI investigation, Comey recounted those conversations to three FBI senior leaders:

Deputy Director Andrew McCabe

Chief of Staff Jim Rybicki, and

General Counsel James Baker.

That meant Comey had at least three formidable corroborating witnesses to supplement his contemporaneous memoranda about Trump’s efforts to obstruct justice. The evidence provided a powerful rebuttal to Trump’s accusation that Comey had committed perjury in testifying before Congress on June 8. Trump was the liar.

Take a look at what happened to those three wise FBI-men during the week before Christmas.

The Complicit GOP

— Dec. 18: Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) reiterates his call that FBI Director Christopher Wray should remove McCabe.

— On Dec. 19: According to CNN, McCabe tells the House Intelligence Committee that Comey had, indeed, informed him of his conversations with Trump.

— Also on Dec. 19: The GOP chairmen of the House Committees on the Judiciary (Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)) and Oversight and Government Reform (Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC)) request that Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein produce McCabe, Chief of Staff Jim Rybicki, and FBI counsel Lisa Page for interviews. The topics of interest include “among other things,” the FBI’s handling of its investigation into Secretary Hillary Clinton.

— Dec. 20: Politico reports that, for weeks, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) (a former Trump transition team member) has been leading a secret effort to “build a case that senior leaders of the Justice Department and the FBI improperly — and perhaps criminally — mishandled the contents” of the Steele dossier, which describes alleged ties between Trump and Russia.

— Dec. 22: Politico publishes a story based on “GOP sources” that, during the weeks before the election, FBI General Counsel James Baker had communicated with David Corn of Mother Jones. On Oct. 31, 2016, Corn first reported on what would become known as the Steele dossier. Corn denies that Baker was a source for his story.

— Two hours later, former FBI Director Comey reacts to the hit job on Baker:

The Trump Team’s MVP

Obstruction of justice may be a team effort, but a star player can have an impact. Trump is distinguishing himself by compounding his efforts to obstruct justice with what sure looks like witness tampering — another federal offense.

On Dec. 23, he tweeted:

As CBS reported that McCabe, 49, was now expected to retire from the FBI by March, Trump remained relentless:

Then he turned to another of Comey’s corroborating witnesses:  And he continued his McCabe rant on Christmas Eve:

This Is Not A Drill

On Dec. 26, Trump joined the GOP’s broader offensive directed at the entire FBI:

In Trump’s FBI, personal loyalty to Trump has become a litmus test surpassing loyalty to the country’s fundamental principles. That is dangerous terrain.

Intimidating witnesses, destroying their reputations, and attacking the world’s leading law enforcement agency comprise only one battle in the ongoing war against special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Make no mistake: the forces attacking democracy and the rule of law are formidable, and they are playing for keeps. The historical precedents are alarming, and the final outcome for America remains uncertain.

Speaking on the Senate floor, Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) described the recent assault on special counsel Robert Mueller as “reckless, inappropriate,” and “extremely worrying.”

“Beyond being irresponsible,” Warner continued, “the seemingly coordinated nature of these claims should alarm us all. Particularly since, in recent days, these baseless accusations have been repeated by several members of the House of Representatives.”

The following day, Warner said that based on what he has seen and heard behind closed doors, the Russia investigation is “the most important thing I will ever work on.”

Running a fool’s errand, GOP members of Congress are aiding and abetting Trump’s destruction of the Republican brand. Hopefully, Trump’s reverse-King Midas touch will catch up with all of them. That’s what happens when you play for keeps and lose. Just ask Mike Flynn.

Happy New Year!

Here is list of this week’s Timeline updates:

Late July or Early August 2016: FBI Warns Trump About Russian Election Interference

JAN. 26, 2017: DOJ Says Flynn Lied; McGahn Informs Trump (revision of earlier entry)

JUNE 7, 2017: Vox: Comey Has Corroborating Witnesses

JUNE 8, 2017: Comey Testifies Before Senate Intelligence Committee (revision of earlier entry)

MID-NOVEMBER 2017: Prosecutors Seeks Documents On Deutsche Bank-Kushner Cos. Loan

DEC. 12, 2017: Trump Wins PolitiFact’s “Lie of the Year”

DEC. 18, 2017: Trump’s National Security Speech Glides Past Russia

DEC. 19, 2017: McCabe Corroborates Comey; GOP Responds

DEC. 20, 2017: Warner Issues Warning To Trump

DEC. 20, 2017: Politico: Nunes Leading Effort To Discredit FBI and DOJ

DEC. 20, 2017: Congressman Talks To White House About Mueller Investigation

DEC. 20, 2017: FBI General Counsel Baker Reassigned

DEC. 21, 2017: Sessions Orders DOJ To Look Again At Uranium One Deal

DEC. 21, 2017: Sarah Sanders Hopes Mueller’s “Hoax” Investigation Wraps Up Soon

DEC. 22, 2017: Politico Publishes Dubious Story

DEC. 22, 2017: Comey Responds to Politico Story About Baker

DEC. 23, 2017: Trump Tweets

DEC. 23, 2017:McCabe To Retire

DEC. 24, 2017: Trump Tweets

DEC. 24, 2017: The Guardian: Mueller Seeking Info About Defunct Bank

DEC. 26, 2017: Trump Tweets

For context, see how they fit in the complete Trump-Russia Timeline..

TRUMP ALERT

Heed Sen. Warner’s remarkable warning on the Senate floor yesterday, but also look at the overall picture.
— The Complicit GOP plan to protect Trump involves more than undermining special counsel Robert Mueller–an effort that began immediately after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (a Republican Trump appointee) named Mueller as special counsel. For example, this article appeared on May 19, 2017.
— It’s also about distracting the public away from the Trump-Russia scandal.
— The White House feigns cooperation, but GOP minions run interference for Trump at every opportunity.
***
 Pay attention. The democracy you save may be your own.

THE FUTURE OF THE TRUMP-RUSSIA TIMELINE

On Dec. 20, 2017, Bill Moyers retired and his website–BillMoyers.com–went into archive mode. But there’s one big exception: Until the Trump-Russia Timeline finds a suitable new home, Bill wants to keep it updated at BillMoyers.com.

We will.

Thanks to Bill’s remarkable supporting cast, the Timeline will retain its unique presentation. This week, we added “pop-up” bubbles: Hover over a bolded name in any entry and watch what happens.

At this critical point in the nation’s history, facts and clarity are democracy’s greatest friend and Trump’s fiercest foe. Someone in the Trump administration knows it because these lines appear in his December 18, 2017 National Security Strategy document:

“A democracy is only as resilient as its people. An informed and engaged citizenry is the fundamental requirement for a free and resilient nation.”

My earlier posts that connected dots in the Trump-Russia scandal will remain available at the BillMoyers.com archive site. New ones will appear here. Often, they will take the form of introductions to my weekly Trump-Russia Timeline updates.

Let’s start with this week. The latest Timeline theme is clear: As special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation draws ever closer to the Oval Office, Trump’s Team–including a complicit GOP Congress–intensifies its frivolous assault on Mueller’s integrity.

It’s a prelude to perilous times.

Here’s a list of what we added with our Dec. 19 update:

  • Sept. 1, 1987: Trump Ponders Presidential Bid
  • Nov. 8-10, 2013: The Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow [revision of previous entry]
  • July 22, 2015: Goldstone Invites Trump to Moscow
  • April 19, 2016: As Trump Wins, Manafort Assumes Greater Control
  • May 27, 2016: When Putin Arrives in Athens, Papadopoulos Is Already There
  • June 20, 2016: Trump Fires Lewandowski
  • Early December 2016: Russians Arrest Cybersecurity Expert [revision of previous entry]
  • Jan. 6, 2017: Trump Receives Intelligence Briefing; Meets Comey for the First Time [revision of previous entry]
  • Feb. 13, 2017: Flynn Resigns [revision of previous entry]
  • Oct. 12, 2017: House Threatens to Subpoena Stone [revision of previous entry]
  • Dec. 11-12, 2017: Trump’s Lawyers Demand New Special Counsel to Investigate Mueller
  • Dec. 12-13, 2017: Trump Transition Team Discovers Mueller Has Its Emails; Complains to Congress
  • Dec. 12, 2017: Trump Tweets
  • Dec. 13, 2017: Rosenstein Defends Mueller’s Investigation
  • Dec. 14, 2017: House Staffers to Interview Sater and Graff; Schiff Concerned About House GOP
  • Dec. 14, 2017: Putin Praises Trump
  • Dec. 14, 2017: House Democrats Want To Subpoena Cambridge Analytica and Parscale
  • Dec. 15, 2017: Trump Blasts FBI; Doesn’t Rule Out Flynn Pardon
  • Dec. 15, 2017: Kushner’s Legal Team Searches For Crisis Public Relations Firm
  • Dec. 17, 2017: Trump Says He Doesn’t Intend To Fire Mueller