TRUMP-RUSSIA TIMELINE UPDATE: RUSSIAN AGENTS AND ASSETS

[NOTE: On Jan. 14, 2019, this post appeared at Dan Rather’s News & Guts.]

Last week’s two biggest Trump-Russia stories are related to each other. They’re also related to two other stories that attracted far less media attention. 

The Big Ones

On January 11, The New York Times reported that in May 2017, the FBI launched a counterintelligence inquiry into whether Trump was working on behalf of Russia. Two days later, The Washington Post revealed that Trump has concealed — even from his own senior officials — his private conversations with Vladimir Putin.

That’s shocking stuff. But it’s consistent with Trump’s open, notorious, and intensifying hostility toward America’s law enforcement institutions, his affinity for Putin, and the emerging facts that explain his solicitous behavior toward Russia’s dictator. Likewise, his secrecy in dealing with Putin is consistent with Trump’s foreign policy, which has enhanced Russia’s global position at the expense of US interests. All of that raises suspicions, to say the least.

Two developments in the saga of how Putin wound up with such a valuable asset in the White House received less media attention. They relate to Natalie Veselnitskaya and Paul Manafort. 

Veselnitskaya’s Friends In The Kremlin

On Jan. 8, 2019, the court unsealed an indictment against Natalia Veselnitskaya for obstructing justice in a federal case involving her client, Prevezon. The case involved alleged Russian money laundering through “pricey New York real estate.” On the Trump-Russia Timeline name filter, clicking on “Natalia Veselnitskaya” and “Prevezon” reveals that she’s an insider at the highest levels of Putin’s government.

Why does it matter? Context:

JUNE 3, 2016: Don Jr. receives an offer purportedly originating from the “Crown prosecutor of Russia” to provide “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary.” Don Jr. responds, “I love it especially later in the summer.” He invites Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner to attend a meeting where they expect to receive the helpful material from a Russian emissary. 

JUNE 9, 2016: When Veselnitskaya arrives at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016, Manafort, Kushner, and Don Jr. assume that they will be meeting with an agent of the Russian government. Based on the government’s subsequent criminal charges against Veselnitskaya, that assumption is correct.

The implications of Veselnitskaya’s status will become clearer as the overall Trump-Russia story unfolds in the weeks ahead.

Manafort’s Revelation

Also on Jan. 8, 2019, Paul Manafort’s attorneys revealed that, according to special counsel Robert Mueller, during the 2016 campaign, Manafort supplied internal polling information to his long-time Russian-Ukrainian business associate, Konstantin Kilimnik. Federal investigators assert that Kilimnik — a former Soviet military officer — had and continues to have ties to Russian intelligence. Kilimnik also served as an intermediary between Manafort and Oleg Deripaska (referred to as “Putin’s oligarch” — which speaks for itself).

What would Kilimnik want with internal Trump campaign polling data? The Trump-Russia Timeline provides context that might offer clues. Clicking on the name filters for “Paul Manafort,” “Konstantin Kilimnik,” “Facebook/Twitter,” “Julian Assange,” and “George Papadopoulos” results in dozens of entries worth reviewing. Here’s just a small sample from the highlights reel: 

APRIL 2014: Russia begins its “Translator project” — using social media to exploit divisions among US voters.

MARCH 29, 2016: Manafort is broke, but agrees to work for the Trump campaign for nothing.

APRIL 11, 2016: Deeply in debt to Deripaska, Manafort asks Kilimnik how he can use his new position of influence in the Trump campaign “to get whole.”

APRIL 26, 2016: George Papadopoulos, a Trump national security adviser, learns that the Russian government has “dirt” on Clinton — “thousands of emails” — and that it wants to help disseminate those stolen emails.

Then comes the Manafort revelation:

MAY 3-4, 2016: As Trump vanquishes his GOP rivals for the nomination, Manafort has been sending Trump’s private polling data to Kilimnik.

JUNE 2016: Kushner assumes control of Trump’s digital campaign. According to later reporting from McClatchy, by July 2017, “Congressional and Justice Department investigators are focusing on whether Trump’s campaign pointed Russian cyber operatives to certain voting jurisdictions in key states — areas where Trump’s digital team and Republican operatives were spotting unexpected weakness in voter support for Hillary Clinton.” 

JUNE 3, 2016: Don Jr. receives a message communicating Russia’s offer to provide “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.

JUNE 7, 2016: With the Trump Tower meeting now set for June 9, Trump addresses a New Jersey primary election crowd. During his victory speech, he promises to reveal “things that have taken place with the Clintons.”

JUNE 9, 2016:  On the day of the infamous Trump Tower meeting that includes Veselnitskaya as Russia’s point person, Trump starts tweeting about Clinton’s deleted emails. Those emails become a recurring Trump campaign theme.

JUNE TO NOVEMBER 2016: By now, Russia’s “Translator project” is in full swing, targeting “hot-button” issues in battleground states.

JULY 7, 2016: Manafort offers “private briefings” about the campaign to Deripaska.

LATE JULY/EARLY AUGUST 2016: High-level counterintelligence officials warn Trump and Clinton that foreign adversaries, including Russia, would likely try to spy on and infiltrate their campaigns. The officials tell the candidates to alert the FBI about any suspicious foreign overtures to their campaigns. Trump doesn’t. Two weeks later, Manafort resigns from the Trump campaign; however, well past the election, he boasts that insiders keep him “aware of what’s going on.” 

End Game

Throughout the summer until Election Day, WikiLeaks disseminates the emails that Russian hackers had stolen from Clinton and the Democratic National Committee. Russia’s social media campaign — “Translator project—continues in earnest, targeting voters in battleground states.

The rest, as they say, is history. Fewer than 80,000 voters in three states swing the Electoral College result to Trump, who loses the popular contest by almost 3 million votes.

In the end, Trump was Putin’s candidate. His campaign embraced Russia’s help, and he won. And since the election, his behavior toward Putin and Russia has been startling — and not in a good way. In its totality, the Trump-Russia Timeline — along with likely additional evidence that Mueller has and the public doesn’t — makes one thing clear: The notion that the FBI opened a counterintelligence inquiry into Trump is surprising, but the failure to open one would have been frightening.

Here’s a complete list of the latest updates to the Trump-Russia Timeline:

SEPT. 10, 2013: US Attorney Bharara Files Case Against Veselnitskaya’s Client (revision of previous entry)

MAY 3-4, 2016: Gates and Manafort Have Been Sending Polling Data to Kilimnik; Trump Stands Atop the Republican Field (revision of previous entry)

JUNE TO NOVEMBER 2016: ‘Translator Project’ in Full Swing, Targets ‘Hot-Button’ Issues in Battleground States (revision of previous entry)

JULY 29-31, 2016: Kilimnik to Manafort: ‘Black Caviar’ Guy Has Messages

AUG. 2, 2016: Kilimnik Meets with Manafort, Discusses Ukraine Plan (revision of previous entry)

MAY 17, 2017: Former FBI Director Robert Mueller Named Special Counsel, Assumes Control of Counterintelligence Investigation Into Trump (revision of previous entry)

JULY 7, 2017: Trump Meets Putin, Confiscates Interpreter’s Notes Afterwards (revision of previous entry)

NOV. 26, 2018: Mueller Says Manafort Lied After Plea Agreement; Shared 2016 Campaign Polling Data With Kilimnik (revision of previous entry)

DEC. 20, 2018: Feds Charge Veselnitskaya With Obstruction

JAN. 8, 2019: Manafort’s Attorneys Reveal Too Much: Manafort Shared Polling Data With Kilimnik; Then What?

JAN. 10, 2019: Trump: ‘No Collusion’; Denies Knowing Manafort Shared Polling Data With Kilimnik

JAN. 10, 2019: Cohen Agrees to Testify Before House; Trump Says He’s ‘Not Worried at All”

JAN. 11-12, 2019: NYT Reveals FBI Counterintelligence Investigation into Trump; Trump Blasts ‘Sleaze’ and ‘Crooked Cop’ Comey, FBI, McCabe, Strzok, Lisa Page, ‘Rigged and Botched Crooked Hillary Investigation,’ ‘Mueller & the 13 Angry Democrats’, ‘Witch Hunt’, Says He’s Been ‘Far Tougher on Russia’ but ‘Getting Along With Russia is a Good Thing’ 

THE “TRUMP CAPITULATES TO PUTIN” EDITION: TRUMP-RUSSIA TIMELINE UPDATE THROUGH JAN. 6, 2018

REMINDER: The Trump-Russia Timeline is now available at Dan Rather’s News & Guts and at Just Security

Vladimir Putin spent the holiday season collecting gifts from the 45th president of the United States. The latest developments in a scandal that the Trump-Russia Timeline chronicles now look like a game of “RISK” — with Putin moving effortlessly as the dominant player on the board. And to cap it off, on Jan. 2, Trump echoed Russian propaganda seeking to rewrite the history of the Soviet Union’s 1979 invasion of Afghanistan.

 America’s President Panders to a Thug With Nuclear Weapons

Give Putin credit. Without nuclear weapons, Russia would be a bit-player on the world stage. Its economy ranks 11th in the world — about one-tenth of that of the United States. If California and Texas were separate nations, both would surpass Russia in GDP. Yet in contrast to Trump’s willingness to antagonize other leaders of nuclear nations, including China and America’s staunchest allies, he panders to Putin as if Russia’s dictator had a gun to his head.

Even worse, the most recent turn of international events could be the beginning of a new and darker phase of the Trump era. The latest additions to the Trump-Russia Timeline depict a war in which Trump is leading a US retreat from every battlefield and Putin is emerging victorious.

Putin’s Green Light to Continue Election Interference

DEC. 17, 2018: The Senate Intelligence Committee releases two new bipartisan reports that Russia interfered with the 2016 election through social media, not only to help Trump win, but also to aid him thereafter — including attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller.

Trump’s Response: Silence.

Bottom Line: Russia’s war on truth and the vote — two foundations of American democracy — continues.

Putin Reconstructs the Soviet Empire

DEC. 17, 2018: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pushes an unsubstantiated claim that Ukraine is “planning more provocations” at the Russian border. In the wake of Russia’s unlawful actions on Nov. 25 in the Kerch strait, the statement looks like a pretext for Russia’s next aggressive move against the former Soviet state.

DEC. 22: Russia moves more than a dozen fighter jets to the illegally annexed Crimean region in Ukraine.

DEC. 24: A spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry repeats Lavrov’s unsubstantiated claims about Ukraine’s “provocations.” The Ministry even suggests that, in addition to ground operations, Ukraine may be plotting chemical warfare.

Trump’s Response: Silence.

Bottom Line: In 2005, Putin called the disintegration of the Soviet empire the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century. Now Trump is aiding and abetting Putin’s reconstruction of that empire.

Putin On His Way to Winning More Relief From US Sanctions

DEC. 19, 2018: The Treasury Department announces that, absent congressional action that won’t happen from Trump’s GOP, sanctions announced against Oleg Deripaska’s company in April — but then postponed for months — will disappear altogether in 30 days.

Deripaska is so close to Putin that he has been called “Putin’s oligarch.” For years, he was also Paul Manafort’s business associate. While serving without pay as Trump’s campaign manager in July 2016, Manafort offered Deripaska “private briefings” on the campaign. (For context and more details, go to the Trump-Russia Timeline and click on Deripaska’s name. Remarkably, a Jan. 4, 2019 article in The New York Times refers to Deripaska as a “bit player” in the Mueller investigation. Read the Timeline entries for him and decide for yourself.)

Bottom Line: Removing all economic sanctions against Russia is one of Putin’s highest priorities. Trump is helping him achieve that goal.

Putin Winning in the Mideast

DEC. 19, 2018: Trump makes a surprise announcement that the US is withdrawing all of its troops from Syria. The next day, Defense Secretary James Mattis resigns in protest over the decision. A boon to Russia, Syria, Iran, and Turkey, Trump’s action deals a crushing blow to the Kurds — America’s principal ally against ISIS in the region. Controlling the oil-rich northeastern area of Syria, the Kurds are also resisting Syria’s president, Putin-backed Bashar al-Assad, as well as Turkey’s autocratic president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Putin’s Response“Donald is right. I agree with him.”

Turkey’s Response: Turkey masses troops near a town that US-backed Kurdish rebels hold.

Trump’s Follow-up: Trump tweets lies about Russia, Syria, Iran, “and many others” being unhappy about his action. They’re not. Trump also asserts falsely that Mattis “retired,” but Mattis’ two-page resignation letter proves otherwise and, in the process, also repudiates Trump’s foreign policy:

“My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues … Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position.”

Bottom Line: James Mattis, one of America’s most respected public servants, resigns in protest because he believes Trump is undermining US and global security; Putin, the leader of America’s principal foreign adversary, praises Trump’s actions that produced Mattis’ resignation.

In Plain Sight

JAN. 2, 2019: During a public Cabinet meeting, Trump turns spontaneously to the subject of Afghanistan, where he has previously announced a US troop reduction from 14,000 to 7,000. Trump says that the Soviet Union was “right to be there” in 1979, when it invaded the country with 30,000 troops in an attempt to prop up a pro-communist puppet regime. Trump is echoing a recent Putin talking point based on a false, revisionist history of that internationally condemned invasion.

Some of Trump’s most egregious behavior happens where everyone can see it. But he enthralls the media with an endless stream of shiny objects that obscure a simple question:

Whose side is Trump on? His actions heading into 2019 continue to reveal that the answer hasn’t changed since the 2016 campaign.

Here’s a complete list of the latest updates to the Trump-Russia Timeline (now at Dan Rather’s News & Guts and Just Security):

APRIL 2014: The “Translator Project” Begins; Supports Trump; Exploits Divisions Among US Voters (revision of previous entry)

MAR. 10-11, 2016: Butina Works With Erickson; Thanks O’Neill for Helping US-Russia Relations (revision of previous entry)

APRIL 11, 2016: Manafort to Russian Business Associate: ‘How Do We Use to Get Whole?’ (revision of previous entry)

JUNE 8, 2016: Parscale Meets With Trump

NOV. 29, 2018: Cohen Pleads Guilty in Mueller Probe; Coordinated False Congressional Statements with Trump Legal Team; Trump Expresses Displeasure to Whitaker (revision of previous entry)

DEC. 1, 2018: Russia Moves Military Forces to Ukrainian Border

REVISED: DEC. 7, 2018: Mueller and SDNY File Briefs on Cohen; SDNY Implicates Trump; Trump Angry at Whitaker (revision of previous entry)

DEC. 12, 2018: Flynn’s Business Partner Indicted

DEC. 14, 2018: Trump Talks to Erdoğan About Syria: ‘It’s Yours; I’m Leaving’

DEC. 17, 2018: Comey Testifies, Then Blasts GOP, Fox News, Trump

DEC. 17, 2018: Lavrov Says Ukraine Planning More Provocations

DEC. 17, 2018: Senate Intelligence Committee: Russia Targeted African-Americans in 2016 Campaign, Still Using Social Media to Help Trump and Hurt Mueller

DEC. 18, 2018: Trump Tweets: Strzok and Lisa Page Texts ‘Would Have Explained Whole Hoax’, Defends Flynn, Attacks Steele Dossier

DEC. 18, 2018: Judge Tells Flynn: ‘Arguably, You Sold Your Country Out’; Sentencing Postponed at Flynn’s Request

DEC. 19, 2018: Treasury Department Moves to Lift Sanctions on Deripaska’s Company

DEC. 19-20, 2018: Trump Announces Withdrawal from Syria; Putin Says ‘Donald is Right’

DEC. 20, 2018: Mattis Resigns

DEC. 20, 2018: House Intelligence Committee Votes to Send Stone’s Transcript to Mueller

DEC. 20, 2018: Whitaker Refuses to Recuse Himself From Trump-Russia Probe

DEC. 22, 2018: Russia Moves Fighter Jets to Crimea

DEC. 23, 2018: Turkey Massing Troops Near Syrian Border

DEC. 24, 2018: Russia Repeats Unsubstantiated Claim of Ukrainian ‘Provocation’

DEC. 25, 2018: Trump Attacks Comey, ‘No Collusion’ (Except by the Democrats)

DEC. 28, 2018: GOP Leaders Quietly End House Investigations, Call for Second Special Counsel

DEC. 29, 2018: Trump Tweets Lies About Mueller and Strzok/Lisa Page Text Messages; ‘Hoax’; FBI/DOJ ‘Rigged’ Investigations

JAN. 2, 2019: Trump Parrots Putin Revisionism on Afghanistan

JAN. 4, 2019: Trump Tweets About Impeachment, ‘No Collusion’

JAN. 4, 2019: Schiff Will Provide Transcripts to Mueller

JAN. 4, 2019: Mueller Grand Jury Extended

JAN. 5, 2019: Trump Tweets About His Campaign Finance Law Violations

THE “MUELLER-MULTIPLIER EFFECT” EDITION: TRUMP-RUSSIA TIMELINE UPDATE THROUGH DEC. 17, 2018

[IMPORTANT NOTE: The Trump-Russia Timeline now appears at Dan Rather’s News & Guts and at Just Security.]

Last week, the most successful special counsel in history added two more notches to his holster. But Robert Mueller is letting others wear it. For him, a good result in the defense of American democracy matters; who gets credit for it does not. He is a living lesson in leadership by example.

The Americans (on Television) Comes to Life

On Dec. 13, Maria Butina appeared in court to present the guilty plea agreement that she had signed a few days earlier. Butina admitted that during the 2016 campaign, she conspired against the United States to promote Russian influence over the Republican Party via the NRA. She also agreed to cooperate with law enforcement authorities, including Mueller. Her story isn’t over.

The Butina investigation was well within the special counsel’s investigative mandate, but he farmed it out to Trump’s chosen US attorney for the District of Columbia, Jesse Liu. On the official Justice Department scorecard, she gets the win.

Cohen: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

At least nominally, the other big federal prosecutorial victory last week isn’t a Mueller case, either. The special counsel had referred the investigation of Michael Cohen to the US attorney for the Southern District of New York. As with Liu, Trump interviewed Geoffrey Berman personally before appointing him to that position.

To his credit, Berman recused himself from the Cohen investigation and deputy US attorney Robert Khuzami for the Southern District has ben running the show. Like Butina, Cohen continues to meet with Mueller, so the ripples from that case aren’t over, either.

Shortly after a federal judge sentenced Cohen to three years in prison, the US attorney’s office in New York announced a non-prosecution agreement with the National Enquirer‘s parent company. Coupled with Cohen’s testimony, the company’s related “Statement of Admitted Facts” put Trump squarely in the crosshairs of a felony for conspiring to violate campaign finance laws. But Khuzami is holding the weapon, not Mueller.

Why Does Mueller Do It?

Although Robert Mueller has not been speaking to the press, he hasn’t been living under a rock. From the early days of his appointment as special counsel, he has known that Trump and his minions systematically sought to undermine Mueller’s personal credibility, the Trump-Russia investigation, and the rule of law.

Next week’s update will include the independent reports to the Senate Intelligence Committee. They confirm that Russia’s massive social media influence campaign continued long past the election. Having put Trump in the White House, Putin has been trying to protect him by joining his attacks on Mueller.

Mueller’s Response: Speed and Strategy

With something akin to the sword of Damocles hanging overhead and arrows coming from all sides, Mueller has moved swiftly. Even without the threats to his investigation, perhaps he would have moved at the same pace. But the special counsel investigations in Iran-Contra and Watergate continued for more than four years. Already, Mueller has far more indictments, convictions, and plea agreements to show for his 18-month effort than either of those probes.

Mueller has also moved strategically. Some elements of his approach reveal themselves in the sequence of his indictments, criminal complaints, and plea agreements. But another example is his referral of some investigations to other US attorneys.

Mueller could have retained the Butina, Cohen, and other cases that he has referred to other US attorney offices. But the referrals assure that, at least in some form, the Trump-Russia investigation will survive, even if Trump and his minions limit, terminate, or mute Mueller’s efforts.

Other US attorneys may get credit for successful past and future prosecutions relating to various tentacles of the Trump-Russia octopus. Observers paying close attention know the truth: Before all of the investigations are over, Mueller is gonna need a bigger holster — even if he allows others to wear it occasionally.

Here are the latest updates to the Trump-Russia Timeline now at Dan Rather’s News & Guts and at Just Security:

MAR. 24, 2015: Butina and Erickson Draft ‘Diplomacy’ Project; Russia Approves (revision of previous entry)

AUGUST 2015: Trump-Pecker-Cohen Deal to Silence Women (revision of previous entry)

DEC. 11, 2015: NRA Leaders Meet with Wife of Butina’s Financial Backer (revision of previous entry)

MAR. 10-11, 2016: Butina Works With Erickson; Thanks O’Neill for Helping US-Russia Relations (revision of previous entry)

APR. 23-28, 2016: Torshin Gives Butina Another Task (revision of previous entry)

JUN. 22, 2016: Erickson Suggests Language for Butina’s Report to Torshin (revision of previous entry)

JUL. 25, 2016: Stone Tells Corsi to Get WikiLeaks’ Hacked Emails (revision of previous entry)

JULY 31, 2016: Stone to Corsi: ‘Malloch Should See Assange’

AUG. 5, 2016: Pecker Buys Rights to Karen McDougal’s Story; Trump Directs Cohen to Violate Campaign Finance Laws (revision of previous entry)

AUGUST 2016: Butina Enters US on Student Visa (revision of previous entry)

SEPT. 16, 2016 Butina Tries to Schedule ‘Friendship and Dialogue’ Dinner (revision of previous entry)

OCT. 4, 2016: Erickson Writes About Private Line of Communication with Kremlin (revision of previous entry)

OCT. 5, 2016: Butina and Torshin Exchange Messages: ‘We Made Our Bet’ (revision of previous entry)

OCT. 6-7, 2016: Intelligence Community Publishes Statement on Russian Interference; Stone to Corsi: ‘Tell Assange to Start Dumping’; Access Hollywood Tapes Released (revision of previous entry)

NOV. 8-9, 2016: Butina: ‘I Am Ready For Further Orders’ (revision of previous entry)

NOV. 11, 2016: Butina Asks for Russian Reaction to Trump’s Possible Secretary of State Nominee (revision of previous entry)

NOV. 30, 2016: Butina Writes About Establishing US-Russia ‘Back Channel’ (revision of previous entry)

JUL. 18, 2018: Butina Held Without Bail Pending Trial (revision of previous entry)

DEC. 7, 2018: Whitaker Meets with Kushner

DEC. 8, 2018: Butina Pleads Guilty; Erickson Note Revealed

DEC. 10, 2018: Trump Tweets: ‘NO COLLUSION’, ‘WITCH HUNT’, ‘No SMOCKING GUN’; ‘Cohen Just Trying To Get His Sentence Reduced’; Blasts Comey (revision of previous entry)

DEC. 11, 2018: Trump Attacks Comey; Claims Bias in FBI

DEC. 11, 2018: Trump on Dismisses Impeachment Concerns: ‘People Would Revolt’

DEC. 12, 2018: Cohen Sentenced to Three Years in Prison

DEC. 12, 2018: SDNY Announces Non-Prosecution Deal with AMI

DEC. 13, 2018: Trump Tweets Attack Cohen, Criticize Flynn’s ‘Great Deal’, ‘Witch Hunt!’

DEC. 13, 2018: DOJ Inspector General Issues Report on Missing Strzok/Page Text Messages

DEC. 15, 2018: Trump Tweets: Press Should Cover ‘REAL story on Russia, Clinton & the DNC’, Attacks Strzok and Lisa Page, Again 

DEC. 16, 2018: Trump Tweets About SNL: ‘A REAL Scandal Is The One-Sided Coverage’; Attacks Strzok and Lisa Page, Again; Calls Cohen a ‘Rat’; Quotes Starr on ‘Collusion’; Tweets About Corsi, Flynn; ‘Witch Hunt’

 

 

THE “CLINTON HEALTH CONSPIRACY/PEARL HARBOR DAY” EDITION: TRUMP-RUSSIA TIMELINE UPDATE THROUGH DEC. 10, 2018

In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said that December 7 was a “date which will live in infamy.” Seventy-seven years later, it became infamous again. But the Pearl Harbor Day bombs of 2018 overshadowed an important new twist in the larger Trump-Russia conspiracy against the United States. It involves what became a favorite Trump campaign lie about Hillary Clinton.

And Russia helped Trump promote it.

The latest revelations about the Trump-Russia conspiracy to create and disseminate a false narrative around Hillary Clinton’s health became lost in last week’s sensational court filings relating to Mike Flynn, Michael Cohen, and Paul Manafort. So let’s start this week’s post by shining a spotlight on the “Hillary’s Health” smoking gun. Then we’ll get to Mueller’s Pearl Harbor Day 2018 and Trump’s newest problems arising from the separate federal prosecution of Cohen in Manhattan.

The Hillary Clinton Health Conspiracy

How did lies about Hillary Clinton’s health become a central feature of Trump’s campaign?

Here are the links in the chain behind that falsehood, which hit the stage in early August 2016:

WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange (custodian of emails that Russian Intelligence hacked) and RT (Russia’s state-owned television propaganda network) –> Jerome Corsi (Roger Stone’s associate) –> Roger Stone (Trump confidant) –> Trump (GOP presidential nominee) –> RT (media amplifier) –> Russian Intelligence (social media amplifier)

Go to the Trump-Russia Timeline, click on Julian Assange and Roger Stone, and pay particular attention to events beginning in June 2016. Many of them became public only last week:

JUNE 4, 8, 10, 17, 23, 2016: Representatives of Russia’s state-owned television propaganda network, RT, visit Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he is living in exile.

JULY 25: Roger Stone tells Jerome Corsi to get from WikiLeaks the emails that the Russians had hacked.

AUG. 2: Assange tells RT that WikiLeaks will release Clinton Foundation emails soon.

AUG. 2: Corsi informs Stone that WikiLeaks plans to release the hacked emails. Corsi also suggests that the Trump campaign should attack Clinton’s health.

AUG. 3: Stone speaks with Trump.

AUG. 4: Stone says that he “dined with Assange last night” and “devastating” WikiLeaks documents aimed at Clinton are coming soon.

AUG. 5: Stone tweets that Assange is a hero.

AUG. 8: Stone boasts that he has communicated with Assange.

AUG. 8: RT publishes a false story about Clinton’s health. The same day, Russian Intelligence operatives post the first of almost 500 tweets or retweets featuring the hashtag #HillarysHealth.

AUG. 8-11: Sean Hannity devotes an entire week to the bogus issue of Clinton’s health.

AUG. 15: Trump attacks Clinton’s health.

AUG. 30: RT itself begins using the hashtag #HillarysHealth in tweets to promote its articles on Clinton’s condition.

And so on and so on and so on…

When multiple pieces of evidence point in the same direction to yet another dimension of the Trump-Russia conspiracy to elect a US president, Trump’s defenders dismiss them as coincidences. But without any evidence at all, those same defenders claim that Trump — the clear beneficiary of Russia’s assistance — is the victim of a conspiracy against him, led by….Trump’s Justice Department, career federal servants, and lifelong Republicans, including Robert Mueller and Rod Rosenstein.

Here’s an idea: Let’s agree on a definition of conspiracy. Then let’s apply that definition in an even-handed way to the evidence in the Trump-Russia scandal. The only prerequisite to playing is a willingness to consider facts and put America ahead of political preferences.

That’s what Robert Mueller is doing. And he is discovering that the Trump-Russia octopus has many tentacles. That’s why Jerome Corsi and Roger Stone expect to be indicted. It’s also why — based on the Timeline, together with evidence that Mueller has and the public doesn’t — those expectations are reasonable.

Mueller’s Pearl Harbor Day 2018

Understandably, the media gave far more attention to the memoranda that Mueller filed in the cases involving Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, and Mike Flynn. Those filings include hints of much more Trump-Russia scandal to come:

— During the campaign, Trump and Cohen discussed ongoing prospective business deals with Russia that would bring “hundreds of millions of dollars” to the Trump Organization.

— During the campaign, intermediaries offered “political synergy” and “synergy on a government level” from Russia to help Trump win the election.

—  Flynn is assisting Mueller’s “investigation concerning any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald J. Trump”;

— Well into 2018, Manafort’s representatives were in contact with representatives of the Trump administration. The lawyers among them who believe that attorney-client privilege and joint defense agreements will save them should take another look at the crime-fraud exception. At best, all of those individuals are now witnesses in Mueller’s obstruction of justice investigation. Some could be subjects; some may be even targets. Stick with Trump long enough and that’s your fate.

A Separate Front: Campaign Finance Law Violations

Finally, a Dec. 7 filing in the Southern District of New York puts Trump in a new world of hurt that even firing Robert Mueller can’t stop. Prosecutors in the New York office of the acting US attorney — which is headed by Trump’s personal selection to replace Preet Bharara — accused Trump of directing Michael Cohen to violate federal campaign finance laws. Twice.

Together with David Pecker, the publisher of the National Enquirer, Trump and Cohen devised a scheme to buy the silence of women claiming to be Trump’s former mistresses. The goal was to shut them up and thereby preserve Trump’s presidential prospects. At Trump’s direction, six-figure payments went to a former Playboy model and an adult-film actress.

Whether Trump can escape criminal prosecution while in office has been the subject of debate. But with respect to the SDNY case, Prof. Laurence Tribe argues persuasively that the Constitution mandates prosecution of a president who breaks the law to win the office. In any event, the SDNY filing renders three things beyond question:

First, even if Prof. Tribe’s analysis is wrong, Trump must win a second term to eliminate his criminal exposure. The moment he leaves office, the law can land on him like a ton of bricks — just as it would any other citizen. If convicted of the felonies in which he is now implicated, he’ll go to jail, unless he gets a pardon from his Oval Office successor.

Second, even assuming that Trump personally cannot be prosecuted while in office, other co-conspirators can. Future defendants could include the Trump Organization, senior executives, the Trump Foundation, and Trump family members Ivanka, Don Jr., and Eric. In fact, the key allegation against Trump refers to “one or more members of the campaign,” suggesting to Prof. Ryan Goodman and Andy Wright at JustSecurity.org that “more indictments for the hush money scheme may still be in the offing.” (Their analysis of the last week’s court filings is worth a careful read.)

And third, special counsel Robert Mueller isn’t prosecuting the campaign finance law conspiracy charges in Manhattan; the New York office of Trump’s Justice Department is. Even getting rid of Mueller won’t make that front in Trump’s war against the rule of law go away.

All around Trump, the walls are collapsing. Like a cornered, rabid animal, he becomes more dangerous every day.

And where is the complicit GOP in Congress? The silence is deafening.

Here are the latest updates to the Trump-Russia Timeline:

SEPT. 16, 2015: Trump Says He’d Get Along With Putin

SEPT. 17, 2015: Cohen Says Trump and Putin Might Meet Later This Month

OCT. 28, 2015: Trump Signs Letter of Intent for Trump Tower in Moscow (revision of previous entry)

NOVEMBER 2015: Cohen Speaks with ‘Trusted Person’ in Russia Offering ‘Political Synergy’ and ‘Synergy on a Government Level’ to Trump Campaign

JUNE 4, 2016: RT Visits Assange

JUNE 8, 2016: RT Visits Assange

JUNE 10, 2016: RT Visits Assange

JUNE 17, 2016: RT Visits Assange

JUNE 23, 2016: RT Visits Assange

AUG. 2, 2016: Assange Tells RT That WikiLeaks Will Release Clinton Foundation Emails

AUG. 5, 2016: Pecker Buys Rights to Karen McDougal’s Story; Trump Directs Cohen to Violate Campaign Finance Laws

AUG. 8-30, 2016: RT and Russian Intelligence Follow Corsi’s Predicted Strategy On Clinton’s Health, Clinton Foundation Through Media and Social Media

AUG. 8, 2016: Pecker’s National Enquirer Attacks Clinton’s Health

AUG. 15, 2018: Trump Attacks Clinton’s Health

OCT. 25-26, 2016: Giuliani Discusses Coming ‘Surprise’; Comey Orders Internal Investigation of FBI NY Office (revision of previous entry)

OCT. 26-27, 2016: Trump Again Directs Cohen to Violate Campaign Finance Laws; Cohen Signs Non-Disclosure Agreement with Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels) (revision of previous entry)

AROUND MAY 15, 2017: Manafort Tries to Broker Assange Deal

AUG. 28-30, 2017: Story Breaks on Trump Tower-Moscow; Cohen Lies to Congress; Russia Participates in Trump/Cohen Cover-Up (revision of previous entry)

MAY 26, 2018: Manafort Authorizes Representative to Speak with Trump Administration Official On His Behalf

AUG. 7, 2018: At Cohen’s Request, He Meets with Mueller, Provides False Answers Regarding Trump Tower-Moscow

NOV. 26, 2018: Mueller Says Manafort Lied After Plea Agreement (revision of previous entry)

DEC. 3, 2018: Trump Tweets; Cohen Should Get ‘Full and Complete Sentence’; Praises Stone’s ‘Guts’; Attacks Mueller

DEC. 3, 2018: Stone Invokes Fifth Amendment

DEC. 4, 2018: Mueller’s Sentencing Memo Urges Leniency for Flynn

DEC. 5, 2018: Erickson Has Received ‘Target’ Letter

DEC. 6, 2018: Trump Tweets ‘Witch Hunt’, ‘Presidential Harassment’; Quotes Corsi: ‘This Is Not Justice’; Attacks FBI

DEC. 7, 2018: Trump Tweets Attack ‘Mueller Conflicts’, ‘Lyin’ James Comey’, Mueller’s Team Members, ’17 Angry Democrats’, ‘Crooked Hillary’, Clinton Foundation, Rosenstein ‘Conflicted’, Bruce Ohr, John Brennan, James Clapper, ‘Final Witch Hunt Report’

DEC. 7, 2018: Trump to Nominate Barr as AG

DEC. 7, 2018: Comey Testifies; Trump Tweets

DEC. 7, 2018: Mueller Aims at Manafort

DEC. 7, 2018: Mueller and SDNY File Briefs on Cohen; SDNY Implicates Trump

DEC. 7, 2018: Trump Tweets Another Lie: ‘Totally Clears the President’

DEC. 7, 2018: Treasury Dept. Delays Sanctions Against Rusal

DEC. 8, 2018: Trump Tweets: ‘NO COLLUSION!’, ‘Time for the Witch Hunt To END’

DEC. 9, 2018: Trump Tweets About Comey’s Dec. 7 Testimony

DEC. 10, 2018: Trump Tweets: ‘NO COLLUSION’, ‘WITCH HUNT’, ‘Cohen Just Trying To Get His Sentence Reduced’

THE “COHEN’S REDEMPTION/TRUMP LAWYERS’ HEADACHE” EDITION: TRUMP-RUSSIA TIMELINE UPDATE THROUGH DEC. 3, 2018

Michael Cohen‘s surprise guilty plea on Nov. 29 and his sentencing memorandum the next day suggest that special counsel Robert Mueller is hard at work with a long way to go. For months, the media have reported the wishful thinking of Trump’s lawyers pushing the narrative that Mueller is “almost done” or “wrapping things up.”

None of that is coming from Mueller’s team. So when you hear or read that the “concluding phase” of the special counsel’s work is underway, consider the source. The media reporting those stories aren’t. Such predictions are not news. They are Trump-based propaganda.

Cohen Confirms Putin’s Leverage Over Trump

Mueller speaks exclusively through his court filings. And on Nov. 29, he did it through Michael Cohen’s plea. Trump’s trusted personal attorney for a dozen years has now told federal courts that he lied to Congress about what was happening during the 2016 presidential campaign. Specifically,

— Cohen followed Trump’s instructions and violated campaign finance laws by buying the silence of Trump’s former mistresses.

— Cohen pursued the Trump Tower-Moscow project as late as June 2016 and, along the way, kept Trump and the Trump family informed personally of its status and progress.

— Cohen and Trump discussed possible trips to Russia for meetings with top government officials about approvals and financing for Trump Tower-Moscow.

— All of Trump’s contrary statements that he never had anything to do with Russia were lies.

The last item is especially important.

For more than three years, Putin has known more about Trump’s dealings with Russia than the American people have. That information gap has been a source of Putin’s leverage over Trump and highlights the fundamental question driving Mueller’s counterintelligence investigation:

What else does Putin know about Trump that the American public does not, and when did he learn it?

More is coming. Cohen is cooperating with Mueller, the New York Attorney General, and the New York State Department of Tax and Finance in connection with ongoing investigations into Trump, the Trump Organization, and the Trump Foundation.

Less Obvious Danger to Trump Loyalists and Lawyers

Here’s an under-reported nugget in the Cohen sentencing memo that should have Trump’s lawyers especially concerned: As Cohen was crafting lies that he told Congress, he kept Trump’s legal team informed. He wanted to make sure that he was following Trump’s desired Trump-Russia messaging. That could be a problem for Trump’s lawyers.

I’ve read all of the publicly released transcripts of witnesses who testified before the farcical House investigation into Trump-Russia. Some witnesses treated the proceedings cavalierly. They probably thought that blowing off the Trump Party-controlled Congress posed had no downside risk.

Donald Trump Jr. and Erik Prince, for example, knew that their allies in the Trump Party (formerly the GOP) would never authorize contempt proceedings and thereby force full and complete answers to proper questions that Democrats in Congress had posed to them. Absurd invocations of “executive privilege” and evasive non-answers went unchallenged. Trump and his loyalists emerged unscathed.

Or so they and Trump thought.

Case Studies for Future Law Students

On Nov. 6, Trump, Don Jr., and Prince probably started sweating when Democrats won control of the House. Suddenly, the prospect of new subpoenas and contempt proceedings loomed large.

But Cohen’s surprise plea must have sent them reeling as much as it sent Trump tweeting. That’s because Mueller prosecuted Cohen — and obtained a guilty plea — for his false statements to Congress, not to Mueller or his team. In the long run, the Trump Party in the House had afforded them no protection at all.

Mueller has some of those congressional transcripts, including Don Jr.’s and Prince’s. Soon he’ll have the rest. That means more indictments are coming. It also means predicting that Mueller will wrap up his work by the end of the year is, well, wandering out on a fragile limb.

For a summary of the many Trump minions who have lied to federal authorities (including Congress) about Trump-Russia, look at Ryan Goodman’s thorough and meticulously sourced “Perjury Chart” at JustSecurity.org.

History Lesson Not Learned

Which takes us to the problem for Trump’s lawyers. They have crafted more than 30 “joint defense agreements” with various witnesses and subjects in Mueller’s investigation. In doing so, the Trump legal team may have outsmarted itself.

Based on Cohen’s plea, it sure looks like some of Trump’s attorneys were aware that Cohen was going to appear before Congress and spout Trump’s false messaging — i.e., lie. Who else besides Cohen went through such a coordination exercise? Mueller knows and soon the public will, too.

At best, those attorneys are now witnesses to potential obstruction of justice. At worst, they are targets of such an inquiry.

Watch This Space

More than 20 Watergate attorneys were involved in wronging. Some lost their licenses; some landed in prison; some suffered both fates. It’s time to start a tally of imprisoned and/or disbarred Trump-Russia players with law degrees.

In the weeks and months ahead, this list will grow:

Paul Manafort (JD, Georgetown, ’74)

Michael Cohen (JD, Cooley, ’91)

Alex van der Zwaan (LLB, King’s College, ’06)

Here are the latest updates to the Trump-Russia Timeline:

OCT. 28, 2015: Trump Signs Letter of Intent for Trump Tower in Moscow (revision of previous entry)

NOVEMBER 3, 2015: Sater and Cohen Pursue Trump Tower-Moscow

REVISED: NOVEMBER 2015-JUNE 2016: Cohen Keeps Trump Informed of Trump Tower-Moscow Developments; Sater and Cohen Consider a Free $50 Million Penthouse for Putin (revision of previous entry)

JAN. 14, 2016: Cohen Seeks Kremlin’s Help in Trump Tower Deal (revision of previous entry)

JAN. 16-21, 2016: Cohen Sends Another Message to Moscow; Kremlin Responds

MAY 4, 2016: Cohen and Sater Discuss Trump Trip to Russia

MAY 5, 2016: Sater Invites Cohen to St. Petersburg, Russia for Potential Putin/Medvedev Meeting

JUNE 2016: Cohen Discusses Status of Moscow Project with Trump

JUNE 14, 2016: Cohen Ditches Plan to Visit Russia

JULY 25, 2016: Stone Tells Corsi to Get WikiLeaks’ Hacked Emails

JULY 26, 2016: Trump: ‘I Have Nothing to Do With Russia’

AUG. 2-11, 2016: Corsi Informs Stone of WikiLeaks’ Plans, Suggests Attacking Clinton’s Health; Stone Talks to Trump; Hannity Helps

OCT. 9, 2016: Trump on Russia: ‘I Don’t Deal There’

OCT. 24, 2016: Trump: ‘I Have Nothing to Do With Russia’

OCT. 26, 2016: Trump: ‘I Have Nothing to Do With Russia’

JAN. 11, 2017: Trump: ‘We’ve Stayed Away’ From Deals in Russia

FEB. 7, 2017: Trump Tweets: ‘I Don’t Know Putin; Have No Deals in Russia’

AUG. 28-30, 2017: Story Breaks on Trump Tower-Moscow; Russia Participates in Trump/Cohen Cover-Up

SEPT. 1, 2017: Trump’s Lawyers Ask Rosenstein to Investigate Comey

SPRING 2018: Trump Tells McGahn to Investigate Clinton and Comey

REVISED: SEPT. 14, 2018: Manafort Pleads Guilty, Agrees to Cooperate with Mueller But Continues Feeding Info to Trump (revision of previous entry)

OCT. 22, 2018: Giuliani Admits Manafort Is Feeding Mueller Info To Trump Lawyers; Trump Has 32 Joint Defense Agreements with Mueller Witnesses or Subjects

NOV. 9, 2018: Court Wants Briefs on Impact of Whitaker Replacing Sessions (revision of previous entry)

WEEK OF NOV. 12, 2018: Trump Gets Draft of Corsi Plea Deal

NOV. 16, 2018: Papadopoulos Seeks Postponement (revision of previous entry)

NOV. 16-29, 2018: Comey Responds to GOP Congressional Demands With Desire to Appear Publicly; Cuts Deal (revision of previous entry)

NOV. 19, 2018: Senate Democrats File Suit to Remove Whitaker

NOV. 20, 2018: Trump Has Provided Written Answers to Mueller; Topics Include WikiLeaks, Trump Tower Meeting, and GOP Platform Change

NOV. 23, 2018: Corsi Says He’s in Plea Talks With Mueller

NOV. 25, 2018: Russia Captures Ukrainian Naval Vessels in Black Sea; EU Issues Immediate Condemnation; Trump Equivocates

NOV. 26, 2018: Trump Tweets About Anticipated Mueller Report, ‘Hundreds of People’ Who Had No Campaign Contact with Russians

NOV. 26, 2018: Mueller Says Manafort Lied After Plea Agreement

NOV. 27, 2018: Trump Tweets About ‘Conflicted’ Mueller, ‘Phony Witch Hunt’, ‘Gang of Angry Democrats’, Clinton E-mail Server

NOV. 27, 2018: Trump Retweets Image of Critics, Mueller, and Rosenstein: ‘When Do Trials For Treason Begin?’

NOV. 28, 2018: Trump Tweets About ‘Gang of Angry Dems’,  ‘Witch Hunt’, ‘Hoax’

NOV. 28, 2018: Trump Says Manafort Pardon ‘on the Table’, Rips Mueller

NOV. 29, 2018: Trump Tweets About ‘Mueller and the Angry Democrats’, ‘Crooked Hillary’

NOV. 29, 2018: Cohen Pleads Guilty in Mueller Probe; Coordinated False Congressional Statements with Trump Legal Team

NOV. 29, 2018: Kremlin Reverses Earlier Cover-Up Statement About Cohen Emails

NOV. 29-30, 2018: Trump Cancels G-20 Meeting with Putin; Kremlin Pushes Back; Trump Says He Might Meet with Putin After All

NOV. 29, 2018: Trump Blasts Cohen

NOV. 29, 2018: German Authorities Raid Deutsche Bank

NOV. 29, 2018: Trump Tweets: ‘Witch Hunt’, ‘Hoax,’ Cites Dershowitz

NOV. 30, 2018: Trump Tweets: ‘Lightly Looked at Doing a Building Somewhere in Russia’ While Running for President

THE “TRUMP LIES ABOUT WHITAKER” EDITION: TRUMP-RUSSIA TIMELINE UPDATE THROUGH NOV. 25, 2018

After pushing Attorney General Jeff Sessions out of office, Trump bypassed a plethora of qualified potential replacements. Without question, they would have been constitutionally eligible for the job of acting attorney general. They would have no disabling conflicts of interest relating to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. They would not have brought with them a history of conspiracy theories, nonsensical legal views, and untoward business ventures.

Instead, Trump chose Matthew Whitaker, who comes with all of that baggage and more. To Trump, he’s a “three-fer”: political hack, vocal critic of Mueller’s probe, and unapologetic Trump loyalist.

Why Whitaker?

In March 2017, Trump was increasingly frustrated with his unsuccessful efforts to stop the Trump-Russia probe. Referring to Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s (R-WI) notorious 1950s attorney and hatchet-man, he asked:

“Where’s my Roy Cohn?”

Now Trump has provided the answer: Matthew Whitaker.

The federal courts will resolve the serious legal questions surrounding Whitaker’s legitimacy as acting attorney general. But that may be the least of his problems — which are now the country’s problems — revolving around a single question: Why did Trump send Attorney General Jeff Sessions packing and appoint Whitaker in his place?

Don’t ask Trump. He’ll lie. Even when the truth is obvious, he lies.

Whitaker Got the Job for a Reason

Go to the Trump-Russia Timeline and click on Jeff Sessions’ and Matthew Whitaker’s names. Combining the entries for the two men reveals how Whitaker auditioned for and won a leading role in Trump’s ongoing attack on the rule of law.

On March 3, 2017 — the day after Sessions’ recused himself from the Russia probe — Trump began his relentless barrage against the attorney general. After Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel on May 17, Trump turned up the heat.

Enter Matthew Whitaker, who followed the advice of his fellow failed Iowa politician, Sam Clovis — a grand jury witness in Mueller’s investigation. Clovis had told Whitaker that if he wanted Trump’s favorable attention, Whitaker should get a gig as a cable news commentator and use that forum to blast the Mueller probe.

Roll the Tape

— June 21: Whitaker appears on a right-wing talk radio show and declares: “The truth is there was no collusion with the Russians and the Trump campaign.”

— July 10: Whitaker defends Don Jr.’s decision to meet with Russians at Trump Tower.

— July 19: Using the vehicle of a New York Times interview, Trump continues attacking Sessions.

— July 22-26: Trump bombards Sessions with Twitter-fits and tells The Wall Street Journal that he’s “very disappointed” in Sessions.

— July 26: As a CNN pundit, Whitaker outlines a strategy for killing the Mueller probe: fire Sessions; install a Trump lackey as an acting attorney general; let the lackey starve the Mueller probe of funds; Trump-Russia investigation dies.

— July 2017, White House counsel Don McGahn interviews Whitaker about becoming a Trump “legal attack dog” against Mueller. Reportedly, Whitaker didn’t get the job, but you wouldn’t know it from his subsequent behavior:

— August 6: Whitaker criticizes Mueller as “going to far” if he crosses the red line of looking into Trump or Trump family finances.

— August 7: Whitaker says he fears Mueller will engage in a “fishing expedition.”

— August: McGahn pressures Sessions to hire Whitaker as Sessions’ chief of staff.

— Sept. 22: Sessions hires Whitaker as his chief of staff.

— Nov. 7: Trump fires Sessions and appoints Whitaker as acting AG.

Trump Lies About Whitaker for a Reason

In a Nov. 16 interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, Trump said with a straight face that he had no idea Whitaker held views that were hostile to the Mueller investigation. He claimed not to know that Whitaker-as-CNN pundit had outlined the very strategy that Trump has now employed: fire Sessions and appoint a loyalist lackey who is hostile to the Mueller probe.

But during an interview with the Daily Caller only two days earlier, a reporter’s question about the new acting attorney general caused Trump to make the immediate and obvious connection between Whitaker’s appointment and the Russia probe. Trump said:

“I knew him only as he pertained, you know, as he was with Jeff Sessions. And, you know, look, as far as I’m concerned this is an investigation that should have never been brought. It should have never been had. It’s something that should have never been brought. It’s an illegal investigation.”

It was another “Lester Holt moment.” Just as Trump had admitted on national television that he fired James Comey because Comey was allowing “the Russia thing” to proceed, so, too, Trump acknowledged to the Daily Caller his true motive for firing Sessions and appointing Whitaker: the Russia investigation.

Whitaker Can’t Win This One

Blinded by ambition and personal loyalty to Trump, Whitaker won Sessions’ job. Assuming the federal courts don’t boot him first, he’s still destined for an ignominious end. After completIng Trump’s assigned mission, he’ll go the way of all Trump lackeys who outlive their usefulness. Like them, he will have planted himself firmly on the wrong side of history; his reputation will lie in tatters; his legacy will be another page in the dark chapter of American history known as the Trump era.

It’s the Trumpian way. Call it the reverse-King Midas touch. There’s no honor in becoming Trump’s Roy Cohn.

Here are the latest updates to the Trump-Russia Timeline:

AUG. 27-28, 2016: Smith Meets with Hackers in DC

AUGUST 2017: McGahn Pressures Sessions to Hire Whitaker

SEPT. 22, 2017: Sessions Yields to White House Pressure; Whitaker Becomes Sessions’ Chief of Staff, West Wing’s ‘Eyes and Ears’ at DOJ (revision of previous entry)

AUG. 13, 2018: Another Judge Rejects Challenges to Mueller’s Authority (revision of previous entry)

AUG. 22, 2018: Court Filing Refers Mysteriously to Assange

NOV. 12, 2018: Corsi Says He Expects to Be Indicted; Doesn’t Recall Meeting Assange

NOV. 12, 2018: Trump Refuses to Sign Int’l Cyberattack Attack Accord

NOV. 13, 2018: State of Maryland Challenges Whitaker Appointment

NOV. 14, 2018: McConnell Blocks Bill to Protect Mueller

NOV. 14, 2018: Gates Still Cooperating: Sentencing Process Delayed

NOV. 14, 2018: Trump Pleased with Whitaker

NOV. 15, 2018: Trump Tweets about ‘Inner Workings’ of Mueller Probe; Lies About Mueller; Decries ‘Witch Hunt’; Slams Others

NOV. 15, 2018: Graham: Whitaker Sees No Reason to Fire Mueller

NOV. 16, 2018: Papadopoulos Seeks Postponement

NOV. 16, 2018: Trump Comments on Mueller ‘Hoax’ and Answers to Written Questions

NOV. 16, 2018: Comey Responds to GOP Congressional Demands

NOV. 16, 2018: Trump Trusts Whitaker to Do ‘What’s Right’, Claims Ignorance of Whitaker’s Views about Mueller Probe

NOV. 18. 2018: Trump Attacks Schiff, Mueller