Trump refuses to believe that they were ever here. The truth is that they never left.
In the 2016 election, Russia attacked the core of American democracy: voting. To this day, Trump has refused to criticize, much less condemn, Vladimir Putin for the attack. And to this day, the attack continues. That’s why this week’s most important new entry in the Trump-Russia Timeline is this:
“OCT. 19, 2018: Russian Charged With 2018 Election Interference”
The defendant in the case, Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova of St. Petersburg, Russia, handles the finances of Russia’s “information warfare” operation against the United States. Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin — a close Putin ally known as “Putin’s chef” — and two companies he controls have funded the attacks.
The latest criminal charges are a sequel to special counsel Robert Mueller’s February 2018 indictment of Prigozhin, his companies, the Internet Research Agency, and 12 other Russian nationals for conspiracy against the US by interfering with the 2016 election.
But Mueller didn’t bring the latest case. The US attorney for the eastern district of Virginia did. Why? One reason could be that Mueller is assuming that his days as special counsel are tied to Jeff Sessions’ tenuous fate. In other words, they’re numbered. When Sessions leaves, Trump will appoint a lackey who will gut Mueller’s investigation or fire the special counsel altogether.
Senate Republicans who once defended Sessions, saying that firing him is a “red line” that Trump dare not cross, now admit that they are resigned to Sessions’ departure after the midterms. The dangerous normalization of Trump’s dangerously abnormal, anti-democratic behavior will continue for as long as the Trump Party controls Congress.
But even after Mueller’s probe disappears, the latest federal case in Virginia — like those brought against Michael Cohen in New York and Maria Butina in Washington DC (and wherever Sam Patten’s guilty plea in a yet another DC case leads federal investigators) — will continue. While Trump plays checkers, Mueller is playing three-dimensional chess. Meanwhile, the Russians are playing with American democracy.
Here’s a complete list of this week’s updates to the Trump-Russia Timeline:
EARLY MAY 2016: Agalarov Forms New US Shell Company
JUNE 20, 2016: Agalarov Wires Almost $20 Million to US Account
SEPT. 14, 2018: Manafort Pleads Guilty, Agrees to Cooperate with Mueller (revision of previous entry)
SEPT. 28, 2018: Russian Charged With 2018 Election Interference
OCT. 16, 2018: Trump Tweets About Sessions, Ohr, Steele, ‘Witch Hunt’
OCT. 16, 2018: Trump’s AP Interview Blasts ‘Witch Hunt’, Cohen, Sessions; Excuses Don Jr.’s Trump Tower Meeting
OCT. 16, 2018: Rohrabacher Trusts Assange; Says Russia Didn’t Hack DNC
OCT. 17, 2018: Rosenstein Defends Mueller Probe
OCT. 17, 2018: McGahn No Longer White House Counsel
OCT. 19, 2018: Manafort Sentencing Date Set For Feb. 8
OCT. 19, 2018: US Government Warns: Foreign Interference in 2018 Midterm Elections