The Trump-Russia Timeline is particularly useful this week. It helps seemingly unrelated pieces of the puzzle come together. The emerging picture is frightening.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions “resigned” — at Trump’s request. The more appropriate employment law concept for his departure is “constructive discharge” — that’s when a hostile work environment drives an employee from a job. Whatever the reason, the implications for the country are profound: Trump has begun his final assault on special counsel Robert Mueller and the rule of law. American democracy’s alarm bells are blaring.

This is not a drill.

Mueller Protector Gone

When Sessions recused himself from the Mueller probe, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosentein assumed supervisory responsibility for the investigation. The results through Nov. 13, 2018: criminal charges against 32 individuals and 3 entities; guilty pleas from several prominent Trump advisers, including former national security adviser Mike Flynn, George Papadopoulos, and deputy campaign Rick Gates; jury verdicts against campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Mueller isn’t done. Absent interference, more indictments and a final report are coming. But compared to all previous special counsels, he has already achieved stunning results in record time. For example, the Iran-Contra and Whitewater investigations and related proceedings each continued for more than four years and yielded far less.

Matthew Whitaker’s Mission

This week, Matthew Whitaker became Trump’s latest assault weapon. For that, Whitaker earns his own pop-up bubble and name filter on the Trump-Russia Timeline. He could be on his way to earning an orange jumpsuit, too.

Trump chose Whitaker to complete a mission: end the federal investigations that threaten Trump’s presidency, his wealth, and even his personal freedom. Any doubters need look no farther than Whitaker’s record before Sept. 22, 2017, when he became Sessions’ chief of staff at the Justice Department.

Whitaker Has A Mueller Problem

Sam Clovis was national co-chairman of the Trump campaign. In 2014, he had run unsuccessfully for the Iowa Republican nomination to the US Senate. So did Matthew Whitaker. They became such good friends that Whitaker ran Clovis’ next campaign — for Iowa state treasurer, also in 2014. Clovis lost that one, too, but the two men remained friends.

Here’s the thing: Clovis has appeared before Mueller’s grand jury. To see why, go to the Trump-Russia Timeline and click on his name. Clovis intersects with several important Trump-Russia players: including George Papadopoulos and Carter Page. Click on all three names and look at the resulting entries to get a small sample the breadth and depth of Clovis’s Trump-Russia problems.

Here’s the punchline: Shortly after Clovis’ grand jury appearance and Papadopoulos’ guilty plea identifying Clovis as the recipient of emails relating to Trump campaign contacts with Russia, Clovis withdrew his nomination to become Trump’s top scientist for the US Department of Agriculture — a position he was never qualified to hold.

Whitaker Has A Bias Problem

From October 2014 to September 2017, Whitaker was executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT). The organization publicizes what it describes as ethical lapses by prominent Democrats and asks government agencies and law enforcement to investigate them. In other words, Whitaker was a GOP attack dog.

Immediately before Whitaker joined Trump’s Justice Department, he was a paid legal commentator for CNN — a gig that Clovis recommended he pursue. Among Whitaker’s stated opinions:

— Hillary Clinton should have been indicted (he wrote that in a July 2016 op-ed complaining about Comey’s explanation for not recommending prosecution);

— There was no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign;

Donald Trump Jr. did nothing wrong in meeting with Russians at Trump Tower in June 2016;

— Mueller would exceed his mandate if he ventured into the financial affairs of Trump or his family;

— One way to kill the Mueller probe would be for Trump to fire Sessions, name an acting AG who could then cut Mueller’s budget and starve the investigation to death.

And so on, and so on, and so on….

Whitaker has other baggage. Beginning in October 2014, he was an advisory board member for a scam company that the federal government shut down in May 2017. The FBI still has an active criminal investigation on the company. If Whitaker keeps his job as head of the Justice Department, he’ll be in ultimate charge of all DOJ agencies, including the FBI.

And for the lawyers in the audience, Whitaker thinks Marbury v. Madison — the seminal case establishing the federal courts’ power to review the constitutionality of legislation — is a “bad ruling.” He also said “good judges” follow the New Testament.

As for whether he’ll remain in the position that he nominally holds, a bipartisan group of lawyers and legal scholars — including Kellyanne Conway‘s husband — insists that his appointment is unconstitutional.

America Has a Whitaker Problem

Reportedly, Whitaker has already told aides that, even though the DOJ’s ethics experts should review Whitaker’s conflicts of interest and admitted biases, he will not recuse himself from the Mueller’s probe.


Here’s what CNN reported last week:

“‘He’s political to his core,’ a friend said of Whitaker.

“Several GOP officials in Iowa who have known Whitaker for a long time say they were surprised by his shift in the Trump era. He was a George W. Bush loyalist — named a former US attorney in Iowa under Bush — but like many others, he has become a big admirer of Trump along the way.

“‘He worships him,’ a longtime friend said of Whitaker and Trump.”

American democracy’s alarm bells are blaring. This is not a drill.

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

OCTOBER 2014: Whitaker Participates in GOP Assault on Democrats; Involved in Scam Company

NOV. 4, 2014: Clovis Loses Bid to Become Iowa State Treasurer

AUGUST 2015: Trump-Pecker Deal To Silence Women

JULY 5, 2016: Whitaker Says He Would Have Indicted Clinton

AUG. 4, 2016: Stone Talks About WikiLeaks’ Impending Releases

OCT. 3-4, 2016: Stone and Bannon Discuss WikiLeaks and Raising ‘$$$’

OCT. 26, 2016: Cohen Signs Non-Disclosure Agreement With Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels) (revision of previous entry)

MARCH 3, 2017: Whitaker Says Trump-Russia Conspiracy ‘Crazy’

JUNE 21, 2017: Whitaker Says ‘No Collusion’

JULY 10, 2017: Whitaker Defends Don Jr.’s Trump Tower Meeting; Gets Trump’s Attention

JULY 26, 2017: Whitaker Outlines Strategy For Killing Mueller Probe

AUG. 6, 2017: Whitaker: Mueller Investigation ‘Going Too Far’; Tweet ‘To Trump Lawyers’

AUG. 7, 2017: Whitaker Fears Mueller ‘Fishing Expedition’

SEPT. 22, 2017: Whitaker Becomes Sessions’ Chief of Staff, West Wing’s ‘Eyes and Ears’ at DOJ

SEPT. 7, 2018: Credico Appears Before Mueller’s Grand Jury; Corsi Initially Bows Out, But Appears Two Weeks Later (revision of previous entry)

OCT. 11, 2018: Trump: ‘Matt Whitaker’s a Great Guy… I Know Him”

DURING THE WEEK OF OCT. 22, 2018: Mueller Reports Pay-Off Scheme to FBI

OCT. 23, 2018: Trump: I ‘Probably Will‘ Meet With Putin in Paris on November 10-11 (revision of previous entry)

OCT. 26, 2018: Mueller Questions Bannon About Stone

NOV 2, 2018: Kremlin: Putin and Trump to Meet at G-20 in Buenos Aires

NOV. 5-11, 2018: Trump Says He Won’t Meet With Putin In Paris; Kremlin Disagrees; They Meet

NOV. 6, 2018: Election Day: Rohrabacher Loses; Democrats Win House; Republicans Keep Senate

NOV. 7, 2018: Trump Tweets About Mueller ‘Witch Hunt’

NOV. 7, 2018: Trump Fires Sessions; Whitaker Becomes Acting AG

NOV. 9, 2018: Trump: ‘I Don’t Know Matt Whitaker’; Didn’t Discuss Mueller Probe With Him, Russia ‘Hoax’

NOV. 9, 2018: Court Wants Briefs on Impact of Whitaker Replacing Sessions

NOV. 9, 2018: Trump Defends Whitaker


Three domestic white supremacist terror attacks on America in three days. Future historians may view these events as early shots in the nation’s Second Civil War. If so, Trump is supplying the ammunition.

Future historians may also ask why Trump would do that.

Here’s a lead for them to pursue: Trump’s scorched-democracy strategy may be his only path to surviving the Trump-Russia probe. Trump’s biographers — especially those who have gotten to know him and his techniques best, including Tim O’Brien and David Cay Johnston — have warned that Trump will do anything to survive.


That is exactly what we are seeing in real time.

Lost in the Shuffle

On Thursday, Oct. 25, a white supremacist attacked in Louisville, Kentucky. Gregory Bush, an armed, 51-year-old white man, tried to enter a black church. Locked doors stopped him. His consolation prize became two innocent black senior citizens at the nearby Kroger supermarket.

Trump’s response: silence.

Then two more prominent attacks swamped the episode.

“On Both Sides…”

On Friday, Oct. 26, federal authorities arrested the suspected MAGAbomber. Another middle-aged white male, Cesar Sayoc, was accused of sending pipe bombs to Trump’s most prominent rhetorical targets, including Hillary Clinton and CNN.

When the bombs began arriving two days earlier, Trump responded initially by echoing the “false flag” hypothesis that his most ardent supporters were pushing: This was an attempt by Democrats to rob him of media coverage going into the midterms. Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Lou Dobbs, Geraldo Rivera. Donald Trump Jr., and others suggested variously that: 1) liberals and/or Democratic operatives were behind the plot; 2) the bombs were “fake” (they weren’t according to FBI Director Christoper Wray); and/or 3) the whole thing was an elaborate hoax.

Then came the truth: Sayoc is a fanatical Trump supporter. At a Trump rally last year, he held up a “CNN sucks” sign. When asked about the accused attacker, Trump said: “I heard he was a person who prefers me over others, but I did not see that.”

Trump refused to answer a reporter’s follow-up question: Does he disavow Sayoc’s support? But the answer came less than two days later when Trump led rally crowds cheering “CNN sucks” and “Lock her up.”

“If There Was An Armed Guard…”

On Saturday, Oct. 27, another domestic terrorist killed eleven worshippers at Pittsburgh’s oldest synagogue. Shortly before he attacked, 46-year-old Robert Bowers railed against the “migrant caravan” — a favorite Trump midterm campaign theme — and the role of Jews who were bringing in immigrants determined to destroy America.

“If there was an armed guard inside the temple, they would have been able to stop him,” Trump told reporters as he boarded a flight to rallies in Indiana and Illinois. Most telling of all: Trump didn’t cancel his campaign rallies.

Method, Not Madness

Trump understands the impact of his words, especially on his most ardent and psychologically fragile followers. Those words are no longer dog whistles; they’re bullhorns summoning the lesser angels of human nature. When Trump boasts that he’s a “nationalist” and talks about good people “on both sides” of hate crimes — drawing a false moral equivalence between the perpetrators and their victims — he knows exactly what he’s saying and to whom he is saying it. He uses words as bullets, and he knows when he’s pulling the trigger.

Remember when Trump said, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?”

Well, right now, he has aimed the gun at the heart of American democracy.

Now What?

Trump the predator has made what was once the Republican party his host species. As a result, for the past two years he has functioned without any legislative check on his power.

On November 6, that must change. Vote for a Democrat. Any Democrat. A single Democratically-controlled house of Congress won’t solve the nation’s Trump problem. That will take generations. But it’s a start. And if we don’t start somewhere, well…

Vote. On November 6, just vote.

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

JAN. 6, 2018: Stone Says He’s Urging Pardon for Assange

OCT. 22, 2018: Bolton Says Russian Election Interference Had No Impact

OCT. 23, 2018: Trump Blasts Cohen Over Tapes

OCT. 23, 2018: Trump: I ‘Probably Will‘ Meet With Putin in November

OCT. 25-26, 2018: House Republicans Interview Papadopoulos; Papadopoulos Has Second Thoughts About Plea Deal, Seeks Immunity from Senate

OCT. 26, 2018: White House Formally Invites Putin to Washington


Vile intent + Trump’s incompetent government + Fox News = unspeakable tragedy.

That’s the equation for the latest developments in the family separation saga and Trump’s related immigration demagoguery.

More Kidnapped Kids? Now?

In an Oct. 25 court filing, the Department of Health and Human Services admitted that it has “found” another 14 kids who should be recategorized as “possible children” separated from their parents at the border. According to Trump’s government, the total number has now risen from 2,654 to 2,668.

If Democrats gain control of just a single house of Congress, a real investigation will reveal the truth. When that happens, expect that number to go up.

Reunification Is No Panacea

Of course, reunification after weeks or months of separation doesn’t undo the damage. For example, after a three-month separation from her parents, a two-year-old girl from Honduras appeared in a federal immigration court where an attorney on her behalf requested voluntary return to her home country.

Two weeks later, she and seven other separated children arrived at San Pedro Sula airport. She greeted her mother with a blank stare. No smile of recognition. Nothing.

There Is No Bottom, But There Is Violence

Meanwhile, Trump politicizes the immigration issue, calling the upcoming election the “caravan-Kavanaugh” midterms. He’s sending thousands of US troops to the southern border to deal with what he describes as an “invasion” by refugees. To do what, exactly? The answer: Serve as props in Trump’s latest publicity stunt.

Under the Posse Comitatus Act, it’s unlawful to deploy the US military for domestic law enforcement purposes. (As for Trump’s assertion that he’ll issue an executive order declaring that children of illegal immigrants born in the US are not citizens, ignore him. The US Constitution’s 14th Amendment stands in his way.)

Trump supporters at Fox & Friends have followed his lead, describing the threat as migrants who may be carrying “diseases.” “They will infect Americans,” Fox’s guests proclaim, rattling off an absurd list: leprosy (almost zero cases in the migrants’ South American countries of origin), smallpox (no evidence of that anywhere in the world), and tuberculosis (the US already has cases of those).

When Fake News Is Really Fake — and Deadly

In the deranged mind of the Pittsburgh synagogue killer, Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric intersected with his immigration policy to produce tragic consequences. On social media, Robert Bowers had railed against the “migrant caravan” and the role of Jews in bringing immigrants to America. And then he gunned down 11 unarmed Jews during a worship service.

Where would Bowers get such a nonsensical idea? Try Fox News. For weeks, the “Jews funding migrant caravan” theme has been a network staple. In particular, Fox has joined Alex Jones’ Infowars and other far-right voices linking George Soros, a prominent Jew, to the caravan.

Only two days before the synagogue attack, Fox News’ Lou Hobbs interviewed Chris Farrell, Judicial Watch’s director of investigations and research. Farrell talked about the migrant caravan, saying, “A lot of these folks have affiliates that are getting money from the Soros-occupied State Department.”

Hours after the shooting, Fox rebroadcast the interview.

In a tweet, Dobbs — who attacks Soros regularly — had also ridiculed news coverage of pipe bombs sent to 14 prominent Trump critics: “Fake news – Fake bombs. Who could possibly benefit by so much fakery?” When a fanatical Trump supporter became the prime suspect in that attack, Dobbs deleted the tweet.

Where else might Bowers have heard the lies that motivated him? Try congressional Republicans. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) questioned whether Soros was funding the caravan; Fox News dutifully reported it.

And last week, George Soros was one of the pipe-bomber’s intended victims.

Vote. On November 6, just vote.


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


After six months, how many kids are still in federal custody because Trump’s government deported their parents?

Answer: 50

Meanwhile, in an emergency motion last week, the ACLU said that the government is dragging its feet on a proposed settlement that would allow separated families to pursue their international human rights to seek asylum: “Over 40 detained families decided to accept removal — instead of receive due process — because they simply could not wait in detention any longer.”

No Defense? Try Distraction, Lies, and Offense

Lacking any coherent response to this ongoing crisis that Trump created, he is deploying three characteristically Trump strategies: distraction, lies, and “offense is the best defense.” As a 7,000-person caravan makes its way north from Central America. Trump is using a barrage of lies to demonize them and blame Democrats:

Trump has even made the absurd claims that Democrats had somehow organized the caravan and were banking on its arrival before Election Day so participants could vote for Democrats. Of course, no such asylum-seekers could vote because they would not be US citizens. But it’s a safe bet that some of his fans now believe Trump’s big lies. They also believe his unsupported assertion that the caravan includes terrorists from the Middle East.

The Height of Cynicism

It’s worse than politics, as The Hill reports; “Republicans have found themselves playing defense on immigration since June following the outcry over Trump’s policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the border.

“GOP strategists, citing internal polls, were concerned the family separations would harm Republican candidates, particularly among female voters. Many now see the caravan issue as a midterm blessing, one that could shift the debate away from a humanitarian focus and back to questions of national security and US sovereignty.”

Kids Held Hostage Day 169.

On Nov. 6, vote to make it stop. Otherwise it won’t.

The whole world is watching. If the American people get this one wrong, the immediate impact will be profound and the judgment of history will be harsh.

It should be.



No one can accuse the Trump administration of learning from its mistakes. On Oct. 12, 2018, The Washington Post reported that Trump was considering another family separation policy. When reporter Phil Rucker asked him about it, Trump said that he thinks the initial family separation policy deterred illegal border crossings, so Trump is “looking at everything.”

Everything, that is, except the facts surrounding human tragedies that his policies have already produced.

How Bad Can This Situation Get?

Pretty bad. For example:

— Trump’s government asked a five-year-old child to sign away her rights to a bond hearing that would have reviewed her custody situation.

— Trump’s government is sending children back to their home countries without alerting family members that they’re on the way. A four-year-old was left at a reunification center in Guatemala with no one to pick her up.

— Trump’s government is expanding detention camps for undocumented and unaccompanied migrant teenagers:

“The tent city that the federal government operates at the Tornillo border station about 35 miles southeast of El Paso on the Mexico border was built in June as a temporary home for a few hundred migrant children. Four months later, it has rapidly expanded and has nearly quadrupled in size,” according to The New York Times.

Because the shelter is on federal property, it is not licensed by Texas child welfare officials and does not have to adhere to the same regulations that other traditional migrant youth shelters must follow to maintain their state licensing.

Ripple Effects of a Vile Policy

“Most of the children at Tornillo are waiting for the results of FBI checks on their potential sponsors,” the Times reports “The children cannot be released to the sponsors until fingerprinting and criminal background checks are completed.”

“Indeed, such newly introduced requirements, like the need for sponsors to provide their fingerprints and those of other adults in their households, have delayed even the clearest sponsorship applications, like those brought by parents. Immigration enforcement authorities have also begun using the fingerprints to arrest applicants — most of whom are undocumented immigrants themselves — which has kept some potential sponsors from coming forward.”

Tax Dollars At Work

The Times continues, “Housing children in Tornillo costs about three times as much as placement in a traditional shelter, according to government figures. Mr. [Mark A.] Weber, [a spokesman for] Health and Human Services, could not provide a figure of the total cost to establish and run the tent city. But he said that standard shelter beds cost $250 per day, and temporary emergency shelter beds cost $775 a day.”

The Trump Party on Congress — formerly known as the GOP — remains complicit in what history will mark as one of the great tragedies in modern history. On November 6, the process of redeeming America’s soul must begin.


Shortly after Rick Gates‘ plea agreement in February 2018, I appeared on MSNBC’s “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” to discuss its implications. I suggested that Gates could be a far bigger problem for Trump than Paul Manafort (assuming Manafort eventually flipped, too). The reason: After Manafort resigned from the Trump campaign in August 2016, Gates remained — all the way through the transition. Gates could provide continuity in telling the Trump-Russia story that Manafort could not. And Trump does not want that story told.

An earlier post highlighted some of the entries that emerge when applying the Rick Gates name filter to the Trump-Russia Timeline. He intersects with several key players in the story: Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) (“Putin’s Favorite Congresman”), Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., George Papadopoulos, Brad Parscale (Trump’s 2016 campaign digital director, now manager of Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign), Oleg Deripaska (Russian oligarch), and the NRA, to name a few.

Last week, another piece of the Gates-related narrative emerged. Within days of joining the Trump campaign in March 2016, Gates solicited proposals from Psy-Group (an Israeli company) to create fake online identities, use social media manipulation, and gather intelligence that would help defeat Trump’s Republican primary opponents and Hillary Clinton. In August 2016, Psy-Group’s owner, who had previously worked with Oleg Deripaska and Dmitry Rybolovlev (another Russian oligarch who had bought Trump’s Florida mansion for more than twice what Trump had paid for it three years earlier; check out the Deripaska and Rybolovlev name filter entries on the Timeline), met with Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower.

Curiouser and curiouser.

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

MARCH 30-31, 2016: Gates Seeks Proposals For Social Medial Manipulation Campaign

AUG. 3, 2016: Don Jr. Meets With Emissary From Saudi Arabia and UAE (revision of previous entry)

FEB. 20, 2017: Russian Ambassador to UN Dies Suddenly

FEB. 16, 2018: Grand Jury Indicts Internet Research Agency and Russian Nationals; Pinedo Plea Agreement Released (revision of previous entry)

OCT. 8, 2018: Hicks Joins Fox

OCT. 8, 2018: Rosenstein Gets Reprieve

OCT. 11, 2018: Simpson Reaffirms Refusal to Testify

OCT. 14, 2018: Trump on 60 Minutes: Blasts Sessions; Denies Collusion; Equivocates on Whether He’ll Shut Down Mueller