From Russia to Trump

Graft Timeline

Originally posted 29 January, 2017. Last revised: 12 February, 2017.

2013
Michael Flynn, then director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, travels to Moscow, where he becomes the second DIA director to be invited into the headquarters of Russia’s military intelligence directorate, known as the GRU, although he will later boast that he was the first. “‘Flynn thought he developed some rapport with the GRU chief,’ a former senior U.S. military official said.”

18 June, 2013
Trump announces, via Twitter, that Miss Universe will be held in Moscow. “Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant,” he tweets. “[I]f so, will he become my new best friend?”

June, 2013
Trump claims to have a relationship with Putin, in an interview with NBC. “I do have a relationship and I can tell you that he’s very interested in what we’re doing here today.”

9 November, 2013
Trump is in Moscow for the Miss Universe beauty pageant.

18 March, 2014
Russia annexes the Crimea.

March/April 2014
The US imposes economic sanctions on Russia as a consequence of its invasion of Ukraine.

10 October 2014
Sanctions scuttle a deal between Russia and Exxon that would have netted Putin an estimated $500 billion. While CEO of Exxon, Rex Tillerson signs a deal with Russia to drill in the Arctic; for this, he receives the Order of Friendship by Vladimir Putin. The Arctic project is scuttled on October 10, 2014, after the sanctions imposed on Russia by the U.S. government. At the time, Exxon has discovered a new field with an estimated 750 million barrels of oil.

December 2015
Disgraced former general Michael Flynn gives a talk at a gala for RT, the Russian state-owned network, and is paid by the Kremlin. He sits next to Putin at the dinner, at the same table with Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

21 March, 2016
In an interview with the Washington Post, Donald Trump lists among his foreign policy team “Carter Page, PhD.” Speculation is that Page was recommended by Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions. Notably, Trump does not list Michael Flynn among his advisers.

22 March, 2016
The New York Times runs a story on Trump’s no-name foreign adviser team, explaining that Carter Page is “a managing partner at Global Energy Capital, who will be advising Mr. Trump on energy policy and Russia.” Another managing partner is Sergei Millian, founder of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce, who claimed to be the exclusive broker for Trump real estate ventures in Russia. Millian is reported to be “Source E” in the Steele dossier.

30 March, 2016
Carter Page gives an interview to Bloomberg, which reports: “In Russia, Page developed relationships with executives at Gazprom, the former Soviet gas ministry that was partially privatized in the 1990s. By the time Page arrived, Putin was consolidating his grip on the country’s economy, and in 2005 the government boosted its stake so that it again owned a majority of the stock. Page says he advised Gazprom on its largest deals during this period, such as buying of a stake in the Sakhalin oil and gas field in the Sea of Okhotsk. He also helped the company court Western investors, assisting in setting up the first regular meetings with shareholders in New York and London. Before he moved back to New York in 2007, he says, many of its top officials showed up at his going-away party, at a restaurant near the Kremlin.”

May/June 2016
Michael Flynn‘s name is bandied about as a possible “Dark Horse” choice for Trump’s VP.

19 July, 2016
In his intelligence report, Christopher Steele reports on a meeting between Donald Trump foreign affairs adviser Carter Page and the head of Russian state oil company Rosneft Igor Sechin, a “Putin close associate and US-sanctioned individual”—that is, someone personally blacklisted by the U.S. government. Sechin “raised with Page the issues of future bilateral energy cooperation and prospects for an associated move to lift Ukraine-related Western sanctions against Russia.” Page reacted positively to the discussions, Steele reports. (Steele dossier, p. 9).

18 August, 2016
Paul Manafort resigns from chairman of the Trump campaign after the Ukrainian government’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau claimed to have found handwritten records that show $12.7 million in cash payments designated for Manafort, who was adviser to Viktor Yanukovych. The pro-Putin Yanukovych was removed from power in February of 2014, is currently in exile in Russia, and is wanted by Ukraine for high treason.

23 September, 2016
Writing for Politico Magazine, Julia Ioffe, a reporter with long experience covering Russia, reports that none of her sources had ever heard of Carter Page, including Bill Browder. “(“I can poll any number of people involved in energy in Russia about Carter Page and they’ll say, ‘Carter who? You mean Jimmy Carter?’” says one veteran Western investor in Russian energy.)” Her conclusion is that Page is less a legit adviser than a nebbish who wound up on a list of potential advisers by accident and sought to capitalize on the mistake.

18 October, 2016
In his intelligence report, Steele reveals more information about the summer rendezvous between Trump foreign affairs advisor Carter Page and Igor Sechin, a Putin ally on the US sanctions list. “[T]he Rosneft company president was so keen to lift personal and corporate [W]estern sanctions imposed on the company that he offered PAGE/TRUMP’s associates the brokerage of up to a 19 percent (privatized) stake in Rosneft in return. PAGE had expressed interest and confirmed that were TRUMP elected US president, then sanctions on Russia would be lifted.” (Steele dossier, p. 30)

31 October, 2016
The New York Times runs a story with the headline “Investigating Donald Trump, FBI Sees No Clear Link to Russia.” The story is misleading.

7 December, 2016
Putin and Igor Sechin, head of Russian oil giant Rosneft, announce a plan to privatize 19.5% of the company. The price is 10.2 billion euros. The brokerage commission of the sale is, conservatively, a hundred million euros.

8 December, 2017
Carter Page meets with Rosneft senior executives in Moscow.

12 December, 2017
Carter Page gives a controversial lecture in Moscow. Ivan Nechepurenko, a correspondent for the New York Times, tweets: “U.S. government might have deliberately orchestrated cyberattacks to make it look as though they were coming from Russia, Carter Page says.”

Ex-Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson is nominated to be Secretary of State.

29 December 2016
President Obama imposes still more sanctions against Russia, as retribution for its attempts to undermine the US election. Michael Flynn, a Trump surrogate who will be named national security adviser, continues his on-going conversations conversations with the Russian ambassador. Flynn denies sanctions were ever discussed, as does Vice President-Elect Mike Pence.

30 December 2017
Putin responds by trolling Obama on social media, and inviting the families of American diplomats to his holiday party. He says he will delay any further response. Trump tweets his approval: “Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!”

10 January, 2017
After a CNN report alludes to the Steele report, Buzzfeed publishes the Steele dossier in its entirety.

11 January, 2017
Trump says that the Steele dossier is “all fake news . . . It’s phony stuff. It didn’t happen.” The media focuses almost entirely on the “golden shower” detail. Spokesman Sean Spicer says of Carter Page, who is mentioned by name in the dossier: “Carter Page is an individual who[m] the president-elect does not know and was put on notice months ago by the campaign.”

13 January, 2017
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump suggests that Russian sanctions could be lifted if Russia proves an ally.

20 January, 2017
Donald Trump is inaugurated president of the United States. The New York Times reports that the FBI, CIA, National Security Agency and the Treasury Department are investigating possible links between Russian officials and Trump campaign associates, namely Paul Manafort, Carter Page, Michael Flynn, and Roger Stone, a longtime Trump adviser.

The New York Times‘ public editor explains the inaccuracies and bad reporting in the October 31 article “Investigating Donald Trump, FBI Sees No Clear Link to Russia.” The Times knew more than it was willing to print.

25 January, 2017
Reuters reports that a month after the Rosneft deal, it is still not clear who exactly purchased the 19.5% stake in the Russian state oil company.

27 January, 2017
In advance of the planned called between President Trump and President Putin, which the latter announced on Russian TV, Kellyanne Conway confirms that the lifting of the Russian sanctions is a possibility. “All of that is under consideration,” she says.

Meanwhile, Business Insider reports that “the privatization deal was funded by Gazprombank, whose parent company is the state-owned Russian energy giant Gazprom.”

28 January, 2017
President Trump and President Putin speak on the phone for the first time. Neither mention that sanctions are explicitly discussed, although the subject is hinted at.

1 February, 2017
Russian troops begin to shell eastern Ukraine, escalating the Crimea conflict. Trump makes no comment on this.

2 February, 2017
Trump begins to lift sanctions on Russia, starting with the FSB/intelligence service—the very arm of the Russian government thought to have perpetrated the election hacks.

9 February 2017
The Washington Post reports that nine (nine!) current and former US officials claim that Michael Flynn did, in fact, discuss sanctions with the Russian ambassador in a series of conversations in November and December.

10 February 2017
News outlets report that the Steele dossier is “gaining credibility with law enforcement.”