Is Russiagate as big as Watergate? One thing is certain: The truth is out there, to quote just one T-shirt. Amid all the chaotic struggles and cataclysmic disasters that dominate the news cycle, Robert Mueller’s investigation of the ties between Donald Trump’s presidential run and Russia is forging ahead, as inevitable as the tide. Mueller has already seated two grand juries, one in Virginia and one in Washington D.C. The consensus seems to be that the grand juries point to the inevitable endgame in which more than one person will be indicted from this investigation eventually.
If Trump and his team are not guilty of collusion with Russia, then a stunning number of actions on their part over the past year are impossible to explain. Here are events and actions by Trump and his staff which defy all logic, unless they came out of an intent to use Russian influence to sway American Democracy:
#1: Why did Trump fire FBI Director James Comey?
James Comey, while investigating the ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, was fired May 9th, 2017, in a news event that casts a long shadow over the Trump administration even now. Official White House statements initially claimed that Trump fired Comey based on recommendations from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, centering on Comey’s alleged botched handling of a Clinton investigation and claims the FBI was in “turmoil.” Later Trump himself contradicted these stories, most notably in a May 11th interview with NBC News, where Trump admits he was going to fire Comey regardless of recommendation, and that it was over “this Russia thing.” Later Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee citing numerous incidents where Trump attempted to persuade Comey to drop his investigations into Russia ties.
#2: Why did Trump fire Acting Attorney General Sally Yates?
Sally Yates, Acting Attorney General, was one of the first to blow the whistle on National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s ties to foreign influence and the first career casualty of the Trump administration. The official White House statement claimed Yates was fired for opposing Trump’s Muslim travel ban. Yates would go on to likewise testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee, pointing out that her concerns that Flynn was compromised were never honored.
#3: Why did Trump tweet threats against both Comey and Yates when they were scheduled to testify before the Senate?
Hours before both Senate hearings for Yates and Comey, Donald Trump posted cryptic tweets which could amount to attempts at witness intimidation:
Ask Sally Yates, under oath, if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers soon after she explained it to W.H. Counsel.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2017
James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2017
This second tweet led James Comey to utter the famous phrase before the Senate “Lordy, I hope there are tapes,” which spawned its own Internet meme.
#4: Why did Michael Flynn offer to testify in exchange for immunity?
When Michael Flynn was forced to resign after his numerous shady dealings with foreign countries came to the fore, Flynn made the shocking jump to offering to testify in exchange for immunity. In his attorney’s words, Flynn “certainly has a story to tell.” In Michael Flynn’s own words, immunity “means you probably committed a crime.” To this day, we still do not know all of that story Flynn has to tell. Various investigative bodies seem to be confident that they can find out everything without Flynn’s cooperation, and they’d rather have the door open to prosecuting Flynn.
#5: Why is Carter Page now refusing to testify before the Senate?
Trump Foreign Policy Advisor Carter Page is the darling star of the infamous Steele Dossier, as an alleged courier between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Page has spent the time since then just about doing somersaults to flip-flop on his degree of cooperation with the investigation. First he said he would testify. Now he won’t and will ask for immunity. He also denies that he refused to testify. And that’s not mentioning the lawsuit he’s filed against the Steele Dossier claiming slander. Which may be a tough charge to prove since the FBI has had a FISA warrant to monitor Page’s activity all this time.
#6: Why did Jared Kushner try to set up a back-channel with Russia?
Jared Kushner, whose sole point of qualification for working on the taxpayer dime right now is that he’s the son-in-law of Donald Trump, failed to disclose countless Russian ties and contacts on his security clearance applications. Since then we keep finding out more things Kushner didn’t tell us, including his personal email account, his investments with Goldman Sachs, and, most shockingly, his attempt to set up a back-channel phone line with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Calls for Kushner to step down have so far gone unheeded, even from Trump’s own legal team.
#7: What happened at the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Don Jr. and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya?
The June 9th Trump Tower meeting has become so notorious that it gets its own Wikipedia page. After the story broke, initial claims were that the meeting was to discuss nothing but Russian adoption policies. It’s since become apparent that Trump’s son Don Jr., Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort attended, and the meeting was arranged, according to the infamous “I love it” email exchange, to share dirt on opponent Clinton.
#8: Why hasn’t Trump enacted any of the Russian sanctions directed by the Congressional bill?
Back in August of 2017, Trump was all but held at gunpoint by Congress to sign a new bill enacting further sanctions against Russia. He did, but Trump and his White House staff loudly protested the bill to anyone who would listen. Trump has since blown off the deadline to enact the sanctions. Oddly enough, he seems to not have gotten around to it.
#9: Why did the FBI raid Paul Manafort?
Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort could generate a list of twenty questions all by himself, if not a book or two. But the FBI no-knock raid on Manafort’s home is as good a place to start as any...
Manafort himself has been the subject of so many charges and allegations that it turns out over eleven years of activity is being investigated just to address the scope of it. Manafort was also the subject of an FBI FISA warrant that even included secretly wiretapping him, both before and after the election. We haven’t come close to finding out everything that raised suspicions about Manafort, so we’ll have to wait for it to come out in court. But the words of his own daughter, calling her father’s earnings “blood money,” are chilling.
#10: Why did Mike Pence ignore warnings on Michael Flynn’s foreign connections?
Along with the rest of the issues everyone seemed to be raising to everyone else about Michael Flynn, Mike Pence was personally warned, yet later denied knowing anything about Flynn. The story around Pence has since prompted the old Watergate meme “What did he know and when did he know it?” That’s because Pence was in charge of the White House transition team when the Trump administration was moving in. If Flynn, Manafort, Trump, and all go down over Russiagate, this ensures that Pence goes down with them.
#11: Why did Jeff Sessions meet with Russian ambassador Kislyak and then lie about it?
At Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Senate confirmation hearing he insisted “I did not have communications with the Russians.” That turned out to not only be false, but caught-on-camera-false:
#12: Why did Russia run an ad and social media campaign to influence the general election?
Most recent news is still developing over Russia’s massive media involvement with the 2016 US election, in YouTube ads, GMail ads, and a Facebook campaign. This turns out not to be a case of a few casual online trolls, but a massive, coordinated propaganda mission.
#13: Why did Devin Nunes try to derail the investigation with his “unmasking” claims, only to be later recused?
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes was caught up in his own investigation by the House Ethics Committee for his numerous attempts to sideline the Russiagate story. He started the great “unmasking” hunt which wasted a lot of energy during the early Senate and House Committee investigations. Nunes has since been forced to recuse himself from involvement in Russia-related investigation matters.
#14: Why did Roger Stone know so much about Wikileaks dumps before they happened?
Trump Campaign Advisor (and Paul Manafort business partner) Roger Stone has a career in politics on the wrong side of history going back to Watergate itself, as a Nixon “dirty trickster.” Throughout the Trump campaign, Stone seemed to have a crystal ball when it came to predicting Wikileaks dumps that would harm the Clinton campaign. It later came out that Stone communicated with Russian hacker “Guccifer 2.0,” which has since been downplayed by Stone and the White House. No matter, Stone is now getting subpoenaed.
#15: Why did Donald Trump repeatedly deny even doing business with Russia on the campaign trail?
Here’s Donald Trump in a David Letterman interview in 2013: “I’ve done a lot of business with the Russians.”
Trump in 2016: What me, Russia? Never heard of them!
Note also that Kelleyanne Conway in this video denies anybody involved in the Trump campaign had any contact with Russians, at all at all. A claim which by now has been blasted to shreds.
#16: Why has Trump put so much pressure on recused Jeff Sessions since Mueller was appointed?
Attorney General Jeff Sessions was once seen as Trump’s closest ally, being the first to endorse his presidential run. But then this course of events has played out: Trump fired Comey, the Justice Department had to replace Comey, they appointed Special Council Robert Mueller (himself a former FBI Director) to take up Russiagate investigations where Comey left off, and Jeff Sessions had to recuse himself from Russiagate matters. This means Trump can’t fire Mueller directly; he’d have to go through Sessions. Since that turn of events, it seems mysterious that Sessions’ name is mud in Trump’s book, to the point that the GOP rises nearly unanimously to his defense.
#17: Why has nothing to date been dis-proven in the Steele Dossier?
The famous Steele Dossier contains startling allegations against Donald Trump and the Trump campaign, now familiar with anyone keeping score in political news. Mueller has since given the report enough weight that he’s even met with the author, former British M16 Intelligence officer and a co-founder of Orbis Business Intelligence. While it’s the hottest point on Republicans’ radar in their desperate bid to discredit it, none of it has so far been proven untrue. You’d think if the 35 pages of information were simply a whopping pack of lies, there’d be something easy in their to prove false. But so far, every word of it has jibed with every step of the investigation and the facts that have been uncovered.
#18: Why has Trump’s administration blown off US Intel warnings of Russian cyberattacks?
While we’re all scratching our heads over the Steele Dossier, there’s an even more credible report that never seems to break the news. Way back at the beginning, the US’s own Director of National Intelligence released a report on “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in recent US Elections,” (full PDF). Among the very clear and urgent findings of the report are items such as...
“Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.”
“We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”
“We assess Moscow will apply lessons learned from its Putin-ordered campaign aimed at the US presidential election to future influence efforts worldwide, including against US allies and their election processes.”
...all of which adds up to a Russian operation to undermine US Democracy and the democracies of the world. Never mind “fake news,” partisan bickering, or trying to verify a British dossier, we have US taxpayer-funded intelligence experts telling us right now that our democracy is under attack. Anybody concerned out there?
#19: Why did Trump deny knowing Felix Sater despite his friendship with Ivanka and Jared and his having offices in Trump Tower?
Felix Sater doesn’t get much press, but he ought to, because he is the eye of the Russiagate storm. Both a member of the Russian Mafia and an FBI informant, Sater, like Trump, is also a real estate developer in New York. His company, Bayrock Group LLC, has had a long-standing business collaboration with Trump that produced Trump SoHo, Trump International Hotel, and other properties. Sater has an office in Trump Tower to this day. Bayrock also partnered with Don Jr. and Ivanka. When Trump signed a letter of intent to build a Trump tower in Moscow, Sater himself responded "Buddy our boy can become President of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putin’s team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.” Sater is so cozy with the whole Trump family that he’s their host whenever they visit Russia. And now we come to the capstone of Trump’s Russian business deals, The Moscow Project:
Trump once stated under oath that he wouldn’t know Felix Sater if he saw him face to face.
#20: Why have so many Trump associates changed their story about Russian collusion?
A continuously developing, daily question.