Jeff is a computer professional who takes a great interest in politics and tries to always distinguish fact from opinion.
Beginning in the summer of 2016, US intelligence agencies found extensive evidence that Russia was working persistently to influence the US presidential election. The specifics of Russia’s interference can be found in an excellent book by Malcolm Nance titled The Plot to Hack America.
More alarming is the multitude of secret contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia while Russia was meddling in our election.
In order to understand all these interwoven threads of the Trump-Russia scandal, this article breaks down those connections and gives links to source materials so you can verify all of this information yourself.
1. Late in 2016, US intelligence agencies confirmed that Vladimir Putin wanted to help Donald Trump win the election.
A declassified report issued by the FBI, CIA and NSA, titled Russia’s Influence Campaign Targeting the 2016 US Presidential Election, stated:
We assess with high confidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election, the consistent goals of which were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.
We also assess Putin and the Russian government aspired to help Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.
2. Trump’s campaign manager spent years working for Vladimir Putin helping elect his chosen candidates in other countries.
In August, 2016, Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, had to resign because he had concealed his years working to install politicians loyal to Russian president Vladimir Putin.
While still receiving money from Russia, Manafort then went to work managing Donald Trump’s campaign at a time when Putin wanted Trump to win the presidency. Oddly, Manafort, who made millions of dollars working for Putin, volunteered to manage Donald Trump's campaign for free.
3. During the 2016 campaign, Paul Manafort gave valuable polling data to the Russians.
Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort lied to prosecutors to hide the fact that he gave polling data to alleged Russian spy Konstantin Kolimnik. Such data would enable the Russians to target the specific people and regions of the country to help sway the election for Trump
4. Donald Trump Jr. responded to an offer of help from Russia by saying "I love it."
When a Russian business partner of Donald Trump sent a message to Donald Trump Jr. that they had information which would be helpful to the Trump campaign in the 2016 election, Donald Trump Jr. responded, “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
This makes it explicitly clear that the Trump campaign was willing and eager to accept help from a foreign, and often hostile, country to win the election.
5. Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner met with a Russian lawyer who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton.
In June of 2016, Donald Trump Jr., Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort, and Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner all met with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower in New York for the purpose of getting damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
After denying for a year that the purpose of the Trump Tower meeting was to get help from the Russians, Donald Trump admitted in a Tweet that the meeting was in fact for the purpose of getting dirt on Hillary Clinton.
6. Donald Trump publicly asked Russia to help him get elected.
In August of 2016, shortly after high level Trump campaign officials met with a Russian attorney to discuss getting dirt on Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump publicly asked Russia to reveal any information they had that could hurt Hillary Clinton and help him win the election. At that same event, Trump said Russia would be “rewarded mightily” for their efforts. In that same speech, he also said he was considering lifting sanctions on Russia.
7. Trump adviser Carter Page had so many suspicious Russian connections that the FBI investigated him long before the 2016 campaign.
One of Donald Trump’s foreign policy advisers, Carter Page, had many business involvements with Russian oil company Gazprom. When Page became Trump’s foreign policy adviser, he began giving pro-Russia policy speeches in Moscow, which resulted in the FBI looking into his activities.
Page also went to Moscow on behalf of the Trump campaign and met with managers of two Russian energy companies.
8. Among his other Russian connections, Carter Page was recruited by Russian Intelligence.
In early 2017, the FBI revealed that Carter Page, Trump’s foreign policy adviser, had been recruited by Russian intelligence agents back in 2013. Page was not indicted by the FBI but he did have extensive contacts with those intelligence agents.
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9. Trump’s campaign changed the Republican Party platform to soften their position on Russia.
In 2016, the Republican Party had a plank in their party platform that was highly critical of Russia’s involvement in Ukraine. After Trump secured the needed delegates to win the Republican nomination, his campaign quietly changed the Republican platform to remove a section that supports Ukraine against Russia.
10. After Mitch McConnell stopped President Obama from revealing Russia’s interference, Trump rewarded McConnell by appointing his wife to his cabinet.
After learning of Russia’s illegal involvement in our presidential election, President Obama met with members of Congress to discuss what they should tell the American public about Russia’s involvement with our election.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell threatened to accuse President Obama of politicizing this information if he went public so Obama held off releasing the information. After McConnell successfully stopped Obama from revealing this information until after the election, Donald Trump appointed McConnell’s wife as Transportation Secretary.
11. Trump adviser Michael Flynn lied about talking to the Russian Ambassador about lifting sanctions on Russia
After the election, President Obama imposed additional sanctions against Russia for interfering with the US presidential election.
On the same day that Obama imposed sanctions against Russia, Trump’s campaign adviser, Michael Flynn, spoke to the Russian ambassador and discussed lifting those sanctions.
Flynn lied when asked about his conversation with the Russian ambassador.
12. Jared Kushner violated National Security policy by creating back channel contacts with Russia while Obama was still president.
Prior to Trump’s inauguration, his son-in-law, Jared Kushner contacted the Russian ambassador to establish back channel communication lines with Russia. This was in violation of National Security policy.
13. Jared Kushner lied on his application for top security clearance by not disclosing his contacts with Russia.
As a top adviser to Donald Trump, Jared Kushner had to apply for top secret security clearance.
When applying for his security clearance, Kushner, failed to disclose dozens of contacts he’d had with foreign governments including Russia. This type of omission is usually more than enough to get someone’s security clearance revoked. However, Kushner continues to have top level security clearance.
14. Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, lied to Congress about his ties to Russia.
During his Senate confirmation hearing, Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, lied to Congress when he said under oath that he had not met with anyone from Russia. In fact, he had met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. While it was not illegal for Sessions to meet with Kislyak, it was illegal to lie to Congress about it.
Strangely enough, Sessions had not even been asked during his hearings if he had met with any Russians. He simply volunteered this false information on his own.
15. Attorney Gen. Jeff Sessions illegally falsified information about his contacts with Russia on his Justice Dept. security application.
Attorney General Jeff sessions did not disclose his contacts with Russia when he applied for his security clearance with the Justice Department. Such an omission of information on a security application should be more than enough reason for him to be fired. When you consider both this illegal omission of information and the fact that he lied to Congress under oath, it is difficult to understand how he can be allowed to continue as United States Attorney General.
16. Trump’s National Security Adviser had to resign for lying about his contacts with the Russian ambassador.
Trump’s National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had to resign when it was publicly revealed that he had lied about his contacts with the Russian ambassador. It was later revealed that Flynn was a paid adviser for Russia. After Flynn’s lies were made public, he was forced to resign just 24 days into the Trump administration.
Flynn later invoked the 5th Amendment and refused to answer questions about his involvement with Russia unless he received immunity from prosecution. Ironically, Flynn had famously said at the Republican Convention that anyone who invoked the 5th Amendment or sought immunity had to be guilty of a crime.
Ultimately, Flynn plead guilty to lying to the FBI and agreed to cooperate with the Russia investigation.
17. Trump adviser Michael Flynn lied to the Pentagon about his Russian contacts when he renewed his security clearance in 2016.
Mike Flynn misled Pentagon investigators about his income from Russian companies and about his contacts with Russian officials when he applied for a renewal of his top-secret security clearance. Flynn also failed to disclose that he was a foreign agent lobbying on behalf of Turkey while he was working for the Trump campaign.
18. Trump’s first Secretary of State had major business interests in Russia which represent a huge conflict of interest.
Donald Trump appointed Rex Tillerson, the head of ExxonMobil, as secretary of State. Tillerson’s company stands to make billions of dollars if US sanctions on Russia were lifted and they were allowed to proceed with their oil production contracts with Russian companies.
Tillerson has a huge personal incentive to lift those sanctions.
19. Trump revealed classified information to the Russians and likely exposed sources of secret US intelligence.
In early May, 2017, Trump shared highly classified information with the Russian foreign minister that likely exposed top secret sources of US intelligence. Trump spokesmen first denied, then acknowledged the leak of classified intelligence and gave differing explanations of the extent of information shared.
A few days later, Trump publicly revealed that the classified information came from Israeli intelligence, which could have endangered Israeli intelligence assets.
20. Trump committed obstruction of Justice by firing the FBI Director to thwart the Russia investigation.
By Trump’s own admission, he fired FBI Director James Comey over the Russia investigation. Trump even bragged to Russian officials in the Oval office that pressure has been taken off of him since he fired FBI Director Comey.
Trump asked for a pledge of personal loyalty from FBI Director, James Comey. It wasn’t long after Comey refused that he was fired.
21. Donald Trump’s new FBI Director worked for a law firm representing Russian oil companies and would profit if US sanctions on Russia are lifted.
Christopher Wray, Donald Trump’s nominee for FBI Director, works at a law firm that represents the same Russian oil company that had a $500 billion oil drilling venture with Exxon-Mobil when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was its CEO.
Each of the companies stand to make large profits if US sanctions against Russia are lifted, as Trump has hinted he will do.
22. Trump made a $60 million profit when a Russian friend of Vladimir Putin bought his house in Florida.
A few years before becoming president, powerful Russian businessman (and friend of Vladimir Putin) Dmitry Rybolovlev bought a house in Florida from Trump for $100 million, which was $60 million more that Trump paid for that same property just 2 years earlier.
Because he paid such an outlandish price for the property, Rybolovlev stands virtually no realistic chance of making a profit or breaking even on this investment.
23. Trump appointed the banker who brokered his $100 million deal as his Secretary of Commerce.
Wilber Ross was the banker who handled the questionable transaction between Donald Trump and Russian businessman Dmitry Rybolovlev. Trump has now appointed Ross to be his Secretary of Commerce.
24. Ex-CIA Director John Brennan said the multitude of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia justifies a further investigation by Congress.
Former CIA Director John Brennan told House Russia investigators that Russia brazenly interfered in US elections, including actively contacting members of President Donald Trump's campaign.
25. Trump has frequently contradicted himself and changed his story about how well he knows Vladimir Putin.
Since announcing his campaign for the presidency, Donald Trump often contradicted himself, alternately claiming to know Vladimir Putin quite well and having a good relationship with him, then claiming that he did not know Putin and had no relationship at all with him.
26. Another Trump campaign adviser pled guilty to lying to the FBI about the campaign’s ties to Russia.
A foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump during the campaign, George Papadopoulos, had contacted a Russian known as “The Professor” (yes, seriously), in order to obtain information harmful to Hillary Clinton. Papadopoulos initially lied to the FBI about these contacts. In October, 2017, he pled guilty to lying to the FBI in order to get his cooperation with the Russia investigation.
27. President Trump fired both his Secretary of State and his National Security Adviser right after they criticized Russia
On March 12, 2018, for the first time in his tenure as Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson issued a scathing criticism of Russia for their involvement in the murder of a private citizen in Great Britain. Within 24 hours, Tillerson was fired by Donald Trump.
On March 15, 2018, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster called for serious action against Russia for their atrocities in Syria. Within hours, sources in the White House said that President Trump was planning to remove McMaster at the NSA. A few days later, Trump announced that John Bolton would replace McMaster as the new National Security Adviser.
28. Trump seized the notes from his interpreter after his private meeting with Putin.
During Trump's private 2017 meeting with Putin, he did not allow the Secretary of State or any diplomats to attend. Only Trump’s Interpreter was present. After the meeting, Trump seized the interpreter's notes so no record of the meeting would exist.
29. Trump’s lawyer tacitly admitted there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
In a CNN interview, Rudy Giuliani claimed he never said there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. He only would say there was “no evidence” that Trump himself conspired with the Russians to hack the DNC computers.
30. Trump's version of the truth has changed repeatedly over a 2 year period.
President Trump's spokes people have changed their story many times since the Russia investigation began. Here’s the progression we’ve seen from Trump and his defenders over the past 2 years.
- “Russia never interfered in the 2016 election.”
- “OK Russia interfered but they didn’t try to help Trump win.”
- “OK Russia interfered to help Trump, but the Trump campaign had no contact with Russia.”
- “OK just one person had contact with Russia but there was no collusion.”
- “OK many Trump people had contacts with Russia but they never lied about their Russian contacts.
- “OK they did lie about their contacts with Russia but they never asked Russia to get dirt on Hillary Clinton.”
- “OK they did ask for dirt on Hillary but they never talked about lifting sanctions on Russia.”
- “OK they did discuss lifting sanctions but they didn’t try to cover it up.”
- "OK they did try to cover it up, but they didn't give Russia any information to help them influence the election so there was no collusion.
- "OK they did give Russia valuable data to help them interfere in our election.
- “OK collusion just isn’t a crime.”
31. Trump adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about the campaign’s ties to Russia.
George Papadopoulos, who served as a foreign policy adviser for Donald Trump, admitted that he lied to the FBI regarding their investigation into the Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Papadopoulos lied about meeting with a Russian official who was offering information about Hillary Clinton to help Trump win the election.
This list will likely continue to grow longer when it is updated with new connections between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Check back here from time to time to see any new discoveries of contacts between Trump and Russia
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.