TrumpRussia: What do we know, when did we know it?


“What did the president know and when did he know it?”

Most people recognize this famous question even if they don’t know it came from  Howard Baker, a Senate Republican and a close friend to then President Richard  Nixon.

What’s forgotten today is Baker thought he was protecting Nixon with that line. He was attempting to wall off the president from the actions of aides who might have done something wrong.

“He evidently meant to exculpate Nixon from prior knowledge of the break-in,” wrote historian Fred Emery in his book “Watergate: The Corruption of American Politics and the Fall of Richard Nixon.”

But Dean turned this question around. Among other things, he charged that Nixon had been involved in discussions about clemency for those who had carried out and organized the break-ins, as well as talks about payoffs. Dean said the president had continued these activities even after he, as White House counsel, had warned his boss of a “cancer” on the presidency.

Nixon had already denied all these things. It was his word against Dean’s. In that standoff the president might well have won the benefit of the doubt from the Senate and the US people.

Then in early July, another Nixon aide revealed to the panel the existence of the White House tapes. A record existed that could prove whether Nixon or Dean was right.

At that point, Baker continued to press, not for Nixon’s advantage, but for the truth. His careful and detailed questioning won him widespread national attention and praise.

The Christian Science Monitor

In the real world an overwhelming amount of verified public evidence suggests the President and all of his men are guilty of conspiring to subvert the rule of law and polls show a majority of Americans believe that Trump has committed a crime.

Consider this January 26, 2018 statement from Dianne Feinstein in which she observes that Trump doesn’t respect the rule of law or the Constitution.

Screenshot of a statement from Dianne Feinstein in which she observes that trump doesn't respect the Constitution or the rule of law.
It’s unfortunate that this president doesn’t respect the Constitution or the rule of law.

Trump’s disdain for the law is such a given it’s as if Feinstein is dishing a bad choice of tie: “…too bad trump needs to have what looks like a long red tongue dangling between his legs. ”

It may be comforting to compare TrumpRussia to Watergate but the two scandals are not alike; Watergate was an attempt to rig an election by stealing documents and illegally recording the DNC; TrumpRussia is an ongoing conspiracy to subvert the government of the United States of America.

If the Watergate Scandal was a cancer on the Presidency, TrumpRussia is a flesh-eating bacteria.

Russian Propaganda is gaslighting; a form of psychological abuse designed to make you doubt what you know.

This timeline covers stories that broke before election day 2016.

So, what do we know about Trump and TrumpRussia?

We knew as early as 2014 that Putin was financing an army of trained propagandists: The Kremlin’s  Troll Army.

Screenshot of Russian propaganda portraying Obama as weak and effete
August 12, 2014 example of Putin’s trolling in an Atlantic Article about Kremlin Trolls


We knew Putin’s army is trained and vicious:

‘Trolling covers a multitude of sins but a particularly nasty strain has emerged in the midst of the armed conflict in Ukraine, which infests comment threads on the Guardian and elsewhere, despite the best efforts of moderators. Readers and reporters alike are concerned that these are from those paid to troll, and to denigrate in abusive terms anyone criticizing Russia or President Vladimir Putin.”

Uk Guardian

Screenshot of the UK Guardian editors note on Pro-Kremlin Trolls
…a particularly nasty strain (of trolling) has emerged in the midst of the armed conflict in Ukraine, which infests comment threads on the Guardian and elsewhere, despite the best efforts of moderators

 

Every day at the Internet Research Agency was essentially the same, Savchuk told me. The first thing employees did upon arriving at their desks was to switch on an Internet proxy service, which hid their I.P. addresses from the places they posted; those digital addresses can sometimes be used to reveal the real identity of the poster. Savchuk would be given a list of the opinions she was responsible for promulgating that day. Workers received a constant stream of “technical tasks” — point-by-point exegeses of the themes they were to address, all pegged to the latest news. Ukraine was always a major topic, because of the civil war there between Russian-backed separatists and the Ukrainian Army; Savchuk and her co-workers would post comments that disparaged the Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, and highlighted Ukrainian Army atrocities. Russian domestic affairs were also a major topic. Last year, after a financial crisis hit Russia and the ruble collapsed, the professional trolls left optimistic posts about the pace of recovery. Savchuk also says that in March, after the opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was murdered, she and her entire team were moved to the department that left comments on the websites of Russian news outlets and ordered to suggest that the opposition itself had set up the murder.  The New York Times, The Agency

 

We knew as early as June 2016 that Putin was using this army of paid propagandists to support Trump’s run for President.

 

June 2016 Politico Graphic of Putin and Trump
We knew in June 2016 that Putin was backing Trump’s run.

 

In August of 2016 we learned that Trump was being sued for fraud:

 

an August 2016 news item reporting that a Judge found evidence to let the lawsuit against Trump University to proceed.
August 2, 2016 Judge Allows suit against Trump University

 

August 2016 we learned that Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was under investigation for his activities in the Ukraine

 

Screenshot of an August 2016 news item reporting that Manafort is under FBI investigation
August 20, 2016 Feds investigate Manafort

“I want to know what money he got from a pro-Russian organization in the Ukraine,” Rep. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Tuesday.

 


In August of 2016 Democratic Senator Harry Reid was so concerned about Russian election tampering he called for an FBI investigation:

 

Screenshot of a News item Dated August 29, 2016, Senator Harry Reid cites evidence of Russian Tampering,
August 29, 2016, Senator Harry Reid cites evidence of Russian Tampering,


In a letter to the F.B.I. Director, James B. Comey Jr., Mr. Reid wrote that the threat of Russian interference “is more extensive than is widely known and may include the intent to falsify official election results.” Recent classified briefings from senior intelligence officials, Mr. Reid said in an interview, have left him fearful that President Vladimir V. Putin’s “goal is tampering with this election.”  The New York Times

In that letter to FBI Director James Comey we learn that former Director of Central Intelligence, Michael Morell viewed Trump as an unwitting agent of Russia and the Kremlin:

Screenshot of August 29, 2016 - Letter from Harry Reid to FBI- regarding Russian Election Tampering
August 29, 2016 – Letter from Harry Reid to FBI- regarding Russian Election Tampering

On October 3, 2016 we hear reports that Putin is trying to compromise Trump:

Screenshot of an excerpt from a letter to Congress from Harry Reid.
October 3, 2016, we learned the FBI was informed that Putin is trying to compromise Trump.

This material is known as the Steele Dossier.

We’ve known since January of 2017 that Christopher Steele’s was first hired by Republicans for opposition research into Trump and later by the Democrats.

This was widely reported.

Fusion GPS had been hired by Republican opponents of Mr Trump in September 2015. In June 2016, Mr Steele came on the team. He was, and continues to be, highly regarded in the intelligence world.

In July, Mr Trump won the Republican nomination and the Democrats became new employers of Mr Steele and Fusion GPS. In the same month, Mr Steele produced a memo, which went to the FBI, stating that Mr Trump’s campaign team had agreed to a Russian request to dilute attention on Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine.

Four days later, Mr Trump stated that he would recognise Moscow’s annexation of Crimea. Officials involved in his campaign had already asked the Republican party’s election platform to remove a pledge for military assistance to the Ukrainian government against separatist rebels in the east of the country.

Mr Steele claimed that the Trump campaign was taking this path because it was aware that the Russians were hacking Democratic Party emails. No evidence of this has been made public, but the same day that Mr Trump spoke about Crimea he called on the Kremlin to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails.  The UK Independent

Screenshot of a story in the Hill, October 13, 2016 report of regarding information connecting the Trump campaign to Moscow
October 13, 2016 report of regarding information connecting the Trump campaign to Moscow

October 12, CNN reports that Federal Law Enforcement officials have reason to
believe Florida’s voting machines were hacked by Russia:

Screenshot of CNN Report that American Law Enforcement think Russia hacked Florida's voting machines
CNN Report that American Law Enforcement think Russia hacked Florida’s voting machines

October 3rd The Access Hollywood Tape is released:

October 12, reports surface that a woman who claims Trump raped her when
she was 13 has a court date:

screenshot of the court date set for a woman who claims she was 13 when trump raped her
On October 12 we learned that a court date was set for a woman who claims Trump raped her when she was 13.

A judge has ordered a status conference hearing into a lawsuit submitted by a woman who claims Donald Trump raped her when she was 13-years-old in 1994.

Federal Judge Ronnie Abrams has ordered the hearing for 16 December in a New York court. She has asked for both sides to provide information to assist the Court in advancing the case to settlement or trial. The Independent

screenshot of UK Guardian Story on Rape charges from a woman who claims she was 13 when Trump raped her.
UK Guardian Story on Rape charges from a woman who claims she was 13 when Trump raped her.

November 09, Putin celebrates Trump’s ‘win’.

Screenshot of NYT article regarding celebrations in Moscow
November 9th, Moscow celebrates Trump’s victory over Clinton

This timeline does not include everything that we knew prior to the night of the
election but all of it is public information and every bit of it can be cross checked across multiple media outlets.

I also chose to use the British press to illustrate that these were widely reported stories.

Don’t let Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump play gaslight with you.

The only conspiracy is the one we can see with our own eyes.

Rob Goldstein 2018