A Timeline of Michael Flynn’s Role in the Russia Probe
(Bloomberg) -- Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether President Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia has reached deep into the White House with the guilty plea of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who is cooperating in the widening probe.
For months, Mueller’s investigators have been piecing together details of in-person meetings, phone calls, emails and other communication between members of Trump’s inner circle and the Russian government, both during the campaign and after Trump’s election victory.
With Flynn’s guilty plea, facts uncovered by Mueller are being made public and can be put into context with other details. Here are some of the key events since Election Day.
Early December, 2016: Trump son-in-law and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner meets with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at Trump Tower to discuss setting up a secure channel for communications between Russia and the transition team. Flynn attends the meeting. (Meeting disclosed six months later: “Russian ambassador told Moscow that Kushner wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin”)
Dec. 21: Egypt submits to the UN Security Council a resolution about Israeli settlements. The Security Council is scheduled to vote the next day. (Flynn statement of facts)
Dec. 22: A very senior member of the transition team (later identified as Kushner) directs Flynn to contact foreign governments, including Russia, to learn where each government stands on the resolution and to influence those governments to delay the vote or defeat the resolution. (See Flynn statement of facts, above)
Dec. 22: Flynn contacts Kislyak about the vote. Flynn tells him about the Trump administration’s opposition to the resolution and requests that Russia vote against or delay the resolution. (See Flynn statement of facts, above) (The Security Council adopts the resolution on Dec. 23., with 14 votes in favor and the U.S. abstaining)
Dec. 23: Flynn again speaks to Kislyak, who informs Flynn that if it comes to a vote, Russia would not vote against the resolution. (See Flynn statement of facts, above)
Dec. 28: President Barack Obama signs an order to take effect the next day implementing sanctions against Russia for its interference in the 2016 election. (See Flynn statement of facts, above)
Dec. 28: Kislyak contacts Flynn. (See Flynn statement of facts, above)
Dec. 29: Flynn calls a senior official of the Trump transition team—reportedly K.T. McFarland—to discuss what to tell Kislyak. McFarland, who was with other senior members of the transition team at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, discusses the sanctions with Flynn, and tells him that other members of the transition team don’t want to escalate the situation. (See Flynn statement of facts, above)
Dec. 29: After the call, Flynn calls and asks that Russia not escalate the situation and respond only in a reciprocal manner. (See Flynn statement of facts, above)
Dec. 29: Flynn speaks with McFarland to report on his call with Kislyak, including their discussion of sanctions. (See Flynn statement of facts, above)
Dec. 30: Russian President Vladimir Putin releases a statement saying his nation wouldn’t take retaliatory measures for U.S. sanctions. (See Flynn statement of facts, above)
Dec. 30: At 2:41 p.m., Trump tweets, “Great move to delay (by V. Putin)—I always knew he was very smart!” (Twitter)
Dec. 31: Kislyak calls Flynn and tells him that Russia has chosen not to retaliate in response to Flynn’s request. (See Flynn statement of facts, above)
Dec. 31: After the call, Flynn speaks with senior members of the transition team about his conversations with Kislyak over sanctions and Russia’s decision not to escalate. (See Flynn statement of facts, above)
Jan. 20, 2017: Trump is sworn in as 45th president of the U.S.
Jan. 24: On the second day in his job as National Security Adviser, Flynn agrees to be interviewed by FBI agents. He tells them he didn’t ask Kislyak to refrain from escalating the response to sanctions. He also says he didn’t recall a follow-up conversation in which Kislyak said Russia would moderate its response. Both statements are later proved false. (See Flynn statement of facts, above)
Flynn also deceives agents about calls he made to Russia and other countries about the Egypt resolution. He tells them that he asked only about the countries’ positions on the vote and didn’t ask that any country take particular action. He says that he never described Russia’s response to him. Both statements are lies. (See Flynn statement of facts, above)
Jan. 26: Acting Attorney General Sally Yates warns White House counsel Don McGahn that Flynn was lying about his calls with Kisylak and that it made him vulnerable to blackmail by Russia. (Washington Post: “Justice Department warned White House that Flynn could be vulnerable to Russian blackmail, officials say”)
Jan. 27: Trump asks FBI Director James Comey for a pledge of loyalty over a private dinner at the White House. Comey declines to make the pledge. (The New York Times reports the request on May 11: “In a Private Dinner, Trump Demanded Loyalty. Comey Demurred”)
Jan. 27: George Papadopoulos, a volunteer foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, lies to the FBI about his contacts with people tied to the Russian government during the 2016 campaign. (Court document)
Jan. 30: Yates is fired by Trump for her refusal to defend a travel ban. (“Trump Firing of Yates Widens Clash Over U.S. Immigrant Order”)
Feb. 13: Flynn resigns after press reports that he misled Vice President Mike Pence and other top White House officials about his contacts with Kislyak. (“Flynn Resigns as Security Adviser Amid Russia Contacts”)
Feb. 14: Trump asks Comey to drop the probe into Flynn, saying, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” Trump denies making the request. (New York Times reports the request on May 16: “Comey Memo Says Trump Asked Him to End Flynn Investigation”)
March 2: Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who previously served as a Trump campaign adviser, recuses himself from any investigation into Russia’s meddling in the election after reports disclosed his contacts in 2016 with Kisylak. (“Session Recuses Himself From Probe of 2016 Campaign”) (Video)
March 7: Flynn files documents with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act about a project performed by him and his company, the Flynn Intel Group Inc. Flynn lies in several statements, including that his company didn’t know whether Turkey was involved in the project, that the project was focused on improving U.S. companies’ confidence in doing business in Turkey and that Flynn alone wrote an op-ed in the Hill on election day. He omits that officials from Turkey supervised and directed what he wrote. (See Flynn statement of facts, above)
March 31: Trump tweets that “Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse the big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!” (Twitter)
May 9: Trump fires Comey as FBI director, purportedly acting on a recommendation from Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who cited Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. Trump subsequently provides other reasons for Comey’s firing. (“Trump Fires FBI Director James Comey on Sessions’ Recommendation”)
May 10: Trump tells Russian officials meeting him in the Oval Office that firing Comey had relieved "great pressure" on him (New York Times reports on the meeting on May 19: “Trump Told Russians That Firing ‘Nut Job’ Comey Eased Pressure From Investigation”)
May 17: Robert Mueller is appointed special counsel by Acting Attorney Rod Rosenstein. (“Mueller, Ex-FBI Chief, Named Special Counsel for Russia Probe”)
July 8: News reports disclose a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower involving Kushner, Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, Donald Trump Jr. and Russians with links to the Kremlin. (New York Times: “Trump Team Met With Lawyer Linked to Kremlin During Campaign”)
Oct. 5: Papadopoulos pleads guilty to lying to the FBI. He admits that he lied about contacts with Russians who said they could provide “dirt” on Clinton in the form of thousands of emails. The case is unsealed on Oct. 30. (Case link)
Mid-October: Mueller serves Trump’s election campaign with a subpoena for documents related to any contacts with Russian operatives. (“Mueller Is Said to Subpoena Trump Campaign for More Documents”) On the same day the subpoenas are disclosed—Nov. 16—top lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Commission press Kushner to provide additional documents because he failed to previously provide all documents requested. (“Kushner Pressed by Grassley, Feinstein for Trump Probe Documents”)
Oct. 27: Manafort is indicted on fraud charges related to his earlier business transactions. His deputy Rick Gates is also charged. They deny wrongdoing after the case is unsealed on Oct. 30. (Court document) (PDF)
November: Kushner reportedly meets with Mueller’s team and is asked about Flynn. (“Kushner Is Said to Have Met Mueller’s Team to Discuss Flynn”: CNN)
Dec. 1: Flynn pleads guilty to lying to the FBI and agrees to cooperate with Mueller. Kushner is referred to in Flynn’s statement of facts as the “very senior” transition official and McFarland as the “senior” official.
©2017 Bloomberg L.P.