Harry Reid's letter to James Comey!

Last August, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid sent James Comey a fiery letter saying the FBI chief may have broken the law and pointed to a potentially greater controversy: "In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government…The public has a right to know this information."

Reid's missive set off a burst of speculation on Twitter and elsewhere. What was he referring to regarding the Republican presidential nominee? At the end of August, Reid had written to Comey and demanded an investigation of the "connections between the Russian government and Donald Trump's presidential campaign," and in that letter he indirectly referred to Carter Page, an American businessman cited by Trump as one of his foreign policy advisers, who had financial ties to Russia and had recently visited Moscow. Last month, Yahoo News reported that US intelligence officials were probing the links between Page and senior Russian officials. (Page has called accusations against him "garbage.") On Monday, NBC News reported that the FBI has mounted a preliminary inquiry into the foreign business ties of Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chief. But Reid's recent note hinted at more than the Page or Manafort affairs. And a former senior intelligence officer for a Western country who specialized in Russian counterintelligence tells Mother Jones that in recent months he provided the bureau with memos, based on his recent interactions with Russian sources, contending the Russian government has for years tried to co-opt and assist Trump—and that the FBI requested more information from him.

"This is something of huge significance, way above party politics," the former intelligence officer says. "I think [Trump's] own party should be aware of this stuff as well."

Does this mean the FBI is investigating whether Russian intelligence has attempted to develop a secret relationship with Trump or cultivate him as an asset? Was the former intelligence officer and his material deemed credible or not? An FBI spokeswoman says, "Normally, we don't talk about whether we are investigating anything." 

Donald and the Russian Connection Problem

The Trump / Russian connection:
Time to connect the dots!
Summer 2016:
Sources with links to the intelligence community say it is believed that Carter Page went to Moscow in early July carrying with him a pre-recorded tape of Donald Trump offering to change American policy if he were to be elected, to make it more favorable to Putin. In exchange, Page was authorized directly by Trump to request the help of the Russian government in hacking the election. These  associates were all present: Carter Page, Paul Manafort, and Boris Epshteyn.

A key aspect of the scandal surrounding Russia and its efforts to elect Donald Trump is the hacking operation, which stole Democratic materials. But as Reuters reported, that wasn’t the only element of the broader espionage operation.

A Russian government think tank controlled by Vladimir Putin developed a plan to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system, three current and four former U.S. officials told Reuters.

They described two confidential documents from the think tank as providing the framework and rationale for what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded was an intensive effort by Russia to interfere with the Nov. 8 election. U.S. intelligence officials acquired the documents, which were prepared by the Moscow-based Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, after the election.

Carter Page

Paul Manafort

Boris Epshteyn
Boris Epshteyn is a Soviet-born American Republican political strategist, investment banker, and attorney.

The FBI gathered intelligence last summer that suggests Russian operatives tried to use Trump advisers, including Carter Page, to infiltrate the Trump campaign, according to US officials.

The new information adds to the emerging picture of how the Russians tried to influence the 2016 election, not only through email hacks and propaganda but also by trying to infiltrate the Trump orbit. The intelligence led to an investigation into the coordination of Trump's campaign associates and the Russians.

These officials made clear they don't know whether Page was aware the Russians may have been using him. Because of the way Russian spy services operate, Page could have unknowingly talked with Russian agents.

The intelligence suggests Russia tried to infiltrate the inner-workings of the Trump campaign by using backdoor channels to communicate with people in the Trump orbit, US officials say.
Page is one of several Trump advisers US and European intelligence found to be in contact with Russian officials and other Russians known to Western intelligence during the campaign, according to multiple US officials. The scope and frequency of those contacts raised the interest of US intelligence agencies. The FBI and CIA declined to comment on Page's statement.


In 2013, Page had meetings with a Russian man who turned out to be a spy, according to federal prosecutors. Page denied knowing that the man, Victor Podobnyy, was secretly a Russian operative living in New York.

As CNN first reported, Carter Page's speech critical of US policy against Russia in July 2016 at a prominent Moscow university drew the attention of the FBI and raised concerns he had been compromised by Russian intelligence, according to US officials. They also feared that Russian operatives maintained contact with him both in the United States and Russia, US officials say.

His conversations with suspected Russian operatives are being examined as part of a large intelligence-gathering operation by the FBI and other US agencies that was set up to probe Russia's interference in the election. The officials would not say what the conversations were about.

How Page's name became associated with the campaign is a reflection of how minimal the Trump operation was last year, as establishment national security figures avoided an association with the insurgent operation.

Page wrote to the House Intelligence committee offering to testify, Page describes more interactions with the campaign. The FBI had Page on their radar for at least four years, according to court documents and US officials.

Former CIA Director James Woolsey was an adviser to Donald Trump’s campaign. He eventually quit during the transition period, diplomatically suggesting that his role had run its course. But he’s now publicly disclosing something which may have been a factor. Last summer Michael Flynn brought Woolsey along to a meeting with representatives from the Turkish government, where they discussed theoretical plans for abducting Turkish dissident Fethullah Gulen from his home in Pennsylvania and shipping him back to Turkey. During the same meeting, Flynn tried to hire Woolsey as a consultant to his firm, in the name of furthering this plot against Gulen.

Congress notified the Trump team during the transition that Michael Flynn was on Turkey’s payroll. Trump and Pence stood by him until his Russia ties leaked publicly in February, at which point he was nudged out; Trump and Pence then went on to lie about not having known. Notably, James Woolsey resigned from the Trump transition team a few weeks after the team learned Flynn was on the take. It’s unclear why Woolsey is choosing to go public now

April 9, 2017: The FBI arrested ten people in New York City with alleged indirect ties to Donald Trump and a Russian mafia figure.

March 30, 2017: FBI agents entered the Saipan casino in a joint action with local authorities. A local politician characterized the action as an “investigation or raid” of the property. The casino is run by Mark Brown, who according to a prior Forbes article is a longtime protege of Donald Trump. In fact Brown is the former CEO of Trump Hotels and Casinos, which went on to file for bankruptcy three times. But Brown isn’t the only direct Trump connection to the property.


Former CIA Director James Woolsey, who was a foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump during his campaign and part of his transition period, is on the board of directors of that same casino. That means two people with close ties to Trump, one of them financial and one of them political, just saw their casino raided by the Feds.

10 APRIL 2017:
A Russian programmer has been arrested in Spain on suspicion of involvement in attempts to influence the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election, local media reported. His wife, Maria Levashova said her husband was accused of writing a virus that helped Donald Trump win the election. Levashov is “suspected of having participated in hacking the election campaign in the United States." Mr. Levashov’s wife earlier said she had been told her husband’s arrest was linked to alleged interference on the US election.  


April 13, 2017:
@SheWhoVotes, a Twitter user who is also a Constitutional lawyer and has a solid track record. She tweeted today that she’s “Hearing from intelligence insiders that [New York State Attorney General Eric] Scheiderman is working closely with intel. They’re going to take out the entire three ring circus”. This was then quickly validated with the words “Fact check: true” by Louise Mensch, a former member of British Parliament who is now a political journalist, and whose inside sources have been consistently correct about the FISA warrants in the Trump-Russia investigation going back to last fall. Mensch then added “First arrests maybe next week”. She also referenced the arrest of ten low level mafia figures in New York two weeks ago, who were not Russian, but whose crime family has alleged ties to both Donald Trump and the Russian mafia through Felix Sater.

The FBI leaked that it’s been surveilling Carter Page since last summer, meaning it has recordings of everyone he conspired with, in what seemed to be a final warning shot to any Trump-Russia conspirators who want to cut a deal before the arrests begin.

April 21, 2017
This may be of some interest to the DOJ official overseeing the FBI’s ongoing counter-intelligence investigation, but as Politico reported, it turns out, she’s leaving her post.
The Justice Department official who is leading the government’s investigation into potential collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and the Russian government will step down next month.

Mary McCord, who has served as acting assistant attorney general for national security since October, informed DOJ employees this week that she will be leaving in mid-May, a spokesman confirmed to POLITICO.

DOJ’s National Security Division is leading the agency’s inquiry into possible links between Trump campaign aides and Moscow, as well as the Kremlin’s alleged digital meddling campaign during the 2016 presidential race. This does not mean that the investigation is over, but Rachel spoke about this last night with Matthew Miller, a former Justice Department spokesperson, who raised an under-appreciated point.

McCord, who’s now stepping down for reasons that haven’t been publicly disclosed, is a career Justice Department official, not a political appointee, who’s had a hands-on, day-to-day oversight role in the counter-intelligence investigation. Once she steps down, it’s possible, if not likely, that the DOJ will replace her with a political appointee, chosen by Team Trump, at least temporarily.

You see the problem: Team Trump is the subject of the investigation Mary McCord has helped lead. Indeed, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who’s been accused of lying under oath about his own communications with Russian officials, has recused himself from the investigation, but it may soon fall to him to choose McCord’s acting successor.

It’s why Matthew Miller said last night, “I think it would be hugely troubling if [the Trump administration] put a political appointee, who had not been nominated, not been confirmed by the Senate into this job to investigate the president…. Eventually, I think it has to be a special counsel, but short of that, it has to be an acting career person until someone can be confirmed by the Senate.”

Donald Trump and his Russian connections.

 

Donald Trump and his Russian connections.

 Donald Trump and his Russian connections.

Team Trump
Donald Trump 
President of the United States and real estate developer. His business contacts in Russia date to the late 1980s.

Millian

Putin

Sater

Kislyak

Artemenko

Agalarov

TIMELINE
1986 | Trump sits next to Russian Ambassador Yuri Dubinin at a luncheon hosted by Leonard Lauder, the oldest son of Estée Lauder who managed the sprawling cosmetic business at the time. Read more 
1987 | Trump visits Moscow and tours various sites in an effort to strike real estate deals in Soviet-era Russia. He stays in a hotel overlooking the Kremlin, and tells Playboy that Russian jets escorted his own on the way to the airport. Read more 
December 1988 | Trump invites Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev and his wife to visit Trump Tower in New York, but the meeting never materializes. Read more 
1996 | Trump says he will hold a press conference with a Miami-based tobacco company in Moscow announcing plans to build an office and apartment complex similar to Trump Tower in New York. Read more 
2005 | Trump gave the development company Bayrock a one-year deal to find a site for a Trump Tower. Felix Sater later testified that he identified a former pencil factory as a site for the project, before the deal fell apart. Read more 
Nov. 9, 2013 | While in Moscow for his Miss Universe competition, Trump meets with Russian businessmen, including real estate developer Aras Agalarov, an ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin. Before the pageant, Trump said to MSNBC, "I do have a relationship" with Putin.Read more 
May 2014 | Trump tells a group at the National Press Club that while he was in Moscow, he spoke with Putin "indirectly and directly."
July 2015 | At a town hall in Las Vegas, Trump tells an audience that he knew Putin. "I don't think you'd need the sanctions. I think that we would get along very, very well," he said. Read more 
September 2015 | Putin and Trump are on the season premiere of "60 Minutes." Although Trump would later say in a debate, "I got to know him very well because we were both on '60 Minutes.' We were stablemates," Time magazine revealed that they were interviewed in separate cities. Read more 
December 2015 | Putin says Trump is “colorful" and "talented." Trump calls the compliment an “honor.” Even as ties to Russia become a campaign issue in 2016, Trump refuses to renounce Putin: “A guy calls me a genius, and I’m going to renounce? I’m not going to renounce him.” (Putin has not publicly called Trump a genius.) Read more 
April 2016 | Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak attends a speech in Washington in which Trump vows to seek better relations with Russia. The president of the think tank that invited Kislyak said he introduced the two in a receiving line. Read more 
July 2016 | In news conferences and tweets, Trump says he has “nothing to do with Russia,” and "I don't know who Putin is. ... I've never spoken to him." He also tweeted, “For the record, I have ZERO investments in Russia.” At the same time, at a news conference, Trump encouraged the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton's email. Read more 
July 19, 2016 | Donald Trump, long seen as an unlikely candidate in the 2016 presidential election, is nominated as the GOP presidential candidate at the Republican National Convention. Read more 
Nov. 10, 2016 | Two days after the election, a Russian official tells a reporter in Moscow that the Kremlin had been in contact with Trump’s campaign. Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks denies it, saying, “There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign.” Read more 
Jan. 20, 2017 | Inauguration Day. Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. He designates the day as “National Day of Patriotic Devotion.” Read more 
Jan. 28, 2017 | President Trump and Putin speak on the phone for an hour. Read more 
March 2017 | One of Trump's personal lawyers, Marc E. Kasowitz, is named to the legal team defending Russia’s largest state-run bank in a corporate-raiding case, BuzzFeed reports. Read more 
Paul Manafort 
A political consultant and lobbyist and former Trump campaign chairman, Manafort was also a former business associate of Rick Gates and Roger Stone. Manafort was involved in a couple of million-dollar investment deals with oligarchs linked to Putin. He also advised former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russia in 2014.

Firtash
TIMELINE
2005 | For nearly a decade starting in 2005, Manafort worked for people with ties to the party of Putin ally and Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych — and for the party itself — in a successful effort to remake Yanukovych's image and return him to the presidency. Read more 
2006 | Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, who has close ties to Putin, becomes Manafort's client. He invests in Manafort's Cayman Islands fund, which bought assets primarily in Ukraine. (Later in court, Deripaska accuses Manafort and Rick Gates of defrauding him out of $19 million.) Read more 
2006 | Manafort reportedly signs a $10 million annual contract with Deripaska to secretly advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to the Associated Press. He also proposed a strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition in former Soviet republics. Before the March 2017 story, Manafort and the Trump administration had said Manafort never worked for Russian interests. Manafort and Deripaska denied that any work was done on behalf of Putin or the Russian government, and the AP account has not been confirmed. Read more 
2008 | Manafort and associate Rick Gates agree to work on a Park Avenue development project with Ukrainian oligarch and steel tycoon Dmitry Firtash, but the project falls apart.Read more 
May 19, 2016 | Manafort formally becomes Trump's campaign chairman and chief strategist. Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, is fired June 20. Read more 
Aug. 14, 2016 | A New York Times story alleges Manafort received $12.7 million in secret cash payments from Ukranian President Viktor Yanukovych's party between 2005 and 2012. The findings are dubbed the "secret ledger."Read more 
Aug. 19, 2016 | Manafort, whose campaign role at this point had been eclipsed by Stephen K. Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, resigns at the request of Trump. Read more 
March 21, 2017 | A Ukrainian lawmaker releases documents alleging that Manafort laundered payments from Yanukovych's party using offshore accounts in Belize and Kyrgyzstan. Manafort denied receiving those payments. Read more 
March 24, 2017 | Paul Manafort volunteers to be interviewed before the House Intelligence Committee on Russia ties, says Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). Read more 
Ret. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn 
Former national security adviser and former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Flynn resigned as the NSC head after The Washington Post reported that he misled Vice President Mike Pence and others on the true nature of his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, saying he had not privately discussed U.S. sanctions.
RUSSIAN TIES
Putin

Sater

Kislyak
TIMELINE
2013 | Flynn meets Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on a trip to Moscow. Read more 
Dec. 10, 2015 | Flynn is paid more than $45,000 by Russian-government-backed RT for his participation in a Moscow panel honoring the news agency. At a related gala, he sat at the table of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Also in 2015, he was paid more than $22,000 by Russia-related entities for two speeches in Washington. Read more 
Before Nov. 8, 2016 | Flynn contacts Kislyak, according to Post reporting. It's not clear how often they communicated or what was discussed. Read more 
December 2016 | Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, Flynn and Kislyak meet at Trump Tower for 20 minutes. This was just before the Obama administration sanctioned Russia for interfering in the 2016 election. Read more 
Dec. 29, 2016 | Flynn places five phone calls to Kislyak, who was being monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies. The same day, President Obama announces the sanctions. Putin chooses not to retaliate. Read more 
Jan. 12, 2017 | Post columnist David Ignatius reveals that conversations took place between Flynn and Kislyak. On Jan. 15, Vice President Mike Pence says on "Face the Nation" that Flynn had assured him that he and Kislyak did not discuss sanctions. Read more 
Jan. 24, 2017 | Flynn tells FBI interviewers that he did not discuss sanctions with Kislyak, contradicting transcripts from intelligence officials who monitored the calls. Two days later, acting attorney general Sally Q. Yates tells the White House counsel that Flynn had discussed sanctions and could be vulnerable to blackmail by Russia. Trump fired Yates Jan. 30 for refusing to enforce his travel ban. Read more 
Feb. 8, 2017 | Flynn tells a Post reporter that he did not discuss sanctions with Kislyak. The next day, he waffles; a spokesman says Flynn "couldn't be certain that the topic never came up." Also that day, Pence learns from a Post story that the White House knew in January that Flynn and Kislyak had discussed sanctions. Read more 
Feb. 13, 2017 | Flynn is fired after news reports revealed that he misled Pence. Read more 
March 7, 2017 | Flynn files paperwork to register as a foreign agent because of lobbying work potentially benefitting Turkey. Days later it is revealed that his lawyers twice alerted the White House counsel during the transition that Flynn may need to register, meaning the nation's top national security voice was also being paid to represent the interests of a another country. Read more 
March 28, 2017 | The Post reports that the Trump administration unsuccessfully tried to block Yates from testifying in a House Intelligence Committee hearing after her lawyer told the Justice Department that her testimony would probably contradict statements by White House officials. Committee chair and former Trump adviser Devin Nunes canceled the hearing. Read more 
Carter Page 
Former foreign policy adviser for the Trump campaign, energy executive and oil industry consultant. Page had worked in Moscow for years as a vice president with Merrill Lynch and made recent trips to Russia.
RUSSIAN TIES
Sechin


Kislyak

TIMELINE
2004-2007 | Page runs the Moscow office of Merrill Lynch. He said he advised the state-run energy conglomerate Gazprom and other energy companies. However, Page's then-supervisor said Page's role was to execute deals rather than to negotiate or advise on them. Read more 
March 2016 | Page is hired by the Trump team. In an interview with Bloomberg News, he says he owns shares of Gazprom and that his stock portfolio had suffered since the United States and Europe imposed economic sanctions on Russia. Read more 
July 7, 2016 | Page gives a speech critical of U.S. policy toward Russia on a Moscow trip that had been approved by Trump's campaign manager on the condition that Page not formally represent the campaign. While there, Page allegedly met with Igor Sechin, a Putin confidant and chief executive of the energy company Rosneft, according to a dossier cited by Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee. Some of the information in the dossier has been verified by U.S. intelligence agencies, while other parts have proved false. Read more 
July 18, 2016 | Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak speaks with Page and campaign adviser J.D. Gordon following a panel at the Republican National Convention, where Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) had also met Kislyak. Read more 
Sept. 26, 2016 | Page leaves the campaign after reports showed he met with Igor Sechin, the head of state-owned Russian oil giant Rosneft, and other high-ranking Russian officials during the campaign. Page denies meeting “any of those guys” and volunteers to testify in front of Congress to clear his name. Read more 
April 3, 2017 | BuzzFeed reports Page met with a Russian agent named Victor Podobnyy in 2013 in New York at an energy conference, according to court filings. Page later tells The Washington Post that the reason his name came up in the court filings was because he was helping the Justice Department build its case against Evgeny Buryakov, an undercover Russian agent who was posing as a bank executive in New York at Vnesheconombank. Buryakov was later convicted of foreign espionage. Read more 
Jeff Sessions 
Attorney general. The former senator from Alabama and early Trump supporter recused himself from investigations related to the 2016 campaign after The Post found that, contrary to statements he made in his confirmation hearing, he had met with the Russian ambassador twice during the campaign.
RUSSIAN TIES
Kislyak
TIMELINE
July 18, 2016 | Sessions speaks with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at a panel hosted by the Heritage Foundation at the Republican National Convention. Read more 
Sept. 8, 2016 | Sessions and Kislyak meet in his Senate office.
Jan 10, 2017 | In a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sessions’s nomination to serve as attorney general, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) asks about a CNN report on Russian ties to the Trump campaign that had come out that day. During Sessions's answer, he says, "I did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it." Read more 
Jan. 17, 2017 | Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) asks Sessions in a letter: "Have you been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after Election Day?" Sessions responded, "no." Read more 
March 1, 2017 | The Post reveals Sessions's two meetings with Kislyak. The next day, Sessions reverses his previous statements and — over Trump's objection — says he will recuse himself from investigations related to the campaign. Read more 
Jared Kushner 
Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, New York real estate developer. Kushner's circle of friends and business ties includes prominent Russians.
RUSSIAN TIES
Gorkov

Milner

Kislyak
TIMELINE
2015 | Kushner, his brother and a friend start Cadre, a real estate company. Among its investors is Russian tech investor Yuri Milner. Read more 
December 2016 | Kushner, Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak meet at Trump Tower for 20 minutes just as the Obama administration was preparing to sanction Russia, according to the New York Times. Kushner sent a deputy to another meeting that month. Later, at Kislyak's request, Kushner met for about half an hour with Sergey N. Gorkov, chief of Vnesheconombank, which is on the U.S. sanctions list. Read more 
Jan. 20, 2017 | Dasha Zhukova, wife of oligarch and Putin friend Roman Abramovich, attends the inauguration as a guest of Ivanka Trump.
March 27, 2017 | White House and Senate officials say Kushner will be available to interview with the Senate Intelligence Committee. Read more 
Donald Trump Jr. 
Trump's eldest son. Trump Jr. is operating the family business while his father is in office.

RUSSIAN TIES
Sater

TIMELINE
2006 | Felix Sater says he was asked by Donald Trump to escort Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. around Moscow in 2006. Read more 
2008 | Trump tells a real estate conference, “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” according to trade publication eTurboNews. “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” During the speech, Trump Jr. says he traveled to Russia six times in the previous 18 months. Read more 
October 2016 | Trump visits France to speak to an obscure think tank with ties to Russia.
March 17, 2017 | Reuters reports that 63 people with Russian passports or addresses have invested nearly $100 million in seven Trump properties in South Florida. Read more 
Rex Tillerson 
Secretary of state and former chief executive of ExxonMobil. Tillerson developed extensive ties in Russia during his tenure with the oil giant.
RUSSIAN TIES
Sechin

Putin


TIMELINE
1998 | Tillerson is appointed head of Exxon Neftegas Limited, which was in charge of the U.S. part of the huge Sakhalin-1 oil and gas project off the coast of Siberia. Read more 
2004 | Tillerson becomes president of ExxonMobil around the same time Igor Sechin takes control of Russian oil giant Rosneft, the company in charge of the Russian part of the Sakhalin-1 project. Read more 
2006 | Tillerson uses his relationship with Rosneft to fight off Gazprom, Russia's largest gas producer, from exerting control over the export of gas from Sakhalin-1. Read more 
2011 | Tillerson and Sechin sign the first in a series of deals as part of a landmark “Strategic Cooperation Agreement” that involved drilling in the Russian Arctic and the Black Sea. The agreements led to Tillerson having several direct interactions with then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
April 2012 | Tillerson and Sechin, then deputy prime minister, go on a publicity tour touting the ExxonMobil-Rosneft cooperation.
June 2012 | Tillerson and Sechin are in attendance when Putin inaugurates a new presidential commission on fuel and energy and the three meet again in Moscow later that year. A video shows Putin and Tillerson toasting each other with champagne.
2013 | Tillerson is awarded the “Order of Friendship” by Putin. Read more 

Wilbur Ross 
Commerce Secretary Ross holds a stake in the Bank of Cyprus, which has prominent Russian investors.
RUSSIAN TIES

Vekselberg
TIMELINE
1990s | President Bill Clinton appointed Ross to the board of the U.S.-Russia Investment Fund, a USAID effort to bolster businesses in post-Cold-War Russia. Read more 
February 2017 | In Ross's confirmation hearing, senators ask about his stake in the Bank of Cyprus and his relationship with Russian shareholders, including Putin friend Viktor Vekselberg, who was once on oil giant Rosneft's board of directors, and former KGB agent Vladimir Strzhalkovsky, a former vice chairman of the bank. Read more 
Roger Stone 
Longtime Trump friend, adviser and political consultant, former business partner of Paul Manafort. Stone claimed to have communicated indirectly with WikiLeaks before the website published emails that the intelligence community said were stolen by Russian agents.
RUSSIAN TIES
Russian hackers

TIMELINE
Aug. 10, 2016 | In a speech to a Florida Republican group, Stone said he'd been in contact with WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange through mutual friends. Read more 
Aug. 21, 2016 | Stone tweets "Trust me, it will soon be Podesta's time in the barrel," referring to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. WikiLeaks released a trove of Podesta's emails in October.
March 11, 2017 | Stone admits corresponding via Twitter on Aug. 14 with Guccifer 2.0, a hacker involved in the WikiLeaks releases. But Stone denies colluding with the Russians. Read more 
J.D. Gordon 
Former Trump campaign adviser. The Republican strategist resisted adding anti-Russia language in the GOP platform and met with Kislyak at the convention.
RUSSIAN TIES
Kislyak
TIMELINE
July 18, 2016 | Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak speaks with Page and campaign adviser J.D. Gordon following a panel at the Republican National Convention, where Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) had also met Kislyak. Read more 
July 2016 | During the convention, a delegate’s proposal regarding U.S. support for Ukraine in its fight against Russian-backed rebels is softened before inclusion in the GOP platform. Campaign chairman Paul Manafort told NBC in August that the change “absolutely did not come from the campaign.” Read more 
March 2017 | Gordon says that he had advocated for the Russia-friendly change in platform, believing it to match Trump’s views, and he had consulted about the matter with “campaign policy colleagues” before the convention.

Michael Caputo 
Adviser to the Trump campaign for the New York primary. The public relations executive was once paid to improve Putin's image in the United States.
RUSSIAN TIES
Putin

TIMELINE
1994-2000 | Caputo moves to Russia shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union and is first employed by U.S. Agency for International Development. He then starts a public relations firm.
2000 | Caputo enters a contract with the Russian conglomerate Gazprom Media to improve Putin’s image in the United States. He told the Buffalo News that he was “not proud of the work today. But at the time, Putin wasn’t such a bad guy.” Read more 

Rick Gates 
Business associate of Manafort since 2006, Gates helped lead a nonprofit supporting Trump policies, America First. He took a leave of absence in March after The Washington Post reported on his business deals with Manafort.

RUSSIAN TIES
Firtash
TIMELINE
2006 | Gates joins Manafort's firm after oligarch Oleg Deripaska is solicited to become a client. Deripaska invested in Manafort's Cayman Islands fund that bought assets primarily in Ukrainea. (Later, Deripaska accused Manafort and Gates in court of defrauding him out of $19 million.) Read more 
2008 | Manfort and Gates agree to work on a Park Avenue development project with oligarch Dmitry Firtash, but the project falls apart.
2012-2014 | Gates arranges introductions for two Washington lobbying firms — the Podesta Group and Mercury LLC — to represent the European Center for a Modern Ukraine.
2014 | In Washington, Manafort and Gates promote the policy priorities of the political party of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russia.
March 2017 | In a brief interview with The Post, Gates describes his work as “supporting the private equity fund started by the firm and democracy building and party building in Ukraine.” Read more 
March 23, 2017 | Gates was forced out of America First Policies for his ties to Manafort after the Associated Press reported that Manafort had worked for Russian government interests. Read more 
Michael Cohen 
Longtime Trump Organization lawyer who became personal counsel to the president following the inauguration. In late January, Cohen met with a Ukrainian lawmaker and agreed to ferry a Russian-backed peace plan for Ukraine to the White House. The New York Times reported Cohen said he left the plan in Flynn's office days before Flynn resigned as national security adviser. Cohen told The Washington Post he threw the plan in the trash.
RUSSIAN TIES
Sater

Artemenko
TIMELINE
Late January 2017 | Felix Sater, Michael Cohen and Andrii V. Artemenko meet in a luxury hotel in Manhattan to discuss Artmenko's proposed deal to end conflict over Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Sater later said he thought Cohen would hand the peace deal proposal to National Security Advisor Flynn himself. Cohen said he never intended to do so. Read more 

George Papadopoulos 
Sergei Millian, a key source for the "dossier" compiled by a former British spy, told certain individuals during the campaign that he was in touch with Papadopoulos, a campaign adviser. Papadopoulos met with foreign leaders and gave an interview criticizing U.S. sanctions on Russia.

RUSSIAN TIES
Millian
TIMELINE
March 21, 2016 | In a meeting with The Washington Post's editorial board, Trump reveals that George Papadopoulos is one of his foreign policy advisers. Trump describes Papadopoulos as "an energy and oil consultant," and says he's "an excellent guy." Read more 

Erik Prince 
Prince, a Trump business associate, brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the founder of notorious private security firm Blackwater, presented himself as an unofficial envoy of Trump in a meeting with a representative of Vladimir Putin in the Seychelles days before Trump's inauguration, according to U.S., European and Arab officials. The meeting was brokered by the United Arab Emirates who hoped to loosen Russian ties to Iran by strengthening ties between Russia and the United States.

TIMELINE
January 2017 | About Jan. 11, Prince presented himself as an unofficial envoy of Trump in a meeting with an anonymous representative of Russian President Vladimir Putin on the island of Seychelles, according to U.S., European and Arab officials as reported by The Post. The meeting was arranged by the United Arab Emirates and officials said a discussion topic was the prospect of persuading Moscow to loosen ties with Iran. Read more 

Ivanka Trump 
President Trump's older daughter has a security clearance, an unpaid and unspecified role in her father's administration and an office in the West Wing. She has already met with foreign heads of state, including Justin Trudeau of Canada and Angela Merkel of Germany.
RUSSIAN TIES
Sater

Russian business

TIMELINE
2006 | Felix Sater, a Russian American who worked with Donald Trump on several projects and proposals, says Trump asked him to escort Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. around Moscow. Read more 
Jan. 20, 2017 | Dasha Zhukova, wife of oligarch and Putin friend Roman Abramovich, attends the inauguration as a guest of Ivanka Trump. Read more 
Tevfik Arif 
Arif is chairman of the New York real estate company Bayrock Group, which was exploring the possibility of a Trump Tower in Moscow. The deal fell apart.
RUSSIAN TIES
Sater
TIMELINE
2005 | Trump signs one-year deal with Bayrock to develop a Trump Tower in Moscow. The deal eventually falls apart. Read more 
2008 | Trump SoHo New York is completed, a construction project on which Bayrock was a leading partner.
  
Russian ties
Vladimir Putin 
Russian president who U.S. intelligence agencies believe personally ordered the interference into the 2016 election, including penetrating the Democratic National Committee's computer systems and distributing fake news stories. Putin has consistently denied the allegations, calling the attacks a "political witch hunt."


TIES TO TEAM TRUMP
Trump

Flynn

Tillerson


Russian business interests 
Historically, oligarchs have used relationships with foreign business leaders for political gain. Many of the Russian business people with whom Team Trump has various types of relationships are listed separately in this article.

TIES TO TEAM TRUMP
Trump

Manafort

Flynn

Page

Kushner

Trump Jr.

Tillerson

Ross
Caputo


I. Trump
Sergey Kislyak 
Russian ambassador to the United States since 2008, a career diplomat not considered especially close to Putin.

TIES TO TEAM TRUMP
Trump

Flynn

Page

Sessions

Kushner

Gordon
Igor Sechin 
Executive chairman of the Russian state oil giant Rosneft, former deputy prime minister in Putin's cabinet.
 
TIES TO TEAM TRUMP


Page

Tillerson

Russian hackers 
The GRU, Russia’s military intelligence organization, is thought to have begun cyber operations aimed at influencing the U.S. presidential election by March 2016, according to the U.S. intelligence community. The GRU hacked the Democratic National Committee and also the personal email accounts of Democratic Party officials and political figures. By May, 2016, the GRU had stolen large volumes of data from the DNC. The GRU relayed that material to WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy organization, the intelligence community concluded. Guccifer 2.0. is an online persona linked to the GRU and used perhaps by more than one individual to publicize hacked materials. Analysts are skeptical Guccifer 2.0 conducted the actual hacking, but agree with officials that the name was used as a front to disclose materials online.

 the “mother of all bombs” cannot obliterate the accumulating body of evidence about his relationship with Russian organized crime figures and the not unrelated question about whether he and his entourage colluded with Russian officials in the 2016 presidential election. The story, notes Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall, is “Hiding in plain sight.”

The evidence of pre-election collusion between Trump and the Russians, while growing, is far from definitive. The evidence on Trump’s organized crime ties is stronger. Says Marshall:

“If we’d never heard about Russian intelligence hacking of the 2016 election or Carter Page or Paul Manafort or Sergei Kislyak this [Trump’s organized crime connections] would seem like an extraordinarily big deal. And indeed it is an extraordinarily big deal.”

Chronologically speaking, Trump’s ties to organized crime figures came first. Mutually beneficial transactions dating back to the 1990s led to closer relations in the 2000s and culminated in the contacts during the 2016 campaign. It all began with Russians who wanted to get their money out of the country.

Hot money

As Donald Trump Jr., executive vice president of development and acquisitions for the Trump Organization, told the Bridging U.S. and Emerging Markets Real Estate conference in September 2008 (on the basis, he said, of his own “half dozen trips to Russia in 18 months”):

“[I]n terms of high-end product influx into the United States, Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets; say in Dubai, and certainly with our project in SoHo and anywhere in New York. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

For example, David Bogatin: In the 1990s, the FBI considered Bogatin one of the key members of a major Russian organized crime family run by a legendary boss named Semion Mogilevich. According to the late investigative reporter Wayne Barrett, Bogatin owned five separate condos in Trump Tower that Trump had reportedly personally sold to him.

Vyacheslav Ivankov, another Mogilevich lieutenant in the United States during the 1990s, also resided for a time at Trump Tower and reportedly had in his personal phone book the private telephone and fax numbers for the Trump Organization’s office in that building.

Cyprus

A lot of this Russian organized crime money flowed through Cyprus and one of its largest banks, the Bank of Cyprus. The bank’s chairman, Wilbur Ross, is now U.S. secretary of commerce. When senators considering Ross’ nomination asked about Cyprus, Ross said Trump had forbidden him from answering questions on the subject.

Not coincidentally, Illinois congressman Mike Quigley, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, recently traveled to Cyprus to investigate, according to the Daily Beast.

“The fact that Turkey, the U.S. and Russia and other countries are really interested in Cyprus, because of its strategic location… the fact that Russians launder their money there to avoid sanctions, and the fact that key U.S. and Russia players were there—all make it really important for the Russia investigation,” Quigley explained in an interview.

Cyprus is also a focus of U.S. authorities investigating Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, whose curious real estate transactions in New York are drawing attention, according to radio station WNYC:

“Nine current and former law enforcement and real estate experts told WNYC that Manafort’s deals merit scrutiny. Some said the purchases follow a pattern used by money launderers: buying properties with all cash through shell companies, then using the properties to obtain ‘clean’ money through bank loans.”

According to the Associated Press, the records of Manafort’s Cypriot transactions were requested by the U.S. Treasury Department Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which works internationally with agencies to track money laundering and the movement of illicit funds around the globe.

Meetings and plans

Trump White House officials, skittish about such reports, balked when Russian banker Aleksander Torshin was scheduled to meet President Trump in February. Torshin is the deputy governor of the Bank of Russia and a close ally of President Vladimir Putin. He has cultivated Washington conservatives such as Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and former National Rifle Association president David Keene.

Torshin has also been targeted by a long-running Spanish police investigation into a Russian organized crime syndicate known as the Taganskaya. The White House canceled Torshin’s meeting with Trump rather than “exacerbate the political controversy over contacts between Trump associates and the Kremlin,” reported Yahoo News’ Mike Isikoff.

Also in February, Trump received a proposed peace plan for Ukraine and Russia, offered by his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, and two Russians with organized crime convictions: Felix H. Sater, a business associate who once helped Trump scout deals in Russia; and Andrey Artemenko, a Ukrainian lawmaker trying to rise in a political opposition movement shaped in part by Manafort. The plan also would have lifted U.S. sanctions on Russia, a prime goal of the Putin government.

Sater pleaded guilty to a role in a stock manipulation scheme decades ago that involved the Mafia. Artemenko spent two and a half years in jail in Kiev in the early 2000s on embezzlement charges, later dropped, which he said had been politically motivated.

Big picture

The sheer proliferation of such contact indicates, at a minimum, that Russian organized crime figures felt comfortable in the Trump milieu.

Jonathan Winer, former deputy assistant secretary of state for law enforcement in the Clinton administration, says he was investigating Semion Mogilevich 20 years ago when the “brainy don” (as he was known) pioneered the laundering of criminal proceeds through quasi-legitimate companies in the United States, especially in high-end real estate.

Winer finds it “disturbing” that Mogilevich’s associates have done business with Trump. He told a Washington conference earlier this month:

“Imagine you’re a foreign government and you want to launder money for domestic espionage operations in the United States. [High-end real estate] would be a great way to do it. It was the method used by Colombian drug traffickers all over Latin America and Miami in the 1980s and 1990s. It’s a form that Russian organized crime has used… All of a sudden we’re starting to see the same kind of patterns involving some criminal people and some Russian officials showing up in current investigations with Trump properties.”

The story right now, he says, is “confusing as hell.” The key, he explains, is the pattern.

“These ties link up, coalesce, organize and resolve,” Winer says. These are “relationships that make some sense. So we need to get below what we can see on the surface and see what actually happened…. I don’t know who’s going to be indicted, but boy, do I know this: the American people needs to get the facts, and then justic