The Ultimate Cheat Sheet To The Trump-Russia Investigation

Everything you need to know about one of the most consequential investigations in history

(Rantt News/Maddie Anderson)

(Rantt News/Maddie Anderson)

Updated September 26, 2017–5:29 pm ET

It was November 9th, 2016. The mood was joyous in the Kremlin as President Vladimir Putin, along with Russian officials, celebrated the election of Donald J. Trump as 45th President of the United States. Champagne was literally popped and toasts were made, as this foreign adversary celebrated American democracy.

“It turns out that the United Russia has won the elections in the United States!” — Russian Governor, Viktor Nazarov

What we have here is an orchestrated effort by Russia, a hostile foreign power, to undermine American democracy and prop up Donald Trump. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategy involved complex espionage and coordinated propaganda campaigns designed to damage Hillary Clinton, chipping away at her support from both the far-left and far-right of the political spectrum.

Russia’s intentions have been widely debated. Some say they never truly expected Trump to win, and were merely trying to weaken Clinton politically, whom Putin has accused of sowing discord in his own nation after Clinton questioned the legitimacy of Russia’s 2011 parliamentary elections. Putin wanted Clinton to come into office beleaguered by congressional investigations and a divided United States.

Some argue that Putin’s main goal was to achieve relief from the crippling sanctions the Obama administration levied against Russia, which he could only achieve under a Trump presidency. They argue that Putin believed Trump did have a shot at the presidency and was actively negotiating sanctions relief with members of the Trump campaign. Along with a Trump presidency, would come a weakened NATO alliance, which is also in Russia’s interest.

The truth is, it’s both. In the weeks leading up to the election, Russia grew doubtful of Trump’s chances of victory, but in the end, the result was President Donald Trump. And we’ve since discovered, given the sophistication of their efforts and the evidence that has surfaced, Vladimir Putin and his operatives appear to have had help from people on the inside of the Trump campaign.

Criminal money laundering. Spy ops. Collusion. This is not the plot of a screenplay. This is the story of Russia, the Trump campaign, and the 2016 election. A story that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is getting to the bottom of.

We at Rantt News have covered every development of this story since Russia’s efforts to aide Trump became clear in 2016. With so much to take in, we thought we’d break it down for you so that you can get the full picture of where the investigation currently stands.

It’s a lot to take in, but I promise it’ll be worth it. I’ve tried to make it as digestible as possible. By the time you are done reading this piece, you will be a Trump-Russia aficionado. We’ll dive into Mueller’s team, touch on why Trump and each of his associates are under investigation, and also take a look at where this investigation is headed and whether or not it will lead to the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

Team Mueller

Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs the Capitol after a closed-door meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about Russian meddling in the election and possible connection to the Trump campaign — June 21, 2017 (AP)

Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs the Capitol after a closed-door meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about Russian meddling in the election and possible connection to the Trump campaign — June 21, 2017 (AP)

It’s been a wild Summer. Between neo-Nazis taking to the streets and nuclear games of chicken with North Korea, it’s been hard to stay on top of every headline. Unlike President Trump, the news hasn’t taken a vacation. And neither has Robert Mueller.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is the extremely competent investigative monster of President Trump’s own making. Trump’s move to fire James Comey in an effort to end the FBI’s investigation into his campaign’s potential collusion with Russia did the exact opposite. The investigation, which Comey began in July 2016, was then dramatically expedited. From there, we had the series of events that led up to Robert Mueller’s appointment and since it has come under his command, the investigation has expanded in scope.

Mueller has been assembling a team that is pretty much the legal equivalent of the Avengers. The team consists of more than three dozen investigators, staffers, and attorneys. These experts include his former partner James Quarles (was an assistant Watergate prosecutor), Andrew Weissman (head of the Justice Department’s criminal fraud unit), and Michael Dreeben (deputy solicitor general) to name a few.

Mueller has reportedly teamed up with the IRS’ Criminal Investigations unit, which has 2,500 agents who focus on financial crimes like tax evasion and money laundering. This unit has already handed over records related to Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn. This fast-moving Special Counsel has already impaneled a D.C. grand jury to oversee the investigation. A grand jury can issue subpoenas, documents, obtain sworn testimonies, and bring charges. The grand jury has already issued subpoenas and sought testimony. But more on that in a bit.

Along with its counterintelligence component examining Russia’s meddling, this investigation has expanded greatly. It dives into the repeated contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives, potential coordination between Trump associates and Russia in the dissemination of anti-Clinton fake news and Russian propaganda, and potential obstruction of justice on the part of President Trump. Perhaps most importantly, the investigation has expanded to include potential financial crimes committed by Donald Trump and some of his associates, who have been widely accused of money laundering for Russian oligarchs.

The associates who are subjects of the investigation include:

  • Former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn
  • Former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort
  • Former Campaign Adviser Carter Page
  • Former Campaign Adviser Roger Stone
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions
  • White House Senior Advisor, and Trump’s Son-in-Law, Jared Kushner
  • Donald Trump Jr.
  • And of course, there is the man himself, President Donald Trump

There are other people of importance who will be discussed throughout this breakdown, like Trump’s longtime business associate, Felix Sater, Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, GOP operative, Peter Smith, the Agalorov family, and of course, the infamous Russian Ambassador Sergey Kisylak.

But first, we’ll start with the one and only, Michael Flynn…

Michael Flynn

Former National Security Advisor And Registered Foreign Agent

Russian President Vladimir Putin, center right, with retired U.S. Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, center left. Michael Flynn was in attendance of the 10th anniversary of RT (the Russian government’s propaganda network). Flynn acknowledged that he was paid to attend the event. And yes, that is former Green Party candidate Jill Stein — Dec. 10, 2015 (Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, center right, with retired U.S. Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, center left. Michael Flynn was in attendance of the 10th anniversary of RT (the Russian government’s propaganda network). Flynn acknowledged that he was paid to attend the event. And yes, that is former Green Party candidate Jill Stein — Dec. 10, 2015 (Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Michael Flynn came on board as Trump’s national security adviser (NSA) in early 2016. He advised Trump throughout the campaign and went on to be Trump’s NSA in the White House. Flynn was forced to resign from his position after he was caught lying about the December 2016 phone call with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kisylak where he discussed easing sanctions on Russia. As we later found out, these weren’t his only contacts with Kislyak or his worst wrongdoing. Flynn is particularly in deep trouble given the undisclosed payments he received from Turkey while advising Trump and sitting in classified national security briefings as an unregistered foreign agent…

What Mueller Is Probing: Communications with Russian operatives and financial crimes. Mueller has already sought White House documents relating to Flynn’s dealings with Turkey and subpoenaed Washington lobbying firms regarding their work with Flynn. Many believe Flynn may be cooperating with the investigation.

What Mueller May Find:

  • Flynn had multiple communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in 2016 and lied about them to the FBI in 2017
  • Russian operatives bragged about cultivating a relationship with Flynn
  • Flynn attended a secret meeting in Trump Tower in December 2016 as a member of the Trump transition team with Jared Kushner and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Kushner asked to set up a back-channel line of communication between the Trump transition and Moscow
  • Flynn was paid $530,000 as part of a $600,000 contract to lobby for the Turkish government. He then continued to participate in classified briefings and influence Turkey-policy
  • The Trump transition team was told Michael Flynn may need to register as a foreign agent and it raised no alarms. President Trump and his administration knowingly allowed a foreign agent to participate in meetings where the United State’s most classified national security secrets were discussed. Flynn registered as a foreign agent in 2017
  • Flynn was paid $11,250 by an American subsidiary of a Russian cyber security firm called Kaspersky Lab in October of 2015
  • Flynn was paid more than $33,750 by Russia Today for attending their 10th anniversary gala in Moscow in December 2015
  • Flynn was paid $11,250 by Volga-Dnepr Airlines, a Russian cargo plane company, for speaking at an event in August 2015. He did not disclose this payment until his resignation as NSA
  • Flynn reportedly met with Turkish officials during the transition and discussed the possible expulsion of Turkish cleric and Erdogan rival, Fethullah Gulen, from the United States
  • GOP operative Peter Smith sought Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 deleted emails from who he thought were Russian hackers…And he was coordinating with Flynn
  • Flynn was also reportedly involved in an attempted back-channel Ukraine peace deal effort involving Michael Cohen and Felix Sater, but more on that later…

Paul Manafort

Former Campaign Manager And Registered Foreign Agent

Paul Manafort (Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Paul Manafort (Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Paul Manafort is a key player in this. Manafort was forced out as campaign manager after reports of his foreign ties began to overwhelm the Trump campaign. Manafort’s story is a long one. Although Manafort did indeed meet with Russian operatives during the campaign, most of his wrongdoings happened way before 2016. From his extensive dealings with pro-Russia parties in Ukraine to being paid millions to push Russian interests in the U.S., Manafort is in deep.

What Mueller Is Probing: Communications with Russian operatives and financial crimes, including potential money laundering. Manafort has been subpoenaed by multiple congressional investigations and associates of his, including lobbying firms have also been subpoenaed. His son-in-law, Jeffrey Yohai, has met with federal investigators and provided documents related to Manafort’s possible money laundering or tax violations in his business dealings with pro-Russia parties in Ukraine. Mueller is examining these documents and is also reportedly cooperating with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to dig deeper into Manafort’s financial transactions.

We now have reporting that Paul Manafort was wiretapped via FISA surveillance in 2014 as part of an investigation into Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych. It was discontinued and then re-instated in 2016 after investigators caught a series of odd connections between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives. Notably, the FBI wasn’t listening in during the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting. The surveillance reportedly continued into early this year and involved converstation with Donald Trump. Intelligence gathered reportedly “includes communications that sparked concerns among investigators that Manafort had encouraged the Russians to help with the campaign.”

FBI agents conducted a pre-dawn raid on Manafort’s home this past summer, obtaining documents and other materials related to the Trump-Russia investigation. This was a no-knock warrant, indicating a lack of trust on the part of the investigators. They may have believed Manafort would attempt to destroy evidence. We’ve since learned that Mueller issued a warning after this raid, telling Manafort that he planned to indict him. Mueller investigation into Manafort is reportedly probing as far back as January 2006. Let’s take a look at that he’s been up to.

What Mueller May Find:

  • Intercepted communications of Russians discussing their efforts to coordinate with Manafort regarding damaging information on Clinton
  • Various conversations with Manafort and Russian operatives encouraging help from the Russians
  • Manafort was also working on the Trump campaign as an unregistered foreign agent. He finally registered in June of this year
  • Manafort partnered with Yanukovych ally and Ukrainian billionaire, Dmytro Firtas, to redevelop a property in New York. Firtas was sued over the project, with the allegations being that it was a money laundering scheme. The project was canceled and the case was dismissed
  • Manafort served as a lobbyist and political consultant for pro-Russia Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych. He started in 2004, reportedly upon the advice of Russian oligarch and close Putin ally Oleg Deripaska, and helped Yanukovych reshape his political image. His work went on for years. Manafort received $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments between 2007–2012
  • Manafort reportedly had a $10 million a year contract with Oleg Deripaska. The contract was part of a plan to assert pro-Russia influence in U.S. politics and lasted from 2006–2009. Paul Manafort moved into Trump Tower in 2006
  • Two weeks before Trump accepted the GOP nomination, Paul Manafort reportedly offered “private briefings” on the state of the 2016 election to Oleg Deripaska
  • Manafort reportedly met twice with his former Russian-Ukrainian aide, from his Ukraine lobbying days, Konstantin Kilimnik during the 2016 campaign. A Kiev operative suggests that Kilimnik may have played a role in the Trump campaign’s gutting of anti-Russian stances from the Republican Party platform. Kilimnik also sent in emails regarding Deripaska, and they met in August to speak on it. Mueller is examining this
  • Paul Manafort attended the June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting with Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., and Russian operatives. Investigators are reportedly reviewing Manafort’s notes of the meeting which “contained the words ‘donations,’ and ‘RNC’ in close proximity.” According to NBC News, congressional investigators who are examining the meeting are “focused on determining whether it included any discussion of donations from Russian sources to either the Trump campaign or the Republican Party.” Foreigners donating to American elections is illegal. Will detail more on this meeting in the later section on Trump Jr.
  • In the 1980s, the Trump Organization hired Manafort’s lobbying firm. During this time, Trump also became close with Manafort and Roger Stone. But more on Stone in a bit…

Carter Page

Former Campaign Adviser

Carter Page (Reuters)

Carter Page (Reuters)

Carter Page was a former adviser to candidate Trump until the Trump campaign distanced themselves from him after his Russia ties were reported on. Page is the founder of Global Energy Capital, an investment firm in New York, where he partnered with Sergei Yatsenk. Yatsenk is a former Gazprom executive, a Kremlin-owned energy company Page did business with during the time he lived in Russia from 2004–2007. Page’s 2016 trip to Moscow, meeting with a Russian spy in 2013, and admitted communications with Russians during the campaign have made him a focus of this investigation.

What Mueller Is Probing: Communications with Russian operatives. Page has long been a subject of FBI surveillance since 2014 and this year has undergone repeated FBI questioning.

What Mueller May Find:

  • Page met with Victor Podobnyy, who turned out to be a Russian spy, in 2013
  • Page communicated with Russian operatives during the campaign
  • Russians have reportedly attempted to cultivate Page as a way to infiltrate the Trump campaign
  • Page went on a campaign approved trip to Moscow in July of 2016 to meet with Igor Sechin, the chairman of the Russia State-owned oil company Rosneft, and may have discussed the prospect of lifting sanctions on Russia. This is important because the Christopher Steele dossier (Glenn Simpson recently testified on Capitol Hill on the dossier) mentioned the meeting with Page and “that the Rosneft President was so keen to lift personal and corporate Western sanctions imposed on the company, that he offered Page and his associates the brokerage of up to a 19 percent (privatized) stake in Rosneft.” This is very important because as Business Insider reports:

Rosneft…ultimately signed a deal that was similar to the one the dossier described: On December 7, the oil company sold 19.5% of shares, worth roughly $11 billion, to the multinational commodity trader Glencore Plc and Qatar’s state-owned wealth fund. Page was back in Moscow on December 8, one day after the deal was signed, to “meet with some of the top managers” of Rosneft, he told reporters at the time.

Roger Stone

Former Campaign Adviser

Roger Stone (Carl Juste/Miami Herald/MCT/Getty Images)

Roger Stone (Carl Juste/Miami Herald/MCT/Getty Images)

Roger Stone, former Trump campaign advisor, longtime confidante, and political operative who was a partner of Paul Manafort, is of interest due to his communications with Russian affiliated entities during the course of the 2016 election.

What Mueller Is Probing: Communications with Russian operatives. Roger Stone confirmed to CNN that the Senate Intelligence Committee asked him to preserve any records that could be related to their investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 US election. He’s also called on Trump to fire Robert Mueller…wonder why.

What Mueller May Find:

  • Stone has admitted to speaking to Guccifer 2.0, the online persona believed to be a front for Russian intelligence officials and behind the hacks on the DNC
  • In October, Roger Stone boasted about being in regular contact with Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange, through “mutual friends.” This boast appeared to be validated by his eerie knowledge of upcoming Wikileaks concerning Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta’s emails. Several months before it occurred, Stone tweeted about an October surprise involving Podesta that would disrupt Clinton’s campaign

Jeff Sessions

Attorney General

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, right, accompanied by White House press secretary Sean Spicer, talks to the media during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, Monday, March 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, right, accompanied by White House press secretary Sean Spicer, talks to the media during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, Monday, March 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Jeff Sessions lied under oath when asked about his interactions with Russians during the 2016 campaign.

We’ve since discovered that Sessions did indeed meet with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on multiple occasions. This led to his recusal from the Trump-Russia investigation. A recusal President Trump directly blames for the appointment of Robert Mueller.

What Mueller Is Probing: Communications with Russian operatives and obstruction of justice. As Mueller ramps up his investigation into whether or not President Trump obstructed justice by firing former FBI Director James Comey, it’s likely Sessions will be questioned, given the fact he was involved in the meetings with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Trump where the decision was made. Mueller has already reached out to the White House about speaking to former and current senior officials about the Russia investigation, including former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.

What Mueller May Find:

  • Sessions reportedly met with Kislyak on three separate occasions, once in April 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel, once in July 2016 during the RNC, and a third time in September 2016 in his Senate office
  • Kislyak reportedly discussed campaign-related topics with Sessions, including policy issues important to Moscow
  • The April 2016 meeting is likely the April 27th Mayflower Hotel event where there was potentially a private meeting that occurred between Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions, Jared Kushner, and Kislyak
  • Sessions acted out of the bounds of his recusal by being part of the decision to fire James Comey
  • Sessions didn’t initially disclose meetings with Russians on his SF-86, which is a felony if it’s found to be a willful omission

Jared Kushner

The President’s Son-In-Law And Senior Adviser

White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner listens at left as President Donald Trump speaks during a Cabinet meeting — June 12, 2017, (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner listens at left as President Donald Trump speaks during a Cabinet meeting — June 12, 2017, (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Jared Kushner, influential White House adviser, and Ivanka Trump’s husband, is also a subject of this investigation. When the Trump-Russia investigation got to his campaign associates, Trump attempted to distance himself. But now, the investigation has begun close in on his family.

What Mueller Is Probing: Communications with Russian operatives. Mueller’s grand jury has reportedly already issued subpoenas regarding the June 9, 2016, meeting that Kushner attended. According to The Wall Street Journal, “Some of President Donald Trump’s lawyers earlier this summer concluded that Jared Kushner should step down as senior White House adviser because of possible legal complications related to a probe of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election and aired concerns about him to the president.

What Mueller May Find: In his testimony (which was not under oath), Kushner outlined four meetings he had with Russians, all of which were not initially disclosed. Kushner confirmed:

  • The Mayflower Hotel meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in April 2016 — The one Jeff Sessions attended but “didn’t recall”
  • The Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Russian operatives on June 9, 2016, which was revealed to have been an attempt to obtain damaging opposition research on Hillary Clinton from the Russian Government (Kushner denied he was aware of the purpose of the meeting)
  • The December Trump Tower meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Michael Flynn where a back channel line of communication with Russia was proposed
  • The December meeting with Sergey N. Gorkov who runs VneshEconomBank (VEB), a Russia owned bank that is currently under U.S. sanctions that were put in place in 2014. Gorkov is an FSB Academy graduate (essentially a trained spy) and known as a “Putin crony” in the intelligence community. Once VEB was sanctioned, Putin had to authorize $22 Billion in state funding to cover their debts

Other things Mueller may discover that Kushner didn’t speak on:

  • Kushner has had to amend his SF-86 at least three times, adding over 100 meetings with officials from over 20 countries and over 100 foreign contacts — willful omission on an SF-86 is a felony
  • Kushner and Ivanka Trump are close friends with Dasha Zhukova, wife of Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich

Felix Sater

Longtime Trump Associate

From Left: Donald Trump, Bayrock Group Chairman Tevfik Arif, and Felix Sater at the Trump Soho launch party on Sept. 19, 2007, in New York. (Mark Von Holden/WireImage)

From Left: Donald Trump, Bayrock Group Chairman Tevfik Arif, and Felix Sater at the Trump Soho launch party on Sept. 19, 2007, in New York. (Mark Von Holden/WireImage)

Felix Sater, a Russian-born Mafia-linked figure, joined Bayrock in 1999. Trump started building Trump SoHo along with Sater and three Russian oligarchs under investigation for money laundering. The project would ultimately start a criminal investigation in 2011, which Trump and his partners settled by refunding over $3 million in down payments on the condos. Trump has repeatedly denied that he knows Sater despite the evidence via email and sworn depositions that he was a close family friend and lived in Trump Tower.

What Mueller Is Probing: Felix Sater is back in the news cycle again and will likely be implicated in some form or another in Mueller’s probe into money laundering. Sater is already reportedly cooperating with an international investigation into a money laundering network.

What Mueller May Find:

The Washington Post reported that in late 2015 and early 2016, while Donald Trump was running for president, the Trump Organization sought to develop a huge Trump Tower in Moscow. Donald Trump signed a letter of intent in 2015, four months into his presidential campaign, to pursue this venture. Felix Sater urged Trump to come to Moscow to tout the proposal and suggested he could get President Vladimir Putin to say ‘great things’ about Trump….

Sater wrote to then Trump Organization Executive Vice President (now Trump’s personal lawyer) Michael Cohen, something to the effect of, “Can you believe two guys from Brooklyn are going to elect a president?’” In the emails, Sater went on to brag about how this deal would help Trump get the presidency…

“Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,” Mr. Sater wrote in an email. “I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process…” In another email, Mr. Sater envisioned a ribbon-cutting in Moscow. “I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected,” Mr. Sater wrote.

According to The New York Times, the emails reportedly show that in the early days of the campaign, some Trump officials viewed close ties to Moscow as a political advantage. The deal fell through in January 2016 right before the presidential primaries. Cohen reportedly sought to revive the talks, sending an email that same month, seeking help from Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s top press aid. Cohen has said that he sent that email upon recommendation from Felix Sater.

  • On January 27, 2017, Cohen, who is also a subject of the Trump-Russia investigation, and Sater met with Ukrainian lawmaker Andriy Artemenko at a dinner in New York in an attempt to create a back-channel peace deal with Ukraine and Russia. A move many saw as a covert method to lift sanctions. Artemenko left the sealed plan with Cohen who was supposed to deliver it to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Artemenko claims he “got confirmation” from Sater that his plan was delivered to the White House. Artemenko confirmed the dinner took place and that the intention was to create this deal. Cohen confirmed the dinner took place but denies this was the content discussed. Because of this deal with Cohen and Sater, Artemenko has since been stripped of his citizenship and accused of treason…

Donald Trump Jr.

The President’s Son

Donald Trump and Donald Trump Jr. at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland — July 20, 2016. (AP/Matt Rourke)

Donald Trump and Donald Trump Jr. at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland — July 20, 2016. (AP/Matt Rourke)

“And in terms of high-end product influx into the US, 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.” — Donald Trump Jr in 2008

Jr.’s Russia connection goes all the way back to Trump Soho, where he along with Ivanka Trump, began scoping out real estate deals in Moscow with Felix Sater. But when it comes to Donald Trump Jr., most of the focus so far has been on the Trump Tower meeting where he was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton…he was explicitly told that the information being offered was part of the Russian government’s effort to aid Donald Trump Sr. and enthusiastically took the meeting anyway.

The Meeting Breakdown

  • Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, the Kremlin-connected lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Rob Goldstone, Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin (has testified before Mueller’s grand jury), Russian interpreter and a representative for Aras Agalarov, Ike Kaveladze were at this June 9th meeting at Trump tower — 8 people
  • Goldstone, publicist, and former British tabloid reporter, was the intermediary for setting up the meeting
  • Trump Jr. was promised dirt on Clinton before agreeing to attend
  • Veselnitskaya was lobbying against Russian sanctions
  • Trump Jr. was told it was part of Russia’s effort to support his father’s candidacy (with email confirmation via Trump Jr. himself)
  • Goldstone was told to set up the meeting by the son of Russian oligarch Aras Agalarov, Emin Agalarov
  • Trump Jr. didn’t appear surprised by Goldstone’s declaration that the Russian government supports his father
  • There seemed to have been a phone call between Emin Agalarov and Donald Trump Jr.
  • Robert Mueller is looking into whether or not President Donald Trump tried to conceal the nature of this meeting when he personally dictated Trump Jr.’s initial misleading characterization of the meeting

Donald Trump

The President

President Donald Trump (AP/Andrew Harnik)

President Donald Trump (AP/Andrew Harnik)

President Donald Trump. The man himself. If you’ve made it this far in this article, I’m sure you’re thinking, what part did Trump play in this? Did he participate in, or was he aware of, any collusion? At this point, it’d be tough to claim that at the very least he was not aware of the Russian government’s efforts to aid his campaign. The email sent to Trump Jr. explicitly stated this fact, and it’s hard to believe that Trump Sr., a known micromanager, was not made aware of this email exchange or the Trump Tower meeting. Trump was at Trump Tower the day of the meeting and sent this tweet out about 40 minutes after it the meeting was set to begin.

We’ve since learned that the initial misleading account of the meeting that came from Donald Trump Jr. was personally dictated by President Trump while he was at the G20 summit.

But whether or not Trump was aware of, or participated in, the alleged collusion won’t be what leads to impeachment. Mueller’s investigation into obstruction of justice and financial crimes will be the most damaging.

So why is President Trump so quick to attack everyone, including Americans, but bends over backward to praise a foreign adversary like Vladimir Putin? The Kompromat (compromising material) that Putin has long been suspected of having most likely isn’t a pee-pee tape…It may be records of money laundering.

What Mueller May Find:

  • “A Reuters review has found that at least 63 individuals with Russian passports or addresses have bought at least $98.4 million worth of property in seven Trump-branded luxury towers in southern Florida”
  • In 2008, Russian oligarch and fertilizer magnate Dmitry Rybolovlev bought a Trump property for $95 million, double what it was worth, which is a classic money laundering technique meant to bake payments or bribes into what looks like a real estate deal
  • The FBI wiretapped offices in Trump Tower, investigating a Russian money laundering group run out of apartment 63A, implicating 30 people and involving assets owned by Trump in New York and Florida
  • Trump’s reportedly has ties to the New York and Philadelphia mob that go back decades
  • In order to be guilty of obstruction of justice, one doesn’t have to successfully obstruct an investigation. The law clearly states that anyone who “endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede, the due administration of justice, shall be (guilty of an offense).” Comey’s testimony showed a detailed report of President Trump making multiple attempts to influence an investigation that is targeting his campaign. Trump himself declared on multiple occasions that he fired Comey in an effort to end the Trump-Russia investigation
  • Mueller is looking into whether or not President Donald Trump tried to conceal the nature of Trump Jr.’s June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting

A quick few bits on the Trump Campaign:

  • Trump campaign digital strategist, Brad Parscale, is a subject of Congressional investigators who are looking into whether or not there was any coordination between Trump’s team and Russian operatives in the spread of fake news — given the sophistication of Russia’s voter targeting
  • Facebook has told Congressional investigators, and gave information to Robert Mueller after a warrant was issued, that a Russian “troll farm” bought $100,000 worth of Facebook advertising starting in the Summer of 2015 and throughout the 2016 election, spreading divisive political posts:

Facebook teams then discovered 470 suspicious and likely fraudulent Facebook accounts and pages that it believes operated out of Russia, had links to the company and were involved in promoting the ads.

Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, spoke on the questionable level of sophistication of Russia’s targeting:

“I get the fact that the Russian intel services could figure out how to manipulate and use the bots. Whether they could know how to target states and levels of voters that the Democrats weren’t even aware really raises some questions. I think that’s a worthwhile area of inquiry. “How did they know to go to that level of detail in those kinds of jurisdictions?”

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has his work cut out for him. It’s pretty clear which one of Trump’s associates will be facing criminal indictments. But the question remains, if charges were to be found against President Trump and his associates, will Trump simply pardon everyone?

When it comes to the question of pardons, it appears that may get tricky in the case of Paul Manafort. Mueller’s cooperation with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is an indication that Manafort may be charged with a state crime. If that’s the case, Manafort can’t be pardoned since a president can’t pardon state-level crimes. If other Trump associates (or Trump himself) were to be implicated in state-level crimes, the same would apply to them. If the possibility for a presidential pardon were to be off the table, that could make Trump associates more likely to cooperate with investigators.

And when it comes to President Trump, as the law currently stands, the Supreme Court hasn’t ruled that a president can be charged while in office, so in order for Trump to be removed from office, he’d have to either be impeached or the 25th Amendment would have to be invoked. Given President Trump’s waning political capital and record low approval rating, it’s growing less likely that Republican representatives will protect him if Mueller finds criminal activity.

Let’s say Trump is found guilty of crimes and removed from office, could his successor pardon him? Yes. But if he’s charged with state-level crimes, then his successor could only pardon him for federal charges, and he would have to face whatever penalties those state-level charges may bring.

As Mueller’s investigation moves full speed ahead towards the truth, we can only hope that this truth will also lead to justice.

Here Are Full Timelines Of Trump’s Relationship With Russian Oligarchs And Contacts Between His Campaign And Russian Operatives:

For Deeper Dives, Read These:

News // Donald Trump / Government / Journalism / Politics / Russia