Timeline of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s alleged contacts with Russian officials & the Trump administration’s cover-up
Dec. 29, 2016:
President Barack Obama announced the expulsion of 35 Russian “intelligence operatives” and expanded sanctions in response to the Russian government’s efforts to interfere and undermine the 2016 U.S. Election. Trump campaign advisor and former Defense Intelligence Agency Director Michael Flynn allegedly spoke to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about lifting the sanctions after Trump takes office.
Jan 5, 2017:
Obama received briefing on the Intelligence Community’s Assessment’s (ICA) findings that the Russian government authorized hacks against the Democratic National Committee’s servers and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails in an effort to help Republican nominee Donald Trump win the presidential election.
Jan 6, 2017:
Intelligence officials briefed Trump at Trump Tower in New York City on the ICA’s findings on Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Jan. 6 – 13, 2017:
U.S. intelligence officials held five briefings to share the ICA’s findings with Congress.
Jan. 20, 2017:
Donald Trump sworn in as president.
Jan. 24, 2017:
Michael Flynn interviewed by the FBI over his failure to disclose inappropriate contacts with Russian officials after the election.
Jan. 26, 2017:
Acting Attorney General Sally Yates requested an urgent meeting in the morning with White House Counsel Don McGahn. The meeting took place that afternoon in McGahn’s office at the White House. Yates, who was accompanied by a senior member of the DOJ’s National Security Division, informed McGahn and his associate that Flynn lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Russian officials.
“We began our meeting telling him that there had been press accounts of statements from the Vice President and others that related conduct that Mr. Flynn had been involved in that we knew not to be the truth,” Yates testified at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. “We took them through, in a fair amount of detail, of the underlying conduct. What General Flynn had done and then we walked through the various press accounts and how it had been falsely reported.”
Yates warned McGahn that “We believe that the Russians knew this, but that they likely had proof of this information and that created a compromised situation – a situation where the National Security Advisor essentially could be blackmailed by the Russians.”
Jan. 27, 2017:
McGahn called Yates and requested a second meeting, which took place at the White House with the same participants as the prior day – McGahn, his associate, Yates, and the senior DOJ National Security Division official.
According to Yates, during the meeting McGahn asked her, “Why does it matter to DOJ if one White House official lies to another White House official?”
Yates explained to McGahn, again, that Flynn “had lied to the Vice President and others, the American public had been misled, and then importantly that every time this lie was repeated and the misrepresentations were getting more and more specific as they were coming out, every time that happened, it increased the compromise.”
“And to state the obvious, you don’t want your National Security Advisor compromised with the Russians,” said Yates.
According to Yates’s testimony, she discussed with McGahn the “applicability of criminal statutes and the likelihood that the Department of Justice would pursue a criminal case” against Flynn.
She also reassured McGahn that the White House could take action against Flynn, who had already been interviewed by the FBI, without fear of interfering with the Justice Department’s investigation.
“I remember specifically saying, ‘You know, it wouldn’t really be fair for us to tell you this and then expect you to sit on your hands.’,” said Yates.
Yates said McGahn requested permission to examine the “underlying evidence” against Flynn; Yates said she would work out the logistical arrangements for that.
Jan. 28, 2017:
Flynn joined Trump in an hour-long telephone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The White House issued a statement emphasizing that “the positive call was a significant start to improving the relationship between the United States and Russia that is in need of repair.”
Jan 30, 2017:
Yates informed McGahn that he would be permitted to review the underlying evidence against Flynn.
Yates was fired by Trump later that evening for refusing to defend in court the president’s executive order to ban Muslims, including visa and green card holders, from entering the United States.
Feb. 1, 2017:
Flynn issued a statement condemning Iran’s launch of a ballistic missile and attack against a Saudi naval vessel.
Feb. 3, 2017:
Flynn announced new sanctions against individuals and entities in Iran and blamed the alleged increase in Iran’s “belligerent and lawless behavior” on the Obama administration’s 2015 nuclear agreement.
Feb. 9, 2017:
The Washington Post reported that Flynn “privately discussed U.S. Sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador [Sergey Kislyak] to the United States during the month before President Trump took office, contrary to public assertions by Trump officials”.
Feb. 11, 2017:
Flynn participated in a discussion on North Korea’s missile launch with Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo at Mar-a-Lago.
Feb. 13, 2017:
Flynn resigned as the National Security Advisor. In his resignation letter, Flynn thanked Trump for “his personal loyalty”. He apologized for misleading Vice President Pence by giving them “incomplete information” regarding his phone calls with the Russian Ambassador during the transition period.
Feb 14, 2017:
White House press secretary Sean Spicer confirmed that Trump was notified of the Justice Department’s concerns about Flynn immediately after McGahn was briefed by Yates.
“Immediately after the Justice Department notified the White House of the situation, the White House Counsel briefed the president and a small group of senior advisors,” said Spicer. “When the president heard the information as presented by White House Counsel, he instinctively thought that General Flynn did not do anything wrong, and the White House Counsel’s review corroborated that.”
Feb. 16, 2017:
At a press conference, Trump defend Flynn, calling him a “fine person”. Trump said he thought Flynn shouldn’t have to resign.
“Because what he did wasn’t wrong, what he did in terms of the information he saw,” said Trump.
Trump admitted that he kept Pence in the dark about Flynn’s misleading statements for two weeks.
“Because when I looked at the information, I said, I don’t think he did anything wrong,” said Trump. “You know, he was just doing his job. The thing is he didn’t tell our Vice President properly, and then he said he didn’t remember. So either way, it wasn’t very satisfactory to me.”
March 2, 2017:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions admitted he misled Congress by not disclosing his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak while serving as Trump’s close advisor during the 2016 presidential campaign.
March 20, 2017:
FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers testified before the House Intelligence Committee on the intelligence community’s assessment on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
March 31, 2017:
Trump tweeted, “Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a with hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!”
April 25, 2017:
House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) received information that Flynn failed to disclose payment he received from the Russian government.
May 3, 2017:
Comey testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on “Oversight on the Federal Bureau of Investigation”.
May 8, 2017:
Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates and DNI James Clapper testified before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Flynn’s conduct and Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Trump tweeted: “General Flynn was given the highest security clearance by the Obama Administration – but the Fake News seldom likes talking about that.”
May 9, 2017:
Trump fired FBI Director Comey.
May 10, 2017:
Trump met wth Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at the White House. Members of the U.S. Press were barred from covering the visit.
May 12, 2017:
Trump tweeted: “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”
May 15, 2017:
The Washington Post reported that Trump divulged “highly classified” and so-called “code-word” information to Lavrov and Kislyak, Russia’s Foreign Minister and Ambassador, respectively, and Trump’s disclosure may have “jeopardized a critical source of intelligence” on ISIS.
May 16, 2017:
The New York Times obtained a memo written by Comey shortly after a meeting at the White House in February. The memo noted that Trump asked Comey to shut down the FBI’s investigation into Michael Flynn, with president allegedly telling Comey, “I hope you can let this go.”
May 17, 2017:
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a “special counsel” to oversee the FBI’s investigation into “Russian government efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election and related matters”.