Remember the Big Story: Donald Trump Betrayed America to Russia
Michael Cohen heading to jail. Michael Flynn narrowly avoiding a prison sentence—for now. Paul Manafort stuck in the hoosegow and still tangling with special counsel Robert Mueller. The news of the Trump-Russia scandal these days has focused on the dramatic developments for several top lieutenants in Donald Trump’s crew. (And don’t forget about Roger Stone!) But whenever there is a rush of new details about one slice or another of this controversy—or the other pending or possible cases involving the Trump Foundation, the Trump Organization, the Trump inauguration, the Trump family’s alleged tax fraud, and more—it’s important for all of us (and the media) to keep the spotlight on a central element that has already been established beyond any doubt:
Trump betrayed his fellow Americans.This Big Story often gets lost in the details and the ever-unfolding developments.
Trump’s chaff-throwing has prevented core truths of the scandal from shining through, with a big assist from Fox News and “alternative facts” disinformation. Trump has screamed “No collusion,” shrieked “Witch hunt,” and screeched “Hoax.” He has denied and lied. He has strived to make the public believe that the fundamental question is whether he directly conspired with Vladimir Putin to hack Democratic targets and disseminate the stolen material—contending that anything short of that is no big deal.
Trump and his conservative handmaids in politics and right-wing media have done everything they can to prevent a clear-eyed reckoning with what happened in 2016. Yet recent events make Trump’s already obvious treachery even more obvious. And it’s necessary for journalists and citizens to make sure this can be discerned through the dust Trump kicks up daily.
Trump, while campaigning for president, had a secret deal in Russia for which his attorney sought Putin’s help. Trump lied to the public about this.
Trump’s campaign was informed that Moscow intended to intervene to help Trump. It said nothing about this information, essentially encouraged the Kremlin, and denied Moscow’s involvement once the Russian hack-and-dump attack became publicly known.
Trump, after being told the Kremlin was attempting to subvert an American election, claimed no such thing was happening. He covered for Putin.
Trump aided and abetted Russia’s secret war on the United States—a war that helped shape the outcome of a narrowly decided presidential election.
This is all known, and indisputable—except that these days, anything will be disputed by Trump and his followers.
Even if Trump’s disputations are demonstrable lies—“I have nothing to do with Russia”—they still color and cloud the ongoing public discourse about what happened in 2016. They have prompted his supporters and his GOP comrades to reject or ignore the powerful truth of Trump’s profound betrayal, portraying it as just another debatable point in the grand chaos of the Trump years.
Despite the lies and obfuscations and idiocy and denials from Trump and his band of useful idiots, at the heart of the story is the ultimate in corruption and a deep betrayal of one's fellow countrymen.
Trump needs to be impeached, or else impeachment and the rule of law means nothing in this country.
And the latest from Seth Abramson:
Here are the 50 MOST IMPORTANT EVENTS in the Trump-Russia timeline, RANKED. If you ignored the Trump-Russia case in 2017 and 2018, you'll find that impossible to do in 2019—as America plunges further into crisis.
#50 IVANKA INSIDE THE KREMLIN. 2006. Longtime Trump business associate Felix Sater—a former Russian mobster—treats Ivanka Trump to a private tour of Putin's Kremlin office; she even sits in his chair. Russia experts say that this confirms that Sater was trusted by Putin himself.
#49 TRUMP HIRES WHITAKER AS ACTING AG. November 2017. After months of secretly using him as an end-around for Sessions' recusal in the Mueller case, Trump makes an unqualified lawyer, Matt Whitaker, Acting AG on the basis of his past comments advocating an end to Mueller's probe.
#48 TRUMP FALSIFIES STATEMENT ON TRUMP-RUSSIA MEETING. July 2017. Though he knows the truth of what went on at a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between his son, his son-in-law, his campaign head and Kremlin agents, Trump concocts a false statement on it—then lies about writing it.
#47 TRUMP'S CRAZY NATSEC HIRES/NON-HIRES. Early 2016. Though they're top Trump NatSec advisers, Trump refuses to put Flynn or Erik Prince on his National Security Advisory Committee. He does hire men—Page, Papadopoulos, Schmitz—with controversial Russian ties and few credentials.
#46 THE TRUMP-PUTIN EVASIONS. 2014 through 2016. For 2 years, Trump gives every possible answer as to whether he's ever spoken to Putin on the phone, met him in person, or talked with him about politics. What's constant is his unwillingness to ever criticize the Kremlin autocrat.
#45 SF-86 LIES. Late 2016-early 2017. Flynn and Kushner leave off their official federal hiring documents *many* important contacts with Russian nationals, with Kushner continuing to deny—even today—an April 2016 call with Russian ambassador/spy Kislyak that Reuters has reported.
#44 THE NADER-ZAMEL DEAL. Nader (Saudi Arabia, UAE)—architect of the "Red Sea Conspiracy" to partner with Trump and Russia to remake the Middle East—gives intel mogul Zamel (Israel, Russia) $2 million post-election. Nader and Zamel offered Trump collusive assistance pre-election.
#43 KUSHNER AND TRUMP SHAKE DOWN THE QATARIS. 2017. Kushner and Trump are the only administration members who choose to back Saudi Arabia's outrageous blockade of Qatar, an inexplicable position that quickly leads Qatar-backed lenders to give Kushner nearly $1 billion in "loans."
#42 FLYNN DOES THE TURKS' DIRTY WORK. Fall 2016. After Saudi Arabia and UAE back an unsuccessful coup in Turkey, they must get on Turkey's good side again. Flynn—who's lobbying the Saudis/Emiratis on energy—works with Turkey to try to kidnap an alleged coup plotter from America.
#41 RYBOLOVLEV MAKES A KILLING. November 2017. Rybolovlev—Putin's pal, Zamel's boss, Trump's acquaintance—gets $300 million for a painting over what he paid, though it's held to be a fake. The buyer? An MBS (Saudi Arabia) pal. Zamel offered Trump tech—and MBS, money—pre-election.
#40 PAPADOPOULOS' INTERVIEWS IN GREEK MEDIA. December 2016. Papadopoulos, who's secretly met with Putin allies in Greece to negotiate the Russia sanctions issue, tells Greek media that Trump owes his election to him, and that Trump has offered him *any job* in his administration.
#39 THE TRUMP-RYBOLOVLEV TARMAC MEETINGS. Twice in the ten days pre-election, Trump's plane—with Trump on it—"meets" Russian oligarch Rybolovlev's plane (with him on it) on a tarmac. For an extended time. Rybolovlev previously "overpaid" Trump—by tens of millions—for real estate.
#38 THE HUNT FOR HER EMAILS. Summer 2016. Now-deceased GOP operative Peter Smith, in conjunction with Trump aides Flynn, Bannon, Conway and Clovis—and concurrent with Trump aide Joe Schmitz—hunts on the Dark Web for stolen Clinton emails, looking to contract with Russian hackers.
#37 JAVANKA FIRES CHRIS CHRISTIE. November 9, 2016. *Two days* post-election, Jared and Ivanka fire Presidential Transition Team head Christie—primarily because he refuses to hire Mike Flynn. With Christie gone, Flynn is quickly hired and retakes the point—with Kushner—on Russia.
#36 TRUMP COMMITS PERJURY ON CAMERA OVER RUSSIA TIES. Just before traveling to Moscow for the 2013 Miss Universe pageant, Trump lies under oath in a civil case as to whether he knows one of his two Russia fixers, Felix Sater—an ex-Russian mobster he's long been in business with.
#35 TRUMP JR.'S "MANHATTAN SPEECH." 2008. In an address to investors, Don Jr. unwisely admits that a "disproportionate" percentage of Trump Org clients are from Russia or the UAE—and boasts of how frequently he travels to Moscow. He later lies to Congress about his Moscow travel.
#34 THE 2002 MISS UNIVERSE PAGEANT. Puerto Rico. Trump successfully rigs the 2002 pageant to award "Miss Universe" to Putin's then-reputed mistress, Oxana Fedorova. Fedorova's public boyfriend is a Russian mobster who is a powerful player in the St. Petersburg real estate market.
#33 THE PERJURIES. 2017. Despite lying to Congress being a federal crime, a succession of Trump aides and associates—including Page, Prince, Sessions, and Trump Jr.—lie to Congress about their Russia meetings. Others—like Bannon and Lewandowski—take White House orders to clam up.
#32 TRUMP'S WITNESS TAMPERING. 2017-2018. Various locations. In a series of tweets, calls, and indirect/direct discussions, Trump tampers with witnesses by alternately threatening, encouraging, and changing the testimony of Yates, Comey, Flynn, Don Jr., Manafort, Hicks, and more.
#31 TRUMP ORDERS MUELLER'S FIRING. In June 2017, just weeks after Mueller is appointed Special Counsel, Trump orders that he be fired—an order which, if carried out, would have mirrored Nixon's infamous "Saturday Night Massacre." White House Counsel McGahn talks him down—barely.
#30 SESSIONS RECUSES. March 2, 2017. DC. AG Sessions recuses himself from the Russia probe, handing it to DAG Rosenstein. In a series of statements thereafter, Trump makes clear to aides that he made Sessions AG so that Sessions would "protect him" by scuttling the Russia probe.
#29 PSY-GROUP/CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA PACT. December 14, 2016. London. Zamel (Israel, Russia) *publicly* partners with Trump's data firm just 4 months after *secretly* offering Israeli technology to Trump's campaign that mirrors Russia's IRA-led pre-election disinformation campaign.
#28 ERIC TRUMP'S INTERVIEW WITH GOLF MAGAZINE. 2014. Eric accidentally reveals to a Golf Magazine journalist that the Trump Org's golf courses are entirely funded by Russian banks—a fact hidden by Trump refusing to release his tax returns. Eric later says the journalist is lying.
#27 THE TRUMP-COMEY TALKS. Early 2017. In a series of meetings and phone calls, Trump tries to get FBI Director James Comey to end his investigation into Flynn's secret negotiations with the Russians. When Comey refuses, Trump fires him and brags about doing so to Kremlin agents.
#26 PAPADOPOULOS' SECRET TRIPS. May 2016. Athens. Papadopoulos twice goes secretly to Greece to meet Putin allies there. His second trip coincides with Putin's only EU trip during the campaign—a trip to Athens. They meet with the same people and discuss the same issue: sanctions.
#25 THE SESSIONS-KISLYAK MEETING. September 8, 2016. Top Trump NatSec adviser Sessions—having secretly met with Kremlin ambassador/spy Kislyak at the RNC—again secretly meetings with him in his Senate office to discuss sanctions. He lies about this meeting to Congress under oath.
#24 THE POTUS-KREMLIN MEETINGS. 2017, 2018. Helsinki, Oval Office, et al. Trump repeatedly breaches protocol to hold secretive meetings with top Russians—including Putin, Lavrov, and Kislyak—in locales around the world. Every meeting runs long and fails to report out its content.
#23 TRUMP JR-TORSHIN MEETING. May 2016. Louisville. Trump Jr. meets with Russian spymaster/Maria Butina handler Alex Torshin at an NRA conference just days after Torshin reached out to Trump—who he'd met a year earlier—for a meeting. Trump Jr. subsequently lies about the meeting.
#22 PAGE GOES TO MOSCOW. July 2016. According to Steele's dossier, Page goes to Moscow as Trump's agent to discuss rewards for Trump for ending Russia sanctions. Page *and* the campaign lie about the trip—during which, it is revealed, Page *did* secretly meet with Kremlin agents.
#21 FREEDOMFEST. July 2016. Las Vegas. Trump calls on Russian spy Butina to ask him about his views on Russia sanctions at an NRA conference. Trump publicly states there's no need for such sanctions; shortly thereafter, Sater says the way is open to a new Trump Tower Moscow deal.
#20 KUSHNER-GORKOV MEETING. December 13, 2016. Trump Tower. Kushner secretly meets with the Russian intelligence-linked head of a Kremlin-owned bank. Kushner and Gorkov tell different stories about what happened; Gorkov flies to Japan immediately after the meeting to brief Putin.
#19 FLYNN DINES WITH KISLYAK—AND PUTIN. December 2015. DC and Moscow. Trump NatSec adviser Flynn meets secretly with Russian ambassador/spy Kislyak at his home and dines with Putin in Moscow—a trip he will later lie about. Trump brings him aboard his campaign shortly thereafter.
#18 THE KUSHNER-FLYNN-KISLYAK MEETING. December 1, 2016. Trump Tower. Kushner and Flynn—former Defense Intelligence Agency chief—ask Russian ambassador/spy Kislyak if the Trumps can use a Kremlin SCIF (secure facility) to send secret messages to Russia, evading US intel agencies.
#17 THE MANAFORT-KILIMNICK TALKS. April 11, 2016. De facto Trump campaign head Manafort tells Kremlin agent Kilimnick he can use his role to get square with Putin pal Deripaska. He later offers "private campaign briefings"; Kilimnick brags he got Trump to change the RNC platform.
#16 THE MIFSUD-PAPADOPOULOS TALK. April 26, 2016. London. Kremlin agent Mifsud tells Trump NatSec adviser Papadopoulos the Kremlin has stolen Clinton's emails. Trump aide Mashburn later tells Congress Papadopoulos told the Trump campaign—begetting a Trump-hacker collusion effort.
#15 FLYNN'S "GOOD TO GO" TEXT. January 20, 2017. DC. As Trump is sworn in, Flynn texts an associate who—like Barrack, Gates, McFarlane and Flynn—is lobbying Trump to send nuclear tech to Saudi Arabia and UAE (promoting Russia-built reactors and a nuclearized anti-Iran coalition).
#14 TRUMP'S FLORIDA PRESSER. July 27, 2016. In Trump's "Russia, if you're listening..." moment, he asks Russian hackers to attack America to aid his campaign—noting that such hacks would hold tangible value. The very next day Russian hackers make the sort of attacks he requested.
#13 MANAFORT IS HIRED. March 27, 2016. NYC. After longtime Kremlin ally Manafort—deeply in debt to Putin pal Deripaska—tells Trump pal Barrack he must "get to" Trump, Trump hires him "for free" as a "delegate counter." Trump lets him take over his whole campaign in under 3 weeks.
#12 MBZ ILLEGALLY ENTERS AMERICA TO NEGOTIATE. December 2016. Trump Tower. Emirati Crown Prince MBZ covertly enters the U.S. to meet with Kushner, Bannon, Nader, Flynn, and possibly others as a follow-up to an August 2016 Trump Tower meeting. This leads to the SEYCHELLES MEETING.
#11 THE TIHDC NATSEC MEETING. March 31, 2016. Trump International Hotel DC. Trump instructs his full National Security Advisory Committee to change the RNC platform in July to benefit the Kremlin. Trump learns here—at the latest—Papadopoulos is a Kremlin agent, and promotes him.
#10 FLYNN'S ILLEGAL NEGOTIATIONS. December 2016. At the direction of the Presidential Transition Team's top brass, Flynn illegally negotiates with the Russians on sanctions and Israeli settlements. He later lies to the FBI about his illicit negotiations, and is indicted for that.
#9 THE 2013 MISS UNIVERSE PAGEANT. November 2013. Moscow. Trump strikes a major tower deal with Kremlin agent Agalarov—with Putin's assistance. During the same 24-hour period, the Kremlin acquires kompromat on Trump at the Ritz. The Agalarov deal is active through February 2017.
#8 TRUMP SIGNS SECOND SECRET DEAL WITH KREMLIN AGENTS. October 2015. Trump agrees to a Moscow deal partially negotiated via the Kremlin, hiding it from both voters and execs at his company. His lawyer—once caught—lies about what Trump knew and how long he worked with the Kremlin.
#7 THE JUNE 2016 TRUMP TOWER MEETING. Kremlin agent/Trump business partner Agalarov offers the Trumps illegal pre-election collusive assistance in the form of covertly—facially, illegally—acquired Clinton documents. Don Jr. accepts the offer and attends a meeting to get the docs.
#6 THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION. July 2016. Cleveland. Trump national security advisors meet with Russian ambassador/spy Kislyak and coordinate with Kremlin agent Kilimnick to change the RNC platform to benefit Putin, per Trump's orders. They then lie about this to voters.
#5 THE MAYFLOWER SPEECH. April 27, 2016. Mayflower Hotel, DC. Trump declares a historically pro-Russia foreign policy in a speech written/edited by Kremlin allies/agents and attended—in a protocol breach—by ambassador/spy Kislyak. Papadopoulos tells Mifsud the speech is a signal.
#4 TRUMP'S FIRST NATSEC BRIEFING. August 17, 2016. NYC. Trump and Flynn get a classified NatSec briefing confirming Russia is engaged in a hot cyberwar against America. Both men keep offering Russia a unilateral end to sanctions afterward—thus aiding and abetting computer crimes.
#3 THE SEYCHELLES MEETING. January 2017. A hotel off the African coast. Nader sets a meeting between Prince (Trumps), MBZ (UAE), Dmitriev (Russia), and Dahlan (UAE, Saudi Arabia) to discuss a multi-nation bargain involving a nuclearized Middle East and ending sanctions on Russia.
#2 THE RED SEA CONSPIRACY BEGINS. November/December 2015. A yacht in the Red Sea. Nader pitches to three Middle Eastern leaders—MBS, Saudi Arabia; MBZ, UAE; al-Sissi, Egypt—a plan to collude pre-election with a US pol (Trump) to create a pro-US, pro-Israel Muslim-nation alliance.
#1 THE "GRAND BARGAIN" IS STRUCK. August 3, 2016. Trump Tower. Nader (Saudi Arabia, UAE) and Zamel (Israel, Russia) offer Trump representatives Prince and Trump Jr. illegal pre-election collusive aid in the form of money and a digital disinformation plan. Don accepts—Per the NYT.
PS/ The Trump-Russia case is so complex and sprawling—geographically, temporally, legally, geopolitically—that even with 50 entries, many key events had to be left out and (almost certainly) a couple key events may have been missed. Feel free to suggest additions in the comments.