It goes back as far as 2013 when Carter Page, a little-known energy expert and later a Trump campaign adviser, first came under FBI scrutiny for contacting a Russian intelligence operative in New York. Concern about Russian efforts to disrupt the U.S. political system intensified in 2014 and 2015 as hackers believed to be tied to the Kremlin targeted the White House, the State Department and the Democratic National Committee.
By 2016, with the U.S. presidential election in full swing, the FBI had opened a full-fledged counterintelligence investigation, prompted by fresh evidence of Russian hacks of Democratic computers. The objective: to determine whether Russia was seeking to interfere in the presidential election in favor of then-candidate Donald Trump and coordinated its efforts with Trump campaign associates. Now in its third year, the investigation led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has revealed extensive evidence of Russian meddling and contacts — although as of yet not collusion — between Russia and Trump campaign associates during the campaign. What follows is an account of key events in the investigation in reverse chronological order.
Officials and associates of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein say Rosenstein plans to leave the Justice Department after President Trump’s new pick for attorney general, William Barr, is confirmed by the Senate. Rosenstein’s expected departure adds to worries about the independence of the Mueller investigation. Read more…
Jan. 8, 2019
Supreme Court rules in subpoena fight
The Supreme Court rules against an unidentified foreign corporation fighting a subpoena believed to have been issued by a grand jury in the Mueller investigation. Read more…
Jan. 8, 2019
Manafort shared polling data with Kilimnik
A new court filing shows that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort shared campaign polling data with his former business partner Konstantin Kilimnik, who has been linked to Russian intelligence. The filing, which Manafort’s lawyers failed to redact properly, also revealed the former lobbyist had discussed a Ukrainian peace plan with Kilimnik. The revelations represent the latest evidence of communication between Trump associates and Russians during the 2016 election. Read more…
Jan. 8, 2019
Russian lawyer indicted
Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who attended the infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting with members of then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign, has been charged with obstruction of justice in a case that is unrelated to the special counsel probe but underlines her ties to the Kremlin. Read more…
Jan. 4, 2019
Judge extends grand jury term
A federal judge extends the term of the Russia investigation grand jury by up to six months. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has used the grand jury to subpoena witnesses and documents and to bring indictments against more than 30 people. The grand jury, impaneled in July 2017, was set to expire on Jan 6. Read more…
Dec. 20, 2018
Whitaker rejects recusal advice
Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker decides not to recuse himself from the Russia investigation despite a Justice Department ethics official’s advice that he step aside over his past criticism of the probe. A Justice Department official tells reporters that Whitaker was not required to recuse himself despite an appearance of a conflict of interest. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein continues to have day-to-day oversight of the investigation, the official says. Read more…
Dec. 18, 2018
Flynn sentencing delayed
A federal judge in Washington, D.C., delays sentencing for former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn for lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. in December 2016. The surprise move came after Judge Emmett Sullivan sharply criticized Flynn and his lawyers for insinuating in a sentencing memo that the FBI had tricked the retired general into lying. Sullivan said “I can’t hide my disgust” for Flynn and signaled an inclination to send him to prison despite the special counsel’s recommendation that Flynn serve no time. Read more…
Dec. 16, 2018
President Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, says Trump will not sit for an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors. “Over my dead body, but you know, I could be dead,” Giuliani tells Fox News when asked if Trump would submit to a sit-down interview with prosecutors after having provided written responses to questions in late November.
Dec. 14, 2018
Trump, Cohen spar over hush money payments
President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen tells ABC News that Trump knew it was wrong when he ordered Cohen to arrange the payment of hush money to an adult film star and a former Playboy model shortly before the November 2016 election, but that Trump was concerned news of another alleged affair would adversely affect the election. “I’m done with the lying,” said Cohen. The day before, referring to Cohen, President Trump told Fox News, “I never directed him to do anything wrong” and that the Cohen payments were “not a campaign finance violation.”
Dec. 12, 2018
Federal prosecutors reveal an agreement with National Enquirer publisher American Media Inc. signed in September acknowledging AMI paid $150,000 during the 2016 presidential campaign to a woman, now known to be former Playboy model Karen McDougal, to ensure she would not disclose “damaging allegations” of an affair with then-candidate Donald Trump. AMI admitted the payout was made in consultation with and “at the request and suggestion of one or more members or agents of” the Trump campaign to prevent McDougal’s claims from influencing the election. Under the agreement AMI will not be prosecuted for related crimes.
Dec. 12, 2018
Cohen sentenced to 3 years in prison
Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen is sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to covering up hush money payments to two women on behalf of Trump and lying to Congress about a proposed Moscow Trump Tower project. Cohen tells the federal sentencing judge that “blind loyalty” to Trump led him “to cover up his dirty deeds.” Read more…
Dec. 7, 2018
Federal prosecutors in New York recommend a “substantial” prison sentence for former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. In a separate court filing in the same case Special Counsel Robert Mueller says Cohen has provided “useful information” about matters “core” to the Russia investigation.
Dec. 4, 2018
Special Counsel Robert Mueller recommends that former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn receive no prison time because he has provided “substantial assistance” to several ongoing investigations. Read more…
Dec. 3, 2018
President Donald Trump tweets that his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, should “serve a full and complete sentence” for his crimes. Read more…
Nov. 29, 2018
Cohen pleads guilty to lying to Congress
Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen pleads guilty to lying to Congress about a Moscow real estate deal in order to “minimize links” between the project and Trump during the 2016 presidential election. Read more…
Nov. 28, 2018
President Donald Trump tells the New York Post during an Oval Office interview that a pardon for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is “not off the table.”
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort pleads guilty to federal charges of violating foreign lobbying laws and cheating the IRS brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and enters into a “cooperation agreement” with prosecutors. Read more…
Sept 7, 2018
Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos is sentenced to 14 days in jail after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI. He reports to prison on November 26. Read more…
Aug. 21, 2018
Cohen pleads guilty
Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen pleads guilty to campaign finance violations and other charges, saying Trump directed him to make hush money payments to two women during the presidential campaign. Read more…
Aug. 21, 2018
Manafort convicted on eight felony counts
A federal jury in Alexandria, Virginia, finds former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort guilty on eight felony counts: five tax fraud charges, one charge of hiding foreign bank accounts and two counts of bank fraud. A mistrial is declared for 10 other charges. Read more…
Aug. 1, 2018
President Trump calls on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, which he terms a “Rigged Witch Hunt” in a Twitter message. Read more…
July 16, 2018
Trump meets Putin
At a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, President Donald Trump appears to side with the Russian leader and refuses to condemn Russia for its interference in the U.S. presidential election. Read more…
July 13, 2018
Twelve Russians indicted for hacking DNC
A federal grand jury indicts 12 Russian military intelligence officers for their role in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and leaking hacked emails and documents. Read more…
June 8, 2018
Special Counsel Robert Mueller announces a superseding indictment in Washington, D.C., against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business partner Konstantin Kilimnik, accusing them of witness tampering and obstruction of justice.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller unseals a superseding indictment in Washington, D.C., dated February 16, 2018, against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, alleging he “secretly retained a group of former senior European politicians to take positions favorable to Ukraine, including by lobbying in the U.S.”
February 23, 2018
Gates pleads guilty and promises to cooperate
Rick Gates, former Trump campaign deputy chairman and business associate of Paul Manafort, pleads guilty to two criminal charges and agrees to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
February 22, 2018
A grand jury in Alexandria, VA, returns a 32-count superseding indictment against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates, accusing them of financial crimes.
February 20, 2018
Dutch attorney indicted
London-based attorney Alex van der Zwaan pleads guilty to lying to the FBI about his interactions with Rick Gates, former Trump campaign deputy chairman and business associate of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Read more…
February 16, 2018
Thirteen Russians charged with conspiracy
A federal grand jury charges 13 Russians and three Russian companies with orchestrating an online influence operation during the 2016 presidential election.
Nov. 30, 2017
Flynn pleads guilty to lying to FBI
Former National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn pleads guilty to lying to the FBI about his discussions with the Russian ambassador during the Trump presidential transition in a plea agreement with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Oct. 27, 2017
Manafort and Gates indicted
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates, former Trump campaign deputy chairman, are indicted on conspiracy and money laundering charges in connection with their lobbying on behalf of Ukraine, a Ukrainian political party, and a former president of Ukraine. Read more…
Papadopoulos pleads guilty
In a plea agreement with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos pleads guilty to lying to the FBI about his efforts to put the Trump campaign in contact with Russian officials.
Sept. 26, 2017
Trump friend and former campaign adviser Roger Stone testifies before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, denying collusion with Russia or advance knowledge of the hacking of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails.
August 2, 2017
Mueller authorized to investigate “colluding” with Russian officials
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein writes memo to Special Counsel Robert Mueller specifically stating Mueller is authorized to investigate former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort for “colluding” with “Russian government officials” to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
August 2, 2017
Trump signs Russia sanctions bill
President Trump signs into law a bill passed by the U.S. Congress confirming sanctions against Russia for meddling in the 2016 presidential election “shall remain in effect” and providing other sanctions for other Russian activities including “evasion of sanctions.”
July 27, 2017
Papadopoulos arrested for lying to FBI
Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos is arrested for lying to the FBI in a January 2017 interview about his foreign contacts during the campaign.
July 11, 2017
Donald Trump Jr. releases statement and email chain leading up to the June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting in which he wrote, “I love it,” when told by music promoter Rob Goldstone that the Russians had damaging information on candidate Hillary Clinton.
July 8, 2017
The New York Times reports on the June 9, 2016, meeting at Trump Tower when Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner met with Kremlin-linked lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. The three had been told they would receive damaging information about presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
June 23, 2017
After months of casting doubt on U.S. intelligence agency assessments that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, President Trump’s tweet appears to confirm the interference.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller removes FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page from his team after discovering they had exchanged derogatory texts about President Trump.
June 14, 2017
Mueller expands probe to include obstruction of justice
The Washington Post reports that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has expanded his probe to investigate President Trump for possible obstruction of justice.
June 8, 2017
Comey says Trump urged him to drop probe of Flynn
Fired FBI Director testifies before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence about the circumstances leading up to his dismissal. He said that President Trump at one point asked him to drop the investigation of former National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.
May 17, 2017
Rosenstein appoints Robert Mueller to lead Russian investigation
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appoints former FBI Director Robert Mueller as Special Counsel to oversee the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
May 12, 2017
President Trump’s lawyers say his tax returns do not indicate any Russian income or debt — except for $95 million paid for a Trump estate in Florida and $12 million for the Trumps’ Moscow Miss Universe pageant in 2013.
May 9, 2017
President Trump fires Comey
President Trump fires FBI Director , citing Comey’s handling of the FBI investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server.
May 3, 2017
Comey testifies before Congress
In what turns out to be his last congressional testimony as FBI director, evades a question about whether President Trump might be a target of the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
March 20, 2017
Comey confirms investigation into coordination between Trump campaign and Russian officials
FBI Director publicly confirms for the first time during a U.S. House of Representatives committee hearing the existence of an FBI investigation into connections between the Trump campaign and Russian officials which started in late July 2016.
March 2, 2017
Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page contradicts earlier statements and confirms he met Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the summer of 2016.
March 2, 2017
Sessions recuses himself from Russian probe
Attorney General Jeff Sessions recuses himself from all matters related to the Trump campaign investigation, including the FBI’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Feb. 15, 2017
Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page denies he had any meetings with Russian officials in 2016.
Feb. 14, 2017
President Trump privately asks FBI Director to drop FBI investigation of now-former National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.
Feb. 13, 2017
Flynn resigns under fire
National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn resigns after misleading Vice President Mike Pence and other administration officials about his contacts with Russian officials.
U.S. Congress opens investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Jan. 24, 2017
FBI interviews Flynn
FBI interviews National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Jan. 20, 2017
Trump sworn in as 45th president
Donald Trump sworn in as 45th President of the United States. Read more…
Jan. 15, 2017
Vice President-elect Mike Pence denies any discussion of sanctions between incoming National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Jan. 11, 2017
Trump acknowledges Russian interference in election
In a news conference, President-elect Trump for the first time admits Russia interfered in the election saying, “I think it was Russia.”
Jan. 10, 2017
Sessions denies communicating with Russians
Senator Jeff Sessions, testifying during his confirmation hearing to become attorney general, says he “did not have communications with the Russians” during the campaign.
January 6, 2017
U.S. intelligence agencies release a declassified version of their assessment that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered a covert campaign to disrupt the U.S. presidential election.
January 6, 2017
Comey briefs Trump about Steele dossier
Top U.S. intelligence officials brief president-elect Donald Trump on their assessment of Russian interference in the election. FBI Director briefs Trump on the Steele Dossier, a collection of memos about alleged Russian efforts to interfere in the election prepared for the Democrats by former British spy Christopher Steele.
Dec. 30, 2016
President-elect Donald Trump praises Russian President Vladimir Putin on Twitter for not retaliating after the U.S. imposed sanctions and expelled Russian diplomats.
Dec. 29, 2016
Obama sanctions Russia for hacking
The Obama administration expels 35 Russian “intelligence operatives” and imposes sanctions on Russian government agencies, companies and officials in response to alleged interference in the U.S. presidential election.
Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, meets Sergey Gorkov, chairman of Russia’s government-owned Vnesheconombank. The bank is under sanction by the U.S. government. The White House says the meeting is routine.
Kushner proposes back-channel communications with Russia
Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner meet Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at Trump Tower. Kushner proposes setting up back-channel communications between the administration and the Russian government. Sources close to Kushner indicate the only focus of this would be Syria.
Week of Nov. 28, 2016
Selected senators reportedly receive a closed-door briefing from the Central Intelligence Agency about intelligence which suggests Russia’s aim was to elect Trump.
Nov. 18, 2016
President-elect Donald Trump offers retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn the job of national security advisor. Trump also selects Senator Jeff Sessions to be attorney general. Read more…
Nov. 8, 2016
Trump scores stunning presidential victory
Donald Trump is elected 45th president of the United States.
Russian offers Trump camp “political synergy”
Trump lawyer Michael Cohen speaks with a Russian who offers “political synergy” with the Trump campaign and proposes a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Read more…
Oct. 13, 2016
WikiLeaks says it “has never communicated with Roger Stone as we have previously, repeatedly stated.”
Oct. 7, 2016
The Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence issue a joint statement saying they are confident the Russian government was behind the Democratic email hacks. WikiLeaks publishes thousands of emails stolen from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s Gmail account.
Oct. 3, 2016
Trump friend and adviser Roger Stone tweets that he has “total confidence” that WikiLeaks and his “hero Julian Assange” will deliver more damaging information on Democrats.
Sept. 8, 2016
Senator Jeff Sessions, a Trump campaign adviser, and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak meet in Sessions’ office.
Sept. 6, 2016
Intel chiefs brief congressional staff about Russian hacking
FBI, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and National Security Agency reportedly provide a classified briefing for congressional staff about Russian hacking.
Aug. 21, 2016
Roger Stone tweets about second WikiLeaks email dump
Trump friend and adviser Roger Stone hints at a possible WikiLeaks release of hacked emails of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, tweeting “Trust me, it will soon [be] Podesta’s time in the barrel. #CrookedHillary.”
Aug. 19, 2016
Trump campaign chief Manafort resigns
Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort resigns after reports of his lobbying for pro-Russian interests in Ukraine emerge.
Trump friend and adviser Roger Stone exchanges Twitter messages with “Guccifer 2.0,” an online persona created to disseminate the hacked Democratic emails as part of a Russian disinformation campaign.
Late July 2016
FBI launches probe of Russian interference
The FBI launches a counterintelligence investigation into Russian interference in the election.
July 27, 2016
“Russia, if you’re listening….”
During a press conference, presidential candidate Donald Trump says, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” in a reference to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server. He later says he was joking.
July 26, 2016
The New York Times reports “American intelligence agencies have told the White House they now have ‘high confidence’ that the Russian government was behind the theft of emails and documents from the Democratic National Committee…”
July 22, 2016
WikiLeaks releases first trove of stolen DNC emails
The website WikiLeaks releases the first trove of tens of thousands emails and other documents hacked from the Democratic National Committee.
July 7, 2016
Trump campaign adviser Carter Page takes one of several trips to Moscow, drawing the interest of the FBI.
July 5, 2016
Comey warns Clinton’s emails may have been hacked
FBI Director announces at a news conference he recommended no criminal charges against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her handling of classified information on her private email server. He says, “It is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal e-email account.”
June 15, 2016
Hackers believed to be affiliated with the Russian government and posing as “Guccifer 2.0” claim credit for breaching Democratic National Committee computers.
June 15, 2016
CrowdStrike blames Russian government for hacking Democratic computers
CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity firm retained by the Democratic National Committee to investigate a suspected breach of its computer networks, blames Russian government hackers for the intrusion.
June 9, 2016
Trump Jr., Kushner and Manafort meet with Russians at Trump Tower
Donald Trump Jr., Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort meet with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian attorney believed to have ties to the Kremlin, at Trump Tower. Several others, including Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, attend.
June 7, 2016
Presidential candidate Donald Trump announces he is going to give “a major speech” the following week to discuss “all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons.” The speech is moved to June 22 because of the Pulse nightclub shooting.
June 3, 2016
Donald Trump Jr., receives emails from music promoter Rob Goldstone suggesting a meeting with a “Russian government attorney” who has derogatory information on presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. They later agree to meet on June 9.
FBI obtains a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (“FISA”) warrant to monitor Trump campaign adviser Carter Page’s communications because it suspects he is acting on behalf of Russia.
Late April 2016
The FBI alerts top officials of the Democratic National Committee about the hacking of DNC computers.
Russian “Fancy Bear” attacks Democratic computers
Another group of Russian hackers known as “Fancy Bear” gains access to Democratic organizations’ computers and steal information from senior party officials that is later disclosed publicly.
March 21, 2016
In an interview with the editorial board of The Washington Post, candidate Donald Trump lists Carter Page as part of his foreign policy team.
March 19, 2016
Russians hack emails of Clinton’s campaign chair
Russians hack Gmail account of John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Dec. 10, 2015
Flynn dines with Putin
Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn is paid more than $45,000 to attend state broadcaster Russia Today’s 10th anniversary celebration in Moscow. He sits next to Russian President Vladimir Putin at dinner.
Oct. 13, 2015
Russian-born real estate developer Felix Sater forwards a letter of intent for the Trump Moscow project to Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and asks Cohen to have Trump sign it.
Trump, Cohen mull over meeting with Putin
Trump lawyer Michael Cohen confers with his boss about ”contacting the Russian government before reaching out to gauge” its interest in a possible Trump meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
British sound the alarm
British intelligence agencies alert U.S. counterparts to communications between Trump campaign associates and suspected Russian spies.
Aug. 8, 2015
Roger Stone, a long-time friend and adviser to Donald Trump, leaves Trump’s campaign team after a couple of months, but vows to support the candidate.
Hackers believed to be linked to the Russian government and known to cybersecurity experts as “Cozy Bear” penetrate Democratic National Committee computers and have access until at least June 2016, according to U.S. intelligence community. Others in U.S. government are targets.
June 16, 2015
Trump launches campaign
Real estate mogul and TV personality Donald Trump announces his candidacy for president. Read more…
Hackers believed to be linked to Russian intelligence services target the White House, State Department, and U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff during 2014 and 2015.
The Obama administration is warned by U.S. national security officials that Russia is stepping up efforts to potentially disrupt the U.S. political system.
Carter Page, later a campaign adviser to presidential candidate Donald Trump, meets a suspected Russian intelligence operative in New York.