It has been over one and a half years since the FBI began investigating.
June 16, 2015—nearly three years ago—Donald J. Trump announced that he would be running for the position of President of the United States. Shortly after, Russia and Russian news outlets showed favoritism to the dark horse candidate, seeing an opportunity to re-establish connections with the United States.
After nearly a year of such political noise, Trump team’s foreign policy advisory council’s staffer, George Papadopoulos, met with a man in the United Kingdom known as the “Professor” in March 2016. The Professor, according to the official October 2017 testimony of Papadopoulos, had connections to Russian officials that had compromising information on Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
In July of the following year, WikiLeaks and DCLeaks produced documents from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton. The following July, the FBI officially came into the picture with an investigation into the link between Donald Trump’s campaign and the Russian government.
In November 2016, Trump was elected the forty-fifth President of the United States. The next few months were fairly quiet with the exception of then-President Obama’s retaliation for suspected Russian interference by sending Russian diplomats home on short notice during the holidays—a controversial decision.
Two weeks prior to Trump’s inauguration in January 2018, the FBI, headed by Director James Comey, released a report in which they concluded that Russian hackers had tampered with the 2016 presidential election.
On March 2, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, after finding himself in controversy for multiple meetings with Russian Ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, during the campaign trail, recused himself from any judgement on the Russian election tampering investigation.
The following May, Trump fired FBI Director Comey due to Comey’s persistent prodding into “this Russia thing with Trump and Russia.” Comey was temporarily replaced by Andrew McCabe, who was then replaced with current director Christopher A. Wray.
In October and November of 2017, George Papadopoulos plead guilty to lying about his attempts to bring Trump in contact with Russia; Campaign Chair Paul Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates were indicted on twelve various charges that are awaiting trial; campaign advisor Carter Page contradicted Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ testimony that he was not informed of Page’s contact with the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia; and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was found guilty of lying about his off-record interactions with the Russian ambassador during the Obama-Trump presidential transition.
Flynn resigned on Feb. 14, 2017, stating in his resignation that he “inadvertently briefed the Vice President Elect and others with incomplete information regarding … phone calls with the Russian Ambassador.” He is succeeded by H.R. McMaster.
The story had died down for awhile after November of 2017, until being resurrected on February 2, 2018 by the unclassified release of a memorandum by House Intelligence Committee Republicans.
This memo questioned the FBI investigation as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) application filed for surveillance of Carter Page after his contact with Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister was based off of the dossier of Christopher Steele, an informant who was being paid by the DNC and the FBI for the same information. Steele was later terminated by the FBI for revealing himself as one of their sources, though the memo claims that “Steele should have been terminated for his previous undisclosed contacts with Yahoo and other outlets … but Steele improperly concealed from and lied to the FBI about those contacts.”
The memo went on to state that Steele was avidly against Trump and his campaign, his reporting according to the FBI was “minimally corroborated,” and that the investigation of Page would not have come about without the Steele dossier. The memo then discredited FBI agent Pete Strzok, who led the counterintelligence investigation following the 2016 Papadopoulos scandal.
On the ninth, President Trump denied the declassification and publishing of a rebuttal DNC memorandum, supposedly due to the nature of the enclosed information and it being deemed a security risk to declassify the information.
The ongoing battles between the presidency and federal justice, Republicans and Democrats, and the U.S. and Russia have done nothing but discredit the integrity and efficacy of the political system. Now, more than ever, politics is being played like a dangerous game, and we the people are on the losing side.