The name of one country continues to dominate U.S. politics and headlines: Russia.
But, the months-long saga has so many chapters and intertwined characters, it's pretty impossible to keep everything straight at this point. To help keep track of what exactly's going on in Washington D.C. (and Russia), we compiled a timeline of the Russia scandal. In order to fully understand the issue, we have to go all the way back to beginning. Troubling news about potential Russia involvement in the 2016 presidential election first surfaced last summer, and the story's been slowly unfolding since then.
Of course, a lot as has changed since last summer — Donald Trump is now president of the United States and Hillary Clinton is no longer in politics — but the thing that remains the same is everyone still has a lot of unanswered questions about Russia.
This story was originally published on May 11, 2017.
Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, turns over documents to the Senate Intelligence Committee after senators asked him for papers related to his ties to Russia, CNN reports.
The Washington Post reports President Trump previously asked top intelligence officials to publicly deny that his campaign colluded with Russia. The director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and the director of the National Security Agency, Adm. Michael S. Rogers, both refused.
The New York Times reports President Trump told Russian officials that former FBI Director James Comey was "a real nut job" and that firing Comey took "great pressure" off him during a meeting on May 10.An unnamed "senior White House adviser" is a "significant person of interest" in the Russia investigation, according to a report by The Washington Post. Anonymous sources close to the situation say it's an adviser still in the White House.Members of Congress briefed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein tell McClatchy DC the investigation is also looking into whether the president's administration attempted to cover up a scandal.
Reuters reports Trump campaign advisers exchanged at least 18 calls and emails with Russian officials that were previously undisclosed during the presidential election. Six of the exchanges were with the Russian ambassador, and all are now included in the federal probes into Trump-Russia ties.
Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed President Trump didn't share classified info with Russia. He even offered to hand over transcripts of Trump's conversations with Russia’s foreign minister to Congress, according to The Associated Press.
Trump takes to Twitter to defend his actions. He writes, "As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism."
It's discovered that Israel provided the classified intel President Trump disclosed to the Russian ambassador and foreign minister the week before. Although the Israeli ambassador to the United States told The New York Times the country would continue to work with the U.S. on counterterrorism, it raises concerns that the U.S.-Israel diplomatic relationship could be compromised.
The New York Times also reports the president asked former FBI Director James Comey to stop the investigation into Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, in February. According to a memo Comey wrote after the meeting, President Trump told him, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go."
The Washington Post reports President Trump showed "highly classified information" to Russian officials in a meeting at the White House. The intel, provided by a U.S. intelligence-sharing partner and shared with the Russian ambassador and foreign minister, was "so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government," according to The Post.The morning after the news broke, Trump took to Twitter to defend his actions. He wrote, "As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism."
Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe tells the Senate Intelligence Committee, "The work of the men and women continues despite any changes in circumstance, any decisions. So there has been no effort to impede the investigation to date. Simply put, sir, you cannot stop the men and women of the FBI from doing the right thing."
He also says the agency's focus on potential ties to Russia is a "highly significant investigation" after White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claims its "one of the smallest things that they've got going on their plate."
President Trump fires FBI Director James Comey. A memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein claims he was terminated because he overstepped his authority, treated Hillary Clinton unfairly, and made the FBI look bad.
Democratic senators call for an independent investigation into the Trump campaign's alleged Russian ties.
Former acting attorney general Sally Yates testifies before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee, confirming she knew Flynn talked to the Russian ambassador about the U.S. sanctions imposed on Russian officials, saying she informed a White House lawyer Flynn was lying.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes recuses himself from the investigation after the House Ethics Committee released a statement saying it would investigate allegations that “Nunes may have made unauthorized disclosures of classified information, in violation of House Rules, law, regulations, or other standards of conduct.”
Comey confirms in a House Intelligence Committee hearing that the FBI is investigating "the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia's efforts."
Attorney General Jeff Sessions recuses himself from the federal investigation into Russia after it was revealed he met with the Russian ambassador twice during the presidential election, which he didn't disclose during his confirmation hearing.
Two days after Flynn is interviewed by the FBI, Yates warns the White House Flynn could be blackmailed by Russia because of his talks with the ambassador.
FBI Director Comey also tells a Senate panel the GOP was hacked by Russians, but the none of the stolen documents were leaked online. In his testimony, he says the hacking was "directed at state-level organisations, state-level campaigns, and the RNC, but old domains of the RNC, meaning old emails they weren't using. None of that was released."
U.S. intelligence agencies release a report saying the Russian government interfered in the 2016 election and Guccifer 2.0 was a "persona" used by Russian military intelligence.
It reads: "We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump."
A joint statement from the Department Of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Election Security says, "Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organisations."
Informal Trump adviser Roger Stone alludes that WikiLeaks will release more documents soon in a tweet with the hashtag #LockHerUp.
CNN reports the FBI and Justice Department are investigating Paul Manafort's firm as part of a probe into alleged corruption by the former President of Ukraine (who led the pro-Russian political party that paid Manafort millions in secret payments).
Manafort denies receiving millions of dollars in "undisclosed cash payments" from a pro-Russian political party while consulting in the Ukraine from 2007 to 2012, which The New York Times reported the day before.
Trump says at a press conference, "Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press," seemingly asking the foreign nation to hack his presidential opponent.
Private cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike announces on its website that it responded to a breach in the Democratic National Committee's (DNC) computer network and identifies two networks associated with the Russian government as the attackers. CrowdStrike says the groups — confusingly named "Cozy Bear" and "Fancy Bear" — "engage in extensive political and economic espionage for the benefit of the government of the Russian Federation and are believed to be closely linked to the Russian government’s powerful and highly capable intelligence services."
However, a person that goes by "Guccifer 2.0" claims to be behind the DNC attack, also alleging they gave DNC documents to WikiLeaks, though experts are skeptical and no one is sure who's behind the name.
Then-presidential candidate Trump says in a statement, "We believe it was the DNC that did the ‘hacking’ as a way to distract from the many issues facing their deeply flawed candidate and failed party leader."