A Simple Explanation Of Trump's Russia Scandal

Wow, what a week to be burdened with literacy and a conscience. It doesn't even matter where you sit on the political spectrum -- Left, Right or in a corner softly weeping -- every fan in DC was caked with shit being thrown from all sides. So much happened that it can be pretty confusing to keep it all together, and it's even more confusing when you factor in that so much news was jumping back and forth from things that happened weeks or months ago to real-time insanity. Luckily for you, I abuse drugs meant for horses, so I took the time to let someone else at work research it for me so I could give it to you!

April to November of 2016

Turns out that during Donald Trump's presidential campaign, not only was he selling record numbers of ugly hats (don't hate, you know it's true), but his cadre of questionably scrupled pals also had a few more undisclosed meetings with Russians than we were aware of. And by "a few" I mean 18. 18 undisclosed contacts with Russians.

A lot of these contacts seem to be between Michael Flynn, disgraced national security advisor, and Sergei Kislyak, Russian supermodel and ambassador. The nature of the contacts was email and phone calls. Can we assume a romance? It's up to the FBI to find the sexts. For now, the focus is on their efforts to set up backchannel communications -- which, again, sounds like romance. You know, for some of us.

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June 15, 2016

In what must be a super fun, party-like shindig, awesome dudebro Paul Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy have a meeting wherein the topic of Russia and Ukraine came up, and McCarthy casually mentions that he feels Trump is on Russian payroll. Specifically, McCarthy says, "There's two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump," referring to California Congressman Dana "The Mad Russian" Rohrabacher.

Some folks laugh at McCarthy's claim, then Ryan says "No leaks!" A good time is had by all. Those involved at first denied the conversation ever took place, until it was pointed out that it's on tape, after which they decided it was clearly just jokes. C'mon man, don't you know a knee-slapper when you hear one?

January 4, 2017

Ruh-roh! Despite assertions that the Trump team had no idea Flynn was more foreign than a guy in a Speedo on the beach, word is that they had been given plenty of advanced warning. It was Flynn himself who told White House lawyer Donald McGahn that he was being investigated for being a shady foreign agent and taking boatloads of sweet, sweet Turkish money.

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January 10, 2017

Despite basically saying "Don't hire me, I'm going to fuck this up," Flynn is hired and promptly sets about fucking this up. On January 10th, Flynn decides that the Obama administration's plans to work with Syrian Kurdish forces to fight ISIS by taking the city of Raqqa is crap. Trump is still 10 days from being president, but the Obama officials need his team to sign off on it. Flynn says no, delaying the operation and also supporting the position of Turkey, which is opposed to U.S. forces teaming with Syrian Kurds. Oh, also Turkey had paid Flynn $500,000 previously for his secret lobbyist job.

January 20, 2017

Intelligence officials warn Israel not to share sensitive info with Trump because it might get back to the Russians. Ha ha ha! Isn't that silly? How would info get from the president to the Russians? If this was a Choose Your Own Adventure novel, we'd ask you to move to May 10th, but it's not, so don't skip ahead yet!

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January 26, 2017

Sally Yates goes to the White House to warn officials that Flynn could be open to blackmail by the Russians. Oh man! That's warning number two!

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February 13, 2017

Flynn resigns as national security advisor. Or he's fired. Depends who you read. On the 13th? You bet on the 13th!

February 14, 2017

It's Valentine's Day, and love is in the air! According to memos written by James Comey, then-head of the FBI, Donald Trump urges him to drop the investigation into Flynn's ties to Russia. Word is Comey didn't feel comfortable with Trump, so he kept extensive notes on their interactions. According to his notes, Trump says "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go." If that's true, many analysts have said it could amount to obstruction of justice and be grounds for impeachment. Trump probably never thought of that because he doesn't like peaches, only well-done steak.

April 25, 2017

Trump sends a text to Michael Flynn telling him to stay strong, according to Flynn. Because of course that happened.

May 9, 2017

President Trump fires Comey, the man leading the investigation into the his administration's alleged ties with Russia. The reason provided is that Comey bungled his handling of the Hillary Clinton email server (sure). Trump says he consulted with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had recused himself from the Russian investigation, as well as a letter drafted by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

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May 10, 2017

Around now is when the shitsnowball gets pushed off the top of the hill and shit starts accumulating fast. Trump has a meeting at the White House, in America, not as a joke, with Sergey Kislyak and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Never mind the widespread suspicion that Russia tried to influence the U.S. election in favor of Trump, they still got an invite. Who doesn't get an invite is American press, shunned in favor of the Russian media, which the White House claims was sheer trickery. They thought that Russian photographer was just doing glamour shots.

At the meeting with the Russians, Trump decides to share classified intel about ISIS garnered from Israeli sources. Word is the info is so top-secret that even allies like Canada and the UK don't have it yet. But now Russia does! Neat-o.

At this same meeting, Trump tells the Russians about firing Comey, referring to him as "a real nut job." He then goes on to explain that this will take the pressure off that pesky Russia thing and, as a garnish, tells them he's not being investigated.

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May 11, 2017

In an interview with Lester Holt, Trump contradicts his earlier statement regarding the firing of Comey by stating, "When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said 'You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.'"

May 16, 2017

Trump goes on Twitter to explain sharing top-secret info with Russians. "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."

Supporters are quick to point out that he's right. The president can declassify and share any info he wants whenever he wants. Critics point out that's kind of missing the issue, and everyone in the White House probably hurried to change their pin numbers and passwords, unless they wanted their nudes leaked to the Russians.

Officials are worried that Trump's disclosure put the life of an operative working within ISIS in danger. Meanwhile, a bot campaign arises, quickly picked up by FOX news, which accuses Hillary Clinton of murdering former staffer Seth Rich.

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According to the story, a PI has evidence that Rich, who worked for Clinton's campaign, leaked info to WikiLeaks and was later murdered. The PI then says that's not true and that he'd heard it originally from a FOX reporter. Rich's family says it's not true and begs for a retraction, as there is no evidence from any law enforcement that Rich ever contacted WikiLeaks. Despite that, numerous just-made Twitter accounts which today are no longer active spread the story like creamy bullshit peanut butter until it went viral.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, all this news is apparently too much for House Republicans, who start turning on Trump and demanding to see and hear from Comey, as well as read whatever files he might have had pertaining to his investigation. Then again, none of them seem willing to impeach. In fact, John McCain says that talk of impeachment is not "rational." If he's ever engulfed in flames, he'll probably tell the firemen, "Now don't be hasty."

May 17, 2017

Ever-helpful Vladimir Putin says he has a transcript of the meeting between Trump and the Russian officials, which he's happy to share and will surely be trusted by everyone and isn't just Putin trolling hard as a mofo.

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Meanwhile back at the ranch again, former FBI director Robert Mueller is appointed special counsel in the Russia probe by Rod Rosenstein. Most people take this as a good thing. Maybe not Trump, but most people.

Michael Flynn keeps things interesting by so far ignoring a subpoena. Waiting for a sweet deal? Who's to say? Maybe ask a Russian ...

May 18, 2017

Yeah, Trump definitely didn't like the Mueller thing. After special counsel is appointed, Trump says he's the victim of the greatest witch hunt in American political history and also says no politician has ever been treated worse than him. The internet explodes in guffaws and references to JFK, Lincoln, and Mandela. Others point out how he spent the better part of Obama's administration leading the birther brigade. But whatever, who has time for irony?

May 19, 2017

Trump takes off for a delightful trip abroad. At the same time, news breaks that Jared Kushner is being looked at as a "person of interest" in the Russia probe, and that investigators are now looking to see if White House officials have actively engaged in a cover-up.

Can you believe this was all basically news from one week? You should pour yourself a drink.

For more, check out Unsettling Similarities Between Modern America And '80s Russia and Why Russia Is Like America's Jealous Ex Who Can't Move On.

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