Trump-Russia collusion: the basics

Trump and Putin in Helsinki, 2018 July 16
  1. Russia stole e-mails and documents from Hillary Clinton’s party and released them strategically to benefit the Trump campaign, while stealing e-mails and documents from Republican interests but not releasing them. Russia also stole the Clinton campaign’s turnout model and data analytics.
  2. Russia used social media to influence voters through paid and unpaid messaging and organizing of real-world actions, with the purpose of supporting Trump, denigrating Clinton, and discouraging potential Clinton voters. To target this messaging, Russia had access not just to the stolen data, but to proprietary Trump campaign polling data provided by campaign manager Paul Manafort.
  3. Russia forged at least one document, attributing it to Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Shultz; this document was instrumental in FBI director Jim Comey’s devastating intervention against Clinton.
  4. The Trump campaign knew it was being helped by Russia, sought and took advantage of this help, and facilitated this help as well. Through Roger Stone, the Trump campaign was in direct contact with Russian intelligence about the stolen e-mails during the campaign; both Stone and Don Trump junior were in direct contact with WikiLeaks, the primary intermediary for the document release.
  5. Trump and his administration have tilted US policy towards Russian interests in dramatic and previously-unthinkable ways, not just lifting, trying to lift, and blocking sanctions against Russia, but undermining US allies and alliances while embracing key elements of Putin’s envisioned illiberal world order.
  6. Trump and his family and business partners were involved in business in Russia and with Russians, apparently heavily dependent on this business, much of it was illegal, and they continued to pursue new business opportunities during the campaign and the administration, including a Trump Tower Moscow deal worth hundreds of millions of dollars and for which they hoped to receive the assistance of the Russian government and Putin himself.
  7. Wealthy Russian nationals increased their purchase of Trump properties, apparently to launder money, and channeled money to Trump personally through his properties and inaugural fund.
  8. Trump and his campaign, transition, and administration have concealed their communications with Russia from the rest of the US government and the public, before and after inauguration.
  9. Trump and his associates have lied repeatedly about their activities with regard to Russia, and attempted to thwart the investigations into those activities and into the Russian operation on Trump’s behalf.


Summer: Russian intelligence penetrates the computer network of the Democratic National Committee; Dutch intelligence, which is monitoring Russian intelligence, alerts the US government. The administration informs the Congressional Gang of Eight, but not the DNC.


January: Republican operative Paul Manafort, also a veteran of politics in Ukraine, advising the pro-Russia Party of the Regions and president Viktor Yanukovich, begins pursuing a position on the Trump campaign. Manafort is an old friend and partner of Stone and a neighbor in Trump Tower of Trump himself. Manafort is motivated to work for Trump because he is heavily in debt to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, and believes he can use his work for Trump to square the debt. Deripaska engages in influence operations directed by the Russian government.


January 9: Cohen meets at Trump Tower with Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg.


January 2: Trump demands on Twitter that the Department of Justice investigate Comey and Clinton aide Huma Abedin.


January 2: Trump justifies the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan as a counterterrorist action.


January 16: Trump goes on trial in the Senate for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.


January 6: Trump addresses a rally in Washington that he had called for the purposes of pressuring Congress to overturn the election. He sends the ralliers to the Capitol, where Congress is in joint session to count the Electoral College votes. Many of the ralliers enter the Capitol by force and engage in destruction and looting; some appear to have intended to kidnap or kill members of Congress and Pence, who is presiding over the count. Trump allows the riot to proceed for several hours, despite requests for armed intervention.



Analyst, generalist, rationalist. PhD, geography (world culture/politics), UCLA. Complete archive at

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O.T. Ford

Analyst, generalist, rationalist. PhD, geography (world culture/politics), UCLA. Complete archive at