2018 proved to be a year of numerous revelations that provided clarity regarding events leading up to—and following—the 2016 presidential election.
Advance Warning - Long Thread
Judge Rudolph Contreras presided over the guilty plea of Gen. Michael Flynn.
Contreras would be forced to recuse himself from the case six days later.
Notably, Contreras is also a FISA judge and is acquainted with former FBI agent Peter Strzok.
The news emerged that Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page had been removed from the special counsel investigation by Robert Mueller after Inspector General Michael Horowitz informed Mueller of the existence of incriminating messages between Strzok and Page.
IG Horowitz announced he was continuing his investigation into “allegations regarding various actions" of the DOJ & FBI in advance of the 2016 election.”
The IG is currently continuing several additional investigations, including FISA abuse by the FBI and DOJ.
It was revealed by CNN that it was Strzok who changed the wording of then-FBI Director James Comey’s description of then-candidate Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information from “grossly negligent” to “extremely careless.”
DOJ Associate Deputy Attorney Bruce Ohr was demoted after House Intelligence Committee investigators found Ohr was in contact with former MI6 agent Christopher Steele while Steele was constructing his dossier.
It was revealed by Fox News that Ohr had been in direct contact with Steele around the same time the application for a FISA warrant on Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page was submitted and granted in October 2016.
It was reported by Fox News that Bruce Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, worked for Fusion GPS during the 2016 election.
The article noted: “Mrs. Ohr has written extensively on Russia-related subjects.
James Baker, the FBI general counsel (the senior legal counsel at the FBI), was demoted and reassigned.
Baker later resigned and/or was fired, on May 4, 2018.
A classified document began to raise alarms within the House Intelligence Committee.
The classified document was what came to be known as the Nunes House memo.
Sen. Chuck Grassley began broadcasting the existence of another classified document, the Grassley Referral, which he had drafted regarding the relationship between the FBI and Steele.
The DOJ produced 384 pages of text messages exchanged between Strzok and Page.
The FBI notified Congress that they had “failed to preserve” more than five months of texts from Dec. 14, 2016, to May 17, 2017.
IG Horowitz was able to recover the missing texts
James Rybicki, chief of staff to former FBI Director Comey and his successor, FBI Director Christopher Wray, resigned.
FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was forced to resign from his active position.
He was formally fired on March 16, 2018.
The Nunes House memo was made public, and it revealed a number of troubling disclosures:
The Steele dossier was the primary component of all four FISA applications on Carter Page—and, notably, the FBI hid information about its origin from the FISA court.
Josh Campbell, former special assistant to Comey, resigned.
Campbell wrote an op-ed in The New York Times on why he was leaving, but failed to disclose his working relationship with Comey, or that he had been offered a lucrative job at CNN.
Victoria Nuland, the former assistant secretary of state, revealed that she had received a copy of the early Steele memos in July 2016.
Nuland had provided permission for the FBI to send agent Mike Gaeta to London to meet with Steele in early July 2016.
Grassley memo released, and in some respects, the information was even more damning than the House memo.
Grassley’s memo noted the FBI had relied heavily on the dossier in its FISA application.
Either Steele lied or the FBI made materially false statements.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) released a large batch of text messages exchanged between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. The texts contained many redactions.
How Johnson came by the texts remains unexplained. IG Horowitz may be source.
David Laufman, deputy asst AG in charge of counterintelligence for DOJ’s NSD, resigned.
Laufman “played a leading role in the Clinton email server and Russian hacking investigations.” Laufman would later represent Christine Blasey Ford’s friend, Monica McLean.
Michael Kortan, the FBI assistant director of public affairs, resigned (effective on Feb. 15, 2018).
Kortan served as assistant director for public affairs, an influential job that controlled media access.
Rachel Brand, an associate attorney general and the No. 3 official behind Deputy AG Rosenstein, resigned.
She “played a critical role in Congress’ reauthorization” of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Grassley & Graham issued release related to a Feb. 8, 2018, letter sent to Susan Rice regarding a “partially unclassified email" sent by Rice to herself on inauguration day.
Rice's email indicated Obama had discussed limiting sharing of classified information
Special counsel Mueller issued an indictment of 13 Russian nationals and three companies.
Notably, no evidence was found of collusion on the part of any American citizen.
Attention began to refocus on the role of former CIA Director John Brennan.
As evidence continued to unfold, it would become increasingly apparent that Brennan had directed a larger effort that encompassed actions by the FBI, DOJ, and State Department.
McCabe was formally fired on March 16, 2018 for lying under oath regarding leaks to the media.
His actions would be detailed later in an IG report.
McCabe, who is currently sitting before a grand jury, had an active role in what came to be known as Spygate.
Greg Brower, the FBI assistant director for the office of congressional affairs, resigned.
He was the FBI’s liaison with Congress.
Nunes disclosed that no official intelligence had been used to open the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign.
Unofficial intelligence, pushed through unofficial channels, was the source of the entire investigation into Russian collusion.
House Intell released a declassified version of its report on Russian election interference.
Former DNI James Clapper would be identified in the House report as the apparent leaker of information regarding Comey’s briefing to Trump on the dossier.
The scope of the efforts behind the unofficial intelligence gathering—dubbed Crossfire Hurricane—began to be revealed.
George Papadopoulos was targeted by a number of individuals beginning in March 2016—and perhaps earlier.
Baker, the FBI general counsel, resigned and/or was fired. He had previously been demoted and reassigned on Dec. 20, 2017.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, who presided over the trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, received an unredacted version of the Aug. 2, 2017, Revised Scope Memo secretly issued by Deputy AG Rosenstein to special counsel Mueller.
The record makes clear that the Acting Attorney General has required the Special Counsel to consult with the Acting Attorney General.
[The Memo] limits the Special Counsel’s ability to investigate additional matters.
The IG released his Report.
The Report, which underwhelmed, contained a surprising amount of detail within the body of the document and reflected significant political bias within the FBI.
Following the release, Strzok was escorted out of FBI headquarters.
In sworn testimony, Rosenstein noted discrepancies between the FISA he signed and media reports:
“I’ve reviewed that one in some detail, and I can tell you the information that’s public about that doesn’t match with my understanding of the one that I signed.”
A second indictment was issued by the special counsel.
As with the Feb. 16 indictment, no evidence of collusion was found on the part of any American citizen.
Lisa Page testified before House committees.
Ratcliffe noted, “Lisa Page left me with the impression, based on her own words, that the lead investigator of the Russian collusion case, Peter Strzok, had found no evidence of collusion after nearly a year."
Heavily redacted versions of the Page FISAs were abruptly released.
Immediately apparent was the importance of the Steele dossier as the primary component of evidence the FBI presented to the FISA court.
Nunes has stated they contain exculpatory information.
FBI agent Peter Strzok was formally fired.
The role and importance of DOJ official Bruce Ohr began to emerge.
Ohr not only maintained ongoing contact with Steele but also acted as a conduit between Steele and the FBI in 2016 and 2017.
During an interview with Rachel Maddow, former CIA Director Brennan inadvertently revealed other methods by which information on members of the Trump campaign was being funneled into the FBI.
“Any time we would incidentally collect information on a US person, we would hand that over to the FBI because they have the legal authority to do it.”
Bruce Ohr testified before the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees in a closed-door session.
Ohr reportedly “gave lawmakers ‘a list of half a dozen’ senior FBI and DOJ officials [who] knew about his involvement with ex-British spy Christopher Steele.”
Papadopoulos was sentenced to 14 days in prison for lying to the FBI.
Papadopoulos’s conviction, which stems from the Mueller investigation, was not related to any collusion on the part of the Trump campaign.
Carter Page sent a tweet noting date of meeting with prosecutors from the Southern District of New York and FBI regarding Page’s assistance in the case of Russian spy Evgeny Buryakov:
“I can answer an old question on when I spoke with FBI / SDNY Prosecutors whom I had helped. My records show March 2, 2016.”
Page’s assistance in the Buryakov case cast further doubt on the validity of the Page FISA warrant.
Trump issued an order for the immediate declassification of three series of documents related to the Russia investigation and the spying on his presidential campaign.
Trump made a surprising turnaround on his declassification order, asking the inspector general to review the documents on an “expedited basis.”
Trump gave two reasons for the sudden reversal.
"They agreed to release them but stated that so doing may have a perceived negative impact on the Russia probe."
"Also, key Allies’ called to ask not to release.”
A third indictment was issued by the special counsel.
As with the prior two indictments, no evidence of collusion was found on the part of any American citizen.
Politico reported that “special counsel Robert Mueller appears to be locked in a dispute with a mystery grand jury witness resisting giving up information sought in the ongoing probe into alleged Trump campaign collusion with Russia.”
Trump asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign.
Matthew Whitaker was appointed as acting attorney general by Trump.
Whitaker will assume responsibility for the Mueller investigation, taking over from Rosenstein.
Acting Attorney General Whitaker told Sen. Lindsey Graham that he was “not aware of any reason to fire the Special Counsel and he has no reason to believe the Special Counsel’s investigation has breached any Department guidelines.”
Several ongoing investigations were revealed. The largest includes an ongoing probe of Danske Bank and Deutsche Bank.
Former FBI Director Comey testified before the joint congressional committees on the Judiciary and Government Reform and Oversight.
Comey returned to finish his testimony before the joint Congressional Committees on the Judiciary and Government Reform and Oversight.
Lt. Gen. Flynn’s sentencing hearing was held.
After a series of unusual events during the hearing, the judge delayed Flynn’s sentencing until 2019.
A status report was scheduled to be filed with the court on March 13, 2019.
A lawsuit in relation to a defamation claim against BuzzFeed revealed that Steele provided a copy of his final memo to a number of individuals, including David Kramer.
Kramer provided BuzzFeed reporter Bensinger with copy of dossier.
Former security director for SSCI James Wolfe was sentenced to two months in prison for lying to the FBI.
Wolfe had been accused of engaging in ongoing, unauthorized contact with at least four reporters and was investigated for leaking classified information.
An unnamed foreign-owned company reportedly involved in the Mueller investigation appealed to the Supreme Court.
Judge Roberts will decide to rule against the company or have SC hear case.