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The Trump-Russia Conspiracy Web

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While the citizens of the U.S. eagerly await the Mueller investigation findings concerning whether there was unlawful collusion between the Trump campaign team and the Russians, here is a timeline of events involving major Trump team and Russian figures building a coherent conspiracy plot that shows motive, forethought, mutual self-interest, and cooperative effort to besmirch Hillary Clinton and win the 2016 presidential election for Trump:

March 19, 2016. Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta received a phishing email message from Fancy Bear, hackers aligned with the Russian Government, which was successful in penetrating Podesta's account and stealing at least 50,000 messages from his account. These hacked emails, later leaked by Wikileaks, contained 223email messages about Clinton and the transfer of 20% of U.S. uranium to Uranium One, a Russian-owned company. Many of these messages were clips from news media covering the story, but some contained correspondence about it.

In one message, the subject header read "Fwd: It's out there" sent from Hillary Clinton Campaign Director of Communications Jennifer Palmieri to John Podesta, dated April 29, 2015. The forwarded message was from Clinton Research Director Tony Carrk to Jennifer Palmieri and Clinton Press Secretary Brian Fallon, and contains the subject header "*Subject:* *It's out there*" along with a link. The reference to "It" was to the lobbying activity of the Podesta Group for Uranium One, while being "out there" referred to the story having been covered by the media. The cited link was to a story published by the Daily Caller spinning off of a story published six days earlier on April 23, 2015 by the New York Times titled "Cash Flow to Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium Deal." The Daily Caller story reported that The Podesta Group, a lobbying firm founded by John Podesta and his brother, Tony Podesta, lobbied the Clinton State Department, once in 2012, on behalf of Uranium One, which, in 2010, had fallen under the control of Rosatom, Russia's nuclear energy agency.

Another email message dated July,3, 2015 was sent by John Podesta to Palmieri, Carrk, Clinton public relationships specialist Kristina Schake, and Clinton Aide Christina Reynolds. The subject header of this message read, "Subject: Fwd: Grassley letter" and the forward was from Maura Pally, a high level officer of the Clinton Foundation. The message body reads, "Putting on all of your radars that Grassley sent a letter to AG Lynch (dated June 30th though we just saw it) asking questions about contributions to the Clinton Foundation and the Uranium One deal.Letter is attached. Craig is connecting with comms team to be sure they are aware as well."

April 26, George Papadopoulos, a foreign advisor to Trump, met in London with a Russian intermediary, Joseph Mifsud, who told Papadopoulos that "the Russians had obtained "dirt" on then-candidate [Hillary] Clinton"; and that "'They have dirt on her'; 'the Russians had emails of Clinton'; 'they have thousands of emails.'" Papadopoulos testified to the same in his guilty plea on October 5, 2017 (as corroborated by Schiff memo, footnote 5).

May 21. Papadopoulos emailed then-Trump presidential campaign chair Paul Manafort , informing him that "Russia has been eager to meet Mr. Trump for quite sometime and have been reaching out to me to discuss." Manafort, in turn, forwarded the email to Rick Gates, stating, "We need someone to communicate that [Trump] is not doing these trips"It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal."

June 9. Donald Trump Jr. along with Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort met with Kremlin-connected attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya , who offered to provide "kompromat" (compromising material) on Clinton in exchange for lifting Russian sanctions. Rob Goldstone, an intermediary to the Kremlin-connected Agalorov oligarchs contacted Donald Trump Jr. via email. In the email exchange Goldstone stated that the information being offered to the Trump campaign contained "some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father." (Note that Podesta's stolen email messages were not yet released to the public.) Trump Jr. was also reported to have asked the Russian attorney if she had evidence of illegal donations to the Clinton Foundation, which was the issue raised in the aforementioned New York Times article surrounding alleged contributions made by Uranium One.

Early July (on or about July 7). According to the controversial Christopher Steel Dossier, Carter Page held secret meetings in Moscow in July 2016, with Igor Sechin and senior Kremlin Internal Affairs official, Divyekin, a meeting that Page himself has subsequently confirmed. According to the dossier sources, these meeting concerned the lifting of sanctions against Russia as well as "a dossier of 'kompromat' the Kremlin possessed on"Hillary Clinton, and its possible release to the Republican's campaign team." According to the recently released Schiff memo(p. 4), the latter description of the meetings also "closely tracks what other Russian contacts were informing another Trump foreign policy advisor, George Papadopoulos."

Late July. The Steele Dossier also claimed that, "...there was a well-developed conspiracy of co-operation between them [Trump] and the Russian leadership. This was managed on the Trump side by the Republican candidate's campaign manager, Paul Manafort, who was using foreign policy advisor, Carter Page, and others as intermediaries. The two sides had a mutual interest in defeating Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, whom President Putin apparently both hated and feared."

October 7. Wikileaks began releasing Podesta's emails, including the "Grassley Letter" email message.

October 8. Breitbart News published a news article titled, "Wikileaks: Clinton Foundation Chatter with State Dept on Uranium Deal with Russia." The article included the contents of the Grassley Letter as well as the Podesta email message to which it was attached. Steve Bannon was then-executive chairman of Breitbart News and chief executive officer of Donald Trump's presidential campaign. The byline of the article read, "Top staffers for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign got heads-up from a Clinton Foundation senior vice-president that the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee was asking the Department of Justice to investigate the State Department approval of the sale of American uranium assets to a Russian company."

Following are Tweets Trump posted from 2017 to the present:

March 27, 2017. "Why isn't the House Intelligence Committee looking into the Bill & Hillary deal that allowed big Uranium to go to Russia, Russian speech...."

March 28. " Why doesn't Fake News talk about Podesta ties to Russia as covered by @FoxNews or money from Russia to Clinton - sale of Uranium?"

July 22. "...What about all of the Clinton ties to Russia, including Podesta Company, Uranium deal, Russian Reset, big dollar speeches etc."

October 19. "Uranium deal to Russia, with Clinton help and Obama Administration knowledge, is the biggest story that Fake Media doesn't want to follow!"

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Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D. is a political analyst and media critic. His most recent book is Technology of Oppression: Preserving Freedom and Dignity in an Age of Mass, Warrantless Surveillance(Palegrave Macmillan, 2014.) He is a Fellow at the (more...)

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