The 10 Biggest Developments In the Russia Investigation In 2018
With so much Russia-related news breaking every day, it can be hard to remember how much we’ve learned about Trump’s collusion with the Kremlin in just the past year. We’ve put together a list of 10 of the biggest developments in the Russia investigation in 2018.
Through indictments, guilty pleas, and sentencing documents, Mueller’s team and the Department of Justice made clear that collusion occurred.
- Mueller revealed unprecedented details of how Russia attacked American democracy, indicting 25 Russian operatives allegedly responsible for sowing disinformation online and hacking the DNC and the Clinton campaign. The Justice Department also indicted Elena Khusyaynova, an alleged operative in the Kremlin’s continuing disinformation campaign, and Maria Butina, who pleaded guilty to acting as a Russian agent. (Khusyaynova has pleaded not guilty and denied any involvement in the operation.)
- Mueller secured guilty pleas from top Trump advisers like Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, who illegally laundered millions they made working for pro-Kremlin politicians in Ukraine, and Michael Cohen, Trump’s lawyer and “bag man” who spent much of 2016 trying to jumpstart development on Trump Tower Moscow.
READ MORE: Michael Cohen, Bag Man
- Mueller indicated how he intends to demonstrate the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia, zeroing in on the hack, release and distribution of stolen emails and outlining the quid pro quo between the two sides.
The Trump administration continued to deliver for Putin and the Kremlin at every turn.
- Trump put his obeisance to Putin on full display at their July 16 summit in Helsinki, unquestioningly accepting Russia’s denial of any election interference.
- Trump continued to attack America’s NATO allies at every turn, repeatedly criticizing democratically-elected world leaders and undermining international summits while praising Putin and pushing for better relations with Russia.
- Trump delivered on tangible goals of Kremlin foreign policy, including by undermining U.S. sanctions against Russia and announcing the sudden withdrawal of American personnel from Syria, which remains one of the few topics we know Trump and Putin discussed in Helsinki.
Trump and his accomplices’ efforts to thwart justice went into overdrive.
- Under the chairmanship of former Trump transition official Devin Nunes, the House Intelligence Committee pulled a variety of stunts intended to discredit the Russia investigation. The most famous was the disastrous “Nunes memo,” which inadvertently revealed the U.S. government’s belief that a Russian agent may have worked his way onto Trump’s campaign.
- Trump put Brett Kavanaugh, a deeply flawed and polarizing nominee who wrote that presidents not only can’t be indicted but shouldn’t even be investigated, on the Supreme Court. Then, Newt Gingrich explicitly tied the nomination to efforts to protect Trump, saying “we’ll see whether or not the Kavanaugh fight was worth it” in reference to blocking a subpoena of the president.
- After months of attacking Jeff Sessions for failing to stop the Russia investigation, Trump forced out his attorney general the day after the 2018 midterms. Trump then installed as Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, whose main qualification was his public criticism of the Russia investigation. Trump’s permanent choice for the position is another Mueller critic: William Barr, who was Attorney General the last time a president pardoned his way out of a major scandal.
And finally …
- Democrats re-took the House in the 2018 midterms, ensuring there will be at least one chamber of Congress dedicated to holding Trump accountable and showing the public the depths of his corruption in 2019 and beyond.