Did Donald Trump agree to a quid pro quo with the Russian government? This is what we know.
On March 19, 2016, John Podesta received an email, purportedly from Google, warning him of a potential security breach. He clicked the link and inadvertently delivered his email account to state-backed Russian hackers.
Two days later, on March 21, Donald Trump announced his five-person foreign policy team, which included Carter Page, a previously unknown investment banker with extensive dealings in Russia.
On March 28, nine days after the hack, Trump confirmed to the New York Times that he had hired Paul Manafort. Manafort had recently returned from Ukraine, where he helped organize the Russian-backed Ukrainian opposition.
On March 31, Trump met with his foreign policy advisors at the new Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C., where they discussed the Republican Party's position on arming Ukraine against pro-Russian rebels. According to advisor J.D. Gordon, Trump opposed this language in the RNC platform because "he didn't want to go to 'World War Three' over Ukraine."
Fast forward three months to July 7. After receiving permission from the Trump campaign to visit Russia, Carter Page gave a speech in Moscow criticizing U.S. sanctions against Russian officials. “Washington and other Western capitals have impeded potential progress through their often hypocritical focus on ideas such as democratization, inequality, corruption, and regime change,” he argued. During that trip, Page allegedly met with high-ranking Russians who were targeted by the sanctions.
Back in Cleveland two weeks later for the Republican National Convention, Page met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Jeff Sessions and Trump advisor J.D. Gordon also met with Kislyak at that time.
During the convention, Gordon led the effort to soften the Ukrainian plan in the Republican platform. When that story broke after the convention, Paul Manafort denied any connection, claiming, "It absolutely did not come from the Trump campaign"
But Donald Trump himself contradicted Manafort, telling ABC's George Stephanopoulos, "They softened it, I heard, but I was not involved." When Stephanopoulos asked him, "Why is that a good idea?" Trump curiously replied, "Well, look, you know, I have my own ideas. He's not going into Ukraine, OK? Just so you understand. He's not going to go into Ukraine, all right?"
J.D. Gordon initially denied influencing the Ukraine plank, then admitted it but said Trump wasn't involved, then confessed that Trump had instructed him about the platform language at the March 31 meeting.
Fast forward to August 21, Trump confidante Roger Stone tweeted, "Trust me, it will soon the Podesta's time in the barrel," indicating that he knew about the hack.
A few weeks later, on October 7, Wikileaks released the first batch of Podesta emails--hours after the notorious Access Hollywood tape surfaced.
Finally, on December 12, Senator John McCain hand-delivered to James Comey a dossier from retired MI6 spy Christopher Steele. The dossier alleges that "the Trump team had agreed to sideline Russian intervention in Ukraine as a campaign issue and to raise defense commitments in the Baltics and Eastern Europe to deflect attention away from Ukraine, a priority for Putin who needed to cauterise the subject...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 FBI is believed to be investigating Russia's connections with Manafort, Page, and Stone. That's as much as we know. If any of them get indicted, pay close attention to March 2016. That was when Podesta was hacked. That was when Trump brought in Page and Manafort. That was when Trump allegedly instructed Gordon to soften the Ukraine language. If there was a quid pro quo deal with Russia, this is when it happened.