90 Miles From Tyranny : Making of a myth: Timeline of media's role in selling 'Trump-Russia collusion' tale

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Friday, May 15, 2020

Making of a myth: Timeline of media's role in selling 'Trump-Russia collusion' tale

Four years of leaks, misinformation, and manipulation in the construction of a conspiracy theory.

When it comes to misinformation, disinformation and the now-disproven Trump-Russia collusion conspiracy theory, it would not have been possible without a strong dose of media support.

Here is a timeline that breaks out some important reports by — and leaks to — the news media.

March 25, 2016: 

Ukrainian-American operative for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Alexandra Chalupa meets with top Ukrainian officials at Ukrainian Embassy in Washington D.C. to "expose ties between Trump, top campaign aide Paul Manafort and Russia," according to Politico. Ukrainian embassy proceeds to work "directly with reporters researching Trump, Manafort and Russia to point them in the right directions," according to an embassy official (though other officials later deny engaging in election-related activities).

March 30, 2016:

Chalupa briefs DNC staff on Russia ties to Manafort and Trump. Ukrainian embassy officials and Chalupa "coordinat[e] an investigation with the Hillary team" into Manafort, according to a source in Politico. This effort reportedly includes working with U.S. media.

April 2016:

Ukrainian member of parliament Olga Bielkova reportedly seeks meetings with five dozen members of U.S. Congress and reporters including former New York Times reporter Judy Miller, David Sanger of New York Times, David Ignatius of Washington Post, and Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt.

Week of April 6, 2016:

Chalupa begins working with investigative reporter Michael Isikoff, according to her later account.

April 26, 2016:

Isikoff publishes story on Yahoo News about Manafort's business dealings with a Russian oligarch.

April 27, 2016:

The BBC publishes an article titled, “Why Russians Love Donald Trump.”

April 28, 2016:

Chalupa is invited to discuss her research about Manafort with 68 investigative journalists from Ukraine at Library of Congress for Open World Leadership Center, a U.S. congressional agency. Chalupa invites Isikoff to "connect(s) him to the Ukrainians.” After the event, Isikoff accompanies Chalupa to Ukrainian embassy reception.

May 3, 2016:

Chalupa emails DNC that she'll share sensitive info about Paul Manafort "offline" including "a big Trump component that will hit in next few weeks.”

May 4, 2016:

Trump locks up Republican nomination.

June 7, 2016:

Hillary Clinton locks up Democratic nomination.

June 17, 2016:

Washington Post publishes front page story linking Trump to Russia: "Inside Trump's Financial Ties to Russia and His Unusual Flattery of Vladimir Putin.”

July 2016:

Ukraine minister of internal affairs Arsen Avakov attacks Trump and Trump campaign adviser Paul Manafort on Twitter and Facebook, calling Trump "an even bigger danger to the US than terrorism.”

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk writes on Facebook that Trump has "challenged the very values of the free world."

Late July 2016:

Chalupa leaves the (DNC) to work full-time on her research into Manafort, Trump and Russia; and provides off-the-record guidance to "a lot of journalists.”

Aug. 4, 2016:

Ukrainian ambassador to U.S. writes op-ed against Trump.

Aug. 14, 2016:

New York Times breaks story about cash payments made a decade ago to Paul Manafort by pro-Russia interests in Ukraine. The ledger was released and publicized by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine.

Aug. 15, 2016:

CNN reports the FBI is conducting an inquiry into Manafort's payments from pro-Russia interests in Ukraine in 2007 and 2009.

After a meeting discussing the election in FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe's office, FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok texts FBI attorney Lisa Page referring to the possibility of Trump getting elected. "We can't take that risk," he writes. They speak of needing an "insurance policy.”

Aug. 19, 2016:

Paul Manafort resigns as Trump campaign chairman.

Ukrainian parliament member Sergii Leshchenko holds news conference to draw attention to Paul Manafort and Trump's "pro-Russia" ties.

Sept. 2, 2016:

FBI officials Lisa Page and Peter Strzok text that "[President Obama] wants to know everything we're doing.”

Sept. 23, 2016:

Yahoo News publishes article by Isikoff about Carter Page's July 2016 trip to Moscow. (The article is apparently based on leaked info from Fusion GPS Steele anti-Trump "dossier" political opposition research.)

End of September 2016:

Fusion GPS' Glenn Simpson and former British spy Christopher Steele meet with reporters, including New York Times, Washington Post, Yahoo News, the New Yorker and CNN or ABC. One meeting is at office of Democratic National Committee general counsel.

Sept. 23, 2016:

Michael Isikoff and Yahoo News report “U.S. intel officials probe ties between Trump adviser [Carter Page] and Kremlin.” It is later revealed that the FBI improperly wiretapped Page for a year.

Early October 2016:

Steele, the author of anti-Trump "dossier," meets in New York with...

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