Trump and Putin shaking hands
Credit: Shealah Craighead/Flickr

When it comes to the Trump-Russia investigation, we’ve been through a lot over the last three years. Recent events caused me to reflect on how the depth of that probe has been announced to the public at various stages. Here’s a quick timeline:

October 7, 2016 – A joint statement was released by the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence stating that the Russian government was responsible for hacking and releasing DNC emails in order to influence the election.

December 16, 2016 – The FBI joined the CIA is assessing that Russia had interfered in the election to help Donald Trump win the presidency.

March 20, 2017 – Former FBI Director James Comey, during testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, said that the agency had undertaken a counterintelligence investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign to influence the election.

May 17, 2017 – After the president fired FBI Director James Comey, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel to take over the investigation.

January 11, 2019 – Sources told the New York Times that the FBI had opened a counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests.

Keep in mind that those are the dates when the public became aware of these investigations, not when they were actually launched. What is interesting to note is that the more we learn, the deeper the probe extends. Perhaps we are at the end of that trajectory. Or maybe we’re not.

As Martin Longman pointed out recently, we still have a lot to learn about the various aspects of this investigation, but the most important question Robert Mueller must address is to answer the one about whether Trump is an asset of the Russian government. While the FBI’s probe into that was only confirmed recently, it was actually launched back May of 2017, shortly after Trump fired Comey.

In light of that timing, take a look at what John Brennan, Obama’s CIA director, told the House Intelligence Committee on March 23, 2017—just a couple of months before Comey was fired.

Testifying in front of the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday, Brennan said that Russia “brazenly interfered” in the 2016 elections and had been in active contact with members of the Trump campaign. Brennan was careful to avoid explicitly saying that the two sides colluded, and said the Trump aides may not have even known the Russians were spies. Then he dropped the hammer.

“Frequently, people who go along a treasonous path do not know they are on a treasonous path until it is too late,” he said.

I doubt that a longtime intelligence official would throw around a word like “treasonous” casually. But he used it again last summer in a way that made it abundantly clear who he was referring to.

Exactly one month after that tweet, the White House announced that Trump had revoked Brennan’s security clearance. Perhaps the timing of that is just a coincidence, but I doubt it.

Before the Steele dossier was getting passed around in the summer and fall of 2016, Brennan was being bombarded with intelligence from our European allies that there was something going on between Russia and the Trump campaign. We don’t know the specifics of what they told him, but as I documented a few months ago, the president and his enablers should be much more worried about the dossier Brennan wrote up at the time than they are about Christopher Steele’s.

On the question of whether Trump is a Russian asset, a man who spent 25 years at the CIA and worked directly with three different presidents—both Republican and Democratic—has answered in the affirmative. John Brennan says that the president is in Putin’s pocket.

Nancy LeTourneau

Follow Nancy on Twitter @Smartypants60.