Donald Trump Wins The Presidential Race

This is source I found from another site, main source you can find in last paragraph

In the final days before Donald Trump was sworn in as president, members of his inner circle pleaded with him to acknowledge publicly what U.S. intelligence agencies had already concluded — that Russia’s interference in the 2016 election was real.

Hacking Democracy

Timeline

This report on how President Trump has responded to intelligence findings that Russia intervened in the 2016 election follows an earlier examination of the Obama administration’s actions as the Kremlin’s campaign unfolded.

JAN. 6

Obama administration intelligence chiefs

 

brief president-elect and

transition-team members

James

Clapper

John

Brennan

Michael

Rogers

James

Comey

Director of

national

intelligence

CIA

director

NSA

director

FBI

director

Donald

Trump

President-

elect

Reince

Priebus

Mike

Pompeo

Michael

Flynn

Mike

Pence

Incoming

Chief

of staff

Incoming

CIA

director

National

security

adviser

Vice

president-

elect

 

JAN. 6

Comey briefs Trump privately on the

salacious allegations in the dossier

James

Comey

Donald

Trump

FBI

director

President-

elect

JAN. 7 TO 11

Trump aides try to persuade him

to accept the intelligence

community’s consensus

Donald

Trump

Reince

Priebus

Jared

Kushner

 

Trump’s

son-in-law

JAN. 6

Obama administration intelligence chiefs brief

 

president-elect and transition-team members

James

Clapper

John

Brennan

Michael

Rogers

James

Comey

Donald

Trump

Reince

Priebus

Mike

Pompeo

Michael

Flynn

Mike

Pence

Director of

national

intelligence

CIA

director

NSA

director

FBI

director

President-

elect

Incoming

Chief

of staff

Incoming

CIA

director

National

security

adviser

Vice

president-

elect

 

JAN. 6

Comey briefs Trump privately on the salacious allegations in the dossier

James

Comey

Donald

Trump

FBI

director

President-

elect

JAN. 7 TO 11

 

Trump aides try to persuade him to accept the intelligence community’s consensus

Donald

Trump

Reince

Priebus

Jared

Kushner

 

Trump’s

son-in-law

JAN. 6

 

 

Obama administration intelligence chiefs brief

president-elect and transition-team members

James

Clapper

John

Brennan

Michael

Rogers

James

Comey

Donald

Trump

Reince

Priebus

Mike

Pompeo

Michael

Flynn

Mike

Pence

Director of

national

intelligence

CIA

director

NSA

director

FBI

director

FBI

President-elect

Incoming

chief of staff

Incoming

CIA

director

Incoming

national

security

adviser

Vice president-

elect

 

JAN. 6

Comey briefs Trump

privately on the

salacious allegations

in the dossier

JAN. 7 TO 11

Trump aides try

to persuade him to

accept the

intelligence

community’s

consensus

Jared

Kushner

 

Trump’s son-in-law

On Jan. 6, two weeks before Trump was sworn in as president, the nation’s top intelligence officials boarded an aircraft at Joint Base Andrews on the outskirts of Washington to travel to New York for one of the most delicate briefings they would deliver in their decades-long careers.

Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., CIA Director John Brennan and National Security Agency chief Michael S. Rogers flew together aboard an Air Force 737. FBI Director James B. Comey traveled separately on an FBI Gulfstream aircraft, planning to extend his stay for meetings with bureau officials.

The mood was heavy. The four men had convened a virtual meeting the previous evening, speaking by secure videoconference to plan their presentation to the incoming president of a classified report on Russia’s election interference and its pro-Trump objective.

During the campaign, Trump had alternately dismissed the idea of Russian involvement — saying a hack of the Democratic National Committee was just as likely carried out by “somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds” — and prodded the Kremlin to double down on its operation and unearth additional Clinton emails.

The officials had already briefed Obama and members of Congress. As they made their way across Manhattan in separate convoys of black SUVs, they braced for a blowup.

“We were prepared to be thrown out,” Clapper said in an interview.

Instead, the session was oddly serene.

The officials were escorted into a spacious conference room on the 14th floor of Trump Tower. Trump took a seat at one end of a large table, with Vice President-elect Mike Pence at the other. Among the others present were Priebus, Pompeo and designated national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Following a rehearsed plan, Clapper functioned as moderator, yielding to Brennan and others on key points in the briefing, which covered the most highly classified information U.S. spy agencies had assembled, including an extraordinary CIA stream of intelligence that had captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation.

Trump seemed, at least for the moment, to acquiesce.

“He was affable, courteous, complimentary,” Clapper said. “He didn’t bring up the 400-pound guy.”

A copy of the report was left with Trump’s designated intelligence briefer. But there was another, more sensitive matter left to cover.

President Trump with then-FBI Director James B. Comey at a White House gathering on Jan. 22. (Pool photo by Andrew Harrer/Getty Images; photo illustration by Nick Kirkpatrick/The Washington Post)

Clapper and Comey had initially planned to remain together with Trump while discussing an infamous dossier that included salacious allegations about the incoming president.

It had been commissioned by an opposition research firm in Washington that had enlisted a former British intelligence officer to gather material. As The Washington Post reported in October, the research was paid for by the Clinton campaign and the DNC.

But in the end, Comey felt he should handle the matter with Trump alone, saying that the dossier was being scrutinized exclusively by the FBI. After the room emptied, Comey explained that the dossier had not been corroborated and that its contents had not influenced the intelligence community’s findings — but that the president needed to know it was in wide circulation in Washington.

Senior officials would subsequently wonder whether the decision to leave that conversation to Comey helped poison his relationship with the incoming president. When the dossier was posted online four days later by the news site BuzzFeed, Trump lashed out the next morning in a 4:48 a.m. Twitter blast.

“Intelligence agencies never should have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public,” Trump said. “One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?” The Post was one of several news organizations that had been briefed on key allegations included in the dossier months earlier and had been attempting to verify them.

After leaving the Jan. 6 meeting at Trump Tower, Comey had climbed into his car and began composing a memo.

“I knew there might come a day when I would need a record of what happened, not just to defend myself but to defend the FBI and our integrity as an institution,” he testified to Congress in June. It was the first of multiple memos he would write documenting his interactions with Trump.

Clapper’s office released an abbreviated public version of the intelligence report later that day. Trump issued a statement saying that “Russia, China” and “other countries” had sought to penetrate the cyberdefenses of U.S. institutions, including the DNC.

In their Trump Tower interventions, senior aides had sought to cement his seeming acceptance of the intelligence. But as the first year of his presidency progressed, Trump became only more adamant in his rejections of it.

In November, during a 12-day trip to Asia, Trump signaled that he believed Putin’s word over that of U.S. intelligence.

“He said he didn’t meddle,” Trump said to reporters aboard Air Force One after he and Putin spoke on the sidelines of a summit in Vietnam. “Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’ and I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it.”

As those remarks roiled Washington, Trump sought to calm the controversy without fully conceding the accuracy of the intelligence on Russia. He also aimed a parting shot at the spy chiefs who had visited him in January in New York.

“As to whether I believe it or not,” he said the next day, “I’m with our agencies, especially as currently constituted with their leadership.”

‘Don’t walk that last 5½ feet’

In the early days of his presidency, Trump surrounded himself with aides and advisers who reinforced his affinity for Russia and Putin, though for disparate reasons not always connected to the views of the president.

Flynn, the national security adviser, saw Russia as an unfairly maligned world power and believed that the United States should set aside its differences with Moscow so the two could focus on higher priorities, including battling Islamist terrorism.

Some on the NSC, including Middle East adviser Derek Harvey, urged pursuing a “grand bargain” with Russia in Syria as part of an effort to drive a wedge into Moscow’s relationship with Iran. Harvey is no longer in the administration.

Others had more idiosyncratic impulses. Kevin Harrington, a former associate of Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel brought in to shape national security strategy, saw close ties with oil- and gas-rich Russia as critical to surviving an energy apocalypse — a fate that officials who worked with him said he discussed frequently and depicted as inevitable.

The tilt of the staff began to change when Flynn was forced to resign after just 24 days on the job for falsehoods about his conversations with the Russian ambassador. His replacement, Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, had more conventional foreign policy views that included significant skepticism of Moscow.

National security adviser H.R. McMaster at the White House in September. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu, photo illustration by Nick Kirkpatrick/The Washington Post)

The change helped ease the turmoil that had characterized the NSC but set up internal conflicts on Russia-related issues that seemed to interfere with Trump’s pursuit of a friendship with Putin. Among them was the administration’s position on NATO.

The alliance, built around a pledge of mutual defense against Soviet or Russian aggression among the United States and its European allies, became a flash point in internal White House battles. McMaster, an ardent NATO supporter, struggled to fend off attacks on the alliance and its members by Trump’s political advisers.

The president’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, moved to undermine support for NATO within weeks of arriving at the White House. After securing a position on the NSC, Bannon ordered officials to compile a table of arrears — alleged deficits on defense spending by every NATO member going back 67 years. Officials protested that such a calculation was impractical, and they persuaded Bannon to accept a partial list documenting underspending dating from 2007.

Bannon and McMaster clashed in front of Trump during an Oval Office discussion about NATO in the spring, officials said. Trump, sitting behind his desk, was voicing frustration that NATO member states were not meeting their defense spending obligations under the treaty. Bannon went further, describing Europe as “nothing more than a glorified protectorate.”

McMaster snapped at Bannon. “Why are you such an apologist for Russia?” he asked, according to two officials with knowledge of the exchange. Bannon shot back that his position had “nothing to do with Russians” and later told colleagues how much he relished such confrontations with McMaster, saying, “I love living rent-free in his head.”

Bannon and his allies also maneuvered to sabotage displays of unity with the alliance. As NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg arrived for an April visit at the White House, McMaster’s team prepared remarks for Trump that included an endorsement of Article 5 — the core NATO provision calling for members to come to one another’s defense.

But the language was stripped out at the last minute by NATO critics inside the administration who argued that “it didn’t sound presidential enough,” one senior U.S. official said. A month later, Stephen Miller, a White House adviser close to Bannon, carried out a similar editing operation in Brussels where Trump spoke at a dedication ceremony for NATO’s gleaming new headquarters.

Standing before twisted steel wreckage from the World Trade Center that memorialized NATO’s commitment to defend the United States after the 9/11 attacks, Trump made no mention of any U.S. commitment to mutual defense.

Trump finally did so in June during a meeting with the president of Romania. Officials said that in that case, McMaster clung to the president’s side until a joint news conference was underway, blocking Miller from Trump and the text. A senior White House official said that Trump has developed a good relationship with Stoltenberg and often praises him in private.

On sensitive matters related to Russia, senior advisers have at times adopted what one official described as a policy of “don’t walk that last 5½feet” — meaning to avoid entering the Oval Office and giving Trump a chance to erupt or overrule on issues that can be resolved by subordinates.

Another former U.S. official described being enlisted to contact the German government before Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit at the White House in March. The outreach had two aims, the official said — to warn Merkel that her encounter with Trump would probably be acrimonious because of their diverging views on refugees, trade and other issues, but also to urge her to press Trump on U.S. support for NATO.

The signature moment of the trip came during a brief photo appearance in which Trump wore a dour expression and appeared to spurn Merkel’s effort to shake his hand, though Trump later said he had not noticed the gesture.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Trump at a joint White House news conference in March. (Photo by Jabin Botsford, photo illustration by Nick Kirkpatrick/The Washington Post)

His demeanor with the German leader was in striking contrast with his encounters with Putin and other authoritarian figures. “Who are the three guys in the world he most admires? President Xi [Jinping] of China, [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan and Putin,” one Trump adviser said. “They’re all the same guy.”

Merkel has never fit into that Trump pantheon. Before her arrival, senior White House aides witnessed an odd scene that some saw as an omen for the visit. As McMaster and a dozen other top aides met with Trump in the Oval Office to outline issues Merkel was likely to raise, the president grew impatient, stood up and walked into an adjoining bathroom.

Trump left the bathroom door open, according to officials familiar with the incident, instructing McMaster to raise his voice and keep talking. A senior White House official said the president entered the restroom and merely “took a glance in the mirror, as this was before a public event.”

TRUMP’S

RELATIONSHIP WITH NATO

KEY EVENTS

JAN. 15

President-elect Trump calls NATO

“obsolete,” alarming European allies.

Trump repeats the claim that NATO is not

focused on terrorism, an assertion

disputed by U.S. partners. NATO has sent

troops to Afghanistan and has an

established counterterrorism agenda.

Stoltenberg

APRIL 12

President Trump says NATO is “no longer

obsolete” during a joint news conference

with NATO Secretary General Jens

Stoltenberg. NATO critics in the

administration remove language that

endorses Article 5 of the alliance’s

founding treaty, which states an attack

on one country is an attack on all.

Miller

McMaster

Iohannis

JUNE 9

Trump, standing alongside Romanian

President Klaus Iohannis at the White

House, publicly endorses Article 5.

National security adviser H.R. McMaster

blocked Trump adviser Stephen Miller

from Trump and the speech until the

news conference began.

 

TRUMP'S CONTENTIOUS RELATIONSHIP WITH NATO

KEY EVENTS

Stoltenberg

JAN. 15

APRIL 12

President-elect Trump calls NATO

“obsolete,” alarming European allies.

Trump repeats the claim that NATO is not

focused on terrorism, an assertion

disputed by U.S. partners. NATO has sent

troops to Afghanistan and has an

established counterterrorism agenda.

President Trump says NATO is “no longer

obsolete” during a joint news conference

with NATO Secretary General Jens

Stoltenberg. NATO critics in the

administration remove language that

endorses Article 5 of the alliance’s

founding treaty, which states an attack

on one country is an attack on all.

Iohannis

Miller

McMaster

JUNE 9

Trump, standing alongside Romanian

President Klaus Iohannis at the White

House, publicly endorses Article 5.

National security adviser H.R. McMaster

blocked Trump adviser Stephen Miller

from Trump and the speech until the

news conference began.

McMaster

Miller

TRUMP'S CONTENTIOUS RELATIONSHIP WITH NATO

KEY EVENTS

Stoltenberg

Iohannis

JAN. 15

APRIL 12

JUNE 9

President Trump says NATO is “no longer

obsolete” during a joint news conference

with NATO Secretary General Jens

Stoltenberg. NATO critics in the

administration remove language that

endorses Article 5 of the alliance’s

founding treaty, which states an attack

on one country is an attack on all.

President-elect Trump calls NATO

“obsolete,” alarming European allies.

Trump repeats the claim that NATO is not

focused on terrorism, an assertion

disputed by U.S. partners. NATO has sent

troops to Afghanistan and has an

established counterterrorism agenda.

Trump, standing alongside Romanian

President Klaus Iohannis at the White

House, publicly endorses Article 5.

National security adviser H.R. McMaster

blocked Trump adviser Stephen Miller

from Trump and the speech until the

news conference began.

Trump Germany NATO Leaders The campaign March 21, 2016 Questioning NATO In an interview with The Washington Post, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump calls NATO outdated and says allies should spend more on defense. “I think NATO as a concept is good, but it is not as good as it was when it first evolved,” Trump says. Read more > July 21, 2016 Trump says U.S. won’t rush to defend NATO Trump sets off alarm bells with a suggestion that his administration would not automatically defend fellow members of NATO from an attack if they have not lived up to their financial obligations. His remarks provoke a swift rebuke from NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Read more > The transition Jan. 15 NATO is ‘obsolete’ President-elect Trump calls NATO “obsolete,” alarming European allies. Trump repeats the claim that NATO is not focused on terrorism, an assertion disputed by U.S. partners. NATO has sent troops to Afghanistan and has an established counterterrorism agenda. Read more > Jan. 18 Leader responds Stoltenberg, in response to Trump’s criticisms, says the defense organization is constantly evolving to meet modern security threats, including terrorism. Read more > The administration Feb. 6 Trump wants more President Trump says he supports NATO but asks that members “make their full and proper financial contribution to the NATO alliance.” Read more > March 17 German Chancellor Angela Merkel visits the White House Read more > March 18 ‘Vast sums of money’ Trump says Germany owes the United States “vast sums of money” for NATO. The statement is inaccurate. All NATO countries have committed to spending 2 percent of their GDP on defense by 2024, but they do not owe the United States money. Read more > March 19 Germany responds Germany rejects Trump’s NATO claim. Germany’s defense minister says the country has “no debt account in NATO.” Read more > April 12 Trump reverses NATO stance Trump, during a joint news conference with Stoltenberg, says NATO is “no longer obsolete.” NATO critics in the administration remove language that endorses Article 5 of the alliance’s founding treaty, which states an attack on one country is an attack on all. Read more > May 25 Trump chastises NATO members Trump criticizes NATO leaders in Brussels, saying they are not spending enough money on their own defense. There is widespread disappointment among NATO leaders when Trump does not explicitly reaffirm the U.S. commitment to Article 5. Read more > May 28 Merkel: Europe can't rely on others Merkel says Europe “really must take our fate into our own hands,” offering a stark view of U.S.-European relations. Read more > May 30 Trump tweets back Trump fans the dispute with Merkel by tweeting: “We have a MASSIVE trade deficit with Germany, plus they pay FAR LESS than they should on NATO & military. Very bad for U.S. This will change.” Read more > June 9 Trump backs collective defense commitment Trump, standing alongside the president of Romania at the White House, publicly endorses Article 5. Read more > June 28 NATO allies boost defense spending NATO allies announce plans to boost defense spending by 4.3 percent this year, partly a response to Trump’s pressure. “We have really shifted gears,” NATO’s secretary general says. Read more >

McMaster gained an internal ally on Russia in March with the hiring of Fiona Hill as the top Russia adviser on the NSC. A frequent critic of the Kremlin, Hill was best known as the author of a respected biography of Putin and was seen as a reassuring selection among Russia hard-liners.

Her relationship with Trump, however, was strained from the start.

In one of her first encounters with the president, an Oval Office meeting in preparation for a call with Putin on Syria, Trump appeared to mistake Hill for a member of the clerical staff, handing her a memo he had marked up and instructing her to rewrite it.

When Hill responded with a perplexed look, Trump became irritated with what he interpreted as insubordination, according to officials who witnessed the exchange. As she walked away in confusion, Trump exploded and motioned for McMaster to intervene.

McMaster followed Hill out the door and scolded her, officials said. Later, he and a few close staffers met to explore ways to repair Hill’s damaged relationship with the president.

Hill’s standing was further damaged when she was forced to defend members of her staff suspected of disloyalty after details about Trump’s Oval Office meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak — in which the president revealed highly classified information to his Russian guests — were leaked to The Post.

The White House subsequently tightened the circle of aides involved in meetings with Russian officials. Trump was accompanied only by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during a meeting with Putin at a July summit of Group of 20 nations in Hamburg. In prior administrations, the president’s top aide on Russia was typically present for such encounters, but Hill has frequently been excluded.

A senior administration official said that the NSC “was not sidelined as a result” of Hill’s difficult encounters with Trump, that Hill is regularly included in briefings with the president and that she and her staff “continue to play an important role on Russia policy.”

An insult to Moscow

White House officials insist that the Trump administration has adopted a tougher stance toward Moscow than the Obama administration on important fronts.

They point to Trump’s decision, after a chemical weapons attack in Syria, to approve a U.S. military strike on a base where Russian personnel and equipment were present. They cite Trump’s decision in early August to sign legislation imposing additional economic sanctions on Moscow and steps taken by the State Department at the end of that month ordering three Russian diplomatic facilities — two trade offices and the consulate in San Francisco — closed. They also said that the NSC is preparing options for the president to deal with the threat of Russian interference in American elections.

“Look at our actions,” a senior administration official said in an interview. “We’re pushing back against the Russians.”

Senior Trump officials have struggled to explain how. In congressional testimony in October, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was pressed on whether the administration had done enough to prevent Russian interference in the future. “Probably not,” Sessions said. “And the matter is so complex that for most of us we are not able to fully grasp the technical dangers that are out there.”

The administration’s accomplishments are to a large measure offset by complicating factors — Trump had little choice but to sign the sanctions — and competing examples. Among them is the administration’s persistent exploration of proposals to lift one of the most effective penalties that Obama imposed for Russia’s election interference — the seizure of two Russian compounds.

THE ‘DACHAS’

Upper

Brookville,

N.Y.

N.Y.

Russian

Consulate

PENN.

N.J.

MD.

DEL.

Russian

Embassy

Centreville,

Md.

THE ‘DACHAS’

Centreville, Md.

Russian

Consulate

NEW

YORK

New York

Trenton

Philadelphia

Atlantic

Ocean

NEW

JERSEY

MARYLAND

Baltimore

Dover

DEL.

D.C.

Russian

Embassy

50 MILES

Upper Brookville, N.Y.

THE ‘DACHAS’

NEW

YORK

PENNSYLVANIA

New York

Trenton

Russian

Consulate

Harrisburg

Centreville, Md.

Philadelphia

NEW

JERSEY

MARYLAND

Baltimore

Dover

DELAWARE

D.C.

Atlantic

Ocean

50 MILES

Russian

Embassy

Upper Brookville, N.Y.

Russia used those sprawling estates in Maryland and New York as retreats for its spies and diplomats but also — according to CIA and FBI officials — as platforms for espionage. The loss of those sites became a major grievance for Moscow.

Lavrov has raised the confiscation of those properties in nearly every meeting with his American counterparts, officials said, accusing the United States of having “stolen our dachas,” using the Russian word for country houses.

Putin may have had reason to expect that Russia would soon regain access to the compounds after Trump took office. In his recent guilty plea, Flynn admitted lying to the FBI about a conversation with the Russian ambassador in late December. During the call, which came as Obama was announcing sanctions on Russia, Flynn urged the ambassador not to overreact, suggesting the penalties would be short-lived.

After a report in late May by The Post that the administration was considering returning the compounds, hard-liners in the administration mobilized to head off any formal offer.

Several weeks later, the FBI organized an elaborate briefing for Trump in the Oval Office, officials said. E.W. “Bill” Priestap, the assistant director of the counterintelligence division at the FBI, brought three-dimensional models of the properties, as well as maps showing their proximity to sensitive U.S. military or intelligence installations.

Appealing to Trump’s “America first” impulse, officials made the case that Russia had used the facilities to steal U.S. secrets. Trump seemed convinced, officials said.

Smoke rises from a chimney at the Russian Consulate in San Francisco on Sept. 1, a day after the Trump administration ordered its closure. (Photo by Eric Risberg/AP; photo illustration by Nick Kirkpatrick/The Washington Post)

“I told Rex we’re not giving the real estate back to the Russians,” Trump said at one point, referring to Tillerson, according to participants. Later, Trump marveled at the potential of the two sites and asked, “Should we sell this off and keep the money?”

But on July 6, Tillerson sent an informal communication to the Kremlin proposing the return of the two compounds, a gesture that he hoped would help the two sides pull out of a diplomatic tailspin. Under the proposed terms, Russia would regain access to the compounds but without diplomatic status that for years had rendered them outside the jurisdiction of U.S. law enforcement.

The FBI and some White House officials, including Hill, were livid when they learned that the plan had been communicated to Russia through a “non-paper” — an informal, nonbinding format. But “Tillerson never does anything without Trump’s approval,” a senior U.S. official said, making clear that the president knew in advance.

Administration officials provided conflicting accounts of what came next. Two officials indicated that there were additional communications with the Kremlin about the plan. One senior official said that Tillerson made a last-minute change in the terms, proposing that the Maryland site be returned “status quo ante,” meaning with full diplomatic protections. It would again be off-limits to law enforcement agencies, including the FBI.

State Department officials disputed that account, however, saying that no such offer was ever contemplated and that the final proposal shared with the Kremlin was the non-paper sent on July 6 — one day before Trump met with Putin in Hamburg.

Tillerson “never directed anyone to draft” a revised proposal to the Kremlin, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a written statement. “We considered possible options for restoring Russian access for recreational purposes in a way that would meet the security concerns of the U.S. government.” By the end of July, Congress had passed a new sanctions bill that “imposed specific conditions for the return of the dachas,” she said, “and the Russians have so far not been willing to meet them.”

Moscow made clear through Lavrov and others in mid-July that it regarded the overture, and the idea that any conditions would be placed on the return of the sites, as an insult. State Department officials interpreted that response as evidence that Russia’s real purpose was the resumption of espionage.

‘He was raging. He was raging mad.’

With no deal on the dachas, U.S.-Russia relations plunged into diplomatic free fall.

Even before Trump was sworn in, a group of senators including John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) had begun drafting legislation to impose further sanctions on Russia.

In the ensuing months, McCain’s office began getting private warnings from a White House insider. “We were told that a big announcement was coming regarding Russia sanctions,” a senior congressional aide said. “We all kind of assumed the worst.”

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had blocked the sanctions bill from moving forward at the behest of Tillerson, who kept appealing for more time to negotiate with Moscow.

But after Comey’s firing in early May, and months of damaging headlines about Trump and Russia, an alarmed Senate approved new sanctions on Russia in a 98-to-2 vote.

Trump at times seemed not to understand how his actions and behavior intensified congressional concern. After he emerged from a meeting in Hamburg with Putin, Trump said he and the Russian leader had agreed upon the outlines of a cooperative cybersecurity plan.

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) described the proposed pact as “pretty close” to “the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard” and introduced additional provisions to the sanctions bill that would strip Trump of much of his power to undo them — a remarkable slap at presidential prerogative.

Then, in late July, new information surfaced about the extent of Trump’s interactions with Putin in Hamburg that sent another wave of anxiety across Capitol Hill.

At the end of a lavish banquet for world leaders, Trump wandered away from his assigned seat for a private conversation with the Russian leader — without a single U.S. witness, only a Kremlin interpreter.

A Trump administration official described the reaction to the encounter as overblown, saying that Trump had merely left his seat to join the first lady, Melania Trump, who had been seated for the dinner next to Putin. Whatever the reason, little over a week later both chambers of Congress passed the sanctions measure with overwhelming margins that would withstand any Trump veto.

Trump’s frustration had been building as the measure approached a final vote. He saw the bill as validation of the case that Russia had interfered, as an encroachment on his executive authority and as a potentially fatal blow to his aspirations for friendship with Putin, according to his advisers.

In the final days before passage, Trump watched MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program and stewed as hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski declared that the bill would be a slap in the face to the president.

“He was raging,” one adviser said. “He was raging mad.”

After final passage, Trump was “apoplectic,” the adviser recalled. It took four days for aides to persuade him to sign the bill, arguing that if he vetoed it and Congress overturned that veto, his standing would be permanently weakened.

“Hey, here are the votes,” aides told the president, according to a second Trump adviser. “If you veto it, they’ll override you and then you’re f---ed and you look like you’re weak.”

Trump signed but made his displeasure known. His signing statement asserted that the measure included “clearly unconstitutional provisions.” Trump had routinely made a show of bill signings, but in this case no media was allowed to attend.

The reaction from Russia was withering. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev taunted the president in a Facebook post that echoed Trump’s style, saying that the president had shown “complete impotence, in the most humiliating manner, transferring executive power to Congress.”

Putin, who had shown such restraint in late December 2016, reacted to the new sanctions with fury, ordering the United States to close two diplomatic properties and slash 755 people from its staff — most of them Russian nationals working for the United States.

Rather than voice any support for the dozens of State Department and CIA employees being forced back to Washington, Trump expressed gratitude to Putin.

“I want to thank him because we’re trying to cut down on payroll,” Trump told reporters during an outing at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J. — remarks his aides would later claim were meant as a joke. “We’ll save a lot of money.”

U.S.-RUSSIA RELATIONS

KEY EVENTS

Flynn

DEC. 29, 2016

Kislyak

President Barack Obama announces

sanctions meant to punish Russia for its

election interference. Michael Flynn, the

incoming national security adviser, asks

Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak to

have Moscow withhold a strong

diplomatic response. The next day, Putin

announces he will not retaliate.

JULY 8

During the Group of 20 summit,

President Trump says he “strongly

pressed” Russian President Vladimir

Putin twice about Russia’s election

meddling. Afterward, Trump promises to

“move forward in working constructively

with Russia.” The two leaders have a

second meeting that was not

immediately disclosed by the

White House.

Graham

AUG. 2

After Trump said he agreed with Putin on

a cooperative cybersecurity plan, Sen.

Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) introduced

additional provisions to a sanctions bill

that would strip Trump of much of his

power to undo them. The bill passes, and

Trump reluctantly signs it on Aug. 2 --

setting off a diplomatic fight between the

United States and Russia.

 

U.S.-RUSSIA RELATIONS

KEY EVENTS

Flynn

Kislyak

DEC. 29, 2016

President Barack Obama announces

sanctions meant to punish Russia for its

election interference. Michael Flynn, the

incoming national security adviser, asks

Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak to

have Moscow withhold a strong

diplomatic response. The next day, Putin

announces he will not retaliate.

Graham

JULY 8

AUG. 2

During the Group of 20 summit, President

Trump says he “strongly pressed” Russian

President Vladimir Putin twice about

Russia’s election meddling. Afterward,

Trump promises to “move forward in

working constructively with Russia.” The

two leaders have a second meeting that

was not immediately disclosed by the

White House.

After Trump said he agreed with Putin on

a cooperative cybersecurity plan, Sen.

Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) introduced

additional provisions to a sanctions bill

that would strip Trump of much of his

power to undo them. The bill passes, and

Trump reluctantly signs it on Aug. 2 --

setting off a diplomatic fight between the

United States and Russia.

 

U.S.-RUSSIA RELATIONS

KEY EVENTS

Flynn

Kislyak

Graham

DEC. 29, 2016

JULY 8

AUG. 2

President Barack Obama announces

sanctions meant to punish Russia for its

election interference. Michael Flynn, the

incoming national security adviser, asks

Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak to

have Moscow withhold a strong

diplomatic response. The next day, Putin

announces he will not retaliate.

During the Group of 20 summit, President

Trump says he “strongly pressed” Russian

President Vladimir Putin twice about

Russia’s election meddling. Afterward,

Trump promises to “move forward in

working constructively with Russia.” The

two leaders have a second meeting that

was not immediately disclosed by the

White House.

After Trump said he agreed with Putin on

a cooperative cybersecurity plan, Sen.

Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) introduced

additional provisions to a sanctions bill

that would strip Trump of much of his

power to undo them. The bill passes, and

Trump reluctantly signs it on Aug. 2 --

setting off a diplomatic fight between the

United States and Russia.

 

Congress Trump Russia The transition Nov. 10, 2016 Obama's warning President Barack Obama warns President-elect Donald Trump about choosing Michael Flynn as his national security adviser. Read more > Dec. 1, 2016 Trump Tower meeting Flynn and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, meet with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at Trump Tower. At this meeting, they discuss setting up a secret communications system between Trump’s team and Moscow. Read more > Dec. 13, 2016 Kushner meets Russian banker Kushner, apparently at Kislyak’s urging, meets with Sergey Gorkov, head of the Russian bank VEB, which is under sanctions. Read more > Dec. 29, 2016 Obama announces sanctions Obama announces sanctions meant to punish Russia for its interference in the 2016 presidential election. Obama expels dozens of Russian officials and orders two Russian compounds in New York and Maryland to be closed. Read more > Dec. 29, 2016 Flynn calls Kislyak Kislyak contacts Flynn and they talk on the phone. Flynn asks Kislyak to have the Russian government withhold a strong diplomatic response. Read more > Dec. 30, 2016 Putin is quiet Surprisingly, Russian President Vladimir Putin chooses not to retaliate against the United States — choosing to wait and see what the new administration will do Read more > Dec. 30, 2016 Trump praises Putin’s response Trump tweets: “Great move on delay (by V. Putin). I always knew he was very smart!” Read more > Jan. 6 Intel chiefs meet with Trump The nation's top intelligence officials present Trump a classified report on Russia's election interference and its pro-Trump objective. Trump seems to accept the report's conclusions. Jan. 16 Trump’s faith in Merkel and Putin Trump says he will trust German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Putin at the start of his presidency. “I start off trusting both,” he said. “But let’s see how long that lasts. It may not last long at all.” Read more > The administration Feb. 2 Haley calls out Russia U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley declares to the U.N. Security Council that sanctions against Russia for its intervention in Ukraine will not be lifted until Russia reverses its annexation of Crimea. Read more > Feb. 3 Moral question Trump declines to condemn a record of violence against Putin's opponents, telling Fox News interviewer Bill O’Reilly, “You think our country is so innocent?” Read more > April 10 Chemical attacks in Syria Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says Russia bears at least partial responsibility for a chemical attack on villagers in Idlib province. Read more > April 11 White House releases records discrediting Russia The White House accuses Russia of attempting to cover up a Syrian chemical attack with the use of disinformation tactics. Read more > April 13 Trump hopes for peace Trump tweets: “Things will work out fine between the U.S.A. and Russia. At the right time everyone will come to their senses & there will be lasting peace!” His optimistic tone runs counter to the sentiments of senior members of his national security team. Read more > May 3 Trump speaks by phone with Putin The two leaders discuss the Syrian civil war, terrorism and North Korea. A day later, Putin says Trump told him that he supports establishing safe zones in Syria. “As far as I understood, the American administration supports these ideas,” Putin says. Read more > May 10 White House meeting Trump meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Kislyak in the Oval Office. The Post reports that Trump revealed highly classified information in the meeting. Read more > May 16 McMaster defends Trump National security adviser H.R. McMaster describes Trump's conversation with Lavrov and Kislyak as “wholly appropriate.” Read more > June 15 Senate approves sanctions bill The Senate approves tougher sanctions against Iran and Russia, setting up a potential showdown with Trump. The measures include language that would prevent Trump from scaling back sanctions against Moscow without seeking congressional approval. Read more > June 20 Poroshenko at the White House Trump meets with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko as expanded sanctions against Russia are announced. Read more > July 7 Trump meets Putin at the G-20 Trump said he “strongly pressed” Putin twice about Russia's interference in the U.S. election and said Putin denied it. Trump promises to “move forward in working constructively with Russia.” Read more > July 9 Trump denies sanctions talk Trump tweets: “Sanctions were not discussed at my meeting with President Putin. Nothing will be done until the Ukrainian & Syrian problems are solved!” Read more > July 18 Russia continues to demand the return of compounds Lavrov calls the closure of Russian compounds in the United States as “robbery in broad daylight.” Read more > July 18 Revelation that Trump met Putin for an additional hour at G-20 Trump left his seat at a Group of 20 dinner to sit next to Putin, who was with his official interpreter. The meeting was not immediately disclosed by the White House. Read more > July 25 House approves sanctions bill The sanctions bill preserves Congress’s power to block the president from unilaterally lifting its provisions. The sanctions include measures targeting Russia’s defense, intelligence, energy, railway, metals and mining sectors. Read more > July 27 The measure is passed The Senate passes the Russia-Iran-North Korea sanctions bill. Read more > July 28 Russia responds Moscow says it plans to seize two U.S. properties in Russia and orders a significant reduction of U.S. diplomatic staff in the country in retaliation for the Russia sanctions bill. Read more > July 31 White House largely silent on Russian action Trump remains largely quiet on the explusion of U.S. diplomats. Read more > Aug. 2 Trump reluctantly signs the sanctions bill In a statement, Trump calls the bill “seriously flawed.” Read more > Aug. 21 U.S. halts visas The U.S. Embassy says it will temporarily stop issuing non-immigrant visas in Russia as the diplomatic spat worsens. Read more > Aug. 22 Treasury sanctions related to North Korea The Treasury Department, in an effort to further isolate Pyongyang, places sanctions on Chinese and Russian individuals and companies it says had conducted business with North Korea. Read more > Aug. 31 White House answers The Trump administration orders three Russian diplomatic and trade facilities in San Francisco, New York and Washington closed following the expulsion of American diplomats from Russia. Read more > Oct. 27 No business with Russia The State Department warns 39 companies and government organizations that they could be hit with sanctions for doing significant business with Russia. Read more > Nov. 11 Trump meets Putin in Vietnam Trump says he believes Putin is sincere when he denies that Moscow meddled in the presidential election. “He said he didn’t meddle,” Trump says. Read more > Nov. 21 Trump talks to Putin about Syria Putin tells Trump that he has secured a commitment from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to cooperate with Russia's new initiatives in Syria, including constitutional changes and presidential and parliamentary elections, the Kremlin says. Read more >

‘Congress and the media will scream bloody murder’

Trump has never explained why he so frequently seems to side with Putin.

To critics, the answer is assumed to exist in the unproven allegations of coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign, or the claim that Putin has some compromising information about the American president.

Aides attribute Trump’s affection for Putin to the president’s tendency to personalize matters of foreign policy and his unshakable belief that his bond with Putin is the key to fixing world problems.

“When will all the haters and fools out there realize that having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing,” Trump tweeted last month. “There always playing politics - bad for our country. I want to solve North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, terrorism, and Russia can greatly help!”

White House officials present Trump as the latest in a long line of presidents who began their tenures seeking better relations with Moscow, and they argue that the persistent questions about Russia and the election only advance the Kremlin’s aims and damage the president. “This makes me pissed because we’re letting these guys win,” a senior administration official said of the Russians. Referring to the disputed Florida tallies in the 2000 presidential election, the official said: “What if the Russians had created the hanging chads? How would that have been for George Bush?”

The allegations of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, which the president has denied categorically, also contribute to his resistance to endorse the intelligence, another senior White House official said. Acknowledging Russian interference, Trump believes, would give ammunition to his critics.

Still others close to Trump explain his aversion to the intelligence findings in more psychological terms. The president, who burns with resentment over perceived disrespect from the Washington establishment, sees the Russia inquiry as a conspiracy to undermine his election accomplishment — “a witch hunt,” as he often calls it.

“If you say ‘Russian interference,’ to him it’s all about him,” said a senior Republican strategist who has discussed the matter with Trump’s confidants. “He judges everything as about him.”

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Recent months have been marked by further erosion of the U.S.-Russia relationship and troubling developments for the White House, including the indictment of Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and the guilty plea of Flynn.

Trump remains defiant about the special counsel’s probe, maintaining he will be cleared of any wrongdoing and describing the matter as a “hoax” and a “hit job.”

Some of Trump’s most senior advisers support that view. One senior official said Trump is right to portray the investigations and news reports as politically motivated attacks that have hurt the United States’ ability to work with Russia on real problems.

“We were looking to create some kind of bargain that would help us negotiate a very dangerous world,” said a senior White House official. “But if we do anything, Congress and the media will scream bloody murder.”

Putin expressed his own exasperation in early September, responding to a question about Trump with a quip that mocked the idea of a Trump-Putin bond while aiming a gender-related taunt at the American president. Trump “is not my bride,” Putin said, “and I am not his groom.”

The remark underscored the frustration and disenchantment that have taken hold on both sides amid the failure to achieve the breakthrough in U.S.-Russian relations that Trump and Putin both envisioned a year ago.

As a result, rather than shaping U.S. policy toward Russia, Trump at times appears to function as an outlier in his own administration, unable to pursue the relationship with Putin he envisioned but unwilling to embrace tougher policies favored by some in his Cabinet.

A Pentagon proposal that would pose a direct challenge to Moscow — a plan to deliver lethal arms to Ukrainian forces battling Russia-backed separatists — has languished in internal debates for months.

From left, national security adviser H.R. McMaster; then-White House chief of staff Reince Priebus; then-Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly; Secretary of State Rex Tillerson; and Vice President Pence at President Trump’s news conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in May. (Photo by Jabin Botsford; photo illustration by Nick Kirkpatrick/The Washington Post)

The plan is backed by senior members of Trump’s Cabinet, including Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who voiced support for arming Ukrainian forces in meetings with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in August. Mattis “believes that you should help people who are fighting our potential adversaries,” said a senior U.S. official involved in the deliberations.

A decision to send arms has to be made by the president, and officials said Trump has been reluctant even to engage.

“Every conversation I’ve had with people on this subject has been logical,” the senior U.S. official said. “But there’s no logical conclusion to the process, and that tells me the bottleneck is in the White House.”

In July, the administration appointed former NATO ambassador Kurt Volker to serve as special envoy to Ukraine, putting him in charge of the delicate U.S. relationship with a former Soviet republic eager for closer ties with the West.

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Putin has taken extraordinary measures to block that path, sending Russian commandos and arms into Ukraine to support pro-Russian separatists. And Putin is bitter about U.S. and European sanctions imposed on Russia for its aggression. A decision by Trump to send arms would probably rupture U.S.-Russian relations beyond immediate repair.

Trump was forced to grapple with these complexities in September, when he met with Poroshenko at the United Nations. Volker met with Trump to prepare him for the encounter. Tillerson, McMaster and White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, who had replaced Priebus, were also on hand.

Trump pressed Volker on why it was in the United States’ interests to support Ukraine and why U.S. taxpayers’ money should be spent doing so, Volker said in an interview. “Why is it worth it?” Volker said Trump asked. As Volker outlined the rationale for U.S. involvement, Trump seemed satisfied.

“I believe that what he wants is to settle the issue, he wants a better, more constructive U.S.-Russia relationship,” Volker said. “I think he would like [the Ukraine conflict] to be solved . . . get this fixed so we can get to a better place.”

The conversation was about Ukraine but seemed to capture Trump’s frustration on so many Russia-related fronts — the election, the investigations, the complications that had undermined his relationship with Putin.

Volker said that the president repeated a single phrase at least five times, saying, “I want peace.”

Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima and Julie Tate contributed to this report.

This story has been updated to note that The Post had been briefed on the dossier, but did not receive a copy until a couple of weeks before it was first published by BuzzFeed.

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This is source I found from another site, main source you can find in last paragraph

Source : https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/world/national-security/donald-trump-pursues-vladimir-putin-russian-election-hacking/

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