TIMELINE: James Comey’s Russia Investigation and His Firing

Here are three key points and a timeline to keep in mind during Jim Comey’s testimony on Thursday about Trump’s conversations with Comey and Comey’s eventual firing.

  • Trump ratcheted up the pressure on Comey and then fired him as revelations about the Trump team’s contacts with Russia got worse and moved closer to the Oval Office.
  • Trump’s request that Comey drop the Flynn probe followed a months-long effort by Trump and the White House to obstruct and discredit the FBI investigation.
  • Flynn was in serious trouble when Trump asked Comey to give him a pass, and there’s no way the White House can deny they knew that.


11/8/16- Trump wins election; Michael Flynn publishes an Op-ed in support of Turkish President, Erdogan in The Hill


11/10/16-President Obama warns Trump against hiring Flynn during an Oval Office meeting


11/11/16- Flynn was first revealed to be working for group closely tied to Erdogan’s government 


11/18/16- Flynn accepts job as National Security Advisor to Trump; Rep. Elijah Cummings sends Vice President Pence a letter raising concerns about Flynn’s work for company tied to Turkey.


11/30/16- Department of Justice informs Flynn that he is under investigation for lobbying on behalf of Turkey.


Early-Dec. 2016-Flynn, Jared Kushner and Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak meet and discuss secret Russian Backchannel; Kislyak suggests that Kushner meet with Sergey Gorkov, Chairman of U.S.-sanctioned VEB bank.


 Mid-Dec. 2016- Kushner meets with VEB Chairman Sergey Gorkov; VEB later tells media that the meeting was about business, while the White House says it was related to the transition.


12/29/16-Obama Administration announces sanctions on Russia in response to election interference;  Flynn and Kislyak discuss sanctions on at least one of multiple phone calls that day


1/4/17-Flynn informs future White House Counsel Don McGahn about Turkish lobbying work and letter from Department of Justice.


1/11/17-David Ignatius reports that Flynn discussed sanctions with Kislayk on Dec. 29th phone call


1/15/17-Pence tells CBS News that that Flynn did not discuss sanctions with Kislyak, refuses to say whether Trump has confidence in Comey; Priebus says Trump has no plans to replace Comey as FBI Director


1/22/17-Trump embraces Comey during a White House event honoring law enforcement


1/23/17-Comey sends FBI Agents to interview Flynn about his contacts with Kislyak amid Department of Justice concerns about Russian Blackmail


1/26/17-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates informs White House Counsel Don McGahn about Flynn Concerns, McGahn tells Trump the same day.


Jan 2017-The White House begins exploring unilateral lifting of sanctions on Russia for nothing in return


1/27/17-Yates meets again with McGahn, who asks about potential legal ramifications of Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak; Trump Asks for Comey’s loyalty during White House Dinner, Comey Refuses


1/30/17-Yates and McGahn discuss reviewing evidence against Flynn; Yates is fired later that day by Trump for refusing to defend Muslim Ban.


2/9/17-Washington Post reports that Flynn lied to Pence about nature of contacts with Kislyak


2/10/17-Pence, Reince Priebus and McGahn speak to Flynn and about discrepancies in his account of Kislyak calls


2/11/17-Flynn files financial disclosure that omits payments from Kremlin-backed RT Channel and other foreign sources


2/13/17-Flynn resigns


2/14/17-Trump pushes Comey to “let Flynn go” in Oval Office conversation after asking Sessions and Pence to leave the room;  The New York Times reports on repeated contacts between Trump Campaign officials and Russian intelligence figures


2/15/17- Priebus asks Comey to push back against The New York Times report of an investigation into Trump Campaign contacts with Russian intelligence.


2/16/17-Trump defends Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak during a news conference


3/2/17-Attorney General Jeff Sessions recuses himself from the Russia investigation amid questions about his meetings with the Russian ambassador in 2016 and his failure to disclose them to Congress.


3/20/17-Comey confirms FBI Investigation of potential Trump Team collusion with Russia in public Congressional Hearing


Mar. 2017-After Comey’s 3/20 testimony, Trump asks Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and CIA Director Mike Pompeo to publicly state that there is no evidence of collusion between Trump Team and Russia, and White House staff inquire about getting intelligence officials to shut down the FBI’s Russia investigation


4/6/17-New York Times reports that Kushner failed disclose meeting with Kislyak and VEB Bank CEO on his security clearance forms.


5/3/17-Comey testifies in open Senate Intel hearing about Clinton e-mail investigation and again confirms FBI probe of potential Trump-Russia collusion


5/6-5/7/17-Trump reportedly spends the weekend stewing in anger over Comey and the Russia Investigation


5/8/17-Yates tells Senate Judiciary Committee that she warned White House multiple times of Flynn conversations with Kislyak; Trump meets with Rosenstein and Sessions to discuss firing Comey, asks Rosenstein to put concerns about Comey’s handling of email investigation into writing


5/9/17-Trump fires Comey


5/10/17-Trump tells Russian Foreign Minister and Ambassador that firing Comey eased pressure of Russia investigation; Sec. of State Tillerson informs them that U.S. will no longer demand concession for returning properties seized by U.S. as part of 2016 election sanctions.


5/11/17-Trump tells Lester Holt that he was thinking of the “Russia thing” when he decided to fire Comey


5/16/17-The New York Times reports on Comey memo alleging Trump asked Comey to drop Flynn investigation; The White House releases statement calling Comey memo “not a truthful or accurate portrayal”


5/17/17-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appoints Special Counsel to handle FBI Russia probe amid questions about his own conflicts of interest in the wake of Comey’s firing


5/18/17-Trump denies asking Comey to drop Flynn investigation during press conference