The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Everything that led up to Comey’s big moment, in one visual timeline

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For several weeks now, we’ve been updating a timeline of the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign and how it overlaps with the election, transition and administration of President Trump.

With former FBI director James B. Comey preparing to testify on Capitol Hill, we decided to create a version of that timeline focused on three key players: Comey, former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Flynn and Sessions were integral to how we got to this moment. Flynn’s relationships with Turkey and Russia were under investigation by the FBI and, according to Comey, were of particular interest to Trump. Sessions’s role as Comey’s boss was tumultuous, with Sessions having to recuse himself from the investigation after it was revealed that he had not reported contacts with Russian officials.

Here’s the timeline. Given space constraints — particularly in the critical January-February time period — we used brief descriptions on the diagram. For more information, see below, or view the full text timeline.

Key dates

Jan. 6. Comey attends a briefing at Trump Tower in which he first informs the president-elect that he isn’t personally under investigation as part of the bureau’s counterintelligence case.

Jan. 24. The FBI interviews Flynn.

Jan. 25. Acting Attorney General Sally Yates — Sessions hasn’t yet been confirmed — reviews the testimony.

Jan. 26. Yates informs the White House that Flynn may have lied to them about the conversations he had in December with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Jan. 27. Trump has Comey over for dinner and asks that the FBI director pledge his loyalty (according to Comey).

Feb. 8. Sessions is confirmed as attorney general.

Feb. 13. Flynn resigns as national security adviser.

Feb. 14. During a meeting in the Oval Office, Trump asks Comey to move away from his investigation of Flynn. “He is a good guy,” Trump said, according to a memo Comey drafted at the time. “I hope you can let this go.”

Feb. 15. In the wake of Trump’s request, Comey tells Sessions that he did not want to be put in a position where the FBI director and Trump were alone, citing concerns about propriety.

March 2. Sessions announces that he’ll recuse himself.

March 20. Comey reveals the existence of the FBI investigation publicly.

March 22. Shortly after being confirmed by the Senate as director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats attends a briefing at the White House with several other officials. As it wraps up, Trump asks Coats and CIA Director Mike Pompeo to remain in the room. During the private conversation that ensued, Trump asks Coats and Pompeo to try to intervene with the FBI to end the investigative focus on Flynn.

March 30. Trump and Comey speak by phone. Trump asks Comey what can be done to “lift the cloud” of the Russia investigation. Trump asks Comey to announce publicly that he himself isn’t under investigation.

April 11. Trump calls Comey to ask what has been done to make it clear publicly that he isn’t under investigation. Comey suggests he have White House counsel Donald McGahn speak with the acting deputy attorney general about the issue. It’s the last time the two speak.

May 9. Trump fires Comey.

Read more:

Comey’s testimony: Live analysis and video updates

Former FBI director says Trump administration ‘chose to defame me’

A viewer’s guide to the James B. Comey hearing: Who are the senators asking him questions?

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