Timeline: Mueller's Russia probe

Timeline: Mueller's Russia probe
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Special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia appears to be entering a new phase.

News that a grand jury in Washington, D.C., has approved charges that will be public as of Monday represents a turning point in the federal probe into Moscow's election interference.

The order establishing the special counsel gave Mueller authorization to investigate any issue that "arose or may arise directly from the investigation."

While the FBI opened its investigation into Trump campaign ties to Russia in July 2016, the probe has been under the direction of Mueller since May. 

May 17: Mueller appointed

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel to probe Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election.

Calls had intensified for a special counsel to be appointed after reports that Trump had urged former FBI Director James Comey to "let go" of the investigation. Trump was reportedly concerned about Comey looking into his former national security adviser Michael Flynn — a request that Comey reportedly documented in a memo currently being sought by Congress — who has become a key figure in the investigation due to conversations with a Russian ambassador.

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Trump fired Comey in May for his handling of the federal probe into Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGraham: McCain 'acted appropriately' by handing Steele dossier to FBI Why Mueller's hedge on obstruction decision was a mistake Giuliani says news media treat Dems better than GOP MORE’s emails, however, Trump later told NBC News that he had Russia on his mind when he fired the FBI director.

Speculation immediately began to swirl around whether Trump would take the controversial step of firing Mueller. While some of Trump’s most prominent allies, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, raised questions about the fairness of the Mueller probe, the White House said the president had “no intention” of firing Mueller.

“While the president has the right to, he has no intention to do so,” spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. Republicans called on Trump not to fire Mueller, saying the move would embroil the administration in even more controversy.

However, speculation about whether Trump would attempt such a move has continued to swirl following every reported step in Mueller's investigation.

June 14: Mueller investigating Trump

The Washington Post reported that Mueller was investigating Trump for obstruction of justice.

The report came after Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the president directed him in February to end the FBI's investigation into Flynn.

Trump slammed the federal probe after the report was published, calling it the "greatest witch hunt in American political history." 

July 19: Trump warns Mueller on finances

The president appeared to threaten Mueller in a New York Times interview, saying that he would be crossing a red line if he probed his family’s financial history.

“I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia,” Trump told the Times.

Trump went on to say Mueller’s office had several conflicts of interest, including Rosenstein. Trump said Rosenstein was playing both sides in Trump’s decision to fire Comey by recommending the firing but then appointing Mueller as special counsel.

“Well, that’s a conflict of interest,” Trump said. “Do you know how many conflicts of interests there are?”

July 20: Mueller looks at Trump finances

Bloomberg first reported that Mueller was probing Trump’s past business transactions despite Trump’s very public warning that the investigation should not go there.

The publication reported the counsel was probing purchases from Russian buyers at Trump properties, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, a SoHo development involving Russian associates and Trump's 2008 sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch. 

"Those transactions are in my view well beyond the mandate of the special counsel," Trump’s lawyer John Dowd said in a statement to Bloomberg.

July 26: FBI raids Manafort home

FBI agents conducted a raid at former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s home in Alexandria, Va.

The agents had a search warrant to seize materials from Manafort's residence, according to The Washington Post, citing people familiar with Mueller's investigation.

"FBI agents executed a search warrant at one of Mr. Manafort's residences," Manafort’s spokesman said in a statement.

Federal agents arrived at Manafort's home without warning and departed with records, according to the Post.

"Mr. Manafort has consistently cooperated with law enforcement and other serious inquiries and did so on this occasion as well."

Aug. 5: Mueller impanels new grand jury

Mueller’s investigation of potential coordination between Trump’s campaign and Russia moved into a new phase with the impaneling of a grand jury in Washington, D.C.

The move indicated that Mueller has found evidence of criminal activity and that the investigation extends well beyond Flynn, who was already the focus of a grand jury in Alexandria, Va.

Mueller also took charge of that grand jury when he took over the DOJ investigation.

Fox News later reported Mueller started interviewing White House officials as part of the investigation into ties between Trump campaign associates and Russia.

Chief of staff for the National Security Council, retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, was interviewed by Mueller’s team in September, according to the report.

Oct. 5: Mueller looking at Steele dossier

CNN reported that Mueller’s team met this summer with former MI6 agent Christopher Steele, the author of the controversial, unverified dossier on alleged ties between Trump and Russia.

The U.S. intelligence community said in a report made public in January that they took the allegations made in the dossier seriously, and Trump was briefed on the dossier shortly before taking office by Comey.

Oct. 13: Mueller interviews Priebus

Mueller's team interviewed former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, signaling that the special counsel's Russia probe is reaching into the top levels of Trump's team.

“Mr. Priebus was voluntarily interviewed by Special Counsel Mueller’s team today. He was happy to answer all of their questions," Priebus's lawyer William Burck told The Hill.

Priebus left the White House in July.

Oct. 17: Mueller interviews Spicer

Mueller and his investigative team interviewed former White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

The interview with Trump's former top aide lasted most of the day, Politico reported, citing multiple sources familiar with the meeting.

Spicer reportedly answered a range of questions surrounding the Trump presidency, including the firing of Comey.

Spicer also resigned his White House post in July.

Oct. 27: Mueller interviews Woolsey

NBC News reported that former CIA Director James Woolsey has been in contact with FBI agents working under Mueller regarding his knowledge of Flynn, a spokesman for Woolsey said Friday.

“Ambassador Woolsey and his wife have been in communication with the FBI regarding the Sept. 19, 2016 meeting Ambassador Woolsey was invited to attend by one of Gen. Flynn's business partners," Jonathan Franks, a spokesman for Woolsey, said in a statement. "Ambassador Woolsey and his wife have responded to every request, whether from the FBI, or, more recently, the Office of the Special Counsel."

Mueller had reportedly expressed interest in a September 2016 meeting in which Woolsey said he heard a discussion about sending a U.S.-based Turkish cleric, Fethullah Gülen, back to Turkey.

The Wall Street Journal reported in March that Flynn had discussed ways to take Gülen, who was wanted by the Turkish government, out of the United States without going through the legal extradition process.

Oct. 27: First charges filed 

CNN reported a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., has approved the first charges in Mueller’s investigation. 

The network reported that the charges are sealed under a federal judge’s order, with sources telling CNN that those charged could be taken into custody as soon as Monday.