Let’s hit the Pause button.
News is swirling out of our nation’s capitol at a pace and depth worthy of 21st century rapidity. Significant issues of national security have swelled amid documented claims of domestic abuse. White House staffers are forced to quit while others face intense questions about their truthfulness and credibility. The investigation into Trump and the Kremlin result in a detailed indictment against Russian actors. National intelligence heads speak in one voice for the first time in what seems a very long time, denouncing Russian measures, White House narratives and Trump’s cavalier pronouncements. Meanwhile, a few stalwart Republican legislators are buttressing the foundations of law and order.
Are we approaching a paradigm shift? It would seem so. It looks as if the Trump Administration is both imploding and exploding as pressure heats up to an unsustainable degree.
And this is just during a two-week period.
Here’s a chronology of significant events moving the scenario of White House instability.
- 31 January – Republican legislator Trey Gowdy announces he will not seek re-election to Congress.
Best known for his long and fruitless Benghazi hearings, Gowdy also stepped down from his role as House Ethics chair. He maintains a seat on the Intelligence committee, which is investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election, and the House Oversight committee.
- 2 February – the so-called Nunes memo is released by the House Intel committee.
Promoted by Rep. Devin Nunes, the recused committee chair, and written by Gowdy, the short document is meant to cast doubt on high-ranking officials at Justice in their pursuit of a secret surveillance warrant for former Trump advisor Carter Page.
Trump tweets: This memo totally vindicates “Trump” in probe. But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on. Their [sic] was no Collusion and there was no Obstruction (the word now used because, after one year of looking endlessly and finding NOTHING, collusion is dead). This is an American disgrace. 09:40:27 AM
- 4 February – Gowdy asserts that the Nunes memo does not vindicate Trump and has “no impact” on the Russian investigation.
- 5 February – The full House Intel committee votes to release the Democrats’ response to the Nunes memo.
Trump tweets: Little Adam Schiff, who is desperate to run for higher office, is one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington, right up there with Comey, Warner, Brennan and Clapper! Adam leaves closed committee hearings to illegally leak confidential information. Must be stopped! 07:39:10 AM
- 6 February – An explosive report in The Daily Mail details allegations of domestic abuse at the hands of White House staff secretary Rob Porter as reported by Porter’s two ex-wives.
The White House Chief of Staff and press secretary immediately defend Porter, who denies the charges; Trump says nothing.
In the following days, a second story develops regarding Porter’s lack of permanent security clearance.
- 7 February – Porter resigns. Trump repeats Porter’s denial, calls his aide’s situation “a tough time” but says nothing about the charges of domestic violence.
- 8 February – Trump tweets: Wow! -Senator Mark Warner got caught having extensive contact with a lobbyist for a Russian oligarch. Warner did not want a “paper trail” on a “private” meeting (in London) he requested with Steele of fraudulent Dossier fame. All tied into Crooked Hillary. 10:22:53 PM
- 9 February – A second Trump staffer resigns amid allegations of abuse.
- 9 February – Trump refuses to release the Democrats memo, citing national security concerns.
- 11 February – GOP Sen. Jeff Flake calls for a Senate review of White House security clearance backlog.
- 13 February – In testimony to the Senate Intel committee, FBI chief Christopher Wray contradicts the official White House narrative and timeline regarding its actions on Porter.
- 13 February – Dan Coats, head of the National Intelligence Agency, calls for a complete overhaul of the security clearance process, saying it is a “broken system.”
- 14 February – After repeated pressure and criticism, Trump tells reporters in the Oval Office, “I am totally opposed to domestic violence and everybody here knows that.” His words come a week after the Porter scandal emerged.
- 14 February – VP Mike Pence admits the White House mishandled the Rob Porter imbroglio.
- 15 February – Over 130 top Trump appointees lack permanent security clearance. The list includes Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, White House counsel Don McGahn and press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
- 15 February – News surfaces that former Trump strategist Steve Bannon has appeared before the Mueller team and answered questions for 18 hours.
- 15 February – Bannon testifies before the U.S. House intelligence committee.
According to news reports, this closed-door session is unproductive. Bannon refuses to answer questions other than those contained in a script prepared by the White House which called for a Yes/No answer.
- 16 February – Chief of Staff John Kelly proposes changes to the security clearance process at the White House.
- 16 February – a Grand Jury impaneled by the Mueller investigation releases a 37-page indictment that narrates how a Russian counter intelligence operation conspired to boost Donald Trump and defame Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election.
Mueller’s Grand Jury named a Russian oligarch and his two funding sources along with a dozen Russian operatives and “persons known and unknown to the Grand Jury” who worked from a troll factory in St. Petersburg and on U.S. soil to achieve their mission.
- 16 February – Trump tweets: Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion! 03:18:11 PM
17 February – At the Munich Security Conference, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster stated that evidence of Russian interference in the presidential election is “incontrovertible.”
Trump tweets: “Charges Deal Don A Big Win,” written by Michael Goodwin of the @nypost, succinctly states that “the Russians had no impact on the election results.” There was no Collusion with the Trump Campaign. “She lost the old-fashioned way, by being a terrible candidate. Case closed.” 02:26:13 PM
Ten minutes later, Trump tweets: Deputy A.G. Rod Rosenstein stated at the News Conference: “There is no allegation in the indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity. There is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election. 02:36:14 PM
Ten minutes later, Trump tweets: Funny how the Fake News Media doesn’t want to say that the Russian group was formed in 2014, long before my run for President. Maybe they knew I was going to run even though I didn’t know! 02:46:48 PM
Eight hours later, Trump tweets: General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems. Remember the Dirty Dossier, Uranium, Speeches, Emails and the Podesta Company. 11:22:48 PM
18 February – Gowdy praises the Mueller indictment on Face The Nation. He condemns Russia saying, “Russia is not our friend. Russia has tried to subvert the fundamentals of our democracy.”
- 18 February – Rick Gates is likely to work out a plea deal with Special Counsel Mueller.
Gates, former Trump staffer and business partner to Trump’s campaign head Paul Manafort, was previously indicted on fraud charges. He is reportedly willing to testify against Manafort.