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Timeline: Every big move in the Mueller investigation

Chess with Russia
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

After nearly two years, special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation netted 199 criminal charges, 37 indictments or guilty pleas, and 5 prison sentences.

Driving the news: In his first public statement since his appointment, Mueller announced on Wednesday that his investigation was officially over and that he was resigning as special counsel.

2017

May 17: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appoints Robert Mueller as special counsel to the Russia probe.

June 14: Mueller's probe expands to investigate Trump for possible obstruction of justice.

Oct. 30: Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates are indicted on 12 counts, including conspiracy against the U.S. and money laundering.

  • The same day, Trump's former campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, pleads guilty to making false statements to the FBI regarding his contact with Russian leadership. He later claims he misled agents to protect the president.

Dec. 1: Former national security advisor Michael Flynn pleads guilty to "willfully and knowingly [making] false, fictitious and fraudulent statements and representations" to the FBI regarding his conversations with Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.

2018

Feb. 16: Mueller indicts 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for violating criminal laws to interfere with the 2016 U.S. election.

  • The same day, Richard Pinedo pleads guilty to identity fraud for selling bank account numbers to Russians involved in election interference.

Feb. 20: Dutch lawyer Alex van der Zwaan pleads guilty after being charged on Feb. 16 with lying to FBI investigators about his interactions with Rick Gates and an unidentified individual, labeled "Person A" in court documents.

Feb. 22: Mueller files 32 new financial charges, including money laundering and bank fraud, against Manafort and Gates in the Eastern District of Virginia.

Feb. 23: Gates pleads guilty to conspiracy and lying to investigators.

March 15: Manafort's lawyers file a motion to dismiss Mueller's D.C. indictment.

March 27: Manafort's legal team files a motion to dismiss Mueller's Virginia indictment.

April 3: Alex van der Zwaan is sentenced to 30 days in prison and $20,000 in fines for lying to FBI investigators. The decision marks the first sentencing in Mueller's probe.

April 9: The home, hotel room and office of Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen is raided by FBI agents.

June 8: Mueller brings new charges against former Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik, a former aide to Manafort who has been suspected of having ties to Russian intelligence.

  • The charges against both Manafort and Kilimnik include conspiracy and obstruction of justice in an alleged attempt to influence other testimonies. Mueller also charges Manafort with conspiracy to launder money, acting as an unregistered foreign agent and lying to authorities against Manafort.

July 13: Mueller indicts 12 Russian military intelligence officers for hacking and releasing Democratic emails during the 2016 campaign.

Aug. 21: Manafort is found guilty by a Virginia jury on eight counts of fraud.

  • That same day, Cohen pleads guilty in a Manhattan courtroom to eight counts related to tax fraud and campaign finance violations related to the Southern District of New York's investigation. Over the next few months, Cohen reportedly spent more than 70 hours in interviews with the special counsel.

Sept. 7: Papadopoulos is sentenced to 14 days in prison for lying to the FBI.

Sept. 14: Manafort pleads guilty to charges brought by the special counsel and enters into a "cooperation agreement."

Nov. 8: Attorney General Jeff Sessions submits his resignation at the request of President Trump. Sessions' chief of staff Matthew Whitaker, a public critic of the Mueller investigation, is appointed acting AG.

Nov. 20: Trump's lawyers say they've submitted written answers to questions from the special counsel.

Nov. 29: Cohen pleads guilty in the Mueller investigation to lying to Congress about the length and scope of his work on plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Trump's business entanglements are publicly brought into the Mueller investigation for the first time, with Trump himself reportedly referred to as "Individual 1" in court documents.

Dec. 4: Mueller files a memo recommending no prison time for Flynn, citing his "substantial assistance" and cooperation in the special counsel's investigation.

Dec. 7: Prosecutors from New York’s Southern District recommend a "substantial term of imprisonment" for Michael Cohen for campaign finance and tax violations, as well as lying to Congress, despite his cooperation with the investigation.

  • Mueller also filed a memo on Cohen stating that he is not taking a position on what amount of prison time Cohen should serve, but said "any sentence of incarceration" the court in New York recommends would be "appropriate."
  • Mueller filed a second document revealing that Manafort lied to the FBI and the Special Counsel's Office about his contact with administration officials, a Russian political consultant, a wire transfer, and information related to another DOJ investigation.

Dec. 12: Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison on charges related to campaign finance violations, tax evasion and lying to Congress. In his guilty plea, Cohen claimed then-candidate Donald Trump directed him in 2016 to pay hush money to two women who alleged affairs.

2019

Jan. 25: Roger Stone, a longtime Trump associate, was arrested following an indictment in the Mueller investigation.

Feb. 15: Mueller's team recommended that Manafort should serve between 19.5 and 24.5 years in prison in a court filing.

Feb. 22: Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued a full gag order in Stone's case, after he posted an Instagram photo of her with a crosshairs symbol near her head.

Feb. 23: Mueller filed an 800+ page sentencing memo for Paul Manafort, in which he called Trump's former campaign manager a "hardened" criminal who "repeatedly and brazenly" broke the law for over a decade, even after being indicted. Manafort will be sentenced in two separate cases next month, and could spend the rest of his life in prison.

March 8: President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced in a Virginia court to 4 years in prison for financial crimes including bank fraud, tax fraud and hiding a foreign bank account. Prosecutors for the Mueller investigation had earlier put sentencing guidelines for Manafort at 19 to 24 years. He still faces sentencing next week in a separate case in Washington, D.C.

March 22: Attorney General Bill Barr received Mueller's report, marking the end of the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible obstruction of justice by President Trump.

March 24: After reviewing the report, Barr sent a summary to Congress saying: "[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities." On the question of obstruction of justice, Barr wrote that while Mueller's report "does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him."

April 18: Barr releases a redacted version of the Mueller report.

April 30: It emerges Mueller told Barr his 4-page summary to Congress failed to "fully capture" the findings, prompting Democrats to step up criticism of the attorney general.

  • House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) sends a criminal referral to the Justice Department for informal Trump campaign adviser Erik Prince, who Schiff believes "willfully misled" the committee during 2017 testimony.
  • Barr releases a prepared statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee ahead of his testimony before the panel on May 1.

May 29: Mueller announces that the "investigation is complete" and that he would resigning as special counsel in the first public statement since his appointment.

  • He addressed the decision not to charge Trump, saying, "If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so." He added that under DOJ guidelines that it was never an option to charge Trump with a crime.
  • Mueller left the door open on testifying before Congress in the future, but indicated that his testimony would not go beyond what was already outlined in his report.

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