- Shannon Vavra
- Jun 14
Timeline: Trump, Comey and the Russia probe
Lazaro Gamio / Axios
President Trump dismissed James Comey May 9, Comey testified last week before the Senate Intelligence Committee, and now the special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether Trump obstructed justice, at least in part due to Trump's interactions with Comey.
Here's a look at all the key events relating to Trump, Comey and the Russia probe:
Spring/Summer: Comey confirmed in May the FBI was conducting an investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails. On July 5, Comey released a statement saying the FBI would not recommend charges against Clinton. At some point in July, the FBI launched an investigation into Trump-Russia.
Oct. 28: Days before the presidential election, Comey announced there were newly-discovered emails from Clinton's campaign team relevant to the investigation.
Jan. 6: Comey briefed Trump on Russian election interference and the salacious, though unverified, dossier about his alleged behavior in Russia. Comey assured Trump the FBI was not investigating him personally, and documented this meeting in a memo.
Jan. 27: Trump invited Comey to a dinner at the White House and told him "I need loyalty, I expect loyalty," according to Comey's prepared statement for the Senate.
Feb. 14: The day after Flynn resigned as Trump's National Security Advisor after misleading Mike Pence about his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, Trump asked Comey to drop the investigation into Flynn, per his statement: "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go."
Feb. 15: The next day, Comey told Attorney General Jeff Sessions that Trump should stay out of the FBI probe, per Comey.
March 20: Comey confirmed to Congress the FBI was investigating potential "coordination" between Trump associates and Russia, and that there was no evidence Obama wiretapped Trump, contrary to the president's earlier claims on Twitter.
Sometime after March 20: Trump reportedly asked Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and NSA Director Michael Rogers to publicly push back on FBI probe, per the Washington Post. Sometime before March 22, Trump asked Coats if he could pressure Comey to stop investigating Flynn, per the Post.
March 30: Trump called Comey and asked what he could do to "lift the cloud" of the Russia probe, and asked Comey why he told Congress the FBI was investigating Trump-Russia links. Comey again noted the FBI was not investigating Trump personally, which Trump asked him to make public.
April 11: Trump asked Comey about the progress on making it known the FBI is not investigating him personally, noting "I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know," per Comey's testimony. Comey directed him to the deputy attorney general, and did not ask what "that thing" meant. That is the last time they spoke.
April 12: Trump went after Comey in Fox Business interview. Asked if he regretted not asking Comey to resign, Trump said "it's not too late."
April 25: Rod Rosenstein was confirmed as Deputy Attorney General.
May 2: Clinton cited Comey's October email announcement as one of the reasons Trump won the election.
May 3 — One week before he got fired: Comey testified before Congress and defended his midnight revelation on the Clinton investigation. He added that it made him "mildly nauseous to think we might have had some impact on the election."
May 8: Trump met with Sessions and Rosenstein, reportedly fuming about Comey's testimony. Trump tweeted: "The Russia-Trump collusion story is a total hoax"
May 9 — The day Trump fired Comey:
- Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions penned letters recommending Trump get a "fresh start" without Comey. Rosenstein noted Comey's handling of the Clinton emails "is a textbook example of what federal prosecutors and agents are taught not to do."
- Trump sent a letter to Comey informing him of his decision to heed Rosenstein and Sessions' advice, firing him effective immediately. Comey was informed while speaking in front of FBI colleagues, and thought it was a prank.
- The White House denied Comey's ouster was part of a "coverup" and claimed Trump acted on guidance from Rosenstein and Sessions.
May 10: Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office that firing "nut job" Comey eased pressure on him, per the NYT.
May 11: Trump said he would have fired Comey, even without a DOJ recommendation. He said he thought about how the Russia probe was a "hoax" before making his final decision.
May 12: Trump warned Comey on Twitter that he "better hope" there are no tapes of their conversations.
Days after Comey was fired the FBI began to personally investigate Trump.
May 14: Congress called on Trump to turn over any tapes in his possession.
May 17: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller, Comey's predecessor as FBI chief, as special counsel for the Russia probe.
May 18: Trump denied interfering in the probe when asked ("No, no next question").
May 20: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denied talking to Trump about Comey.
May 26: The FBI refused to share Comey's memos with Congress at this time, deferring to the Mueller-led investigation.
June 1: Comey agreed to testify on June 8 before the Senate Intelligence Committee, after consulting with Mueller.
June 5: Sarah Sanders announced Trump wouldn't use executive privilege to block Comey's testimony.
June 7: Comey's planned opening statement was released. In it Comey said Trump asked for a loyalty pledge and said he hoped Comey would end the Flynn investigation. Trump also nominated Comey's replacement as FBI Director, Christopher Wray.
June 8: Comey testified before the Senate Intel Committee and revealed he asked a friend to leak info about Trump and Comey's interactions in the hopes a special counsel would be appointed.
June 13: Sessions confirmed while testifying under oath he left Comey and Trump alone Feb. 14, but contradicted what Comey said about their conversation after the meeting — Sessions testified he had said he would tell the White House to follow protocol, Comey said Sessions did not reply.
June 14: The Post reported Mueller is investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice.
- Background: Key details from Comey's statement on Trump
- Key insights: Pieces to read for insight on Comey's testimony
- Timeline: Russia probe, lined up side-by-side with Watergate
- Comey truth bomb: Top Republicans relieved
- The law: Obstruction of justice
- The probe: Mueller investigating Trump for obstruction of justice