On February 15, 2017, two days after Michael Flynn resigned his position as National Security Advisor, I posted the following request in a private Facebook group for members of Lawyers for Good Government (“L4GG”):
RUSSIA / FLYNN INVESTIGATION & REPORT: EXPERTS NEEDED IMMEDIATELY (PLEASE READ FULL TEXT BELOW BEFORE RESPONDING)
We’re forming a very small team of L4GG members to produce a detailed white paper regarding recent allegations re: Russia / Flynn / need for further investigation / etc.
If you have a background in any of the areas listed below and are able to dedicate at least 10–20 hours of your time to this project over the next 2–3 days, please email me ASAP…
Before we get to what happened next, a few things are worth noting about the above request (you’ll see why in a minute):
- Our goal was to produce a white paper (a report).
- The idea was to recruit a “very small team” of L4GG members to produce the white paper.
- To complete the project, I thought it would require around 10–20 hours of time over a 2–3 day period from each of the volunteers.
In response to my Facebook post, five or six volunteers stepped up to contribute to the white paper, and we got to work. But we quickly ran into a problem.
Before we could start writing the legal analysis, we needed to research and document the publicly available facts of the “Russia/Flynn” situation.
One of the volunteers on our team offered to do some quick research online and produce a summary of the facts, so I created an empty table in a Google document (with columns for “date,” “event,” “source,” etc.) and asked her to enter the facts in the table. One fact per row. Each row looked something like this:
February 26, 2016 — Reuters reports that Michael Flynn is advising the Trump campaign. Source: Washington Post.
November 10, 2016 — During a meeting in the Oval Office, President Obama warns Trump about Flynn’s ties to Russia. Source: Los Angeles Times.
November 18, 2016 — President-Elect Trump appoints Michael Flynn as National Security Advisor. Source: New York Times.
Within a few hours, the list of facts concerning Michael Flynn, President Trump, and ties to Russia had ballooned from one page to twelve pages. Then it was twenty pages. Fifty pages. A hundred pages.
Eventually, the Google document got too large to function properly and crashed.
The volunteer writing up the factual summary eventually sent me a message saying that (1) there was no way she could do this whole thing herself, (2) there was no way we could get the factual summary completed within the original timeframe, (3) the scope of the research should be expanded to include all documented ties between Trump, his advisors, and Russia, and (4) the Google document was no longer working.
We recruited more volunteers and moved from a Google document to a database.
Days turned into weeks as the research continued. It was becoming increasingly clear that this “factual summary,” originally intended as an internal document to help us produce a public-facing report, was the #1 thing the public needed to see.
I spoke with a developer to see if he could turn our list of facts into an interactive timeline. He volunteered his time to do so and recruited additional technical help to get it done.
Our team of volunteer lawyers and developers ended up working on this project for three months — researching, verifying, coding, designing, uploading files, proofreading — to get to the point where we could launch a publicly viewable timeline showing connections between President Trump, his advisors, and Russia from 1984 to present.
Take a look at the timeline. Fair warning: if you’ve never looked at all the pieces of this puzzle in a single place, you may find it shocking and more than a little overwhelming. Especially in light of what happened ten days ago.
Ten days ago, on May 9, 2017, President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, less than a week after Comey verified the existence of an ongoing investigation into Trump administration officials’ involvement in Russia’s alleged interference with our 2016 general election. Shortly afterwards, Trump told NBC News:
“In fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.’”
On June 3, 2017, Lawyers for Good Government will #MarchforTruth to demand answers. We urge you to join us.
Appointing Robert Mueller as Special Counsel on the Russia investigation was a step in the right direction, but it’s not nearly enough. We still need:
- An independent commission with subpoena powers
- A serious, properly resourced, non-partisan Congressional investigation
- The immediate release of Donald Trump’s tax returns to clarify his business interests and obligations to any foreign entity
A legitimate democratic government cannot stand on a foundation of lies and cover-ups.
It’s time for us to demand the truth.
See you on June 3rd.
Traci Feit Love is the founder & executive director of Lawyers for Good Government.