With the highly anticipated testimony of former FBI Director James Comey quickly approaching, many are speculating as to what he’ll have to say. A lot has happened, since, and even before, Donald Trump's election to office. It seems that throughout his short time as president, he's been embroiled in a firestorm of controversy. To help make sense of all of this, here is a definitive timeline of events leading up to Comey's testimony before the Senate on Thursday.

Events leading up to the testimony

  • December 29, 2016

Sanctions are enacted against the Russians by the Obama administration in retaliation for their suspected interference in the 2016 election.

Michael Flynn communicates with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian Ambassador to the United States, to discuss the sanctions and the possibility of them being removed once Trump is president.

  • January 20, 2017

After winning the election in 2016, Trump is sworn in as the 45th President of the United States.

  • January 22

At a White House event, Trump singles out Comey and greets him with one of his well known forced hugs, which have been referred to as a power move on Trump's end to show force and dominance. He claims that Comey has now become “more famous” than him. It’s been said that Comey, at that event, tried to avoid Trump. According to Benjamin Wittes, Comey had attempted to blend in with the background.

He was wearing a blue blazer and sought cover from dark blue drapes in an attempt to go unnoticed by Trump.

  • January 24

The FBI interviews Flynn about his conversations with Kislyak, which unbeknownst to him, had been monitored by intelligence agencies.

  • January 26

Acting attorney general Sally Yates goes to the White House to tell White House Counsel Donald McGahn that Flynn had discussed the sanctions during the call, directly contradicting what Flynn claimed.

When asked, he insisted that he'd discussed no such thing with the Russian ambassador. She also warns that Flynn is susceptible to being blackmailed by Russia.

  • January 27

Trump and Comey have dinner at the White House. There’s no solid evidence on who invited who because they’ve both given different statements as to who invited the other.

Trump said, in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, that Comey wanted to have dinner to secure his role as FBI Director.

Comey however, according to an interview with James R. Clapper Jr on CNN, did not initiate the dinner. According to Clapper, Comey said that the president had invited him and that he'd felt uncomfortable about it. Comey considered that to be a compromising invitation because he and the FBI are supposed to be independent with regards to politics. It also came to light that Trump allegedly asked Comey to pledge his loyalty, a claim that rattled many.

Regarding Comey’s side of the story, according to Wittes, “Comey had informed him that "Trump had ‘asked for loyalty.'" He also said that Comey instead promised him honesty.

Wittes added that Comey had mentioned noticing that Trump was clearly unsatisfied by that answer, and "ever since, the President had been trying to be chummy in a fashion that Comey felt was designed to absorb him into Trump’s world — to make him part of the team.”

In an interview on Fox News with Jeanine Pirro Trump denied these claims, saying that he didn't ask for loyalty, but that he didn't consider that to be an unethical question. He claimed that he felt that loyalty to the United States is important…" He then reiterated that he hadn't asked Comey for his loyalty.

  • January 30

Trump fires Yates, supposedly due to her decision that Trump’s executive order banning travelers from seven countries that were majority Islamic was “unlawful.”

  • February 13

After the Washington Post reports that the White House had known that Flynn had misled people about the Kislyak calls he is forced to resign.

  • February 14

Trump asks Comey to end the FBI's investigation into Flynn, according to a memo that Comey wrote. These memos are referred to often from this time forward. Multiple sources have been said to confirm the existence of these memos.They are an essential part of an apparent paper trail that Comey had been creating, due to the mounting of evidence that seemed to suggest to him that Trump was set on derailing the FBI's investigation of the hand Russia had in his presidential campaign

The New York Times reported that Trump said to Comey: “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy.” According to Comey’s memo, he merely replied, “I agree he is a good guy.”

The White House denied the truthfulness of the memo.

Trump also denied that he'd asked Comey to drop the investigation.

  • March 4

Trump claims that President Obama had his phones wiretapped during his campaign.

  • March 20

Comey testifies before Congress that there is no evidence of wiretapping and that the FBI is currently investigating any and all links between Trump’s campaign team and the Russian government.

It’s also revealed by news outlets that Trump separately asked Adm. Michael S. Rogers, Director of the National Security Agency and Daniel Coats, Director of National Intelligence, to help him combat the FBI investigation by publicly denying the existence of any evidence of Russian involvement during the 2016 election, but they both refused.

  • May 2

Trump takes to Twitter to attack Comey, saying that "he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds!

The phony...”

  • May 3

Comey tells Congress about how uneasy he feels about the fact that his investigation may have had an ill effect on the outcome of the election. However, he defends his actions and also says that the Russian investigation is still continuing.

  • May 8

Trump tells Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he wants to fire Comey. Rosenstein writes a memo shaming Comey for how he handled the Clinton case. The White House initially uses this memo as justification for firing Comey.

  • May 9

Comey is fired. He receives the news by way of a news report playing on a television behind him. He at first thinks that it's a joke, but he soon receives a letter from Trump confirming that he's been fired.

Trump has that note delivered to him by way of one of his (Trump's) own personal bodyguards. In the note, Trump writes that he appreciates Comey informing him, “on three separate occasions,” that he isn’t under investigation. People in close contact with Comey have said that he said no such thing.

Trump's staff took to the media to provide reasons for Comey's firing. The main reason seemed to be due to the way Comey handled the Hillary Clinton case. However, many found this hard to believe, considering that Trump had, on previous occasions, congratulated Comey on the way he handled the case.

In fact, on October 28 of 2016 when Comey announced that the FBI had found emails that might be central to the investigation of Clinton's emails, Trump had nothing but glowing things to say about him.

What had once been viewed by him to be a rigged system was now, "a little less rigged. Beautiful." He also said that he had to "give them great credit for having the courage to right this horrible wrong."

Trump also said that he respected Comey for the"fact that Director Comey was able to come back after what he did." Trump lauded Comey, saying that what he did had taken "a lot of guts."

People everywhere, including politicians, point out this after hearing what White House staffers have to say about Comey's firing. The discrepancy leads many to believe that it was a direct result of the investigation into Russia's involvement with the election.

  • May 10

Trump meets with several Russian officials, including Ambassador Kislyak.

He tells them that Comey "was crazy." He also tells them that he'd been facing a lot of scrutiny regarding his relationship with Russia, but with Comey gone, he says "that’s taken off.” In this same meeting, important confidential information is shared, sparking disbelief from many. Russia releases photos of this meeting, which they'd promised Trump's team that they wouldn't do, thus catching them off guard.

  • May 11

Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe tells the members of the Senate intelligence committee that Comey was highly respected by members of the FBI, contradicting the White House’s claims of his being incompetent.

In an interview with NBC, Trump contradicts stories told by members of his team by saying, "When I decided to just do it, I said to myself...this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story." This confirms many people's suspicions that the firing was a result of his investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

  • May 12

Trump goes on to Twitter, tweeting a statement that many considered to come across as a warning to Comey, writing that he'd "better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” These tapes, despite urgings, have not yet been released, which strongly suggests that they don’t exist.

  • May 17

Rosenstein appoints former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III to oversee the Russian investigation. Mueller acted as FBI director during President Obama’s terms as president and comes highly recommended as an impartial pick. He’d been in the position of FBI director since September 2001, several days before the infamous 9/11 attacks.

  • May 26

Several media outlets release news that Jared Kushner, Trump’s son in law and senior advisor, spoke in December with Russia’s ambassador to the United States about setting up secret communication channels between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin regarding strategy.

What will happen next?

Clearly, there will be a lot to go over during Comey’s upcoming investigation. As Jonah Goldberg, senior editor of the National Review, said on ABC, “Everything in Washington is sort of a hot mess right now.”

As aforementioned, Comey will be testifying before the Senate intelligence committee on June 8 regarding the current investigation into the possible connection between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. This is to definitely uncover whether or not Trump and his campaign team conspired with Russia to tamper with the 2016 presidential election.

According to CNN, Comey is also expected to go into detail about his well-documented private conversations with Trump, in which there may be evidence of obstruction of justice among other deeds of misconduct.

Many have speculated as to whether Trump will enact executive privilege to keep Comey from testifying about those conversations. Dan Abrams, chief legal analyst for ABC News, called the chance of that happening “very weak.” He explained that “the purpose of executive privilege is to protect confidential conversations between the president and members of his cabinet.” So because Trump has already tweeted and spoken extensively about all of this controversy, it is no longer confidential. Therefore, Comey is at liberty to discuss it, and testify to it, as well.

It's been confirmed that Trump must be aware that this wouldn't be a viable option. Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, he would not use his executive privilege, for the sake of facilitating "a swift and thorough examination of the facts sought by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

News outlets like CNN have emphasized exactly what kind of weight this testimony has. Television networks will be interrupting scheduled programming to air it, and there are even bars and offices that are planning on holding viewings of the testimony. It's scheduled to air at 10 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. Trump, who has reportedly been glued to his television set as of late, is of course not happy about the approaching event. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said that Trump is "infuriated at a deep-gut, personal level" about the way the media has treated him in comparison to Comey. Also that "He’s not going to let some guy like that smear him without punching him as hard as he can.”

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