December 5, 2017

Posted by orrinj at 7:20 PM


Saudis fail at their own conspiracy (Bruce Riedel, December 5, 2017, Al Monitor)

At a minimum, Saudi and coalition intelligence seems to have been caught off guard by the balance of power in the rebel-held north. Presumably they expected Saleh to do better. Or they just didn't do their homework. Since the removal of Mohammed bin Nayef as crown prince this year, the security services have been less effective. But any intelligence lapses pale in comparison with the larger policy failures.

The Saudi conspiracy lacked a strategy for implementing it once Saleh flipped. There was no concrete plan to assist him and his loyalists. It is as misguided as the original decision to enter the war 2½ years ago when Saudi Defense Minister Prince Mohammed bin Salman promised a quick Decisive Storm operation would defeat the Houthis, Saleh and the Iranians.

The Houthis called Saleh's death historic and have appealed to his followers to remain in the rebellion and fight the Saudi coalition and Hadi. It's too soon to say how solid their grip on Sanaa and the north will be, but they have decisively won the first round. They have a strong nationalist message; most Yemenis despise their rich Gulf neighbors. [...]

The war in Yemen is costing Riyadh about $5 billion a month. It is a humanitarian catastrophe for the Yemeni people. The Saleh fiasco demonstrates that the Saudi coalition is flailing without a way out. The only winner is Iran. Washington needs to help Riyadh find a way out of the quagmire.

What's bad for the Sa'uds is good for the Middle East.

Posted by orrinj at 5:32 PM


The Chief of Entertainers : Trumpet virtuoso Dizzy Gillespie was a jazz prophet, a musical genius, and a scatterbrained whirlwind (David Grogan, DECEMBER 4, 2017, American Scholar)

Dizzy grew up the youngest of nine children of James and Lottie Gillespie in a racist backwater of South Carolina. James, a brick mason in Cheraw who moonlighted as a pianist and manager of a ragtag local band, encouraged all the Gillespie kids except John Birks, an irrepressible mischief maker, to take up music. "Every Sunday after church, my father would get his razor strap and whup me, even if I hadn't done anything wrong," Dizzy recalled. In 1927, when he was 10, his father died of a severe asthma attack. "The first thing I did was to take that razor strap and cut it into a thousand pieces. Nobody used it after that."

Five years later, a neighbor lent him a trumpet, and his natural affinity for the instrument earned him a scholarship at the Laurinburg Institute, an African-American prep school 28 miles from Cheraw. When Lottie moved to Philadelphia in 1935, he dropped out of school a few months shy of graduation to follow her. Armed with a pawnshop trumpet, which he carried in a paper bag, he soon landed a gig in a traveling band led by trombonist Frankie Fairfax. "Guys in the band joked about me being 'that dizzy trumpet player from down south.' The name stuck."

A reservoir of simmering rage, which Dizzy had learned to keep a lid on as a youngster, added a whiff of danger to his demeanor and boiled over on one notable occasion early in his career. Dizzy got his first taste of commercial success in 1939 when he joined the Cab Calloway band. He was abruptly fired two years later when Calloway mistakenly accused him of throwing a spitball during a musical interlude by a small ensemble, the Cab Jivers. "Cab grabbed me by the collar and I had my knife out in a second," Dizzy said. "I nicked him on his butt, and next thing you know there was blood all over his white suit."

Losing the cushy gig freed Dizzy to spend more time playing with Charlie Parker, whom he'd met in Kansas City in 1940 while traveling with the Calloway band. "He was up in a hotel room playing 'Sweet Georgia Brown,' " Dizzy recalled. "I'd never heard anything like the sound he got from that raggedy horn." Over time they became soulmates, first in jam sessions in New York and later as musical co-conspirators in bands led by pianist Earl Hines and singer Billy Eckstine. Dizzy formed his own band in 1945 and included Bird in his front line. Their partnership culminated in an eight-week booking nearly a year later at Billy Berg's in Hollywood. When Dizzy returned to New York, Bird lingered on the West Coast. "I gave him all his money and a ticket back, and what he did with it, God knows," Dizzy recalled. "He suffered a nervous breakdown after that and went into Camarillo State Hospital."

In 1947, Bird surprised Dizzy when he showed up at his first major concert at Car-negie Hall. "He walked out on stage with a rose," Dizzy said. "It probably cost him his last 75 cents." Even though the two teamed up for several historic concerts and recordings in the years that followed, Bird's erratic behavior gradually tore them apart. Dizzy was forever haunted by his last encounter with Bird, a week before his death in March 1955. "I ran into him at a club called the Embers, on 52nd Street in New York, and he looked so sad. He said, 'Save me.' I said, 'Man, nobody can save you. You have to save yourself.' When I heard he died, it broke me up. I thought I would never get over it."

Dizzy credited one person with making sure he didn't get sucked into a vortex of self-destruction like Bird. "My wife, Lorraine, is my Rock of Gibraltar," he said. When they met in 1937, paying gigs were scarce for Dizzy and she was a petite young widow earning subsistence wages as a member of a traveling troupe of chorus girls. Dizzy was attracted by her lissome beauty and wicked sense of humor, as well as her moral rectitude. "While the rest of the chorus girls were up in the wings looking for musicians who would take them to after-hours joints, she'd be down in the dressing room, knitting or crocheting or reading." At first she ignored the mash notes Dizzy sent her. But their romance blossomed after she saw him begging outside the Apollo Theater in Harlem for 15 cents to buy a bowl a soup. Lorraine curbed Dizzy's reckless spending, helped him negotiate with shady booking agents, and brought a sense of emotional stability to his life.

"She saved him from the dope and all the other stray things in the world of jazz," says Jacques Muyal, a Swiss businessman and jazz producer who was one of Dizzy's closest friends. Lorraine was also Dizzy's secret muse. In a conversation with Muyal shortly after Dizzy's death, she may have solved a mystery that has long obsessed jazz aficionados: the origin of the word bebop. "Lorraine said Dizzy liked to come to the Cotton Club rehearsals and the chorus girls sometimes practiced their dance steps without music, marking the rhythms by chanting be bop be bop."

Over the years, Lorraine turned increasingly inward. She had a Catholic altar installed in a dedicated prayer room at the house in Englewood and kept what Dizzy described as "the cleanest residence in the world," with plastic covers on the white furniture in the living room. On the rare occasions Dizzy was home, he slept in the buzzard's nest and hung out with his friends and fellow musicians in the basement rec room, which was equipped with a piano, set of drums, and pool table. But he telephoned Lorraine daily from the road, and they would laugh about the latest developments in their favorite soap opera, As the World Turns. Shortly after they celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 1990, I asked him to share his secret of matrimonial success. "Never tell your wife she is wrong," he said. "If she's wrong, she knows it. But she doesn't want to hear it."

Posted by orrinj at 5:27 PM


The Evidence Is Damning: What Team Trump Knew and When : We already know that the Trump campaign was aware of -- and intended to profit from -- Moscow's interference in the election. (COLIN KAHL, DECEMBER 4, 2017, Foreign Policy)
The evidence is now irrefutable that Trump, his associates, and Republican leadership more broadly conspired to give Moscow a pass despite (or perhaps because of) Russia's attack on our democracy.

While much remains unknown about the full extent and nature of the relationship between Team Trump and Russia's 2016 election activities, we actually know a great deal already. We know that Kremlin intermediaries reached out to Trump foreign-policy advisor George Papadopoulos and then to Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., in the spring of 2016 offering "dirt" on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton (including, in Papadopoulos's case, an offer of "thousands of emails"). We know that several other senior Trump campaign officials were aware of these approaches, failed to report them to the FBI, and encouraged the outreach. We also know that, in the summer of 2016, then candidate Trump called on Russia to "find" Clinton's missing emails, and that several campaign surrogates (including Roger Stone and the Trump campaign's data firm Cambridge Analytica) and at least one prominent Republican operative (Peter W. Smith) reached out to WikiLeaks (which was laundering information for Moscow) and to Russian hackers to get additional dirt on Clinton.

Posted by orrinj at 5:22 PM


Trump lawyers say judge lacks jurisdiction for defamation lawsuit (Jonathan Allen, 12/05/17, Reuters) 

U.S. President Donald Trump's lawyers told a New York state judge on Tuesday that under the U.S. Constitution she had no jurisdiction over the president and therefore urged her to dismiss a defamation lawsuit by a woman who has accused Trump of sexual harassment. [...]

Zervos's lawyers, including Gloria Allred, have cited the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Clinton v. Jones, which allowed former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones' sexual harassment lawsuit against Bill Clinton to proceed in 1997 while he was still U.S. president.

...will get him a more favorable judge?

Posted by orrinj at 5:15 PM


Donald Trump Jr. asked Russian lawyer for info on Clinton Foundation (KEN DILANIAN and NATASHA LEBEDEVA, 12/05/17, NBC News)

Donald Trump Jr. asked a Russian lawyer at the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting whether she had evidence of illegal donations to the Clinton Foundation, the lawyer told the Senate Judiciary Committee in answers to written questions obtained exclusively by NBC News. 

Posted by orrinj at 5:04 PM


Russia Banned from Winter Olympics by I.O.C. (Rebecca R. Ruiz and Tariq Panja, Dec. 5, 2017, NY Times)

Russia's Olympic team has been barred from the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The country's government officials are forbidden to attend, its flag will not be displayed at the opening ceremony and its anthem will not sound.

Any athletes from Russia who receive special dispensation to compete will do so as individuals wearing a neutral uniform, and the official record books will forever show that Russia won zero medals.

That was the punishment issued Tuesday to the proud sports juggernaut that has long used the Olympics as a show of global force but was exposed for systematic doping in previously unfathomable ways. The International Olympic Committee, after completing its own prolonged investigations that reiterated what had been known for more than a year, handed Russia penalties for doping so severe they were without precedent in Olympics history.

The ruling was the final confirmation that the nation was guilty of executing an extensive state-backed doping program. The scheme was rivaled perhaps only by the notorious program conducted by East Germany throughout the 1960s, '70s and '80s.

Posted by orrinj at 4:58 PM


Dustin Hoffman grilled over sexual misconduct claims (NZ Herald, 6 Dec, 2017)

A starry anniversary discussion of the film Wag the Dog turned testy when moderator John Oliver confronted Dustin Hoffman about allegations of sexual harassment.

Hoffman seemed blindsided and defensive by the line of questioning from the host of HBO's Last Week Tonight.

Hoffman explained the accusation was 40 years old.

The victim wasn't.

Posted by orrinj at 4:51 PM


Raising graduation rates, one expectation at a time : SHIFT IN THOUGHT  One probable reason for the steady rise in high school graduation rates may lie in higher expectations of schools and in teacher attitudes toward students. (The Monitor's Editorial Board, DECEMBER 5, 2017, CS Monitor)

A surprising example of progress is the Chicago Public Schools. Despite the city's social and economic disadvantages, its schools have shown above-average progress in raising the reading and math levels for elementary students, according to new research by Stanford University. One reason, according to The New York Times, are the attitudes of educators. "Whatever kids come in here, we know we can grow them," one principal, Tracey Stelly, told the Times. "When kids come in the building, they know, 'This is where I belong.' "

Research studies that prove teacher attitudes can improve - or worsen - a student's performance are surprisingly few. Perhaps the most definitive study is a recent one by Seth Gershenson of American University and Nicholas Papageorge of Johns Hopkins University. They used data that tracked 10th-grade students into adulthood and also measured what teachers expected of each child in future performance. The scholars showed that students randomly assigned to a teacher whose expectations were 40 percent higher than another teacher were 7 percent more likely to complete a four-year college degree.

Teachers do make the ultimate difference in education, not in positive thinking but in understanding each student's innate abilities and qualities of thought. They can help students overcome disadvantages often seen as intractable, such as family dysfunction or poor skills in English. And with this high expectation in the classroom, more students are able to finish 12th grade, raising the educational attainment for the whole United States.

Such was the power of a president who was a Christian instead of a bigot.

Posted by orrinj at 4:47 PM


Saleh's Death in Yemen Sends a Message to Other Dictators (KRISHNADEV CALAMUR,  DEC 4, 2017, The Atlantic)

Saleh's apparent death, six years after Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi was killed and his body paraded on the streets of his hometown of Sirte, will send a signal to strongmen around the world, most notably Syria's Bashar al-Assad. Assad is more firmly in control of Syria than at any point since the civil war began in March 2011. But his rule, despite military and diplomatic support from Russia and Iran, is fragile. Syria's Arab neighbors and Turkey all want him gone--as does the United States. As long as he remains in power, instability will almost certainly remain a feature of Syrian politics and life. But the fate of Saleh and Qaddafi before him is a powerful example of what dictators most fear--not just losing their power, but losing their lives. Assad could thus cling closer to his political benefactors in order to ensure he doesn't meet the same fate.

After Saddam Hussein, who was hanged in Iraq in 2006, and Qaddafi, Saleh is the third former Arab dictator to be killed following a regime change in the region. Other longtime Arab leaders, from Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, were also ousted in the Arab uprisings of 2011, but survived. Where leaders clung on to power in the face of protests, such as in Syria and Bahrain, civil war and political unrest, respectively, have become the norm. And the fates of Hussein and Qaddafi, in particular, are believed to preoccupy another incumbent dictator outside the Middle East: Regional experts say Kim Jong Un accelerated his nuclear and missile programs in part because both leaders, after giving up such programs, saw their regimes and their lives ended. They say he sees these weapons as an insurance policy against ending up like them.

Saleh never possessed weapons of mass destruction. But in the nearly four decades since he assumed the presidency in 1978 of what was then North Yemen, he consolidated his power and that of his family. At various points, he allied with Saudi Arabia, the United States in its war on terrorism, and Saddam. But as the Arab Spring swept through the region, his hold on power became tenuous. Protests against him grew, he barely survived an assassination attempt, and agreed in 2012 to hand over power to his deputy, Abd Rabbu-Mansour Hadi.

Things might have stayed that way had it not been for the Houthis.

Posted by orrinj at 12:20 PM


ABC News Chief EVISCERATES Staff Over Michael Flynn Error, Tape Reveals (EMILY ZANOTTI December 5, 2017, dAILY wIRE)

ABC News president James Goldston was caught on tape laying into his own staff on Monday, excoriating reporters - and especially chief investigative reporter Brian Ross - for getting their facts wrong in a story about Michael Flynn's dealings with the FBI. [...]

"I don't think ever in my career have I felt more rage and disappointment and frustration that I felt through this weekend and through the last half of Friday," Goldston told the ABC newsroom.

"I don't even know how many times we've talked about this, how many times we have talked about the need to get it right," he added. "That how we have to be right and not first. About how in this particular moment, with the stakes as high as these stakes are right now, we cannot afford to get it wrong."

Posted by orrinj at 12:17 PM


Roy Moore suggests George Soros is headed to hell  (JTA, 12/05/17) 

Roy Moore, the controversial Alabama Senate candidate endorsed by President Donald Trump, said George Soros' agenda is "not our American culture" and suggested the Jewish billionaire philanthropist was headed to hell.

Posted by orrinj at 12:14 PM


Doctor out sick? A substitute physician is no worse for patients' health (MAX BLAU, DECEMBER 5, 2017, Stat)

It's long been thought that hospitalized patients are better off getting treatment from full-time doctors instead of temp physicians. Those temps are called in to cover for doctors' sick days, vacation, or staff vacancies. But new research finds that a doctor's employment status may have little to do with quality of care.

Doctors who are employed under short-term contracts -- called locum tenens (Latin for "to hold a place") -- provided a similar level of care as staff doctors, a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association found. Researchers came to that conclusion after analyzing 1.8 million Medicare patients hospitalized between 2009 and 2014 who were treated by general internists. No significant difference in 30-day mortality rates was seen between patients treated by temp physicians compared to those treated by staff physicians.

Posted by orrinj at 8:51 AM


Why You Should Surround Yourself With More Books Than You'll Ever Have Time to Read
An overstuffed bookcase (or e-reader) says good things about your mind. (Jessica Stillman , 12/05/17, Inc.)

[A]uthor and statistician Nassim Nicholas] Taleb writes:

A private library is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates, and the currently tight real-estate market allows you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary.

An antilibrary is a powerful reminder of your limitations - the vast quantity of things you don't know, half know, or will one day realize you're wrong about. By living with that reminder daily you can nudge yourself towards the kind of intellectual humility that improves decision-making and drives learning.

"People don't walk around with anti-résumés telling you what they have not studied or experienced (it's the job of their competitors to do that), but it would be nice if they did," Taleb claims.

Why? Perhaps because it is a well known psychological fact that is the most incompetent who are the most confident of their abilities and the most intelligent who are full of doubt. (Really, it's called the Dunning-Kruger effect). It's equally well established that the more readily admit you don't know things, the faster you learn.

So stop beating yourself up for buying too many books or for having a to-read list that you could never get through in three lifetimes. All those books you haven't read are indeed a sign of your ignorance. But if you know how ignorant you are, you're way ahead of the vast majority of other people.

Posted by orrinj at 8:26 AM


Deutsche Bank receives subpoena from Mueller on Trump accounts: source (Reuters, 12/05/17) 
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has asked Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) to share data on accounts held by U.S. President Donald Trump and his family, a person close to the matter said on Tuesday.

Posted by orrinj at 8:23 AM


Congressman Conyers to retire after harassment accusations: reports (Reuters, 12/05/17) 

U.S. congressman John Conyers, the longest serving member of the House of Representatives, will announce on Tuesday he does not plan to run for re-election, U.S. media said following accusations of sexual harassment against the Michigan Democrat.

Posted by orrinj at 6:39 AM


Flynn's Plea Raises New Questions About Whether Trump Obstructed Justice : Before firing then-FBI Director James Comey, the president reportedly asked him not to prosecute the former national-security adviser. (ADAM SERWER  DEC 1, 2017, The Atlantic)

Trump fired Comey in May, and has said publicly that he was considering the Russia investigation when he did so; that fueled allegations of obstruction of justice. A week after Comey's firing, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel, granting him a broad mandate to investigate crimes related to Russian interference, including potential obstruction.

"If it turns out that General Flynn has information implicating Mr. Trump in a crime, there's now a much stronger inference that Mr. Trump was obstructing justice if he asked Comey to let the investigation of General Flynn go," said Bruce Green, a law professor at Fordham University and a former associate special counsel in the Iran-Contra affair.

According to the statement of the offense Mueller issued, Flynn informed a senior member of the Trump transition team on December 29, 2016, that Kislyak had contacted him. During that conversation, they discussed that senior members of the transition team did not want Russia "to escalate the situation" with regard to sanctions. On January 24, four days after Trump took office, Flynn attempted to mislead federal investigators looking into the matter. Acting Attorney General Sally Yates testified to Congress that she warned the White House that Flynn had been compromised by those conversations on January 26, four days before she was fired for ordering Justice Department officials not to defend Trump's newly issued travel ban. Flynn was not forced to resign until February 13, after his conversations with Kislyak were reported in the press.

"Many points that might form the basis of an obstruction case flow through Flynn," said Clinton Watts, a former FBI special agent who is currently a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. "President Obama warned Trump about Flynn before he took office. Yates contacted the White House about Flynn and was fired shortly after. Trump pressured Comey about Flynn and then later fired him." [...]

But Flynn's plea could be even more perilous for another, even closer presidential adviser: Jared Kushner, who is also the president's son-in-law. According to The Daily Beast,  Kushner "best fits the description" of the senior transition official with whom Flynn discussed his outreach to Kislyak. NBC News reported Friday afternoon that Kushner is indeed the senior transition official named in the document. If it was Kushner, his own statements to investigators will be closely scrutinized.  

"If Mr. Trump knew that Flynn met with the Russian ambassador at Mr. Kushner's request and then lied about it, one can assume that Mr. Trump wanted to shut down the FBI investigation to protect his son-in-law more than Flynn," Green said.

"It's now clearer that Trump was aware--or certainly should have been aware--that a continuing investigation of Flynn would bring things closer to him and his family, as it now has," said a former Justice Department official. "So it's not merely that a continuing investigation might serve as a continuing distraction, or be a source of political embarrassment. It's that it could point to the involvement--and potential criminal liability--for him and members of his family. It goes to motive, which is not something that the prosecutor needs to prove, but it sure makes life easier in making and proving [a] case."

Posted by orrinj at 6:29 AM


Netanyahu Ditches US Jews for alliance with Christian Evangelicals and the Alt-right (Jonathan Cook., 12/05/17, Middle East Online)

Jews in the US mostly subscribe to the progressive tenets of a liberal secularism or Reform Judaism. In Israel, by contrast, the hard-line Orthodox rule supreme on religious matters.

Since the 1967 occupation, Israel's Orthodox rabbis have controlled prayers at the Western Wall, marginalising women and other streams of Judaism. That has deeply offended Jewish opinion in the US.

Trapped between American donors and Israel's powerful rabbis, Netanyahu initially agreed to create a mixed prayer space at the wall for non-Orthodox Jews. But as opposition mounted at home over the summer, he caved in. The shock waves are still reverberating.

Avraham Infeld, a veteran Israeli liaison with the US Jewish community, told the Haaretz newspaper this week that the crisis in relations was "unprecedented". American Jews have concluded "Israel doesn't give a damn about them".

Now a close ally of Netanyahu's has stoked the fires. In a TV interview last month, Tzipi Hotovely, the deputy foreign minister, all but accused American Jews of being freeloaders. She condemned their failure to fight in the US or Israeli militaries, saying they preferred "convenient lives".

Her comments caused uproar. They echo those of leading Orthodox rabbis, who argue that Reform Jews are not real Jews - and are possibly even an enemy.

According to a report in the Israeli far-right newspaper Makor Rishon, which is owned by Sheldon Adelson, a US casino billionaire and Netanyahu's patron, the Israeli prime minister set out his rationale for sacrificing the support of liberal Jews overseas at a recent closed-door meeting with officials.

He reportedly told them that non-Orthodox Jews would disappear in "one or two generations" through low birth rates, intermarriage and more general assimilation. Liberal Jews were a "lost cause" in his view, and wedded to a worldview that was incompatible with Israel's future.

Both on demographic and ideological grounds, he added, Israel should invest in cultivating stronger ties to Orthodox Jews and Christian evangelicals.

Evangelicals can not ultimately support racism over democracy, despite the fetish.

Posted by orrinj at 6:27 AM


Russia expects new sanctions to further sour its ties with U.S. in 2018: RIA (Reuters, 12/05/17)

Moscow expects new complications in its relationship with the United States in early 2018 because of possible new U.S. sanctions on Russia, the RIA news agency cited Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying on Tuesday.

Posted by orrinj at 6:23 AM


Yemen's chaos deepens after rebels kill ex-president Saleh (AHMED AL-HAJ and MAGGIE MICHAEL, 12/05/17, Times of Israel)

Saleh's slaying likely gives the rebels the upper hand in the days-long fighting for Sana'a while also shattering hopes by Yemen's Saudi-backed government that the former president's recent split with the Iranian-backed rebels, known as Houthis, would have weakened them.

The only question is the size and boundaries of Houthistan.

Posted by orrinj at 6:21 AM


Israel again fires missiles at Syria site: Observatory (Al Jazeera, 12/05/17)

Israel again fired missiles at a Syrian military facility near Damascus late on Monday, according to a war monitor, the second reported Israeli strike in Syria in the past week.

Syrian forces responded by firing anti-aircraft missiles at Israeli jets, Lebanese news channel Al-Mayadeen reported, adding the Israeli attack targeted a scientific research centre near Jamraya on the outskirts of the Syrian capital.

Getting Israel to fight Assad is nearly as savvy as getting Assad and Putin to fight ISIS for us.

Posted by orrinj at 6:07 AM


The 10 Events You Need To Know To Understand The Michael Flynn Story (Miles Parks, 12/05/17, NPR)

1. President Obama sanctions Russia

On Dec. 28, 2016, then-President Obama ejects 35 Russian diplomats from the United States and introduces new sanctions against a number of Russian security services and individuals.

The move is retribution for Russia's interference in the 2016 election, detailed in the unclassified summary of a highly classified report by the intelligence community early in the new year.

2. Flynn confers with transition officials and talks sanctions with Russia

On Dec. 29, Flynn speaks with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, as well as a "senior official" of the presidential transition team, according to court documents in Flynn's case.

The documents describe how Flynn spoke his colleague in the administration-in-waiting -- identified by some outlets as former deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland -- about what to tell the Russian ambassador about the sanctions. Then he spoke with Kislyak on the phone.

"Flynn called the Russian ambassador and requested that Russia not escalate the situation and only respond to the U.S. sanctions in a reciprocal manner," say the court documents. The Trump camp wants to offer Moscow the prospect for a better relationship once Trump is inaugurated.

On Dec. 31, Kislyak calls Flynn back and says Russia indeed will not escalate, as he asked. Russian President Vladimir Putin confirms that with a public announcement, which Trump hails on Twitter. [...]

9. Trump fires Comey

On May 9, Trump fires Comey, saying in an interview two days later that the FBI director was a "showboat" and a "grandstander."

Trump also mentions the FBI's Russia investigation, which Comey was leading -- "this Russia thing," as Trump calls it.