Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story published Nov. 13, 2017, referred to previous reporting in The Washington Post that Belarusan-American businessman Sergei Millian had been a source of information for a dossier of unverified allegations against Donald Trump. In November 2021, The Post removed that material from the original 2017 story after the account was contradicted by allegations in a federal indictment and undermined by further reporting. References to the initial report have been removed from this piece.
“You know you can talk all you want about Russia, which is all a you know, fake news fabricated deal to try and make up for the loss of the Democrats.”
— President Trump, in a news conference, Feb. 2, 2017
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.): “You don’t believe that surrogates from the Trump campaign had communications with the Russians?”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions: “I did not — and I’m not aware of anyone else that did. I don’t believe that it happened.”
–exchange in congressional testimony, Oct. 18, 2017
Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III filed the first charges in his investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election on Oct. 30. Mueller brought charges against three former Trump campaign officials — Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos. Manafort and Gates have both pleaded not guilty. Papadopoulos accepted a plea bargain, which detailed extensive contact between himself and various individuals claiming they had connections to the Kremlin.
Despite denials from the campaign and the White House, it is now clear that members of the Trump campaign interacted with Russians at least 32 times throughout the campaign. (There are at least 20 known meetings.) Knowledge of these communications went to the highest levels of Donald Trump’s operation — both Corey Lewandowski and Paul Manafort, two of the campaign’s three managers, were aware of it.
Since the information about members of the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russians has come out in dribs and drabs, as a public service, we compiled a comprehensive timeline of what we now know from media reports and court documents detailing which members of the campaign met with Russians during the campaign as well as internal discussions about those meetings. We will update this timeline as necessary.
Here is whom you need to know
This timeline focuses on individuals in the Trump orbit who are deeply involved with the campaign. However, they are not the only people connected to the candidate that had contact with Russians during the 2016 election cycle. Michael Cohen, a top Trump organization attorney, corresponded with Felix Sater, a long-time Russian-born business associate, about a potential for a development in Moscow. Sater told Cohen in one email, “Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it.” Sater and Cohen stayed in touch throughout 2016. Cohen has worked for the Trump organization for more than a decade and continues to serve as the president’s personal lawyer.
- Jeff Sessions: Then-senator from Alabama, Sessions was one of Trump’s earliest supporters. He led the national security advisory committee for the campaign, was often a surrogate for the candidate on the campaign trail. He now serves as attorney general.
- Carter Page: Page served as a member of a volunteer committee advising the campaign on matters of national security. Trump has said that Page was a “very low-level member” of a committee and that he’d never spoken to him.
- George Papadopoulos: Papadopoulos served on the same volunteer committee as Page. Trump has called him a “low-level volunteer,” but Trump and Papadopoulos were both present at a small March 2016 campaign meeting on policy discussion. Papadopoulos accepted a plea agreement in lieu of indictment.
- Paul Manafort: Manafort is a longtime GOP operative. For the last decade, he has been involved with lobbying efforts and elections overseas. He initially joined the campaign to manage the convention and was eventually promoted to campaign manager and chairman. Manafort left the campaign under scrutiny after reports about his business dealings in Ukraine surfaced. Manafort was indicted.
- Donald Trump Jr.: The president’s eldest son who was involved with the campaign. Together with his younger brother, Eric, he now runs the Trump Organization.
- J.D. Gordon: Gordon, a longtime foreign-policy aide and spokesman for Republicans, served as the leader of the committee on which Page and Papadopoulos served.
- Sam Clovis: The Trump campaign’s national co-chairman who oversaw Papadopoulos. He recently withdrew from consideration for a post at the Department of Agriculture after his name surfaced in connection to the Russia probe.
By the end of the month, Trump had won three of the first four Republican primaries. On the campaign trail, Trump says he had “no relationship” with Vladimir Putin “other than he called me a genius.” He says he would be “crazy” to disavow the Russian leader’s praise.
Feb. 28: Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) formally endorses Trump. He is the first senator to do so.
Feb. 29: Paul Manafort writes a series of memos pitching his services to the Trump campaign. The New York Times later wrote that Manafort “cast himself as a onetime insider who turned his back on the establishment.” He touted his experience running campaigns around the world, as well as his apartment in Trump Tower. According to longtime Trump friend and ally Tom Barrack, Manafort asked him for an introduction earlier in the month after the two men met saying, “I really need to get to” Trump.
Russian military intelligence begins a second cyber operation targeting U.S. political organizations using “FANCY BEAR”; “COZY BEAR” had already entered the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) system in July 2015. On the campaign trail, Trump critiques NATO frequently, saying the organization is “obsolete.” He continues to point out that “Putin says very nice things about [him].” Trump announces his national security advisers.
March:Carter Page was first interviewed by the FBI about his contacts with Russian intelligence.
Early March: George Papadopoulos accepts an unpaid advisory role on the Trump campaign. On March 6, Papadopoulos learns his primary focus would be on an improving the U.S. relationship with Russia.
March 14: Papadopoulos meets Joseph Mifsud, the director of the London Academy of Diplomacy, while traveling in Italy. Mifsud “only took interest” in Papadopoulos after learning of his role with the Trump campaign. He claimed to have “substantial connections to Russian officials,” which Papadopoulos hoped “could increase his importance as a policy adviser,” according to court documents.
March 19: Russian intelligence hacks Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s email.
March 21: Trump mentions Carter Page and Papadopoulos as foreign policy advisers in an interview with The Washington Post editorial board.
Post Publisher Fred Ryan: “We’ve heard you’re going to be announcing your foreign policy team shortly. … Any you can share with us?”Trump: “Well, I hadn’t thought of doing it, but if you want I can give you some of the names… Walid Phares, who you probably know, PhD, adviser to the House of Representatives caucus, and counterterrorism expert; Carter Page, PhD; George Papadopoulos, he’s an energy and oil consultant, excellent guy; the Honorable Joe Schmitz, [former] inspector general at the Department of Defense; [retired] Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg; and I have quite a few more. But that’s a group of some of the people that we are dealing with. We have many other people in different aspects of what we do, but that’s a representative group.”
Although Page first met with then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski in January to discuss working with the campaign, this interview was the first time he learned that he would be affiliated with the campaign.
March 24: Papadopoulos meets with Mifsud and a “female Russian national” in London. Papadopoulos later identified the woman as “Putin’s niece” in an email to Sam Clovis, the Trump campaign’s national co-chairman, and members of the campaign’s foreign policy team. He said they discussed arranging “a meeting between [the Trump campaign] and the Russian leadership to discuss U.S.-Russia ties under President Trump.” Clovis responded, “Great work” and that he would “work it through the campaign.” The New York Times later reported the Russian woman was named Olga Polonskaya.
When other advisers expressed concern, Clovis wrote, “We thought we probably should not go forward with any meeting with the Russians until we have had occasion to sit with our NATO allies.”
March 26-29: Trump says “NATO is obsolete” in interviews with the New York Times Editorial Board (March 26) and Fox News (March 28). In both interviews, he suggested that NATO is antiquated, telling Fox, “We’re dealing with NATO from the days of the Soviet Union, which no longer exists.” He again criticized the multilateral organization at a CNN town hall (March 29) saying, “We’re paying too much.”
[The Fact Checker has checked the president’s various misleading claims about NATO on several occasions.]
March 29: Trump announces Manafort as the campaign’s convention manager.
March 31: Trump tweets a photo of a national security meeting that includes Papadopoulos , J.D. Gordon and Sessions. At the meeting, Papadopoulos says he “had connections that could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and President [Vladimir] Putin,” according to court documents. The New York Times later reported several people, including Sessions, are concerned about the wisdom of such a meeting, given that the United States had imposed sanctions on Russia. According to CNN, Trump does not “say yes and he didn’t say no.”
Trump delivers his first foreign policy address. Page is invited to speak in Russia. Manafort communicated with a Russian employee and assumes “operational control” of the campaign. Papadopoulos continues to work toward a Trump-Russia meeting and learns the Russians have “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.
April: Shlomo Weber, the rector of the New Economic School in Moscow, invites Page to speak at the university. Page knew Weber through his son, Yuval Wever, whom Page referred to as a “colleague.” Weber was aware of Page’s affiliation with the Trump campaign, according to his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. However, Page did not believe that to be the primary reason he was invited. He did, however, acknowledge that may have “indirectly been part of it.”
April: Manafort corresponds with longtime Kiev-based employee, Konstantin Kilimnik, “How do we use to get whole?,” referring to his recent press coverage from the Trump campaign. Kilimnik, a Russian army veteran, matches the description of the “long-standing employee” outlined in court papers released on Oct. 31. This person worked with Manafort to shift money around the globe. The filing also noted Manafort’s company had “connections to Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs.”
Manafort instructs Hope Hicks to disregard The Washington Post’s questions about his business relationships with the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and a Ukrainian businessman.
April 3: Papadopoulos emails seven campaign officials about “meeting with Russian leadership — including Putin.” According to The Post, Papadopoulos offers to set up “a meeting between [the Trump campaign] and the Russian leadership to discuss U.S.-Russia ties under President Trump,” saying his Russian contacts welcomed the idea. Carter Page corroborated this email, adding that Papadopoulos mentioned Mifsud by name in his congressional testimony.
April 7: Manafort assumes over “operational control” of the campaign. Corey Lewandowski later told the Associated Press this on the day he was fired as Trump’s campaign manager. However, no changes to the campaign management were publicly announced for over a month.
April 10-April 22: Papadopoulos continues to work toward a Trump-Russia meeting; Mifsud introduced Papadopoulos to Ivan Timofeev, who claims to have connections at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- April 11: Olga Polonskaya, the female Russian national, responds to an email from Papadopoulos, saying she “would be very pleased to support your initiatives between our two countries”; she adds Mifsud to the email chain to discuss “a potential foreign policy trip to Russia.” Mifsud mentions his upcoming travel to Moscow and planned meetings with the Russian government. Polonskaya then responds, saying she’d reached out to her contacts “per [Papadopoulos’] request” and that “the Russian Federation would love to welcome [Mr. Trump] once his candidature would be officially announced.”
- April 18: Mifsud introduces Papadopoulos to an individual in Moscow, Ivan Timofeev. Timofeev told Papadopoulos he had connections to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- April 22: Timofeev thanks Papadopoulos for the “extensive talk” and proposes to meet. Papadopoulos agrees and suggests “we set up [a meeting] here in London with the ambassador as well to discuss a process moving forward.” They continue to talk for the next several weeks via Skype and email about “setting ‘the groundwork’ for a ‘potential’ meeting between the campaign and Russian government officials.”
April 25: Papadopoulos emails Clovis, saying “The Russian government has an open invitation by Putin for Mr. Trump to meet when he is ready. The advantage of being in London is that these governments tend to speak a bit more openly in ‘neutral’ cities.” It is not clear from the court documents if Clovis responded. Papadopolous also emailed Stephen Miller, then a senior campaign aide and now senior adviser to Trump, that Trump had an “open invitation” from Mr. Putin to visit Russia, according to the New York Times.
April 26: Mifsud tells Papadopoulos that on a recent trip to Russia, he learned the Russians had “dirt” on Clinton, that they “had emails of Clinton” and “they have thousands of emails.”
April 27: Trump delivers his first major foreign policy speech at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington; Sessionsand Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner meet with Russian ambassador; Papadopoulos, who records show helped edit the speech, follows up about a Trump campaign-Russia meeting.
- In the speech, Trump promises to improve relations with Russia by collaborating on shared interests. The Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, is seated in the front row at the event and briefly greets Trump.
- Sessions meets with the ambassador at a reception before the speech. Kislyak later told his superiors that he and Sessions discussed campaign-related matters including policy issues important to Moscow. Sessions denied this. However, U.S. intelligence officials told The Washington Post that the two had “substantive” conversations.
- Kushner also briefly meets Kislyak at a reception where he was introduced to several ambassadors.
- Papadopoulos emails then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, saying he had received “a lot of calls over the past month” about arranging a Russia meeting and that “Putin wants to host the Trump team when the time is right.” He also emailed Miller that he had “some interesting messages coming in from Moscow about a trip when the time is right,” according to the New York Times.
Donald Trump secures the GOP nomination for president. Papadopoulos reaches out to senior campaign officials about a Trump campaign-Russia meeting. Page suggests Trump go to Moscow. Donald Trump Jr. interacts with a Russian banking official. Manafort meets with a longtime Russian employee and is promoted.
Early May:Paul Manafort meets Kilimnik in person.
May: Papadopoulos has drinks with Australia’s top diplomat in Britain, according to the New York Times, and reveals that Russia has “political dirt” on Hillary Clinton.
May 3: Trump becomes the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party after Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Trump’s two remaining challengers, withdraw from the contest.
May 4-5: Papadopoulos forwards senior campaign officials an email from Timofeev saying the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) is “open for cooperation.” Papadopoulos and Mifsud receive an email from Timofeev saying “[he] talked to [his] colleagues from the MFA . They are open for cooperation. One option is to make a meeting for you at the North America Desk, if you are in Moscow.” Papadopoulos says he was “glad the MFA is interested” and forwards the note to Lewandowski, asking, “Is this something we want to move forward with?” Papadopoulos then forwards the email to Clovis after the two spoke by phone. Clovis responds to the invitation by noting: “There are legal issues we need to mitigate, meeting with foreign officials as a private citizen.” The email chain does not show a response from Lewandowski.
May 13-16: Papadopoulos continues to push for a Trump campaign-Russia meeting; Page suggests Trump go to Moscow.
- May 13: Papadopoulos updates Mifsud, saying “We will continue to liaise through you with the Russian counterparts in terms of what is needed for a high-level meeting of Mr. Trump with the Russian Federation.”
- May 14: Papadopoulos follows up with Lewandowski, saying the “Russian government has also relayed to me that they are interested in hosting Mr. Trump.”
- May 16: While emailing about his upcoming Moscow trip with other campaign aides, Page suggests that Trump take his place on his upcoming trip to Moscow “to raise the temperature a little bit.”
May 19: Manafort formally becomes Trump’s campaign chairman and chief strategist.
May 21: Donald Trump Jr. dines with Russian banking official; Papadopoulos forwards the May 4 offer from Timofeev to Manafort.
- A former Russian senator from Putin’s party who now is a senior official at Russia’s central bank, Alexander Torshin, told Bloomberg News he dined with Donald Trump Jr. at the National Rifle Association of America’s annual convention. A White House official confirmed the two interacted but denied that they dined together.
- Papadopoulos forwards the May 4 email exchange with Timofeev to newly minted campaign chairmanManafort, saying “Russia has been eager to meet Mr. Trump for quite some time and have been reaching out to me to discuss.” Manafort then forwards this email to his deputy, Rick Gates, writing “We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips.” Gates agreed and passed the exchange along to “the person responding to all mail of non-importance,” aiming to avoid a response from a senior official.
May 26: Trump officially secures the Republican nomination for president
Trump Jr., Manafort and Kushner meet with a Russian lawyer with the promise that she had information that could “incriminate Hillary.” News breaks that the Democratic National Committee has been hacked likely by Russia. Papadopolous offers to meet with MFA on behalf of the campaign. Page requested permission to travel to Russia. Lewandowski is fired and Manafort replaces him. Papadopolous and Page interact with Sessions.
June 1: Papadopoulos again follows up with Manafort, who refers him to Clovis, saying he is “running point.” Papadopoulos then writes, “I have the Russian MFA asking me if Mr. Trump is interested in visiting Russia at some point. Wanted to pass this info along to you for you to decide what’s best to do with it and what message I should send (or to ignore.)”
June 3: Rob Goldstone, a music publicist, emails Trump Jr. offering “very high level and sensitive information” that could “incriminate Hillary” and is part of “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” Goldstone represents Emin Agalarov, whose father is a major real estate developer close to Putin. Agalarov asks Goldstone to pass this along for his father, who was offered the information by the “Crown prosecutor of Russia.” Trump Jr. promptly responds: “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
[The Fact Checker has previously published a timeline of Trump Jr.’s contradictory statements about this exchange]
June 7: Trump promises a “major speech about Hillary Clinton’s crimes”
June 9: Trump Jr., Manafort and Kushner meet with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and others at Trump Tower. Veselnitskaya told Bloomberg News she aimed to show the Trump campaign that major Democratic donors had evaded U.S. taxes as well as to lobby against the Magnitsky Act. (The law blocks Russians that are suspected of human rights abuses by freezing assets, real estate and banning entry to the United States. In retaliation for passing the Magnitsky Act, Putin banned U.S. adoptions of Russian children.)
According to Veselnitskaya, when asked about the law, Trump Jr. responds: “Looking ahead, if we come to power, we can return to [the Magnitsky Act] and think what to do about it.’’ He adds, “I understand our side may have messed up, but it’ll take a long time to get to the bottom of it.” He also asks for financial documents showing improper actions by the Clinton campaign. Trump Jr. later said adoptions were the main topic of the meeting.
At least eight people attend this meeting, including two other Russian associates. Since the meeting was first reported, reports have surfaced that Veselnitskaya may have been working on behalf of the Kremlin at that time.
June 14-15: The Washington Post reveals the DNC had been hacked; the DNC and CrowdStrike point to Russian involvement and Trump dismissed the reports.
- June 14: The Post reveals the DNC had been hacked
- June 15: The DNC and CrowdStrike, the firm hired by the DNC to investigate the hack, said, “two separate Russian intelligence-affiliated adversaries present in the DNC network in May 2016.” Trump then releases a statement: “We believe it was the DNC that did the ‘hacking’ as a way to distract from the many issues facing their deeply flawed candidate and failed party leader. Too bad the DNC doesn’t hack Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 missing emails.”
June 19: Papadopoulos offers to go to MFA meetings in Russia on behalf of the campaign; Page requests permission to travel to Russia.
- Papadopoulos emails Manafort : “The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs messaged and said that if Mr. Trump is unable to make it to Russia, if a campaign rep. (me or someone else) can make it for the meetings? I am willing to make the trip off the record if it’s in the interest of Mr. Trump and the campaign to meet specific people.” He continued to pursue an “off the record” meeting between MFA and the Trump campaign through mid-August.
- Pageemails “Corey Lewandowski and [he believes] Hope Hicks and J.D. Gordon” asking permission to go to Russia. Gordon said he “discouraged” the trip, but that Page “went around me directly to campaign leadership.” Page told CNN, Lewandowski replied “if you’d like to go on your own, not affiliated with the campaign, you know, that’s fine.” Page testified he “probably” toldClovis before the trip, but that he definitely did upon his return. He has repeatedly said his trip was not connected to the campaign.
June 20: Manafortbecomes campaign manager after Trump fires Lewandowski.
June 30: Papadopoulos, Page,Gordonand Sessions, along with several other national security advisers attend a dinner at the Capitol Hill Club. The dinner was organized by Sessions and according to Page, Gordon, who had been acting as a kind of leader for the group, convened the meeting. Papadopoulos is seated to Sessions’s left. Page mentions he was going to Russia to Sessions as they were “walking out the door.” He said it was in context of sharing his travel schedule.
July: Trump officially becomes the Republican nominee. WikiLeaks releases DNC emails. Manafort offers to give briefings to a Russian oligarch. Page goes to Moscow where he met a Russian official and businessman. Sessions, Page and Gordon all meet with the Russian ambassador. Trump campaign staffers influence RNC platform change on Ukraine.
July 7: Manafort offers to give briefings on the presidential race to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. “If [Deripaska] needs private briefings we can accommodate,” Manafort writes in an email to an intermediary. A spokeswoman for Deripaska said he never got the message and no briefings happened. Deripaska has deep ties to the Kremlin and Manafort had done business with the oligarch in the past.
The Washington Post reports that people familiar with Kilimnik’s (Manafort’s longtime employee) work in Ukraine for Manafort said his assignments included meeting with powerful Ukrainian politicians and serving as a liaison to Deripaska.
July 7-8: Page travels to Moscow
- Page passed his speech around to various campaign officials before traveling with an email saying, “Please let me know if you have any reservations or thoughts on how you’d prefer me to focus these remarks.”
- Page’s speech was critical of U.S.-Russia foreign policy. After delivering it at the New Economic School in Moscow, he “briefly said hello” to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich.
- He also meets Andrey Baranov, the head of investor relations at Rosneft, a Russian state owned oil company. Page testified Baranov is an old friend. He said he “may have” talked to Baranov in advance of his trip, but he couldn’t remember who set up the meeting. With regard to discussing sanctions, he said “I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt, there was never any negotiations or any quid pro quo or any offer or any request, even if any way related to sanctions.” However he conceded, he “may have” discussed sanctions with Baranov, just as anyone talks about politics. Page said Baranov “may have mentioned [the sale of part of Rosneft]” to him but he had “no discussions.”
- The dossier produced by MI-6 agent Christopher Steele claimed Page met with Igor Sechin, chief executive of Rosneft. Some of the information in the dossier has been verified by U.S. intelligence agencies, but Page firmly denied this meeting in his testimony.
- The Steele dossier also claimed that Page met with Igor Divyekin, a senior Kremlin official, who informed Steele that Russia had “kompromat” on Hillary Clinton. A memo produced by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee said, “Steele’s assessment was consistent with the FBI’s assessment of Russian intelligence efforts to recruit [Page] and his connections to Russian persons of interest.”
July 8: Page emails campaign officials about “incredible insights” from his trip. In an email, Page writes, “In a private conversation, Dvorkovich expressed strong support for Mr. Trump and a desire to work together toward devising better solutions in response to a vast range of current international problems.” He later testified this statement was based on Dvorkovich’s speech at the New Economic School.
In a separate email to Tera Dahl andGordon, Page wrote “On a related front, I’ll send you guys a readout soon regarding some incredible insights and outreach I’ve received from a few Russian legislators and senior members of the Presidential administration.” In his testimony, Page said this was based on what he’d heard at the conference and read in the Russian press — not specific meetings.
July 11-12: Trump campaign officials get involved in the Republican National Committee platform’s language on Ukraine. GOP Delegate Diana Denman, a platform committee member from Texas, proposes an amendment to the party platform that would commit to “maintaining or increasing sanctions” and providing “lethal weapons” to support the Ukrainian army in warding off Russian aggression. She said she met resistance from “two gentlemen” who were part of the Trump campaign.
Trump adviser Gordon initially denied intervening, but later said he asked the co-chair to “consider tabling” the amendment “until the end” and said he “also consulted with colleagues on the phone to give them a heads up and chance to intervene, if they wanted to.” He calls Rick Dearborn and John Mashburn, who now serve as the White House’s deputy chief of staff and deputy Cabinet secretary, respectively. (CNN has reported Dearborn forwarded an email to top campaign officials in June of 2016 about a request from an individual seeking to connect top Trump officials with Russian President Vladmir Putin.)
The platform is ultimately changed to say the United States would “provide assistance” rather than specifically weapons. At the time, Manafort, then-campaign manager, vehemently denied the campaign’s involvement.
July 14: Page emails Gordon, along with other members of the committee saying “As for the Ukraine amendment, excellent work.”
July 18: Sessions speaks with the Russian ambassador at a panel hosted by the Heritage Foundation at the Republican National Convention.
July 20: Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak speak with Page and Gordon following a panel at the Republican National Convention. Gordon has described the interaction as brief, noting their interaction was at an event that many diplomats attended. Page, however, said that the subject of sanctions on Russia “may have briefly come up.” Page said he saw Sessions speaking to Kislyak after his speech at the RNC.
July 21: Trump officially becomes the Republican nominee for president.
July 22: WikiLeaks releases nearly 20,000 DNC emails obtained through Russian hacking operations. U.S. officials have said Russian intelligence used intermediaries to give the email cache to WikiLeaks.
Additionally, at some point after the emails were released, Australian officials shared Papadopoulos’s claim that Russia had “political dirt” with their American counterparts. According to a memo drafted by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) , these reports led the FBI to open an investigation.
Communications outlined in court documents between Papadopoulos and various figures he believed to be connected to the Russian government abruptly stop. However, they do note his efforts for a meeting continue into August. It’s possible not all communications were released with his plea agreement.
July 24-25: Trump campaign officials deny any connections to Russia, despite ongoing meetings and communications.
- “Are there any ties between Mr. Trump, you or your campaign and Putin and his regime?” ABC News’ “This Week,” George Stephanopoulos asked Manafort. “No, there are not,” Manafort says. “It’s absurd and there’s no basis to it.”
- In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Jake Tapper asked Trump Jr. about the suggestion that Russians had hacked the DNC network to help Trump and hurt Clinton. Trump Jr. calls the claims “lies.”
- Trump responds: “The new joke in town is that Russia leaked the disastrous DNC e-mails, which should never have been written (stupid), because Putin likes me.”
July 25: FBI confirms an investigation into the DNC hack was opened in 2015.
July 27-28: In a news conference, Trump says, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” Less than 24 hours later, he took the statement back, saying he was being “sarcastic.”
July 29: Kilimnik emails Manafort with an update; they agree to meet in New York. The Washington Post reported:
“[Kilimnik] had met that day with the person “who gave you the biggest black caviar jar several years ago,” according to the people familiar with the exchange. [He] said it would take some time to discuss the “long caviar story,” and the two agreed to meet in New York. Investigators believe that the reference to the pricey Russian luxury item may have been a reference to Manafort’s past lucrative relationship with Deripaska, according to people familiar with the probe. Others familiar with the exchange say it may be a reference to Ukrainian business titans with whom Manafort had done business.”
July 31: According to a memo drafted by the minority of the House Intelligence Committee, FBI formally opens a counterintelligence investigation into as then-FBI Director James B. Comey later testified, the “nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.”
Manafort again meets with Kilimnik in New York City. Manafort is forced out as campaign chairman after his business dealings in Ukraine came under scrutiny.
By early August, Robert Hannigan, then head of the British intelligence service, had flown to Washington to brief John Brennan on a stream of illicit communications between Trump’s team and Moscow, according to a report by the New Yorker. In early August, Brennan shared this information with President Obama and select top aides.
Early August: Manafort meets Kilimnik again at the Grand Havana Room in New York. In a statement to The Washington Post, Kilimnik said the two discussed “unpaid bills,” “Ukraine” and “current news,” including the U.S. presidential campaign. But he said their meetings were “private visits” that were “in no way related to politics or the presidential campaign in the U.S.” This meeting is now being examined by investigators.
Aug. 14-19: News reports emerge about Manafort’s business in Ukraine; Clovis urges Papadopoulos to meet with Russian officials; Manafort resigns under pressure
- Aug. 14: The Times reports Manafort received millions in secret cash payments from Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s party.
- Aug. 15: Cloviswrites to Papadopoulos that he “would encourage [him]” to “make the trip, if it is feasible” with fellow adviser Wahlid Phares. Clovis’ lawyer later said he was “being polite.”
- Aug. 18: The Associated Press reports Manafort’s firm lobbied on behalf of Yanukovych’s party in the U.S., but had failed to disclose their work as a foreign agent, which is required by law.
- Aug. 19: Manafort resigns at Trump’s request. Gates, Manafort’s longtime business associate and deputy, remained with the campaign.
Aug. 21: Roger Stone, a longtime Trump ally who claimed to be in touch with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange tweets, “Trust me, it will soon be Podesta’s time in the barrel,” referring to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. WikiLeaks had not yet released Podesta’s emails.
Sessions meets privately with the Russian ambassador. Papadopoulos speaks to Russian media. Page leaves the campaign after reports of his meetings in Russia emerged; Trump disputes reports that Russia hacked the DNC.
September: Papadopoulos speaks to the Russian media and makes more Trump-Russia connections.
- The Washington Post reported Papadopoulos told the Russian news agency Interfax:
Trump “has been open about his willingness to usher in a new chapter” in U.S.-Russia relations, depending on “Russia acting as a responsible stakeholder in the international system.” He also questioned the effectiveness of U.S. sanctions on Russia. The Post also noted he forwarded the article to “a Russian woman with whom he had been corresponding during the campaign.”
- Emails described to The Washington Post said Papadopoulos wrote he wanted to connect another Trump aide, Boris Epshteyn, with Sergei Millian of the Russian American Chamber of Commerce.
Sept. 8: Sessions meets privately with the Russian ambassador in his Senate office; Trump tells RT, a media company headquartered in Moscow, it is “pretty unlikely” that the Russian government was behind the DNC hacks
Mid-September: The investigative team at the FBI receives Steele’s memo for the first time.
Sept. 20-21: WikiLeaks reaches out to Trump Jr. via Twitter direct message. WikiLeaks wrote, “A PAC run anti-Trump site putintrump.org is about to launch. The PAC is a recycled pro-Iraq war PAC. We have guessed the password. It is ‘putintrump.’ See ‘About’ for who is behind it. Any comments?” Twelve hours later, Trump Jr. responds: “Off the record I don’t know who that is, but I’ll ask around. Thanks.” According to the Atlantic, he then writes to several other senior campaign officials (Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, who were running the campaign, Brad Parscale, the campaign’s digital media director, and Jared Kushner) telling them WikiLeaks had reached out. Kushner forwards this email to Hope Hicks, the campaign’s press secretary.
Sept. 26: Page leaves the campaign; Trump discounts reports that Russia was behind the DNC hack at the first presidential debate
- Page leaves the campaign after a Yahoo News article alleges he met privately with Igor Sechin, the head of state-owned Russian oil giant Rosneft, and other Russian officials during his visit to Moscow. He denies meeting “any of those guys” and called the accusations “complete garbage.”
- Trump publicly disregards reports of Russian involvement with the DNC hack during the first presidential debate: “I don’t think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC. She’s saying Russia, Russia, Russia, but I don’t — maybe it was. I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, okay?”
The U.S. intelligence officially accuses Russia of the DNC hack. Trump Jr. speaks to a think tank that supports Russian positions. WikiLeaks releases Podesta’s emails.
Oct. 3: Trump Jr. again is contacted by WikiLeaks. They write, “Hiya, it’d be great if you guys could comment on/push this story,” attaching a quote from Clinton saying she wanted to “just drone” WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange. Trump Jr. responded, “Already did that earlier today. It’s amazing what she can get away with.”
Oct. 7: The Washington Post at 4 p.m. publishes the “Access Hollywood” videotape, in which Trump brags in vulgar terms about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women. Just half an hour later, WikiLeaks begins releasing emails from the personal email account of Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, starting weeks of drip-drip revelations.
Meanwhile, the U.S. intelligence community officially accuses Russia of attempting to interfere in the U.S. election by hacking “political organizations.” But the news gets buried by the “Access Hollywood” tape.
Oct. 11: Trump Jr. delivers a paid speech to a think tank that advocates for the Russian position on some foreign policy issues. According to ABC News, Randa Kassis, an organizer of the event — which was held at the Center of Political and Foreign Affairs in Paris — said “she went to Moscow shortly after the election to brief Mikhail Bogdanov, the Russian deputy foreign minister, about the event.”
Oct.12— 21: Trump Jr. continues to correspond with WikiLeaks via direct message on Twitter; Investigators obtain a FISA warrant to monitor Carter Page’s communications.
- Oct .12: WikiLeaks writes: “Hey Donald, great to see you and your dad talking about our publications. Strongly suggest your dad tweets this link if he mentions us,” WikiLeaks went on, pointing Trump Jr. to a link to search documents. “There’s many great stories the press are missing and we’re sure some of your follows [sic] will find it. Btw we just released Podesta Emails Part 4.” Trump Jr. did not respond to this message. But as The Wall Street Journal’s Byron Tau pointed out, 15 minutes later, Donald Trump tweeted, “Very little pick-up by the dishonest media of incredible information provided by WikiLeaks. So dishonest! Rigged system!”
- Oct. 14:Trump Jr. tweets using the link WikiLeaks provides.
- Oct. 21: Investigators obtain a FISA warrant targeting Page’s communications. To do this, the FBI and the Justice Department convince a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge that there was probable cause to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power. Any FISA application has to be approved at the highest levels of the Justice Department and the FBI.
- Oct. 21: WikiLeaks writes: “Hey Don. We have an unusual idea. Leak us one or more of your father’s tax returns.” WikiLeaks suggests this would benefit both parties because (1) The New York Times had already published a portion of one return, (2) there was no guarantee when or how the rest would come (WikiLeaks suggested it could be “through the most biased source (e.g. NYT/MSNBC)”, and (3) “If we publish them it will dramatically improve the perception of our impartiality. That means that the vast amount of stuff that we are publishing on Clinton will have much higher impact, because it won’t be perceived as coming from a ‘pro-Trump’ ‘pro-Russia’ source.” WikiLeaks called this reason a “real kicker” and gave an email address for the campaign to use adding, “The same for any other negative stuff (documents, recordings) that you think has a decent chance of coming out. Let us put it out.”
Nov. 8, 2016: Trump wins the presidential election
Nov. 8: WikiLeaks writes toTrump Jr. : “Hi Don if your father ‘loses’ we think it is much more interesting if he DOES NOT conceed [sic] and spends time CHALLENGING the media and other types of rigging that occurred—as he has implied that he might do.” This message came when projections showed a Clinton win. When the race was called for Trump, WikiLeaks wrote, “Wow.”
** Note: The Fact Checker currently isn’t including the contact between Donald Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks as contact with Russians because if that contact took place, at this point, it seems to be indirect. It’s not apparent who Donald Trump Jr. was responding with from the organization nor is it clear if WikiLeaks was aware they were releasing documents that came from Russian sources. WikiLeaks denies Russia or Russian intermediaries were the source of the DNC emails they released. U.S. intelligence officials, however, have said that Russian intelligence used intermediaries to pass the hacked emails to the website. **
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