This article is updated as of Dec. 8, 2017.
Part of the reason that the ongoing investigations into possible links between Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russian actors appear endlessly complex is that new details are reported gradually, over the course of months. That trickle of revelations has the natural effect of clouding the timeline, making it difficult to figure out who knew what and when.
In an effort to simplify, we’ve created the following timeline, which places information about interactions between the Trump team and Russia in the proper chronological order. We’ve included the dates on which each piece of information was reported to give a sense of when the revelations were made. (Those dates are indicated in parentheses after each piece of information.) Significant figures in the investigations are indicated in bold.
Before the election
Nov. 9, 2013
The Miss Universe pageant, at this point part of the Trump Organization, is held in Moscow. The event’s location was secured thanks to licensing fees of nearly $20 million paid by a Moscow real estate development firm called the Crocus Group. Its president is a man named Aras Agalarov. Agalarov’s son, Emin, is a vice president of Crocus Group, and a pop singer.
Donald Trump announces his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination.
Hackers believed to be linked to the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) gain access to the network of the Democratic National Committee, according to American intelligence agencies.
An associate of Trump’s named Felix Sater reaches out to the Trump Organization about a proposed development project in Moscow. It is to be financed by VSB bank, which was being sanctioned by the U.S. government. Trump at some point signs a letter of intent to move forward with the project.
Sater emails Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen to outline his idea of having a Moscow ribbon-cutting which Russian president Vladimir Putin would attend. “I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected,” Sater writes.
Flynn is part of a panel discussion in Moscow for the 10th anniversary of government-backed Russia Today, for which he receives payment. Officials notice an increase in communication between Flynn and the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, following the Russia Today event.
British intelligence agencies detect suspicious interactions between Russia and Trump aides that they pass on to American intelligence agencies.
Cohen emails Russian president Vladimir Putin’s personal spokesman seeking help in advancing the proposed development in Moscow. “As this project is too important, I am hereby requesting your assistance. I respectfully request someone, preferably you, contact me so that I might discuss the specifics as well as arranging meetings with the appropriate individuals. I thank you in advance for your assistance and look forward to hearing from you soon,” he writes.
Rob Goldstone, publicist for Emin Agalarov, emails Donald Trump Jr. pitching a page on Russian social-media site Vkontakte. Trump Jr. passes it on to Dan Scavino, the person in charge of Trump’s social media. “Please feel free to send me whatever you have,” Scavino replies. Konstantin Sidorkov, director of partnership marketing for VKontakte, follows up a few days later. “Nice to meet you and your team,” he writes in an email to Scavino, Trump Jr. and Trump’s assistant.
The Moscow development is abandoned.
Republican primary voting begins in Iowa.
George Papadopoulos is named as a foreign-policy adviser by the campaign.
Papadopoulos meets with a London-based professor named Joseph Mifsud, director of the London Academy of Diplomacy. Until he learns that Papadopoulos is tied to the Trump campaign, he’s uninterested in talking.
Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta is sent an email that encourages him to change his email password, likely precipitating the hack of his account.
During an interview with The Post, Trump lists Carter Page as part of his foreign policy team. Page had been recommended by a son-in-law of President Richard Nixon, New York Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox. He also mentions Papadopoulos.
Political veteran Paul Manafort is hired to help the Trump campaign manage the delegate process for the Republican National Convention. He is recommended by Trump confidante Roger Stone. Before joining the campaign, Manafort lobbied on behalf of Oleg Deripaska, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. That deal followed a memo from Manafort in which he offered a plan that could “greatly benefit the Putin Government.” His relationship with Deripaska ended in 2009. Manafort also worked on behalf of the Russia-friendly Party of Regions in Ukraine, helping guide the party’s leader, Viktor Yanukovych, to the country’s presidency. Yanukovych would later be ousted.
Trump’s foreign policy team meets. Included in the meeting are Papadopoulos, Trump and then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). Papadopoulos says he can facilitate a meeting between Trump and Putin, based on his interactions with the professor. Sessions says it shouldn’t happen.
Hackers believed to be linked to Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) also gain access to the DNC network.
Manafort emails his long-time aide Konstantin Kilimnik t0 ensure that the oligrach Deripaska’s “operation” has seen his media coverage, presumably about the Trump campaign. “How do we use to get whole?” he asks.
Papadopoulos is introduced to someone who has contacts at Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Papadopoulos and the contact two begin communicating regularly to try to set up a meeting between Trump and Putin.
Papadopoulos is told by Mifsud that the Russians have “dirt” on Clinton. “They have thousands of emails,” he is told.
Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, meets Kislyak at a reception at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington before a foreign-policy speech given by Trump. Sessions may have spoken with Kislyak as well. The same day, Papadopoulos emails senior campaign adviser Stephen Miller to say that he had “some interesting messages coming in from Moscow about a trip when the time is right.”
Two different people who support Trump email the campaign to set up a meeting between a Trump staffer and a Russian official named Alexander Torshin. The emails, sent to adviser Rick Dearborn, are titled “Kremlin Connection” and “Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite.” Kushner rejects the latter overture.
May 20 or 21
Torshin and Trump Jr. meet at a dinner related to the NRA convention in Louisville, Ky.
Trump clinches the Republican nomination on paper.
During the general election
At a closed-door meeting of foreign policy experts and the prime minister of India, Page praises Putin effusively.
Goldstone emails Trump Jr.
“The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with [Emin Agalarov’s] father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father,” Goldstone wrote. “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and it’s government’s support for Mr. Trump – helped along by Aras and Emin.”
“Seems we have some time and if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer,” Trump Jr. replied.
Goldstone appears to connect Emin Agalarov and Trump Jr. by phone.
Goldstone and Trump Jr. finalize “a meeting with you and The Russian government attorney.”
Trump formally clinches the nomination later in the day. During a speech that evening, Trump says he is “going to give a major speech on probably Monday of next week and we’re going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons. I think you’re going to find it very informative and very, very interesting.”
Trump Jr., Manafort and Kushner meet at Trump Tower with a Kremlin-connected attorney named Natalia Veselnitskaya. Veselnitskaya’s efforts to reverse a law passed in 2012 sanctioning Russians suspected of human rights violations at some point drew the attention of the FBI. The meeting was not initially reported to the government by Kushner as required when he took a position with the administration. After the meeting was originally reported, Trump, Jr. admitted that the pretext for the conversation was that he believed Veselnitskaya to have information incriminating Hillary Clinton.
In an interview with iTV, WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange says the organization has more emails from Hillary Clinton.
Instead of his promised speech about the Clintons, Trump talks about national security in the wake of the shooting massacre in Orlando, Fla.
Goldstone reaches out to Scavino again about VKontakte.
“I’m following up on an email [from] a while back of something I had mentioned to Don and Paul Manafort during a meeting recently,” he wrote in an email cc-ing Sidorkov. “At the time, Paul had said he would welcome it…”
At some point this month, the FBI begins investigating possible links between the Russian government and Trump’s campaign.
Page travels to Moscow to give a lecture. The Trump campaign approved the trip, which may have been the catalyst for the FBI’s request for a secret surveillance warrant to track Page‘s communications.
The same day, Manafort contacts Kilimnik again to invite Deripaska to get a private briefing on the campaign.
July 11 or 12
Trump campaign staffers apparently intervene with the committee developing the Republican Party’s national security platform to remove language call arming Ukraine against Russian aggression.
At an event hosted by the Heritage Foundation as part of the Republican National Convention, Sessions and Kislyak have a brief conversation.
Flynn delivers a speech at the Republican convention, joining in the crowd’s “Lock her up!” chant. “If I, a guy who knows this business, if I did a tenth of what she did,” Flynn said, “I would be in jail today.”
WikiLeaks releases emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee. The Democratic convention begins on the 25th.
During his last news conference of the campaign, Trump asks Russia to release emails hacked from Clinton’s private server. He later says that he was joking.
Flynn Intel Group, a consulting firm founded by Flynn, signs a contract with Inovo BV, a firm run by a Turkish businessman close to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for more than $500,000.
The New York Times reports on secret ledgers from the Party of Regions showing off-the-books payments to Manafort‘s consulting firm. Those payments were allegedly hidden by passing them through third parties, according to Ukrainian leaders.
Stone communicates with Guccifer 2.0 privately over Twitter.
At some point in September, congressional leaders are briefed about the CIA’s belief that Russia was intervening in the election to benefit Trump.
Sessions and Kislyak meet in Sessions‘s Senate office.
WikiLeaks messages Trump Jr. privately over Twitter, pointing to a new site linking Putin to Trump. The next day, Trump Jr. responds to say that he’ll “ask around” about it. Trump Jr. then emailed senior campaign staff about the message. “Do you know the people mentioned,” he wrote, apparently referring to those behind the Putin-Trump site, “and what the conspiracy they are looking for could be?”
Stone tweets about upcoming WikiLeaks revelations: “Wednesday [Oct. 5] @Hillary Clinton is done. #Wikileaks.”
WikiLeaks again contacts Trump Jr. This time, WikiLeaks asks him to have the campaign offer a response to a quote from Hillary Clinton. Trump Jr. replies that he already had. Shortly afterward, he asks about the new information apparently referenced by Stone, but gets no response.
The director of national intelligence and the head of the Department of Homeland Security release an unusual joint statement in which they warn of Russian efforts to meddle in the election and suggest that Russia had a hand in the WikiLeaks document releases.
Shortly after the publication of a 2005 “Access Hollywood” video in which Trump discusses sexually assaulting women, WikiLeaks releases the first emails from Podesta’s email account. The leaks continue for weeks.
Trump Jr. travels to Paris to give a paid speech to a group that supports Russian interests. After his speech, one of the hosts traveled to Moscow where she discussed the speech with a senior Russian official.
WikiLeaks again contacts Trump Jr. sharing a link to file archives. Shortly afterward, the candidate tweets about the leaks.
Stone tells a reporter from a local news station in Florida that he has “back-channel communication with [WikiLeaks’ Julian] Assange,” though he’d never spoken to Assange directly. WikiLeaks later denies the assertion.
Trump Jr. tweets the link he’d received two days earlier. In an interview with Fox News, Mike Pence denies any connection between the campaign and the organization.
During the final presidential debate, Trump says that Putin has no respect for his opponent, Hillary Clinton. She responds, “That’s because he’d rather have a puppet as president of the United States.”
“No puppet,” Trump replies. “”You’re the puppet.”
Trump then argues that Clinton doesn’t know who’s behind the hacking, if it’s “Russia, China, or anybody else.”
Vkontakte again pitches setting up a page for Trump on the site, saying it would be “the top news in Russia.”
An opinion piece supporting the Turkish government runs at the Hill under Flynn‘s byline.
Trump is elected president.
Text timeline continues below.
During the transition
In his Oval Office meeting with Trump, Barack Obama warns the president-elect against hiring Flynn as national security adviser.
Trump transition team members warn Flynn that his communications with Kislyak will be monitored by American intelligence agencies. To impress upon Flynn the risks of cozying up to the Russian ambassador, the team requests a dossier on Kislyak to share with Flynn. It’s not known if he ever read it (WP, May 5, 2017).
In an interview with Time magazine, Trump denies interference from Russia. “I don’t believe they interfered,” he said. “That became a laughing point, not a talking point, a laughing point. Any time I do something, they say ‘oh, Russia interfered.'”
He also addressed the hacking: “It could be Russia. And it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey.”
The Justice Department informs Flynn that he is under investigation for his unreported lobbying on behalf of Turkey.
Flynn and Kushner meet with Kislyak at Trump Tower. Kushner allegedly proposes setting up a back-channel of communication between the administration and Putin, perhaps going so far as to use secure communications systems at the Russian embassy. The FBI believes the conversation may have included a suggestion by the Russians that easing sanctions would allow Russian banks to offer financing to people with ties to Trump. Sources close to Kushner indicate the the only focus of the back-channel would be Syria.
Page is back in Moscow to meet with “business leaders and thought leaders.”
At Kislyak’s urging, Kushner meets with Sergey Gorkov, chairman of Russia’s government-owned Vnesheconombank and a confidante of Putin. The bank, known as VEB, is under sanction from the U.S. government.
Gorkov apparently flies to Japan, as Putin was visiting.
Flynn texts Kislyak to wish him a merry Christmas.
Flynn calls Kislyak multiple times about the sanctions. At some point, he communicates with K.T. McFarland about the conversation, who shares thoughts with other transition team officials. She outlines the political assessment of the Obama administration in her view, including that Russia had just “thrown the election” to Trump. Flynn asks Russia not to retaliate on sanctions.
In a tweet, Trump praises Putin’s decision not to respond in kind to the U.S. sanctions.
Kislyak tells Flynn that the Russian response was a function of the Trump team’s request.
Jan. 4, 2017
Flynn informs Don McGahn, chief attorney for the transition effort, that he’s under investigation by the FBI.
American intelligence agencies release a report outlining why they believe Russia was behind the campaign hacking (NYT, Jan. 6, 2017). FBI Director James Comey attends a briefing at Trump Tower in which he first informs the president-elect that he isn’t personally under investigation as part of the Bureau’s counter-intelligence case.
The Trump transition team announces that Kushner will join the administration as an unpaid senior adviser.
The Senate holds confirmation hearings for Sessions‘s attorney general bid. In that hearing, Sessions is asked what he would do if “anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign.” Sessions replies that “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.”
Outgoing national security adviser Susan Rice asks Flynn to approve an operation in Syria in alliance with Kurdish forces that would extend into Trump’s presidency. The alliance with the Kurds is opposed by the Turkish government. Flynn declines.
At a news conference, Trump discusses the hacking that took place during the election. “As far as hacking, I think it was Russia, but I think we also get hacked by other countries and other people,” he said.
On CBS, Pence denies that Flynn and Kislyak discussed sanctions.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) sends a list of questions to Sessions, including one that reads, “Have you been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after Election Day?” Sessions responds, “No.”
Kushner submits his application for top-secret security clearance, excluding a number of meetings with foreign officials, including the one in December.
Trump is inaugurated.
Minutes after Trump is sworn in, Flynn apparently texts a partner at ACU, the nuclear-plant company, suggesting that sanctions would soon be gone and that the project was “good to go.”
Flynn is sworn in as national security adviser.
The FBI interviews Flynn about his conversations with Kislyak the previous month. Flynn lies about the conversations.
Acting Attorney General Sally Yates receives a breakdown of the Flynn interview and decides to inform the White House about what was said.
Yates meets with McGahn, now White House counsel, and explains what Flynn revealed during the FBI interview and that it contradicts public statements from the vice president, making it possible that the Russians could compromise the national security adviser by threatening to leak that information. McGahn “immediately” briefs Trump on the conversation.
A Trump lawyer later acknowledges that Trump believed that Flynn had lied to the FBI by the end of this month.
Yates returns to the White House to meet with McGahn again at his request. McGahn asks to review the evidence against Flynn.
Trump called Comey at noon to see if he could come to the White House for dinner. During that meeting, Trump allegedly asks Comey to pledge that he’d be loyal to the president. Instead, Comey offers only his honesty. Comey again tells Trump that the president isn’t under investigation.
Trump signs his executive order on immigration.
Yates invites McGahn to come to the FBI and review the evidence against Flynn.
Trump fires Yates after she refuses to enforce his immigration ban.
Week of Feb. 6
Trump Organization lawyer Michael Cohen and business associate Felix Sater partner with a Ukrainian lawmaker on a proposal for easing Russian-Ukrainian tensions, which is delivered to Flynn‘s office.
Flynn‘s spokesman says that Flynn had actually discussed sanctions.
Flynn files a financial disclosure that omits his payment from Russia Today.
Flynn resigns as national security adviser.
During a meeting in the Oval Office, Trump asks Comey to move away from his investigation of Flynn. “He is a good guy,” Trump said, according to a memo drafted at the time by Comey. “I hope you can let this go.”
In the wake of Trump’s request, Comey tells Sessions that he did not want to be put into a position where the FBI director and Trump were alone, citing concerns about propriety.
At some point after a Feb. 14 New York Times report about communication between Trump staff and Russia during 2016, the White House allegedly asked Comey and McCabe to publicly deny the report. Comey later indicates that he told Trump that such communications between the White House and FBI were inappropriate.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announces that he will recuse himself from any Russia investigation after his meetings with Kislyak are revealed.
In an interview on NBC, former director of national intelligence James Clapper acknowledges that he had no knowledge of evidence proving that Russia and the Trump campaign colluded during the course of the campaign. He later clarifies that he would not necessarily have known about such evidence and that he was not aware of the FBI’s investigation.
Comey testifies before the House Intelligence Committee and, for the first time, confirms the existence of the investigation into Russian hacking and possible links to the Trump campaign.
Shortly after being confirmed by the Senate as Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats attends a briefing at the White House with several other officials. As it wraps up, Trump asks Coats and CIA Director Mike Pompeo to remain in the room. During the private conversation that ensued, Trump asks Coats and Pompeo to try and intervene with the FBI to end the investigative focus on Flynn.
Trump and Comey speak by phone. Trump asks Comey what can be done to “lift the cloud” of the Russia investigation. Trump asks Comey to announce publicly that he himself wasn’t under investigation.
Flynn amends his financial disclosure report.
April or May
The FBI focuses on Kushner as a person of interest in their investigation as that effort intensifies.
Trump calls Comey to ask what had been done to make it clear publicly that he wasn’t under investigation. Comey suggests he have McGahn speak with the acting deputy attorney general about the issue. It’s the last time the two speak.
Comey testifies before Congress.
Trump drafts an initial letter explaining why he believed Comey should be fired, including that Comey wouldn’t publicly clear Trump’s name.
Trump fires Comey, citing the recommendation of Sessions. In the final letter firing Comey, Trump includes a line saying that he appreciates Comey telling him “on three separate occasions” that he is not under investigation. Sources indicate that Kushner was a prominent voice behind the firing.
In a private meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Kislyak, Trump reveals classified information shared with the United States by an ally, later reported to be Israel. He also reportedly disparages Comey as a “nut job” to Lavrov and Kislyak and says that he “faced great pressure because of Russia,” which was now “taken off” with the firing of Comey.
The president tells NBC’s Lester Holt that the firing was because “this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.”
Lawyers representing Trump release a statement indicating that the president’s tax returns don’t show income from Russian sources, with a few exceptions.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appoints former FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel to oversee the Russia investigation.