NBC News reports that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is asking those he’s interviewing a question that, upon reflection, seems obvious: When did President Trump know that Russia was in possession of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, if not others?
“Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is asking witnesses pointed questions about whether Donald Trump was aware that Democratic emails had been stolen before that was publicly known,” NBC’s Katy Tur and Carol E. Lee write, “and whether he was involved in their strategic release, according to multiple people familiar with the probe.”
Over the weekend, Trump said to Fox News’s Jeanine Pirro that he had not colluded with the Russians because “I had no phone calls, no meetings, no nothing.” It’s worth noting that this is not a refutation of the idea that anyone on his campaign worked with Russian actors and that it is not a denial that Trump might have aided the Russian effort through inaction — by not interfering with something he knew was happening.
That prompted us to want to outline the various points during 2016 when we know or have reason to believe that members of Trump’s campaign team had contact with Russian actors about stolen information or contact with WikiLeaks, which released the information believed to have been stolen by the Russians. Earlier this week, we presented that information in an article, but it seems worth a visual timeline, as well.
Points are explained in more detail below.
Before any of the events on the timeline above, the Democratic National Committee network was accessed in the summer of 2015 by hackers believed to be acting on behalf of Russian intelligence agencies.
The Papadopoulos thread
George Papadopoulos was asked to serve as a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign in early March 2016. He accepted.
March 14, 2016. Papadopoulos meets a London-based professor named Joseph Mifsud who has connections to the Russian government. Until he learns that Papadopoulos is linked to the Trump campaign, Mifsud is uninterested in him.
March 21. Papadopoulos is identified as a campaign adviser by President Trump in an interview with The Washington Post.
March 31. During a meeting of the foreign policy advisory team, Papadopoulos informs the campaign that he has connections who can facilitate a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
April 26. Mifsud tells Papadopoulos that the Russians have “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of emails.
April 27. Papadopoulos emails senior campaign adviser Stephen Miller, telling him that he has “some interesting messages coming in from Moscow about a trip when the time is right.”
May. At some point this month, Papadopoulos tells an Australian diplomat named Alexander Downer that the Russians have emails from Clinton.
July. After DNC emails are released by WikiLeaks, the Australians inform the FBI of Papadopoulos’s comments, kicking off the investigation into collusion with the Trump campaign.
The Trump Tower thread
June 3, 2016. Rob Goldstone, a music promoter who represents a Russian singer named Emin Agalarov, emails Donald Trump Jr.
“The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his [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,” he wrote. “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and it’s government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
“Seems we have some time and if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer,” Trump Jr. replies.
June 7. After some back-and-forth, a meeting is set. Trump Jr. invites Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner.
That night, primary voting wraps up, with Trump the presumed Republican nominee. In a speech from New Jersey, he teases an upcoming speech in which “we’re going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons.”
June 9. The Trump Tower meeting takes place. Stephen K. Bannon later tells author Michael Wolff that “the chance that Don Jr. did not walk these [Russians] up to his father’s office on the 26th floor is zero.”
The Page thread
March 21, 2016. Carter Page is identified as a campaign adviser by Trump in an interview with The Post.
July 7. Page travels to Russia to give a commencement speech. While there, he has some sort of conversation with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich.
July 8. Page sends a memo to the campaign about his trip.
“In a private conversation, Dvorkovich expressed strong support for Mr. Trump and a desire to work together toward devising better solutions in response to the vast range of current international problems,” Page writes. He later sends an email to two other campaign staffers promising “a readout soon regarding some incredible insights and outreach I’ve received from a few Russian legislators and senior members of the Presidential administration here.”
July 19. Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer hired by Fusion GPS to investigate Trump’s ties to Russia for the DNC and Clinton campaign, files a report indicating that Page met with a Kremlin official named Igor Diveykin who told Page that Russia had compromising material on Clinton.
This has not been confirmed publicly, and Page has denied having extended meetings with anyone in media interviews and when asked by the House Intelligence Committee.
The WikiLeaks thread
June 12, 2016. In a television interview, WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange reveals that his organization is in possession of emails from Hillary Clinton.
June 15. A document stolen from the DNC is leaked to Gawker.
July 22. WikiLeaks begins releasing more documents stolen from the DNC.
July 27. At a news conference, Trump asks Russia to release emails it hacked from Clinton’s private email server.
Aug. 21. Longtime Trump ally and confidant Roger Stone tweets that it will soon be Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s “time in the barrel.”
Sep. 20. WikiLeaks contacts Trump Jr. over Twitter pointing to a website that links Trump to Putin. Trump Jr. forwards the information to others in the campaign.
Oct. 2. Stone teases an upcoming WikiLeaks release of material on Clinton.
Oct. 3. WikiLeaks again contacts Trump Jr. to get a response to a quote from Clinton. Trump Jr. replies to ask what Stone was talking about.
Oct. 7. WikiLeaks begins releasing emails stolen from Podesta. The leaks continue for the rest of the month.
Oct. 12. WikiLeaks contacts Trump Jr. again, asking him to share a link to its information. Trump Jr. is in Paris giving a speech to a Russia-linked group; he shares the link when he gets back. Shortly after that message, Trump tweets.
Trump continues promoting WikiLeaks on Twitter for the rest of the election. He wins on Nov. 8.
In essence, Trump would have Americans believe that he knew that Russia had possession of emails stolen from the DNC and Podesta prior to their being released publicly. Mueller, it seems, is trying to determine if that’s true.