Where the Trump campaign and Russian actors overlapped


Novemebr 20, 2017

Donald Trump Jr. speaks during a fundraiser for Faulkner University in Montgomery, Ala., on Oct. 5. (Brynn Anderson/AP)

It’s been 187 days since Robert S. Mueller III was appointed special counsel to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 election and any way in which agents of the campaign of Donald Trump might have aided that effort. Mueller’s effort has been an undercurrent ever since, occasionally fading into the background of daily life in the District and, on rarer occasions, seizing national attention.

One of those moments occurred at the end of last month, when Mueller’s team announced indictments against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and campaign staffer Rick Gates. At the same time, the special counsel revealed that they’d arrested a campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, in July on charges that he’d lied to federal agents. A document released when the Papadopoulos arrest came to light outlined a series of contacts between him and Russian agents and allies.

In September, we put together a graphic visualizing all of the contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian citizens or those acting on behalf of the Russian government. It’s a public version of what Mueller’s doing in secret, as The Washington Post reported Sunday: “Mueller’s investigators are also still actively mapping out all the attempts by Russian nationals and people with ties to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s government to connect with and possibly infiltrate the Trump campaign.”

But our chart needed to be updated, both with the Papadopoulos revelations and reports last week that a Russian official had tried to set up a meeting between himself and Trump. Instead, he ended up sitting next to Donald Trump Jr. at a dinner in May 2016.

Below, the most recent version of the illustration, followed by details of each encounter. Recent history suggests that this will not be the last update.



Walking through those contacts in chronological order:

October 2015: Russian developer Giorgi Rtskhiladze emails Michael Cohen hoping to begin a development deal with the Trump Organization. Cohen passes, because the organization was already working on a project in Moscow.

Dec. 10: Michael Flynn, an early Trump supporter who would eventually be named national security adviser, travels to Moscow for an event honoring the Kremlin-backed news outlet RT. There, he participates in a banquet during which he shares a table with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

January 2016: Cohen emails Putin’s spokesman seeking help with the real estate development project in Moscow. That project is eventually abandoned.

March 24: George Papadopoulos, recently tapped by the campaign to serve as a foreign policy adviser, meets in London with a Russia-connected professor and a woman introduced to him as “Putin‘s niece” — in reality, a student named Olga Polonskaya.

April 11: Paul Manafort emails Konstantin Kilimnik about leveraging his position with the campaign.

April 18: Papadopoulos is introduced to Ivan Timofeev of the Russian International Affairs Council. Over the next few weeks, Timofeev and Papadopoulos try to work out a meeting between Trump and Putin.

April 26: Papadopoulos is told that the Russians have “dirt” on Clinton in the form of emails.

April 27: Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, meets with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at a campaign event at Washington’s Mayflower Hotel. Jeff Sessions, then a senator and eventually Trump’s attorney general, may have greeted Kislyak as well.

May: Alexander Torshin, a senior official in the Russian central bank, expresses his desire for a Trump-Putin meeting by asking a friend to contact the campaign. The emailed offer is titled, “Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite,” and includes an invitation for Trump to meet Torshin at an NRA convention in Louisville, later in the month.

Kushner rejects the overture, reportedly writing: “Most likely these people then go back home and claim they have special access to gain importance for themselves. Be careful.”

May 20 or 21: Donald Trump Jr. sits next to Torshin at an event associated with the National Rifle Association convention.

May 21: Manafort forwards an email from Papadopoulos about a Trump-Putin meeting to his colleague, saying that any such trip “should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal.”

June: Cohen is invited to attend an economic forum in St. Petersburg, where “he could be introduced to Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian prime minister, top financial leaders and perhaps to Putin.” He declines.

June 6: Trump Jr. may have spoken by phone with Emin Agalarov, a musician and developer who worked with the Trumps on the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. Trump Jr. and Agalarov each claim not to remember speaking, but the following day a meeting is set up between Trump Jr. and other campaign staffers predicated on the sharing of information detrimental to Democrat Hillary Clinton from the Russian government.

June 9: That meeting happens. It includes Trump Jr., Kushner and Manafort. They meet with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a lawyer linked to the Russian government, and Rinat Akhmetshin, who has ties to Russian intelligence.

July 7: Manafort offers to brief Deripaska.

July 7: Carter Page, identified by Trump as an adviser on foreign policy, travels to Moscow — with the campaign’s blessing — for an event.

July 18: At an event at the Republican National Convention, Sessions and Kislyak greet each other.

July 20: At another convention event, Page and Kislyak talk.

Sept. 8: Sessions and Kislyak meet again, this time in Sessions’s Senate office. At some point, Sessions and Kislyak apparently discuss the campaign.

Oct. 11: Trump Jr. gives a speech in Paris to a group linked to Russian interests. One of the organizers later briefs the Kremlin on the event.

Dec. 1: Flynn and Kushner meet with Kislyak at Trump Tower. At this meeting, they allegedly discuss setting up a secret communications system between Trump’s team and Moscow.

Dec. 8: Page again travels to Moscow for an event.

Dec. 13: Kushner, apparently at Kislyak’s urging, meets with Sergey Gorkov, head of the Russian bank VEB, which is under sanctions. The next day, Gorkov travels to Japan, where Putin was visiting.

Dec. 25: Flynn texts Kislyak.

Dec. 29: Flynn speaks with Kislyak multiple times, apparently discussing the imminent imposition of new sanctions by the U.S. government, partly in response to Russian meddling in the campaign.

On July 7 of this year, Trump and Putin finally meet face to face.

Courtesy/Source: Washignton Post