Dispatch October 31, 2017

Collusion Timeline: Papadopoulos and Spring 2016

Zeroing in on the spring of 2016, the Papadopoulos indictment provides a roadmap of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

In the spring of 2016, a flurry of Kremlin-linked activity coincided with a sudden influx of individuals with Russian ties to the Trump campaign. Suddenly, there were two campaigns to elect Donald Trump: the Trump campaign and a Russian-led campaign.

This timeline shows when these two campaigns merged.

FEBRUARY 2016: Flynn and Manafort begin angling to get on the Trump campaign.

MARCH 2016: Sessions comes on board, heading up a foreign-policy team filled with people with little foreign-policy experience but lots of ties to Russia.

  • March 3: Trump announces that Jeff Sessions, the first senator to endorse Trump for president, will chair the campaign’s national-security advisory committee. The five-person committee includes George Papadopoulos and Carter Page, who had little relevant foreign-policy experience and were virtually unknown within the national-security community.
  • Early March: George Papadopoulos learns that he will be an advisor on the Trump campaign, which is focusing on improving relations between the U.S. and Russia.

Following the addition of Kremlin-linked campaign advisors and officials to Trump’s campaign, Russian contacts increase and John Podesta’s emails are hacked.

  • March 14: Papadopoulos meets with “the Professor,” who suddenly becomes far more interested when he learns that Papadopoulos is joining the Trump campaign.
  • March 19: Russian hackers gain access to John Podesta’s email account through a phishing email.
  • March 21: In an interview with The Washington Post, Trump names Papadopoulos and Carter Page by name as members of his foreign-policy team.
  • March 24: The Professor introduces Papadopoulos to “the Female Russian National,” a woman he falsely claims is Russian President Vladimir Putin’s niece. She tells Papadopoulos she has connections to Russian government officials. Papadopoulos emails someone referred to as “the Campaign Supervisor”, according to the indictment, about their meeting; the Campaign Supervisor said he would “work it through the campaign” and told Papadopoulos, “Great work.”
  • March 28: After nearly a month of correspondence, Manafort officially joins the Trump campaign as an unpaid advisor.
  • March 31: Trump posts a photo on Instagram showing a meeting with Trump’s foreign-policy advisors, including Sessions and Papadopoulos, at Trump Tower in New York.

APRIL 2016: A flurry of Russian contacts

  • April: Manafort meets with his long-time Ukrainian deputy Konstantin Kilimnik, discussing issues related to the Trump campaign; Russian government-linked hackers break into DNC servers again, reportedly stealing opposition research on Trump; Representative Dana Rohrabacher meets with Natalia Veselnitskaya in Moscow.
  • April 2: At a rally in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Trump begins criticizing NATO, calling the organization “obsolete.”
  • April 10: The Female Russian National emails Papadopoulos that she “would be very pleased to support [his] initiatives between [their] two countries” and that, “as mentioned we are all very excited by the possibility of a good relationship with Mr. Trump. The Russian Federation would love to welcome him once his candidature would be officially announced.”
  • April 11: Manafort emails Kilimnik, wondering whether the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska has been following coverage of the Trump campaign and asking, “How do we use to get whole?”
  • April 25: Papadopoulos emails a “senior policy advisor,” on the campaign saying, “The Russian government has an open invitation by Putin for Mr. Trump to meet him when he is ready.”
  • April 26: The Professor tells Papadopoulos that he met with high-level Russian officials, who told him the Russians have “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, including “thousands of emails.”
  • April 27: Trump and Sessions meet with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, hours before Trump gives a major foreign-policy address calling for warmer relations with Russia.