Trump’s Russia Cover-Up By the Numbers – 87+ contacts with Russia-linked operatives
Last Updated: August 6, 2018
Since publication, the following additional information has surfaced as a result of extensive reporting, subsequent admissions, and/or Special Counsel Mueller’s indictments.
September 29, 2016: Alleged Russian agent Maria Butina and Gordon met “at a party at the Swiss ambassador’s residence.”
September-October 2016: Gordon emailed Butina and Republican operative Paul Erickson with “a clip of a recent appearance he had made on RT.” This was in response to an email from Erickson to Gordon and Butina, in which Erickson noted that Gordon was “playing a crucial role in the Trump transition effort” and that Butina was a “special assistant to the deputy governor of the Bank of Russia.”
September-October 2016: Butina responded to Gordon’s email, inviting him to a dinner hosted by conservative writer and Rockefeller heir George O’Neill Jr. As the Washington Post noted, “prosecutors cited the dinners organized by O’Neill, described in court documents as ‘person 2,’ as part of Butina’s efforts to influence thought leaders.”
September-October 2016: Gordon responded to Butina’s email, declining the dinner invitation but inviting her for drinks and to a concert. In his correspondence with Butina, he reportedly “included a link to a September 2016 Politico story reporting that he was a part of Trump’s growing transition effort.”
Late October 2016: Gordon reportedly invited Butina to his birthday party. According to the Washington Post, “the two had no additional contact after the birthday party in October 2016.”
This brings the number of contacts between the Trump team and Russia-linked operatives to 87, and 26 of these contacts were meetings (including Skype calls). None of these contacts were ever reported to the proper authorities. Instead, the Trump team tried to cover up every single one of them.
Additional Methodology Notes:
Republican operative Paul Erickson is closely linked to alleged Russian agent Maria Butina. Butina, who was indicted in July 2018 for conspiring to act as an agent of the Russian Federation within the United States, sought to build relationships with American politicians and establish a “back channel” to “penetrate the U.S. national decision-making apparatus.” Butina has pleaded not guilty. She worked with both Russian central banker Alexander Torshin and Erickson. Erickson and Butina were reportedly romantically involved, and Erickson was aware of Butina’s attempt to influence the Republican party. Erickson sent an introductory email to both Butina and Gordon in September 2016, noting that Butina was “playing a crucial role in the Trump transition effort and would be an excellent addition to any of the U.S./Russia friendship dinners to occasionally hold” and referring to her as the “special assistant to the deputy governor of the Bank of Russia.”
Erickson was involved in additional contacts as well. In May 2016, Torshin proposed a meeting between Trump and Putin, and this request was passed through Erickson to campaign advisor Rick Dearborn. Dearborn, incidentally, also received a “similar proposal” from Rick Clay, who was described as “an advocate for Christian causes.” Dearborn forwarded Clay’s proposal to Kushner, who turned it down. While these contacts are not included in the list above due to the intermediaries between Trump officials and Russian officials, they provide even more supporting evidence of a widespread effort to establish lines of communication between the Russians and the Trump campaign.
Update: July 10, 2018
It should be noted that Donald Trump Jr. also reportedly emailed deputy campaign manager David Bossie and digital director Brad Parscale about his contact with WikiLeaks. This brings the number of high-level campaign officials and Trump advisors who were aware of contacts between the Trump team and Russia to 26.
Update: June 22, 2018
Since publication, the following additional information has surfaced as a result of extensive reporting, subsequent admissions, and/or Special Counsel Mueller’s indictments.
- Late May 2016: Trump campaign official Michael Caputo spoke with Russian national Henry Greenberg over the phone. Greenberg claimed to have helpful information for the Trump campaign, and after this conversation, Caputo put Greenberg in touch with Stone.
- Late May 2016: Stone met with Greenberg in Sunny Isles, FL. Stone claims Greenberg promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Greenberg allegedly wanted Trump to pay $2 million for the information, and Stone claims he rejected this offer.
On January 6, 2017, the U.S. intelligence community issued a report that showed there were two campaigns to elect Donald Trump: one run by Trump and one run by the Russian government. Trump and many of his senior advisors and close associates have repeatedly denied any connections between the two campaigns, despite the fact that they were working towards the same goal, at the same time, and utilizing the same tactics.
Yet over the past year, we’ve learned about a series of meetings and contacts between individuals linked to the Russian government and Trump’s campaign and transition team. In total, we have learned of 80 contacts between Trump’s team and Russia linked operatives, including at least 23 meetings. And we know that at least 24 high-ranking campaign officials and Trump advisors were aware of contacts with Russia-linked operatives during the campaign and transition. None of these contacts were ever reported to the proper authorities. Instead, the Trump team tried to cover up every single one of them.
Why were there so many meetings? What was discussed in them? More importantly, why did Trump and his camp lie about them, including to federal law enforcement? What are they hiding?
The American people deserve answers.
Below is a comprehensive chronological list of the contacts that have been discovered to date and the lies Trump’s campaign, transition, and White House told to hide them.
The Trump campaign issued at least 15 blanket denials of contacts with Russia, all of which have been proven false.
- July 24, 2016: Paul Manafort appeared on ABC’s This Week and George Stephanopoulos asked him “Are there any ties between Mr. Trump, you or your campaign and Putin and his regime?” To which Manafort responded, “No, there are not. That’s absurd. And you know, there’s no basis to it.”
- July 24, 2016: Donald Trump Jr. appeared on CNN and told Jake Tapper that the Clinton campaign’s suggestion that Russia was helping Trump was “disgusting” and “phony,” noting, “Well, it just goes to show you their exact moral compass. I mean, they will say anything to be able to win this. I mean, this is time and time again, lie after lie.”
- July 27, 2016: Trump appeared on a CBS Miami news station and, in response to allegations that Russia was trying to help him win the election, told Jim DeFed, “I can tell you I think if I came up with that they’d say, ‘Oh, it’s a conspiracy theory, it’s ridiculous’ … I mean I have nothing to do with Russia. I don’t have any jobs in Russia. I’m all over the world but we’re not involved in Russia.”
- October 24, 2016: At a rally in Tampa, Florida, Trump stated he has “nothing to do with Russia, folks. I’ll give you a written statement.”
- November 11, 2016: Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks gave the Associated Press a blanket denial of Trump campaign contacts with Russia, stating, “It never happened. There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign.”
- December 18, 2016: Kellyanne Conway went on “Face the Nation,” and John Dickerson asked her, “Did anyone involved … in the Trump campaign have any contact with Russians trying to meddle with the election?” Conway responded, “Absolutely not. And I discussed that with the president-elect just last night. Those conversations never happened. I hear people saying it like it’s a fact on television. That is just not only inaccurate and false, but it’s dangerous.”
- January 10, 2017: At a hearing for Jeff Sessions’ nomination for the position of attorney general, Senator Al Franken asked him what he would do if there was evidence “that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign.” Sessions replied, “I’m not aware of any of those activities. 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.”
- January 15, 2017: Vice President-elect Mike Pence went on “Fox News Sunday,”and Chris Wallace asked him, “So, I’m asking a direct question: was there any contact in any way between Trump or his associates and the Kremlin or cutouts they had?” Pence replied, “Of course not. Why would there be any contacts between the campaign?
- January 15, 2017: That same day, Pence also went on “Face the Nation,” where John Dickerson asked him, “Just to button up one question, did any advisor or anybody in the Trump campaign have any contact with the Russians who were trying to meddle in the election?” Pence replied, “Of course not. And I think to suggest that is to give credence to some of these bizarre rumors that have swirled around the candidacy.”
- February 16, 2017: Trump held a press conference and told reporters, “Russia is a ruse. I know you have to get up and ask a question. It’s so important. Russia is a ruse. I have nothing to do with Russia. Haven’t made a phone call to Russia in years. Don’t speak to people from Russia. Not that I wouldn’t. I just have nobody to speak to. I spoke to Putin twice. He called me on the election. I told you this. And he called me on the inauguration, a few days ago. We had a very good talk, especially the second one, lasted for a pretty long period of time. I’m sure you probably get it because it was classified. So I’m sure everybody in this room perhaps has it. But we had a very, very good talk. I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge no person that I deal with does.”
- February 19, 2017: White House Chief of Staff Reince Preibus went on “Fox News Sunday,” and when Chris Wallace asked whether the Trump team had any connections to Russia, Preibus said “no.” Preibus later went on to add, “Let me give you an example. First of all, The New York Times put out an article with no direct sources that said that the Trump campaign had constant contacts with Russian spies, basically, you know, some treasonous type of accusations. We have now all kinds of people looking into this. I can assure you and I have been approved to say this—that the top levels of the intelligence community have assured me that that story is not only inaccurate, but it’s grossly overstated and it was wrong. And there’s nothing to it.”
- February 20, 2017: White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign, stating, “This is a nonstory because to the best of our knowledge, no contacts took place, so it’s hard to make a comment on something that never happened.”
- February 24, 2017: At a White House press briefing, Sean Spicer was asked whether “the President has an improper relationship with Russia” and responded, “He has no interests in Russia. He has no—there’s only so many times he can deny something that doesn’t exist.”
- May 11, 2017: In an interview with NBC, Trump told Lester Holt, “I have had dealings over the years where I sold a house to a very wealthy Russian many years ago. I had the Miss Universe pageant—which I owned for quite a while—I had it in Moscow a long time ago. But other than that I have nothing to do with Russia.” Later in the interview, when discussing Comey’s firing, Trump stated, “And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself—I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election they should’ve won.”
- May 18, 2017: At a press conference in May 2017, Trump repeatedly denied any collusion occurred between his campaign and Russia, at one point stating, “[T] he entire thing has been a witch hunt. And there is no collusion between, certainly, myself and my campaign, but I can only speak for myself and the Russians—zero.
Extensive reporting, subsequent admissions, and Special Counsel Mueller’s indictments have revealed at least 80 contacts between the Trump team and Russia-linked operatives, despite repeated denials. Among these contacts were 24 meetings (which include Skype calls), which are highlighted below.
- November 2015: Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen spoke with Russian athlete Dmitry Klokov, a former Olympic weightlifter, while trying to advance a Trump Tower Moscow development deal. This conversation reportedly took place after Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, who was previously acquainted with Klokov, put the two men in contact with each other.
- November 2015: Klokov emailed Cohen claiming that “he could arrange a meeting between Donald Trump and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin to help pave the way for the tower.” These emails have reportedly been examined by congressional investigators and the special counsel’s team; Klokov initially denied emailing Cohen.
- November 2015: Cohen emailed Klokov, reportedly refusing his offer “and saying that the Trump Organization already had an agreement in place.” These emails have reportedly been examined by congressional investigators and the special counsel’s team; Klokov initially denied emailing Cohen.
- November 2015: Klokov emailed Cohen, copying Ivanka, “question[ing] Cohen’s authority to make decisions for the Trump Organization.” These emails have reportedly been examined by congressional investigators and the special counsel’s team; Klokov initially denied emailing Cohen.
- January, 2016: Cohen emailed Vladimir Putin’s top spokesperson Dmitry Peskov (the equivalent of the White House Press Secretary) at the Kremlin asking for assistance with regards to a stalled attempt to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. The Kremlin has confirmed that it received the email but stated that it did not reply.
- March 14, 2016: George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, met with Joseph Mifsud in Italy. Mifsud is alleged to have high-level contacts within the Kremlin, although he has denied these allegations.
- March 24, 2016: Papadopoulos met with Mifsud and a “Female Russian National” who he believed was a relative of Putin’s.
- April 10, 2016: Papadopoulos emailed the Female Russian National, saying that he was a Trump adviser.
- April 11, 2016: Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chair, corresponded with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian-Ukrainian political operative and former member of Russian intelligence, asking if Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska had seen news coverage of Manafort joining the Trump campaign.
- April 11, 2016: Kilimnik replied to Manafort’s email, saying “absolutely.”
- April 11, 2016: Manafort emailed him again, asking “How do we use to get whole?”
- April 11, 2016: The Female Russian National emailed Papadopoulos back, stating that she “would be very pleased to support [his] initiatives between [their] two countries.”
- April 11, 2016: Papadopoulos emailed the Female Russian National (cc’ing Mifsud) about the possibility of arranging a foreign policy trip to Russia.
- April 11, 2016: Mifsud replied to Papadopoulos, saying, “this is already been agreed [sic].”
- April 11, 2016: The Female Russian National replied to Papadopoulos, saying, “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 18, 2016: Mifsud introduced Papadopoulos (over email) to an individual claiming to have connections to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ivan Timofeev.
- April 18-April 22, 2016: At some point within this date range, Papadopoulos and Timofeev held a Skype call.
- April 22, 2016: Papadopoulos and Timofeev exchanged emails.
- April 22, 2016: As noted above, Papadopoulos and Timofeev exchanged emails, indicating at least two contacts during this exchange.
- April 22-May 4, 2016: After the April 22 email exchange, at some point within this date range, Papadopoulos and Timofeev had “additional email communications […] including setting up conversations over Skype.”
- April 22-May 4, 2016: As noted above, Papadopoulos and Timofeev set up “conversations over Skype,” indicating at least two Skype conversations during this exchange.
- April 26, 2016: Mifsud told Papadopoulos that Russians had dirt on Clinton during a meeting in London.
- April 27, 2016: Senior campaign advisors Jeff Sessions and Jared Kushner met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC, before Trump’s first foreign policy speech.
- April 29, 2016: Papadopoulos emailed the Female Russian National about a potential trip to Russia.
- April 30, 2016: Papadopoulos contacted Mifsud to thank him “for his ‘critical help’ in arranging a meeting between the Campaign and the Russian government.”
- Early May, 2016: Manafort met with Kilimnik.
- May 4, 2016: Timofeev emailed Papadopoulos claiming to have talked to his colleagues in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who were “open for cooperation.”
- May 8, 2016: Timofeev emailed Papadopoulos about putting him in touch with the “MFA head of the U.S. desk.”
- Mid May, 2016: In the subsequent weeks after May 4, Timofeev reportedly “set up Skype calls with PAPADOPOULOS and discussed, among other things, the fact that Foreign Contact 2 reported ‘a good reaction from the U.S. desk at the MFA.’”
- May 13, 2016: Mifsud emailed Papadopoulos, stating, “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 21, 2016: Donald Trump Jr. dined with the Russian central banker Alexander Torshin at the NRA national convention.
- Summer 2016: Trump’s former Deputy Campaign Chairman and aide Rick Gates “remained in email contact with Kilimnik through the summer and fall of 2016.”
- June 6-June 7, 2016: As Trump Jr. later stated, “my phone records show three very short phone calls between Emin and me between June 6th and June 7th. I do not recall speaking to Emin. It is possible that we left each other voice mail messages. I simply do not remember.” An attorney for Emin Agalarov also stated that his client did not recall speaking with Trump Jr.
- June 6-June 7, 2016: As stated above, Trump Jr. and Agalarov allegedly spoke for a second time within this date range.
- June 6-June 7, 2016: As stated above, Trump Jr. and Agalarov allegedly spoke for a third time within this date range.
- June 9, 2016: Donald Trump Jr., Manafort, Kushner, and Rob Goldstone met in Trump Tower with Russian attorney and lobbyist Natalia Veselnitskaya, former State Department contractor Anatoli Samochornov, Russian-American lobbyist and former Soviet counterintelligence officer Rinat Akhmetshin, and Georgian real estate and finance executive Irakly Kaveladze. Before the meeting, Trump Jr. was told he would be offered dirt on Hillary Clinton, to which he replied, “if it’s what you say I love it.”
- June 19, 2016: Papadopoulos had “several email and Skype exchanges” with Timofeev. During one of these exchanges, Timofeev reportedly suggested that a campaign official come to Russia for a meeting.
- June 19, 2016: As stated above, Papadopoulos continued to have “several email and Skype exchanges” with Timofeev, indicating at least two contacts.
- July 7, 2016: Manafort emailed Kilimnik about offering private briefings on the campaign to Deripaska, who claims that Manafort owes him at least $19 million.
- July 7-8, 2016: Carter Page, a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, traveled to Moscow to give a speech. While there, he met with Andrey Baranov, head of investor relations at Rosneft.
- July 7-8, 2016: While Page was in Moscow, he spoke to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich.
- July 14, 2016: Papadopoulos emailed Timofeev, trying to set a meeting between Trump team officials and Russian officials.
- July 18, 2016: Sessions keynoted a luncheon in Cleveland co-hosted by the Heritage Foundation and the U.S. Department of State. He met with Kislyak following his remarks.
- July 18, 2016: Page and J.D. Gordon, the Trump Campaign’s Director of National Security, also met with Kislyak during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
- July 29, 2016: Kilimnik emailed Manafort, and they agreed to meet again.
- July 29, 2016: As noted above, Kilimnik and Manafort agreed to meet again, indicating at least two contacts during this exchange.
- August, 2016: Manafort met with Kilimnik.
- August 14, 2016: Roger Stone, who had earlier worked as an advisor to the Trump campaign, sent a direct message over Twitter to the Russian intelligence-linked hacking group Guccifer 2.0, saying “delighted you are reinstated.” Guccifer 2.0 worked with WikiLeaks “to release the stolen materials in the US election.”
- August 15, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 replied to Stone, thanking him for writing.
- August 15, 2016: Stone replied to Guccifer 2.0, asking Guccifer 2.0 to retweet a link.
- August 17, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 sent Stone numerous direct messages over Twitter, praising him and offering assistance.
- September 2016: Gates was in contact with an unnamed individual who the FBI assessed had ongoing ties to Russian intelligence.
- September 8, 2016: Sessions met again with Kislyak in his D.C. Senate office; the meeting went undisclosed until March 2, 2017. Sessions reportedly said that at the meeting, he “listened to the ambassador and what his concerns might be.” Sessions noted that they discussed travel to Russia, terrorism, and Ukraine, although Sessions could not recall “any specific political discussions.”
- September 9, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 sent a direct message to Stone containing a link to hacked voter turnout data from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Guccifer 2.0 provided this hacked information to a Republican political operative, who published it on his blog.
- September 9, 2016: Stone replied to Guccifer 2.0, saying that the information was “pretty standard.”
- September 20, 2016: WikiLeaks contacted Trump Jr. via Twitter, giving him the login credentials for what WikiLeaks described as “a PAC run anti-Trump site.” WikiLeaks has since come under scrutiny for its decision to release hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee.
- September 21, 2016: The next morning, Trump Jr. replied, thanking WikiLeaks.
- October 2016: Gates had another contact with the unnamed individual who had ongoing ties to Russian intelligence.
- October 3, 2016: WikiLeaks contacted Trump Jr. over Twitter, asking him to “comment on/push” a story about Hillary Clinton.
- October 3, 2016: Trump replied to the message, stating that he “already did.” He then asked WikiLeaks about a leak that had been foreshadowed by a tweet from Stone.
- October 12, 2016: WikiLeaks contacted Trump Jr., urging him to ask his father to tweet WikiLeaks links (which he did). WikiLeaks contacted Trump Jr. several other times, although he stopped replying to the messages. WikiLeaks suggested to Trump Jr. that if Trump were to lose the election, Trump should not concede and instead should “[challenge] the media and other types of rigging that occurred.” These reciprocated contacts between Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks continued through the election and into summer 2017.
- October 13, 2016: After WikiLeaks released a statement claiming they had not communicated with Stone, Stone sent WikiLeaks a direct message “about his defense of Assange and the organization.”
- October 13, 2016: WikiLeaks replied to Stone’s earlier message, telling him not to claim an association with WikiLeaks.
- October 15, 2016: Stone sent a direct message to WikiLeaks, saying they should “figure out who [their] friends are.”
- November 9, 2016: WikiLeaks sent a direct message to Stone after the election, saying that they were “more free to communicate.”
- November 10, 2016: Emin Agalarov texted Trump Jr., congratulating him and his father on the win and saying, “always at your disposal here in Russia.  Emin and Aras Agalarov@.”
- December, 2016: Kushner met with Kislyak at a meeting in Trump Tower, during which the two men “discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin.” Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn also attended. During the meeting, it was reportedly suggested that the Trump team use Russian diplomatic facilities in order to facilitate this backdoor channel. Kislyak subsequently arranged for Kushner to meet with Sergey Gorkov, the president of the Russian state-run bank VEB.
- December, 2016: Kushner met with Gorkov. Kushner described the meeting as an official meeting in which he represented the Trump transition team, and CNN reported that a source characterized the meeting as an effort “to establish a back channel to Putin.” The Russian bank claimed that Kushner met with Gorkov in his capacity as “the head of his family’s real estate company.”
- December 13, 2016: Emin Agalarov texted Trump Jr., reportedly “posing a ‘quick question.’”
- December 22, 2016: Flynn contacted Kislyak about a pending vote on a UN resolution on the issue of Israeli settlements, asking that Russia “vote against or delay the resolution.”
- December 25, 2016: Flynn texted Kislyak, reportedly “to wish him a merry Christmas and to express condolences for a plane crash.”
- December 29, 2016: Flynn called Kislyak.
- December 29, 2016: Flynn called Kislyak a second time.
- December 29, 2016: Flynn called Kislyak a third time.
- December 29, 2016: Flynn called Kislyak a fourth time.
- December 29, 2016: Flynn called Kislyak a fifth time. According to three sources, the “calls occurred between the time the Russian embassy was told about U.S. sanctions and the announcement by Russian President Vladimir Putin that he had decided against reprisals.”
- December 31, 2016: Kislyak called Flynn to inform him that Russia did not retaliate against the most recent round of U.S. sanctions “at the Trump team’s request.”
- January 9, 2017: Cohen reportedly met with Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg in Trump Tower, and the two men reportedly discussed “a mutual desire to strengthen Russia’s relations with the United States under President Trump.”
- January 11, 2017: Blackwater founder Erik Prince (brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos) met with Kirill Dmitriev, head of the sanctioned Russian Direct Investment Fund, on or around this date. Prince “presented himself as an unofficial envoy for Trump” to high-ranking officials from the United Arab Emirates who brokered the Prince initially claimed the meeting was unplanned, and that he was not acting as “an official or unofficial emissary of the Trump transition team.” Lebanese-American businessman George Nader later revealed that the purpose of the meeting involved an attempt “to establish a back channel between the incoming administration and the Kremlin.”
- January 17-20, 2017: Anthony Scaramucci met with Dmitriev at the 2017 Davos World Economic Forum; after the meeting, he criticized U.S. sanctions on Russia in an interview with a Russian news agency. Scaramucci “served on the executive committee for Trump’s transition team” and later briefly served as White House communications director for ten days.
At least 24 high-level campaign officials and Trump advisors were aware of contacts between the Trump team and Russia, including the three successive people who ran Trump’s campaign.
Yet none of them ever revealed to federal law enforcement that the Russians were seeking to interfere with the election by aiding the campaign.
Members of the Trump team who had contacts with Russians during the campaign or transition include:
- Michael Cohen
- Roger Stone
- Donald Trump Jr.
- Jeff Sessions
- Paul Manafort
- J.D. Gordon
- Jared Kushner
- Carter Page
- Michael Flynn
- Erik Prince
- George Papadopoulos
- Anthony Scaramucci
- Rick Gates
A number of other campaign officials were reportedly aware of contacts with Russia-linked operatives, including:
- Corey Lewandowski
- K.T. McFarland
- Tom Bossert
- Hope Hicks
- Reince Priebus
- Sam Clovis
- Stephen Bannon
- Stephen Miller
- Sean Spicer
- John Mashburn
- Ivanka Trump
Sessions, Manafort, and Kushner also knew of other contacts between the Trump team and Russia-linked operatives outside of their own meetings.
Many of these officials were involved in explicit efforts to conceal their contacts. Take the infamous meeting on June 9, 2016 in Trump Tower, attended by Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, that was for the express purpose of obtaining information from the Russian government that would help the Trump campaign. None of them reported the meeting, and Trump Jr. went to significant lengths to hide its true nature. When The New York Times found out about the meeting, Trump Jr. first lied to the Times about the purpose of the meeting, saying it was about adoptions. When confronted with evidence that he had lied, he changed his story—but the cover-up did not stop there. The Trump team also tried to hide the President’s involvement in the initial false statement from his son. Not only was the President heavily involved in the drafting of the statement, but former Trump legal spokesman Mark Corallo later revealed that that during a conference call with President Trump and Hope Hicks, Hicks said that “emails written by Donald Trump Jr. before the Trump Tower meeting […] will never get out.”
Trump Jr. was not the only one at the June 9 meeting who tried to hide contacts with Russia-linked operatives. In addition to The Trump Tower meeting, Manafort reportedly met with Russian-Ukrainian operative Konstantin Kilimnik numerous times throughout the campaign. Despite his ongoing communications with Kilimnik and the June 9 meeting, Manafort denied having Russian contacts at least five times before Trump’s inauguration, calling the accusations “absurd.” Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates were also aware of at least one other campaign official’s contacts with Russia; George Papadopoulos emailed them regarding his Russian contacts and a potential Russia trip.
Kushner also covered up his contacts. When submitting his security clearance background form to the FBI for the first time, he failed to mention any of his contacts with Russians, which also included the Russian ambassador and the head of the Russian state-owned bank VEB, Sergey Gorkov. After the Gorkov meeting became public, he claimed he attended in his official Trump transition team capacity; Gorkov, on the other hand, said it was a discussion about his family’s real estate company.
Kushner appears to have also tried to hide his knowledge of other contacts between the campaign and Russian-linked individuals. While reports indicate that Kushner initially claimed he did not remember any communications between the Trump team and WikiLeaks during a closed-door meeting with Congress, news broke that Donald Trump Jr. had been secretly communicating with WikiLeaks, and had reportedly emailed Kushner telling him about this communication.
Jeff Sessions also concealed his meetings with Russians. He met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak three times during the campaign. Sessions lied about these meetings both during and after his confirmation proceedings to become Attorney General. Sessions was also aware of other contacts between the Trump team and Russian-linked operatives, which he failed to disclose to Congress. In March 2016, he reportedly attended a meeting during which George Papadopoulos informed the group that “he had connections that could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and President [Vladimir] Putin.” In June 2016, Sessions attended a dinner with Papadopoulos, Carter Page, and J.D. Gordon, during which Page informed Sessions about his upcoming trip to Russia. Sessions later claimed he did not recall knowing about Page’s Russia trip in hearings before the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.
These contacts began early in the campaign. In November 2015, Ivanka Trump reportedly helped to facilitate contacts between Michael Cohen and a Russian athlete who allegedly wanted to arrange a meeting between Trump and Putin regarding the prospects of a Trump Tower Moscow project. Later, Corey Lewandowski, Hope Hicks, Stephen Miller, Sam Clovis, and John Mashburn were made aware of some of their colleagues’ Russian contacts during the campaign. Papadopoulos emailed Lewandowski, Miller, and Clovis numerous times about arranging a meeting between Putin and Trump in April 2016. He also emailed Trump campaign policy director John Mashburn “alerting the Trump campaign that Russia had damaging information about Hillary Clinton.” Page informed Lewandowski and Clovis about his trip to Russia; Lewandowski initially denied having any knowledge of this, but he later said that his “memory [had] been refreshed” about Page’s emails. Page also testified that in June 2016, he believed he emailed Hicks asking permission to travel to Russia. In November 2016, Hicks stated (in regards to contacts between the Trump team and Russia), “It never happened. There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign.”
Finally, five other transition officials were made aware of Flynn’s December 2016 phone calls with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. K.T. McFarland reportedly knew about these calls, even though she later testified before Congress claiming she had not been aware of any “issues or events” related to Flynn’s contacts with the Russian ambassador. McFarland emailed Tom Bossert about the phone calls as well; it was reported that Bossert then forwarded the email “to six people on the transition team, including Bannon, Priebus, and Spicer.”
In determining the number of contacts, in some cases it is unclear exactly how many contacts occurred. For example, the Papadopoulos indictment says at one point that he had “several email and Skype exchanges.” In these situations, we have used the conservative estimate of two contacts.
In addition, some contacts were omitted due to the number of intermediaries between Trump officials and Russian officials; for example, a May 2016 attempt by Russian central banker Alexander Torshin to propose a meeting between Putin and Trump. The request was reportedly passed from Torshin to an individual who worked for a veterans’ support organization. This individual passed it to his friend, Rick Clay, who was described as “an advocate for Christian causes.” Clay emailed the request to Rick Dearborn, a Trump campaign aide.
It should also be noted that while we have not included Rob Goldstone as a Russia-linked operative at this time, he facilitated numerous contacts between Aras and Emin Agalarov and the Trump team. Trump’s relationship with the Agalarovs began when
they hosted his Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013. They kept in touch over the years, and communicated often during the election and transition period. Reportedly, “at key campaign milestones, the Agalarovs sent notes wishing good luck, conveying congratulations, and offering gifts to Donald Trump.” Rob Goldstone, Emin Agalarov’s publicist, facilitated these communications, which also often went through Rhona Graff, Trump’s personal assistant. Trump reportedly replied to these messages “with hand-written notes.” The Agalarovs extended an invitation to Trump to visit Moscow at least once, in July 2015, when Goldstone relayed an invitation to Agalarov’s 60th birthday which included a mention of “a meeting with President Putin which Emin would set up.” During the election, after Trump’s success on Super Tuesday, Agalarov offered “his support and that of many of his important Russian friends and colleagues – especially with reference to U.S./Russian relations.” Goldstone also communicated directly with Donald Trump Jr. in order to arrange the June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting. The two emailed back and forth, totaling at least fifteen separate emails. At one point, Goldstone informed Trump Jr. that Aras Agalarov had met with the Russian Prosecutor General, Yuri Chaika, who had “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 [Trump Jr.’s] father [… this] is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” Trump Jr. replied, “if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
In this document, we consider Wikileaks to be a Russia-linked operative. We base this determination, in part, on the words of Trump’s own CIA Director Mike Pompeo who called WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.” Furthermore, the January 2017 Intelligence Community report stated, “We assess with high confidence that the GRU used the Guccifer 2.0 persona, DCLeaks.com, and WikiLeaks to release US victim data obtained in cyber operations publicly and in exclusives to media outlets.” The report also stated that the GRU “relayed material it acquired from the DNC and senior Democratic officials to WikiLeaks,” and noted that “the Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet RT (formerly Russia Today) has actively collaborated with WikiLeaks.”
Roger Stone made additional attempts to contact WikiLeaks; these attempts were made through an intermediary, and therefore are not included in the list above. In September 2016, Stone emailed radio personality Randy Credico seeking “information he considered damaging to Hillary Clinton from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.” Credico, who Stone has previously described as a “go-between” to WikiLeaks, claims he did not pass Stone’s request for emails related to Clinton along to Assange. He did reply to Stone’s emails, at one point stating “I can’t ask [WikiLeaks] favors every other day .I asked one of his lawyers…they have major legal headaches riggt now..relax.” Credico and Stone both “deny ever having special access to WikiLeaks’ material.”
Reporting thus far has indicated that Russian athlete Dmitry Klokov is not “known to be a close associate of Putin or anyone in the Russian president’s inner circle.” In his communications with Cohen, however, Klokov represented himself as someone who would be able to arrange a meeting between Putin and Trump while Trump was running for President. Klokov’s inclusion in this document is based on his own representation of his proximity to the Kremlin.
Former Trump campaign policy director John K. Mashburn stated during his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that he received an email from George Papadopoulos in the first half of 2016 “alerting the Trump campaign that Russia had damaging information about Hillary Clinton.” Mashburn stated that he remembered the email coming “well before WikiLeaks began publishing messages stolen in hackings from Democrats.” Investigators for the Senate Judiciary Committee and representatives from the Trump campaign have reportedly been unable to locate this message. Mashburn stated that he believed other campaign officials “almost certainly would have been copied” on the email, although he could not name these officials and did not remember when he received it. Mashburn stated that he did not act on the message, although he may have forwarded it to Rick Dearborn (Dearborn’s lawyer has denied that he received it.) After the election, Mashburn served on the Trump transition team and as a deputy cabinet secretary at the White House until mid-April; he is currently a senior adviser to Secretary of Energy Rick Perry.