The meetings below include formal appointments, casual pull-asides, phone calls. All of them were discovered through leaks and media reports.
While there is no legal requirement for people running political campaigns to disclose all their meetings, a handful of the most senior Trump campaign, transition and administration officials insisted for months that there were no contacts with Russians. The interactions came in the midst of Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 election and during the subsequent political fallout.
Once some of the aides became White House officials, however, not revealing Russian interactions and meetings is more than an omission to the public — it could be illegal. If any White House and administration officials intentionally omitted meetings with Russian foreign nationals on their security clearance forms, that could be federal crime.
A number of previously undisclosed interactions with Russians have been revealed in the past six months since Trump took office, and White House officials and Trump associates have since confirmed the following such interactions with Russians.
June 9, 2016
Donald Trump Jr., his brother-in-law Jared Kushner, and Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort attended a private meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer and others
. The meeting was arranged after Trump Jr. was promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton.
The meeting wasn’t made public until The New York Times
reported about it earlier this month. In his first public statements, Trump Jr. shrugged it off as a discussion of Russian adoptions. But as more stories came out, he released an email chain that revealed the promise of dirt on Clinton from the Russian government. The emails were the first public indication that at least some in the campaign were willing to accept Russian help and that the Russian government was seeking to help Trump.
Kushner didn’t mention the meeting on the first three versions of the security clearance
forms he submitted to join the White House even though the forms ask for details of contacts with foreign nationals. Manafort and Trump Jr., who don’t work for the administration, didn’t have to disclose the information on security clearance forms. One month after the meeting, Manafort publicly denied
any links between the campaign and Russia.
July 20, 2016
Attorney General Jeff Sessions met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at an event during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland while Sessions was still a senator and Trump campaign surrogate.
The meeting first came to light in March,when it was reported by The Washington Post. Sessions did not disclose
this meeting when he applied for his security clearance. He also did not mention it when he was asked about contact with Russians during his Senate confirmation hearings earlier this year. Sessions has argued he was told by the FBI he did not have to disclose such a meeting because it was conducted in his capacity as a US Senator even though it took place at a political convention.
The revelation led to calls for Sessions to recuse himself from overseeing the FBI investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Sessions ultimately agreed to step aside. Sessions said he had considered recusal based solely on being connected to the campaign from the day he became attorney general.
Trump campaign national security advisers J.D. Gordon and Carter Page also each met separately with Kislyak during the same event. Their interactions went unknown until USA Today
first reported about them in March. Page left the Trump campaign after a few months amid questions about his connections to Russia. Neither man made it to the White House and so they were not required to disclose their meetings.
The Washington Post reported Friday that Kislyak was previously picked up in US intelligence intercepts
telling his Russian colleagues that he talked with Sessions about the campaign at their meeting during the convention. Sessions’ office recently denied he ever spoke with Kislyak about campaign interference, and he has repeatedly denied discussing the campaign more broadly with any Russians. US officials warn that foreign officials often brag or exaggerate while reporting information back to their home county.
Trump’s longtime ally and former campaign adviser Roger Stone exchanged direct messages on Twitter last August with a hacker called Guccifer 2.0. The US intelligence community says Guccifer 2.0
is a front for the GRU, a Russian military intelligence agency that was deeply involved in Russia’s election-meddling campaign. Stone wasn’t on the campaign at the time, though he did stay in touch with Trump during the election.
These contacts weren’t publicly known until The Smoking Gun
reported about them March 8. Stone later released screenshots
of what he claimed was the full conversation, which showed that Guccifer 2.0 offered to help Stone, but showed no Stone response.
The Guccifer 2.0 persona claimed credit for hacking the Democratic National Committee, whose emails were released in July 2016 by WikiLeaks. Guccifer 2.0 leaked other DNC and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee files on his website.
Stone isn’t legally obligated to disclose these contacts. But two weeks before they were revealed, Stone said
in an interview, “I have had no contacts from Russians or intermediaries for Russians.” It’s not clear if he knew at the time of the Twitter messages that Guccifer 2.0 was a front for Russian hackers, though Guccifer 2.0 had already claimed credit for hacking the DNC.
September 8, 2016
Sessions met with Kislyak for a second time during the presidential campaign, this time in his Senate office in Washington. This wasn’t publicly known until The Washington Post reported
about it in March.
Sessions denied any campaign-related meetings with Russians at his confirmation hearing, saying “I did not have communications with the Russians.” He also didn’t disclose it
in his security clearance forms for the same reason stated above.
The meeting took place at the height of Russia’s campaign to influence the US election. One day earlier, WikiLeaks released the first batch of emails stolen from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta. The US intelligence community says Russian hackers got the emails and gave them to WikiLeaks.
December 1 or 2, 2016
In early December, Trump’s incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn and Kushner met with Kislyak at Trump Tower. The Washington Post reported
that the meeting was either December 1 or 2.
The meeting, first revealed by the The New Yorker
on March 6, was described by a White House official to CNN as a 10-minute ‘introductory meeting” meant as a “kind of an inconsequential hello.” CNN later reported that Kushner discussed with Russia’s ambassador to Washington the possibility of setting up a secret, secure channel for communications between the Trump transition and the Russian government.
Kushner updated his security clearance forms, which did not initially disclose the meeting, to include it.
December 13 or 14, 2016
Kushner met Sergey Gorkov, the president of the Russian state-run bank Vnesheconombank, also known as VEB. The meeting was first revealed three months later
by The New York Times. The bank was placed on a US sanctions list in 2014 after Russia annexed Crimea and started assisting pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine.
The White House and VEB continue to give conflicting
explanations about the nature of the meeting. The bank claims it was part of a business strategy and the meeting with Kushner was tied to his corporate position in his family’s real estate company. The White House says it was unrelated to business and was for US diplomacy.
The bank and the White House have declined to provide the exact date or location of the meeting, but The Washington Post reported
that the meeting likely took place place on December 13 or 14.
December 19, 2016
Flynn spoke on the phone with Kislyak on December 19, but it wasn’t acknowledged until one month later, when then-Trump transition spokesman Sean Spicer confirmed
the call. He said the call came in the wake of the assassination of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, and Flynn offered his condolences.
December 25, 2016
Flynn exchanged text messages with Kislyak on December 25. This wasn’t publicly known for three weeks, until Spicer acknowledged
it at a press briefing. He said Flynn wished Kislyak a merry Christmas.
December 28, 2016
Flynn calls Kislyak again
Flynn called Kislyak once more, this time to arrange a future call between Trump and Putin, according to Spicer, who disclosed the interaction in a press briefing to reporters on January 13.
December 29, 2016