A Timeline: Russia and President Trump

Investigative reporters have begun to flesh out the Trump/Russia timeline. To keep everything in one location, here’s an updated summary (so far).

By  STEVEN HARPER  / Cross post from Bill Moyer and Co. / MARCH 10, 2017

 

This timeline has been updated.

  1. Trump’s efforts to develop business in Russia date to 1987. In 1996, he applied for his trademark in that country. Discussing ambitions for a Trump hotel in 2007, he declared, “We will be in Moscow at some point.”

  2. 2002: Russian-born Felix H. Sater and his company, Bayrock Group — a Trump Tower tenant — began working with Trump on a series of real estate development deals, one of which became the Trump SoHo. Another development partner in Trump SoHo was Tamir Sapir, a Russian immigrant born in the Republic of Georgia who left the Soviet Union in 1973. [Added March 3, 2017.]

  3. 2005: In a sworn deposition in 2008, Sater testified that Trump gave Bayrock Group an exclusive deal to develop a project in Russia. “I’d come back, pop my head into Mr. Trump’s office and tell him, you know, ‘Moving forward on the Moscow deal.’ And he would say ‘All right… I showed him photos, I showed him the site, showed him the view from the site. It’s pretty spectacular.” But that early effort to develop a Trump Tower in Moscow failed. [Added March 3, 2017.]

  4. February 2006: Two of Trump’s children, Don Jr. and Ivanka, traveled to Moscow. According to Sater, Donald Trump Sr. asked him to show them around: “He asked if I wouldn’t mind joining them and looking after them while they were in Moscow.” He summarized the attitude of Trump’s children as “nice, big city, great. Let’s do a deal here.” Ten years later — October 2016 — Trump Organization general counsel Alan Garten told Forbes that the presence of Sater and Trump’s adult children in Moscow at the same time had been a coincidence. [Added March 3, 2017.]

  5. Sept. 19, 2007: As Trump spoke at the launch party for Trump SoHo, Sater and his Bayrock partner, Kazakhstan-native Tevfik Arif, stood next to him. [Added March 3, 2017.]

  6. Oct. 15, 2007, In an interview with Larry King, Trump said: “Look at Putin — what he’s doing with Russia — I mean, you know, what’s going on over there. I mean this guy has done — whether you like him or don’t like him — he’s doing a great job.”

  7. July 2008: As the Florida real estate market began to crash, Trump sold a Florida residence to a Russian oligarch for $95 million, believed to be the biggest single-family home sale in US history. The Russian oligarch never lived in the house and, since then, it has been demolished. Three years earlier, Trump had bought the home at auction for $41 million. [Added March 3, 2017.]

  8. September 2008, Donald Trump Jr. said: “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets… we see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

  9. January 2010 – January 2011: After leaving Bayrock, Sater became “senior adviser to Donald Trump,” according to his Trump Organization business card. He also had a Trump Organization e-mail address and office. The phone number listed on the card had belonged previously to a lawyer in Trump’s general counsel’s office. [Added March 3, 2017.]

  10. June 18, 2013: Trump announced that the 2013 Miss Universe beauty pageant, which he owned, will take place in Moscow. The next day, he tweeted: “Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow — if so, will he become my new best friend?” While preparing for the pageant, Trump said, “I have plans for the establishment of business in Russia. Now, I am in talks with several Russian companies to establish this skyscraper.”

  11. July 8, 2013: After a BBC reporter questioned Trump about Felix Sater’s alleged prior connections to organized crime, Trump ended the interview[Added March 3, 2017.]

  12. Oct. 17, 2013: On The Late Show, David Letterman asked Trump, “Have you had any dealings with the Russians?” Trump answered, “Well I’ve done a lot of business with the Russians…” Letterman continued, “Vladmir Putin, have you ever met the guy?” Trump said, “He’s a tough guy. I met him once.”

  13. Nov. 5, 2013: In a deposition, an attorney asked Trump about Felix Sater. “If he were sitting in the room right now, I really wouldn’t know what he looked like,” Trump answered. When asked how many times he had ever spoken with Sater, Trump said, “Not many.” When asked about his July 2013 BBC interview during which he was questioned about Sater’s alleged connections to organized crime, Trump said he didn’t remember it. [Added March 3, 2017.]

  14. Nov. 11, 2013, Trump tweeted: “TRUMP TOWER-MOSCOW is next.”

  15. November 2013: At the Miss Universe pageant, Trump said: “I do have a relationship [with Putin] and I can tell you that he’s very interested in what we’re doing here today… I do have a relationship with him… He’s done a very brilliant job in terms of what he represents and who he’s represented.” While Trump was in Moscow for the pageant, he and Tarif Sapir (one of the co-developers of Trump SoHo with Trump and Felix Sater) met with the Russian real estate developer who had facilitated Trump’s $20 million deal to host the Miss Universe contest in Moscow. They discussed plans for a new Trump project in Russia. “The Russian market is attracted to me,” Trump told Real Estate Weekly upon his return. “I have a great relationship with many Russians, and almost all of the oligarchs were in the room.” [Added March 3, 2017.]

  16. March 6, 2014: At the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference, Trump said: “You know, I was in Moscow a couple of months ago. I own the Miss Universe Pageant and they treated me so great. Putin even sent me a present, a beautiful present.” On the same day, President Obama signed an executive order imposing sanctions on Russia for its unlawful annexation of Crimea.

  17. June 16, 2015: Trump announces that he is running for president.

  18. Aug. 21, 2015: Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions made a surprise appearance at a Donald Trump rally and donned a “Make America Great Cap.”

  19. Sept. 21, 2015: On Hugh Hewitt’s radio program, Trump said, “The oligarchs are under [Putin’s] control, to a large extent. I mean, he can destroy them, and he has destroyed some of them… Two years ago, I was in Moscow… I was with the top level people, both oligarchs and generals, and top-of-the-government people. I can’t go further than that, but I will tell you that I met the top people, and the relationship was extraordinary.” [Added March 3, 2017.]

  20. Sept. 29, 2015, Trump told Bill O’Reilly: “I will tell you in terms of leadership he [Putin] is getting an ‘A,’ and our president is not doing so well.”

  21. Nov. 10, 2015: At a Republican primary debate, Trump said: “I got to know [Putin] very well because we were both on 60 Minutes. We were stablemates, and we did very well that night.”

  22. Nov. 30, 2015: When an Associated Press reporter asked Trump about Felix Sater, he answered, “Felix Sater, boy, I have to even think about it. I’m not that familiar with him.” Trump referred questions about Sater to his staff. [Added March 3, 2017.]

  23. Dec. 10, 2015: Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, who would become Trump’s national security adviser, sat at Putin’s table for the 10th anniversary gala of Russia’s state-owned television propaganda network, RT. Flynn had made a paid appearance on the network.

  24. Feb. 17, 2016: As questions about Russia swirled around Trump, he changed his story: “I have no relationship with [Putin], other than he called me a genius.”

  25. Feb. 28, 2016: Jeff Sessions formally endorsed Donald Trump’s candidacy for president. Three days later, Trump named Sessions chairman of his campaign’s national security advisory committee. [Added March 3, 2017.]

  26. March 17, 2016: Jeff Sessions discussed Trump’s foreign policy positions, saying, “I think an argument can be made there is no reason for the US and Russia to be at this loggerheads. Somehow, someway we ought to be able to break that logjam. Strategically it’s not justified for either country.” [Added March 3, 2017.]

  27. March 21, 2016: In a Washington Post interview, Trump identified Carter Page as one of his foreign policy advisers. Page had helped open the Moscow office of investment banking firm Merrill Lynch and had advised Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom, in which Page is an investor. He blamed US 2014 sanctions relating to Russia’s annexation of Ukraine for driving down Gazprom’s stock price. [Added March 6, 2017]

  28. April 20, 2016: Paul Manafort became Trump’s campaign manager. Reports surfaced about his 2007 to 2012 ties to Ukraine’s pro-Putin former president, whom Manafort had helped to elect.

  29. Early June 2016: At a closed-door gathering of high-powered foreign policy experts visiting with the Prime Minister of India, Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page hailed Vladimir Putin as stronger and more reliable than President Obama and touted the positive effect that a Trump presidency would have on US-Russia relations. [Added March 6, 2017]

  30. July 7, 2016: In lecture at the New Economic School in Moscow, Carter Page criticized American policy toward Russia. He said that many of the mistakes spoiling relations between the US and Russia “originated in my own country.” [Added March 6, 2017]

  31. July 18, 2016: The Washington Post reported that the Trump campaign worked behind the scenes ahead of the Republican Convention on a plank of the 2016 Party Platform that gutted the GOP’s longstanding support for Ukrainians’ popular resistance to Russia’s 2014 intervention.

  32. Also on July 18, 2016: At a Heritage Foundation event during the Republican Convention, Jeff Sessions spoke individually with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. [Added March 3, 2017.]

  33. Also during the July 2016 Republican Convention: Carter Page and J.D. Gordon, national security advisers to the Trump Campaign, met with ambassador Kislyak. They stressed that Trump would like to improve relations with Russia. [Revised March 6, 2017]

  34. July 22, 2016: On the eve of the Democratic National Convention, WikiLeaks released its first trove of e-mails stolen from the DNC.

  35. July 24, 2016: When ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos asked whether there were any connections between the Trump campaign and Putin’s regime, Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort answered, “No, there are not. And you know, there’s no basis to it.” [Added March 6, 2017]

  36. July 25, 2016: Trump tweeted, “The new joke in town is that Russia leaked the disastrous DNC e-mails, which should never have been written (stupid), because Putin likes me.” [Added March 3, 2017.]

  37. July 27, 2016, At a press conference, Trump said: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” At the same press conference, he insisted: “I never met Putin. I’ve never spoken to him.” In an interview with CBS News, he reiterated: “But I have nothing to do with Russia, nothing to do, I never met Putin, I have nothing to do with Russia whatsoever.”

  38. July 31, 2016: Manafort denied knowing anything about the change in the Republican platform. That afternoon, Boris Epshteyn, Trump’s Russian-born adviser, spouted the Kremlin’s party line telling CNN: “Russia did not seize Crimea. We can talk about the conflict that happened between Ukraine and the Crimea… But there was no seizure by Russia. That’s an incorrect statement, characterization, of what happened.”

  39. Also on July 31, 2016: On CNN, Jeff Sessions defended Trump’s approach to Russia: “This whole problem with Russia is really disastrous for America, for Russia and for the world,” he said. “Donald Trump is right. We need to figure out a way to end this cycle of hostility that’s putting this country at risk, costing us billions of dollars in defense, and creating hostilities.” [Added March 3, 2017]

  40. And also on July 31, 2016: Trump told ABC News that he was not involved in the Republican Party platform change that softened America’s position on Russia’s annexation of Ukraine. [Added March 6, 2017]

  41. Aug. 6, 2016: NPR confirmed the Trump campaign’s involvement in the Republican platform change on Ukraine.

  42. Aug. 19, 2016: As reports of Manafort’s financial connections to Ukraine intensified, he resigned from the Trump campaign.

  43. Sept. 8, 2016: Jeff Sessions met Russian ambassador Kislyak in his Senate office. [Added March 3, 2017.]

  44. Oct. 1, 2016: Six days before WikiLeaks released e-mails that Russians hackers had acquired from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s e-mail account, Trump’s informal adviser and surrogate, Roger Stone tweeted: “Wednesday@HillaryClinton is done. #Wikileaks.”

  45. Oct. 4, 2016: Trump tweeted: “CLINTON’S CLOSE TIES TO PUTIN DESERVE SCRUTINY.”

  46. Oct. 7, 2016: In a joint statement, the Department of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence said, “The US Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations… We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.” But two other stories dominated the news cycle: WikiLeaks began publishing stolen e-mails from the account of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, and Trump’s infamous Access Hollywood tapes became public.