THE TRUMP/RUSSIA TIMELINE: UPDATES THROUGH JULY 24, 2017

A busy week. These are my latest additions to the Bill Moyers & Company overall Timeline relating to Trump and Russia. You can read the entire Timeline here. The Pence Timeline, Comey Firing Timeline, and Kushner Timeline have also been updated to include relevant entries.

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  • During 2012 and 2013: According to later reporting by The New York Times, financial records filed in December 2015 in the secret tax haven of Cyprus show that Trump’s future campaign manager, Paul Manafort, incurs debts totaling as much as $17 million to pro-Russia interests, including a Russian oligarch who later sues Manafort for $19 million over a failed investment in a Ukrainian television business. [Added July 24, 2017]

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While in Moscow for the pageant, Trump discusses plans for a new Trump project in Russia with the Agalarovs and Alex Sapir (whose family’s company was one of the co-developers of Trump SoHo with Trump and Bayrock/Felix Sater). Publicly, Trump says only, “I have plans for the establishment of business in Russia. Now, I am in talks with several Russian companies to establish this skyscraper.”

“The Russian market is attracted to me,” Trump tells Real Estate Weekly. “I have a great relationship with many Russians, and almost all of the oligarchs were in the room.”

Also while in Russia, Trump says: “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.” [Revised July 24, 2017]

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  • Also on April 27, 2016: At the Mayflower Hotel event, Jared Kushener attends a reception where he meets Russian Ambassador Kislyak. More than a year later, Kushner first discloses the meeting in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on July 24, 2017. He says, “We shook hands, exchanged brief pleasantries and I thanked them for attending the event and said I hoped they would like candidate Trump’s speech and his ideas for a fresh approach to America’s foreign policy.” [Added July 24, 2017]

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  • Jan. 30, 2017: Deutsche Bank agrees to pay a $425 million fine to settle New York state charges that from 2011 to 2015, it helped Russian investors launder as much as $10 billion through its branches in Moscow, London and New York. Allegedly, a group of executives arranged stock trades that had no economic purpose, other than disguising what the client was doing. [Added July 24, 2017]

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  • July 17, 2017: Trump tweets about his top campaign advisers’ June 9, 2016 meeting with the Russians:

  • Also on July 17, 2017: In his daily press briefing, Sean Spicer repeats the debunked claim that at their June 9, 2017 meeting, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and the Russians discussed only the adoption of Russian children and the Magnitsky Act. (The 2012 US law imposed sanctions on specifically identified Russians for human rights abuses and prompted Putin to ban such adoptions by Americans.) “There was nothing, as far as we know, that would lead anyone to believe that there was anything except for a discussion about adoption and the Magnitsky Act,” Spicer says. [Added July 24, 2017]

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  • July 18, 2017: CNN and The Washington Post reveal the identity of the eighth person at a secret June 9, 2016 meeting among Trump’s top campaign advisers and several Russians. In addition to the previously reported attendees—Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, Emin Agalarov’s publicist Rob Goldstone, Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya, former Soviet counterintelligence officer Rinat Akhmetshin, and translator Anatoli Samochornov—Aras Agalarov sent one of his associates, Ike Kaveladze, to the meeting. According to Agalarov’s lawyer, Kaveladze is a vice president focusing on real estate and finance for Agalarov’s company, the Crocus Group.

 

Kaveladze has an interesting history. Born in the Soviet Republic of Georgia, he came to the United States in 1991. In 2000, a Congressional inquiry led to a Government Accounting Office report that Kaveladze had set up more than 2,000 corporations in Delaware for Russian brokers and then opened the bank accounts for them, without knowing who owned the corporations. According to contemporaneous reporting in The New York Times, “The GAO report said nothing about the sources of the money. In view of past investigations into laundering, this wave was highly likely to have arisen from Russian executives who were seeking to avoid taxes, although some money could be from organized crime…In an interview, Mr. Kaveladze said he had engaged in no wrongdoing. He described the G.A.O. investigation as a ‘witch hunt.’’” [Added July 24, 2017]

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  • July 19, 2017: The Trump administration reveals it has ended the covert American program to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels battling the government of President Bashar al-Assad—a move that Russia had long sought. [Added July 24, 2017]

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  • Also on July 19, 2017: In an expansive interview with reporters for The New York Times, Trump discusses his most recently disclosed second conversation with Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit. “So the meal was going,” Trump says, “and toward dessert I went down just to say hello to Melania, and while I was there I said hello to Putin. Really, pleasantries more than anything else. It was not a long conversation, but it was, you know, could be 15 minutes. Just talked about — things. Actually, it was very interesting, we talked about adoption.” [Added July 24, 2017]

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  • Also on July 19, 2017: In the Times interview, Trump talks about the June 9, 2016 meeting among his top campaign advisers and several Russians: “As I’ve said — most other people, you know, when they call up and say, ‘By the way, we have information on your opponent,’” I think most politicians — I was just with a lot of people, they said [inaudible], ‘Who wouldn’t have taken a meeting like that?’” [Added July 24, 2017]

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  • Also on July 19, 2017: In the Times interview, Trump also talks about the email exchange in which Don Jr. set up the June 9 meeting: “Well, I never saw the email. I never saw the email until, you know——“ When asked if he knew about the meeting at the time, Trump says, “No, I didn’t know anything about the meeting… No, nobody told me. I didn’t know noth—— It’s a very unimportant — sounded like a very unimportant meeting.” [Added July 24, 2017]

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  • Also on July 19, 2017: In the Times interview, Trump lashes out at Attorney General Jeff Sessions: “Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else.” Later, he continues, “What Jeff Sessions did was he recused himself right after, right after he became attorney general. And I said, ‘Why didn’t you tell me this before?’ I would have — then I said, ‘Who’s your deputy?’ So his deputy he hardly knew, and that’s Rosenstein, Rod Rosenstein, who is from Baltimore. There are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any.” [Added July 24, 2017]

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Of the January 6, 2017 meeting, when Comey told Trump about the infamous Steele dossier: “[H]e shared it so that I would think he had it out there” as leverage against Trump.

Of the Feb. 14, 2017 meeting, when Trump hoped Comey could see his way to “letting Flynn go,” Trump said, “He said I said ‘hope’ — ‘I hope you can treat Flynn good’ or something like that. I didn’t say anything. But even if he did — like I said at the news conference on the, you know, Rose Garden — even if I did, that’s not — other people go a step further. I could have ended that whole thing just by saying — they say it can’t be obstruction because you can say: ‘It’s ended. It’s over. Period.’”

“Did you shoo people out of the room when you talked to Comey?” the reporters ask.

“No, no,” Trump answers. “No. That was the other thing. I told people to get out of the room. Why would I do that?”

“Did you actually have a one-on-one with Comey then?” asks the Times reporter.

“Not much,” Trump says. “Not even that I remember. He was sitting, and I don’t remember even talking to him about any of this stuff. He said I asked people to go. Look, you look at his testimony. His testimony is loaded up with lies, O.K.?”

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  • Also on July 19, 2017: In the Times interview, Trump talks about the Rosenstein memo used to cover-up the reasons he fired Comey: “Then Rosenstein becomes extremely angry because of Comey’s Wednesday press conference, where he said that he would do the same thing he did a year ago with Hillary Clinton, and Rosenstein became extremely angry at that because, as a prosecutor, he knows that Comey did the wrong thing. Totally wrong thing. And he gives me a letter, O.K., he gives me a letter about Comey. And by the way, that was a tough letter, O.K. Now, perhaps I would have fired Comey anyway, and it certainly didn’t hurt to have the letter, O.K. But he gives me a very strong letter, and now he’s involved in the case. Well, that’s a conflict of interest.” [Added July 24, 2017]

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  • Also on July 19, 2017: In the Times interview, Trump discusses special counsel Mueller, whom Trump had interviewed for the FBI director job. “The day before! Of course, he was up here, and he wanted the job,” Trump says, “So, now what happens is, he leaves the office. [Deputy Attorney General Rod] Rosenstein leaves the office. The next day, he is appointed special counsel. I said, what the hell is this all about? Talk about conflicts? But he was interviewing for the job. There were many other conflicts that I haven’t said, but I will at some point.”

Asked if Mueller’s investigation into his and his family’s finances unrelated to Russia would be a breach of Mueller’s charge, Trump answers, “I would say yeah. I would say yes. By the way, I would say, I don’t — I don’t — I mean, it’s possible there’s a condo or something, so, you know, I sell a lot of condo units, and somebody from Russia buys a condo, who knows? I don’t make money from Russia. In fact, I put out a letter saying that I don’t make — from one of the most highly respected law firms, accounting firms. I don’t have buildings in Russia. They said I own buildings in Russia. I don’t. They said I made money from Russia. I don’t. It’s not my thing. I don’t, I don’t do that. Over the years, I’ve looked at maybe doing a deal in Russia, but I never did one. Other than I held the Miss Universe pageant there eight, nine years…” Asked what would happen if Mueller went “outside certain parameters” of his charge, Trump says, “I can’t answer that question because I don’t think it’s going to happen.” [Added July 24, 2017]

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  • July 20, 2017: The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg report that Mueller is looking at possible money laundering by Paul Manafort. Bloomberg adds that the special counsel is also investigating a “broad range of range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates.” They include “Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008.” One of Trump’s lawyers responds that such transactions are, in his view, “well beyond the mandate of the Special counsel.” [Added July 24, 2017]

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  • Also on July 20, 2017: The Senate Judiciary Committee reveals that it has pre-approved subpoenas for Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort. According to chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA), if Don Jr. and Manafort do not accept the committee’s invitation to appear the following week, the subpoenas will issue “almost immediately.” Meanwhile, Jared Kushner is also scheduled to appear for a staff interview with the Senate Intelligence Committee the following week. [Added July 24, 2017]

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  • Also on July 20, 2017: The New York Times and The Washington Post report that Trump’s lawyers are investigating possible ways to limit or block Mueller’s investigation, including possible conflicts of interest involving members of Mueller’s legal team, as well as the president’s power to pardon associates, family members, and himself. One of Trump’s attorneys responds that the story is “nonsense.” [Added July 24, 2017]

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  • July 21, 2017: Reuters reports that from 2005 to 2013, Natalia Veselnitskaya—the Russian lawyer in attendance at the June 9, 2016 meeting that included Kushner, Manafort, and Donald Trump Jr.—represented successfully the Russian FSB’s interests in a legal dispute over ownership of an upscale property in northwest Moscow. The FSB is the successor to the Soviet-era KGB that Vladimir Putin headed before he became Russian president. [Added July 24, 2017]

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  • Also on July 21, 2017: The Washington Post breaks the story that US intelligence intercepts of Russian Ambassador Kislyak’s reports to Moscow of his conversations with then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) in April and July 2016 are at odds with Sessions’ repeated denials about the content of those discussions. The intercepts purportedly reveal that Sessions and Kislyak “had ‘substantive’ discussions on matters including Trump’s positions on Russia-related issues and prospects for U.S.-Russia relations in a Trump administration.” A Justice Department spokesperson responds that Sessions “never met with or had any conversations with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election.” She does not deny that Mr. Sessions discussed campaign or policy issues more generally with Mr. Kislyak. [Added July 24, 2017]

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  • July 22, 2017: Trump tweets:

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  • Also on July 23, 2017: Trump tweets:

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  • July 24, 2017: Trump tweets:

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  • July 24, 2017: Testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee in closed session, Kushner describes his three previously disclosed contacts with Russian officials prior to the inauguration, as well as a fourth previously undisclosed meeting with Russian Ambassador Kislyak on April 27, 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel. Kushner says that he doesn’t recall either of the two calls with Kislyak between April and November 2016 that Reuters had previously reported, and he is “highly skeptical those calls took place.” He says he attended the June 9, 2016 meeting with Don Jr., Manafort, and several Russians only “10 minutes or so,” and when he got there, “they were talking about the issue of a ban on US adoptions of Russian children.” Kushner acknowledges his post-election meeting with Mike Flynn and Ambassador Kislyak at Trump Tower at which Kushner says he asked if Kislyak had “an existing communications channel at his embassy we could use where they could be comfortable transmitting the information they wanted to relay to General Flynn.” But Kushner denies that he was suggesting a “secret back-channel.” Finally, Kushner acknowledges a Dec. 13, 2016 meeting with Russian banker Sergey Gorkov who, Kushner believed at the time, had “a direct line to the Russian President who could give insight into how Putin was viewing the new administration and best ways to work together.” Kushner says that his ongoing revisions to his security clearance form SF-86 were the result of a “prematurely submitted” original application.

Kushner’s prepared remarks conclude: “I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government. I had no improper contacts. I have not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector. I have tried to be fully transparent with regard to the filing my SF-86 form, above and beyond what is required. Hopefully, this puts these matters to rest.” [Added July 24, 2017]

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