On July 27, 2016, Donald Trump stepped up to a podium and took questions regarding the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee emails. He smugly turned to the cameras to say, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you find Hillary Clinton’s missing emails.” Of course, they did. You can see that moment below. The question is, did Donald Trump have advance knowledge of these emails and the hack? Two years into the investigation, here are some of the publicly available facts on a timeline leading up to the election.
April 18, 2016: DNC is hacked by “Fancy Bear”
April 19, 2016: unknown party registers DCLeaks, the site used to leak the DNC emails
April 22, 2016: Hackers steal DNC data
April 27, 2016: Donald Trump delivers his first foreign policy speech, and Russia is a central theme. The speech is in conjunction with Center for The National Interest, a foreign policy group promoting Russian relations. Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak attends the speech, and meets Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump at the event. Here’s an excerpt:
We desire to live peacefully and in friendship with Russia and China. We have serious differences with these two nations, and must regard them with open eyes, but we are not bound to be adversaries. We should seek common ground based on shared interests.
Russia, for instance, has also seen the horror of Islamic terrorism. I believe an easing of tensions, and improved relations with Russia from a position of strength only is possible, absolutely possible. Common sense says this cycle, this horrible cycle of hostility must end and ideally will end soon. Good for both countries.
Some say the Russians won’t be reasonable. I intend to find out. If we can’t make a deal under my administration, a deal that’s great — not good, great — for America, but also good for Russia, then we will quickly walk from the table. It’s as simple as that. We’re going to find out.
April 28, 2016: DNC discovers they’ve been hacked
May 2016: Donald Trump Jr. attends a private NRA dinner with Alexander Torshin, boss of Russian spy Maria Butina
June 3, 2016: Rob Goldstone arranges for Donald Jr. and Emin Agalarov to talk on the phone. Donald Jr. tells Goldstone he wants to speak with Emin to confirm things before he arranges the meeting with the Russian lawyer.
– Don Jr. receives a call from Russia that lasted 1-2 minutes
– Don Jr. makes or receives a call from a blocked number that lasts 3-4 minutes
– Don Jr. has another 2-3 minute call with a Russian number
House Democrats on the Intelligence Committee noted this noteworthy “blocked” call in their minority view report on March 26, 2018.
The phone records also show a “blocked” number at 4:27 pm, between the two calls to and from Emin Agalarov. Trump Jr. claimed he did not know who was associated with the blocked number. While the Committee has not pursued leads to determine who called Trump Jr. at this crucial time from a blocked number, Corey Lewandowski told the Committee that Mr. Trump’s“primary residence has a blocked [phone] line.”67 Despite the Minority’s repeated efforts to obtain home or cell phone records for then-candidate Trump to determine whether the blocked call was Trump Jr.’s father, the Majority was unwilling to pursue the matter.
Don Jr. arranges the meeting and invites then-Trump campaign chairman Manafort and Jared Kushner.
The following day, on June 7, 2016, Trump Jr. and Goldstone arranged for the meeting to take place at 3:00 pm on June 9. Within an hour of confirming the meeting, Trump Jr. emailedGoldstone, “will likely be Paul Manafort (campaign boss) my brother in law and me.” The following day, on June 8, 2016, Goldstone asked Trump Jr. if they could shift the meeting back an hour, to 4:00 pm instead of 3:00 pm. Trump Jr. then forwarded the entire email exchange toJared Kushner and Paul Manafort with the message “meeting got moved to 4 tomorrow at my offices.” Manafort confirmed his attendance within the hour.69Also on June 7, just as Trump Jr. and Goldstone confirmed the Friday meeting, candidate Trump secured the Republican nomination.
June 7, 2016: On the very same day Don Jr. arranges for the June 9 meeting with the top members of the Trump campaign, let’s take a look back and what Donald Trump said to a campaign crowd that day. Pay special attention to Ivanka Trump behind him as he all but spills the beans here. Watching this with the benefit of hindsight, Donald Trump seems to be broadcasting that he’s about to get some damaging information in a matter of days. Ivanka’s eyes tell the story.
June 8, 2016: The very next day, the website DCLeaks goes live. This site would later be used for the hacked email dump. U.S. intelligence agencies say it has all the hallmarks of a Russian operation.
June 9, 2016: Russians attend the secret Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort. On a busy day when the Trump campaign was meeting with the Republican National Committee to discuss shared campaign financing for the first time since Trump secured the nomination, somehow the top level of Donald Trump’s campaign team found time to meet with the Russians, something they would all later deny until it came out in the media. Did Trump listen in on the meeting over speakerphone? Russian lawyer/spy Natalia Veselnitskaya tells NBC News that Ivanka Trump appeared at the elevator when they were leaving and they briefly spoke. What a coincidence the Trump family’s closer had this run-in at the elevator, no?
June 12, 2016: Julian Assange announces WikiLeaks will publish new Hillary emails
June 14, 2016: DNC announces hack
June 15, 2016: Guccifer takes credit.
July 22, 2016: WikiLeaks launches DNCLeaks website
July 27, 2016: Assange announces more Hillary emails. Trump says, “Russia, if you’re listening …” Invites Russia to hack and release Hillary’s emails
Sept. 20, 2016: WikiLeaks DMs Don Jr. on Twitter. Don Jr. said he passed along the information to Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, and Brad Parscale
Oct. 3-5, 2016: Don Jr. and Wikileaks again send messages via DMs and Jr. RT’s
On October 3, 2016, Wikileaks sent Trump Jr. a private direct message, asking that “you guys” comment on or “push” a story Wikileaks’ twitter page had promoted earlier that day. Wikileaks’ tweet, linking to a page on “truepundit.com” said: “Hillary Clinton on Assange ‘Can’t we just drone this guy”100 Trump Jr. replied to WikiLeaks, “Already did that earlier today. It’s amazing what she can get away with. What’s behind this Wednesday leak I keep reading about?”101As election day grew near, Trump Jr’s interaction with Russian cutouts increased. For example, on October 5, Trump Jr. retweeted Wikileaks: “RT @wikileaks: NEW: Guccifer 2.0 archive of860Mb of various “Clinton campaign” related documents. Use “7zip” to unpack.”
October 6, 2016: CNN: DCLeaks, a self-described collective of “hacktivists” seeking to expose the influence of special interests on elected officials, publishes a batch of documents stolen from Clinton ally Capricia Marshall. DCLeaks is later identified as a front for Russian military intelligence.
Given the damning amount of information that we know about Russian contacts, just what does special counsel Robert Mueller have? Stay tuned.