Timeline of post-election transition following Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections

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This is a chronology of significant events in 2016 and 2017 regarding links between associates of Donald Trump and Russian officials during the presidential transition time frame, relating to the Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections. Following the timeline of Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, this article begins on November 8 (election day) and ends with Donald Trump and Mike Pence being sworn into office on January 20, 2017. The investigations continued in 2017, 2018, and 2019

Relevant individuals and organizations[edit]

This is a list of individuals and organizations that have been involved in the events related to either the election interference that Russia conducted against the 2016 U.S. elections and/or the resulting investigations into suspected inappropriate links between associates of Donald Trump and Russian officials. Seth Abramson estimated more than 400 people could be listed here.[1]:3






Post-election transition[edit]

November–December 2016[edit]

  • November–December: Michael Flynn serves as an advisor to SCL Group, the parent company of Cambridge Analytica. The agreement[clarification needed] was broken shortly after the election. [6][7]
  • November:
    • Mangiante quits the London Centre of International Law Practice after complaining to Mifsud about not being paid her salary.[8]
    • Paul Manafort and Rick Gates falsely assert in writing to the Justice Department that their work for the Ukrainian government did not require registering as foreign agents in the United States. In September 2018, Manafort pleads guilty to lying to the Justice Department about the extent of his work for Ukraine.[9]
    • The GRU targets over 120 Florida election officials' email accounts with spearphishing attacks.[10][11]:51 They receive emails purportedly from VR Systems, the state's voter registration and election results service provider, asking them to open a purported Word document containing a trojan.[10][12] At least some emails contain British spellings and come from Gmail acounts, which VR Systems doesn't use.[12] Many of the emails are flagged by spam filters.[12] They also receive an email from VR's chief operating officer warning them about the malicious emails.[12] Later, the FBI believes one county government's network was compromised in a way that would have given security hackers the ability to alter voter registration data, but this is disputed by state election officials.[10][11]:51[12]
  • November 8:
    • Trump is elected President of the United States.[13]
    • Hours after the polls close, the hashtag #Calexit is retweeted by thousands of IRA accounts.[14]
    • Rospatent, the Russian government agency responsible for intellectual property, grants 10-year extensions on four of Trump's trademarks.[15]
  • November 8–December: After the election, a Russian hacker breaks into Election Assistance Commission servers and steals the login credentials for over 100 users. The hack is discovered by chance when Recorded Future, a security firm, comes across the credentials being offered for sale on the dark web to a Middle Eastern government.[16][17]
  • November 8–January:
    • During the transition period, the FBI warns Trump aide Hope Hicks at least twice that she might be approached by Russian government operatives using fake identities.[18][19]
    • The British Foreign Office holds a series of meetings with Cambridge Analytica executives in London, Washington, and New York to "better understand" how Trump won and acquire insights into the "political environment" following his win.[20]
  • November 9:
    • Dimitriev receives a text message stating "Putin has won" after news reports announce that Clinton called Trump to concede the election result.[11]:149 Later that morning, Dmitriev reaches out to Nader expressing the desire to build closer relationships with the U.S. and the Trump team.[21][11]:150 He tells Nader that he will ask Putin for permission to travel to the U.S. so that he can speak to media outlets about the positive impact of the Trump election on U.S.-Russia relations.[11]:150 He flies to New York to join Peskov at a chess tournament and asks Nader to invite Kushner to join them.[11]:150 Nader does not pass the invitation along, and Mueller's team is unable to establish that anyone from the Trump campaign or transition team attended the tournament.[11]:150
    • Papadapoulos and Millian make arrangements to meet in Chicago to discuss business opportunities, including with Russian "billionaires who are not under sanctions."[11]:95
  • November 10:
    • Kislyak states that Russia was not involved with U.S. election hacking.[22]
    • Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov tells the Interfax news agency "there were contacts" with the Trump team during the campaign.[23]
    • Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova tells Bloomberg News that it was "normal practice" for Russian Embassy staffers to meet with members of the Trump campaign. She says the Clinton campaign declined requests for meetings.[23]
    • In a private Oval Office meeting, Obama warns Trump against hiring Flynn.[24]
    • Mark Zuckerberg calls the idea that "fake news" on Facebook could have influenced the election "crazy."[25][26]
  • November 11:
  • November 12:
    • Butina holds a birthday party at Cafe Deluxe in Washington, D.C., attended by Erickson and Trump campaign aides.[34][35] She claims to be part of Russian communications with the Trump campaign, something she has bragged about for months.[34]
    • A Trump protest called "Trump is NOT my President" attracts 5,000–10,000 protestors in Manhattan who march from Union Square to Trump Tower. The protest is organized by the IRA using their BlackMattersUS Facebook account.[36][37][38]
    • Banks, Farage and Wigmore visit Trump Tower unannounced and are invited inside by Bannon. They have a long meeting with Trump. Wigmore asks Trump's receptionist for the Trump transition team's contact information.[39][40][41]
  • November 13: Zakharova jokingly comments on the Rossiya 1 show Sunday Evening with Vladimir Solovyov that "our people in Brighton Beach won the election for Donald Trump."[42]
  • November 14:
    • Papadopoulos and Millian meet at the Chicago Trump International Hotel and Tower bar. Millian appears nervous to Papadopoulos as he offers a job working for a Russian billionaire not under sanctions. The job requires that he continue working for Trump and join the new administration. Papadopoulos declines the offer, saying he is only interested in private sector jobs. Later, Papadopoulos says he declined the offer because he knew it was unethical and possibly illegal, and feared it might have been an FBI setup.[11]:95[43]
    • Page submits an application to the Trump transition team for a position in the new administration. The team never responds.[11]:102–103
  • November 15:
    • Devin Nunes replaces former Representative Mike Rogers as a Trump transition team national security advisor.[44]
    • Banks and Wigmore meet with Yakovenko in London; they discuss their November 12 meeting with Trump, and Sessions's role in the new administration. At Yakovenko's request, Banks provides Yakovenko with contact information for the Trump transition team.[39][41][45][46]
  • November 18:
  • November 19:
    • The IRA organizes the "Charlotte Against Trump" rally in Charlotte, North Carolina.[36][37]
    • Obama privately meets Mark Zuckerberg at a gathering of world leaders in Lima, Peru. Obama urges Zuckerberg to take the threats of political disinformation and "fake news" seriously, and warns him that doing nothing will cause problems in the next election. Zuckerberg responds that there were only a few messages, and doing something about the problem would be difficult.[26]
  • November 21:
  • Late November: Senior members of Trump's transition team warn Flynn about the dangers of contacting Kislyak, including that Kislyak's conversations are probably being monitored by the FBI and the NSA. Flynn is recorded a month later discussing sanctions with Kislyak.[55]
  • November 23–28: Kaveladze and Rob Goldstone attempt to set up a meeting between Natalia Veselnitskaya and the Trump transition team during Veselnitskaya's trip to the U.S.[56][57]
  • November 25: Trump announces K. T. McFarland will be the deputy national security advisor for his new administration after Paul Erickson lobbies former campaign officials and Trump donors to get her the position.[58][59]
  • November 30: On a recommendation from the GSA, Trump transition team members discuss installing Signal, an encrypted messaging app, on Flynn's phone to encrypt his communications.[60]
  • December: Concerned that the incoming Trump administration will suppress the information collected in the Russia investigation, the White House spreads it across government agencies to leave a trail for future investigators.[61]
  • December 1: According to an anonymous letter to The Washington Post citing leaked intercepts of Russian diplomatic communications, during a transition team meeting at Trump Tower, Kushner asks Kislyak about the potential to communicate directly with the Kremlin over a Russian-encrypted channel. Flynn also attends the meeting.[62][63]
  • Early December: In Russia, FSB cyber chief Sergei Mikhailov, senior Kaspersky Lab researcher Ruslan Stoyanov, and hacker Dmitry Dokuchayev (known as "Forb") are arrested for treason.[64][65]
  • December 8
    • The IRA runs an ad on Craigslist to hire someone to walk around New York City dressed as Santa Claus while wearing a Trump mask.[66][11]:32
    • Kilimnik sends Manafort a detailed email about the proposed Ukranian peace plan. He writes that the plan is ready to move forward if Trump appoints Manafort as a "special representative" to manage it, that "[Yanukovych] guarantees your reception at the very top level" in Russia, and that "[Trump] could have peace in Ukraine basically within a few months after inauguration."[11]:142–143
  • December 9:
    • Republican Senator John McCain delivers the Steele dossier to Comey.[67]
    • The Trump transition team dismisses reported intelligence assessments finding Russian interference in the election. Their statement says, "These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It's now time to move on and 'Make America Great Again.'"[68]
  • December 10: Glenn R. Simpson tells Ohr that Cohen was the "go-between from Russia to the Trump campaign", and gives him a memory stick containing evidence. Ohr memorializes the meeting in handwritten notes.[69]
  • December 12: Kislyak meets with Kushner's assistant, Avi Berkowitz, to arrange a meeting between Kushner and the FSB-connected Sergey Gorkov, head of sanctioned Russian bank Vnesheconombank.[70][71][72][73]
  • December 13:
    • Gorkov arrives from Moscow to secretly meet Kushner in New York, before flying to Japan, where Putin is holding a summit. The meeting is first reported in March 2017, and attracts the interest of federal and congressional investigators in May. Kushner later characterizes the meeting as brief and meaningless. The White House later describes the meeting as a diplomatic encounter. The bank later says they discussed Kushner's real estate business.[70][72][74]
    • Trump picks Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State; Russian officials praise the decision.[75]
  • December 15:
    • Clinton tells a group of donors in Manhattan that Russian hacking was ordered by Putin "because he has a personal beef against me" due to her accusation in 2011 that Russian parliamentary elections that year were rigged.[76][77] Clinton's comment is backed by U.S. Intelligence reports.[78]
    • Kushner, his close friend and hedge fund manager Richard "Rick" Gerson, Nader, Flynn, Bannon, U.A.E. ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba, crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, and former British prime minister Tony Blair meet at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York City. The crown prince broke diplomatic protocol by traveling to the U.S. without announcing his visit to the U.S. government. In June 2018, a spokesman for Gerson tells NBC News that Blair gave a presentation on Israeli-Palestinian peace.[79][80][81][82]
  • December 16: Speaking at his final press conference as president, Obama comes just short of saying Putin was personally behind the DNC and Podesta hacks.[83]
  • December 18: Speaking to CBS News, Conway says it is "false" and "dangerous" to suggest that members of the Trump campaign spoke to any Russians during the campaign.[27][84]
  • December 22: At the direction of a "very senior member" of the transition team, Flynn asks Kislyak to delay or defeat a pending vote on a United Nations Security Council resolution. Flynn later pleads guilty to lying to the FBI about the effort to defeat the resolution.[85][86]
  • December 23: Kislyak calls Flynn and tells him Russia will not vote against the United Nations Security Council resolution they spoke about the day before.[86]
  • December 26: Oleg Erovinkin, a former KGB official, is found dead in the back seat of his car in Moscow. He was suspected of assisting Steele in compiling his dossier.[87]
  • December 28: Kislyak texts Flynn and asks him to call, setting off the series of calls in the following days.[88]
  • December 29:
    • Following Executive Order 13757 signed the previous day, Obama's administration expels 35 Russian diplomats, locks down two Russian diplomatic compounds, and expands sanctions against Russia.[89][90][91][92] Flynn consults with the Trump transition team,[93][94] then speaks with Kislyak by telephone to request that Russia not escalate matters in response to Obama's actions.[95][96] Flynn later pleads guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Kislyak regarding the new sanctions.[86]
    • Before Flynn's call to Kislyak, K. T. McFarland emails other Trump transition officials saying that Flynn will be speaking to Kislyak to try to prevent a cycle of retaliation over the newly imposed sanctions. The email is forwarded to Flynn, Reince Priebus, Bannon, and Sean Spicer.[97]
    • The NCCIC releases a joint analysis report titled "GRIZZLY STEPPE – Russian Malicious Cyber Activity" as a follow-up to the October 7, 2016, joint statement on election security. The report describes methods used by Russian intelligence groups APT29 and APT28 to penetrate election-related servers.[98]
  • December 30: Putin announces he will not retaliate against the U.S. expulsions, contrary to recommendations from Lavrov.[99] In reply, Trump tweets "Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!"[100] This action is widely interpreted as praising Putin's actions.
  • December 31: Kislyak calls Flynn to tell him that Russia has decided not to retaliate based upon Flynn's request. Afterward, Flynn tells senior members of the transition team about his conversations with Kislyak and Russia's decision not to escalate.[86]

January 2017[edit]

  • January:
    • McGahn researches the Logan Act and federal laws related to lying to federal investigators. Records turned over to the Mueller investigation show McGahn believes Flynn violated one or more of those laws.[101]
    • The FBI obtains a new FISA warrant for Carter Page, replacing the expired warrant from October 2016.[102]:163–164
  • Early January:
    • At a meeting in CIA headquarters, a U.S. spy chief warns Mossad agents that Putin may have "leverages of pressure" over Trump, and that intelligence should be shared cautiously with the coming White House and National Security Council, for fear of leaks to the Russians and thereby Iran.[103][104][105]
    • For two days in early January 2017, in a gathering George Nader attends and brokers, Joel Zamel and General Ahmed Al-Assiri meet with Michael Flynn and other members of the Trump transition team in New York. Bannon was also involved. In October 2018, the meeting comes under the Mueller investigation's scrutiny.[106]
  • January 3: Nader meets with Prince at The Pierre Hotel in New York City and encourages him to meet with Dmitriev. In the following days, Nader gives Prince biographical information about Dmitriev, including the fact that Dmitriev oversees the Russian Direct Investment Fund.[107][11]:151
  • January 4: The FBI begins investigating Flynn's December phone calls with Kislyak.[108]
  • January 5:
    Susan Rice's email to herself on January 20, 2017.
    • Obama is briefed on the intelligence community's findings.[109]
    • U.S. intelligence agencies release a report concluding that Putin ordered the cyber-campaign to influence the 2016 election.[31][110]
    • Flynn, Kushner and Bannon meet with the King of Jordan. According to BuzzFeed, they discuss a plan to deploy American nuclear power plants in Jordan with security support from a Russian company. "People close to the three Trump advisers" deny the allegations.[111][112]
    • R. James Woolsey Jr., who became a senior adviser to Trump in September 2016, resigns amid Congressional hearings into cyber attacks and public statements by Trump critical of the United States Intelligence Community.[113]
  • January 6:
  • January 7: Prince books his trip to the Seychelles.[11]:152
  • January 8:
    • Bloomberg reports that Ted Malloch was interviewed by the Trump transition team for the position of U.S. Ambassador to the European Union. Malloch was recommended for the position by Nigel Farage.[123] In 2018, Malloch is served a search warrant by the FBI and questioned by Mueller.[124][125]
    • Nader informs Dmitriev that Prince will be traveling to the Seychelles and invites Dmitriev to meet with Prince on January 12. The next day, Nader assures Dmitriev that Prince wields enough influence in the Trump team to be worth meeting and was designated by Bannon for the trip. In 2018 Nader tells Mueller's team that Prince led him to believe that Bannon was aware of the Dmitriev meeting, and, separately, Prince tells them it was fair for Nader to think he was representing the transition team, but Bannon tells them that Prince didn't inform him of the meeting in advance.[11]:152–153
  • January 9:
    • Cohen and Vekselberg meet at Trump Tower to discuss their mutual desire to improve Russia's relationship with the U.S. under the Trump administration.[126] After President Trump was inaugurated, Cohen received a $1 million consulting contract from Columbus Nova, headed by Andrew Intrater, who also attended the Vekselberg meeting.[127]
    • Kushner is named Senior Advisor to the President.[128]
    • Profexer, a Ukrainian hacker who is the author of a hacking tool described in the December 29, 2016, NCCIC report on Russian cyber attacks, goes dark. He turns himself in to the Ukrainian police and becomes a cooperating witness for the FBI. The Ukrainian police say he was not placed under arrest.[129]
  • January 10:
    • In a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sessions denies communicating with the Russian government during Trump's election campaign.[130]
    • BuzzFeed publishes the Steele dossier alleging various misdeeds by Trump and associates in Russia.[131] Trump dismisses the dossier as "fake news".[132]
  • January 11:
    • Trump tweets, "Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!".[133] USA Today says this is "not exactly true".[134]
    • BBC News's Paul Wood writes that the salacious information in Steele's dossier was also reported by "multiple intelligence sources" and "at least one East European intelligence service".[135][136]
    • Erik Prince, a Trump campaign donor and brother of forthcoming Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, meets in the Seychelles with Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian government's $10bn Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).[137][138][11]:153–155 They meet in Nader's room for 30-45 minutes, then have a brief meeting at a restaurant on the Four Seasons Hotel property.[11]:153–154 After the second meeting, Dmitriev tells Nader he is dissapointed that Prince didn't have more authority in the Trump team, and that he found Prince's comments to be insulting.[11]:155 Prince will claim in August that he scarcely remembers Dmitriev.[137][138] Dmitriev's identity is revealed in November 2017, and Prince confirms the meeting in an interview with House investigators on November 30.[137][138] The meeting was organized by the U.A.E. and reportedly includes talks of a "back channel" with Moscow to try to influence Russian policy in the Middle East, joint U.S.–Russian military operations in Syria, peace between Ukraine and Russia, nuclear non-proliferation, RDIF investment in the midwest, and a joint investment fund between RDIF and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.[82][139][140][141] George Nader, an adviser to crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the U.A.E., facilitates and attends.[142][107] In May 2018 Dmitriev suggests the meeting was more than a chance encounter.[143] The meeting occurs amid a series of meetings of politically connected individuals from Russia, France, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa that are part of a larger gathering hosted by the crown prince.[144]
    • Michael Cohen tells Sean Hannity on The Sean Hannity Show that there is no relationship between Russia and the people around Trump or the Trump campaign.[145][146]
  • January 12:
    • "Guccifer 2.0" denies having any relation to the Russian government.[147][148]
    • Deripaska's longtime American lobbyist Adam Waldman makes the first of nine visits with Assange in 2017 at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.[149]
    • Manafort returns to the U.S. after meeting with Deripaska deputy Georgiy Oganov in Madrid, where they discussed global politics and "recreating [the] old friendship" between Manafort and Deripaska.[11]:142
    • Prince contacts Bannon's personal assistant Alexandra Preate[150] to setup a meeting with Bannon to discuss the Seychelles trip.[11]:155
  • January 13:
    • President-elect Trump nominates U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein as Deputy Attorney General.[151]
    • Sean Spicer claims in a press conference that Flynn had only one call with Kislyak, about setting up a call between Trump and Putin.[152] Emails from December show Spicer most likely knew Flynn discussed sanctions with Kislyak on December 29, 2016, and may have known about the purpose of the call in advance.[97]
    • Waldman visits Assange for the second time.[149]
    • K.T. McFarland insists to a reporter at The Washington Post that Flynn and Kislyak did not discuss sanctions and only spoke with each other prior to December 29. The statement contradicts emails between herself and Flynn.[153]
    • The Senate Intelligence Committee announces it will investigate Russian cyberattacks, meddling in the election, and "intelligence regarding links between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns."[154][155][156]
  • January 15:
    • Interviewed on CBS's Face the Nation and Fox News Sunday, Vice President-elect Pence repeatedly denies any connection between the Trump campaign team and Russians.[50] He also denies Flynn discussed sanctions with Kislyak.[152]
    • Manafort emails McFarland, copying Flynn, about "some important information I want to share that I picked up on my travels over the last month." Flynn advises McFarland not to respond. In 2018, Manafort tells Mueller's team that he was referring to Cuba, which he had visited along with other countries at the time, and not Russia or Ukraine.[11]:142
    • Prince again contacts Preate to arrange a meeting with Bannon about the Seychelles trip.[11]:155
  • January 16: Anthony Scaramucci, then a member of the Trump transition team, meets Dmitriev at the World Economic Forum in Davos. They discuss possible joint investments with the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which is under U.S. sanctions.[139][157][158]
  • Mid January: Prince meets with Bannon to brief him on Dmitriev and their meetings in the Seychelles. In 2018, Prince tells Mueller's team that Bannon seemed disinterested. Later in 2018, Bannon tells Mueller's team that he didn't remember discussing Dmitriev with Prince, and that he would have dissapproved of the Seychelles meeting if he had known about it. Mueller's team is unable to resolve the conflicting accounts beyond the text messages Prince sent to Preate, and neither Bannon nor Prince can explain why they did not retain any text messages prior to March 2017 even though they texted frequently according to phone records.[11]:156
  • January 17:
    • Sessions states in writing that he has not been "in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election."[159] Sessions had been accused of failing to disclose two meetings with Kislyak.[160]
    • Leonard Blavatnik, Sergei Kislyak, and Russian-American president of IMG Artists Alexander Shustorovich attend the Chairman's Global Dinner, an invitation-only inaugural event. Other attendees include Michael Flynn, Manafort, Bannon, and Nix. Blavatnik and Shustorovich donated $1 million each to the Trump inaugural fund. Shustorovich is a longtime business partner of Vekselberg, and, nearly 20 years earlier, the Republican National Committee returned his six-figure donation because of his past ties to the Russian government.[161][162][122]
  • January 17–20: Dmitriev circulates a memo at the World Economic Forum in Davos that describes his discussions with Prince in the Seychelles on January 11.[141]
  • January 18:
    • Jared Kushner files his security clearance application without listing his meetings with Russians.[163]
    • The Daily Sabah reports a breakfast event occurred at the Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C., with about 60 invitees, including Nunes, Flynn, and foreign officials.[164] The Daily Beast reports in January 2019 Mueller is investigating whether foreigners contributed money to the Trump inaugural fund and PAC through American intermediaries.[165]
  • January 18/19: McClatchy[166] and The New York Times report that Manafort, Page and Stone have been under investigation by the FBI, NSA, CIA, and FinCEN,[167] based on intercepted Russian communications and financial transactions.[168] Sources say "the investigators have accelerated their efforts in recent weeks but have found no conclusive evidence of wrongdoing."[167]
  • January 19:
  • January 20: Obama leaves office.[174] See Timeline of the presidency of Donald Trump.

Continuation of 2017[edit]

Investigations' continuing timelines[edit]

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]