The president’s son Donald Trump Jr. now admits he gathered his brother-in-law and his father’s 2016 campaign chairman to learn damaging information about Hillary Clinton from a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer. The younger Trump, who may face an inquiry over the meeting and has retained a lawyer to manage the situation, says he did not know the name of the person he was meeting before he attended the appointment.
Combined with statements and actions by the president and numerous associates, Trump Jr.’s grudging acknowledgment fills out an extraordinary, on-the-record picture of the U.S. president’s financial entanglement and political deference toward Russia, one of America’s oldest adversaries.
It begins in 1987, before the Soviet Union crumbled, when Trump mused in “The Art of the Deal” about building a hotel “across the street from the Kremlin,” in partnership with the Soviet government. The hotel never got built, but Trump didn’t give up on Moscow.
By 2008, Trump Jr. told a real estate conference that “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.” That same year, a Russian businessman paid the senior Trump $95 million for a Florida mansion — more than twice what Trump paid for it four years earlier.
In 2013, Trump staged a beauty pageant in Moscow and talked of friendship with Vladimir Putin. “TRUMP TOWER-MOSCOW is next,” he tweeted.
Trump Moscow tweet
In 2014, a prominent golf journalist says, son Eric Trump boasted that despite tighter U.S. credit, “We have all the funding we need out of Russia” for golf-course projects. Eric Trump denies saying that.
After entering the presidential race, the senior Trump got foreign policy advice from Lt. General Michael Flynn — who received $45,000 from a Russia propaganda outlet for a December 2015 speech where he sat with Putin at dinner. Trump later named Flynn national security advisor.
In May 2016, Trump made Paul Manafort his campaign chairman. The Republican campaign veteran had received $17 million from 2012 through 2014 for representing a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine.
In June 2016, Manafort, Jared Kushner and Trump Jr. met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. Her clients have included a Russian businessman sued for money laundering by then-U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of New York.
In July, after the Democratic Party said Russian hackers invaded its computers, candidate Donald Trump publicly called on Russia to find missing emails belonging to Clinton. In August, longtime Trump associate Roger Stone warned that Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta faced his “time in the barrel” soon.
Stone noted that he had communicated with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. A few weeks later, WikiLeaks released emails from Podesta that U.S. intelligence officials say Russian hackers stole.
In September, Trump campaign advisor Jeff Sessions met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in his U.S. Senate office. Sessions — later named attorney general by Trump — failed to disclose the meeting during his confirmation hearings.