When Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in November 2016 that “a whole array” of Trump campaign members were open to contacts with Russia during President Donald Trump’s bid for the Oval Office, the Trump campaign came back with a denial.
But in the time since, through investigative reporting and court filings by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, it has come to light that at least 14 people associated with Trump’s campaign and transition engaged with Russians.
The Russian ambassador. A deputy prime minister. A pop star, a weightlifter, a lawyer, a Soviet army veteran with alleged intelligence ties.
Again and again and again, over the course of Donald Trump’s 18-month campaign for the presidency, Russian citizens made contact with his closest family members and friends, as well as figures on the periphery of his orbit.
Some offered to help his campaign and his real estate business. Some offered dirt on his Democratic opponent. Repeatedly, Russian nationals suggested Trump should hold a peacemaking sit-down with Vladimir Putin — and offered to broker such a summit.
The ambassador to Russia under President Barack Obama, Michael McFaul, called the degree of contact between Trump associates and Russians “extremely unusual”, telling the Post: “Both the number of contacts and the nature of the contacts are extraordinary.”
Though the prospect of coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives remains unsettled, those contacts took place during “sustained efforts by the Russian government to interfere with the U.S. presidential election,” as noted in Mueller’s Friday court filing.
Veterans of past White House bids said that so much interplay with representatives of a foreign adversary is highly unusual.
“This is different in kind than anything I have ever heard of before,” said Trevor Potter, who served as general counsel to Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign in 2008. McCain, he noted, traveled the globe as a member of the Senate, but his contacts with foreign government officials generally occurred in consultation with the State Department and involved questions of policy — not personal business or his own electoral concerns.
Trump associates who had contact with Russians during the 2016 campaign and presidential transition:
- Donald Trump Jr. - Trump’s son, Trump Organization executive vice president
- Ivanka Trump - Trump’s daughter, White House adviser
- Jared Kushner - Trump’s son-in-law, former campaign liaison to foreign governments
- Michael Cohen - former Trump Organization executive vice president
- Felix Sater - real estate developer
- George Papadopoulos - former foreign policy adviser
- Paul Manafort - former campaign chair
- Carter Page - former campaign adviser
- Jeff Sessions - former campaign adviser
- Michael Flynn - former campaign adviser
- J.D. Gordon - former campaign adviser
- Roger Stone - longtime Trump confidante
- Michael Caputo - former campaign adviser
- Rick Gates - former campaign adviser