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A Timeline Of Russia Sources' Offers Of Information To The Trump Campaign


There has been a lot to keep up on in the last 24 hours with developments in the Russia investigation. Court documents are yielding new information about contacts between people tied to Russia and the Trump campaign. That came with the guilty plea of Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos. We now know of two instances of people involved in the campaign being offered damaging information about Hillary Clinton and giving a positive response. NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith put together this timeline to help us keep up.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: On March 19, 2016, the chairman of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, John Podesta, received a phishing email to his personal Gmail account and unintentionally handed over tens of thousands of emails to Russian hackers. Two days later, President Trump ended what had been growing suspense about who was advising him on foreign policy during a Washington Post editorial board meeting. They weren't household names at the time.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: George Papadopoulos. He's an oil and energy consultant, excellent guy.

KEITH: George Papadopoulos used his position as a campaign adviser to get an in with a professor who, according to court documents, claimed to have substantial connections with the Russian government. Before the end of the month, Papadopoulos was in Washington, D.C., and so was Trump.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And he also met with his foreign policy team face-to-face for the very first time.

KEITH: At that foreign policy meeting, Papadopoulos sat in the middle of a large table. Trump was at the head. The documents say a month later, Papadopoulos met again with the professor who told him he had learned the Russians had obtained, quote, "dirt" on Clinton. These interactions make a second documented instance of people connected to Russia offering to help Trump's campaign.

The first was the now-infamous June 2016 email Donald Trump Jr. received from a music promoter trying to arrange a meeting between the campaign and a Russian lawyer. The pitch was that she had information that would incriminate Clinton. Earlier this year, Trump Jr. explained why he took the meeting.


DONALD TRUMP JR: Someone has information on our opponent. You know, things are going a million miles an hour. You know what it's like to be on a campaign.

KEITH: He spoke on Fox News.


TRUMP JR: I've heard about all these things, but maybe this is something. I should hear him out.

KEITH: Though Trump Jr. and the White House insist nothing came of it, just as the White House insists nothing came of the Papadopoulos contacts.


TRUMP: Russia, if you're listening...

KEITH: Connected or not - and we don't know - come July 2016 candidate Trump was seemingly inviting the Russians to hurt his opponent.


TRUMP: ...I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.

KEITH: He was referring to the personal emails Clinton deleted from her time as secretary of state. Those were never released. But Podesta's emails were released by WikiLeaks day after day for the entire month leading up to the election. Tamara Keith, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.
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