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Timeline: Campaign knew Russia had Clinton emails months before Trump 'joke'
Months before candidate Donald Trump asked Russia to "find" Hillary Clinton's missing private server emails - a statement the campaign later called a joke - a Russian operative told a campaign aide "the Russians had emails of Clinton," according to a plea agreement released Monday.
In the first guilty plea of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, George Papadopoulos admitted lying to the FBI about contact with Russian agents that offered the campaign "thousands" of damaging emails about Clinton. Papadopoulos claims he would eventually be told by a campaign supervisor to travel to Russia to meet with government officials "if feasible," a trip that never happened.
In the context of the timeline of events, Papadopoulos was told of Russian hacking before the rest of the country, and weeks before the Trump campaign made its first denial of Russian involvement in the election.
Here are some key dates in the events involving Clinton's emails and Russian hacking:
September, 2015: The FBI made its first ill-fated attempt to alert the Democratic National Committee (DNC) that its computer network had been compromised. But the initial contact was not made with high-level staff, leading the DNC to brush off the contact.
November: The FBI alerted the DNC information was being transmitted back to Russia.
Early March, 2016: According to court documents, Papadopoulos took a role as a foreign policy adviser in the Trump campaign. Papadopoulos was living in London at the time.
On or about March 14: Papadopoulos met a London-based professor that claimed to have "substantial connections with Russian government officials."
March 19: Russian hackers successfully hacked Clinton campaign head John Podesta's email account.
March 24: A professor introduced Papadopoulos to an alleged niece of Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to the court documents, Papadopoulos told his campaign supervisor the subject of the meeting was "to arrange a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss U.S.-Russia ties under President Trump." "Great work," replied the supervisor, who said he would work the offer through the campaign. The supervisor is not named.
Papadopoulos would later find out the so-called niece was not, in fact, related to Putin.
April: Papadopoulos maintained contact with both the woman and professor to set up a meeting throughout April, keeping the campaign apprised of his contact.
April 29: The professor told Papadopoulos the Russians had "thousands" of Clinton's emails containing dirt. The next day, Papadopoulos thanked the professor for his help setting up a possible meeting between Russians and Trump.
"It's history making if it happens," said the campaign aide.
Also in April, the DNC acquired the services of CrowdStrike to investigate and mitigate the potential breach of its systems.
June 9: Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner meet with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and others with the promise of receiving dirt on Clinton. The meeting ultimately focuses on Russian sanctions that lead Moscow to ban Americans from adopting Russian children.
June 14: The Washington Post revealed that the DNC had been breached by those thought to be Russian hackers, something supported by the CrowdStrike report on the attack released June 15.
July: Gawker and The Hill published stories based on leaks from the Guccifer 2.0 persona, which U.S. intelligence believes Russian intelligence used as a cover identity to leak documents.
July 22: WikiLeaks published the DNC emails.
July 29: Three months after the Trump campaign was first told that Russian operatives had Clinton emails, Trump said "Russia, if you're listening, 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." Later that day, he tweeted "If Russia or any other country or person has Hillary Clinton's 33,000 illegally deleted emails, perhaps they should share them with the FBI!"
Between June and August, Papadopoulos continued to try to set up a meeting between Trump and the Russian government.
June 19: Papadopoulos suggested that, if Trump couldn't attend a meeting, Papadopoulos could travel in his place.
August 15: Papadapoulos said: "I would encourage you [and another foreign policy advisor to] make the trip, if it is feasible."
The trip never occurred.