CNN’s report that Michael Cohen claims then-candidate Donald Trump had advanced knowledge of the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya with supposed “dirt” on Hillary Clinton has created a fresh wave of scrutiny about the now-infamous gathering.
Cohen’s reported claims, if true, would be at odds with repeated denials that Trump was not told of the meeting beforehand, and raise the prospect that Trump Jr. lied to Congress about the meeting.
Three congressional committees have investigated the circumstances surrounding the Trump Tower meeting, and two of those – the House Intelligence Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee – have either issued reports or released transcripts of their probes into the meeting.
The documents and testimony, as well as the emails exchanged between Trump Jr. and British music publicist Rob Goldstone, provide a picture of what we know so far about the days surrounding the Trump Tower meeting – and how Cohen’s claims might fit into or upend that narrative.
Here’s a day-by-day look at how the Trump Tower meeting happened:
June 3, 2016
Goldstone emails Trump Jr.: Rob Goldstone, the British music publicist, emails Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr., saying that Russian pop star Emin Agalarov had asked him to arrange a meeting in order to “provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.”
Goldstone says the documents came from a meeting between the “Crown prosecutor of Russia” and Russian oligarch Aras Agalarov, Emin’s father, and claims they are “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
Trump Jr. responds: Trump Jr. responds to Goldstone’s email approximately 20 minutes later, writing: “if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
June 6, 2016
Goldstone and Trump Jr. trade emails: Goldstone and Trump Jr. exchange emails to arrange a phone call between Trump Jr. and Emin Agalarov, the pop star son of Aras Agalarov who helped arrange the meeting.
“Let me know when you are free to talk with Emin by phone about this Hillary info – you had mentioned early this week so wanted to try to schedule a time and day. Best to you and family,” Goldstone writes.
“Rob could we speak now?” Trump Jr. responds later in the afternoon
“Let me track him down in Moscow,” Goldstone responds.
After Trump Jr. provides his phone number, Goldstone writes: “Ok he’s on stage in Moscow but should be off within 20 minutes so I am sure can call.”
Trump Jr. calls Emin Agalarov: Trump Jr.’s phone records show he received and then called a Russian number in the afternoon and evening, which Trump Jr. said was Emin Agalarov’s number, according to the House Intelligence Committee Democratic report.
Agalarov also called Trump Jr. back the following day, according to a Senate Judiciary Committee Democratic memo.
Trump Jr., however, testified that he could not recall whether he spoke to Agalarov, suggesting they might have traded voice mails.
Trump Jr. calls a blocked number: Trump Jr.’s phone records also show a “blocked” number in between the two calls to Agalarov for four minutes, as well as an 11-minute call in the evening following the second Agalarov call, according to the Judiciary Committee Democratic report. Trump Jr. testified to the House Intelligence Committee he did not know who the number belonged to.
Democrats have speculated that the number could be Trump Jr.’s father, as committee Democrats noted in their report: “Corey Lewandowski told the Committee that Mr. Trump’s “primary residence has a blocked [phone] line.”
June 7, 2016
Trump Jr. and Goldstone confirm the meeting: The meeting is confirmed for June 9 at 3 p.m. between Trump Jr. and Goldstone. Trump Jr. emails Goldstone after the meeting is confirmed that the attendees “will likely be Paul Manafort my brother in law and me.”
Trump previews speech on Clintons: Trump secures the Republican nomination and makes remarks following the evening’s primaries in which he previewed a speech against the Clintons. “I am going to give a major speech on probably Monday of next week and we’re going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons,” Trump said. “I think you’re going to find it very informative and very, very interesting.”
Longtime Trump aide Hope Hicks testified to the House Intelligence Committee that Trump’s planned speech was not a reflection of knowledge about the upcoming Trump Tower meeting, but rather was about “an outline of the book Clinton Cash.” She said he gave the speech roughly two weeks later than planned because it was delayed by a domestic terrorist attack, according to the House Intelligence Committee Republican report.
June 8, 2016
Meeting time is adjusted: Goldstone emails Trump Jr. to ask if the meeting can be pushed back an hour to 4 p.m. Trump Jr. forwarded the entire email exchange to Manafort and Kushner, adding, “meeting got moved to 4 tomorrow at my offices.”
Other notable events ahead of the meeting on June 9, 2016
Trump is told about the meeting, Cohen later claims: Trump Jr. tells his father about the planned meeting with the Russians, according to Trump’s former fixer and attorney Michael Cohen, who claims he was in the room when it happened, CNN reported last week. Trump gave the go-ahead for his son to meet with the Russians, according to Cohen’s account. Trump denies that he knew about the meeting beforehand and says he learned about it one year after it occurred.
After CNN reported last week Cohen’s claims that Trump knew about the meeting, Trump Jr. and Trump both deny Cohen’s account. “I did NOT know of the meeting with my son, Don jr.,” Trump tweets. “Sounds to me like someone is trying to make up stories in order to get himself out of an unrelated jam (Taxi cabs maybe?).”
Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said Monday that he heard from reporters about another meeting that took place around this same time. This meeting was supposedly attended by six people – including Trump Jr., Kushner and then-Trump campaign official Rick Gates – to talk strategy for the upcoming liaison with the Russians. Giuliani, though, claims he raised the meeting in television interviews to refute that it ever happened.
Trump Jr. says he does not discuss the meeting with his father: Trump Jr. testifies to the Senate Judiciary Committee that he did not discuss the Trump Tower meeting with his father:
Q: “Did you inform your father about the meeting or the underlying offer prior to the meeting?”
Trump Jr: “No, I did not.”
Kaveladze emails Agalarov associate: At some point before the meeting, Ike Kaveladze, who was the Agalarov representative at the meeting, told the House Intelligence Committee that he emailed Roman Beniaminov, an associate of Agalarov in the US, to ask about the purpose of the meeting. The specific date is not known, but Kaveladze testified Beniaminov wrote that he “believed the scheduled meeting at Trump Tower was about providing negative information on candidate Clinton to the Trump campaign,” according to the Republican House Intelligence Committee report.
June 9, 2016
Russians huddle before the meeting: The Russian group meets for lunch before the meeting, in which Veselnitskaya shares a document with a synopsis of what she will discuss. The summary contains much of the same information as a similar document reportedly shared with Russian Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika, according to the House Intelligence Republican report.
Trump holds a fundraiser: The day of the Trump Tower meeting, Trump holds a fundraiser at the Four Seasons Hotel two blocks from Trump Tower. The event is his first fundraiser with the Trump Victory Fund, where Trump meets for lunch with dozens of top Republican donors to discuss the general election.
Trump returns to Trump Tower roughly three hours before the meeting with Veselnitskaya and his son is scheduled to begin, where he remains for the rest of the afternoon.
Goldstone checks in: Goldstone meets up with Veselnitskaya and the others before going to Trump Tower. As he arrives, Goldstone checks into Trump Tower on Facebook, he told the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Trump Tower meeting occurs: Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort meet at Trump Tower with Goldstone, Veselnitskaya, Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, Agalarov business associate Kaveladze and translator Anatoli Samochornov.
According to participants’ testimony, the meeting lasted about 20 minutes, and the promise of “dirt” never materialized, as Veselnitskaya focused her presentation on sanctions against Russia under the Magnitsky Act, which was later portrayed as discussing “adoptions.”
Veselnitskaya briefly mentions information about an alleged Russian tax fraud scheme involving Ziff Brothers Investments and British investor William Browder that was connected to Democrats, but it wasn’t the dirt that was expected.
Akhmetshin told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Trump Jr. asked, “So can you show us how does this money go to Hillary?” and he requested proof or paperwork that she did not have.
Trump Jr. explained the meeting this way his House Intelligence Committee testimony:
MR. SCHIFF: Right. How much of the time was spent discussing that [the Magnitsky Act], and how much of the time was spent discussing dirt on Secretary Clinton?
MR. TRUMP JR.: Again, the majority was really split up between – really started off as Russian adoption, which was sort of the, you know, what I perceive to be sort of the feelgood segue to probably lobbying for something as it related to that Act. So, you know, I’d say we spent less than, you know, 5 minutes of the 20 minutes, again, speaking through a translator about the quote/unquote “dirt”, and the rest was a quick segue, bait-and-switch, whatever you want to call it, to speak about Russian adoption and the Magnitsky Act.
According to attendees, Trump Jr. asked for the incriminating information on Clinton but did not receive it:
MR. SCHIFF: And do you recall Don Jr. asking whether Veselnitskaya had anything on Hillary Clinton?
MR. KAVELADZE: Yes.
Goldstone apologizes to Trump Jr.: After the meeting concludes, Goldstone testified that he apologized to Trump Jr. for the “bait-and-switch,” according to the House Intelligence GOP report.
Russians convene at Trump Tower bar: According to House Intelligence Democrats, the Russians head to the Trump Tower bar immediately after the meeting. While going over what occurred, Veselnitskaya “expressed her dissatisfaction,” Kaveladze testified to the House panel.
Trump tweets about Clinton’s missing emails: At 4:40 p.m., 40 minutes after the Trump Tower meeting was scheduled to begin, Trump responds to Clinton’s tweet telling him to “delete your account” by asking Clinton about her “missing” emails.
“How long did it take your staff of 823 people to think that up–and where are your 33,000 emails that you deleted?” Trump tweets.
Calling the Agalarovs: Kaveladze leaves the bar after a few minutes to take a call from Agalarov to discuss the meeting, according to the Democratic report. He tells Agalarov that the meeting was a “complete loss of time and about nothing,” according to the GOP report.
Goldstone also spoke to Emin Agalarov after the meeting, he told the Senate Judiciary panel, and said he told him it was “the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever asked me to do. I’ve just sat in a meeting about adoption.”
He said Agalarov replied: “Adoption?” — which could imply Agalarov didn’t anticipate that to be the topic of the meeting.
Another call to blocked number: Two hours after the meeting, Trump Jr. places another call to a blocked number, according to the Democratic Senate Judiciary memo.
June 10, 2016
Aras Agalarov sends Trump a gift: Aras Agalarov sends Trump an expensive painting for his birthday, according to the House Intelligence Democratic report.
June 14, 2016
Goldstone sends along ‘eerily weird’ news: Five days after the Trump Tower meeting, there were news reports that Russians were behind the hacks of the Democratic National Committee emails.
Goldstone sends a news article on the hacking to Emin Agalarov and Kaveladze, according to the Democratic report, and states: “Top story right now – seems eerily weird based on our Trump meeting last week with the Russian lawyers etc.”
June 17, 2016
Trump sends Agalarov a thank you letter: A week after the gift is sent, Trump sends a thank you letter to Agalarov: “There are few things better than receiving a sensational gift from someone you admire – and that’s what I’ve received from you. You made my birthday a truly special event by your thoughtfulness – not to mention your remarkable talent. I’m rarely at a loss for words, but right now I can only say how much I appreciate your friendship and to thank you for this fantastic gift. This is one birthday that I will always remember.”