• March 31, 2023

The Mueller Report Page

The Mueller Report Page

This is the spot where we will post the Mueller Report just a few pages at a time

Dont want to break the server again , Any way check back often to stay caught up

and remember the redaction’s are pretty thick. But its kinda funny the redactions really do not show as blacked out but they are there


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INTRODUCTION TO VOLUME I ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 1
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY TO VOLUME 1. ………………………………………… , ……………………………………… 4
I. THE SPECIAL COUNSEL’S INVESTIGATION ………………………………………………………………. , ……. 11
A. Structure of the Internet Research Agency ……………………………………………………….. 15
B. Funding and Oversight from Concord and Prigozhin …………………………………………. 16
C. The IRA Targets U.S. Elections ………………………………………………………………………. 19
1. The IRA Ramps Up U.S. Operations As Early As 2014 ………………….. , ………….. 19
2. U.S. Operations Through IRA-Controlled Social Media Accounts ………………… 22
3. U.S. Operations Through Facebook. …………………………………………………………… 24
4. U.S. Operations Through Twitter ………………………………………………………………. 26
a. Individualized Accounts ……………………………………………………………………….. 26
b. IRA Botnet Activities ………………………………………………………………………….. 28
5. U.S. Operations Involving Political Rallies …………………………………………………. 29
6. Targeting and Recruitment of U.S. Persons …………………………………………………. 31
7. Interactions and Contacts with the Trump Campaign ……………………………………. 33
a. Trump Campaign Promotion ofIRA Political Materials …………………………… 33
b. Contact with Trump Campaign Officials in Connection to Rallies …………….. 35
Ill. RUSSIAN HACKING AND DUMPING OPERATIONS …………………………………………………………… 36
A. GRU Hacking Directed at the Clinton Campaign ………………………………………………. 36
1. GRU Units Target the Clinton Campaign ……………………………………………………. 36
2. Intrusions into the DCCC and DNC Networks …………………………………………….. 38
a. Initial Access ………………………………………………………………………………………. 3 8
b. Implantation ofMalware on DCCC and DNC Networks ………………………….. 38
c. Theft of Documents from DNC and DCCC Networks .. ……………………………. 40
B. Dissemination of the Hacked Materials ……………………………………………………………. 41
I. DCLeaks ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 41
2. Guccifer 2.0 …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 42
3. Use of WikiLeaks ……………………………. : …………………………………………………….. 44
a. WikiLeaks’s Expressed Opposition Toward the Clinton Campaign …………… 44
b. WikiLeaks’s First Contact with Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks ……………………… 45
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c. The GRU’s Transfer of Stolen Materials to WikiLeaks ……………………………. 45
d. · WikiLeaks Statements Dissembling About the Source of Stolen Materials ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 48
C. Additional GRU Cyber Operations ………………………………………………………………….. 49
l. Summer and Fall 2016 Operations Targeting Democrat-Linked Victims ………… 49
2. Intrusions Targeting the Administration of U.S. Elections …………………………….. 50
D. Trump Campaign and the Dissemination of Hacked Materials ……………………………. 51
l. …………………………………………………………………………………. 51
a. Background ………………………………………………………………………………………… 51
b. Contacts with the Campaign about WikiLeaks ………………………………………… 52 C. Harm to Ongoing Matter ……………….. 54
d. WikiLeaks’s October 7, 2016 Release of Stolen Podesta Emails ……………….. 58
e. Donald Trump Jr. Interaction with WikiLeaks ………………………………………… 59
2. Other Potential Campaign Interest in Russian Hacked Materials ……………………. 61
a. Henry Oknyansky (a/k/a Henry Greenberg) ……………………………………………. 61
b. Campaign Efforts to Obtain Deleted Clinton Emails ……………………………….. 62
A. Campaign Period (September 2015 – November 8, 2016) ………………………………….. 66
1. Trump Tower Moscow Project ………………………………………………………………….. 67
a. Trump Tower Moscow Venture with the Crocus Group (2013-2014) ………… 67
b. Communications with LC. Expert Investment Company and Giorgi Rtskhiladze (Summer and Fall 2015) …………………………………………………… 69
c. Letter of Intent and Contacts to Russian Government (October 2015January 2016) …………………………………………………………………………………… 70
i. Trump Signs the Letter of Intent on behalf of the Trump Organization …. 70
ii. Post-LOI Contacts with Individuals in Russia ………………………………….. 72
d. Discussions about Russia Travel by Michael Cohen or Candidate Trump (December 2015-June 2016) ………………………………………………………………. 76
i. Sater’ s Overtures to Cohen to Travel to Russia …………………………………. 76
ii. Candidate Trump’s Opportunities to Travel to Russia ………………………. 78
2. George Papadopoulos ………………………………………………………………………………. 80
a. Origins of Campaign Work …………………………………………………………………… 81
b. Initial Russia-Related Contacts ……………………………………………………………… 82
c. March 31 Foreign Policy Team Meeting ………………………………………………… 85
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d. George Papadopoulos Learns That Russia Has “Dirt” in the Form of Clinton Emails ………………………………………………………………………………….. 86
e. Russia-Related Communications With The Campaign ……………………………… 89
f. Trump Campaign Knowledge of “Dirt” ………………………………………………….. 93
g. Additional George Papadopoulos Contact.. …………………………………………….. 94
3. Carter Page ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 9 5
a. Background ………………………………………………………………………………………… 96
b. Origins of and Early Campaign Work ……………………………………………………. 97
c. Carter Page’s July 2016 Trip To Moscow ……………………………………………….. 98
d. Later Campaign Work and Removal from the Campaign ……………………….. 102
4. Dimitri Simes and the Center for the National Interest ……………………………….. 103
a. CNI and Dimitri Simes Connect with the Trump Campaign ……………………. 103
b. National Interest Hosts a Foreign Policy Speech at the Mayflower Hotel ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 105
c. Jeff Sessions’s Post-Speech Interactions with CNI ………………………………… 107
d. Jared Kushner’ s Continuing Contacts with Simes ………………………………….. 108
5. June 9, 2016 Meeting at Trump Tower ………………………………. , ……………………. 110
a. Setting Up the June 9 Meeting …………………………………………………………….. 110
i. Outreach to Donald Trump Jr ………………………………………………………… 110
ii. Awareness of the Meeting Within the Campaign …………………………….. 114
b. TheEventsofJune9, 2016 …………………………………………………………………. 116
i. Arrangements for the Meeting ………………………………………………………. 116
ii. Conduct of the Meeting ……………………………………………………………….. 117
c. Post-June 9 Events …………………………………………………………………………….. 120
6. Events at the Republican National Convention ………………………………………….. 123
a. Ambassador Kislyak’s Encounters with Senator Sessions and J.D. Gordon the Week of the RNC …………………………………………………………… 123
b. Change to Republican Party Platform …………………………………………………… 124
7. Post-Convention Contacts with Kislyak ………………………….. : ………………………. 127
a. Ambassador Kislyak Invites J.D. Gordon to Breakfast at the Ambassador’s Residence ………………………………………………………………….. 127
b. Senator Sessions’s September 2016 Meeting with Ambassador Kislyak …… 127
8. Paul Manafort ………………………………………………………………………………………… 129
a. Paul Manafort’ s Ties to Russia and Ukraine ………………………………………….. 131
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1. Oleg Deripaska Consulting Work ………………………………………………… 131
11. Political Consulting Work …………………………………………………………… 132
iii. Konstantin Kilimnik …………………………………………………………………… 132
b. Contacts during Paul Manafort’s Time with the Trump Campaign ………….. 134
i. Paul Manafort Joins the Campaign ………………………………………………… 134
ii. Paul Manafort’s Campaign-Period Contacts …………………………………… 135
iii. Paul Manafort’s Two Campaign-Period Meetings with Konstantin Kilimnik in the United States ………………………………………………………. 138
c. Post-Resignation Activities …………………………………………………………………. 141
B. Post-Election and Transition-Period Contacts …………………………………………………. 144
1. Immediate Post-Election Activity …………………………………………………………….. 144
a. Outreach from the Russian Government.. ……………………………………………… 145
b. High-Level Encouragement of Contacts through Alternative Channels ……. 146
2. Kirill Dmitriev’s Transition-Era Outreach to the Incoming Administration …… 147
a. Background ………………………………………………………………………………………. 14 7
b. Kirill Dmitriev’s Post-Election Contacts With the Incoming Administration ………………………………………………………………………………… 149
c. Erik Prince and Kirill Dmitriev Meet in the Seychelles ………………………….. 151
i. George Nader and Erik Prince Arrange Seychelles Meeting with Dmitriev ……………………………………………………………………………………. 151
11. The Seychelles Meetings ……………………………………………………………… 153
iii. Erik Prince’s Meeting with Steve Bannon after the Seychelles Trip …. 155
d. Kirill Dmitriev’s Post-Election Contact with Rick Gerson Regarding U .S.-Russia Relations ………………………………………………………………………. 156
3. Ambassador Kislyak’s Meeting with Jared Kushner and Michael Flynn in Trump Tower Following the Election ……………………………………………………….. 159
4. Jared Kushner’ s Meeting with Sergey Gorkov …………………………………………… 161
5. Petr A ven’ s Outreach Efforts to the Transition Team …………………………………. 163
6. Carter Page Contact with Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich …………. 166
7. Contacts With and Through Michael T. Flynn …………………………………………… 167
a. United Nations Vote on Israeli Settlements …………………………………………… 167
b. U.S. Sanctions Against Russia …………………………………………………………….. 168
A. Russian “Active Measures” Social Media Campaign ……………………………………….. 174
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B. Russian Hacking and Dumping Operations …………………………………………………….. 175
1. Section 1030 Computer-Intrusion Conspiracy ……………………………………………. 175
a. Background ………………………………………………………………………………………. 175
b. Charging Decision As to ……. 176
2. Potential Section 1030 Violation By ………………………… 179
C. Russian Government Outreach and Contacts ……………………………………………………. 180
1. Potential Coordination: Conspiracy and Collusion ……………………………………… 180
2. Potential Coordination: Foreign Agent Statutes (FARA and 18 U.S.C. § 951). 181
a. Governing Law ………………………………………………………………………………….. 181
b. Application ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 182
3. Campaign Finance …………………………………………………………………………………. 183
a. Overview Of Governing Law ………………………………………………………………. 184
b. Application to June 9 Trump Tower Meeting ……. ………………………………….. 185
i. Thing-of-Value Element ………………………………………………………………. 186
ii. Willfulness ………………………………………………………………………………… 187
iii. Difficulties in Valuing Promised Information ……………………………….. 188
c. Application to WikiLeaks
…………………………………………………………….. 189
ii. Willfulness …………………………………………….. …………………………………. 190
iii. Constitutional Considerations ………………………………………………………. 190
iv. Analysis ………………………………………………………….. 190
4. False Statements and Obstruction of the Investigation ………………………………… 191
a. Overview Of Governing Law ……………………………………………………… ………. 191
b. Application to Certain Individuals ……………………………………………………….. 192
i. George Papadopoulos ……………………………………………………… ………. ….. 192
11. …………………………………………………………. ………. 194
111. Michael Flynn …………………………………………………………………………… 194
iv. Michael Cohen ………………………………………………………………………….. 195
…………………………………………………………………… 196
vi. Jeff Sessions ………………………………………………………………………………. 197
vii. Others Interviewed During the Investigation ………………………………… 198
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that guided that investigation.
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The Internet Research Agency (IRA) carried out the earliest Russian interference operations identified by the investigation- a social media campaign designed to provoke and amplify political and social discord in the United States. The IRA was based in St. Petersburg, Russia, and received funding from Russian oligarch Y evgeniy Prigozhin and companies he controlled. Pri ozhin is widel re orted to have ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin
In mid-2014, the IRA sent em lo mission with instructions
The IRA later used social media accounts and interest groups to sow discord in the U.S. political system through what it termed “information warfare.” The campaign evolved from a generalized program designed in 2014 and 2015 to undermine the U.S. electoral system, to a targeted operation that by early 2016 favored candidate Trump and disparaged candidate Clinton. The IRA’ s operation also included the purchase of political advertisements on social media in the names of U.S. persons and entities, as well as the staging of political rallies inside the United States. To organize those rallies, IRA employees posed as U.S. grassroots entities and persons and made contact with Trump supporters and Trump Campaign officials in the United States. The investigation did not identify evidence that any U.S. persons conspired or coordinated with the IRA. Section II of this report details the Office’s investigation of the Russian social media campaign.
At the same time that the IRA operation began to focus ·on supporting candidate Trump in early 2016, the Russian government employed a second form of interference: cyber intrusions (hacking) and releases of hacked materials damaging to the Clinton Campaign. The Russian intelligence service known as the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Army (GRU) carried out these operations.
In March 2016, the GRU began hacking the email accounts of Clinton Campaign volunteers and employees, including campaign chairman John Podesta. In April 2016, the GRU hacked into the computer networks of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The GRU stole hundreds of thousands of documents from the compromised email accounts and networks. Around the time that the DNC announced in mid-June 2016 the Russian government’s role in hacking its network, the GRU began disseminating stolen materials through the fictitious online personas “DCLeaks” and “Guccifer 2.0.” The GRU later released additional materials through the organization WikiLeaks.
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The presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump (“Trump Campaign” or “Campaign”) showed interest in WikiLeaks’ s releases of documents and welcomed their otential to damage candidate Clinton. Beginning in June 2016, llfilllillliliilfll~llliillllllilllilli forecast to senior Campaign officials that WikiLeaks would release information damaging to candidate Clinton. WikiLeaks’ s first release came in July 2016. Around the same time, candidate Trump announced that he hoped Russia would recover emails described as missing from a private server used b Clinton when she was Secreta of State he later said that he was s · eakin sarcasticall .
WikiLeaks began releasing Podesta’ s stolen emails on October 7, 2016, less than one hour after a U.S. media outlet released video considered damaging to candidate Trump. Section lII of this Report details the Office’s investigation into the Russian hacking operations, as well as other efforts by Trump Campaign supporters to obtain Clinton-related emails.
The social media campaign and the GRU hacking operations coincided with a series of contacts between Trump Campaign officials and individuals with ties to the Russian government. The Office investigated whether those contacts reflected or resulted in the Campaign conspiring or coordinating with Russia in its election-interference activities. Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.
The Russian contacts consisted of business connections, offers of assistance to the Campaign, invitations for candidate Trump and Putin to meet in person, invitations for Campaign officials and representatives of the Russian government to meet, and policy positions seeking improved U.S.-Russian relations. Section IV of this Report details the contacts between Russia and the Trump Campaign during the campaign and transition periods, the most salient of which are summarized below in chronological order.
2015. Some of the earliest contacts were made in connection with a Trump Organization real-estate project in Russia known as Trump Tower Moscow. Candidate Trump signed a Letter oflntent for Trump Tower Moscow by November 2015, and in January 2016 Trump Organization executive Michael Cohen emailed and spoke about the project with the office of Russian government press secretary Dmitry Peskov. The Trump Organization pursued the project through at least June 2016, including by considering travel to Russia by Cohen and candidate Trump.
Spring 2016. Campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos made early contact with Joseph Mifsud, a London-based professor who had connections to Russia and traveled to Moscow in April 2016. Immediately upon his return to London from that trip, Mifsud told Papadopoulos that the Russian government had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands
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of emails. One week later, in the first week of May 2016, Papadopoulos suggested to a representative of a foreign government that the Trump Campaign had received indications from the Russian government that it could assist the Campaign through the anonymous release of information damaging to candidate Clinton. Throughout that period of time and for several months thereafter, Papadopoulos worked with Mifsud and two Russian nationals to arrange a meeting between the Campaign and the Russian government. No meeting took place.
Summer 2016. Russian outreach to the Trump Campaign continued into the summer of 2016, as candidate Trump was becoming the presumptive Republican nominee for President. On June 9, 2016, for example, a Russian lawyer met with senior Trump Campaign officials Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and campaign chairman Paul Manafort to deliver what the email proposing the meeting had described as “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary.” The materials were offered to Trump Jr. as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” The written communications setting up the meeting showed that the Campaign anticipated receiving information from Russia that could assist candidate Trump’s electoral prospects, but the Russian lawyer’s presentation did not provide such information.
Days after the June 9 meeting, on June 14, 2016, a cybersecurity firm and the DNC announced that Russian government hackers had infiltrated the DNC and obtained access to opposition research on candidate Trump, among other documents.
In July 2016, Campaign foreign policy advisor Carter Page traveled in his personal capacity to Moscow and gave the keynote address at the New Economic School. Page had lived and worked in Russia between 2003 and 2007. After returning to the United States, Page became acquainted with at least two Russian intelligence officers, one of whom was later charged in 2015 with conspiracy to act as an unregistered agent of Russia. Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow and his advocacy for pro-Russian foreign policy drew media attention. The Campaign then distanced itself from Page and, by late September 2016, removed him from the Campaign.
July 2016 was also the month WikiLeaks first released emails stolen by the GRU from the DNC. On July 22, 2016, WikiLeaks posted thousands of internal DNC documents revealing information about the Clinton Campaign. Within days, there was public reporting that U.S. intelligence agencies had “high confidence” that the Russian government was.behind the theft of emails and documents from the DNC. And within a week of the release, a foreign government informed the FBI about its May 2016 interaction with Papadopoulos and his statement that the Russian government could assist the Trump Campaign. On July 31, 2016, based on the foreign government rep01ting, the FBI opened an investigation into potential coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign.
Separately, on August 2, 2016, Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort met in New York City with his long-time business associate Konstantin Kilimnik, who the FBI assesses to have ties to Russian intelligence. Kilimnik requested the meeting to deliver in person a peace plan for Ukraine that Manafort acknowledged to the Special Counsel’s Office was a “backdoor” way for Russia to control part of eastern Ukraine; both men believed the plan would require candidate Trump’s assent to succeed (were he to be elected President). They also discussed the status of the
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Trump Campaign and Manafort’s strategy for winning Democratic votes in Midwestern states. Months before that meeting, Manafort had caused internal polling data to be shared with Kilimnik, and the sharing continued for some period of time after their August meeting.
Fall 2016. On October 7, 2016, the media released video of candidate Trump speaking in graphic terms about women years earlier, which was considered damaging to his candidacy. Less than an hour later, WikiLeaks made its second release: thousands of John Podesta’s emails that had been stolen by the GRU in late March 2016. The FBI and other U.S. government institutions were at the time continuing their investigation of suspected Russian government efforts to interfere in the presidential election. That same day, October 7, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a joint public statement “that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations.” Those “thefts” and the “disclosures” of the hacked materials through online platforms such as WikiLeaks, the statement continued, “are intended to interfere with the US election process.”
Post-2016 Election. Immediately after the November 8 election, Russian government officials and prominent Russian businessmen began trying to make inroads into the new administration. The most senior levels of the Russian government encouraged these efforts. The Russian Embassy made contact hours after the election to congratulate the President-Elect and to arrange a call with President Putin. Several Russian businessmen picked up the effort from there.
Kirill Dmitriev, the chief executive officer of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, was among the Russians who tried to make contact with the incoming administration. In early December, a business associate steered Dmitriev to Erik Prince, a supporter of the Trump Campaign and an associate of senior Trump advisor Steve Bannon. Dmitriev and Prince later met face-to-face in January 2017 in the Seychelles and discussed U.S.-Russia relations. During the same period, another business associate introduced Dmitriev to a friend of Jared Kushner who had not served on the Campaign or the Transition Team. Dmitriev and Kushner’s friend collaborated on a short written reconciliation plan for the United States and Russia, which Dmitriev implied had been cleared through Putin. The friend gave that proposal to Kushner before the inauguration, and Kushner later gave copies to Bannon and incoming Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
On December 29, 2016, then-President Obama imposed sanctions on Russia for having interfered in the election. Incoming National Security Advisor Michael Flynn called Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and asked Russia not to escalate the situation in response to the sanctions. The following day, Putin announced that Russia would not take retaliatory measures in response to the sanctions at that time. Hours later, President-Elect Trump tweeted, “Great move on delay (by V. Putin).” The next day, on December 31 , 2016, Kislyak called Flynn and told him the request had been received at the highest levels and Russia had chosen not to retaliate as a result of Flynn’s request.
* * *
On January 6, 2017, members of the intelligence community briefed President-Elect Trump on a joint assessment-drafted and coordinated among the Central Intelligence Agency, FBI, and
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National Security Agency-that concluded with high confidence that Russia had intervened in the election through a variety of means to assist Trump’s candidacy and harm Clinton’s. A declassified version of the assessment was publicly released that same day.
Between mid-January 2017 and early February 2017, three congressional committees-the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), and the Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC)-announced that they would conduct inquiries, or had already been conducting inquiries, into Russian interference in the election. Then-FBI Director James Corney later confirmed to Congress the existence of the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference that had begun before the election. On March 20, 2017, in open-session testimony before HPSCI, Corney stated:
I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts …. As with any counterintelligence investigation, this will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed.
The investigation continued under then-Director Corney for the next seven weeks until May 9, 2017, when President Trump fired Corney as FBI Director-an action which is analyzed in Volume II of the rep01t.
On May 17, 2017, Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed the Special Counsel and authorized him to conduct the investigation that Corney had confirmed in his congressional testimony, as well as matters arising directly from the investigation, and any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a), which generally covers efforts to interfere with or obstruct the investigation.
President Trump reacted negatively to the Special Counsel’s appointment. He told advisors that it was the end of his presidency, sought to have Attorney General Jefferson (Jeff) Sessions unrecuse from the Russia investigation and to have the Special Counsel removed, and engaged in efforts to curtail the Special Counsel’s investigation and prevent the disclosure of evidence to it, including through public and private contacts with potential witnesses. Those and related actions are described and analyzed in Volume II of the report.
* * *
In reaching the charging decisions described in Volume 1 of the report, the Office determined whether the conduct it found amounted to a violation of federal criminal law chargeable under the Principles of Federal Prosecution. See Justice Manual § 9-27.000 et seq. (2018). The standard set forth in the Justice Manual is whether the conduct constitutes a crime; if so, whether admissible evidence would probably be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction;
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and whether prosecution would serve a substantial federal interest that could not be adequately served by prosecution elsewhere or through non-criminal alternatives. See Justice Manual § 927 .220.
Section V of the report provides detailed explanations of the Office’s charging decisions, which contain three main components.
First, the Office determined that Russia’s two principal interference operations in the 2016 U.S. presidential election-the social media campaign and the hacking-and-dumping operationsviolated U.S. criminal law. Many of the individuals and entities involved in the social media campaign have been charged with participating in a conspiracy to defraud the United States by undermining through deceptive acts the work of federal agencies charged with regulating foreign influence in U.S. elections, as well as related counts of identity theft. See United States v. Internet Research Agency, et al., No. 18-cr-32 (D.D.C.). Separately, Russian intelligence officers who carried out the hacking into Democratic Party computers and the personal email accounts of individuals affiliated with the Clinton Campaign conspired to violate, among other federal laws, the federal computer-intrusion statute, and the have been so char ed. See United States v. Ne ksho, et al., No. 18-cr-215 D.D.C ..
Second, while the investigation identified numerous links between individuals with ties to the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign, the evidence was not sufficient to support criminal charges. Among other things, the evidence was not sufficient to charge any Campaign official as an unregistered agent of the Russian government or other Russian principal. And our evidence about the June 9, 2016 meeting and WikiLeaks’ s releases of hacked materials was not sufficient to charge a criminal campaign-finance violation. Further, the evidence was not sufficient to charge that any member of the Trump Campaign conspired with representatives of the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election.
Third, the investigation established that several individuals affiliated with the Trump Campaign lied to the Office, and to Congress, about their interactions with Russian-affiliated individuals and related matters. Those lies materially impaired the investigation of Russian election interference. The Office charged some of those lies as violations of the federal falsestatements statute. Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying about his interactions with Russian Ambassador Kislyak during the transition period. George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy advisor during the campaign period, pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about, inter alia, the nature and timing of his interactions with Joseph Mifsud, the professor who told Papadopoulos that the Russians had dirt on candidate Clinton .in the form of thousands of emails. Former Trump Organization attorney Michael Cohen leaded uilt to makin false statements to Con ress about the Trum Moscow ro · ect.
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Manafort lied to the Office and the grand jury concerning his interactions and communications with Konstantin Kilimnik about Trump Campaign polling data and a peace plan for Ukraine.
* * *
The Office investigated several other events that have been publicly repot1ed to involve potential Russia-related contacts. For example, the investigation established that interactions between Russian Ambassador Kislyak and Trump Campaign officials both at the candidate’s April 2016 foreign policy speech in Washington, D.C., and during the week of the Republican National Convention were brief, public, and non-substantive. And the investigation did not establish that one Campaign official’s efforts to dilute a portion of the Republican Party platform on providing assistance to Ukraine were undertaken at the behest of candidate Trump or Russia. The investigation also did not establish that a meeting between Kislyak and Sessions in September 2016 at Sessions’s Senate office included any more than a passing mention of the presidential campaign.
The investigation did not always yield admissible information or testimony, or a complete picture of the activities undertaken by subjects of the investigation. Some individuals invoked their Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination and were not, in the Office’s judgment, appropriate candidates for grants of immunity. The Office limited its pursuit of other witnesses and information-such as information known to attorneys or individuals claiming to be members of the media-in light of internal Depa11ment of Justice policies. See, e.g. , Justice Manual§§ 9-13.400, 13.410. Some of the information obtained via court process, moreover, was presumptively covered by legal privilege and was screened from investigators by a filter ( or “taint”) team. Even when individuals testified or agreed to be interviewed, they sometimes provided information that was false or incomplete, leading to some of the false-statements charges described above. And the Office faced practical limits on its ability to access relevant evidence as well-numerous witnesses and subjects lived abroad, and documents were held outside the United States.
Further, the Office learned that some of the individuals we interviewed or whose conduct we investigated-including some associated with the Trump Campaign—deleted relevant communications or communicated during the relevant period using applications that feature encryption or that do not provide for long-term retention of data or communications records. In such cases, the Office was not able to corroborate witness statements through comparison to contemporaneous communications or fully question witnesses about statements that appeared inconsistent with other known facts.
Accordingly, while this report embodies factual and legal determinations that the Office believes to be accurate and complete to the greatest extent possible, given these identified gaps, the Office cannot rule out the possibility that the unavailable information would shed additional light on (or cast in a new light) the events described in the report.
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On May 17, 2017, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein-then serving as Acting Attorney General for the Russia investigation following the recusal of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions on March 2, 2016-appointed the Special Counsel “to investigate Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election and related matters.” Office of the Deputy Att’y Gen., Order No. 3915-2017, Appointment of Special Counsel to Investigate Russian Interference with the 2016 Presidential Election and Related Matters, May 17, 2017) (“Appointment Order”). Relying on “the authority vested” in the Acting Attorney General, “including 28 U.S.C. §§ 509, 510, and 515,” the Acting Attorney General ordered the appointment of a Special Counsel “in order to discharge [the Acting Attorney General’s] responsibility to provide supervision and management of the Department of Justice, and to ensure a full and thorough investigation of the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.” Appointment Order (introduction). “The Special Counsel,” the Order stated, “is authorized to conduct the investigation confirmed by then-FBI Director James B. Corney in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on March 20, 2017,” including: ‘
(i) any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and
(ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and
(iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a).
Appointment Order ,r (b). Section 600.4 affords the Special Counsel “the authority to investigate and prosecute federal crimes committed in the course of, and with intent to interfere with, the Special Counsel’s investigation, such as perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, and intimidation of witnesses.” 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a). The authority to investigate “any matters that arose . .. directly from the investigation,” Appointment Order ,r (b)(ii), covers similar crimes that may have occurred during the course of the FBI’s confirmed investigation before the Special Counsel’s appointment. “If the Special Counsel believes it is necessary and appropriate,” the Order further provided, “the Special Counsel is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation of these matters.” Id. ,r ( c ). Finally, the Acting Attorney General made applicable “Sections 600.4 through 600.10 of Title 28 of the Code of Federal Regulations.” Id. ,r (d).
The Acting Attorney General further clarified the scope of the Special Counsel’s investigatory authority in two subsequent memoranda. A memorandum dated August 2, 2017, explained that the Appointment Order had been “worded categorically in order to permit its public release without confirming specific investigations involving specific individuals.” It then confirmed that the Special Counsel had been authorized since his appointment to investigate allegations that three Trump campaign officials-Carter Page, Paul Manafort, and George Papadopoulos- “committed a crime or crimes by colluding with Russian government officials with respect to the Russian government’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.” The memorandum also confirmed the Special Counsel’s authority to investigate certain other matters, including two additional sets of allegations involving Manafort (crimes arising from payments he received from the Ukrainian government and crimes arising from his receipt of loans
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from a bank whose CEO was then seeking a position in the Trump Administration); allegations that Papadopoulos committed a crime or crimes by acting as an unregistered agent of the Israeli government; and four sets of allegations involving Michael Flynn, the former National Security Advisor to President Trump.
On October 20, 2017, the Acting Attorney General confirmed in a memorandum the Special Counsel’s investigative authority as to several individuals and entities. First, “as part of a full and thorough investigation of the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election,” the Special Counsel was authorized to investigate “the
pertinent activities of Michael Cohen, Richard Gates, , Roger Stone, and I” “Confirmation of the authorization to investigate such individuals,” the memorandum stressed, “does not suggest that the Special Counsel has made a determination that any of them has committed a crime.” Second, with respect to Michael Cohen, the memorandum recognized the Special Counsel’s authority to investigate “leads relate[d] to Cohen’ s establishment and use of Essential Consultants LLC to, inter alia, receive funds from Russian-backed entities.” Third, the memorandum memorialized the Special Counsel’s authority to investigate individuals and entities who were possibly engaged in “jointly undertaken activity” with existing subjects of the investigation, including Paul Manafort. Finally, the memorandum described an FBI investigation opened before the Special Counsel’s appointment into “allegations that [then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions] made false statements to the United States Senate[,]” and confirmed the Special Counsel’s authority to investigate that matter.
The Special Counsel structured the investigation in view of his power and authority “to exercise all investigative and prosecutorial functions of any United States Attorney.” 28 C.F.R: § 600.6. Like a U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Special Counsel’s Office considered a range of classified and unclassified information available to the FBI in the course of the Office’s Russia investigation, and the Office structured that work around evidence for possible use in prosecutions of federal crimes (assuming that one or more crimes were identified that warranted prosecution). There was substantial evidence immediately available to the Special Counsel at the inception of the investigation in May 2017 because the FBI had, by that time, already investigated Russian election interference for nearly 10 months. The Special Counsel’s Office exercised its judgment regarding what to investigate and did not, for instance, investigate every public report of a contact between the Trump Campaign and Russian-affiliated individuals and entities.
The Office has concluded its investigation into links and coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign. Certain proceedings associated with the Office’s work remain ongoing. After consultation with the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, the Office has transferred responsibility for those remaining issues to other components of the Department of Justice and FBI. Appendix D lists those transfers.
Two district courts confirmed the breadth of the Special Counsel’s authority to investigate Russia election interference and links and/or coordination with the Trump Campaign. See United States v. Manafort, 312 F. Supp. 3d 60, 79-83 (D.D.C. 2018); United States v. Manafort, 321 F. Supp. 3d 640, 650-655 (E.D. Va. 2018). In the course of conducting that investigation, the Office periodically identified evidence of potential criminal activity that was outside the scope of the Special Counsel’s authority established by the Acting Attorney General. After consultation with
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the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, the Office referred that evidence to appropriate law enforcement authorities, principally other components of the Department of Justice and to the FBI. Appendix D summarizes those referrals.
* * *
To carry out the investigation and prosecution of the matters assigned to him, the Special Counsel assembled a team that at its high point included 19 attorneys-five of whom joined the Office from private practice and 14 on detail or assigned from other Department of Justice components. These attorneys were assisted by a filter team of Department lawyers and FBI personnel who screened materials obtained via court process for privileged information before turning those materials over to investigators; a support staff of three paralegals on detail from the Department’s Antitrust Division; and an administrative staff of nine responsible for budget, finance, purchasing, human resources, records, facilities, security, information technology, and administrative support. The Special Counsel attorneys and support staff were co-located with and worked alongside approximately 40 FBI agents, intelligence analysts, forensic accountants, a paralegal, and professional staff assigned by the FBI to assist the Special Counsel’s investigation. Those “assigned” FBI employees remained under FBI supervision at all times; the matters on which they assisted were supervised by the Special Counsel. 1
During its investigation the Office issued more than 2,800 subpoenas under the auspices of a grand jury sitting in the District of Columbia; executed nearly 500 search-and-seizure warrants; obtained more than 230 orders for communications records under 18 U.S.C. § 2703(d); obtained almost 50 orders authorizing use of pen registers; made 13 requests to foreign governments pursuant to Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties; and interviewed approximately 500 witnesses, including almost 80 before a grand jury.
* * *
From its inception, the Office recognized that its investigation could identify foreign intelligence and counterintelligence information relevant to the FBI’s broader national security mission. FBI personnel who assisted the Office established procedures to identify and convey such information to the FBI. The FBI’s Counterintelligence Division met with the Office regularly for that purpose for most of the Office’s tenure. For more than the past year, the FBI also embedded personnel at the Office who did not work on the Special Counsel’s investigation, but whose purpose was to review the results of the investigation and to send-in writing-summaries of foreign intelligence and counterintelligence information to FBIHQ and FBI Field Offices. Those communications and other correspondence between the Office and the FBI contain information derived from the investigation, not all of which is contained in this Volume. This Volume is a summary. It contains, in the Office’s judgment, that information necessary to account for the Special Counsel’s prosecution and declination decisions and to describe the investigation’s main factual results.
1 FBI personnel assigned to the Special Counsel’s Office were required to adhere to all applicable federal law and all Department and FBI regulations, guidelines, and policies. An FBI attorney worked on FBI-related matters for the Office, such as FBI compliance with all FBI policies and procedures, including the FBI’s Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG). That FBI attorney worked under FBI legal supervision, not the Special Counsel’s supervision.
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The first form of Russian election influence came principally from the Internet Research Agency, LLC (IRA), a Russian organization funded by Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin and companies he controlled, including Concord Management and Consulting LLC and Concord Catering (collectively “Concord”).2 The IRA conducted social media operations targeted at large U.S. audiences with the goal of sowing discord in the U.S. political system.3 These operations constituted “active measures” (aKTMBHbie Meporrprumu1), a term that typically refers to operations conducted by Russian security services aimed at influencing the course of international affairs.4
The IRA and its employees began operations targeting the United States as early as 2014. Using fictitious U.S. personas, IRA employees operated social media accounts and group pages designed to attract U.S. audiences. These groups and accounts, which addressed divisive U.S. political and social issues, falsely claimed to be controlled by U.S. activists. Over time, these social media accounts became a means to reach large U.S. audiences. IRA employees travelled to the United States in mid-2014 on an intelligence-gathering mission to obtain information and photographs for use in their social media posts.
IRA employees posted derogatory information about a number of candidates in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. By early to mid-2016, IRA operations included supporting the Trump Campaign and disparaging candidate Hillary Clinton. The IRA made various expenditures to carry out those activities, including buying political advertisements on social media in the names of U.S. persons and entities. Some IRA employees, posing as U.S. persons and without revealing their Russian association, communicated electronically with individuals associated with the Trump Campaign and with other political activists to seek to coordinate political activities, including the staging of political rallies.5 The investigation did not identify evidence that any U.S. persons knowingly or intentionally coordinated with the IRA’s interference operation.
By the end of the 2016 U.S. election, the IRA had the ability to reach millions of U.S. persons through their social media accounts. Multiple IRA-controlled Facebook groups and
2 The Office is aware of reports that other Russian entities engaged in similar active measw-es operations targeting the United States. Some evidence collected by the Office corroborates those rep01ts, and the Office has shared that evidence with other offices in the Department of Justice and FBI. 3 Harm to Ongoing Matter see also SM-2230634, serial 44 (analysis). The FBI case number cited here, and other FBI case numbers identified in the report, should be treated as law enforcement sensitive given the context. The report contains additional law enforcement sensitive information. 4 As discussed in Part V below, the active measures investigation has resulted in criminal charges against 13 individual Russian nationals and three Russian entities, principally for conspiracy to defraud the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. See Volume I, Section V.A, infra; Indictment, United States v. Internet Research Agency, et al., 1 :18-cr-32 (D.D.C. Feb. 16, 2018), Doc. I (“Internet Research Agency Indictment”).
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Instagram accounts had hundreds of thousands of U.S. participants. IRA-controlled Twitter accounts separately had tens of thousands of followers, including multiple U.S. political figures who retweeted IRA-created content. In November 2017, a Facebook representative testified that Facebook had identified 470 IRA-controlled Facebook accounts that collectively made 80,000 posts between January 2015 and August 2017. Facebook estimated the IRA reached as many as 126 million persons through its Face book accounts. 6 In January 2018, Twitter announced that it had identified 3,814 IRA-controlled Twitter accounts and notified approximately 1 .4 million people Twitter believed may have been in contact with an iRA-controlled account.7
A. Structure of the Internet Research Agency
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anization also led to a more detailed or anizational structure.
6 Social Media Influence in the 2016 US. Election, Hearing Before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 115th Cong. 13 (11/1/17) (testimony of Colin Stretch, General Counsel ofFacebook) (“We estimate that roughly 29 million people were served content in their News Feeds directly from the IRA’s 80,000 posts over the two years. Posts from these Pages were also shared, liked, and followed by people on Facebook, and, as a result, three times more people may have been exposed to a story that originated from the Russian operation. Our best estimate is that approximately 126 million people may have been served content from a Page associated with the IRA at some point during the two-year period.”). The Facebook representative also testified that Facebook had identified 170 Instagram accounts that posted approximately 120,000 pieces of content during that time. Facebook did not offer an estimate of the audience reached via Instagram. 7 Twitter, Update on Twitter’s Review of the 2016 US Election (Jan. 31, 2018).
8 See SM-2230634, serial 92. 9 Harm to Ongoing Matter 10 Harm to Ongoing Matter 11 See SM-2230634, serial 86 Harm to Ongoing Matter
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. , I . I .. .. . .. .. . – .. .. . . . Harm to Ongoing Matter
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of 2014, the IRA be an to hide its fundin and activities.
I I. • I • . I• I ! I I.. • I Harm to Ongoing Matter
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B. Funding and Oversight from Concord and Prigozhin
Until at least February 2018, Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin and two Concord companies funded the IRA. Prigozhin is a wealthy Russian businessman who served as the head of Concord.
13 Harm to Ongoing Matter 14 See, e.g., SM-2230634, serials 9, 113 & 180 Harm to Ongoing Matter 15 Harm to Ongoing Matter -· Harm to Ongoing Matter
131 & 204. 17 Harm to Ongoing Matter
18 Harm to Ongoing Matter
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sources have reported on Prigozhin’s ties to Putin, and the two have appeared together in public photographs.22
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19 U.S. Treasury Deprutment, “Treasury Sanctions Individuals and Entities in Connection with Russia’s Occupation of Crimea and the Conflict in Ukraine” (Dec. 20, 2016).
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22 See, e.g., Neil MacFarquhar, Yevgeny Prigozhin, Russian Oligarch Indicted by US., Is Known as “Putin’s Cook”, New York Times (Feb. 16, 2018).
24 Harm to Ongoing Matter
see also SM
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28 The term “tro 11” refers to internet users- in this context, paid operatives-who post inflammatory or otherwise disruptive content on social media or other websites.
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• :6_ a • • a a I I. • Harm to Ongoing Matter
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In May 2016, IRA employees, claiming to be U.S. social activists and administrators ofFacebook groups, recruited U.S. persons to hold signs (including one in front of the White House) that read “Happy 55th Birthda Dear Boss,” as an homa e to Pri ozhin whose 55th birthda was on June 1, 2016 . 31 Harr,, ,v ‘-” ll::jVI I ‘l::I 1v1a,u:;r
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C. The IRA Targets U.S. Elections
1. The IRA Ramps Up U.S. Operations As Early As 2014
I I. • I
! … • … • …. ” • ” I” : I I Harm to Ongoing Matter subdivided the Translator Department into different responsibilities, ranging from operations on different social media platforms to analytics to
29 Investigative Technique See SM-2230634, serials 131 & 204. 30 See SM-2230634, serial 156. 31 Internet Research Agency Indictment ,r 12 b; see also 5/26/16 Facebook Messages, ID 1479936895656747 (United Muslims of America) &
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graphics and IT.
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I, • · I
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34 See SM-2230634, serial 204 Harm to Ongoing Matter
234 See SM-2230634, serial 204 Harm to Ongoing Matter
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IRA employees also traveled to the United States on intelligence-gathering missions. In June 2014, four IRA employees applied to the U.S. Department of State to enter the United States, while lying about the purpose of their trip and claiming to be four friends who had met at a party.38 Ultimately, two IRA employees-Anna Bogacheva and Aleksandra Krylova-received visas and entered the United States on June 4, 2014. ••• “. . • ,,. ,:,!,, . ” ….. – . – . . Harm to Ongoing Matter
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35 Harm to Ongoing Matter
37 Harm to Ongoing Matter 38 See SM-2230634, serials 150 & 172 Harm to Ongoing Matter
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2. U.S. Operations Through IRA-Controlled Social Media Accounts
Dozens of IRA employees were responsible for operating accounts and personas on different U.S. social media platforms. The IRA referred to employees assigned to operate the social media accounts as “specialists.”42 Starting as early as 2014, the IRA’ s U.S. operations included social media specialists focusing on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.43 The IRA later added specialists who operated on Tumblr and Instagram accounts.44
Initially, the IRA created social media accounts that pretended to be the personal accounts of U.S. persons.45 By early 2015, the IRA began to create larger social media groups or public social media pages that claimed (falsely) to be affiliated with U.S. political and grassroots organizations. In certain cases, the IRA created accounts that mimicked real U.S. organizations. For example, one IRA-controlled Twitter account, @TEN_ GOP, purported to be connected to the Tennessee Republican Party.46 More commonly, the IRA created accounts in the names of fictitious U.S. organizations and grassroots groups and used these accounts to pose as antiimmigration groups, Tea Party activists, Black Lives Matter protestors, and other U.S. social and political activists.
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45 See, e.g., Facebook ID 100011390466802 (Alex Anderson); Facebook ID 100009626173204 (Andrea Hansen); Facebook ID 100009728618427 (Gary Williams); Facebook ID 100013640043337 (Lakisha Richardson). 46 The account claimed to be the “Unofficial Twitter of Tennessee Republicans” and made posts that appeared to be endorsements of the state political party. See, e.g., @TEN_GOP, 4/3/16 Tweet (“Tennessee GOP backs @rea!DonaldTrump period #makeAmericagreatagain #tngop #tennessee #gop”).
State and romoted various criti ues of her candidac . The IRA also used other techni
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The focus on the U.S. presidential campaign continued throughout 2016. Inifll 2016 internal reviewing the IRA-controlled Facebook group “Secured Borders,” the
47 Harm to Ongoing Matter
48 See, e.g. , SM-2230634 serial 131
49 The IRA posted content about the Clinton candidacy before Clinton officially announced her presidential campaign. IRA-controlled social media accounts criticized Clinton’s record as Secretar of
50 Harm to Ongoing Matter
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author criticized the “lower number of posts dedicated to criticizing Hillary Clinton” and reminded the Facebook specialist “it is imperative to intensify criticizing Hillary Clinton.”51
3. U.S. Operations Through Facebook
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during the 2016 campaign covered a range of political issues and included purported conservative
52 Harm to Ongoing Matter
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54 Harm to Ongoing Matter
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groups (with names such as “Being Patriotic,” “Stop All Immigrants,” “Secured Borders,” and “Tea Party News”), purported Black social justice groups (“Black Matters,” “Blacktivist,” and “Don’t Shoot Us”), LGBTQ groups (“LGBT United”), and religious groups (“United Muslims of America”).
Throughout 2016, IRA accounts published an increasing number of materials supporting the Trump Campaign and opposing the Clinton Campaign. For example, on May 31, 2016, the operational account “Matt Skiber” began to privately message dozens of pro-Trump Facebook groups asking them to help plan a “pro-Trump rally near Trump Tower.”55
To reach larger U.S. audiences, the IRA purchased advertisements from Facebook that promoted the IRA groups on the newsfeeds of U.S. audience members. According to Facebook, the IRA purchased over 3,500 advertisements, and the expenditures totaled approximately $100,000.56
During the U.S. presidential campaign, many IRA-purchased advertisements explicitly supported or opposed a presidential candidate or promoted U.S. rallies organized by the IRA ( discussed below). As early as March 2016, the IRA purchased advertisements that overtly opposed the Clinton Campaign. For example, on March 18, 2016, the IRA purchased an advertisement depicting candidate Clinton and a caption that read in part, “If one day God lets this liar enter the White House as a president – that day would be a real national tragedy.”57 Similarly, on April 6, 2016, the IRA purchased advertisements for its account “Black Matters” calling for a “flashmob” of U.S. persons to “take a photo with #HillaryClintonForPrison2016 or #nohillary2016.”58 IRA-purchased advertisements featuring Clinton were, with very few exceptions, negative.59
IRA-purchased advertisements referencing candidate Trump largely supported his campaign. The first known IRA advertisement explicitly endorsing the Trump Campaign was purchased on April 19, 2016. The IRA bought an advertisement for its Instagram account “Tea Party News” asking U.S. persons to help them “make a patriotic team of young Trump supporters” by uploading photos with the hashtag “#KIDS4TRUMP.”60 In subsequent months, the IRA purchased dozens of advertisements supporting the Trump Campaign, predominantly through the Facebook groups “Being Patriotic,” “Stop All Invaders,” and “Secured Borders.”
55 5/31/16 Facebook Message, ID 100009922908461 (Matt Skiber) to ID 5/31/16 Facebook Message, ID 100009922908461 (Matt Skiber) to ID
56 Social Media Influence in the 2016 US. Election, Hearing Before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 115th Cong. 13 (11/1/17) (testimony of Colin Stretch, General Counsel of Facebook). 57 3/18/16 Facebook Advertisement ID 6045505152575. 58 4/6/16 Facebook Advertisement ID 6043740225319.
59 See SM-2230634, serial 213 (documenting politically-oriented advertisements from the larger set provided by Facebook).
60 4/19/16 Facebook Advertisement ID 6045151094235.
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Collectively, the IRA’s social media accounts reached tens of millions of U.S. persons. Individual IRA social media accounts attracted hundreds of thousands of followers. For example, at the time they were deactivated by Facebook in mid-2017, the IRA’s “United Muslims of America” Facebook group had over 300,000 followers, the “Don’t Shoot Us” Facebook group had over 250,000 followers, the “Being Patriotic” Facebook group had over 200,000 followers, and the “Secured Borders” Facebook group had over 130,000 followers.61 According to Facebook, in total the IRA-controlled accounts made over 80,000 posts before their deactivation in August 2017, and these posts reached at least 29 million U.S persons and “may have reached an estimated 126 million people.”62
4. U.S. Operations Through Twitter .- .. , .. ‘ …. • • ••• • Harm to Ongoing Matter
ti •.•• •”!” •• •. ••·•·• , . , . • . Harm to Ongoing Matter
Separately, the IRA operated a network of automated Twitter accounts ( commonly referred to as a bot network) that enabled the IRA to amplify existing content on Twitter.
a. Individualized Accounts
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61 See Facebook ID 1479936895656747 (United Muslims of America); Facebook ID l 157233400960126 (Don’t Shoot); Facebook ID 1601685693432389 Bein Patriotic; Facebook ID 757183957716200 Secured Borders).
Harm to Ongoing Matter 62 Social Media Influence in the 2016 US Election, Hearing Before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 115th Cong. 13 (11/1/17) (testimony of Colin Stretch, General Counsel ofFacebook). 63 Harm to Ongoing Matter
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Harm to Ongoing Matter The IRA operated individualized Twitter accounts similar to the operation of its Facebook accounts, by continuously posting original content to the accounts while also communicating with U.S. Twitter users directly (through public tweeting or Twitter’s private messaging).
The IRA used many of these accounts to attempt to influence U.S. audiences on the election. Individualized accounts used to influence the U.S. presidential election included @TEN_ GOP ( described above); @jenn _ abrams ( claiming to be a Virginian Trump supporter with 70,000 followers); @Pamela_Moore13 (claiming to be a Texan Trump supporter with 70,000 followers); and @America:__Ist_ (an anti-immigration persona with 24,000 followers).67 In May 2016, the IRA created the Twitter account @march_for_trump, which promoted IRA-organized rallies in support of the Trump Campaign (described below).68
Using these accounts and others, the IRA provoked reactions from users and the media. Multiple IRA-posted tweets gained popularity.70 U.S. media outlets also quoted tweets from IRA-controlled accounts and attributed them to the reactions of real U.S. persons.71 Similarly, numerous high
66 Harm to Ongoing Matter
67 Other individualized accounts included @MissouriNewsUS (an account with 3,800 followers that posted pro-Sanders and anti-Clinton material). 68 See @march_for_trump, 5/30/16 Tweet (first post from account).
7° For example, one IRA account tweeted, “To those people, who hate the Confederate flag. Did you know that the flag and the war wasn’t about slavery, it was all about money.” The tweet received over 40,000 responses. @Jenn_Abrams 4/24/17 (2:37 p.m.) Tweet. 71 Josephine Lukito & Chris Wells, Most Major Outlets Have Used Russian Tweets as Sources for Partisan Opinion: Study, Columbia Journalism Review (Mar. 8, 2018); see also Twitter Steps Up to Explain #NewYorkValues to Ted Cruz, Washington Post (Jan. 15, 2016) (citing IRA tweet); People Are Slamming the CIA/or Claiming Russia Tried to Help Donald Trump, U.S. News & World Report (Dec. 12, 2016).
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profile U.S. persons, including former Ambassador Michael McFaul,72 Roger Stone,73 Sean Hannity,74 and Michael Flynn Jr.,75 retweetcd or responded to tweets posted to these IRAcontrolled accounts. Multiple individuals affiliated with the Trump Campaign also promoted IRA tweets (discussed below).
b. IRA Botnet Activities
In January 2018, Twitter publicly identified 3,814 Twitter accounts associated with the IRA.79 According to Twitter, in the ten weeks before the 2016 U.S. presidential election, these accounts posted approximately 175,993 tweets, “approximately 8.4% of which were election- ·
72 @Mcfaul 4/30/16 Tweet (responding to tweet by @Jenn_Abrams). 73 @RogerJStoneJr 5/30/16 Tweet (retweeting @Pamela_Moorel3); @RogerJStoneJr 4/26/16 Tweet (same). 74 @seanhannity 6/21/17 Tweet (retweeting @Pamela_ Moore 13).
75 @mflynnJR 6/22/17 Tweet (“RT@Jenn_Abrams: This is what happens when you add the voice over of an old documentary about mental illness onto video of SJWs … “). 76 A botnet refers to a network of private computers or accounts controlled as a group to send specific automated messages. On the Twitter network, botnets can be used to promote and republish (“retweet”) specific tweets or hashtags in order for them to gain larger audiences. 77 Harm to Ongoing Matter
78 Harm to Ongoing Matter
79 Eli Rosenberg, Twitter to Tell 677,000 Users they Were Had by the Russians. Some Signs Show the Problem Continues, Washington Post (Jan. 19, 2019).
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related.”80 Twitter also announced that it had notified approximately 1.4 million people who Twitter believed may have been in contact with an IRA-controlled account.81
5. U.S. Operations Involving Political Rallies
The IRA organized and promoted political rallies inside the United States while posing as U.S. grassroots activists. First, the IRA used one of its preexisting social media personas (Facebook groups and Twitter accounts, for example) to announce and promote the event. The IRA then sent a large number of direct messages to followers of its social media account asking them to attend the event. From those who responded with interest in attending, the IRA then sought a U.S. person to serve as the event’s coordinator. In most cases, the IRA account operator would tell the U.S. person that they personally could not attend the event due to some preexisting conflict or because they were somewhere else in the United States.82 The IRA then further promoted the event by contacting U.S. media about the event and directing them to speak with the coordinator.83 After the event, the IRA posted videos and photographs of the event to the IRA’s social media accounts. 84
The Office identified dozens of U.S. rallies organized by the IRA. The earliest evidence of a rally was a “confederate rally” in November 2015. 85 The IRA continued to organize rallies even after the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The attendance at rallies varied. Some rallies appear to have drawn few (if any) pa1tici2ants while others drew hundreds The reach and success of these Harm to Ongoing Matter
80 Twitter, “Update on Twitter’s Review of the 2016 US Election” (updated Jan. 31, 2018). Twitter also reported identifying 50,258 automated accounts connected to the Russian government, which tweeted more than a million times in the ten weeks before the election. 81 Twitter, “Update on Twitter’s Review of the 2016 US Election” (updated Jan. 31, 2018). 82 8/20/16 Facebook Message, ID 100009922908461 (Matt Skiber) to ID … 83 See, e.g. , 7/21/16~gmail.com to ; 7/21/16 Email, joshmilton024@gmail.com to
84 @march_for_trump 6/25/16 Tweet (posting photos from rally outside Trump Tower). 85 Instagram ID 2228012168 (Stand For Freedom) 11/3/15 Post (“Good evening buds! Well I am planning to organize a confederate rally[ . . . ] in Houston on the 14 of November and I want more people to attend.”).
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1 1 1 1
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From June 2016 until the end of the presidential campaign, almost all of the U.S. rallies organized by the IRA focused on the U.S. election, often promoting the Trump Campaign and opposing the Clinton Campaign. Pro-Trump rallies included three in New York; a series of pro-Trump rallies in Florida in August 2016; and a \ ~ – series of pro-Trump rallies in October 2016 in Pennsylvania. The .., … \. Florida rallies drew the attention of the Trump Campaign, which MINERS FOR TRUMP posted about the Miami rally on candidate Trump’s Facebook BRING BACK OUR JOBS account (as discussed below).86 HELP MR. TRUMP FIX IT! . . .. . . . . • • • • • • • •• WHEN IIC!llelli: Iii :Tf.1 t I , , t · WH ERE : 111 11 · 11/1, ,·111 :,11 1,1;H Harm to Ongoing Matter \l1\l:l:llfl\’ l’I ;\/A 1 ‘1 11 ·/
/I IHll~\l’l’I N!:I: 111,
IRA Poster for Pennsylvania Rallies organized by the IRA
6. Targeting and Recruitment of U.S. Persons
IRA employees frequently used Investigative Technique Twitter, Facebook, and lnstagram to contact and recruit U.S. persons who followed the group. The IRA recruited U.S. For example, the IRA targeted the family ofand a number of black social justice activists ersons from across the olitical s ectrum.
86 The pro-Trump rallies were organized through multiple Facebook, Twitter, and email accounts. See, e.g., Facebook ID 100009922908461 (Matt Skiber); Facebook ID 1601685693432389 (Being Patriotic); Twitter Account @march_for_trump; beingpatriotic@gmail.com. (Rallies were organized in New York on June 25, 2016; Florida on August 20, 2016; and Pennsylvania on October 2, 2016.) 87 Harm to Ongoing Matter
88 Harm to Ongoing Matter
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while posing as a grassroots group called “Black Matters US.”89 In February 2017, the persona “Black Fist” (purporting to want to teach African-Americans to protect themselves when contacted by law enforcement) hired a self-defense instructor in New York to offer classes sponsored by Black Fist. The IRA also recruited moderators of conservative social media groups to promote IRA-generated content,90 as well as recruited individuals to perform political acts (such as walking around New York City dressed up as Santa Claus with a Trump mask).91
Harm to Ongoing Matter
aHarm to Ongoing Matter
aHarm to Ongoing Matter
as the IRA’s online audience became larger, the IRA tracked U.S. persons with whom they communicated and had successfully tasked with tasks ran in from or anizin rallies to takin ictures with certain olitical messa es .
89 3/11/16 Facebook Advertisement ID 6045078289928, 5/6/16 Facebook Advertisement ID 6051652423528, 10/26/16 Facebook Advertisement ID 6055238604687; 10/27/16 Facebook Message, ID & ID 100011698576461 (Taylor Brooks). 90 8/19/16 Face book Message, ID 100009922908461 (Matt Skiber) to ID
91 12/8/16 Email, robot@craigslist.org to beingpatriotic@gmail.com (confirming Craigslist advertisement). 92 8/18-19/16 Twitter DMs, @march_for_trump &
ID 100011698576461 (Taylor Brooks) & (arranging to pay for plane tickets and for a
Facebook Message, ID 100009922908461 (Matt Skiber) & (discussing payment for rally supplies); 8/18/16 Twitter DM, (discussing payment for construction materials).
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7. Interactions and Contacts with the Trump Campaign
The investigation identified two different forms of connections between the IRA and . members of the Trump Campaign. (The investigation identified no similar connections between the IRA and the Clinton Campaign.) First, on multiple occasions, members and surrogates of the Trump Campaign promoted-typically by linking, retweeting, or similar methods of repostingpro-Trump or anti-Clinton content published by the IRA through IRA-controlled social media accounts. Additionally, in a few instances, IRA employees represented themselves as U.S. persons to communicate with members of the Trump Campaign in an effort to seek assistance and coordination on IRA-organized political rallies inside the United States.
a. Trump Campaign Promotion of IRA Political Materials
Among the U.S. “leaders of public opinion” targeted by the IRA were various members and surrogates of the Trump Campaign. In total, Trump Campaign affiliates promoted dozens of tweets, posts, and other political content created by the IRA.
Posts from the IRA-controlled Twitter account @TEN_GOP were cited or retweeted by multiple Trump Campaign officials and surrogates, including Donald J. Trump Jr.,96 Eric
96 See, e.g , @DonaldJTrumpJr 10/26/16 Tweet (“RT @TEN_GOP: BREAKING Thousands of names changed on voter rolls in Indiana. Police investigating #Voterfraud. #DrainTheSwamp.”); @DonaldJTrumpJr 11/2/16 Tweet (“RT @TEN_GOP: BREAKING: #VoterFraud by counting tens of thousands of ineligible mail in Hillary votes being reported in Broward County, Florida.”); @DonaldJTrumpJr 11/8/16 Tweet (“RT @TEN_GOP: This vet passed away last month before he could vote for Trump. Here he is in his #MAGA hat. #voted #ElectionDay.”). Trump Jr. retweeted additional @TEN_ GOP content subsequent to the election.
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Trump,97 Kellyanne Conway,98 Brad Parscale,99 and Michael T. Flynn. 100 These posts included allegations of voter fraud, 101 as well as allegations that Secretary Clinton had mishandled classified information.102
– A November 7, 2016 post from the IRA-controlled Twitter account @Pamela_ Moore 13 was retweeted by THANK YOU for your support M iami! My learn jusl sha1ed pholos lrom YQU1 TRUMP SIGN WAVING DAY. yes1e1da.y! I bve you – and lhe re is no question • TOGETHER, WE WILL MAKE AMEAICA GREAT AGAIN! Donald J. Trump Jr. 103
On September 19, 2017, President Trump’s personal .. account @realDonaldTrump responded to a tweet from the IRA-controlled account @ l0_gop (the backup account of @TEN_ GOP, which had already been deactivated by Twitter). The tweet read: “We love you, Mr. President!”104
IRA employees monitored the reaction of the Trump Campaign and, later, Trump Administration officials to their tweets. For example, on August 23, 2016, the IRAcontrolled persona “Matt Skiber” Facebook account sent a message to a U.S. Tea Party activist, writin.g that “Mr. Trump posted about our event in Miami! This is great!”105 The IRA employee included a screenshot of candidate Trump’s Facebook account, which included a post about the Screenshot of Trump Facebook August 20, 2016 political rallies organized by the IRA. Account (from Matt Skibe,)
97 @EricTrump 10/20/16 Tweet (“RT @TEN_GOP: BREAKING Hillary shuts down press conference when asked about DNC Operatives corruption & #VoterFraud #debatenight #TrumpB”).
98 @KellyannePolls 11/6/16 Tweet (“RT @TEN_ GOP: Mother of jailed sailor: ‘Hold Hillary to same standards as my son on Classified info’ #hillarysemail #WeinerGate.”).
99 @parscale 10/15/16 Tweet (“Thousands of deplorables chanting to the media: ‘Tell The Truth!’ RT if you are also done w/ biased Media! #Friday Feeling”). 100 @GenFlynn 11/7/16 (retweeting @TEN_GOP post that included in part “@rea!DonaldTrump & @mike_pence will be our next POTUS & VPOTUS.”).
101 @TEN_GOP 10/11/16 Tweet (“North Carolina finds 2,214 voters over the age of 110!!”).
102 @TEN_GOP 11/6/16 Tweet (“Mother of jailed sailor: ‘Hold Hillary to same standards as my son on classified info #hillaryemail #WeinerGate.”‘).
103 @DonaldJTrumpJr 11 /7 /16 Tweet (“RT @Pamela _Moore 13: Detroit residents speak out against the failed policies of Obama, Hillary & democrats …. “). 104 @rea!DonaldTrump 9/19/17 (7 :33 p.m.) Tweet (“THANK YOU for your support Miami! My team just shared photos from your TRUMP SIGN WA YING DAY, yesterday! I love you-and there is no question – TOGETHER, WE WILL MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”).
105 8/23/16 Facebook Message, ID 100009922908461 (Matt Skiber) to ID
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Harm to Ongoing Matter
b. Contact with Trump Campaign Officials in Connection to Rallies
Starting in June 2016, the IRA contacted different U.S. persons affiliated with the Trump Campaign in an effort to coordinate pro-Trump IRA-organized rallies inside the United States. In all cases, the IRA contacted the Campaign while claiming to be U.S. political activists working on behalf of a conservative grassroots organization. The IRA’s contacts included requests for signs and other materials to use at rallies, 107 as well as requests to promote the rallies and help coordinate Iogistics.108 While certain campaign volunteers agreed to provide the requested support (for example, agreeing to set aside a number of signs), the investigation has not identified evidence that any Trump Campaign official understood the requests were coming from foreign nationals.
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In sum, the investigation established that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election through the “active measures” social media campaign carried out by the IRA, an organization funded by Prigozhin and companies that he controlled. As explained further in Volume I, Section V.A, infra, the Office concluded (and a grand jury has alleged) that Prigozhin, his companies, and IRA employees violated U.S. law through these operations, principally by undermining through deceptive acts the work of federal agencies charged with regulating foreign influence in U.S. elections.
107 See, e.g., 8/16/16 Email, joshmilton024@gmail.com to -@donaldtrump.com (asking for ~Pence signs for Florida rally); 8/18/16 Email, joshmilton024@gmail.com to -@donaldtrump.com (a-kin for Trump/Pence signs for Florida rally); 8/12/16 Email, joshmilton024@gmail.com to @donaldtrump.com (asking for “contact phone numbers for Trump Campaign affiliates” in various Florida cities and signs).
108 8/15/16 Email, to joshmilton024 locations to the “Florida Goes Trump,” list); 8/16/16 Email, to joshmi1ton024@gmail.com (volunteering to send an email blast to followers).
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, the Trump Campaign about WikiLeaks’s activities. The investigation was unable to resolve WikiLeaks’s release of the stolen Podesta emails on October 7, 2016, the same day a video from years earlier was published of Trump using graphic language about women.
Beginning in March 2016, units of the Russian Federation’ s Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff (GRU) hacked the computers and email accounts of organizations, e·mployees, and volunteers supporting the Clinton Campaign, including the email account of campaign chairman John Podesta. Starting in April 2016, the GRU hacked into the computer networks of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The GRU targeted hundreds of email accounts used by Clinton Campaign employees, advisors, and volunteers. In total, the GRU stole hundreds of thousands of documents from the compromised email accounts and networks. 109 The GRU later released stolen Clinton Campaign and DNC documents through online personas, “DCLeaks” and “Guccifer 2.0,” and later through the organization WikiLeaks. The release of the documents was designed and timed to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election and undermine the Clinton Campaign.
A. GRU Hacking Directed at the Clinton Campaign
1. GRU Units Target the Clinton Campaign
Two military units of the GRU carried out the computer intrusions into the Clinton Campaign, DNC, and DCCC: Military Units 26165 and 74455.110 Military Unit 26165 is a GRU cyber unit dedicated to targeting military, political, governmental, and non-governmental organizations outside of Russia, including in the United States.111 The unit was sub-divided into departments with different specialties. One department, for example, developed specialized malicious software “malware” , while another de artment conducted large-scale spearphishing campaigns.112 jfllllililliliilllilli lilillllll~ a bitcoin mining operation to
109 As discussed in Section V below, our Office charged 12 GRU officers for crimes arising from the hacking of these computers, principally with conspiring to commit computer intrusions, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1030 and 371. See Volume I, Section V.B, infra; Indictment, United States v. Netyksho, No. I :18-cr-215 (D.D.C. July 13, 2018), Doc. 1 (“Netyksho Indictment”). 110 Netyksho Indictment ,r 1. 111 Separate from this Office’s indictment of GRU officers, in October 2018 a grand jury sitting in the Western District of Pennsylvania returned an indictment charging certain members of Unit 26165 with hacking the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, the World Anti-Doping Agency, and other international sport associations. United States v. Aleksei Sergeyevich Morenets, No. 18-263 (W.D. Pa.). 112 A spearphishing email is designed to appear as though it originates from a trusted source, and solicits information to enable the sender to gain access to an account or network, or causes the recipient to
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secure bitcoins used to purchase computer infrastructure used in hacking operations.113
Military Unit 74455 is a related GRU unit with multiple departments that engaged in cyber operations. Unit 74455 assisted in the release of documents stolen by Unit 26165, the promotion of those releases, and the publication of anti-Clinton content on social media accounts operated by the GRU. Officers from Unit 74455 separately hacked computers belonging to state boards of elections, secretaries of state, and U.S. companies that supplied software and other technology related to the administration of U.S. elections.114
Beginning in mid-March 2016, Unit 26165 had primary responsibility for hacking the DCCC and DNC, as well as email accounts of individuals affiliated with the Clinton Campaign: 115
Investigative Technique Unit 26165 used
began before the GRU had obtained any credentials or gained access to these networks, indicating that the later DCCC and DNC intrusions were not crimes of opportunity but rather the result of targeting.116
GRU officers also sent hundreds of spearphishing emails to the work and personal email accounts of Clinton Campaign employees and volunteers. Between March 10, 2016 and March 15, 2016, Unit 26165 appears to have sent approximately 90 spearphishing emails to email accounts at hillaryclinton.com. Starting on March 15, 2016, the GRU began targeting Google email accounts used by Clinton Campaign employees, along with a smaller number of dnc.org email accounts.117
The GRU spearphishing operation enabled it to gain access to numerous email accounts of Clinton Campaign employees and volunteers, including campaign chairman John Podesta, junior volunteers assigned to the Clinton Campaign’s advance team, informal Clinton Campaign advisors, and a DNC employee.118 GRU officers stole tens of thousands of emails from spearphishing victims, including various Clinton Campaign-related communications.
download malware that enables the sender to gain access to an account or network. Netyksho Indictment ~ 10. 113 Bitcoin mining consists of unlocking new bitcoins by solving computational problems. Ill 1111 kept its newly mined coins in an account on the bitcoin exchange platform CEX.io. To make purchases, the GRU routed funds into other accounts through transactions designed to obscure the source of funds. Netyksho Indictment~ 62. 114 Netyksho Indictment~ 69. 115 Netyksho Indictment~ 9. 116 See SM-2589105, serials 144 & 495.
118 Investigative Technique
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2. Intrusions into the DCCC and DNC Networks
a. Initial Access
By no later than April 12, 2016, the GRU had gained access to the DCCC computer network using the credentials stolen from a DCCC employee who had been successfully spearphished the week before. Over the ensuing weeks, the GRU traversed the network, identifying different computers connected to the DCCC network. By stealing network access credentials along the way (including those of IT administrators with unrestricted access to the system), the GRU compromised approximately 29 different computers on the DCCC network. 119
Approximately six days after first hacking into the DCCC network, on April 18, 2016, GRU officers gained access to the DNC network via a virtual private network (VPN) connection120 between the DCCC and DNC networks.121 Between April 18, 2016 and June 8, 2016, Unit 26165 compromised more than 30 computers on the DNC network, including the DNC mail server and 122 shared file server.
b. Implantation of Ma/ware on DCCC and DNC Networks
Unit 26165 implanted on the DCCC and DNC networks two types of customized malware, 123 known as “X-Agent” and “X-Tunnel”; Mimikatz, a credential-harvesting tool; and rar.exe, a tool used in these intrusions to compile and compress materials for exfiltration. X-Agent was a multi-function hacking tool that allowed Unit 26165 to log keystrokes, take screenshots, and gather other data about the infected computers (e.g., file directories, operating systems).124 XTunnel was a hacking tool that created an encrypted connection between the victim DCCC/DNC computers and GRU-controlled computers outside the DCCC and DNC networks that was capable of large-scale data transfers.125 GRU officers then used X-Tunnel to exfiltrate stolen data from the victim computers.
120 A VPN extends a private network, allowing users to send and receive data across public networks (such as the internet) as if the connecting computer was directly connected to the private network. The VPN in this case had been created to give a small number of DCCC employees access to certain databases housed on the DNC network. Therefore, while the DCCC employees were outside the DNC’s private network, they could access parts of the DNC network from their DCCC computers. Investigative Technique
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123 “Malware” is short for malicious software, and here refers to software designed to allow a third party to infiltrate a computer without the consent or knowledge of the computer’s user or operator. 124 Investigative Technique
125 Investigative Technique
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To operate X-Agent and X-Tunnel on the DCCC and DNC networks, Unit 26165 officers set up a group of computers outside those networks to communicate with the implanted malware.126 The first set of GRU-controlled computers, known by the GRU as “middle servers,” sent and received messages to and from malware on the DNC/DCCC networks. The middle servers, in turn, relayed messages to a second set of GRU-controlled com;§’ters, labeled internally by the GRU as an “AMS Panel.” The AMS Panel jjjff 11’•§\1flffl 1•j’1 ·- served as a nerve center through which GRU officers monitored and directed the malware’s operations on the DNC/DCCC networks. 127
! . • . • • • : Investigative Technique
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126 In connection with these intrusions, the GRU used computers (virtual private networks, dedicated servers operated by hosting companies, etc.) that it leased from third-party providers located all over the world. The investi ation identified rental a reements and payments for computers located in, inter alia, -~-~-Ii IIMliilili all of which were used in the operations targeting the U.S. election. 127 Netyksho Indictment ,r 25. 128 Netyksho Indictment ,r 24( c ). 129 Netyksho Indictment ,r 24(b ).
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The Arizona-based AMS Panel also stored thousands of files containing keylogging sessions captured through X-Agent. These sessions were captured as GRU officers monitored DCCC and DNC employees’ work on infected computers regularly between April 2016 and June 2016. Data captured in these key logging sessions included passwords, internal communications between employees, banking information, and sensitive personal information.
c. Theft of Documents from DNC and DCCC Networks
Officers from Unit 26165 stole thousands of documents from the DCCC and DNC networks, including significant amounts of data pertaining to the 2016 U.S. federal elections. Stolen documents included internal strategy documents, fundraising data, opposition research, and emails from the work inboxes of DNC employeesY0
The GRU began stealing DCCC data shortly after it gained access to the network. On April 14, 2016 (approximately three days after the initial intrusion) GRU officers downloaded rar.exe onto the DCCC’s document server. The following day, the GRU searched one compromised DCCC computer for files containing search terms that included “Hillary,” “DNC,” “Cruz,” and “Trump.”131 On April 25, 2016, the GRU collected and compressed PDF and Microsoft documents from folders on the DCCC’s shared file server that pertained to the 2016 election.132 The GRU appears to have compressed and exfiltrated over 70 gigabytes of data from this file server.133
The GRU also stole documents from the DNC network shortly after gaining access. On April 22, 2016, the GRU copied files from the DNC network to GRU-controlled computers. Stolen documents included the DNC’ s opposition research into candidate Trump.134 Between approximately May 25, 2016 and June 1, 2016, GRU officers accessed the DNC’s mail server from a GRU-controlled computer leased inside the United States.135 During these connections,
130 Netyksho Indictment ,i,i 27-29; Investigative Technique 131 Investigative Technique
Investigative Technique
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· Investigative Technique
SM-2589105-HACK, serial 5. Investigative Technique
135 Investigative Technique – See SM-2589105-GJ, serial 649. As part of its investigation, the FBI later received images ofDNC servers and copies of relevant traffic logs. Netyksho Indictment ,i,i 28-29.
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Unit 26165 officers appear to have stolen thousands of emails and attachments, which were later released by WikiLeaks in July 2016.136
B. Dissemination of the Hacked Materials
The GRU’s operations extended beyond stealing materials, and included releasing documents stolen from the Clinton Campaign and its supporters. The GRU carried out the anonymous release through two fictitious online personas that it created-DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0-and later through the organization WikiLeaks.
1. DCLeaks
The GRU began planning the releases at least as early as April 19, 2016, when Unit 26165 registered the domain dcleaks.com through a service that anonymized the registrant.137 Unit 26165 paid for the registration using a pool of bitcoin that it had mined. 138 The dcleaks.com landing page pointed to different tranches of stolen documents, arranged by victim or subject matter. Other dcleaks.com pages contained indexes of the stolen emails that were being released (bearing the sender, recipient, and date of the email). To control access and the timing of releases, pages were sometimes password-protected for a period of time and later made unrestricted to the public.
Starting in June 2016, the GRU posted stolen documents onto the website dcleaks.com, including documents stolen from a number of individuals associated with the Clinton Campaign. These documents appeared to have originated from personal email accounts (in particular, Google and Microsoft accounts), rather than the DNC and DCCC computer networks. DCLeaks victims included an advisor to the Clinton Campaign, a former DNC employee and Clinton Campaign employee, and four other campaign volunteers.139 The GRU released through dcleaks.com thousands of documents, including personal identifying and financial information, internal correspondence related to the Clinton Campaign and prior political jobs, and fundraising files and information.140
136 Netyksho Indictment ,i 29. The last-in-time DNC email released by WikiLeaks was dated May 25, 2016, the same period of time during which the GRU gained access to the DNC’s email server. Netyksho Indictment ,i 45. 137 Netyksho Indictment ,i 35. Approximately a week before the registration of dcleaks.com, the same actors attem ted to re ister the website electionleaks.com using the same domain registration service.
138 See SM-2589105, serial 181; Netyksho Indictment ,i 2l(a).
140 See, e.g., Internet Archive, “htt s://dcleaks.com/” archive date Nov. 10, 2016). Additionally, DCLeaks released documents relating to , emails belonging to_, and emails from 2015 relating to Republican Party employees (under the portfolio name “The United States Republican Party”). “The United States Republican Party” portfolio contained approximately 300 emails from a variety of GOP members, PACs, campaigns, state parties, and businesses dated between May and October 2015. According to open-source reporting, these victims shared the same
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GRU officers operated a Facebook page under the DCLeaks moniker, which they primarily used to promote releases of materials. 141 The Facebook page was administered through a small number of preexisting GRU-controlled Facebook accounts.142
GRU officers also used the DCLeaks Facebook account, the Twitter account @dcleaks_, and the email account dcleaksproject@gmail.com to communicate privately with reporters and · other U.S. persons. GRU officers using the DCLeaks persona gave certain reporters early access to archives of leaked files by sending them links and passwords to pages on the dcleaks.com website that had not yet become public. For example, on July 14, 2016, GRU officers operating under the DCLeaks persona sent a link and password for a non-public DCLeaks webpage to a U.S. reporter via the Facebook account.143 Similarly, on September 14, 2016, GRU officers sent reporters Twitter direct messages from @dcleaks_, with a password to another non-public part of the dcleaks.com website. 144
The DCLeaks.com website remained operational and public until March 2017.
2. Guccifer 2.0
On June 14, 2016, the DNC and its cyber-response team announced the breach of the DNC network and suspected theft of DNC documents. In the statements, the cyber-response team alleged that Russian state-sponsored actors (which they referred to as “Fancy Bear”) were responsible for the breach. 145 Apparently in response to that announcement, on June 15, 2016, GRU officers using the persona Guccifer 2.0 created a WordPress blog. In the hours leading up to the launch of that WordPress blog, GRU officers logged into a Moscow-based server used and managed by Unit 74455 and searched for a number of specific words and phrases in English, including “some hundred sheets,” “illuminati,” and “worldwide known.” Approximately two hours after the last of those searches, Guccifer 2.0 published its first post, attributing the DNC server hack to a lone Romanian hacker and using several of the unique English words and phrases that the GRU officers had searched for that day.146
Tennessee-based web-hosting company, called Smartech Corporation. William Bastone, RNC E-Mail Was, In Fact, Hacked By Russians, The Smoking Gun (Dec. 13, 2016). 141 Netyksho Indictment ,r 38. 142 See, e.g., Facebook Account 100008825623541 (Alice Donovan). 143 7/14/16 Facebook Message, ID 793058100795341 (DC Leaks) to ID 144 See, e . . , 9/14/16 Twitter DM, ; 9/14/16 Twitter OM, @dcleaks _ to . The messages read: “Hi https://t.co/QTvKUjQcOx pass: KvFsgo/o* 14@gPgu&amp; enjoy;).” 145 Dmitri Alperovitch, Bears in the Midst: Intrusion into the Democratic National Committee, CrowdStrike Blog (June 14, 2016). CrowdStrike updated its post after the June 15, 2016 post by Guccifer 2.0 claiming responsibility for the intrusion. 146 Netyksho Indictment ,r,r 41-42.
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That same day, June 15, 2016, the GRU also used the Guccifer 2.0 WordPress blog to begin releasing to the public documents stolen from the DNC and DCCC computer networks. The Guccifer 2.0 persona ultimately released thousands of documents stolen from the DNC and DCCC in a series of blog posts between June 15, 2016 and October 18, 2016.147 Released documents included opposition research performed by the DNC (including a memorandum analyzing potential criticisms of candidate Trump), internal policy documents (such as recommendations on how to address politically sensitive issues), analyses of specific congressional races, and fundraising documents. Releases were organized around thematic issues, such as specific states (e.g., Florida and Pennsylvania) that were perceived as competitive in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Beginning in late June 2016, the GRU also used the Guccifer 2.0 persona to release documents directly to reporters and other interested individuals. Specifically, on June 27, 2016, Guccifer 2.0 sent an email to the news outlet The Smoking Gun offering to provide “exclusive access to some leaked emails linked [to] Hillary Clinton’s staff.” 148 The GRU later sent the reporter a password and link to a locked portion of the dcleaks.com website that contained an archive of emails stolen by Unit 26165 from a Clinton Campaign volunteer in March 2016.149 That the Guccifer 2.0 persona provided reporters access to a restricted portion of the DCLeaks website tends to indicate that both personas were operated by the same or a closely-related group of people.1so
The GRU continued its release efforts through Guccifer 2.0 into August 2016. For example, on August 15, 2016, the Guccifer 2.0 persona sent a candidate for the U.S. Congress documents related to the candidate’s opponent.1st On August 22, 2016, the Guccifer 2.0 persona transferred approximately 2.5 gigabytes of Florida-related data stolen from the DCCC to a U.S. blogger covering Florida politics.1s2 On August 22, 2016, the Guccifer 2.0 persona sent a U.S. reporter documents stolen from the DCCC pertaining to the Black Lives Matter movement.1s3
147 Releases of documents on the Guccifer 2.0 blog occurred on June 15, 2016; June 20, 2016; June 21, 2016; July 6, 2016; July 14, 2016; August 12, 2016; August 15, 2016; August 21, 2016; August 31, 2016; September 15, 2016; September 23, 2016; October 4, 2016; and October 18, 2016.
~~ccifer20@aol.fr to (subject “leaked emails”);■
149 6/27/16 Email, uccifer20@aol.fr to ; see also 612 7 /16 (subject “leaked emails”); project”).
(sub’ ect “leaked emails” ; uccifer20@aol.fr to ( claiming DCLeaks was a “Wikileaks sub
150 Before sending the reporter the link and password to the closed DCLeaks website, and in an apparent effort to deflect attention from the fact that DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 were operated by the same organization, the Guccifer 2.0 persona sent the repm1er an email stating that DCLeaks was a “Wikileaks sub project” and that Guccifer 2.0 had asked DCLeaks to release the leaked emails with “closed access” to give reporters a preview of them. 151 Netyksho Indictment ,r 43(a). 152 Netyksho Indictment ,r 43(b ). 153 Netyksho Indictment ,r 43(c).
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In early August 2016, Twitter’s suspension of the Guccifer 2.0 Twitter account. After it was reinstated, GRU officers posing as Guccifer 2.0 wrote 1;c•)Wp ,,ia private message, “thank u for writing back … do u find anyt[h]ing interesting in the docs i posted?” On August 17, 2016, the GRU added, “please tell me if i can help u anyhow . .. it would be a great pleasure to me.” On September 9, 2016, the GRUi;(T);f posing as Guccifer 2.0-referred to a stolen DCCC document posted online and asked • “what do u think of the info on the turnout model for the democrats entire presidential campaign.” responded, “pretty standard.”155 The investigation did not identify evidence of other communications between- and Guccifer 2.0.
3. Use of WikiLeaks
In order to expand its interference in the 20 I 6 U.S. presidential election, the GRU units transferred many of the documents they stole from the DNC and the chairman of the Clinton Campaign to WikiLeaks. GRU officers used both the DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 personas to communicate with WikiLeaks through Twitter private messaging and through encrypted channels, including possibly through WikiLeaks’s private communication system.
. a. WikiLeaks’s Expressed Opposition Toward the Clinton Campaign
WikiLeaks, and particularly its founder Julian Assange, privately expressed opposition to candidate Clinton well before the first release of stolen documents. In November 2015, Assange wrote to other members and associates of WikiLeaks that “[w]e believe it would be much better for GOP to win … Dems+Media+liberals woudl [sic] then form a block to reign in their worst qualities. . . . With Hillary in charge, GOP will be pushing for her worst qualities., dems+media+neoliberals will be mute . … She’ s a bright, well connected, sadisitic sociopath.”156
In March 2016, WikiLeaks released a searchable archive of approximately 30,000 Clinton emails that had been obtained through FOIA litigation.157 While designing the archive, one WikiLeaks member explained the reason for building the archive to another associate:
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156 1 l/19/15 Twitter Group Chat, Group ID 594242937858486276, @WikiLeaks et al. Assange also wrote that, “GOP will generate a lot oposition [sic], including through dumb moves. Hillary will do the same thing, but co-opt the liberal opposition and the GOP opposition. Hence biliary has greater freedom to statt wars than the GOP and has the will to do so.” Id.
157 WikiLeaks, “Hillary Clinton Email Archive,” available at https://wikileaks.org/clinton-emails/.
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[W]e want this repository to become “the place” to search for background on hillary’s plotting at the state department during 2009-2013. . . . Firstly because its useful and will annoy Hillary, but secondly because we want to be seen to be a resource/player in the US election, because eit [sic] may en[]courage people to send us even more important leaks.158
b. WikiLeaks’s First Contact with Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks
Shortly after the GRU’s first release of stolen documents through dcleaks.com in June 2016, GRU officers also used the DCLeaks persona to contact WikiLeaks about possible coordination in the future release of stolen emails. On June 14, 2016, @dcleaks _ sent a direct message to @WikiLeaks, noting, “You announced your organization was preparing to publish more Hillary’s emails. We are ready to support you. We have some sensitive information too, in particular, her financial documents. Let’s do it to ether. What do ou think about ublishin our info at the same moment? Thank ou.”159
Around the same time, WikiLeaks initiated communications with the GRU persona Guccifer 2.0 shortly after it was used to release documents stolen from the DNC. On June 22, 2016, seven days after Guccifer 2.0’s first releases of stolen DNC documents, WikiLeaks used Twitter’s direct message function to contact the Guccifer 2.0 Twitter account and suggest that Guccifer 2.0 “[s]end any new material [stolen from the DNC] here for us to review and it will have a much higher impact than what you are doing.”160
On July 6, 2016, WikiLeaks again contacted Guccifer 2.0 through Twitter’s private messaging function, writing, “if you have anything hillary related we want it in the next tweo [sic] days prefab le [sic] because the DNC is approaching and she will solidify bernie supporters behind her after.” The Guccifer 2.0 persona responded, “ok … i see.” WikiLeaks also explained, “we think trump has only a 25% chance of winning against hillary … so conflict between bernie and hillary is interesting.” 161
c. The GRU’s Transfer of Stolen Materials to WikiLeaks
Both the GRU and WikiLeaks sought to hide their communications, which has limited the Office’s ability to collect all of the communications between them. Thus, although it is clear that the stolen DNC and Podesta documents were transferred from the GRU to WikiLeaks, Investigative Technique
158 3/14/16 Twitter DM, @WikiLeaks to Less than two weeks earlier, the same account had been used to send a private message opposing the idea of Clinton “in whitehouse with her bloodlutt and amitions [sic] of empire with hawkish liberal-interventionist appointees.” 11/19/15 Twitter Group Chat, Group ID 594242937858486276, @WikiLeaks et al.
159 6/14/16 Twitter DM, @dcleaks_ to @WikiLeaks. 160 Netyksho Indictment ,r 47(a). 161 7/6/16 Twitter DMs, @WikiLeaks & @guccifer_2.
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The Office was able to identify when the GRU ( operating through its personas Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks) transferred some of the stolen documents to WikiLeaks through online archives set up by the GRU. Assan e had access to the internet from the Ecuadorian Embass in London, En land.
On July 14, 2016, GRU officers used a Guccifer 2.0 email account to send WikiLeaks an email bearing the subject “big archive” and the message “a new attempt.”163 The email contained an encrypted attachment with the name “wk dnc link I .txt.gpg.”164 Using the Guccifer 2.0 Twitter account, GRU officers sent WikiLeaks an encrypted file and instructions on how to open it.165 On July 18, 2016, WikiLeaks confirmed in a direct message to the Gucci fer 2.0 account that it had “the 1 Gb or so archive” and would make a release of the stolen documents “this week.”166 On July 22, 2016, WikiLeaks released over 20,000 emails and other documents stolen from the DNC computer networks. 167 The Democratic National Convention began three days later.
Similar communications occurred between WikiLeaks and the GRU-operated persona DCLeaks. On September 15, 2016, @dcleaks wrote to @WikiLeaks, “hi there! I’m from DC Leaks. How could we discuss some submission-related issues? Am trying to reach out to you via your secured chat but getting no response. I’ve got something that might interest you. You won’t be disappointed, I promise.” 168 The WikiLeaks account responded, “Hi there,” without further elaboration. The @dcleaks_ account did not respond immediately.
The same day, the Twitter account@guccifer_2 sent @dcleaks_ a direct message, which is the first known contact between the personas.169 During subsequent communications, the
163 This was not the GRU’s first attempt at transferring data to WikiLeaks. On June 29, 2016, the GRU used a Guccifer 2.0 email accou~ted file to a WikiLeaks email account. 6/29/16 Email, guccifer2@mail.com ~ (The email appears to have been undelivered.)
164 See SM-2589105-DCLEAKS, serial 28 (analysis).
165 6/27/16 Twitter DM, @Guccifer_2 to @WikiLeaks. 166 7/18/16 Twitter OM, @Guccifer_2 & @WikiLeaks.
167 “DNC Email Archive,” WikiLeaks (Jul. 22, 2016), available at https://wikileaks.org/dnc-emails. 168 9/15/16 Twitter DM, @dcleaks_ to @WikiLeaks. 169 9/15/16 Twitter DM, @guccifer _ 2 to @dcleaks _.
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Guccifer 2.0 persona informed DCLeaks that WikiLeaks was trying to contact DCLeaks and arrange for a way to speak through encrypted emails.170
An analysis of the metadata collected from the WikiLeaks site revealed that the stolen Podesta emails show a creation date of September 19, 2016.171 Based on information about Assange’s computer and its possible operating system, this date may be when the GRU staged the stolen Podesta emails for transfer to WikiLeaks (as the GRU had previously done in July 2016 for the DNC emails).172 The WikiLeaks site also released PDFs and other documents taken from Podesta that were attachments to emails in his account; these documents had a creation date of October 2, 2016, which appears to be the date the attachments were separately staged by WikiLeaks on its site.173
Beginning on September 20, 2016, WikiLeaks and DCLeaks resumed communications in a brief exchange. On September 22, 2016, a DCLeaks email account dcleaksproject@gmail.com sent an email to a WikiLeaks account with the subject “Submission” and the message “Hi from DCLeaks.” The email contained a PGP-encr ted with the filename “wiki_mail.txt.gpg.”174 lllliliiliiiiil.■lliiljiillllllilili The email, however, bears a number of similarities to the July 14, 2016 email in which GRU officers used the Guccifer 2.0 persona to give WikiLeaks access to the archive of DNC files. On September 22, 2016 (the same day of DCLeaks’ email to WikiLeaks), the Twitter account dcleaks sent a sin le messa e to WikiLeaks with the strin of characters
The Office cannot rule out that stolen documents were transferred to WikiLeaks through intermediaries who visited during the summer of 2016. For example, public reporting identified A d M “‘ll M h w·kiL k . t h h . t d “th th t fi fth Investigative Technique
170 See SM-2589105-DCLEAKS, serial 28; 9/15/16 Twitter DM, @G uccifer_2 & @WikiLeaks. 171 See SM-2284941, serials 63 & 64 Investigative Technique
At the time, certain Apple operating systems used a setting that left a downloaded file’s creation date the same as the creation date shown on the host computer. This would explain why the creation date on WikiLeaks’s version of the files was still September 19, 2016. See SM2284941, serial 62 Investigative Technique 173 When WikiLeaks saved attachments separately from the stolen emails, its computer system appears to have treated each attachment as a new file and given it a new creation date. See SM-2284941, serials 63 & 64. 174 See 9/22/16 Email, dcleaksproject@gmail.com 175 Ellen Nakashima et al., A German Hacker Offers a Rare Look Inside the Secretive World of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, Washington Post (Jan. 17, 2018).
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Investigative Technique .
On October 7, 2016, WikiLeaks released the first emails stolen from the Podesta email account. In total, WikiLeaks released 33 tranches of stolen emails between October 7, 2016 and November 7, 2016. The releases included private speeches given by Clinton; 177 internal communications between Podesta and other high-ranking members of the Clinton Campaign; 178 and correspondence related to the Clinton Foundation.179 In total, WikiLeaks released over 50,000 documents stolen from Podesta’s personal email account. The last-in-time email released from Podesta’ s account was dated March 21, 2016, two days after Podesta received a spearphishing email sent by the GRU.
d. WikiLeaks Statements Dissembling About the Source of Stolen Materials
As reports attributing the DNC and DCCC hacks to the Russian government emerged, WikiLeaks and Assange made several public statements apparently designed to obscure the source of the materials that WikiLeaks was releasing. The file-transfer evidence described above and other information uncovered during the investigation discredit WikiLeaks’s claims about the source of material that it posted.
Beginning in the summer of 2016, Assange and WikiLeaks made a number of statements about Seth Rich, a former DNC staff member who was killed in July 2016. The statements about Rich implied falsely that he had been the source of the stolen DNC emails. On August 9, 2016, the @WikiLeaks Twitter account posted: “ANNOUNCE: WikiLeaks has decided to issue a US$20k reward for information leading to conviction for the murder ofDNC staffer Seth Rich.”180 Likewise, on August 25, 2016, Assange was asked in an interview, “Why are you so interested in Seth Rich’s killer?” and responded, “We’re very interested in anything that might be a threat to alleged Wikileaks sources.” The interviewer responded to Assange’s statement by commenting, “I know you don’t want to reveal your source, but it certainly sounds like you’re suggesting a man who leaked information to WikiLeaks was then murdered.” Assange replied, “If there’s someone who’s potentially connected to our publication, and that person has been murdered in suspicious
t 79 Netyksho Indictment ,r 43. 180 @WikiLeaks 8/9/16 Tweet.
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circumstances, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the two are connected. But it is a very serious matter … that type of allegation is very serious, as it’s taken very seriously by us.”181
After the U.S. intelligence community publicly announced its assessment that Russia was behind the hacking operation, Assange continued to deny that the Clinton materials released by WikiLeaks had come from Russian hacking. According to media reports, Assange told a U.S. congressman that the DNC hack was an “inside job,” and purported to have “physical proof’ that Russians did not give materials to Assange. 182
C. Additional GRU Cyber Operations
While releasing the stolen emails and documents through DCLeaks, Guccifer 2.0, and WikiLeaks, GRU officers continued to target and hack victims linked to the Democratic campaign and, eventually, to target entities responsible for election administration in several states.
1. Summer and Fall 2016 Operations Targeting Democrat-Linked Victims
On July 27 2016, Unit 26165 targeted email accounts connected to candidate Clinton’s personal office . Earlier that day, candidate Trump made public statements that included the following: “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.”183 The “30,000 emails” were apparently a reference to emails described in media accounts as having been stored on a personal server that candidate Clinton had used while serving as Secretary of State.
Within approximately five hours of Trump’s statement, GRU officers targeted for the first time Clinton’s personal office. After candidate Trump’s remarks, Unit 26165 created and sent malicious links targeting 15 email accounts at the domain including an email account belonging to Clinton aide The investigation did not find evidence of earlier GRU attempts to compromise accounts hosted on this domain. It is unclear how the GRU was able to identify these email accounts, which were not public.184
181 See Assange: “Murdered DNC Staffer Was ‘Potential’ WikiLeaks Source, ” Fox News (Aug. 25, 2016)(containing video of Assange interview by Megyn Kelly).
182 M. Raju & Z. Cohen, A GOP Congressman’s Lonely Quest Defending Julian Assange, CNN (May 23, 2018). 183 “Donald Trump on Russian & Missing Hillary Clinton Emails,” YouTube Channel C-SPAN, Posted 7/27/16, available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kxG8uJUsWU (starting at 0:41).
Unit 26165 officers also hacked into a DNC account hosted on a cloud-computing service
copies of the DNC da databases (referred to
On September 20, 2016, the GRU began to generate function designed to allow users to produce backups of as “snapshots”). The GRU then stole those snapshots by moving
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them to – account that they controlled; from there, the copies were moved to GRUcontrolled computers. The GRU stole approximately 300 gigabytes of data from the DNC cloudbased account.185
2. Intrusions Targeting the Administration of U.S. Elections
In addition to targeting individuals involved in the Clinton Campaign, GRU officers also targeted individuals and entities involved in the administration of the elections. Victims included U.S. state and local entities, such as state boards of elections (SBOEs), secretaries of state, and county governments, as well as individuals who worked for those entities. 186 The GRU also targeted private technology firms responsible for manufacturing and administering election-related software and hardware, such as voter registration software and electronic polling stations.187 The GRU continued to target these victims through the elections in November 2016. While the investigation identified evidence that the GRU targeted these individuals and entities, the Office did not investigate further. The Office did not, for instance, obtain or examine servers or other relevant items belonging to these victims. The Office understands that the FBI, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the states have separately investigated that activity.
By at least the summer of 2016, GRU officers sought access to state and local computer networks by exploiting known software vulnerabilities on websites of state and local governmental entities. GRU officers, for example, targeted state and local databases of registered voters using a technique known as “SQL injection,” by which malicious code was sent to the state or local website in order to run commands (such as exfiltrating the database contents).188 In one instance in approximately June 2016, the GRU compromised the computer network of the Illinois State Board of Elections by exploiting a vulnerability in the SBOE’s website. The GRU then gained access to a database containing information on millions of registered Illinois voters, 189 and extracted data related to thousands of U.S. voters before the malicious activity was identified.190
GRU officers Investigative Technique scanned state and local websites for eriod in July 2016, GRU officers for vulnerabilities on websites of more than
185 Netyksho Indictment ,i 34; see also SM-2589105-HACK, serial 29 Investigative Technique 186 Netyksho Indictment ,i 69. -· 188 Investigative Technique
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for vulnerabilities continued through the election.
Unit 74455 also sent spearphishing emails to public officials involved in election administration and personnel a~ involved in voting technology. In August 2016, GRU officers targeted employees of ….. , a voting technology company that developed software used by numerous U.S. counties to manage voter rolls, and installed malware on the company network. Similarly, in November 2016, the GRU sent spearphishing emails to over 120 email accounts used by Florida county officials responsible for administering the 2016 U.S. election.191 The spearphishing emails contained an attached Word document coded with malicious software (commonly referred to as a Trojan) that permitted the GRU to access the infected computer.192 The FBI was separately responsible for this investigation. We understand the FBI believes that this operation enabled the GRU to gain access to the network of at least one Florida county government. The Office did not independently verify that belief and, as explained above, did not undertake the investigative steps that would have been necessary to do so.
D. Trump Campaign and the Dissemination of Hacked Materials
The Trump Campaign showed interest in WikiLeaks’s releases hout the summer and fall of 2016.
a. Background
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b. Contacts with the Campaign about WikiLeaks
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On June 12, 2016, Assange claimed in a televised interview to “have emails relating to Hillary Clinton which are pending publication,”194 but provided no additional context. • • . . …
Gates recalled candidate
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Trump being generally frustrated that the Clinton emails had not been found. 196
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194 See Mahita Gajanan, Julian Assange Timed DNC Email Release for Democratic Convention, Time (July 27, 2016) (qu.oting the June 12, 2016 television interview).
195 In February 2018, Gates pleaded guilty, pursuant to a plea agreement, to a superseding criminal information charging him with conspiring to defraud and commit multiple offenses (i.e., tax fraud, failure to report foreign bank accounts, and acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign principal) against the United States, as well as making false statements to our Office. Superseding Criminal Information, United States v. Richard W Gates III, l: 17-cr-201 (D.D.C. Feb. 23, 2018), Doc. 195 (“Gates Superseding Criminal Information”); Plea Agreement, United States v. Richard W Gates III, 1: 17-cr-201 (D.D.C. Feb. 23, 2018), Doc. 205 (“Gates Plea Agreement”). Gates has provided information and in-comt testimony that the Office has deemed to be reliable. 196 Gates I 0/25/18 302, at 1-2. 197 As explained further in Volume I, Section IV.A.8, irifra, Manafort entered into a plea agreement with our Office. We determined that he breached the agreement by being untruthful in proffer sessions and before the grand jury. We have generally recounted his version of events in this report only when his statements are sufficiently corroborated to be trustworthy; to identify issues on which Manafort’s untruthful responses may themselves be of evidentiary value; or to provide Manafort’s explanations for certain events, even when we were unable to determine whether that explanation was credible. His account appears here principally because it aligns with those of other witnesses.
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Michael Cohen, former executive vice president of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Donald J. Trump, 199 told the Office that he recalled an incident in which he was in candidate Trum ‘s office in Trum Tower
Cohen further told the Office that, after WikiLeaks’s subsequent release of stolen mails in July 2016, candidate Trump said to Cohen something to the effect of 1;c•m■ 202
199 In November 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty pursuant to a plea agreement to a single-count information charging him with making false statements to Congress, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § l00l(a) & (c). He had previously pleaded guilty to several other criminal charges brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York, after a referral from this Office. In the months leading up to his false-statements guilty plea, Cohen met with our Office on multiple occasions for interviews and provided information that the Office has generally assessed to be reliable and that is included in this report.
202 Cohen 9/18/18 302, at I 0. Harm to Ongoing Matter Harm to Ongoing Matter
203 Gates 10/25/18 302 (serial 241), at 4.
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developments with WikiLeaks and separately told Gates to keep in touch– about future WikiLeaks releases.206
According to Gates, by the late summer of 2016, the Trump Campaign was planning a press strategy, a communications cam and messa in based on the ossible release of Clinton emails b WikiLeaks.207 I IQI 111 LV ‘-‘ll~VII I~ HIQLL r 208 ,: Harm to Ongoing Matter to LaGuardia Airport. Harm to ungomg Matter , shortly after the call candidate Trump told Gates that more releases of damaging information would be coming.209
c. Harm to Ongoing Matter
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207 Gates 4/10/18 302, at 3; Gates 4/11/18 302, at 1-2 (SM-2180998); Gates 10/25/18 302, at 2.
209 Gates 10/25/18 302 (serial 241), at 4. 210 ,HOM
212 Corsi first rose to public prominence in August 2004 when he published his book Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry. In the 2008 election cycle, Corsi gained prominence for being a leading proponent of the allegation that Barack Obama was not born in the United States. Corsi told the Office that Donald Trump expressed interest in his writings, and that he spoke with Trump on the phone on at least six occasions. Corsi 9/6/18 302, at 3. 213 Corsi 10/31/18 302, at 2; Corsi was first interviewed on September 6, 2018 at the Special Counsel’s offices in Washington, D.C. He was accompanied by counsel throughout the interview. Corsi was subsequently interviewed on September 17, 2018; September 21, 2018; October 31, 2018; November I, 2018; and November 2, 2018. Counsel was
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According to Malloch, Corsi asked him to put Corsi in touch with Assange, whom Corsi wished to interview. Malloch recalled that Corsi also suggested that individuals in the “orbit” of U.K. politician Nigel Farage might be able to contact Assange and asked if Malloch knew them. Malloch told Corsi that he would think about the request but made no actual attempt to connect Corsi with Assange.218
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present for all interviews, and the interviews beginning on September 21, 2018 were conducted pursuant to a proffer agreement that precluded affirmative use of his statements against him in limited circumstances.
215 Corsi 10/31/18 302, at 4.
Malloch denied ever communicating with Assange est to contact Assange because he believed he had no
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Malloch stated to investigators that beginnin multiple Face Time discussions about WikiLeaks · had made a connection to Assange and that the hacked emails of John Podesta would be released prior to Election Day and would be helpful to the Trump Campaign. In one conversation in or around August or September 2016, Corsi told Malloch that the release of the Podesta emails was coming, after which “we” were going to be in the driver’s seat.221
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d. WikiLeaks’s October 7, 2016 Release of Stolen Podesta Emails
On October 7 2016 four days after the Assange press conference , the Washington Post published an Access Hollywood video that captured comments by candidate Trump some years earlier and that was expected to adversely affect the Campaign.239 Less than an hour after the video’s publication, WikiLeaks released the first set of emails stolen by the GRU from the account of Clinton Campaign chairman John Podesta.
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Corsi said that, because he had no direct means o communicating with WikiLeaks, he told members of the news site WNO-who were participating on a conference call with him that day-to reach Assange immediately.244 Corsi claimed that the pressure was
239 Candidate Trump can be heard off camera making graphic statements about women.
on other individuals who were on the call-invitation, which Malloch was not. (Separate travel records show
244 In a later November 2018 interview, Corsi stated Harm to Ongoing Matter that he believed Malloch was on the call but then focused
that at the time of the call, Malloch was aboard a transatlantic flight). Corsi at one point stated that after WikiLeaks ‘s release of stolen emails on October 7, 2016, he concluded Malloch had gotten in contact with Assange. Corsi 11/1/18 302, at 6.
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enormous and recalled telling the conference call the Access Hollywood tape was coming.245 Corsi stated that he was convinced that his efforts had caused WikiLeaks to release the emails when they did.246 In a later November 2018 interview, Corsi stated that he thought that he had told people on a WND conference call about the forthcoming tape and had sent out a tweet asking whether anyone could contact Assange, but then said that maybe he had done nothing.247
The Office investigated Corsi’ s allegations about the events of October 7 248 little corroboration for his alle ations about the da .
However, the phone records themselves do not indicate that the conversation was with any of the reporters who broke the Access Hollywood sto , and the Office has not otherwise been able to identif the substance of the conversation. However, the Office has not identified any conference call participant, or anyone who spoke to Corsi that day, who says that they received non-public information about the tape from Corsi or acknowledged having contacted a member of WikiLeaks on October 7, 2016 after a conversation with Corsi.
e. Donald Trump Jr. Interaction with WikiLeaks
Donald Trump Jr. had direct electronic communications with WikiLeaks during the campaign period. On September 20, 2016, an individual named Jason Fishbein sent WikiLeaks the password for an unlaunched website focused on Trump’s “unprecedented and dangerous” ties
245 During the same interview, Corsi also suggested that he may have sent out public tweets because he knew Assange was reading his tweets. Our Office was unable to find evidence of any such tweets.
246 _ Corsi 9/21/18 302, at 6-7. 247 Corsi 11/1/18 302, at 6. Harm to Ongoing Matter
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to Russia, PutinTrump.org.252 WikiLeaks publicly tweeted: ‘”Let’s bomb Iraq’ Progress for America PAC to launch “PutinTrump.org’ at 9:30am. Oops pw is ‘putintrump’ putintrump.org.” Several hours later, WikiLeaks sent a Twitter direct message to Donald Trump Jr., “A PAC run anti-Trump site putintrump.org is about to launch. The PAC is a recycled pro-Iraq war PAC. We have guessed the password. It is ‘putintrump.’ See ‘About’ for who is behind it. Any comments ?”253
Several hours later, Trump Jr. emailed a variety of senior campaign staff:
Guys I got a weird Twitter DM from wikileaks. See below. I tried the password and it works and the about section they reference contains the next pie in terms of who is behind it. Not sure if this is anything but it seems like it’s really wikileaks asking me as I follow them and it is a DM. Do you know the people mentioned and what the conspiracy they are looking for could be? These are just screen shots but it’ s a fully built out page claiming to be a PAC let me know your thoughts and ifwe want to look into it.254
Trump Jr. attached a screenshot of the “About” page for the unlaunched site PutinTrump.org. The next day (after the website had launched publicly), Trump Jr. sent a direct message to WikiLeaks: “Off the record, l don’t know who that is but I’ll ask around. Thanks.”255
On October 3, 2016, WikiLeaks sent another direct message to Trump Jr., asking “you guys” to help disseminate a link alleging candidate Clinton had advocated using a drone to target Julian Assange. Trump Jr. responded that he already “had done so,” and asked, “what’s behind this Wednesday leak I keep reading about?”256 WikiLeaks did not respond.
On October 12, 2016, WikiLeaks wrote again that it was “great to see you and your dad talking about our publications. Strongly suggest your dad tweets this link if he mentions us wlsearch.tk.”257 WikiLeaks wrote that the link would help Trump in “digging through” leaked emails and stated, “we just released Podesta emails Part 4.”258 Two days later, Trump Jr. publicly tweeted the wlsearch.tk link.259 ‘
252 9/20/16 Twitter DM~hbein to @WikiLeaks; see JF00587 (9/21/16 Messages, -@jabber.cryptoparty.is ~@jabber.cryptoparty.is); Fishbein 9/5/18 302, at 4. When interviewed by our Office, Fishbein produced what he claimed to be logs from a chatroom in which the participants discussed U.S. politics; one of the other participants had posted the website and password that Fishbein sent to WikiLeaks.
253 9/20/16 Twitter DM, @WikiLeaks to @DonaldJTrumpJr.
254 TRUMPORG _ 28 _ 000629-33 (9/21/16 Email, Trump Jr. to Conway et al. (subject “Wikileaks”)).
255 9/21/16 Twitter DM, @DonaldJTrumpJr to @WikiLeaks.
256 10/3/16 Twitter DMs, @DonaldJTrumpJr & @WikiLeaks. 257 At the time, the link took users to a WikiLeaks archive of stolen Clinton Campaign documents.
258 10/12/16 Twitter DM, @WikiLeaks to @DonaldJTrumpJr.
259 @DonaldJTrumpJr 10/14/16 (6:34 a.m.) Tweet.
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2. Other Potential Campaign Interest in Russian Hacked Materials
Throughout 2016, the Trump Campaign expressed interest in Hillary Clinton’s private email server and whether approximately 30,000 emails from that server had in fact been permanently destroyed, as reported by the media. Several individuals associated with the Campaign were contacted in 2016 about various efforts to obtain the missing Clinton emails and other stolen material in support of the Trump Campaign. Some of these contacts were met with sk~pticism, and nothing came of them; others were pursued to some degree. The investigation did not find evidence that the Trump Campaign recovered any s~ch Clinton emails, or that these contacts were part of a coordinated effort between Russia and the Trump Campaign.
a. Henry Oknyansky (a/k/a Henry Greenberg)
In the spring of 2016, Trump Campaign advisor Michael Caputo learned through a Floridabased Russian business partner that another Florida-based Russian, Henry Oknyansky (who also went by the name Henry Greenberg), claimed to have information pertaining to Hillary Clinton. Caputo notified Roger Stone and brokered communication between Stone and Oknyansky. Oknyansky and Stone set up a May 2016 in-person meeting.260
Oknyansky was accompanied to the meeting by Alexei Rasin, a Ukrainian associate involved in Florida real estate. At the meeting, Rasin offered to sell Stone derogatory information on Clinton that Rasin claimed to have obtained while working for Clinton. Rasin claimed to possess financial statements demonstrating Clinton’s involvement in money laundering with Rasin’s companies. According to Oknyansky, Stone asked if the amounts in question totaled millions of dollars but was told it was closer to hundreds of thousands. Stone refused the offer, stating that Trump would not pay for opposition research.261
Oknyansky claimed to the Office that Rasin’s motivation was financial. According to Oknyansky, Rasin had tried unsuccessfully to shop the Clinton information around to other interested parties, and Oknyansky would receive a cut if the information was sold.262 Rasin is noted in public source documents as the director and/or registered agent for a number of Florida companies, none of which appears to be connected to Clinton. The Office found no other evidence that Rasin worked for Clinton or any Clinton-related entities.
In their statements to investigators, Oknyansky and Caputo had contradictory recollections about the meeting. Oknyansky claimed that Caputo accompanied Stone to the meeting and provided an introduction, whereas Caputo did not tell us that he had attended and claimed that he was never told what information Oknyansky offered. Caputo also stated that he was unaware Oknyansky sought to be paid for the information until Stone informed him after the fact.263
26° Caputo 5/2/18 302, at 4; Oknyansky 7/13/18 302, at l. 261 Oknyansky 7/13/18 302, at 1-2. 262 Oknyansky 7/13/18 302, at 2. 263 Caputo 5/2/18 302, at 4; Oknyansky 7/13/18 302, at l.
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The Office did not locate Rasin in the United States, although the Office confirmed Rasin had been issued a Florida driver’s license. The Office otherwise was unable to determine the content and origin of the information he purportedly offered to Stone. Finally, the investigation did not identify evidence of a connection between the outreach or the meeting and Russian interference efforts.
b. Campaign Efforts to Obtain Deleted Clinton Emails
After candidate Trump stated on July 27, 2016, that he hoped Russia would “find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump asked individuals affiliated with his Campaign to find the deleted Clinton emails.264 Michael Flynn-who would later serve as National Security Advisor in the Trump Administration- recalled that Trump made this request repeatedly, and Flynn subsequently contacted multiple people in an effort to obtain the emails.265
Barbara Ledeen and Peter Smith were among the people contacted by Flynn. Ledeen, a long-time Senate staffer who had previously sought the Clinton emails, provided updates to Flynn about her efforts throughout the summer of 2016.266 Smith, an investment advisor who was active in Republican politics, also attempted to locate and obtain the deleted Clinton emails.267
Ledeen began her efforts to obtain the Clinton emails before Flynn’s request, as early as December 2015.268 On December 3, 2015, she emailed Smith a proposal to obtain the emails, stating, “Here is the proposal I briefly mentioned to you. The person I described to you would be happy to talk with you either in person or over the phone. The person can get the emails which 1. Were classified and 2. Were purloined by our enemies. That would demonstrate what needs to be demonstrated.”269
Attached to the email was a 25-page proposal stating that the “Clinton email server was, in all likelihood, breached long ago,” and that the Chinese, Russian, and Iranian intelligence services could “re-assemble the server’s email content.”270 The proposal called for a three-phase approach. The first two phases consisted of open-source analysis. The third phase consisted of checking with certain intelligence sources “that have access through liaison work with various foreign services” to determine if any of those services had gotten to the server. The proposal noted, “Even if a single email was recovered and the providence [sic] of that email was a foreign service, it would be catastrophic to the Clinton campaign[.]” Smith forwarded the email to two colleagues and
264 Flynn 4/25/18 302, at 5-6; Flynn 5/1/18 302, at 1-3. 265 Flynn 5/1/18 302, at l-3. 266 Flynn 4/25/18 302, at 7; Flynn 5/4/18 302, at 1-2; Flynn 11/29/17 302, at 7-8. 267 Flynn 11/29/17 302, at 7.
268 Szobocsan 3/29/17 302, at 1. 269 12/3/15 Email, Ledeen to Smith. 270 12/3/15 Email, Ledeen to Smith (attachment).
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wrote, “we can discuss to whom it should be referred.”271 On December 16, 2015, Smith informed Ledeen that he declined to participate in her “initiative.” According to one of Smith’s business associates, Smith believed Ledeen’s initiative was not viable at that time.272
Just weeks after Trump’s July 2016 request to find the Clinton emails, however, Smith tried to locate and obtain the emails himself. He created a company, raised tens of thousands of dollars, and recruited security experts and business associates. Smith made claims to others involved in the effort (and those from whom he sought funding) that he was in contact with hackers with “ties and affiliations to Russia” who had access to the emails, and that his efforts were coordinated with the Trump Campaign.273
On August 28, 2016, Smith sent an email from an encrypted account with the subject “Sec. Clinton’s unsecured private email server” to an undisclosed list ofrecipients, including Campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis. The email stated that Smith was “u]ust finishing two days of sensitive meetings here in DC with involved groups to poke and probe on the above. It is clear that the Clinton’s home-based, unprotected server was hacked with ease by both State-related players, and private mercenaries. Parties with varying interests, are circling to release ahead of the election.”274
On September 2, 2016, Smith directed a business associate to establish KLS Research LLC in furtherance of his search for the deleted Clinton emails.275 One of the purposes ofKLS Research was to manage the funds Smith raised in support of his initiative.276 KLS Research received over $30,000 during the presidential campaign, although Smith represented that he raised even more 277 money.
Smith recruited multiple people for his initiative, including security experts to search for and authenticate the emails.278 In early September 2016, as pait of his recruitment and fundraising effort, Smith circulated a document stating that his initiative was “in coordination” with the Trump Campaign, “to the extent permitted as an independent expenditure organization.”279 The document listed multiple individuals affiliated with the Trump Campaign, including Flynn, Clovis, Bannon,
271 12/3/15 Email, Smith to Szobocsan & Safron. 272 Szobocsan 3/29/18 302, at 1.
273 8/31/16 Email, Smith to Smith. 274 8/28/16 Email, Smith to Smith.
275 Incorporation papers ofKLS Research LLC, 7/26/17 Szobocsan 3/29/18 302, at 2. 276 Szobocsan 3/29/18 302, at 3.
277 Financial Institution Record of Peter Smith and KLS Research LLC, 10/31 /17 10/11/16 Email, Smith to
278 Tait 8/22/17 302, at 3; York 7 /12/17 302, at 1-2; York 11/22/17 302, at 1.
279 York 7 /13/17 302 (attachment KLS Research, LLC, “Clinton Email Reconnaissance Initiative,” Sept. 9, 2016).
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and Kellyanne Conway.280 The investigation established that Smith communicated with at least Flynn and Clovis about his search for the deleted Clinton emails,281 but the Office did not identify evidence that any of the listed individuals initiated or directed Smith’s efforts.
In September 2016, Smith and Ledeen got back in touch with each other about their respective efforts. Ledeen wrote to Smith, “wondering if you had some more detailed reports or memos or other data you could share because we have come a long way in our efforts since we last visited … . We would need as much technical discussion as possible so we could marry it against the new data we have found and then could share it back to you ‘your eyes only.'”282
Ledeen claimed to have obtained a trove of emails (from what she described as the “dark web”) that purpo1ted to be the deleted Clinton emails. Ledeen wanted to authenticate the emails and solicited contributions to fund that effort. Erik Prince provided funding to hire a tech advisor to ascertain the authenticity of the emails. According to Prince, the tech advisor determined that the emails were not authentic.283
A backup of Smith’s computer contained two files that had been downloaded from WikiLeaks and that were originally attached to emails received by John Podesta. The files on Smith’s computer had creation dates of October 2, 2016, which was prior to the date of their release by WikiLeaks. Forensic examination, however, established that the creation date did not reflect when the files were downloaded to Smith’ s computer. (It appears the creation date was when WikiLeaks staged the document for release, as discussed in Volume I, Section III.B.3.c, supra.284) The investigation did not otherwise identify evidence that Smith obtained the files before their release by WikiLeaks.
Smith continued to send emails to an undisclosed recipient list about Clinton’ s deleted emails until shortly before the election. For example, on October 28, 2016, Smith wrote that there was a “tug-of-war going on within WikiLeaks over its planned releases in the next few days,” and that WikiLeaks “has maintained that it will save its best revelations for last, under the theory this allows little time for response prior to the U.S. election November 8.”285 An attachment to the
280 The same recruitment document listed Jerome Corsi under “Independent Groups/Organizations/Individuals,” and described him as an “established author and writer from the right on President Obama and Sec. Clinton.” 281 Flynn 11/29/17 302, at 7-8; 10/15/16 Email, Smith to Flynn et al.; 8/28/16 Email, Smith to Smith (bee: Clovis et al.).
282 9/16/16 Email, Ledeen to Smith. 283 Prince 4/4/18 302, at 4-5. 284 The forensic analysis of Smith’s computer devices found that Smith used an older Apple operating system that would have preserved that October 2, 2016 creation date when it was downloaded (no matter what day it was in fact downloaded by Smith). See Volume I, Section 111.B.3.c, supra. The Office tested this theory in March 2019 by downloading the two files found on Smith’s computer from WikiLeaks’s site using the same Apple operating system on Smith’s computer; both files were successfully downloaded and retained the October 2, 2016 creation date. See SM-2284941, serial 62. 285 10/28/16 Email, Smith to Smith.
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email claimed that WikiLeaks would release “All 33k deleted Emails” by “November 1st.” No emails obtained from Clinton’s server were subsequently released.
Smith drafted multiple emails stating or intimating that he was in contact with Russian hackers. For example, in one such email, Smith claimed that, in August 2016, KLS Research had organized meetings with parties who had access to the deleted Clinton emails, including parties with “ties and affiliations to Russia.”286 The investigation did not identify evidence that any such meetings occurred. Associates and security experts who worked with Smith on the initiative did not believe that Smith was in contact with Russian hackers and were aware of no such connection.287 The investigation did not establish that Smith was in contact with Russian hackers or that Smith, Ledeen, or other individuals in touch with the Trump Campaign ultimately obtained the deleted Clinton emails.
* * *
In sum, the investigation established that the GRU hacked into email accounts of persons affiliated with the Clinton Campaign, as well as the computers of the DNC and DCCC. The GRU then exfiltrated data related to the 2016 election from these accounts and computers, and disseminated that data through fictitious online personas (DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0) and later through WikiLeaks. The investigation also established that the Trum Cam ai n dis la ed interest in the WikiLeaks releases, and that
explained in Volume I, Section V.B, infra, the evidence was sufficient to support computerintrusion and other char es a ainst GRU officers for their role in election-related hackin .
286 8/31/16 Email, Smith to Smith.
287 Safron 3/20/18 302, at 3; Szobocsan 3/29/18 302, at 6.



Between approximately October 13, 2015 and November 2, 2015, the Trump Organization (through its subsidiary Trump Acquisition, LLC) and I.C. Expert completed a letter of intent (LOI) for a Trump Moscow property. The LOI, signed by Trump for the Trump Organization and Rozov on behalf of I.C. Expert, was “intended to facilitate further discussions” in order to “attempt to
313 Rtskhiladze was a U.S.-based executive of the Georgian company Silk Road Group. In approximately 2011, Silk Road Group and the Trump Organization entered into a licensing agreement to build a Trump-branded property in Batumi, Georgia. Rtskhiladze was also involved in discussions for a The Office twice interviewed Rtskhiladze, -Trum -branded ro’ect in Astana, Kazakhstan.
3 14 Cohen 9/12/18 302, at 12; see also Rtskhiladze 5/10/18 302, at 1. 315 9/22/1 5 Email, Rtskhiladze to Nizharadze. 316 9/24/15 Email, Rtskhiladze to Cohen. 317 9/24/1 5 Email, Rtskhiladze to Cohen. 318 9/27/15 Email, Rtskhiladze to Cohen. 319 Cohen 9/12/18 302, at 12.
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enter into a mutually acceptable agreement” related to the Trump-branded project in Moscow.320 The LOI contemplated a development with residential, hotel, commercial, and office components, and called for”[ a]pproximately 250 first class, luxury residential condominiums,” as well as”[ o ]ne first class, luxury hotel consisting of approximately 15 floors and containing not fewer than 150 hotel rooms.”321 For the residential and commercial portions of the project, the Trump Organization would receive between 1% and 5% of all condominium sales,322 plus 3% of all rental and other revenue.323 For the project’s hotel portion, the Trump Organization would receive a base fee of 3% of gross operating revenues for the first five years and 4% thereafter, plus a separate incentive fee of 20% of operating profit. 324 Under the LOI, the Trump Organization also would receive a $4 million “up-front fee” prior to groundbreaking.325 Under these terms, the Trump Organization stood to earn substantial sums over the lifetime of the project, without assuming significant liabilities or financing commitments.326
On November 3, 2015, the day after the Trump Organization transmitted the LOI, Sater emailed Cohen suggesting that the Trump Moscow project could be used to increase candidate Trump’s chances at being elected, writing:
Buddy our boy can become President of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process …. Michael, Putin gets on stage with Donald for a ribbon cutting for Trump Moscow, and Donald owns the republican nomination. And possibly beats Hillary and our boy is in .. . . We will manage this process better than anyone. You and I will get Donald and Vladimir on a stage together very shortly. That the game changer.327
Later that day, Sater followed up:
Donald doesn’t stare down, he negotiates and understands the economic issues and Putin only want to deal with a pragmatic leader, and a successful business man is a good candidate for someone who knows how to negotiate. “Business, politics, whatever it all is the same for someone who knows how to deal”
320 11/2/15 Email, Cohen to Rozov et al. (attachment) (hereinafter “LOI”); see also I 0/13/15 Email, Sater to Cohen & Davis (attaching proposed letter of intent).
321 LOI, p. 2.
322 The LOI called for the Trump Organization to receive 5% of all gross sales up to $100 million; 4% of all gross sales from $100 million to $250 million; 3% of all gross sales from $250 million to $500 million; 2% of all gross sales from $500 million to $1 billion; and 1 % of all gross sales over $1 billion. LOI, Schedule 2. 323 LOI, Schedule 2. 324 LOI, Schedule 1.
325 LOI, Schedule 2. 326 Cohen 9/12/18 302, at 3. 327 11/3/15 Email, Sater to Cohen (12:14 p.m.).
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I think I can get Putin to say that at the Trump Moscow press conference. If he says it we own this election. Americas most difficult adversary agreeing that Donald is a good guy to negotiate …. We can own this election. Michael my next steps are very sensitive with Putins very very close people, we can pull this off. Michael lets go. 2 boys from Brooklyn getting a USA president elected. This is good really good.328
According to Cohen, he did not consider the political import of the Trump Moscow project to the 2016 U.S. presidential election at the time. Cohen also did not recall candidate Trump or anyone affiliated with the Trump Campaign discussing the political implications of the Trump Moscow project with him. However, Cohen recalled conversations with Trump in which the candidate suggested that his campaign would be a significant “infomercial” for Trump-branded prope1ties. 329
ii. Post-LOI Contacts with Individuals in Russia
Given the size of the Trump Moscow project, Sater and Cohen believed the project required approval (whether express or implicit) from the Russian national government, including from the Presidential Administration of Russia.330 Sater stated that he therefore began to contact the Presidential Administration through another Russian business contact.331 In early negotiations with the Trump Organization, Sater had alluded to the need for government approval and his attempts to set up meetings with Russian officials. On October 12, 2015, for example, Sater wrote to Cohen that “all we need is Putin on board and we are golden,” and that a “meeting with Putin and top deputy is tentatively set for the 14th [ of October]. “332 this meeting was being coordinated by associates in Russia and that he had no direct interaction with the Russian 333 government.
Approximately a month later, after the LOI had been signed, Lana Erchova emailed lvanka Trump on behalf of Erchova’s then-husband Dmitry Klokov, to offer Klokov’s assistance to the Trump Campaign.334 Klokov was at that time Director of External Communications for PJSC Federal Grid Company of Unified Energy System, a large Russian electricity transmission
328 11/3/15 Email, Sater to Cohen (12:40 p.m.).
329 Cohen 9/12/18 302, at 3-4; Cohen 8/7/18 302, at 15. 330 Sater 12/15/17 302, at 2.
331 Sater 12/15/17 302, at 3-4. 332 10/12/15 Email, Sater to Cohen (8:07 a.m.).
334 Ivanka Trump received an email from a woman who identified herself as “Lana E. Alexander,” which said in part, “If you ask anyone who knows Russian to google my husband Dmitry Klokov, you’ll see who he is close to and that he has done Putin’s political campaigns.” 11/16/15 Email, Erchova to I. Trump.
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company, and had been previously employed as an aide and press secretary to Russia’s energy minister. Ivanka Trump forwarded the email to Cohen.335 He told the Office that, after receiving this inquiry, he had conducted an internet search for Klokov’s name and concluded (incorrectly) that Klokov was a former Olympic weightlifter.336
Between November 18 and 19, 2015,-Klokov and Cohen had at least one telephone call and exchanged several emails. Describing himself in emails to Cohen as a “trusted person” who could offer the Campaign “political synergy” and “synergy on a government level,” Klokov recommended that Cohen travel to Russia to speak with him and an unidentified intermediary. Klokov said that those conversations could facilitate a later meeting in Russia between the candidate and an individual Klokov described as “our person of interest.”337 In an email to the Office, Erchova later identified the “person of interest” as Russian President Vladimir Putin. 338
In the telephone call and follow-on emails with Klokov, Cohen discussed his desire to use a near-term trip to Russia to do site surveys and talk over the Trump Moscow project with local developers. Cohen registered his willingness also to meet with Klokov and the unidentified intermediary, but was emphatic that all meetings in Russia involving him or candidate Trump-including a possible meeting between candidate Trump and Putin-would need to be “in conjunction with the development and an official visit” with the Trump Organization receiving a formal invitation to visit.339 (Klokov had written previously that “the visit [by candidate Trump to Russia] has to be informal.”)340
Klokov had also previously recommended to Cohen that he separate their negotiations over a possible meeting between Trump and “the person of interest” from any existing business track. 341 Re-emphasizing that his outreach was not done on behalf of any business, Klokov added in second email to Cohen that, if publicized well, such a meeting could have “phenomenal” impact “in a business dimension” and that the “person of interest[‘s]” “most important support” could have significant ramifications for the “level of projects and their capacity.” Klokov concluded by telling
335 11/16/15 Email, I. Trump to Cohen. 336 Cohen 8/7/18 302, at 17. During his interviews with the Office, Cohen still appeared to believe that the Klokov he spoke with was that Olympian. The investigation, however, established that the email address used to communicate with Cohen belongs to a different Dmitry Klokov, as described above.
337 11/18/15 Email, Klokov to Cohen (6:51 a.m.). 338 In July 2018, the Office received an unsolicited email purporting to be from Erchova, in which she wrote that “[a]t the end of2015 and beginning of2016 I was asked by my ex-husband to contact lvanka Trump . .. and offer cooperation to Trump’s team on behalf of the Russian officials.” 7/27/18 Email, Erchova to Special Counsel’s Office. The email claimed that the officials wanted to offer candidate Trump “land in Crimea among other things and unofficial meeting with Putin.” Id. In order to vet the email’s claims, the Office responded requesting more details. The Office did not receive any reply. 339 11/18/15 Email, Cohen to Klokov (7:15 a.m.).
340 11/18/15 Email, Klokov to Cohen (6:51 a.m.). 341 11/18/15 Email, Klokov to Cohen (6:51 a.m.) (“I would suggest separating your negotiations and our proposal to meet. I assure you, after the meeting level of projects and their capacity can be completely different, having the most important support.”).
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Cohen that there was “no bigger warranty in any project than [the] consent of the person of interest.”342 Cohen rejected the proposal, saying that “[c]urrently our LOI developer is in talks with VP’s Chief of Staff and arranging a formal invite for the two to meet.”343 This email appears to be their final exchange, and the investigation did not identify evidence that Cohen brought Klokov’ s initial offer of assistance to the Campaign’s attention or that anyone associated with the Trump Organization or the Campaign dealt with Klokov at a later date. Cohen explained that he did not pursue the proposed meeting because he was already working on the Moscow Project with Sater, who Cohen understood to have his own connections to the Russian government.344
By late December 2015, however, Cohen was complaining that Sater had not been able to use those connections to set up the promised meeting with Russian government officials. Cohen told Sater that he was “setting up the meeting myself. “345 On January 11, 2016, Cohen emailed the office of Dmitry Peskov, the Russian government’s press secretary, indicating that he desired contact with Sergei Ivanov, Putin’s chief of staff. Cohen erroneously used the email address “Pr_peskova@prpress.gof.ru” instead of “Pr _peskova@prpress.gov .ru,” so the email apparently did not go through.346 On January 14, 2016, Cohen emailed a different address (info@prpress.gov.ru) with the following message:
Dear Mr. Peskov, Over the past few months, I have been working with a company based in Russia regarding the development of a Trump Tower-Moscow project in Moscow City. Without getting into lengthy specifics, the communication between our two sides has stalled. As this project is too important, I am hereby requesting your assistance. I respectfully request someone, preferably you; contact me so that I might discuss the specifics as well as arranging meetings with the appropriate individuals. I thank you in advance for your assistance and look forward to hearing from you soon.347
Two days later, Cohen sent an email to Pr_peskova@prpress.gov.ru, repeating his request to speak with Sergei Ivanov.348
Cohen testified to Congress, and initially told the Office, that he did not recall receiving a response to this email inquiry and that he decided to terminate any further work on the Trump Moscow project as of January 2016. Cohen later admitted that these statements were false. In
342 11/19/15 Email, Klokov to Cohen (7:40 a.m.). 343 11/19/15 Email, Cohen to Klokov (12:56 p.m.). 344 Cohen 9/18/18 302, at 12. 345 FS00004 (12/30/15 Text Message, Cohen to Sater (6:17 p.m.)). 346 1/11/16 Email, Cohen to pr_peskova@prpress.gof.ru (9: 12 a.m.).
347 1/14/16 Email, Cohen to info@prpress.gov.ru (9:21 a.m.). 348 1/16/16 Email, Cohen to pr_peskova@prpress.gov.ru (10:28 a.m.).
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fact, Cohen had received (and recalled receiving) a response to his inquiry, and he continued to work on and update candidate Trump on the project through as late as June 2016.349
On January 20, 2016, Cohen received an email from Elena Poliakova, Peskov’s personal assistant. Writing from her personal email account, Poliakova stated that she had been trying to reach Cohen and asked that he call her on the personal number that she provided.350 Shortly after receiving Poliakova’s email, Cohen called and spoke to her for 20 minutes.351 Cohen described to Poliakova his position at the Trump Organization and outlined the proposed Trump Moscow project, including information about the Russian counterparty with which the Trump Organization had partnered. Cohen requested assistance in moving the project forward, both in securing land to build the project and with financing. According to Cohen, Poliakova asked detailed questions and took notes, stating that she would need to follow up with others in Russia.352
Cohen could not recall any direct follow-up from Poliakova or from any other representative of the Russian government, nor did the Office identify any evidence of direct follow-up. However, the day after Cohen’s call with Poliakova, Sater texted Cohen, asking him to “[c]all me when you have a few minutes to chat .. . It’s about Putin they called today.”353 Sater then sent a draft invitation for Cohen to visit Moscow to discuss the Trump Moscow project, 354 along with a note to “[t]ell me if the letter is good as amended by me or make whatever changes you want and send it back to me.”355 After a further round of edits, on January 25, 2016, Sater sent Cohen an invitation- signed by Andrey Ryabinskiy of the company MHJ-to travel to “Moscow for a working visit” about the “prospects of development and the construction business in Russia,” “the various land plots available suited for construction of this enormous Tower,” and “the oppo1tunity to co-ordinate a follow up visit to Moscow by Mr. Donald Trump.”356 According
349 Cohen Information ,i,i 4, 7. Cohen’s interactions with President Trump and the President’s lawyers when preparing his congressional testimony are discussed further in Volume II. See Vol. II, Section 11.K.3, infra. 350 1/20/1 6 Email, Poliakova to Cohen (5 :57 a.m.) (“Mr. Cohen[,] I can’t get through to both your phones. Pis, call me.”). 35 1 Telephone records show a 20-minute call on January 20, 2016 between Cohen and the number Poliakova provided in her email. Call Records of Michael Cohen After the call, Cohen saved Poliakova’s contact information in his Trump Organization Outlook contact list. 1/20/16 Cohen Microsoft Outlook Entry (6:22 a.m.). 352 Cohen 9/12/18 302, at 2-3. 353 FS000l 1 (1/21/16 Text Messages, Sater to Cohen). 354 The invitation purported to be from Genbank, a Russian bank that was, according to Sater, working at the behest of a larger bank, VTB, and would consider providing financing. FS00008 (12/31/ 15 Text Messages, Sater & Cohen). Additional information about Genbank can be found infra. 355 FS000l I (1/21/16 Text Message, Sater to Cohen (7:44 p.m.)); 1/21/16 Email, Sater to Cohen (6:49 p.m.). 356 1/25/16 Email, Sater to Cohen (12:01 p.m.) (attachment).
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to Cohen, he elected not to travel at the time because of concerns about the lack of concrete proposals about land plots that could be considered as options for the project.357
d. Discussions about Russia Travel by Michael Cohen or Candidate Trump (December 2015-June 2016)
i. Sater ‘s Overtures to Cohen to Travel to Russia
The late January communication was neither the first nor the last time that Cohen contemplated visiting Russia in pursuit of the Trump Moscow project. Beginning in late 2015, Sater repeatedly tried to arrange for Cohen and candidate Trump, as representatives of the Trump Organization, to travel to Russia to meet with Russian government officials and possible financing partners. In December 2015, Sater sent Cohen a number of emails about logistics for traveling to Russia for meetings.358 On December 19, 2015, Sater wrote:
Please call me I have Evgeney [Dvoskin] on the other line. [359] He needs a copy of your and Donald’s passports they need a scan of every page of the passports. Invitations & Visas will be issued this week by VTB Bank to discuss financing for Trump Tower Moscow. Politically neither Putins office nor Ministry of Foreign Affairs cannot issue invite, so they are inviting commercially/ business. VTB is Russia’s 2 biggest bank and VTB Bank CEO Andrey Kostin, will be at all meetings with Putin so that it is a business meeting not political. We will be invited to Russian consulate this week to receive invite & have visa issued.360
In response, Cohen texted Sater an image of his own passport.361 Cohen told the Office that at one point he requested a copy of candidate Trump’s passport from Rhona Graff, Trump’s executive assistant at the Trump Organization, and that Graff later brought Trump’s passport to Cohen’s
357 Cohen 9/12/18 302, at 6-7. 358 See, e.g., 12/1/15 Email, Sater to Cohen (12:41 p.m.) (“Please scan and send me a copy of your passport for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”).
Call Records of Felix Sater Dvoskin is an executive of Genbank, a large bank with lending focused in Crimea, Ukraine. At the time that Sater provided this financing letter to Cohen, Genbank was subject to U.S. government sanctions, see Russia/Ukraine-related Sanctions and Identifications, Office of Foreign Assets Control (Dec. 22, 2015), available at https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/OFACEnforcement/Pages/20151222.aspx. Dvoskin, who had been deported from the United States in 2000 for criminal activity, was under indictment in the United States for stock fraud under the aliases Eugene Slusker and Gene Shustar. See United States v. Rizzo, et al., 2:03-cr-63 (E.D.N.Y. Feb. 6, 2003). 360 12/19/15 Email, Sater to Cohen (10:50 a.m.); FS00002 (12/19/15 Text Messages, Sater to Cohen, (10:53 a.m.). 36 1 FS00004 (12/19/15 Text Message, Cohen to Sater); ERT_0198-256 (12/19/15 Text Messages, Cohen & Sater).
359 Toll records show that Sater was speaking to Evgeny Dvoskin.
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office.362 The investigation did not, however, establish that the passport was forwarded to Sater.363
Into the spring of 2016, Sater and Cohen continued to discuss a trip to Moscow in connection with the Trump Moscow project. On April 20, 2016, Sater wrote Cohen, “[t]he People . wanted to know when you are coming?”364 On May 4, 2016, Sater followed up:
I had a chat with Moscow. ASSUMING the trip does happen the question is before or after the convention. I said I believe, but don’t know for sure, that’ s it’s probably after the convention. Obviously the pre-meeting trip (you only) can happen anytime you want but the 2 big guys where [sic] the question. I said I would confirm and revert. . . . Let me know about If I was right by saying I believe after Cleveland and also when you want to speak to them and possibly fly over.365
Cohen responded, “My trip before Cleveland. Trump once he becomes the nominee after the convention.”366
The day after this exchange, Sater tied Cohen’ s travel to Russia to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (“Forum”), an annual event attended by prominent Russian politicians and businessmen. Sater told the Office that he was informed by a business associate that Peskov wanted to invite Cohen to the Forum.367 On May 5, 2016, Sater wrote to Cohen:
Peskov would like to invite you as his guest to the St. Petersburg Forum which is Russia’s Davos it’s June 16-19. He wants to meet there with you and possibly introduce you to either Putin or Medvedev, as they are not sure if 1 or both will be there. This is perfect. The entire business class of Russia wiU be there as well. He said anything you want to discuss including dates and subjects are on the table to discuss[. ]368
The following day, Sater asked Cohen to confirm those dates would work for him to travel; Cohen wrote back, “[w]orks for me.”369
362 Cohen 9/12/18 302, at 5. 363 On December 21, 2015, Sater sent Cohen a text message that read, “They need a copy of DJT passport,” to which Cohen responded, “After I return from Moscow with you with a date for him.” FS00004 (12/21/15 Text Messages, Cohen & Sater).
364 FS00014 (4/20/16 Text Message, Sater to Cohen (9:06 p.m.)). 365 FS000l 5 (5/4/16 Text Message, Sater to Cohen (7:38 p.m.)).
366 FS00015 (5/4/16 Text Message, Cohen to Sater (8:03 p.m.)). 367 Sater 12/15/17 302, at 4. 368 FS00016 (5/5/16 Text Messages, Sater to Cohen (6:26 & 6:27 a.m.)). 369 FS00016 (5/6/16 Text Messages, Cohen & Sater).
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On June 9, 2016, Sater sent Cohen a notice that he (Sater) was completing the badges for the Forum, adding, “Putin is there on the 17th very strong chance you will meet him as well.”370 On June 13, 2016, Sater forwarded Cohen an invitation to the Forum signed by the Director of the Roscongress Foundation, the Russian entity organizing the Forum.371 Sater also sent Cohen a Russian visa application and asked him to send two passport photos.372 According to Cohen, the invitation gave no indication that Peskov had been involved in inviting him. Cohen was concerned that Russian officials were not actually involved or were not interested in meeting with him (as Sater had alleged), and so he decided not to go to the Forum.373 On June 14, 2016, Cohen met Sater in the lobby of the Trump Tower in New York and informed him that he would not be traveling at that time. 374
ii. Candidate Trump’s Opportunities to Travel to Russia
The investigation identified evidence that, during the period the Trump Moscow project was under consideration, the possibility of candidate Trump visiting Russia arose in two contexts.
First, in interviews with the Office, Cohen stated that he discussed the subject of traveling to Russia with Trump twice: once in late 2015; and again in spring 2016.375 According to Cohen, Trump indicated a willingness to travel if it would assist the project significantly. On one occasion, Trump told Cohen to speak with then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to coordinate the candidate’s schedule. Cohen recalled that he spoke with Lewandowski, who suggested that they speak again when Cohen had actual dates to evaluate. Cohen indicated, however, that he knew that travel prior to the Republican National Convention would be impossible given the candidate’s preexisting commitments to the Campaign.376
Second, like Cohen, Trump received and turned down an invitation to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. In late December 2015, Mira Duma-a contact oflvanka Trump’ s from the fashion industry-first passed along invitations for Ivanka Trump and candidate Trump from Sergei Prikhodko, a Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation.377 On January 14, 2016, Rhona Graff sent an email to Duma stating that Trump was “honored to be asked to participate in the highly prestigious” Forum event, but that he would “have to decline” the invitation given his “very grueling and full travel schedule” as a presidential candidate.378 Graff
37° FS000 18 (6/9/16 Text Messages, Sater & Cohen). 371 6/13/16 Email, Sater to Cohen (2:10 p.m.). 372 FS00018 (6/13/16 Text Message, Sater to Cohen (2:20 p.m.)); 6/13/16 Email, Sater to Cohen. 373 Cohen 9/12/18 302, at 6-8.
374 FS00019 (6/14/16 Text Messages, Cohen & Sater (12:06 and 2:50 p.m.)). 375 Cohen 9/12/18 302, at 2. 376 Cohen 9/12/18 302, at 7. 377 12/21/15 Email, Mira to Ivanka Trump (6:57 a.m.) (attachments); TRUMPORG_16_000057 (1/7/16 Email, I. Trump to Graff(9:18 a.m.)). 378 1/14/16 Email, Graff to Mira.
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asked Duma whether she recommended that Graff “send a formal note to the Deputy Prime Minister” declining his invitation; Duma replied that a formal note would be “great.”379
It does not appear that Graff prepared that note immediately. According to written answers from President Trump,380 Graff received an email from Deputy Prime Minister Prikhodko on March 17, 2016, again inviting Trump to participate in the 2016 Forum in St. Petersburg.381 Two weeks later, on March 31, 2016, Graff prepared for Trump’s signature a two-paragraph letter declining the invitation.382 The letter stated that Trump’s “schedule has become extremely demanding” because of the presidential campaign, that he “already ha[ d] several commitments in the United States” for the time of the Forum, but that he otherwise “would have gladly given every consideration to attending such an important event.”383 Graff forwarded the letter to another executive assistant at the Trump Organization with instructions to print the document on letterhead for Trump to sign.384
At approximately the same time that the letter was being prepared, Robert Foresman-a New York-based investment banker- began reaching out to Graff to secure an in-person meeting with candidate Trump. According to Foresman, he had been asked by Anton Kobyakov, a Russian presidential aide involved with the Roscongress Foundation, to see if Trump could speak at the Forum.385 Foresman first emailed Graff on March 31, 2016, following a phone introduction brokered through Trump business associate Mark Burnett (who produced the television show The Apprentice). In his email, Foresman referenced his long-standing personal and professional expertise in Russia and Ukraine, his work setting up an early “private channel” between Vladimir Putin and former U.S. President George W. Bush, and an “approach” he had received from “senior Kremlin officials” about the candidate. Foresman asked Graff for a meeting with the candidate, Corey Lewandowski, or “another relevant person” to discuss this and other “concrete things” Foresman felt uncomfortable discussing over “unsecure email.”386 On April 4, 2016, Graff forwarded Foresman’s meeting request to Jessica Macchia, another executive assistant to Trump.387
379 1/15/16 Email, Mira to Graff.
380 As explained in Volume II and Appendix C, on September 17, 2018, the Office sent written questions to the President’s counsel. On November 20, 2018, the President provided written answers to those questions through counsel. 381 Written Responses of Donald J. Trump (Nov. 20, 2018), at 17 (Response to Question IV, Pait (e)) (“[D]ocuments show that Ms. Graff prepared for my signature a brief response declining the invitation.”). 382 Written Responses of Donald J. Trump (Nov. 20, 2018), at 17 (Response to Question IV, Part (e)); see also TRUMPORG_l 6_000134 (unsigned letter dated March 31, 2016). 383 TRUMPORG_16_000134 (unsigned letter).
384 TRUMPORG_l6_000133 (3/31/16 Email, Graffto Macchia).
385 Foresman 10/17/18 302, at 3-4. 386 See TRUMPORG_16_00136 (3/31/16 Email, Foresman to Graff); see also Foresman 10/17/18 302, at 3-4. 387 See TRUMPORG_ l6_00136 (4/4/16 Email, Graff to Macchia).
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With no response forthcoming, Foresman twice sent reminders to Graff-first on April 26 and again on April 30, 2016.388 Graff sent an apology to Foresman and forwarded his April 26 email ( as well as his initial March 2016 email) to Lewandowski. 389 On May 2, 2016, Graff forwarded Foresman’s April 30 email-which suggested an alternative meeting with Donald Trump Jr. or Eric Trump so that Foresman could convey to them information that “should be conveyed to [the candidate] personally or [to] someone [the candidate] absolutely trusts”-to policy advisor Stephen Miller.390
No communications or other evidence obtained by the Office indicate that the Trump Campaign learned that Foresman was reaching out to invite the candidate to the Forum or that the Campaign otherwise followed up with Foresman until after the election, when he interacted with the Transition Team as he pursued a possible position in the incoming Administration.39 1 When interviewed by the Office, Foresman denied that the specific “approach” from “senior Kremlin officials” noted in his March 31, 2016 email was anything other than Kobyakov’s invitation to Roscongress. According to Foresman, the “concrete things” he referenced in the same email were a combination of the invitation itself, Foresman’s personal perspectives on the invitation and Russia policy in general, and details of a Ukraine plan supported by a U.S. think tank (EastWest Institute). Foresman told the Office that Kobyakov had extended similar invitations through him to another Republican presidential candidate and one other politician. Foresman also said that Kobyakov had asked Foresman to invite Trump to speak after that other presidential candidate withdrew from the race and the other politician’s participation did not work out.392 Finally, Foresman claimed to have no plans to establish a back channel involving Trump, stating the reference to his involvement in the Bush-Putin back channel was meant to burnish his credentials to the Campaign. Foresman commented that he had not recognized any of the experts announced as Trump’s foreign policy team in March 2016, and wanted to secure an in-person meeting with the candidate to share his professional background and policy views, including that Trump should decline Kobyakov’s invitation to speak at the Forum. 393
2. George Papadopoulos
George Papadopoulos was a foreign policy advisor to the Trump Campaign from March
388 See TRUMPORG_16_00137 (4/26/16 Email, Foresman to Graff); TRUMPORG_16_00141 (4/30/16 Email, Foresman to Graff). 389 See TRUMPORG_16_00139 (4/27/16 Email, Graff to Foresman); TRUMPORG_16_00137 ( 4/27 /16 Email, Graff to Lewandowski). 390 TRUMPORG_16_00142 (5/2/16 Email, Graff to S. Miller); see also TRUMPORG_16_00143 (5/2/16 Email, Graff to S. Miller) (forwarding March 2016 email from Foresman). 391 Foresman’s contacts during the transition period are discussed further in Volume I, Section IV.B.3, infra. 392 Foresman 10/17/18 302, at 4. 393 Foresman 10/17 /18 302, at 8-9.
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2016 to early October 2016.394 In late April 2016, Papadopoulos was told by London-based professor Joseph Mifsud, immediately after Mifsud’s return from a trip to Moscow, that the Russian government had obtained “dirt” on candidate Clinton in the form of thousands of emails. One week later, on May 6, 2016, Papadopoulos suggested to a representative of a foreign government that the Trump Campaign had received indications from the Russian government that it could assist the Campaign through the anonymous release of information that would be damaging to candidate Clinton.
Papadopoulos shared information about Russian “dirt” with people outside of the Campaign, and the Office investigated whether he also provided it to a Campaign official. Papadopoulos and the Campaign officials with whom he interacted told the Office that they did · not recall that Papadopoulos passed them the information. Throughout the relevant period of time and for several months thereafter, Papadopoulos worked with Mifsud and two Russian nationals to arrange a meeting between the Campaign and the Russian government. That meeting never came to pass.
a. Origins of Campaign Work
In March 2016, Papadopoulos became a foreign policy advisor to the Trump Campaign.395 As early as the summer of 2015, he had sought a role as a policy advisor to the Campaign but, in a September 30, 2015 email, he was told that the Campaign was not hiring policy advisors.396 In late 2015, Papadopoulos obtained a paid position on the campaign of Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson. 397
Although Carson remained in the presidential race until early March 20 I 6, Papadopoulos had stopped actively working for his campaign by early February 2016.398 At that time, Papadopoulos reached out to a contact at the London Centre of International Law Practice (LCILP), which billed itself as a “unique institution . . . comprising high-level professional international law practitioners, dedicated to the advancement of global legal knowledge and the practice of international law.”399 Papadopoulos said that he had finished his role with the Carson
394 Papadopoulos met with our Office for debriefings on several occasions in the summer and fall of 2017, after he was arrested and charged in a sealed criminal complaint with making false statements in a January 2017 FBI interview about, inter alia, the timing, extent, and nature of his interactions and communications with Joseph Mifsud and two Russian nationals: Olga Polonskaya and Ivan Timofeev. Papadopoulos later pleaded guilty, pursuant to a plea agreement, to an information charging him with making false statements to the FBI, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § lO0l(a). 395 A Transcript of Donald Trump’s Meeting with the Washington Post Editorial Board, Washington Post (Mar. 21, 2016). 396 7/15/15 Linkedln Message, Papadopoulos to Lewandowski (6:57 a.m.); 9/30/15 Email, Glassner to Papadopoulos (7:42:21 a.m.). 397 Papadopoulos 8/10/17 302, at 2. 398 Papadopoulos 8/10/17 302, at 2; 2/4/16 Email, Papadopoulos to Idris. 399 London Centre oflnternational Law Practice, at https://www.lcilp.org/ (via web.archive.org).
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campaign and asked if LCILP was hiring.400 In early February, Papadopoulos agreed to join LCILP and arrived in London to begin work.401
As he was taking his position at LCILP, Papadopoulos contacted Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski via Linkedln and emailed campaign official Michael Glassner about his interest in joining the Trump Campaign.402 On March 2, 2016, Papadopoulos sent Glassner another message reiterating his interest.403 Glassner passed along word of Papadopoulos’s interest to another campaign official, Joy Lutes, who notified Papadopoulos by email that she had been told by Glassner to introduce Papadopoulos to Sam Clovis, the Trump Campaign’s national cochair and chief policy advisor .404
At the time of Papadopoulos’s March 2 email, the media was criticizing the Trump Campaign for lack of experienced foreign policy or national security advisors within its ranks.405 To address that issue, senior Campaign officials asked Clovis to put a foreign policy team together on short notice.406 After receiving Papadopoulos’s name from Lutes, Clovis performed a Google search on Papadopoulos, learned that he had worked at the Hudson Institute, and believed that he had credibility on energy issues.407 On March 3, 2016, Clovis arranged to speak with Papadopoulos by phone to discuss Papadopoulos joining the Campaign as a foreign policy advisor, and on March 6, 2016, the two spoke.408 Papadopoulos recalled that Russia was mentioned as a topic, and he understood from the conversation that Russia would be an important aspect of the Campaign’s foreign policy.409 At the end of the conversation, Clovis offered Papadopoulos a role as a foreign policy advisor to the Campaign, and Papadopoulos accepted the offer.410
b. Initial Russia-Related Contacts
Approximately a week after signing on as a foreign policy advisor, Papadopoulos traveled
400 2/4/16 Email, Papadopoulos to Idris. 401 2/5/16 Email, Idris to Papadopoulos (6:11:25 p.m.); 2/6/16 Email, Idris to Papadopoulos (5:34:15 p.m.). 402 2/4/16 Linkedln Message, Papadopoulos to Lewandowski (1 :28 p.m.); 2/4/16 Email, Papadopoulos to Glassner (2:10:36 p.m.). 403 3/2/16 Email, Papadopoulos to Glassner (11: 17:23 a.m.). 404 3/2/16 Email, Lutes to Papadopoulos (10:08:15 p.m.). 405 Clovis 10/3/17 302 (1 of2), at 4. 406 Clovis 10/3/17 302 (1 of2), at 4.
(6:05:47 p.m.).
; 3/3/16 Email, Lutes to Clovis & Papadopoulos
408 3/6/16 Email, Papadopoulos to Clovis (4:24:21 p.m.). 409 Statement of Offense ,i 4, United States v. George Papadopoulos, 1: 17-cr-182 (D.D.C. Oct. 5, 2017), Doc. 19 (“Papadopoulos Statement of Offense”). 410 Papadopoulos 8/10/17 302, at 2.
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to Rome, Italy, as part of his duties with LCILP.41 1 The purpose of the trip was to meet officials affiliated with Link Campus University, a for-profit institution headed by a former Italian government official.412 During the visit, Papadopoulos was introduced to Joseph Mifsud.
Mifsud is a Maltese national who worked as a professor at the London Academy of Diplomacy in London, England.413 Although Mifsud worked out of London and was also affiliated with LCILP, the encounter in Rome was the first time that Papadopoulos met him.414 Mifsud maintained various Russian contacts while living in London, as described further below. Among his contacts was ,415 a one-time employee of the IRA, the entity that carried out the Russian social media campaign (see Volume I Section II, supra). In January and February 2016, Mifsud and – discussed possibly meeting in Russia. The investigation did not~ meeting. Later, in the spring of 2016, was also in contact – that was linked to an employee of the Russian Ministry of Defense, and that account had overlapping contacts with a group of Russian militarycontrolled Facebook accounts that included accounts used to promote the DCLeaks releases in the course of the GRU’s hack-and-release operations (see Volume I, Section III.B.1, supra).
According to Papadopoulos, Mifsud at first seemed uninterested in Papadopoulos when they met in Rome.416 After Papadopoulos informed Mifsud about his role in the Trump Campaign, however, Mifsud appeared to take greater interest in Papadopoulos.417 The two discussed Mifsud’s European and Russian contacts and had a general discussion about Russia; Mifsud also offered to introduce Papadopoulos to European leaders and others with contacts to the Russian government.418 Papadopoulos told the Office that Mifsud’s claim of substantial connections with Russian government officials interested Papadopoulos, who thought that such connections could increase his importance as a policy advisor to the Trump Campaign.419
411 Papadopoulos 8/10/17 302, at 2-3; Papadopoulos Statement of Offense ,r 5. 412 Papadopoulos 8/10/17 302, at 2-3; Stephanie Kirchgaessner et al., Joseph Mifsud: more questions than answers about mystery professor linked to Russia, The Guardian (Oct. 31, 2017) (“Link Campus University … is headed by a former Italian interior minister named Vincenzo Scotti.”). 413 Papadopoulos Statement of Offense ,r 5. 414 Papadopoulos 8/10/17 302, at 3. , , , • Investigative Technique 1Harm to Ongoing Matter
416 Papadopoulos Statement of Offense ,r 5. 4 17 Papadopoulos Statement of Offense ,r 5. 41 8 Papadopoulos 8/10/17 302, at 3; Papadopoulos 8/11/17 302, at 2. 419 Papadopoulos Statement of Offense ,r 5.
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On March 17, 2016, Papadopoulos returned to London.42 ° Four days later, candidate Trump publicly named him as a member of the foreign policy and national security advisory team chaired by Senator Jeff Sessions, describing Papadopoulos as “an oil and energy consultant” and an “[e]xcellent guy.”421
On March 24, 2016, Papadopoulos met with Mifsud in London.422 Mifsud was accompanied by a Russian female named Olga Polonskaya. Mifsud introduced Polonskaya as a former student of his who had connections to Vladimir Putin.423 Papadopoulos understood at the time that Polonskaya may have been Putin’s niece but later learned that this was not true.424 During the meeting, Polonskaya offered to help Papadopoulos establish contacts in Russia and stated that the Russian ambassador in London was a friend of hers.425 Based on this interaction, Papadopoulos expected Mifsud and Polonskaya to introduce him to the Russian ambassador in London, but that did not occur.426
Following his meeting with Mifsud, Papadopoulos sent an email to members of the Trump Campaign’s foreign policy advisory team. The subject line of the message was “Meeting with Russian leadership–including Putin.”427 The message stated in pertinent part:
I just finished a very productive lunch with a good friend of mine, Joseph Mifsud, the director of the London Academy of Diplomacy–who introduced me to both Putin’s niece and the Russian Ambassador in London–who also acts as the Deputy Foreign Minister.428
The topic of the lunch was to arrange a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss U.S.-Russia ties under President Trump. They are keen to host us in a “neutral” city, or directly in Moscow. They said the leadership, including Putin, is ready to meet with us and Mr. Trump should there be interest. Waiting for everyone’s thoughts on moving forward with this very important issue.429
420 Papadopoulos 8/10/17 302, at 2. 421 Phillip Rucker & Robert Costa, Trump Questions Need for NATO, Outlines Noninterventionist Foreign Policy, Washington Post (Mar. 21, 2016).
422 Papadopoulos 8/10/17 302, at 3; 3/24/16 Text Messages, Mifsud & Papadopoulos.
423 Papadopoulos 8/10/17 302, at 3.
424 Papadopoulos 8/10/17 302, at 3; Papadopoulos 2/10/17 302, at 2-3; Papadopoulos Internet Search History (3/24/16) (revealing late-morning and early-afternoon searches on March 24, 2016 for “putin’s niece,” “olga putin,” and “russian president niece olga,” among other terms).
425 Papadopoulos 8/10/17 302, at 3. 426 Papadopoulos Statement of Offense ,r 8 n. l. 427 3/24/16 Email, Papadopoulos to Page et al. (8:48:21 a.m.).
428 Papadopoulos’s statements to the Campaign were false. As noted above, the woman he met was not Putin’s niece, he had not met the Russian Ambassador in London, and the Ambassador did not also serve as Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister. 429 3/24/16 Email, Papadopoulos to Page et al. (8:48:21 a.m.).
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Papadopoulos’s message came at a time when Clovis perceived a shift in the Campaign’s approach toward Russia-from one of engaging with Russia throu h the NA TO framework and takin a stron stance on Russian a ression in Ukraine,
Clovis’s response to Papadopoulos, however, did not reflect that shift. Replying to Papadopoulos and the other members of the foreign policy advisory team copied on the initial email, Clovis wrote:
This is most informative. Let me work it through the campaign. No commitments until we see how this plays out. My thought is that we probably should not go forward with any meetings with the Russians until we have had occasion to sit with our NATO allies, especially France, Germany and Great Britain. We need to reassure our allies that we are not going to advance anything with Russia until we have everyone on the same page.
More thoughts later today. Great work.431
c. March 31 Foreign Policy Team Meeting
The Campaign held a meeting of the foreign policy advisory team with Senator Sessions and candidate Trump approximately one week later, on March 31, 2016, in Washington, D.C.432 The meeting-which was intended to generate press coverage for the Campaign433-took place at the Trump International Hotel.434 Papadopoulos flew to Washington for the event. At the meeting, Senator Sessions sat at one end of an oval table, while Trump sat at the other. As reflected in the photograph below (which was posted to Trump’s Instagram account), Papadopoulos sat between the two, two seats to Sessions’s left:
431 3/24/16 Email, Clovis to Papadopoulos et al. (8:55:04 a.m.). 432 Papadopoulos 8/10/17 302, at 4; Papadopoulos 8/11/17 302, at 3.
433 Sessions 1/17/18 302, at 16-17. 434 Papadopoulos 8/10/17 302, at 4.
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March 31, 2016 Meeting of Foreign Policy Team, with Papadopoulos (Fourth from Right of Candidate Trump)
During the meeting, each of the newly announced foreign policy advisors introduced themselves and briefly described their areas of experience or expertise.435 Papadopoulos spoke about his previous work in the energy sector and then brought up a potential meeting with Russian officials.436 Specifically, Papadopoulos told the group that he had learned through his contacts in London that Putin wanted to meet with candidate Trump and that these connections could help arrange that meeting.437
Trump and Sessions both reacted to Papadopoulos’s statement. Papadopoulos and Campaign advisor J.D. Gordon- who told investigators in an interview that he had a “crystal clear” recollection of the meeting-have stated that Trump was interested in and receptive to the idea of a meeting with Putin.438 Papadopoulos understood Sessions to be similarly supportive of his efforts to arrange a meeting.439 Gordon and two other attendees, however, recall that Sessions generally opposed the proposal, though they differ in their accounts of the concerns he voiced or the strength of the opposition he expressed.440
d. George Papadopoulos Learns That Russia Has “Dirt” in the Form of Clinton Emails
Whatever Sessions’s precise words at the March 31 meeting, Papadopoulos did not understand Sessions or anyone else in the Trump Campaign to have directed that he refrain from
435 Papadopoulos 8/10/17 302, at 4. 436 Papadopoulos 8/10/17 302, at 4. 437 Papadopoulos Statement of Offense ,i 9; see Gordon 8/29/17 302, at 14; Carafano 9/12/17 302, at 2; Hoskins 9/14/17 302, at 1. 438 Papadopoulos 8/10/17 302, at 4-5; Gordon 9/7 /17 302, at 4-5. 439 Papadopoulos 8/10/17 302, at 5; Papadopoulos 8/11/17 302, at 3. 440 Sessions 1/17/18 302, at 17; Gordon 9/7/17 302, at 5; Hoskins 9/14/17 302, at l ; Carafano 9/12/17 302, at 2.
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making further efforts to arrange a meeting between the Campaign and the Russian government. To the contrary, Papadopoulos told the Office that he understood the Campaign to be supportive of his efforts to arrange such a meeting.441 Accordingly, when he returned to London, Papadopoulos resumed those efforts.442
Throughout April 2016, Papadopoulos continued to correspond with, meet with, and seek Russia contacts through Mifsud and, at times, Polonskaya.443 For example, within a week of her initial March 24 meeting with him, Polonskaya attempted to send Papadopoulos a text messagewhich email exchanges show to have been drafted or edited by Mifsud-addressing Papadopoulos’ s “wish to engage with the Russian Federation.”444 When Papadopoulos learned from Mifsud that Polonskaya had tried to message him, he sent her an email seeking another meeting.445 Polonskaya responded the next day that she was “back in St. Petersburg” but “would be very pleased to support [Papadopoulos’s] initiatives between our two countries” and “to meet [him] again.”446 Papadopoulos stated in reply that he thought “a good step” would be to introduce him to “the Russian Ambassador in London,” and that he would like to talk to the ambassador, “or anyone else you recommend, about a potential foreign policy trip to Russia.”447
Mifsud, who had been copied on the email exchanges, replied on the morning of April 11, 2016. He wrote, “This is already been agreed. I am flying to Moscow on the 18th for a Valdai meeting, plus other meetings at the Duma. We will talk tomorrow.”448 The two bodies referenced by Mifsud are part of or associated with the Russian government: the Duma is a Russian legislative assembly,449 while “Valdai” refers to the Valdai Discussion Club, a Moscow-based group that “is close to Russia’s foreign-policy establishment.”450 Papadopoulos thanked Mifsud and said that he would see him “tomorrow.”451 For her part, Polonskaya responded that she had “already alerted my personal links to our conversation and your request,” that “we are all very excited the possibility of a good relationship with Mr. Trump,” and that “[t]he Russian Federation would love to welcome him once his candidature would be officially announced.”452
441 Papadopoulos 8/10/17 302, at 4-5; Papadopoulos 8/11/17 302, at 3; Papadopoulos 9/20/17 302,
at 2.
442 Papadopoulos Statement of Offense ,i 10. 443 Papadopoulos Statement of Offense ,i,i 10-15. 444 3/29/16 Emails, Mifsud to Polonskaya (3 :39 a.m. and 5 :36 a.m.). 445 4/10/16 Email, Papadopoulos to Polonskaya (2:45:59 p.m.). 446 4/11/16 Email, Polonskaya to Papadopoulos (3: 11 :24 a.m.). 447 4/11 /l 6 Email, Papadopoulos to Polonskaya (9:21 :56 a.m.). 448 4/11/16 Email, Mifsud to Papadopoulos (11 :43 :53). 449 Papadopoulos Statement of Offense ,i 10( c ).
450 Anton Troianovski, Putin Ally Warns of Arms Race as Russia Considers Response to US. Nuclear Stance, Washington Post (Feb. 10, 2018). 451 4/11/16 Email, Papadopoulos to Mifsud (11 :51 :53 a.m.).
452 4/12/16 Email, Polonskaya to Papadopoulos (4:47:06 a.m.).
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Papadopoulos’s and Mifsud’s mentions of seeing each other “tomorrow” referenced a meeting that the two had scheduled for the next morning, April 12, 2016, at the Andaz Hotel in London. Papadopoulos acknowledged the meeting during interviews with the Office,453 and records from Papadopoulos’s UK cellphone and his internet-search history all indicate that the meeting took place.454
Following the meeting, Mifsud traveled as planned to Moscow.455 On April 18, 2016, while in Russia, Mifsud introduced Papadopoulos over email to Ivan Timofeev, a member of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC).456 Mifsud had described Timofeev as having connections with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA),457 the executive entity in Russia responsible for Russian foreign relations.458 Over the next several weeks, Papadopoulos and Timofeev had multiple conversations over Skype and email about setting “the groundwork” for a “potential” meeting between the Campaign and Russian government officials.459 Papadopoulos told the Office that, on one Skype call, he believed that his conversation with Timofeev was being monitored or supervised by an unknown third party, because Timofeev spoke in an official manner and Papadopoulos heard odd noises on the line.460 Timofeev also told Papadopoulos in an April 25, 2016 email that he had just spoken “to Igor Ivanov[,] the President ofRIAC and former Foreign Minister of Russia,” and conveyed Ivanov’s advice about how best to arrange a “Moscow visit.”461
After a stop in Rome, Mifsud returned to England on April 25, 2016.462 The next day, Papadopoulos met Mifsud for breakfast at the Andaz Hotel (the same location as their last
453 Papadopoulos 9/19/17 302, at 7. 454 4/12/16 Email, Mifsud to Papadopoulos (5:44:39 a.m.) (forwarding Libya-related document); 4/12/16 Email, Mifsud to Papadopoulos & Obaid (10:28:20 a.m.); Papadopoulos Internet Search History (Apr. 11, 2016 10:56:49 p.m.) (search for “andaz hotel liverpool street”); 4/12/16 Text Messages, Mifsud & Papadopoulos.
455 See, e.g., 4/18/16 Email, Mifsud t~ Papadopoulos (8:04:54 a.m.). 456 Papadopoulos 8/ l 0/17 3 02, at 5. 457 Papadopoulos Statement of Offense ,r 11.
458 During the campaign period, Papadopoulos connected over Linkedln with several MF Aaffiliated individuals in addition to Timofeev. On April 25, 2016, he connected with Dmitry Andreyko, publicly identified as a First Secretary at the Russian Embassy in Ireland. In July 2016, he connected with Yuriy Melnik, the spokesperson for the Russian Embassy in Washington and with Alexey Krasilnikov, publicly identified as a counselor with the MFA. And on September 16, 2016, he con~ Nalobin, also identified as an MFA official. See Papadopoulos Linkedln Connections~
459 Papadopoulos Statement of Offense ,r 11. 460 Papadopoulos 8/10/17 302, at 5; Papadopoulos 9/19/17 302, at 10. 461 4/25/16 Email, Timofeev to Papadopoulos (8:16:35 a.m.). 462 4/22/16 Email, Mifsud to Papadopoulos (12:41:01 a.m.).
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meeting).463 During that meeting, Mifsud told Papadopoulos that he had met with high-level Russian government officials during his recent trip to Moscow. Mifsud also said that, on the trip, he learned that the Russians had obtained “dirt” on candidate Hillary Clinton. As Papadopoulos later stated to the FBI, Mifsud said that the “dirt” was in the form of “emails of Clinton,” and that they “have thousands of emails.”464 On May 6, 2016, 10 days after that meeting with Mifsud, Papadopoulos suggested to a representative of a foreign government that the Trump Campaign had received indications from the Russian government that it could assist the Campaign through the anonymous release of information that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton.465
e. Russia-Related Communications With The Campaign
While he was discussing with his foreign contacts a potential meeting of campaign officials with Russian government officials, Papadopoulos kept campaign officials apprised of his efforts. On April 25, 2016, the day before Mifsud told Papadopoulos about the emails, Papadopoulos wrote to senior policy advisor Stephen Miller that “[t]he Russian government has an open invitation by Putin for Mr. Trump to meet him when he is ready,” and that “[t]he advantage of being in London is that these governments tend to speak a bit more openly in ‘neutral’ cities.”466 On April 27, 2016, after his meeting with Mifsud, Papadopoulos wrote a second message to Miller stating that “some interesting messages [were] coming in from Moscow about a trip when the time is right.”467 The same day, Papadopoulos sent a similar email to campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, telling Lewandowski that Papadopoulos had “been receiving a lot of calls over the last month about Putin wanting to host [Trump] and the team when the time is right. “468
Papadopoulos’ s Russia-related communications with Campaign officials continued throughout the spring and summer of 2016. On May 4, 2016, he forwarded to Lewandowski an email from Timofeev raising the possibility of a meeting in Moscow, asking Lewandowski whether that was “something we want to move forward with.”469 The next day, Papadopoulos forwarded the same Timofeev email to Sam Clovis, adding to the top of the email “Russia update.”470 He included the same email in a May 21, 2016 message to senior Campaign official Paul Manafort, under the subject line “Request from Russia to meet Mr. Trump,” stating that “Russia has been eager to meet Mr. Trump for quite sometime and have been reaching out to me
463 Papadopoulos Statement of Offense ~ 14; 4/25/16 Text Messages, Mifsud & Papadopoulos.
464 Papadopoulos Statement of Offense~ 14. 465 This information is contained in the FBI case-opening document and related materials. ~ iHferfflatiat1. is lu 111 eHfareefflefl.t seHsitive (LES) sHs f!’lttst be trestes ueeersiHgly iH uHy e,cten1al sisseffliHstiatt. The foreign government conveyed this information to the U.S. government on July 26, 2016, a few days after WikiLeaks’s release of Clinton-related emails. The FBI opened its investigation of potential coordination between Russia and the Trump Campaign a few days later based on the information. 466 4/25/16 Email, Papadopoulos to S. Miller (8: 12:44 p.m.). 467 4/27/16 Email, Papadopoulos to S. Miller (6:55:58 p.m.).
468 4/27/16 Email, Papadopoulos to Lewandowski (7:15:14 p.m.).
469 5/4/16 Email, Papadopoulos to Lewandowski (8:14:49 a.m.). 470 5/5/16 Email, Papadopoulos to Clovis (7:15:21 p.m.).
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to discuss.”471 Manafort forwarded the message to another Campaign official, without including Papadopoulos, and stated: “Let[‘]s discuss. We need someone to communicate that [Trump] is · not doing these trips. It should be someone low level in the Campaign so as not to send any signal.”472
On June 1, 2016, Papadopoulos replied to an earlier email chain with Lewandowski about a Russia visit, asking if Lewandowski “want[ ed] to have a call about this topic” and whether “we were following up with it.”473 After Lewandowski told Papadopoulos to “connect with” Clovis because he was “running point,” Papadopoulos emailed Clovis that “the Russian MF A” was asking him “if Mr. Trump is interested in visiting Russia at some point.”474 Papadopoulos wrote in an email that he “[w]anted to pass this info along to you for you to decide what’s best to do with it and what message I should send (or to ignore).”475
After several email and Skype exchanges with Timofeev,476 Papadopoulos sent one more email to Lewandowski on June 19, 2016, Lewandowski’s last day as campaign manager.477 The email stated that “[t]he Russian ministry of foreign affairs” had contacted him and asked whether, if Mr. Trump could not travel to Russia, a campaign representative such as Papadopoulos could attend meetings.478 Papadopoulos told Lewandowski that he was “willing to make the trip off the record if it’s in the interest of Mr. Trump and the campaign to meet specific people.”479
Following Lewandowski’s departure from the Campaign, Papadopoulos communicated with Clovis and Walid Phares, another member of the foreign policy advisory team, about an offthe-record meeting between the Campaign and Russian government officials or with Papadopoulos’s other Russia connections, Mifsud and Timofeev.480 Papadopoulos also interacted
471 5/21/16 Email, Papadopoulos to Manafort (2:30: 14 p.m.). 472 Papadopoulos Statement of Offense ,r 19 n.2. 473 6/1/16 Email, Papadopoulos to Lewandowski (3:08:18 p.m.).
474 6/1/16 Email, Lewandowski to Papadopoulos (3:20:03 p.m.); 6/1/16 Email, Papadopoulos to Clovis (3:29:14 p.m.).
475 6/1/16 Email, Papadopoulos to Clovis (3:29:14 p.m.). Papadopoulos’s email coincided in time with another message to Clovis suggesting a Trump-Putin meeting. First, on May 15, 2016, David Kleina distant relative of then-Trump Organization lawyer Jason Greenblatt-emailed Clovis about a potential Campaign meeting with Berel Lazar, the Chief Rabbi of Russia. The email stated that Klein had contacted Lazar in February about a possible Trump-Putin meeting and that Lazar was “a very close confidante of Putin.” DJTFP00011547 (5/15/16 Email, Klein to Clovis (5:45:24 p.m.)). The investigation did not find evidence that Clovis responded to Klein’s email or that any further contacts of significance came out of Klein’s subsequent meeting with Greenblatt and Rabbi Lazar at Trump Tower. Klein 8/30/18 302, at 2. 476 Papadopoulos Statement of Offense ,r 21 (a).
478 6/19/16 Email, Papadopoulos to Lewandowski (1 :11 :11 p.m.).
479 6/19/16 Email, Papadopoulos to Lewandowski (1: 11: 11 p.m.). 480 Papadopoulos Statement of Offense ,r 21; 7/14/16 Email, Papadopoulos to Timofeev (11 :57:24 p.m.); 7/15/16 Email, Papadopoulos to Mifsud; 7/27/16 Email, Papadopoulos to Mifsud (2:14:18 p.m.).
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directly with Clovis and Phares in connection with the summit of the Transatlantic Parliamentary Group on Counterterrorism (TAG), a group for which Phares was co-secretary general.481 On July 16, 2016, Papadopoulos attended the TAG summit in Washington, D.C., where he sat next to Clovis (as reflected in the photograph below).482
George Papadopoulos (far right) and Sam Clovis (second from right)
Although Clovis claimed to have no recollection of attending the TAG summit,483 Papadopoulos remembered discussing Russia and a foreign policy trip with Clovis and Phares during the event.484 Papadopoulos’s recollection is consistent with emails sent before and after the TAG summit. The pre-summit messages included a July 11, 2016 email in which Phares suggested meeting Papadopoulos the day after the summit to chat,485 and a July 12 message in the same chain in which Phares advised Papadopoulos that other summit attendees “are very nervous about Russia. So be aware.”486 Ten days after the summit, Papadopoulos sent an email to Mifsud listing Phares and Clovis as other “participants” in a potential meeting at the London Academy of Diplomacy.487
Finally, Papadopoulos’s recollection is also consistent with handwritten notes from a
481 Papadopoulos 9/19/17 302, at 16-17; 9th TAG Summit in Washington DC, Transatlantic Parliament Group on Counter Terrorism. 482 9th TAG Summit in Washington DC, Transatlantic Parliament Group on Counter Terrorism.
484 Papadopoulos 9/19/17 302, at 16-17. 485 7 /11/16 Email, Phares to Papadopoulos. 486 7/12/16 Email, Phares to Papadopoulos (14:52:29). 487 7/27/16 Email, Papadopoulos to Mifsud (14:14:18).
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journal that he kept at the time.488 Those notes, which are reprinted in part below, appear to refer to potential September 2016 meetings in London with representatives of the “office of Putin,” and suggest that Phares, Clovis, and Papadopoulos (“Walid/Sam me”) would attend without the official backing of the Campaign (“no official letter/no message from Trump”).489
Have an exploratory meeting te or lose. In September – if allowed they will blast Mr. Trump.
We want the meeting in London/England
Walid/Sam me
No official letter/no message from Trump
They are talking to us.
-It is a lot of risk.
-Office of Putin.
-Explore: we are a campaign.
offlsrael! EGYPT
Willingness to meet the FM sp with Walid/Sam
-FM coming
-Useful to have a session with
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Later communications indicate that Clovis determined that he (Clovis) could not travel. On August 15, 2016, Papadopoulos emailed Clovis that he had received requests from multiple foreign governments, “even Russia[],” for “closed door workshops/consultations abroad,” and asked whether there was still interest for Clovis, Phares, and Papadopoulos “to go on that trip.”490 Clovis copied Phares on his response, which said that he could not “travel before the election” but that he “would encourage [Papadopoulos] and Walid to make the trips, if it is feasible.”491
488 Papadopoulos 9/20/17 302, at 3.
489 Papadopoulos declined to assist in deciphering his notes, telling investigators that he could not read his own handwriting from the journal. Papadopoulos 9/19/17 302, at 21. The notes, however, appear to read as listed in the column to the left of the image above. 490 8/15/16 Email, Papadopoulos to Clovis (11 :59:07 a.m.).
491 8/15/16 Email, Clovis to Papadopoulos (12:01 :45 p.m.).
Hillar Clinton.497
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Papadopoulos was dismissed from the Trump Campaign in early October 2016, after an interview he gave to the Russian news agency Inter/ax generated adverse publicity.492
f. Trump Campaign Knowledge of “Dirt”
Papadopoulos admitted telling at least one individual outside of the Campaignspecifically, the then-Greek foreign minister-about Russia’s obtaining Clinton-related emails.493 In addition, a different foreign government informed the FBI that, 10 days after meeting with Mifsud in late April 2016, Papadopoulos suggested that the Trump Campaign had received indications from the Russian government that it could assist the Campaign through the anonymous release of information that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton.494 (This conversation occurred after the GRU spearphished Clinton Campaign chairman John Podesta and stole his emails, and the GRU hacked into the DCCC and DNC, see Volume l, Sections III.A & III.B, supra.) Such disclosures raised questions about whether Papadopoulos informed any Trump Campaign official about the emails.
When interviewed, Papadopoulos and the Campaign officials who interacted with him told the Office that they could not recall Papadopoulos’s sharing the information that Russia had obtained “dirt” on candidate Clinton in the form of emails or that Russia could assist the Campaign through the anonymous release of information about Clinton. Papadopoulos stated that he could not clearly recall having told anyone on the Campaign and wavered about whether he accurately remembered an incident in which Clovis had been upset after hearing Papadopoulos tell Clovis that Papadopoulos thought “they have her emails.”495 The Campaign officials who interacted or corresponded with Papadopoulos have similarly stated, with varying degrees of certainty, that he did not tell them. Senior policy advisor Stephen Miller, for example, did not remember hearing anything from Papadopoulos or Clovis about Russia having emails of or dirt on candidate Clinton.496 Clovis stated that he did not recall anyone, including Papadopoulos, having given him non-public information that a forei n overnment mi ht be in ossession of material dama in to
492 George Papadopoulos: Sanctions Have Done Little More Than to Turn Russia Towards China, Interfax (Sept. 30, 2016).
493 Papadopoulos 9/19/17 302, at 14-15; Def. Sent. Mem., United States v. George Papadopoulos, I :17-cr-182 (D.D.C. Aug. 31, 2018), Doc. 45.
494 See footnote 465 of Volume I, Section IV.A.2.d, supra.
495 Papadopoulos 8/10/17 302, at 5; Papadopoulos 8/11/17 302, at 5; Papadopoulos 9/20/17 302,
at 2.
496 S. Miller 12/14/17 302, at 10.
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No documentary evidence, and nothing in the email accounts or other communications facilities reviewed by the Office, shows that Papadopoulos shared this information with the Campaign.
g. Additional George Papadopoulos Contact
The Office investigated another Russia-related contact with Papadopoulos. The Office was not fully able to explore the contact because the individual at issue-Sergei Millian-remained out of the country since the inception of our investigation and declined to meet with members of the Office despite our repeated efforts to obtain an interview.
Papadopoulos first connected with Millian via Linkedln on July 15, 2016, shmtly after Papadopoulos had attended the TAG Summit with Clovis.500 Millian, an American citizen who is a native of Belarus, introduced himself “as president of [the] New York-based Russian American Chamber of Commerce,” and claimed that through that position he had “insider knowledge and direct access to the top hierarchy in Russian politics.”501 Papadopoulos asked Timofeev whether he had heard of Millian.502 Although Timofeev said no,503 Papadopoulos met Millian in New York City.504 The meetings took place on July 30 and August 1, 2016.505 Afterwards, Millian invited Papadopoulos to attend-and potentially speak at-two international energy conferences, including one that was to be held in Moscow in September 2016.506 Papadopoulos ultimately did not attend either conference.
On July 31 , 2016, following his first in-person meeting with Millian, Papadopoulos emailed Trump Campaign official Bo Denysyk to say that he had been contacted “by some leaders of Russian-American voters here in the US about their interest in voting for Mr. Trump,” and to ask whether he should “put you in touch with their group (US-Russia chamber of commerce).”507 Denysyk thanked Papadopoulos “for taking the initiative,” but asked him to “hold off with
500 7/15/16 Linkedln Message, Millian to Papadopoulos. 501 7 /15/16 Linkedln Message, Millian to Papadopoulos.
502 7/22/16 Facebook Message, Papadopoulos to Timofeev (7:40:23 p.m.); 7/26/16 Facebook Message, Papadopoulos to Timofeev (3:08:57 p.m.). 503 7/23/16 Facebook Message, Timofeev to Papadopoulos (4:31:37 a.m.); 7/26/16 Facebook Message, Timofeev to Papadopoulos (3:37: 16 p.m.). 504 7/16/16 Text Messages, Papadopoulos & Millian (7:55:43 p.m.).
505 7/30/16 Text Messages, Papadopoulos & Millian (5:38 & 6:05 p.m.); 7/31/16 Text Messages, Millian & Papadopoulos (3:48 & 4:18 p.m.); 8/1/16 Text Message, Millian to Papadopoulos (8:19 p.m.).
506 8/2/16 Text Messages, Millian & Papadopoulos (3 :04 & 3 :05 p.m.); 8/3/16 Facebook Messages, Papadopoulos & Millian (4:07:37 a.m. & 1:11:58 p.m.). 507 7/31/16 Email, Papadopoulos to Denysyk (12:29:59 p.m.).
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outreach to Russian-Americans” because “too many articles” had already portrayed the Campaign, then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and candidate Trump as “being pro-Russian.”508
On August 23, 2016, Millian sent a Facebook message to Papadopoulos promising that he would “share with you a disruptive technology that might be instrumental in your political work for the campaign.”509 Papadopoulos claimed to have no recollection of this matter.510
On November 9, 2016, shortly after the election, Papadopoulos arranged to meet Millian in Chicago to discuss business opportunities, including potential work with Russian “billionaires who are not under sanctions.”511 The meeting took place on November 14, 2016, at the Trump Hotel and Tower in Chicago.512 According to Papadopoulos, the two men discussed partnering on business deals, but Papadopoulos perceived that Millian’s attitude toward him changed when Papadopoulos stated that he was only pursuing private-sector opportunities and was not interested in a job in the Administration.5 13 The two remained in contact, however, and had extended online discussions about possible business opportunities in Russia.514 The two also arranged to meet at a Washington, D.C. bar when both attended Trump’s inauguration in late January 2017.515
3. Carter Page
Carter Page worked for the Trump Campaign from January 2016 to September 2016. He was formally and publicly announced as a foreign policy advisor by the candidate in March 2016.516 Page had lived and worked in Russia, and he had been approached by Russian intelligence officers several years before he volunteered for the Trump Campaign. During his time with the Campaign, Page advocated pro-Russia foreign policy positions and traveled to Moscow in his personal capacity. Russian intelligence officials had formed relationships with Page in 2008 and 2013 and Russian officials may have focused on Page in 2016 because of his affiliation with the Campaign. However, the investigation did not establish that Page coordinated with the Russian government in its efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.
508 7 /31/16 Email, Denysyk to Papadopoulos (21 :54:52).
509 8/23/16 Facebook Message, Millian to Papadopoulos (2:55:36 a.m.).
510 Papadopoulos 9/20/17 302, at 2.
511 11/10/16 Facebook Message, Millian to Papadopoulos (9:35:05 p.m.).
512 11/14/16 Facebook Message, Millian to Papadopoulos (1 :32: 11 a.m.).
513 Papadopoulos 9/19/17 302, at 19.
514 E.g., 11/29/16 Facebook Messages, Papadopoulos & Millian (5:09 – 5:11 p.m.); 12/7/16 Facebook Message, Millian to Papadopoulos (5:10:54 p.m.).
515 1/20/17 Facebook Messages, Papadopoulos & Millian (4:37-4:39 a.m.).
516 Page was interviewed b Counsel’s appointment.
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a. Background
Before he began working for the Campaign in January 2016, Page had substantial prior experience studying Russian policy issues and living and working in Moscow. From 2004 to 2007, Page was the deputy branch manager of Merrill Lynch’s Moscow office.517 There, he worked on transactions involving the Russian energy company Gazprom and came to know Gazprom’s deputy chief financial officer, Sergey Yatsenko.518
In 2008, Page founded Global Energy Capital LLC (GEC), an in~ advisor firm focused on the ener sector in emerging markets.519 —-520 The company otherwise had no sources of income, and Page was forced to draw down his life savings to support himself and pursue his business venture.521 Pa e asked Yatsenko to work with him at GEC as a senior advisor on a contin
In 2008, Page met Alexander Bulatov, a Russian government official who worked at the Russian Consulate in New York. 523 Pa e later learned that Bulatov was a Russian intelli ence officer, 524
In 2013, Victor Podobnyy, another Russian intelligence officer working covertly in the United States under diplomatic cover, formed a relationship with Page.525 Podobnyy met Page at an energy symposium in New York City and began exchanging emails with him.526 Podobnyy and Page also met in person on multiple occasions, during which Page offered his outlook on the future of the energy industry and provided documents to Podobnyy about the energy business. 527 In a recorded conversation on April 8, 2013, Podobnyy told another intelligence officer that Page was interested in business opportunities in Russia.528 In Podobnyy’s words, Page “got hooked on
517 Testimony of Carter Page, Hearing Before the U.S. House of Representatives, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, 115th Cong. 40 (Nov. 2, 2017) (exhibit). 518 Page 3/30/17 302, at 10.
525 Complaint ,r,r 22, 24, 32, United States v. Buryakov, 1: 15mj-215 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 23, 20 I 5), Doc. 1 (“Buryakov Complaint”). 526 Buryakov Complaint ,r 34. 527 Buryakov Complaint ,r 34. 528 Buryakov Complaint ,r 32.
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Gazprom thinking that if they have a project, he could … rise up. Maybe he can …. [I]t’ s obvious that he wants to earn lots of money.”529 Podobnyy said that he had led Page on by “feed[ing] him empty promises” that Podobnyy would use his Russian business connections to help Page.530 Podobnyy told the other intelligence officer that his method of recruiting foreign sources was to promise them favors and then discard them once he obtained relevant information from them.53 1
In 2015, Podobnyy and two other Russian intelligence officers were charged with conspiracy to act as an unregistered agent of a foreign government.532 The criminal complaint detailed Podobnyy’s interactions with and conversations about Page, who was identified only as “Male-1.”533 Based on the criminal complaint’s description of the interactions, Page was aware that he was the individual described as “Male-l.”534 Page later spoke with a Russian government official at the United Nations General Assembly and identified himself so that the official would understand he was “Male-I” from the Podobn laint. 535 Pa e told the official that he “didn’t do anything” 536
In interviews with the FBI before the Office’s opening, Page acknowledged that he understood that the individuals he had associated with were members of the Russian intelligence services, but he stated that he had only provided immaterial non-public information to them and that he did not view this relationship as a backchannel.537 Page told investigating agents that “the more immaterial non-public information I give them, the better for this country.”538
b. Origins of and Early Campaign Work
In January 2016, Page began volunteering on an informal, unpaid basis for the Trump Campaign after Ed Cox, a state Republican Party official, introduced Page to Trump Campaign officials.539 Page told the Office that his goal in working on the Campaign was to help candidate Trump improve relations with Russia.540 To that end, Page emailed Campaign officials offering his thoughts on U.S.-Russia relations, prepared talking points and briefing memos on Russia, and
529 Buryakov Complaint. 530 Buryakov Complaint. 531 Buryakov Complaint.
532 See Buryakov Com laint; see also Indictment United States v. Buryakov, 1: 15-cr-73 (S.D.N. Y.
537 Page 3/30/17 302, at 6; Page 3/31/17 302, at 1.
538 Page 3/31/17 302, at 1.
Feb. 9, 2015), Doc. 10;
536 Page 3/16/17 302, at 4;
539 Page 3/16/17 302, at 1; 540 Page 3/10/17 302, at 2.
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proposed that candidate Trump meet with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.541
In communications with Campaign officials, Page also repeatedly touted his high-level contacts in Russia and his ability to forge connections between candidate Trump and senior Russian governmental officials. For example, on January 30, 2016, Page sent an email to senior Campaign officials stating that he had “spent the past week in Europe and ha[ d] been in discussions with some individuals with close ties to the Kremlin” who recognized that Trump could have a “game-changing effect … in bringing the end of the new Cold War.”542 The email stated that “[t]hrough [his] discussions with these high level contacts,” Page believed that “a direct meeting in Moscow between Mr[.] Trump and Putin could be arran ed.”543 Pa e closed the email b criticizin U.S. sanctions on Russia.544
On March 21 , 2016, candidate Trump formally and publicly identified Page as a member of his foreign policy team to advise on Russia and the energy sector.546 Over the next several months, Page continued providing policy-related work product to Campaign officials. For example, in April 2016, Page provided feedback on an outline for a foreign policy speech that the candidate gave at the Mayflower Hotel,547 see Volume I, Section IV.A.4, infra. In May 2016, Page prepared an outline of an energy policy speech for the Campaign and then traveled to Bismarck, North Dakota, to watch the candidate deliver the speech.548 Chief policy advisor Sam Clovis expressed appreciation for Page’s work and praised his work to other Campaign officials.549
c. Carter Page’s July 2016 Trip To Moscow
Page’s affiliation with the Trump Campaign took on a higher profile and drew the attention of Russian officials after the candidate named him a foreign policy advisor. As a result, in late April 2016, Page was invited to give a speech at the July 2016 commencement ceremony at the
541 See, e.g., 1/30/16 Email, Page to Glassner et al.; 3/17/16 Email, Page to Clovis (attaching a
following Washington’s meddling” in Ukraine); “President’s Daily Brief’ prepared by Page that discussed the “severe de radation ofU.S.-Russia relations 542 1/30/16 Email, Page to Glassner et al. 543 1/30/16 Email, Page to Glassner et al.
544 1/30/16 Email, Page to Glassner et al.
546 A Transcript of Donald Washington Post (Mar. 21, 2016);
with the Washington Post Editorial Board,
549 See, e.g., 3/28/16 Email, Clovis to Lewandowski et al. (forwarding notes.prepared by Page and stating, “I wanted to let you know the type of work some of our advisors are capable of.”).
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New Economic School (NES) in Moscow.550 The NES commencement ceremony generally featured high-profile speakers; for example, President Barack Obama delivered a commencement address at the school in 2009.551 NES officials told the Office that the interest in inviting Page to speak at NES was’ based entirely on his status as a Trump Campaign advisor who served as the candidate’s Russia expert.552 Andrej Krickovic, an associate of Page’s and assistant professor at the Higher School of Economics in Russia, recommended that NES rector Shlomo Weber invite Page to give the commencement address based on his connection to the Trump Campaign.553 Denis Klimentov, an employee ofNES, said that when Russians learned of Page’s involvement in the Trump Campaign in March 2016, the excitement was palpable.554 Weber recalled that in summer 2016 there was substantial interest in the Trump Campaign in Moscow, and he felt that bringing a member of the Campaign to the school would be beneficial.555
Page was eager to accept the invitation to speak at NES, and he sought approval from Trump Campaign officials to make the trip to Russia. 556 On May 16, 2016, while that request was still under consideration, Page emailed Clovis, J.D. Gordon, and Walid Phares and suggested that candidate Trump take his place speaking at the commencement ceremony in Moscow.557 On June 19, 2016, Page followed up again to request approval to speak at the NES event and to reiterate that NES “would love to have Mr. Trump speak at this annual celebration” in Page’s place.558 Campaign manager Corey Lewandowski responded the same day, saying, “If you want to do this, it would be out side [sic] of your role with the DJT for President campaign. I am certain Mr. Trump will not be able to attend.”559
In early July 2016, Page traveled to Russia for the NES events. On July 5, 2016, Denis Klimentov, copying his brother, Dmitri Klimentov,560 emailed Maria Zakharova, the Director of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Information and Press Department, about Page’s visit and his connection to the Trump Campaign.56 1 Denis Klimentov said in the email that he wanted to draw the Russian government’s attention to Page’s visit in Moscow.562 His message to Zakharova
550 Page 3/16/ 17 302, at 2-3; Page 3/10/ 17 302, at 3.
551 S. Weber 7/28/17 302, at 3. 552 Y. Weber 6/1/17 302, at 4-5; S. Weber 7/28/17 302, at 3. 553 See Y. Weber 6/1/17 302, at 4; S. Weber 7/28/17 302, at 3. 554 De. Klimentov 6/9/17 302, at 2. 555 S. Weber 7/28/17 302, at 3.
556 See 5/16/16 Email, Page to Phares et al. (referring to submission of a “campaign advisor request
557 ; 5/16/16 Email, Page to Phares et al.
558 6/19/16 Email, Page to Gordon et al. 559 6/19/16 Email, Lewandowski to Page et al.
560 Dmitri Klimentov is a New York-based public relations consultant.
561 7/5/16 Email, Klimentov to Zakharova (translated). 562 7/5/16 Email, Klimentov to Zakharova (translated).
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continued: “Page is Trump’s adviser on foreign policy. He is a known businessman; he used to work in Russia … . If you have any questions, I will be happy to help contact him.”563 Dmitri Klimentov then contacted Russian Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov about Page’s visit to see if Peskov wanted to introduce Page to any Russian government officials.564 The following day, Peskov responded to what appears to have been the same Denis Klimentov-Zakharova email thread. Peskov wrote, “I have read about [Page]. Specialists say that he is far from being the main one. So I better not initiate a meeting in the Kremlin.”565
On July 7, 2016, Page delivered the first of his two speeches in Moscow at NES. 566 In the speech, Page criticized the U.S. government’s foreign policy toward Russia, stating that “Washington and other Western capitals have impeded potential progress through their often hypocritical focus on ideas such as democratization, inequality, corruption and regime change.”567 On July 8, 2016, Page delivered a speech during the NES commencement.568 After Page delivered his commencement address, Russian Deputy Prime Minister and NES board member Arkady Dvorkovich spoke at the ceremony and stated that the sanctions the United States had imposed on Russia had hurt the NES.569 Page and Dvorkovich shook hands at the commencement ceremony, and Weber recalled that Dvorkovich made statements to Pa e about workin to ether in the future.570
Page said that, during his time in Moscow, he met with friends and associates he knew from when he lived in Russia, including Andrey Baranov, a former Gazprom employee who had become the head of investor relations at Rosneft, a Russian energy company.572 Page stated that he and Baranov talked about “immaterial non-public” information.573 Page believed he and Baranov discussed Rosneft president Igor Sechin, and he thought Baranov might have mentioned
563 7 /5/16 Email, Klimentov to Zakharova (translated).
564 Dm. Klimentov 11/27 /18 302, at 1-2. 565 7 /6/16 Email, Peskov to Klimentov (translated). 566 Page 3/10/17 302, at 3. 567 See Carter W. Page, The Lecture of Trump’s Advisor Carter Page in Moscow, YouTube Channel Katehon Think Tank, Posted July 7, 2016, available at https://www.youtube.com/watch? time_continue=28&v= lCYF29saA9w. Page also provided the FBI with a copy of his speech and slides from the speech. See Carter Page, “The Evolution of the World Economy: Trends and Potential,” Speech at National Economic Speech (July 7, 2016). 568 Page 3/10/17 302, at 3. 569 Page 3/16/17 302, at 3. 570 S. Weber 7/28/17 302, at 4.
572 Page 3/10/17 302, at 3; Page 3/30/17 302, at 3; Page 3/31/17 302, at 2. 573 Page 3/30/17 302, at 3.
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the possibility of a sale of a stake in Rosneft in passing.574 Page recalled mentioning his involvement in the Trump Campaign with Baranov, although he did not remember details of the conversation.575 Page also met with individuals from Tatneft, a Russian energy company, to discuss possible business deals, including having Page work as a consultant.576
On July 8, 2016, while he was in Moscow, Page emailed several Campaign officials and stated he would send “a readout soon regarding some incredible insights and outreach I’ve received from a few Russian legislators and senior members of the Presidential Administration here. “577 On July 9, 2016, Page emailed Clovis, writing in pertinent part:
Russian Deputy Prime minister and NES board member Arkady Dvorkovich also spoke before the event. In a private conversation, Dvorkovich expressed strong support for Mr. Trump and a desire to work together toward devising better solutions in response to the vast range of current international problems. Based on feedback from a diverse array of other sources close to the Presidential Administration, it was readily apparent that this sentiment is widely held at all levels of government.578
The Office was unable to obtain additional evidence or testimony about who Page may have met or communicated with in Moscow; thus, Page’s activities in Russia-as described in his emails with the Campaign-were not fully explained.
576 Page 3/10/17 302, at 3; Page 3/30/17 302, at 7; Page 3/31/17 302, at 2.
7/8/ 16 Email, Page to Dahl & Gordon.
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d. Later Campaign Work and Removal from the Campaign
In July 2016, after returning from Russia, Page traveled to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.583 While there, Page met Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak; that interaction is described in Volume I, Section IV.A.6.a, infra.584 Page later emailed Campaign officials with feedback he said he received from ambassadors he had met at the Convention, and he wrote that Ambassador Kisl ak was ver worried about candidate Clinton’s world views.585
Following the Convention, Page’s trip to Moscow and his advocacy for pro-Russia foreign policy drew the media’s attention and began to generate substantial press coverage. The Campaign responded by distancing itself from Page, describing him as an “informal foreign policy advisor” who did “not speak for Mr. Trump or the campaign.”587 On September 23, 2016, Yahoo! News reported that U.S. intelligence officials were investigating whether Page had opened private communications with senior Russian officials to discuss U.S. sanctions policy under a possible Trump Administration.588 A Campaign spokesman told Yahoo! News that Page had “no role” in the Campaign and that the Campaign was “not aware of any of his activities, past or present.”589 On September 24, 2016, Page was formally removed from the Campaign.590
Although Page had been removed from the Campaign, after the election he sought a position in the Trump Administration.591 On November 14, 2016, he submitted an application to the Transition Team that inflated his credentials and experiences, stating that in his capacity as a Trump Campaign foreign policy advisor he had met with “top world leaders” and “effectively
& 3 Page 3/10/17 302, at 4; Page 3/16/17 302, at 3.
& 4 Page 3/10/17 302, at 4; Page 3/16/17 302, at 3. 5&5 ; 7/23/16 Email, Page to Clovis; 7/25/16 Email, Page to Gordon & Schmitz.
587 See, e.g., Steven Mufson & Tom Hamburger, Trump Advisor’s Public Comments, Ties to Moscow Stir Unease in Both Parties, Washington Post (Aug. 5, 2016).
58 & Michael Isikoff, US. Intel Officials Probe Ties Between Trump Adviser and Kremlin, Yahoo! News (Sept. 23, 2016).
& 9 Michael Isikoff, US. Intel Officials Probe Ties Between Trump Adviser and Kremlin, Yahoo! News (Sept. 23, 2016); see also 9/25/16 Email, Hicks to Conway & Bannon (instructing that inquiries about Page should be answered with “[h]e was announced as an informal adviser in March. Since then he has had no role or official contact with the campaign. We have no knowledge of activities past or present and he now officially has been removed from all lists etc.”).
590 Page 3/16/17 302, at 2; see, e.g., 9/23/16 Email, J. Miller to Bannon & S. Miller (discussing plans to remove Page from the campaign).
, “Transition Online Form,” 11/14/ 16
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responded to diplomatic outreach efforts from senior government officials in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, [and] the Americas.”592 Page received no response from the Transition Team. When Page took a personal trip to Moscow in December 2016, he met again with at least one Russian government official. That interaction and a discussion of the December trip are set forth in Volume I, Section IV.B.6, infra.
4. Dimitri Simes and the Center for the National Interest
Members of the Trump Campaign interacted on several occasions with the Center for the National Interest (CNI), principally through its President and Chief Executive Officer, Dimitri Simes. CNI is a think tank with expertise in and connections to the Russian government. Simes was born in the former Soviet Union and immigrated to the United States in the 1970s. In April 2016, candidate Trump delivered his first speech on foreign policy and national security at an event hosted by the National Interest, a publication affiliated with CNI. Then-Senator Jeff Sessions and Russian Ambassador Kislyak both attended the event and, as a result, it gained some attention in relation to Sessions’s confirmation hearings to become Attorney General. Sessions had various other contacts with CNI during the campaign period on foreign-policy matters, including Russia. Jared Kushner also interacted with Simes about Russian issues during the campaign. The investigation did not identify evidence that the Campaign passed or received any messages to or from the Russian government through CNI or Simes.
a. CNI and Dimitri Simes Connect with the Trump Campaign
CNI is a Washington-based non-profit organization that grew out of a center founded by former President Richard Nixon.593 CNI describes itself “as a voice for strategic realism in U.S. foreign policy,” and publishes a bi-monthly foreign policy magazine, the National Interest.594 CNI is overseen by a board of directors and an advisory council that is largely honorary and whose members at the relevant time included Sessions, who served as an advisor to candidate Trump on national security and foreign policy issues.595
Dimitri Simes is president and CEO of CNI and the publisher and CEO of the National Jnterest.596 Simes was born in the former Soviet Union, emigrated to the United States in the early 1970s, and joined CNI’ s predecessor after working at the Carnegie Endowment for International
593 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 1-2.
594 About the Center, CNI, available at https://cftni.org/about/.
595 Advisory Counsel, CNl, available at https://web.archive.org/web/20161030025331/ http://cftni.org/about/advisory-council/; Simes 3/8/18 302, at 3-4; Saunders 2/15/18 302, at 4; Sessions 1/17/18 302, at 16. 596 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 2.
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Peace.597 Simes personally has many contacts with current and former Russian government officials,598 as does CNI collectively. As CNI stated when seeking a grant from the Carnegie Corporation in 2015, CNI has “unparalleled access to Russian officials and politicians among Washington think tanks,”599 in part because CNI has arranged for U.S. delegations to visit Russia and for Russian delegations to visit the United States as patt of so-called “Track 11” diplomatic · efforts.600
On March 14, 2016, CNI board member Richard Plepler organized a luncheon for CNI and its honorary chairman, Henry Kissinger, at the Time Warner Building in New York.601 The idea behind the event was to generate interest in CNI’s work and recruit new board members for CNI.602 Along with Simes, attendees at the event included Jared Kushner, son-in-law of candidate Trump.603 Kushner told the Office that the event came at a time when the Trump Campaign was having trouble securing support from experienced foreign policy professionals and that, as a result, he decided to seek Simes’s assistance during the March 14 event.604
Simes and Kushner spoke again on a March 24, 2016 telephone call,605 three days after Trump had publicly named the team of foreign policy advisors that had been put together on short notice.606 On March 31, 2016, Simes and Kushner had an in-person, one-on-one meeting in Kushner’s New York office.607 During that meeting, Simes told Kushner that the best way to handle foreign-policy issues for the Trump Campaign would be to organize an advisory group of experts to meet with candidate Trump and develop a foreign policy approach that was consistent with Trump’s voice.608 Simes believed that Kushner was receptive to that suggestion.609
Simes also had contact with other individuals associated with the Trump Campaign regarding the Campaign’s foreign policy positions. For example, on June 17, 2016, Simes sent J.D. Gordon an email with a “memo to Senator Sessions that we discussed at our recent meeting”
597 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 1-2; Simes 3/27/18 302, at 19.
598 Simes 3/27 /18 302, at 10-15. 599 C000l 1656 (Rethinking US-Russia Relations, CNI (Apr. 18, 2015)).
600 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 5; Saunders 2/15/18 302, at 29-30; Zakheim 1/25/18 302, at 3.
601 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 6; C00006784 (3/11/16 Email, Gilbride to Saunders (3:43:12 p.m.); cf Zakheim 1/25/18 302, at 1 (Kissinger was CNI’s “Honorary Chairman of the Board”); Boyd 1/24/1 8 302, at 2; P. Sanders 2/15/18 302, at 5.
602 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 5-6; Simes 3/27/18 302, at 2.
603 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 6; Kushner 4/11/18 302 at 2. 604 Kushner 4/ 11/ 18 302, at 2. 605 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 6-7.
606 see Volume I, Section IV.A.2, supra.
607 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 7-9. 608 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 7-8. 609 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 8; see also Boyd 1/24/18 302, at 2.
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and asked Gordon to both read it and share it with Sessions. The memorandum proposed building a “small and carefully selected group of experts” to assist Sessions with the Campaign, operating under the assumption “that Hillary Clinton is very vulnerable on national security and foreign policy issues.” The memorandum outlined key issues for the Campaign, including a “new beginning with Russia.”610
b. National Interest Hosts a Foreign Policy Speech at the Mayflower Hotel
During both their March 24 phone call and their March 31 in-person meeting, Simes and Kushner discussed the possibility of CNI hosting a foreign policy speech by candidate Trump. 611 Following those conversations, Simes agreed that he and others associated with CNI would provide behind-the-scenes input on the substance of the foreign-policy speech and that CNI officials would coordinate the logistics of the speech with Sessions and his staff, including Sessions’s chief of staff, Rick Dearborn.612
In mid-April 2016, Kushner put Simes in contact with senior policy advisor Stephen Miller and forwarded to Simes an outline of the foreign-policy speech that Miller had prepared.613 Simes sent back to the Campaign bullet points with ideas for the speech that he had drafted with CNI Executive Director Paul Saunders and board member Richard Burt.6 14 Simes received subsequent draft outlines from Miller, and he and Saunders spoke to Miller by phone about substantive changes to the speech.615 It is not clear, however, whether CNI officials received an actual draft of the speech for comment; while Saunders recalled having received an actual draft, Simes did not, and the emails that CNI produced to this Office do not contain such a draft.616
After board members expressed concern to Simes that CNl’s hosting the speech could be perceived as an endorsement of a particular candidate, CNI decided to have its publication, the National Interest, serve as the host and to have the event at the National Press Club.617 Kushner later requested that the event be moved to the Mayflower Hotel, which was another venue that Simes had mentioned during initial discussions with the Campaign, in order to address concerns about security and capacity.618
61 ° C00008187 (6/17/16 Email, Simes to Gordon (3:35:45 p.m.)). 611 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 7.
612 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 8-11; C00008923 (4/6/16 Email, Simes to Burt (2:22:28 p.m.)); Burt 2/9/18 302, at 7. 613 C00008551 (4/17/16 Email, Kushner to Simes (2:44:25 p.m.)); C00006759 (4/14/16 Email Kushner to Simes & S. Miller (12:30 p.m.)).
614 Burt 2/9/18 302, at 7; Saunders 2/15/18 302, at 7-8.
615 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 13; Saunders 2/15/18 302, at 7-8.
616 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 13; Saunders 2/15/18 302, at 7-8.
6 17 Saunders 2/15/18 302, at 8; Simes 3/8/18 302, at 12; C00003834-43 (4/22/16 Email, Simes to Boyd et al. (8:47 a.m.)).
618 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 12, 18; Saunders 2/15/18 302, at 11.
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On April 25, 2016, Saunders booked event rooms at the Mayflower to host both the speech and a VIP reception that was to be held beforehand.619 Saunders understood that the receptionat which invitees would have the chance to meet· candidate Trump–would be a small event.620 Saunders decided who would attend by looking at the list of CNI’ s invitees to the speech itself and then choosing a subset for the reception.621 CNI’s invitees to the reception included Sessions and Kislyak.622 The week before the speech Simes had informed Kislyak that he would be invited to the speech, and that he would have the opportunity to meet Trump.623
When the pre-speech reception began on April 27, a receiving line was quickly organized so that attendees could meet Trump.624 Sessions first stood next to Trump to introduce him to the members of Congress who were in attendance.625 After those members had been introduced, Simes stood next to Trump and introduced him to the CNI invitees in attendance, including Kislyak.626 Simes perceived the introduction to be positive and friendly, but thought it clear that Kislyak and Trump had just met for the first time.627 Kislyak also met Kushner during the prespeech reception. The two shook hands and chatted for a minute or two, during which Kushner recalled Kislyak saying, “we like what your candidate is saying … it’s refreshing.”628
Several public reports state that, in addition to speaking to Kushner at the pre-speech reception, Kislyak also met or conversed with Sessions at that time.629 Sessions stated to investigators, however, that he did not remember any such conversation.630 Nor did anyone else affiliated with CNI or the National Interest specifically recall a conversation or meeting between Sessions and Kislyak at the pre-speech reception.631 It appears that, if a conversation occurred at the pre-speech reception, it was a brief one conducted in public view, similar to the exchange between Kushner and Kislyak.
6 19 Saunders 2/15/18 302, at 11-12; C00006651-57 (Mayflower Group Sales Agreement). 620 Saunders 2/15/18 302, at 12-13.
621 Saunders 2/15/18 302, at 12. 622 C00002575 (Attendee List); C00008536 (4/25/16 Email, Simes to Kushner (4:53:45 p.m.)).
623 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 19-20. 624 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 21. 625 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 21. 626 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 21. 627 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 21. 628 Kushner 4/11/18 302, at 4.
629 See, e.g., Ken Dilanian, Did Trump, Kushner, Sessions Have an Undisclosed Meeting With Russian?, NBC News (June 1, 2016); Julia Ioffe, Why Did Jeff Sessions Really Meet With Sergey Kislyak, The Atlantic (June 13, 2017). 630 Sessions 1/17/18 302, at 22. 631 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 21; Saunders 2/15/18 302, at 14, 21; Boyd 1/24/18 302, at 3-4; Heilbrunn 2/1/18 302, at 6; Statement Regarding President Trump’s April 27, 2016 Foreign Policy Speech at the Center for the National Interest, CNI (Mar. 8, 2017).
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The Office found no evidence that Kislyak conversed with either Trump or Sessions after the speech, or would have had the opportunity to do so. Simes, for example, did not recall seeing Kislyak at the post-speech luncheon,632 and the only witness who accounted for Sessions’s whereabouts stated that Sessions may have spoken to the press after the event but then departed for Capitol Hill.633 Saunders recalled, based in part on a food-related request he received from a Campaign staff member, that Trump left the hotel a few minutes after the speech to go to the airport. 634
c. Jeff Sessions’s Post-Speech Interactions with CNI
In the wake of Sessions’ s confirmation hearings as Attorney General, questions arose about whether Sessions’s campaign-period interactions with CNI apart from the Mayflower speech included any additional meetings with Ambassador Kislyak or involved Russian-related matters. With respect to Kislyak contacts, on May 23, 2016, Sessions attended CNI ‘s Distinguished Service Award dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C.635 Sessions attended a pre-dinner reception and was seated at one of two head tables for the event. 636 A seating chart prepared by Saunders indicates that Sessions was scheduled to be seated next to Kislyak, who appears to have responded to the invitation by indicating he would attend the event.637 Sessions, however, did not remember seeing, speaking with, or sitting next to Kislyak at the dinner.638 Although CNI board member Charles Boyd said he may have seen Kislyak at the dinner,639 Simes, Saunders, and Jacob Heilbrunn–editor of the National Interest-all had no recollection of seeing Kislyak at the May 23 event.64 ° Kislyak also does not appear in any of the photos from the event that the Office obtained.
In the summer of 2016, CNI organized at least two dinners in Washington, D.C. for Sessions to meet with experienced foreign policy professionals.64 1 The dinners included CNIaffiliated individuals, such as Richard Burt and Zalmay Khalilzad, a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq and the person who had introduced Trump before the April 27, 2016 foreign
632 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 22; Heilbrunn 2/1/18 302, at 7.
633 Luff 1 /30/18 302, at 4. 634 Saunders 2/15/18 302, at 15. 635 Sessions 1/17 /18 302, at 22; Saunders 2/15/18 302, at 17.
636 Saunders 2/15/18 302, at 17; C00004779-80 (5/23/16 Email, Cantelmo to Saunders & Hagberg (9:30: 12 a.m.); C00004362 (5/23/16 Email, Bauman to Cantelmo et al. (2:02:32 a.m.). 637 C00004362 (5/23/16 Email Bauman to Cantelmo et al. (2:02:32 a.m.).
638 Sessions 1/17/18 302, at 22. 639 Boyd 1/24/18 302, at 4. 640 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 23; Saunders 2/15/18 302, at 18; Heilbrunn 2/1/18 302, at 7.
641 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 31; Saunders 2/15/18 302, at 19; Burt 2/9/18 302, at 9-1 0; Khalilzad 1/9/ 18 302, at 5.
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policy speech.642 Khalilzad also met with Sessions one-on-one separately from the,dinners.643 At the dinners and in the meetings, the participants addressed U.S. relations with Russia, including how U.S. relations with NATO and European countries affected U.S. policy toward Russia.644 But the discussions were not exclusively focused on Russia.645 Khalilzad, for example, recalled discussing “nation-building” and violent extremism with Sessions.646 In addition, Sessions asked Saunders ( of CNI) to draft two memoranda not specific to Russia: one on Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy shortcomings and another on Egypt.647
d. Jared Kushner’s-Continuing Contacts with Simes
Between the April 2016 speech at the Mayflower Hotel and the presidential election, Jared Kushner had periodic contacts with Simes.648 Those contacts consisted of both in-person meetings and phone conversations, which concerned how to address issues relating to Russia in the Campaign and how to move forward with the advisory group of foreign policy experts that Simes had proposed.649 Simes recalled that he, not Kushner, initiated all conversations about Russia, and that Kushner never asked him to set up back-channel conversations with Russians.650 According to Simes, after the Mayflower speech in late April, Simes raised the issue of Russian contacts with Kushner, advised that it was bad optics for the Campaign to develop hidden Russian contacts, and told Kushner both that the Campaign should not highlight Russia as an issue and should handle any contacts with Russians with care.651 Kushner generally provided a similar account of his interactions with Simes.652
Among the Kushner-Simes meetings was one held on August 17, 2016, at Simes’ s request, in Kushner’s New York office. The meeting was to address foreign policy advice that CNI was providing and how to respond to the Clinton Campaign’s Russia-related attacks on candidate
642 Butt 2/9/18 302, at 9-10; Khalilzad 1/9/18 302, at 1-2, 5. 643 Khalilzad 1/9/18 302, at 5-6. 644 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 31; Burt 2/9/ 18 302, at 9-1 O; Khalilzad 1 /9/18 302, at 5.
645 Saunders 2/15/18 302, at 20. 646 Khalilzad 1/9/18 302, at 6.
647 Saunders 2/15/18 302, at 19-20.
648 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 27.
649 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 27.
650 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 27.
651 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 27. During this period of time, the Campaign received a request for a highlevel Campaign official to meet with an officer at a Russian state-owned bank “to discuss an offer [that officer] claims to be canying from President Putin to meet with” candidate Trump. NOSC00005653 (5/17/16 Email, Dearborn to Kushner (8: 12 a.m.)). Copying Manafort and Gates, Kushner responded, “Pass on this. A lot of people come claiming to carry messages. Very few are able to verify. For now I think we decline such meetings. Most likely these people go back home and claim they have special access to gain importance for themselves. Be careful.” NOSC00005653 (5/17/16 Email, Kushner to Dearborn).
652 Kushner 4/11 /18 302, at 11-13.
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Trump.653 In advance of the meeting, Simes sent Kushner a “Russia Policy Memo” laying out “what Mr. Trump may want to say about Russia.”654 In a cover email transmitting that memo and a phone call to set up the meeting, Simes mentioned “a well-documented story of highly questionable connections between Bill Clinton” and the Russian government, “parts of [which]” (according to Simes) had even been “discussed with the CIA and the FBI in the late 1990s and shared with the [Independent Counsel] at the end of the Clinton presidency.”655 Kushner forwarded the email to senior Trump Campaign officials Stephen Miller, Paul Manafort, and Rick Gates, with the note “suggestion only.”656 Manafort subsequently forwarded the email to his assistant and scheduled a meeting with Simes.657 (Manafort was on the verge of leaving the Campaign by the time of the scheduled meeting with Simes, and Simes ended up meeting only with Kushner).
During the August 17 meeting, Simes provided Kushner the Clinton-related information that he had romised.658 Simes told Kushner that,
Simes claimed that he had received this information from former CIA and Reagan White House official Fritz Ermarth, who claimed to have learned it from U.S. intelligence sources, not from Russians.660
Simes perceived that Kushner did not find the information to be of interest or use to the Campaign because it was, in Simes’s words, “old news.”661 When interviewed by the Office, Kushner stated that he believed that there was little chance of something new being revealed about the Clintons given their long career as public figures, and that he never received from Simes information that could be “operationalized” for the Trump Campaign.662 Despite Kushner’s
653 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 29-30; Simes 3/27 /18 302, at 6; Kushner 4/11/18 302, at 12; C00007269 (8/10/16 Meeting Invitation, Vargas to Simes et al.); DJTFP00023484 (8/11/16 Email, Hagan to Manafmt (5:57:15 p.m.)). 654 C00007981-84 (8/9/16 Email, Simes to Kushner (6:09:21 p.m.)). The memorandum recommended “downplaying Russia as a U.S. foreign policy priority at this time” and suggested that “some tend to exaggerate Putin’s flaws.” The memorandum also recommended approaching general Russianrelated questions in the framework of “how to work with Russia to advance important U.S. national interests” and that a Trump Administration “not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy.” The memorandum did not discuss sanctions but did address how to handle Ukraine-related questions, including questions about Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea. 655 C00007981 (8/9/16 Email, Simes to Kushner (6:09:21 p.m.)). 656 DJTFP00023459 (8/10/16 Email, Kushner to S. Miller et al. (11 :30: 13 a.m.)). 657 DJTFP00023484 (8/1 1/16 Email, Hagan to Manafort (5:57:15 p.m.)).
658 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 29-30; Simes 3/27/18 302, at 6; Kushner 4/11/18 302, at 12.
659 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 30; Simes 3/27 /l 8 302, at 6. 660 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 30.
661 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 30; Simes 3/27/18 302, at 6. 662 Kushner 4/11/18 302, at 12.
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reaction, Simes believed that he provided the same information at a small group meeting of foreign policy experts that CNI organized for Sessions.663
5. June 9, 2016 Meeting at Trump Tower
On June 9, 2016, senior representatives of the Trump Campaign met in Trump Tower with a Russian attorney expecting to receive derogatory information about Hillary Clinton from the Russian government. The meeting was proposed to Donald Trump Jr. in an email from Robert Goldstone, at the request of his then-client Emin Agalarov, the son of Russian real-estate developer Aras Agalarov. Goldstone relayed to Trump Jr. that the “Crown prosecutor of Russia … offered to provide the Trump Campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia” as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” Trump Jr. immediately responded that “if it’s what you say I love it,” and arranged the meeting through a series of emails and telephone calls.
Trump Jr. invited campaign chairman Paul Manafort and senior advisor Jared Kushner to attend the meeting, and both attended. Members of the Campaign discussed the meeting before it occurred, and Michael Cohen recalled that Trump Jr. may have told candidate Trump about an upcoming meeting to receive adverse information about Clinton, without linking the meeting to Russia. According to written answers submitted by President Trump, he has no recollection of learning of the meeting at the time, and the Office found no documentary evidence showing that he was made aware of the meeting–or its Russian connection-before it occurred.
The Russian attorney who spoke at the meeting, Natalia Veselnitskaya, had previously worked for the Russian government and maintained a relationship with that government throughout this period of time. She claimed that funds derived from illegal activities in Russia were provided to Hillary Clinton and other Democrats. Trump Jr. requested evidence to support those claims, but Veselnitskaya did not provide such information. She and her associates then turned to a critique of the origins of the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 statute that imposed financial and travel sanctions on Russian officials and that resulted in a retaliatory ban on adoptions of Russian children. Trump Jr. suggested that the issue could be revisited when and if candidate Trump was elected. After the election, Veselnitskaya made additional efforts to follow up on the meeting, but the Trump Transition Team did not engage.
a. Setting Up the June 9 Meeting
i. Outreach to Donald Trump Jr.
Aras Agalarov is a Russian real-estate developer with ties to Putin and other members of the Russian government, including Russia’s Prosecutor General, Yuri Chaika.664 Aras Agalarov is the president of the Crocus Group, a Russian enterprise that holds substantial Russian government construction contracts and that- as discussed above, Volume I, Section IV.A.I, supra
663 Simes 3/8/18 302, at 30.
at 4.
664 Goldstone 2/8/18 302,
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-worked with Trump in connection with the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and a potential Trump Moscow real-estate project.665 The relationship continued over time, as the parties pursued the Trump Moscow project in 2013-2014 and exchanged gifts and letters in 2016.666 For example, in April 2016, Trump responded to a letter from Aras Agalarov with a handwritten note.667 Aras Agalarov expressed interest in Trump’s campaign, passed on “congratulations” for winning in the primary and-according to one email drafted by Goldstone-an “offer” of his “support and that of many of his important Russian friends and colleagues[,] especially with reference to U.S./Russian relations.”668
On June 3, 2016, Emin Agalarov called Goldstone, Emin’s then-publicist.669 Goldstone is ·a music and events promoter who represented Emin Agalarov from approximately late 2012 until late 2016.670 While representing Emin Agalarov, Goldstone facilitated the ongoing contact
Goldstone recalled that the information that mi ht interest the Trum s involved Hillar Clinton
between the Trumps and the Agalarovs-includin an invitation that Trum sent to Putin to attend the 2013 Miss Universe Pa eant in Moscow.671
Goldstone understood a Russian political connection, and Emin Agalarov indicated that the attorney was a prosecutor. 73
Goldstone 2/8/18 302, at 10; Kaveladze 11/16/17 302, at 5-6; 4/25/16 Email, Graff to Goldstone. 667 RG000033-34 (4/25/16 Email, Graff to Goldstone (attachment)).
669 Call Records of Robert Goldstone Goldstone 2/8/18 302, at 6. 670 Goldstone 2/8/18 302, at 1-2; Beniaminov 1/6/18 302,
at 3.
671 Goldstone 2/8/18 302, at 1-5; DJTJR00008 (2/29/19 Email, Goldstone to Trump Jr.); Beniaminov 1/6/18 302, at 3; Shugart 9/25/17 302, at 2; TR UMPORG _ 18_0013 25 ( 6/21/13 Email, Goldstone to Graft); TRUMPORG _ 18_001013 ( 6/24/13 Email, Goldstone to Graff); TRUMPORG 18 001014 (6/24/13 Email, Graff to Shugart); TRUMPORG_l8_001018 (6/26/13 Email, Graffto Goldstone); TRUMPORG_l8_001022 (6/27/13 Email, Graff to L. Kelly); TRUMPORG_18_001333 (9/12/13 Email, Goldstone to Graff, Shugart); MUO00004289 (7/27/13 Email, Goldstone to Graff, Shugart).
see Goldstone 2/,8/18 302, at 6-7.
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The mentioned by Emin Agalarov was Natalia Veselnitskaya. From approximately 1998 until 2001, Veselnitskaya worked as a prosecutor for the Central Administrative District of the Russian Prosecutor’s Office,677 and she continued to perform government-related work and maintain ties to the Russian government following her departure.678 She lobbied and testified about the Magnitsky Act, which imposed financial sanctions and travel restrictions on Russian officials and which was named for a Russian tax specialist who exposed a fraud and later died in a Russian prison.679 Putin called the statute “a purely political, unfriendly act,” and Russia responded by barring a list of current and former U.S. officials from entering Russia and by halting the adoption of Russian children by U.S. citizens.680 Veselnitskaya performed legal work for Denis Katsyv,681 the son of Russian businessman Peter Katsyv, and for his company Prevezon Holdings Ltd., which was a defendant in a civil-forfeiture action alleging the laundering of proceeds from the fraud exposed by Magnitsky.682 She also
676 In December 2018, a grand jury in the Southern District of New York returned an indictment charging Veselnitskaya with obstructing the Prevezon litigation discussed in the text above. See Indictment, United States v. Natalia Vladimirovna Veselnitskaya, No. 18-cr-904 (S.D.N.Y.). The indictment alleges, among other things, that Veselnitskaya lied to the district court about her relationship to the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office and her involvement in responding to a U.S. document request sent to the Russian government.
a 11/20/17 Statement to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, at 2;-677 Veselnitska
678 Testimony of Natalia Veselnitskaya Before the Senate Committee on Judiciary (Nov. 20, 2017) at 33; Keir Simmons & Rachel Elbaum, Russian Lawyer Veselnitskaya Says She Didn’t Give Trump Jr. Info on Clinton, NBC News (July 11, 2017); Maria Tsvetkova & Jack Stubbs, Moscow Lawyer Who Met Trump Jr. Had Russian Spy Agency As Client, Reuters (July 21, 2017); Andrew E. Kramer & Sharon LaFraniere, Lawyer Who Was Said to Have Dirt on Clinton Had Closer Ties to Kremlin than She Let On, New York Times (Apr. 27, 2018). ·
679 See Pub. L. No. 112-208 §§ 402, 404(a)(l), 126 Stat. 1502, 1502-1506. Sergei Magnitsky was a Russian tax specialist who worked for William Browder, a former investment fund manager in Russia. Browder hired Magnitsky to investigate tax fraud by Russian officials, and Magnitsky was charged with helping Browder embezzle money. After Magnitsky died in a Russian prison, Browder lobbied Congress to pass the Magnitsky Act. See, e.g., Andrew E. Kramer, Turning Tables in Magnitsky Case, Russia Accuses Nemesis of Murder, New York Times (Oct. 22, 2017); Testimony ofNatalia Veselnitskaya Before the Senate Committee on Judiciary (Nov. 20, 2017), Exhibits at 1-4; Rosie Gray, Bill Browder ‘s Testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, The Atlantic (July 25, 2017).
680 Ellen Barry, Russia Bars 18 Americans After Sanctions by US, New York Times (Apr. 13, 2013); Tom Porter, Supporters of the Magnitsky Act Claim They ‘ve Been Targets of Russian Assassination and Kidnapping Bids, Newsweek (July 16, 2017). 681 Testimony ofNatalia Veselnitskaya Before the Senate Committee on Judiciary (Nov. 20, 2017), at 21. 682 See Veselnitskaya Deel., United States v. Prevezon Holdings, Ltd., No. 13-cv-6326 (S.D.N.Y.); see Prevezon Holdings, Second Amended Complaint; Prevezon Holdings, Mem. and Order; Prevezon Holdings, Deposition of Oleg Lurie.
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appears to have been involved in an April 2016 approach to a U.S. congressional delegation in Moscow offering “confidential information” from “the Prosecutor General of Russia” about “interactions between certain political forces in our two countries.”683 I Shortly after his June 3 call with Emin Agalarov, Goldstone emailed Trump Jr.684 The email stated:
Good morning Emln just called-and asked me to contact you with something very Interesting. The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered lo provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate HIiiary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father. This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and Its government’s support for Mr. Trump -helped along by Aras and Emin. What do you think is the best way to handle this information and would you be able to speak to Emin about it directly? I can also send this Info to your father v ia Rhona, but it Is ultra sensitive so wanted to send to you first. Best Rob Goldstone
Within minutes of this email, Trump Jr. responded, emailing back: “Thanks Rob I appreciate that. I am on the road at the moment but perhaps I just speak to Emin first. Seems we have some time and if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer. Could we do a call first thing next week when I am back?”685 Goldstone conveyed Trump Jr.’s interest to Emin Agalarov, emailing that Trump Jr. “wants to speak personally on the issue.”686
On June 6, 2016, Emin Agalarov asked Goldstone ifthere was “[a]ny news,” and Goldstone explained that Trump Jr. was likely still traveling for the “final elections … where [T]rurnp will be ‘crowned’ the official nominee.”687 On the same day, Goldstone again emailed Trump Jr. and asked when Trump Jr. was “free to talk with Emin about this Hillary info.”688 Trump Jr. asked if
683 See Gribbin 8/31/17 302, at 1-2 & lA (undated one-page document given to congressional delegation). The Russian Prosecutor General is an official with broad national responsibilities in the Russian legal system. See Federal Law on the Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation ( 1992, amended 2004).
684 RG000061 (6/3/16 Email, Goldstone to Trump Jr.); DJTJR00446 (6/3/16 Email, Goldstone to Donald Trump Jr.); @DonaldJTrumpJr 07/11/17 (11 :00) Tweet.
685 DJTJR00446 (6/3/16 Email, Trump Jr. to Goldstone); @DonaldJTrumpJr 07/11/17 (11 :00) Tweet; RG000061 (6/3/16 Email, Trump Jr. to Goldstone).
686 RG000062 (6/3/16 Email, Goldstone & Trump Jr.).
687 RG000063 (6/6/16 Email, A. Agalarov to Goldstone); RG000064 (6/6/16 Email, Goldstone to A. Agalarov).
688 RG000065 (6/6/16 Email, Goldstone to Trump Jr.); DJTJR00446 (6/6/16 Email, Goldstone to Trump Jr.).
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they could “speak now,” and Goldstone arranged a call between Trump Jr. and Emin Agalarov.689 On June 6 and June 7, Trump Jr. and Emin Agalarov had multiple brief calls.690
Also on June 6, 2016, Aras Agalarov called Ike Kaveladze and asked him to attend a meeting in New York with the Trump Organization.691 Kaveladze is a Georgia-born, naturalized U.S. citizen who worked in the United States for the Crocus Group and reported to Aras Agalarov.692 Kaveladze told the Office that, in a second phone call on June 6, 2016, Aras Agalarov asked Kaveladze ifhe knew anything about the Magnitsky Act, and Aras sent him a short synopsis for the meeting and Veselnitskaya’s business card. According to Kaveladze, Aras Agalarov said the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Magnitsky Act, and he asked Kaveladze to translate. 693
ii. Awareness of the Meeting Within the Campaign
On June 7, Goldstone emailed Trump Jr. and said that “Emin asked that I schedule a meeting with you and [t]he Russian government attorney who is flying over from Moscow.”694 Trump Jr. replied that Manafort (identified as the “campaign boss”), Jared Kushner, and Trump Jr. would likely attend.695 Go~d to learn that Trump Jr., Manafort, and Kushner would attend.696 Kaveladze —“puzzled” by the list of attendees and that he checked with one of Emin Agalarov’s assistants, Roman Beniaminov, who said that the purpose of the meeting was for Veselnitskaya to convey “negative information on Hillary Clinton.”697 Beniaminov, however, stated that he did not recall having known or said that.698
Early on June 8, 2016 Kushner emailed his assistant, asking her to discuss a 3 :00 p.m.
689 DJTJR00445 and Trump Jr.); 690 DJTJR00499 ); Call Records
693 Kaveladze 11/16/17 302, at 6. 694 DJTJR00467 (6/7/16 Email, Goldstone to m
Tru Tweet; RG000068 (6/7/16 Email, Goldstone to Trump Jr.); 695 DJTJR00469 (6/7/16 Email, Trump Jr. to Goldstone); @DonaldJTrumpJr 07/11/17 (11 :00) Tweet; RG000071 6/7/16 Email, Trum Jr. to Goldstone); OSC-KAV _00048 (6/7/16 Email, Goldstone to Kaveladze); 696 Goldstone 2/8/18 302, at 7;
KA V _00048 (6/7/16 Email, Goldstone to Kaveladze).
698 Beniaminov 1 /6/18 302, at 3.
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meeting the following day with Trump Jr.699 Later that day, Trump Jr. forwarded the entirety of his email correspondence regarding the meeting with Goldstone to Manafort and Kushner, under the subject line “FW: Russia – Clinton – private and confidential,” adding a note that the “[m]eeting got moved to 4 tomorrow at my offices.”70 ° Kushner then sent his assistant a second email, informing her that the “[m]eeting with don jr is 4pm now.”701 Manafort responded, “See you then. P. “702
Rick Gates, who was the deputy campaign chairman, stated during interviews with the Office that in the days before June 9, 2016 Trump Jr. announced at a regular morning meeting of senior campaign staff and Trump family members that he had a lead on negative information about the Clinton Foundation.703 Gates believed that Trump Jr. said the information was coming from a group in Kyrgyzstan and that he was introduced to the group by a friend.704 Gates recalled that the meeting was attended by Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Paul Manafort, Hope Hicks, and, joining late, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. According to Gates, Manafort warned the group that the meeting likely would not yield vital information and they should be careful.705 Hicks denied any knowledge of the June 9 meeting before 2017,706 and Kushner did not recall if the planned June 9 meeting came up at all earlier that week.707
Michael Cohen recalled being in Donald J. Trump’ s office on June 6 or 7 when Trump Jr. told his father that a meeting to obtain adverse information about Clinton was going forward.708 Cohen did not recall Trump Jr. stating that the meeting was connected to Russia.709 From the tenor of the conversation, Cohen believed that Trump Jr. had previously discussed the meeting with his father, although Cohen was not involved in any such conversation.710 In an interview with the Senate Judiciary Committee, however, Trump Jr. stated that he did not inform his father about the
699 NOSC0000007-08 (6/8/18 Email, Kushner to Vargas).
700 NOSC00000039-42 (6/8/16 Email, Trump Jr. to Kushner & Manafort); DJTJR00485 (6/8/16 Email, Trump Jr. to Kushner & Manafort).
701 NOSC0000004 (6/8/16 Email, Kushner to Vargas). 702 6/8/16 Email, Manafo1t to Trump Jr.
703 Gates 1/30/18 302, at 7; Gates 3/1/18 302, at 3-4. Although the March l 302 refers to “June 19,” that is likely a typographical error; external emails indicate that a meeting with those participants occurred on June 6. See NOSC00023603 (6/6/16 Email, Gates to Trump Jr. et al.).
704 Gates 1/30/18 302, at 7. Aras Agalarov is originally from Azerbaijan, and public reporting indicates that his company, the Crocus Group, has done substantial work in Kyrgyzstan. See Neil MacFarquhar, A Russian Developer Helps Out the Kremlin on Occasion. Was He a Conduit to Trump?, New York Times (July 16, 2017). 705 Gates 3/1/18 302, at 3-4. 706 Hicks 12/7117 302, at 6.
707 Kushner 4/11/18 302, at 8.
708 Cohen 8/7/18 302, at 4-6.
709 Cohen 8/7 /18 302, at 4-5. 71 ° Cohen 9/12/18 302, at 15-16.
115Finally, although the evidence of contacts between Campaign officials and Russiaaffiliated
individuals may not have been sufficient to establish or sustain criminal charges, several
U.S. persons connected to the Campaign made false statements about those contacts and took other
steps to obstruct the Office’s investigation and those of Congress. This Office has therefore
charged some of those individuals with making false statements and obstructing justice.
1. Potential Coordination: Conspiracy and Collusion
As an initial matter, this Office evaluated potentially criminal conduct that involved the
collective action of multiple individuals not under the rubric of “collusion,” but through the lens
of conspiracy law. In so doing, the Office recognized that the word “collud[ e ]” appears in the
Acting Attorney General’s August 2, 2017 memorandum; it has frequently been invoked in public
reporting; and it is sometimes referenced in antitrust law, see, e.g., Brooke Group v. Brown &
Williamson Tobacco Corp., 509 U.S. 209, 227 (1993). But collusion is not a specific offense or
theory of liability found in the U.S. Code; nor is it a term of art in federal criminal law. To the
contrary, even as defined in legal dictionaries, collusion is largely synonymous with conspiracy as
that crime is set forth in the general federal conspiracy statute, 18 U.S.C. § 371. See Black’s Law
Dictionary 321 (10th ed. 2014) (collusion is “[a]n agreement to defraud another or to do or obtain
something forbidden by law”); 1 Alexander Burrill, A Law Dictionary and Glossary 311 (1871)
(“An agreement between two or more persons to defraud another by the forms of law, or to employ
such forms as means of accomplishing some unlawful object.”); 1 Bouvier ‘s Law Dictionary 352
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(1897) (“An agreement between two or more persons to defraud a person of his rights by the forms
of law, or to obtain an object forbidden by law.”).
For that reason, this Office’s focus in resolving the question of joint criminal liability was
on conspiracy as defined in federal law, not the commonly discussed term “collusion.” The Office
considered in particular whether contacts between Trump Campaign officials and Russia-linked
individuals could trigger liability for the crime of conspiracy-either under statutes that have their
own conspiracy language (e.g. , 18 U.S.C. §§ 1349, 195l(a)), or under the general conspiracy
statute (18 U.S.C. § 371). The investigation did not establish that the contacts described in Volume
I, Section IV, supra, amounted to an agreement to commit any substantive violation of federal
criminal law- including foreign-fnfluence and campaign-finance laws, both of which are
discussed further below. The Office therefore did not charge any individual associated with the
Trump Campaign with conspiracy to commit a federal offense arising from Russia contacts, either
under a specific statute or under Section 371 ‘s offenses clause.
The Office also did not charge any campaign official or associate with a conspiracy under
Section 371 ‘s defraud clause. That clause criminalizes participating in an agreement to obstruct a
lawful function of the U.S. government or its agencies through deceitful or dishonest means. See
Dennis v. United States, 384 U.S. 855, 861 (1966); Hammerschmidt v. United States, 265 U.S.
182, 188 (1924); see also United States v. Concord Mgmt. & Consulting LLC, 34 7 F. Supp. 3d 38,
46 (D.D.C.2018). The investigation did not establish any agreement among Campaign officialsor
between such officials and Russia-linked individuals-to interfere with or obstruct a lawful
function of a government agency during the campaign or transition period. And, as discussed in
Volume I, Section V.A, supra, the investigation did not identify evidence that any Campaign
official or associate knowingly and intentionally participated in the conspiracy to defraud that the
Office charged, namely, the active-measures conspiracy described in Volume I, Section II, supra.
Accordingly, the Office did not charge any Campaign associate or other U.S. person with
conspiracy to defraud the United States based on the Russia-related contacts described in Section
IV above.
2. Potential Coordination: Foreign Agent Statutes (FARA and 18 U.S.C. § 951)
The Office next assessed the potential liability of Campaign-affiliated individuals under
federal statutes regulating actions on behalf of, or work done for, a foreign government.
a. Governing Law
Under 18 U.S.C. § 951, it is generally illegal to act in the United States as an agent of a
foreign government without providing notice to the Attorney General. Although the defendant
must act on behalf of a foreign government (as opposed to other kinds of foreign entities), the acts
need not involve espionage; rather, acts of any type suffice for liability. See United States v.
Duran, 596 F.3d 1283, 1293-94 (11th Cir. 2010); United States v. Latchin, 554 F.3d 709, 715 (7th
Cir. 2009); United States v. Dumeisi, 424 F.3d 566, 581 (7th Cir. 2005). An “agent of a foreign
government” is an ” individual” who “agrees to operate” in the United States “subject to the
direction or control of a foreign government or official.” 18 U.S.C. § 951 ( d).
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The crime defined by Section 951 is complete upon knowingly acting in the United States
as an unregistered foreign-government agent. 18 U.S.C. § 95l(a). The statute does not require
willfulness, and knowledge of the notification requirement is not an element of the offense. United
States v. Campa, 529 F.3d 980, 998-99 (11th Cir. 2008); Duran, 596 F.3d at 1291-94; Dumeisi,
424 F.3d at 581.
The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) generally makes it illegal to act as an agent
of a foreign principal by engaging in certain (largely political) activities in the United States
without registering with the Attorney General. 22 U.S.C. §§ 611-621. The triggering agency
relationship must be with a foreign principal or “a person any of whose activities are directly or
indirectly supervised, directed, controlled, financed, or subsidized in whole or in major part by a
foreign principal.” 22 U.S.C. § 61 l(c)(l). That includes a foreign government or political party
and various foreign individuals and entities. 22 U.S.C. § 611(6). A covered relationship exists if
a person “acts as an agent, representative, employee, or servant” or “in any other capacity at the
order, request, or under the [foreign principal’s] direction or control.” 22 U.S.C. § 61 l(c)(l). It
is sufficient if the person “agrees, consents, assumes or purports to act as, or who is or holds
himself out to be, whether or not pursuant to contractual relationship, an agent of a foreign
principal.” 22 U.S.C. § 61 l(c)(2).
The triggering activity is that the agent “directly or through any other person” in the United
States (1) engages in “political activities for or in the interests of [the] foreign principal,” which
includes attempts to influence federal officials or the public; (2) acts as “public relations counsel,
publicity agent, information-service employee or political consultant for or in the interests of such
foreign principal”; (3) ” solicits, collects, disburses, or dispenses contributions, loans, money, or
other things of value for or in the interest of such foreign principal”; or ( 4) “represents the interests
of such foreign principal” before any federal agency or official. 22 U .S.C. § 611 ( c )(1 ).
It is a crime to engage in a “[ w ]illful violation of any provision of the Act or any regulation
thereunder.” 22 U.S.C. § 618(a)(l). It is also a crime willfully to make false statements or
omissions of material facts in FARA registration statements or supplements. 22 U.S.C.
§ 618(a)(2). Most violations have a maximum penalty of five years of imprisonment and a $10,000
fine. 22 U.S.C. § 618.
b. Application
The investigation uncovered extensive evidence that Paul Manafort’s and Richard Oates’s
pre-campaign work for the government of Ukraine violated FARA. Manafort and Gates were
charged for that conduct and admitted to it when they pleaded guilty to superseding criminal
informations in the District of Columbia prosecution.1280 The evidence underlying those charges
is not addressed in this report because it was discussed in public court documents and in a separate
1280 Gates Superseding Criminal Information; Waiver of Indictment, United States v. Richard W
Gates III, 1: 17-cr-201 (D.D.C. Feb. 23, 2018), Doc. 203; Waiver of Trial by Jury, United States v. Richard
W Gates III, l:17-cr-201 (D.D.C. Feb. 23, 2018), Doc. 204; Gates Plea Agreement; Statement of Offense,
United States v. Richard W Gates III, l:17-cr-201 (D.D.C. Feb. 23, 2018), Doc. 206; Plea Agreement,
United States v. Paul J. Manafort, Jr., 1 :17-cr-201 (D.D.C. Sept. 14, 2018), Doc. 422; Statement of Offense,
United States v. Paul J. Manafort, Jr. , 1: l 7-cr-201 (D.D.C. Sept. 14, 2018), Doc. 423.
re uest-durin the relevant time eriod. 1282
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prosecution memorandum submitted to the Acting Attorney General before the original indictment
in that case.
In addition, the investigation produced evidence of FARA violations involving Michael
Flynn. Those potential violations, however, concerned a country other than Russia (i.e., Turkey)
and were resolved when Flynn admitted to the underlying facts in the Statement of Offense that
accompanied his guilty plea to a false-statements charge. Statement of Offense, United States v.
Michael T Flynn, No. l:17-cr-232 (D.D.C. Dec. 1, 2017), Doc. 4 (“Flynn Statement of
Offense”). 1281
The investigation did not, however, yield evidence sufficient to sustain any charge that any
individual affiliated with the Trump Campaign acted as an agent of a foreign principal within the
meaning of FARA or, in terms of Section 951, subject to the direction or control of the government
of Russia, or any official thereof. In particular, the Office did not find evidence likely to prove
beyond a reasonable doubt that Campaign officials such as Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos,
and Carter Page acted as agents of the Russian overnrnent-or at its direction control, or
As a result, the Office did not charge any other Trump Campaign official with violating
FARA or Section 951, or attempting or conspiring to do so, based on contacts with the Russian
government or a Russian principal.
Finally, the Office investigated whether one of the above campaign advisors-George
Papadopoulos-acted as an agent of, or at the direction and control of, the government of Israel.
While the investigation revealed significant ties between Papadopoulos and Israel (and search
warrants were obtained in part on that basis), the Office ultimately determined that the evidence
was not sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction under FARA or Section 951.
3. Campaign Finance
Several areas of the Office’s investigation involved efforts or offers by foreign nationals to
provide negative information about candidate Clinton to the Trump Campaign or to distribute that
information to the public, to the anticipated benefit of the Campaign. As explained below, the
Office considered whether two of those efforts in particular- the June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump
1282 On four occasions, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) issued warrants based
on a finding of probable cause to believe that Page was an agent of a foreign power. 50 U.S.C. §§ 1801 (b ),
1805(a)(2)(A). The FISC’s probable-cause finding was based on a different (and lower) standard than the
one governing the Office’s decision whether to bring charges against Page, which is whether admissible
evidence would likely be sufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Page acted as an agent of the
Russian Federation during the period at issue. Cf United States v. Cardoza, 713 F.3d 656, 660 (D.C. Cir.
2013) ( explaining that probable cause requires only “a fair probability,” and not “certainty, or proof beyond
a reasonable doubt, or proof by a preponderance of the evidence”).
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Tower Harm to Ongoing Matter —:-eonstituted prosecutable violations of
the campaign-finance laws. The Office determined that the evidence was not sufficient to charge
either incident as a criminal violation.
a. Overview Of Governing Law
“[T]he United States has a compelling interest … in limiting the participation of foreign
citizens in activities of democratic self-government, and in thereby preventing foreign influence
over the U.S. political process.” Bluman v. FEC, 800 F. Supp. 2d 281, 288 (D.D.C. 2011)
(Kavanaugh, J., for three-judge court), ajf’d, 565 U.S. 1104 (2012). To that end, federal campaignfinance
law broadly prohibits foreign nationals from making contributions, donations,
expenditures, or other disbursements in connection with federal, state, or local candidate elections,
and prohibits anyone from soliciting, accepting, or receiving such contributions or donations. As
relevant here, foreign nationals may not make- and no one may “solicit,’ accept, or receive” from
them-“a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value” or “an express or implied
promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State, or local election.”
52 U.S.C. § 30121(a)(l)(A), (a)(2). 1283 The term “contribution,” which is used throughout the
campaign-finance law, “includes” “any gift, subscription, loan, advance, or deposit of money or
anything of value made by any person for the purpose of influencing any election for Federal
office.” 52 U.S.C. § 30101(8)(A)(i). It excludes, among other things, “the value of [volunteer]
services.” 52 U.S.C. § 30101(8)(B)(i).
Foreign nationals are also barred from making “an expenditure, independent expenditure,
or disbursement for an electioneering communication.” 52 U.S.C. § 30121(a)(l)(C). The term
“expenditure” “includes” “any purchase, payment, distribution, loan, advance, deposit, or gift of
money or anything of value, made by any person for the purpose of influencing any election for
Federal office.” 52 U.S.C. §,30101(9)(A)(i). It excludes, among other things, news stories and
non-partisan get-out-the-vote activities. 52 U.S.C. § 3010 I (9)(B)(i)-(ii). An ” independent
expenditure” is an expenditure “expressly advocating the election or defeat of a clearly identified
candidate” and made independently of the campaign. 52 U.S.C. § 30101(17). An “electioneering
communication” is a broadcast communication that “refers to a clearly identified candidate for
Federal office” and is made within specified time periods and targeted at the relevant electorate.
52 u.s.c. § 30104(f)(3).
The statute defines “foreign national” by reference to FARA and the Immigration and
Nationality Act, with minor modification. 52 U.S.C. § 30121(b) (cross-referencing 22 U.S.C.
§ 61 l(b)(l)-(3) and 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(20), (22)). That definition yields five, sometimesoverlapping
categories of foreign nationals, which include all of the individuals and entities
relevant for present purposes-namely, foreign governments and political parties, individuals
1283 Campaign-finance law also places financial limits on contributions, 52 U.S.C. § 30116(a), and
prohibits contributions from corporations, banks, and labor unions, 52 U.S.C. § 3011 S(a); see Citizens
United v. FEC, 558 U.S. 310, 320 (2010). Because the conduct that the Office investigated involved
possible electoral activity by foreign nationals, the foreign-contributions ban is the most readily applicable
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outside of the U.S. who are not legal permanent residents, and certain non-U.S. entities located
outside of the U.S. ·
A “knowing □ and willful[]” violation involving an aggregate of $25,000 or more in a
calendar year is a felony. 52 U.S.C. § 30109(d)(l)(A)(i); see Bluman, 800 F. Supp. 2d at 292
(noting that a willful violation will require some “proof of the defendant’s knowledge of the law”);
United States v. Danielczyk, 917 F. Supp. 2d 573, 577 (E.D. Va. 2013) (applying willfulness
standard drawn from Bryan v. United States, 524 U.S. 184, 191-92 (1998)); see also Wagner v.
FEC, 793 F.3d 1, 19 n.23 (D.C. Cir. 2015) (en bane) (same). A “knowing[] and willful[]” violation
involving an aggregate of $2,000 or more in a calendar year, but less than $25,000, is a
misdemeanor. 52 U.S.C. § 30109(d)(l)(A)(ii).
b. Application to June 9 Trump Tower Meeting
The Office considered whether to charge Trump Campaign officials with crimes in
connection with the June 9 meeting described in Volume I, Section IV.A.5, supra. The Office
concluded that, in light of the government’s substantial burden of proof on issues of intent
(“knowing” and “willful”), and the difficulty of establishing the value of the offered information,
criminal charges would not meet the Justice Manual standard that “the admissible evidence will
probably be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction.” Justice Manual§ 9-27.220.
In brief, the key facts are that, on June 3, 2016, Robert Goldstone emailed Donald Trump
Jr., to pass along from Emin and Aras Agalarov an “offer” from Russia’s “Crown prosecutor” to
“the Trump campaign” of “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and
her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to [Trump Jr. ‘ s] father.” The email described
this as “very high level and sensitive information” that is “part of Russia and its government’s
support to Mr. Trump-helped along by Aras and Emin.” Trump Jr. responded: “if it’s what you
say I love it especially later in the summer.” Trump Jr. and Emin Agalarov had follow-up
conversations and, within days, scheduled a meeting with Russian representatives that was
attended by Trump Jr., Manafort, and Kushner. The communications setting up the meeting and
the attendance by high-level Campaign representatives support an inference that the Campaign
anticipated receiving derogatory documents and information from official Russian sources that
could assist candidate Trump’s electoral prospects.
This series of events could implicate the federal election-law ban on contributions and
donations by foreign nationals, 52 U.S.C. § 3012 l(a)(l )(A). Specifically, Goldstone passed along
an offer purportedly from a Russian government official to provide “official documents and
information” to the Trump Campaign for the purposes of influencing the presidential election.
Trump Jr. appears to have accepted that offer and to have arranged a meeting to receive those
materials. Documentary evidence in the form of email chains supports the inference that Kushner
and Mana fort were aware of that purpose and attended the June 9 meeting anticipating the receipt
of helpful information to the Campaign from Russian sources.
The Office considered whether this evidence would establish a conspiracy to violate the
foreign contributions ban, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371 ; the solicitation of an illegal foreignsource
contribution; or the acceptance or receipt of “an express or implied promise to make a
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[foreign-source] contribution,” both in violation of 52 U.S.C. § 3012l(a)(l)(A), (a)(2). There are
reasonable arguments that the offered information would constitute a “thing of value” within the
meaning of these provisions, but the Office determined that the government would not be likely to
obtain and sustain a conviction for two other reasons: first, the Office did not obtain admissible
evidence likely to meet the government’s burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that these
individuals acted “willfully,” i.e., with general knowledge of the illegality of their conduct; and,
second, the government would likely encounter difficulty in proving beyond a reasonable doubt
that the value of the promised information exceeded the threshold for a criminal violation, see 52
U.S.C. § 30109(d)(l)(A)(i).
i. Thing-of Value Element
A threshold legal question is whether providing to a campaign “documents and
information” of the type involved here would constitute a prohibited campaign contribution. The
foreign contribution ban is not limited to contributions of money. It expressly prohibits “a
contribution or donation of money or other thing of value.” 52 U.S.C. § 3012l(a)(l)(A), (a)(2)
(emphasis added). And the term “contribution” is defined throughout the campaign-finance laws
to “include[]” “any gift, subscription, loan, advance, or deposit of money or anything of value.”
52 U.S.C. § 30101(8)(A)(i) (emphasis added).
The phrases “thing of value” and “anything of value” are broad and inclusive enough to
encompass at least some forms of valuable information. Throughout the United States Code, these
phrases serve as “term[ s] of art” that are construed ” broad[ly].” United States v. Nilsen, 967 F .2d
539, 542 (11th Cir. 1992) (per curiam) (“thing of value” includes “both tangibles and intangibles”);
see also, e.g., 18 U.S.C. §§ 20l(b)(l), 666(a)(2) (bribery statutes); id. § 641 (theft of government
property). For example, the term “thing of value” encompasses law enforcement reports that
would reveal the identity of informants, United States v. Girard, 601 F.2d 69, 71 (2d Cir. 1979);
classified materials, United States v. Fowler, 932 F.2d 306, 310 (4th Cir. 1991); confidential
information about a competitive bid, United States v. Matzkin, 14 F .3d 1014, I 020 ( 4th Cir. 1994);
secret grand jury information, United States v. Jeter, 775 F.2d 670, 680 (6th Cir. 1985); and
information about a witness’s whereabouts, United States v. Sheker, 618 F.2d 607, 609 (9th Cir.
1980) (per curiam). And in the public corruption context, ” ‘ thing of value’ is defined broadly to
include the value which the defendant subjectively attaches to the items received.” United States
v. Renzi, 769 F.3d 731,744 (9th Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Federal Election Commission (FEC) regulations recognize the value to a campaign of at
least some forms of information, stating that the term “anything of value” includes “the provision
of any goods or services without charge,” such as “membership lists” and “mailing lists.” 11
C.F.R. § 100.52(d)(l). The FEC has concluded that the phrase includes a state-by-state list of
activists. See Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington v. FEC, 475 F.3d 337, 338
(D.C. Cir. 2007) (describing the FEC’s findings). Likewise, polling data provided to a campaign
constitutes a “contribution.” FEC Advisory Opinion 1990-12 (Strub), 1990 WL 153454 (citing 11
C.F.R. § 106.4(6)). And in the specific context of the foreign-contributions ban, the FEC has
concluded that “election materials used in previous Canadian campaigns,” including “flyers,
advertisements, door hangers, tri-folds, signs, and other printed material,” constitute “anything of
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value,” even though “the value of these materials may be nominal or difficult to ascertain.” FEC
Advisory Opinion 2007-22 (Hurysz), 2007 WL 5172375, at *5.
These authorities would support the view that candidate-related opposition research given
to a campaign for the purpose of influencing an election could constitute a contribution to which
the foreign-source ban could apply. A campaign can be assisted not only by the provision offunds,
but also by the provision of derogatory information about an opponent. Political campaigns
frequently conduct and pay for opposition research. A foreign entity that engaged in such research
and provided resulting information to a campaign could exert a greater effect on an election, and
a greater tendency to ingratiate the donor to the candidate, than a gift of money or tangible things
of value. At the same time, no judicial decision has treated the voluntary provision of
uncompensated opposition research or similar information as a thing of value that could amount
to a contribution under campaign-finance law. Such an interpretation could have implications
beyond the foreign-source ban, see 52 U.S.C. § 30116(a) (imposing monetary limits on campaign
contributions), and raise First Amendment questions. Those questions could be especially difficult
where the information consisted simply of the recounting of historically accurate facts. It is
uncertain how courts would resolve those issues.
ii. Willfulness
Even assuming that the promised “documents and information that would incriminate
Hillary” constitute a “thing of value” under campaign-finance law, the government would
encounter other challenges in seeking to obtain and sustain a conviction. Most significantly, the
government has not obtained admissible evidence that is likely to establish the scienter requirement
beyond a reasonable doubt. To prove that a defendant acted “knowingly and willfully,” the
government would have to show that the defendant had general knowledge that his conduct was
unlawful. U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Prosecution of Election Offenses 123 (8th ed. Dec.
2017) (“Election Offenses”); see Bluman, 800 F. Supp. 2d at 292 (noting that a willful violation
requires “proof of the defendant’s knowledge of the law”); Danielczyk, 917 F. Supp. 2d at 577
(“knowledge of general unlawfulness”). “This standard creates an elevated scienter element
requiring, at the very least, that application of the law to the facts in question be fairly clear. When
there is substantial doubt concerning whether the law applies to the facts of a particular matter, the
offender is more likely to have an intent defense.” Election Offenses 123. ·
On the facts here, the government would unlikely be able to prove beyond a reasonable
doubt that the June 9 meeting participants had general knowledge that their conduct was unlawful.
The investigation has not developed evidence that the participants in the meeting were familiar
with the foreign-contribution ban or the application of federal law to the relevant factual context.
The government does not have strong evidence of surreptitious behavior or effo11s at concealment
at the time of the June 9 meeting. While the government has evidence of later efforts to prevent
disclosure of the nature of the June 9 meeting that could circumstantially provide support for a
showing of scienter, see Volume II, Section II.G, infra, that concealment occurred more than a
year later, involved individuals who did not attend the June 9 meeting, and may reflect an intention
to avoid political consequences rather than any prior knowledge of illegality. Additionally, in light
of the unresolved legal questions about whether giving “documents and information” of the sort
offered here constitutes a campaign contribution, Trump Jr. could mount a factual defense that he
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did not believe his response to the offer and the June 9 meeting itself violated the law. Given his
less direct involvement in arranging the June 9 meeting, Kushner could likely mount a similar
defense. And, while Manafort is experienced with political campaigns, the Office has not
developed evidence showing that he had relevant knowledge of these legal issues.
iii. Difficulties in Valuing Promised Information
The Office would also encounter difficulty proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the
value of the promised documents and information exceeds the $2,000 threshold for a criminal
violation, as well as the $25,000 threshold for felony punishment. See 52 U.S.C. § 30109(d)(l).
The type of evidence commonly used to establish the value of non-monetary contributions-such
as pricing the contribution on a commercial market or determining the upstream acquisition cost
or the cost of distribution-would likely be unavailable or ineffective in this factual setting.
Although damaging opposition research is surely valuable to a campaign, it appears that the
information ultimately delivered in the meeting was not valuable. And while value in a conspiracy
may well be measured by what the participants expected to receive at the time of the agreement,
see, e.g., United States v. Tombrello, 666 F.2d 485, 489 (11th Cir. 1982), Goldstone’s description
of the offered material here was quite general. His suggestion of the information’s value-i.e.,
that it would “incriminate Hillary” and “would be very useful to [Trump Jr.’s] father”-was nonspecific
and may have been understood as being of uncertain worth or reliability, given
Goldstone’s lack of direct access to the original source. The uncertainty over what would be
delivered could be reflected in Trump Jr. ‘s response (“if it’s what you say I love it”) (emphasis
Accordingly, taking into account the high burden to establish a culpable mental state in a
campaign-finance prosecution and the difficulty in establishing the required valuation, the Office
decided not to pursue criminal campaign-finance charges against Trump Jr. or other campaign
officials for the events culminating in the June 9 meeting.
c. Application to Harm to Ongoing Matter
Harm to Ongoing Matter
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Harm to Ongoing Matter
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ii. Willfulness
As discussed, to establish a criminal campaign-finance violation, the government must
prove that the defendant acted “knowingly and willfully.” 52 U.S.C. § 30109(d)(l)(A)(i). That
standard requires proof that the defendant knew generally that his conduct was unlawful. Election
Offenses 123. Given the uncertainties noted above, the “willfulness” requirement would pose a
substantial barrier to prosecution.
iii. Constitutional Considerations
, the First Amendment could ose constraints on a
iv. Analysis as to mllllll
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4. False Statements and Obstruction of the Investigation
The Office determined that certain individuals associated with the Campaign lied to
investigators about Campaign contacts with Russia and have taken other actions to interfere with
the investigation. As explained below, the Office therefore charged some U.S. persons connected
to the Campaign with false statements and obstruction offenses.
a. Overview Of Governing Law
False Statements. The principal federal statute criminalizing false statements to
government investigators is 18 U.S.C. § 1001. As relevant here, under Section 1001(a)(2), it is a
crime to knowingly and willfully “make[] any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement
or representation” “in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive … branch of the
Government.” An FBI investigation is a matter within the Executive Branch’s jurisdiction. United
States v. Rodgers, 466 U.S. 475, 479 (1984). The statute also applies to a subset of legislative
branch actions-viz., administrative matters and “investigation[s] or review[ s ]” conducted by a
congressional committee or subcommittee. 18 U.S.C. § 1001(c)(l) and (2); see United States v.
Pickett, 353 F.3d 62, 66 (D.C. Cir. 2004).
Whether the statement was made to law enforcement or congressional investigators, the
government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the same basic non-jurisdictional elements:
the statement was false, fictitious, or fraudulent; the defendant knew both that it was false and that
it was unlawful to make a false statement; and the false statement was material. See, e.g., United
States v. Smith, 831 F.3d 1207, 1222 n.27 (9th Cir. 2017) (listing elements); see also Ninth Circuit
Pattern Instruction 8.73 & cmt. (explaining that the Section 1001 jury instruction was modified in
light of the Department of Justice’s position that the phrase “knowingly and willfully” in the statute
requires the defendant’s knowledge that his or her conduct was unlawful). In the D.C. Circuit, the
government must prove that the statement was actually false; a statement that is misleading but
“literally true” does not satisfy Section 1001 (a)(2). See United States v. Milton, 8 F .3d 39, 45
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(D.C. Cir. 1993); United States v. Dale, 991 F.2d 819, 832-33 & n.22 (D.C. Cir. 1993). For that
false statement to qualify as “material,” it must have a natural tendency to influence, or be capable
of influencing, a discrete decision or any other function of the agency to which it is addressed. See
United States v. Gaudin, 515 U.S. 506, 509 (1995); United States v. Moore, 612 F.3d 698, 701
(D.C. Cir. 2010).
Perjury. Under the federal perjury statutes, it is a crime for a witness testifying under oath
before a grand jury to knowingly make any false material declaration. See 18 U.S.C. § 1623. The
government must prove four elements beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction under
Section 1623(a): the defendant testified under oath before a federal grand jury; the defendant’s
testimony was false in one or more respects; the false testimony concerned matters that were
material to the grand jury investigation; and the false testimony was knowingly given. United
States v. Bridges, 717 F.2d 1444, 1449 n.30 (D.C. Cir. 1983). The general perjury statute, 18
U.S.C. § 1621, also applies to grand jury testimony and has similar elements, except that it requires
that the witness have acted willfully and that the government satisfy “strict common-law
requirements for establishing falsity.” See Dunn v. United States, 442 U.S. 100, 106 & n.6 (1979)
(explaining “the two-witness rule” and the corroboration that it demands).
Obstruction of Justice. Three basic elements are common to the obstruction statutes
pertinent to this Office’s charging decisions: an obstructive act; some form of nexus between the
obstructive act and an official proceeding; and criminal (i.e., corrupt) intent. A detailed discussion
of those elements, and the law governing obstruction of justice more generally, is included in
Volume II of the report.
b. Application to Certain Individuals
i. George Papadopoulos
Investigators approached Papadopoulos for an interview based on his role as a foreign
policy advisor to the Trump Campaign and his suggestion to a foreign government representative
that Russia had indicated that it could assist the Campaign through the anonymous release of
information damaging to candidate Clinton. On January 27, 2017, Papadopoulos agreed to be
interviewed by FBI agents, who informed him that the interview was part of the investigation into
potential Russian government interference in the 2016 presidential election.
During the interview, Papadopoulos lied about the timing, extent, and nature of his
communications with Joseph Mifsud, Olga Polonskaya, and Ivan Timofeev. With respect to
timing, Papadopoulos acknowledged that he had met Mifsud and that Mifsud told him the Russians
had “dirt” on Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.” But Papadopoulos stated multiple
times that those communications occurred before he joined the Trump Campaign and that it was a
“very strange coincidence” to be told of the “dirt” before he started working for the Campaign.
This account was false. Papadopoulos met Mifsud for the first time on approximately March 14,
2016, after Papadopoulos had already learned he would be a foreign policy advisor for the
Campaign. Mifsud showed interest in Papadopoulos only after learning of his role on the
Campaign. And Mifsud told Papadopoulos about the Russians possessing “dirt” on candidate
Clinton in late April 2016, more than a month after Papadopoulos had joined the Campaign and
U.S. Department of Justice
Attorney \¥erk Prodttet // Mey Cot1teit1 Materiel Proteeted Under Fed. R. Criffl. P. 6(e)
been publicly announced by candidate Trump. Statement of Offense ,r,r 25-26, United States v.
George Papadopoulos, No. 1: 17-cr-182 (D.D.C. Oct. 5, 2017), Doc. 19 (“Papadopoulos Statement
of Offense”).
Papadopoulos also made false statements in an effort to mmumze the extent and
importance of his communications with Mifsud. For example, Papadopoulos stated that
” [Mifsud]’s a nothing,” that he thought Mifsud was “just a guy talk[ing] up connections or
something,” and that he believed Mifsud was “BS’ing to be completely honest with you.” In fact,
however, Papadopoulos understood Mifsud to have substantial connections to high-level Russian
government officials and that Mifsud spoke with some of those officials in Moscow before telling
Papadopoulos about the “dirt.” Papadopoulos also engaged in extensive communications over a
period of months with Mifsud about foreign policy issues for the Campaign, including efforts to
arrange a “history making” meeting between the Campaign and Russian government officials. In
addition, Papadopoulos failed to inform investigators that Mifsud had introduced him to Timofeev,
the Russian national who Papadopoulos understood to be connected to the Russian Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, despite being asked if he had met with Russian nationals or “[a]nyone with a
Russian accent” during the campaign. Papadopoulos Statement of Offense ,r,r 27-29.
Papadopoulos also falsely claimed that he met Polonskaya before he joined the Campaign,
and falsely told the FBI that he had “no” relationship at all with her. He stated that the extent of
their communications was her sending emails-“Just, ‘Hi, how are you?’ That’s it.” In truth,
however, Papadopoulos met Polonskaya on March 24, 2016, after he had joined the Campaign; he
believed that she had connections to high-level Russian government officials and could help him
arrange a potential foreign policy trip to Russia. During the campaign he emailed and spoke with
her over Skype on numerous occasions about the potential foreign policy trip to Russia.
Papadopoulos Statement of Offense ,r,r 30-31.
Papadopoulos’s false statements in January 2017 impeded the FBI’s investigation into
Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Most immediately, those statements
hindered investigators’ ability to effectively question Mifsud when he was interviewed in the lobby
of a Washington, D.C. hotel on February 10, 2017. See Gov’t Sent. Mem. at 6, United States v.
George Papadopoulos, No. 1 :17-cr-182 (D.D.C. Aug. 18, 2017), Doc. 44. During that interview,
Mifsud admitted to knowing Papadopoulos and to having introduced him to Polonskaya and
Timofeev. But Mifsud denied that he had advance knowledge that Russia was in possession of
emails damaging to candidate Clinton, stating that he and Papadopoulos had discussed
cybersecurity and hacking as a larger issue and that Papadopoulos must have misunderstood their
conversation. Mifsud also falsely stated that he had not seen Papadopoulos since the meeting at
which Mifsud introduced him to Polonskaya, even though emails, text messages, and other
information show that Mifsud met with Papadopoulos on at least two other occasions-April 12
and April 26, 2016. In addition, Mifsud omitted that he had drafted (or edited) the follow-up
message that Polonskaya sent to Papadopoulos following the initial meeting and that, as reflected
in the language of that email chain (“Baby, thank you!”), Mifsud may have been involved in a
personal relationship with Polonskaya at the time. The false information and omissions in
Papadopoulos’s January 2017 interview undermined investigators’ ability to challenge Mifsud
when he made these inaccurate statements.
U.S. Department of Justice
Atlort1ey Work PFodttet // Miey CoHtttiH Material Prnteeted Ut1det1 Fed. R. Criffl. P. 6Ee)
Given the seriousness of the lies and omissions and their effect on the FBI’s investigation,
the Office charged Papadopoulos with making false statements to the FBI, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 1001. Information, United States v. George Papadopoulos, No. l:17-cr-182 (D.D.C. Oct. 3,
2017), Doc. 8. On October 7, 2017, Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to that charge pursuant to a plea
agreement. On September 7, 2018, he was sentenced to 14 days of imprisonment, a $9,500 fine,
and 200 hours of community service.
ii. –
iii. Michael Flynn
Michael Flynn agreed to be interviewed by the FBI on January 24, 2017, four days after he
had officially assumed his duties as National Security Advisor to the President. During the
interview, Flynn made several false statements pertaining to his communications with the Russian
First, Flynn made two false statements about his conversations with Russian Ambassador
Kislyak in late December 2016, at a time when the United States had imposed sanctions on Russia
for interfering with the 2016 presidential election and Russia was considering its response. See
Flynn Statement of Offense. Flynn told the agents that he did not ask Kislyak to refrain from
escalating the situation in response to the United States’s imposition of sanctions. That statement
was false. On December 29, 2016, Flynn called Kislyak to request Russian restraint. Flynn made
the call immediately after speaking to a senior Transition Team official (K.T. McFarland) about
what to communicate to Kislyak. Flynn then spoke with McFarland again after the Kislyak call to
report on the substance of that conversation. Flynn also falsely told the FBI that he did not
remember a follow-up conversation in which Kislyak stated that Russia had chosen to moderate
its response to the U.S. sanctions as a result of Flynn’s request. On December 31, 2016, Flynn in
fact had such a conversation with Kislyak, and he again spoke with McFarland within hours of the
call to relay the substance of his conversation with Kislyak. See Flynn Statement of Offense ,r 3.
U.S. Department of Justice
Attorney 1Nork Prodttet II :May Contain Ma:teria:l Preteeted Under Fed. R. Criffl. P. 6(e)
Second, Flynn made false statements about calls he had previously made to representatives
of Russia and other countries regarding a resolution submitted by Egypt to the United Nations
Security Council on December 21, 2016. Specifically, Flynn stated that he only asked the
countries’ positions on how they would vote on the resolution and that he did not request that any
of the countries take any particular action on the resolution. That statement was false. On
December 22, 2016, Flynn called Kislyak, informed him of the incoming Trump Administration’s
opposition to the resolution, and requested that Russia vote against or delay the resolution. Flynn
also falsely stated that Kislyak never described Russia’s response to his December 22 request
regarding the resolution. Kislyak in fact told Flynn in a conversation on December 23, 2016, that
Russia would not vote against the resolution if it came to a vote. See Flynn Statement of Offense
,r 4.
Flynn made these false statements to the FBI at a time when he was serving as National
Security Advisor and when the FBI had an open investigation into Russian interference in the 2016
presidential election, including the nature of any links between the Trump Campaign and Russia.
Flynn’s false statements and omissions impeded and otherwise had a material impact on that
ongoing investigation. Flynn Statement of Offense ,r,r 1-2. They also came shortly before Flynn
made separate submissions to the Depa1tment of Justice, pursuant to FARA, that also contained
materially false statements and omissions. Id. ,r 5. Based on the totality of that conduct, the Office
decided to charge Flynn with making false statements to the FBI, in violation of 18 U .S.C.
§ l00l(a). On December 1, 2017, and pursuant to a plea agreement, Flynn pleaded guilty to that
charge and also admitted his false statements to the Department in his FARA filing. See id.; Plea
Agreement, United States v. Michael T Flynn, No. l:17-cr-232 (D.D.C. Dec. 1, 2017), Doc. 3.
Flynn is awaiting sentencing.
iv. Michael Cohen
Michael Cohen was the executive vice president and special counsel to the Trump
Organization when Trump was president of the Trump Organization. Information ,r 1, United
States v. Cohen, No. 1 :18-cr-850 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 29, 2018), Doc. 2 (“Cohen Information”). From
the fall of 2015 through approximately June 2016, Cohen was involved in a project to build a
Trump-branded tower and adjoining development in Moscow. The project was known as Trump
Tower Moscow.
In 2017, Cohen was called to testify before the House Permanent Select Committee on
Intelligence (HPSCI) and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), both of which were
investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible links between
Russia and the presidential campaigns. In late August 2017, in advance of his testimony, Cohen
caused a two-page statement to be sent to SSCI and HPSCI addressing Trump Tower Moscow.
Cohen Information ,r,r 2-3. The letter contained three representations relevant here. First, Cohen
stated that the Trump Moscow project had ended in January 2016 and that he had briefed candidate
Trump on the project only three times before making the unilateral decision to terminate it.
Second, Cohen represented that he never agreed to travel to Russia in connection with the project
and never considered asking Trump to travel for the project. Third, Cohen stated that he did not
recall any Russian government contact about the project, including any response to an email that
U.S. Department of Justice
Att:effle)’ Werk Pl’ed1:1et /I Mey Cefl:taifl Material Pl’eteeted Uflder Fed. R. Criffl. P. 6Ee)
he had sent to a Russian government email account. Cohen Information ,i 4. Cohen later asked
that his two-page statement be incorporated into his testimony’s transcript before SSCI, and he
ultimately gave testimony to SSCI that was consistent with that statement. Cohen Information ,i 5.
Each of the foregoing representations in Cohen’s two-page statement was false and
misleading. Consideration of the project had extended through approximately June 2016 and
included more than three progress reports from Cohen to Trump. Cohen had discussed with Felix
Sater his own travel to Russia as part of the project, and he had inquired about the possibility of
Trump traveling there- both with the candidate himself and with senior campaign official Corey
Lewandowski. Cohen did recall that he had received a response to the email that he sent to Russian
government spokesman Dmitry Peskov-in particular, that he received an email reply and had a
follow-up phone conversation with an English-speaking assistant to Peskov in mid-January 2016.
Cohen Information ,i 7. Cohen knew the statements in the letter to be false at the time, and
admitted that he made them in an effort (1) to minimize the links between the project and Trump
(who by this time was President), and (2) to give the false impression that the project had ended
before the first vote in the Republican Party primary process, in the hopes of limiting the ongoing
Russia investigations. Id.
Given the nature of the false statements and the fact that he repeated them during his initial
interview with the Office, we charged Cohen with violating Section 1001. On November 29, 2018,
Cohen pleaded guilty pursuant to a plea agreement to a single-count information charging him
with making false statements in a matter within the jurisdiction of the legislative branch, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 100l(a)(2) and (c). Cohen Information. The case was transferred to the
district judge presiding over the separate prosecution of Cohen pursued by the Southern District
of New York (after a referral from our Office). On December 7, 2018, this Office submitted a
letter to that judge recommending that Cohen’s cooperation with our investigation be taken into
account in sentencing Cohen on both the false-statements charge and the offenses in the Southern
District prosecution. On December 12, 2018, the judge sentenced Cohen to two months of
imprisonment on the false-statements count, to run concurrently with a 36-month sentence
imposed on the other counts.
v. litialllll
U.S. Department of Justice
Atterney Werk Pl’ed1:1et // May Cetttaifl Material Preteeted Under Fed. R. Crim. P. 6(e)
vi. Jeff Sessions
As set forth in Volume I, Section IV.A.6, supra, the investigation established that, while a
U.S. Senator and a Trump Campaign advisor, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions interacted
with Russian Ambassador Kislyak during the week of the Republican National Convention in July
2016 and again at a meeting in Sessions’ s Senate office in September 2016. The investigation also
established that Sessions and Kislyak both attended a reception held before candidate Trump’s
U.S. Department of Justice
Atlot1ney ‘Nork Pt1odttet // Mft)’ Contain Matet1ial Pt10teeted Undet’ Fed. R. Ct1im. P. 6(e)
foreign policy speech at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., in April 2016, and that it is
possible that they met briefly at that reception.
The Office considered whether, in light of these interactions, Sessions committed perjury
before, or made false statements to, Congress in connection with his confirmation as Attorney
General. In January 2017 testimony during his confirmation hearing, Sessions stated in response
to a question about Trump Campaign communications with the Russian government that he had
“been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I didn’t have – did not have
communications with the Russians.” In written responses submitted on January 17, 2017, Sessions
answered “[n]o” to a question asking whether he had “been in contact with anyone connected to
any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day.”
And, in a March 2017 supplement to his testimony, Sessions identified two of the campaign-period
contacts with Ambassador Kislyak noted above, which had been reported in the media following
the January 2017 confirmation hearing. Sessions stated in the supplemental response that he did
“not recall any discussions with the Russian Ambassador, or any other representatives of the
Russian government, regarding the political campaign on these occasions or any other occasion.”
Although the investigation established that Sessions interacted with Kislyak on the
occasions described above and that Kislyak mentioned the presidential campaign on at least one
occasion, the evidence is not sufficient to prove that Sessions gave knowingly false answers to
Russia-related questions in light of the wording and context of those questions. With respect to
Sessions’s statements that he did “not recall any discussions with the Russian Ambassador . ..
regarding the political campaign” and he had not been in contact with any Russian official “about
the 2016 election,” the evidence concerning the nature of Sessions’s interactions with Kislyak
makes it plausible that Sessions did not recall discussing the campaign with Kislyak at the time of
his statements. Similarly, while Sessions stated in his January 2017 oral testimony that he “did
not have communications with Russians,” he did so in response to a question that had linked such
communications to an alleged “continuing exchange of information” between the Trump
Campaign and Russian government intermediaries. Sessions later explained to the Senate and to
the Office that he understood the question as narrowly calling for disclosure of interactions with
Russians that involved the exchange of campaign information, as distinguished from more routine
contacts with Russian nationals. Given the context in which the question was asked, that
understanding is plausible.
Accordingly, the Office concluded that the evidence was insufficient to prove that Sessions
was willfully untruthful in his answers and thus insufficient to obtain or sustain a conviction for
perjury or false statements. Consistent with the Principles of Federal Prosecution, the Office
therefore determined not to pursue charges against Sessions and informed his counsel of that
decision in March 2018.
vii. Others Interviewed During the Investigation
The Office considered whether, during the course of the investigation, other individuals
interviewed either omitted material information or provided information determined to be false.
Applying the Principles of Federal Prosecution, the Office did not seek criminal charges against
any individuals other than those listed above. In some instances, that decision was due to
U.S. Department of Justice
Attorney Work Prod1:1et // M~· Cot1tB:it1 Mttterittl Proteeted Ut1der Fed. R. Crim. P. 6(e)
evidentiary hurdles to proving falsity. In others, the Office determined that the witness ultimately
provided truthful information and that considerations of culpability, deterrence, and resourcereservation
wei hed a ainst rosecution. See Justice Manual 9-27.220 9-27.230.

U.S. Department of Justice
Attentey \llerk Preattet // May Cefltaifl Material Preteetea UAaer Fea. R. Criffl. P. 6te)
Report On The Investigation Into
Russian Interference In The
2016 Presidential Election
Volume II of II
Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III
Submitted Pursuant to 28 C.F.R. § 600.B(c)
Washington, D.C.
March 2019
U.S. Department of Justice
At:1:6me,· W6rk Pr6tlttet // Ma,· C6Htaifl Material Pr6teetetl UHtler Fetl. R. Crim. P. 6(e)
INTRODUCTION TO VOLUME IT …………………………………………………………………………………………… 1
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY TO VOLUME TI ………………………………………………………………………………… 3
I. BACKGROUND LEGAL AND EVIDENTIARY PRINCIPLES . …………… …. …………. ……….. ………….. . ….. 9
A. Legal Framework of Obstruction_ of Justice ………………. ……………….. … ….. …….. …… …… 9
B. Investigative and Evidentiary Considerations ……………….. ……………………. …………….. 12
A. The Campaign’s Response to Reports About Russian Support for Trump …………….. 15
1. Press Reports Allege Links Between the Trump Campaign and Russia ………….. 16
2. The Trump Campaign Reacts to WikiLeaks’ s Release of Hacked Emails ……….. 17
3. The Trump Campaign Reacts to Allegations That Russia was Seeking to
Aid Candidate Trump .. ….. …………………………………………………………………. …….. 18
4. After the Election, Trump Continues to Deny Any Contacts or
Connections with Russia or That Russia Aided his Election ………………………….. 21
B. The President’s Conduct Concerning the Investigation of Michael Flynn …. …… …… .. 24
1. Incoming National Security Advisor Flynn Discusses Sanctions on Russia
with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak ………………… ………………………. ………. 24
2. President-Elect Trump is Briefed on the Intelligence Community’s
Assessment of Russian Interference in the Election and Congress Opens
Election-Interference Investigations …………….. …………… ………. ……………………… 27
3. Flynn Makes False Statements About his Communications with Kislyak to
Incoming Administration Officials, the Media, and the FBI ………………….. ……… 29
4. DOJ Officials Notify the White House of Their Concerns About Flynn …. ……… 31
5. McGahn has a Follow-Up Meeting About Flynn with Yates; President
Trump has Dinner with FBI Director Corney ………………………. …………………… … 32
6. Flynn’s Resignation ………………. ………………. ……………………….. … …………… …… … 36
7. The President Discusses Flynn with FBI Director Corney ……………….. …………… 38
8. The Media Raises Questions About the President’s Delay in Terminating
Flynn …. …. …. ……………….. …………………. ……………………. ….. ……… ……….. …………. 41
9. The President Attempts to Have K.T. McFarland Create a Witness
Statement Denying that he Directed Flynn’s Discussions with Kislyak ….. ……… 42
C. The President’s Reaction to Public Confirmation of the FBl’s Russia
Investigation …………………………………………. …… ………….. ……. .. …… ……… ……………….. 48
I. Attorney General Sessions Recuses From the Russia Investigation …….. …. …. ….. 48
U.S. Department of Justice
AUeme~· Werk Pt’etittet // Mey CeHtttifl Meteriel Preteeteti UHtier Fed. R. Crim. P. 6(e)
2. FBI Director Corney Publicly Confirms the Existence of the Russia
Investigation in Testimony Before HPSCI …….. …………………………………………… 52
3. The President Asks Intelligence Community Leaders to Make Public
Statements that he had No Connection to Russia ………………….. ……………. ………. 55
4. The President Asks Corney to “Lift the Cloud” Created by the Russia
Investigation .. ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 57
D. Events Leading Up To and Surrounding the Termination of FBI Director
Corney ……………………………… ……. … …………………….. …… …………………………………….. 62
1. Corney Testifies Before the Senate Judiciary Committee and Declines to
Answer Questions About Whether the President is Under Investigation …………. 62
2. The President Makes the Decision to Terminate Corney ……………………………….. 64
E. The President’s Efforts to Remove the Special Counsel.. ……………………………………. 77
1. The Appointment of the Special Counsel and the President’s Reaction ………….. 78
2. The President Asserts that the Special Counsel has Conflicts ofinterest… ………. 80
3. The Press Reports that the President is Being Investigated for Obstruction
of Justice and the President Directs the White House Counsel to Have the
Special Counsel Removed ………………………………………………………………………… 84
F. The President’s Efforts to Curtail the Special Counsel Investigation ……………. ………. 90
1. The President Asks Corey Lewandowski to Deliver a Message to Sessions
to Curtail the Special Counsel Investigation …………………………………….. …………. 90
2. The President Follows Up with Lewandowski …………………………………………. …. 92
3. The President Publicly Criticizes Sessions in a New York Times Interview ……. 93
4. The President Orders Priebus to Demand Sessions’s Resignation ……………… ….. 94
G. The President’s Efforts to Prevent Disclosure of Emails About the June 9,
2016 Meeting Between Russians and Senior Campaign Officials …………………………. 98
1. The President Learns About the Existence of Emails Concerning the June
9, 2016 Trump Tower Meeting …………………………………………………. ………………. 98
2. The President Directs Communications Staff Not to Publicly Disclose
Information About the June 9 Meeting …. …………… …………………………………….. 100
3. The President Directs Trump Jr.’s Response to Press Inquiries About the
June 9 Meeting …………. …………………………………………………………………………… 101
4. The Media Reports on the June 9, 2016 Meeting ……. ……………………….. ……… .. 103
H. The President’s Further Efforts to Have the Attorney General Take Over
the Investigation ……………………………………… ……………………….. …… ………………….. .. 107
1. The President Again Seeks to Have Sessions Reverse his Recusal. …………. …… 107
2. Additional Efforts to Have Sessions Unrecuse or Direct Investigations
Covered by his Recusal. ……. .. … ……………. ………………….. ….. …………….. ….. …….. 109
U.S. Department of Justice
At:t:ol’tte~· Wol’k Pl’oe:lttet // May Cotttaitt Material Pl’oteeteti Utte:le!’ Fee:I. R. Criffl. P. 6(e)
I. The President Orders McGahn to Deny that the President Tried to Fire the
Special Counsel …… ……………… … ……………. ……… ……………………………. ……. .. ……… .. 113
1. .The Press Reports that the President Tried to Fire the Special Counsel… ………. 113
2. The President Seeks to Have McGahn Dispute the Press Reports ………………… 114
J. The President’s Conduct Towards Flynn, Manafort,litlllll ····· ……………………… 120
1. Conduct Directed at Michael Flynn ………………….. ………. ….. ………………………. .. 120
2. Conduct Directed at Paul Manafort ……………………………. ……… ………….. ………… 122
3. Harm to Ongoing Matter ···································· …………………………… .. 128
K. The President’s Conduct Involving Michael Cohen ……………………. ……………………. 134
l. Candidate Trump’ s Awareness of and Involvement in the Trump Tower
Moscow Project ………………. …….. ……………………… …. …… ……………………………. 134
2. Cohen Determines to Adhere to a “Party Line” Distancing Candidate
Trump From Russia …………………………………………………………….. ………………… 138
3. Cohen Submits False Statements to Congress Minimizing the Trump
Tower Moscow Project in Accordance with the Party Line .. …. ……………………. 139
4. The President Sends Messages of Support to Cohen …………….. …… ………… ……. 144
5. The President’s Conduct After Cohen Began Cooperating with the
Government. …………….. ……………… …………………………………………………………… 148
L. Overarching Factual Issues ……………………………………………………………………………. 156
PRESIDENT …….. .. ………………….. ………………………………………. . …. ….. … … … …… ….. …. ……… .. 159
A. Statutory Defenses to the Application of Obstruction-Of-Justice Provisions
to the Conduct Under Investigation ………………………………………. ……… ……………….. 160
1. The Text of Section 1512(c)(2) Prohibits a Broad Range of Obstructive
Acts ….. .. ………………………………. …………………………………….. …… ……… ……….. 160
2. Judicial Decisions Support a Broad Reading of Section 1512( c )(2) ……………… 162
3. The Legislative History of Section 1512(c)(2) Does Not Justify Narrowing
Its Text. ………………………………….. .. …………………………………………………………. 164
4. General Principles of Statutory Construction Do Not Suggest That Section
1512( c )(2) is Inapplicable to the Conduct in this Investigation …………………….. 165
5. Other Obstruction Statutes Might Apply to the Conduct in this
Investigation …………………………. ……….. …. ….. ……………… …. …………………………. 167
B. Constitutional Defenses to Applying Obstruction-Of-Justice Statutes to
Presidential Conduct … ………………………………. …. ……………………………………………… 168
1. The Requirement of a Clear Statement to Apply Statutes to Presidential
Conduct Does Not Limit the Obstruction Statutes …………………………….. ………. 169
U.S. Department of Justice
Att0rfl:e~• \ll0rk Pr0tlttet // Mey C0tttttiH Meterie·I Pr0teetea UHaer Fee. R. Crim. P. 6(e)
2. Separation-of-Powers Principles Support the Conclusion that Congress
May Validly Prohibit Corrupt Obstructive Acts Carried Out Through the
President’s Official Powers …………………………………………………. ………………….. 171
a. The Supreme Court’s Separation-of-Powers Balancing Test Applies In
This Context …… … …… ………………………………………………… ……………………. .. 172
b. The Effect of Obstruction-of-Justice Statutes on the President’s
Capacity to Perform His Article II Responsibilities is Limited ………………. .. 173
c. Congress Has Power to Protect Congressional, Grand Jury, and Judicial
Proceedings Against Corrupt Acts from Any Source ……… .. ………………….. .. 176
3. Ascertaining Whether the President Violated the Obstruction Statutes
Would Not Chill his Performance of his Article II Duties …………………………… 178
IV. CONCLUSION ……… ····························· ····· ···· ···························· ···· · ········· ………. …. ……….. ……. 182
U.S. Department of Justice
Atten1e::,· Werk Proclttet // Mu::, CoHtCtiH Muteriul Preteetecl UHcler Fecl. R. Criffl. P. 6(e)
This report is submitted to the Attorney General pursuant to 28 C.F.R. § 600.8(c), which
states that, ” [a]t the conclusion of the Special Counsel’s work, he … shall provide the Attorney
General a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions [the Special
Counsel] reached.”
Beginning in 2017, the President of the United States took a variety of actions towards the
ongoing FBI investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and related
matters that raised questions about whether he had obstructed justice. The Order appointing the
Special Counsel gave this Office jurisdiction to investigate matters that arose directly from the
FBI’s Russia investigation, including whether the President had obstructed justice in connection
with Russia-related investigations. The Special Counsel’s jurisdiction also covered potentially
obstructive acts related to the Special Counsel’s investigation itself. This Volume of our report
summarizes our obstruction-of-justice investigation of the President.
We first describe the considerations that guided our obstruction-of-justice investigation,
and then provide an overview of this Volume:
First, a traditional prosecution or declination decision entails a binary determination to
initiate or decline a prosecution, but we determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial
judgment. The Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) has issued an opinion finding that “the indictment
or criminal prosecution of a sitting President would impermissibly undermine the capacity of the
executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions” in violation of “the
constitutional separation of powers.”1 Given the role of the Special Counsel as an attorney in the
Department of Justice and the framework of the Special Counsel regulations, see 28 U.S.C. § 515;
28 C.F.R. § 600.7(a), this Office accepted OLC’s legal conclusion for the purpose of exercising
prosecutorial jurisdiction. And apart from OLC’s constitutional view, we recognized that a federal
criminal accusation against a sitting President would place burdens on the President’s capacity to
govern and potentially preempt constitutional processes for addressing presidential misconduct.2
Second, while the OLC opinion concludes that a sitting President may not be prosecuted,
it recognizes that a criminal investigation during the President’s term is permissible.3 The OLC
opinion also recognizes that a President does not have immunity after he leaves office.4 And if
individuals other than the President committed an obstruction offense, they may be prosecuted at
this time. Given those considerations, the facts known to us, and the strong public interest in
1 A Sitting President’s Amenability to Indictment and Criminal Prosecution, 24 Op. O.L.C. 222,
222, 260 (2000) (OLC Op.).
2 See U.S. CONST. Art. I § 2, cl. 5; § 3, cl. 6; cf OLC Op. at 257-258 (discussing relationship
between impeachment and criminal prosecution of a sitting President).
3 OLC Op. at 257 n.36 (“A grand jury could continue to gather evidence throughout the period of
4 OLC Op. at 255 (“Recognizing an immunity from prosecution for a s itting President would not
preclude such prosecution once the President’s term is over or he is otherwise removed from office by
resignation or impeachment”).
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safeguarding the integrity of the criminal justice system, we conducted a thorough factual
investigation in order to preserve the evidence when memories were fresh and documentary
materials were available.
Third, we considered whether to evaluate the conduct we investigated under the Justice
Manual standards governing prosecution and declination decisions, but we determined not to apply
an approach that could potentially result in a judgment that the President committed crimes. The
threshold step under the Justice Manual standards is to assess whether a person’s conduct
“constitutes a federal offense.” U.S. Dep’t of Justice, Justice Manual§ 9-27.220 (2018) (Justice
Manual). Fairness concerns counseled against potentially reaching that judgment when no charges
can be brought. The ordinary means for an individual to respond to an accusation is through a
speedy and public trial, with all the procedural protections that surround a criminal case. An
individual who believes he was wrongly accused can use that process to seek to clear his name. In
contrast, a prosecutor’s judgment that crimes were committed, but that no charges will be brought,
affords no such adversarial opportunity for public name-clearing before an impartial adjudicator.5
The concerns about the fairness of such a determination would be heightened in the case
of a sitting President, where a federal prosecutor’s accusation of a crime, even in an internal report,
could carry consequences that extend beyond the realm of criminal justice. OLC noted similar
concerns about sealed indictments. Even if an indictment were sealed during the President’s term,
OLC reasoned, “it would be very difficult to preserve [an indictment’s] secrecy,” and if an
indictment became public, “[t]he stigma and opprobrium” could imperil the President’s ability to
govern.”6 Although a prosecutor’s internal report would not represent a formal public accusation
akin to an indictment, the possibility of the report’s public disclosure and the absence of a neutral
adjudicatory forum to review its findings counseled against potentially determining “that the
person’s conduct constitutes a federal offense.” Justice Manual § 9-27.220.
Fourth, if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President
clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the
applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment. The evidence we
obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from
conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred. Accordingly, while this report does
not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.
* * *
This report on our investigation consists of four parts. Section I provides an overview of
obstruction-of-justice principles and summarizes certain investigatory and evidentiary
considerations. Section II sets forth the factual results of our obstruction investigation and
analyzes the evidence. Section III addresses statutory and constitutional defenses. Section IV
states our conclusion.
5 For that reason, criticisms have been lodged against the practice of naming unindicted coconspirators
in an indictment. See United States v.Briggs,514 F.2d 794,802 (5th Cir. 1975) (“The courts
have struck down with strong language efforts by grand juries to accuse persons of crime while affording
them no forum in which to vindicate themselves.”); see also Justice Manual § 9-11.130.
6 OLC Op. at 259 & n.38 (citation omitted).
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Our obstruction-of-justice inquiry focused on a series of actions by the President that
related to the Russian-interference investigations, including the President’s conduct towards the
law enforcement officials overseeing the investigations and the witnesses to relevant events.
The key issues and events we examined include the following:
The Campaign’s response to reports about Russian support for Trump. During the 2016
presidential campaign, questions arose about the Russian government’s apparent support for
candidate Trump. After WikiLeaks released politically damaging Democratic Party emails that
were reported to have been hacked by Russia, Trump publicly expressed skepticism that Russia
was responsible for the hacks at the same time that he and other Campaign officials privately
sought information about any further planned WikiLeaks
releases. Trump also denied having any business in or connections to Russia, even though as late
as June 2016 the Trump Organization had been pursuing a licensing deal for a skyscraper to be
built in Russia called Trump Tower Moscow. After the election, the President expressed concerns
to advisors that reports of Russia’s election interference might lead the public to question the
legitimacy of his election.
Conduct involving FBI Director Comey and Michael Flynn. In mid-January 2017,
incoming National Security Advisor Michael Flynn falsely denied to the Vice President, other
administration officials, and FBI agents that he had talked to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak
about Russia’s response to U.S. sanctions on Russia for its election interference. On January 27,
the day after the President was told that Flynn had lied to the Vice President and had made similar
statements to the FBI, the President invited FBI Director Corney to a private dinner at the White
House and told Corney that he needed loyalty. On February 14, the day after the President
requested Flynn’s resignation, the President told an outside advisor, “Now that we fired Flynn, the
Russia thing is over.” The advisor disagreed and said the investigations would continue.
Later that afternoon, the President cleared the Oval Office to have a one-on-one meeting
with Corney. Referring to the FBI’s investigation of Flynn, the President said, “I hope you can
see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. T hope you can let this
go.” Shortly after requesting Flynn’s resignation and speaking privately to Corney, the President
sought to have Deputy National Security Advisor K.T. McFarland draft an internal letter stating
that the President had not directed Flynn to discuss sanctions with Kislyak. McFarland declined
because she did not know whether that was true, and a White House Counsel’s Office attorney
thought that the request would look like a quid pro quo for an ambassadorship she had been offered.
The President’s reaction to the continuing Russia investigation. Tn February 2017,
Attorney General Jeff Sessions began to assess whether he had to recuse himself from campaignrelated
investigations because of his role in the Trump Campaign. Tn early March, the President
told White House Counsel Donald McGahn to stop Sessions from recusing. And after Sessions
announced his recusal on March 2, the President expressed anger at the decision and told advisors
that he should have an Attorney General who would protect him. That weekend, the President
took Sessions aside at an event and urged him to “unrecuse.” Later in March, Corney publicly
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disclosed at a congressional hearing that the FBI was investigating “the Russian government’s
efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election,” including any links or coordination between
the Russian government and the Trump Campaign. In the following days, the President reached
out to the Director of National Intelligence and the leaders of the Central Intelligence Agency
(CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA) to ask them what they could do to publicly dispel
the suggestion that the President had any connection to the Russian election-interference effort.
The President also twice called Corney directly, notwithstanding guidance from McGahn to avoid
direct contacts with the Department of Justice. Corney had previously assured the President that
the FBI was not investigating him personally, and the President asked Corney to ” lift the cloud”
of the Russia investigation by saying that publicly.
The President’s termination of Comey. On May 3, 2017, Corney testified in a
congressional hearing, but declined to answer questions about whether the President was
personally under investigation. Within days, the President decided to terminate Corney. The
President insisted that the termination letter, which was written for public release, state that Corney
had informed the President that he was not under investigation. The day of the firing, the White
House maintained that Corney’s termination resulted from independent recommendations from the
Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General that Corney should be discharged for mishandling
the Hillary Clinton email investigation. But the President had decided to fire Corney before
hearing from the Department of Justice. The day after firing Corney, the President told Russian
officials that he had “faced great pressure because of Russia,” which had been “taken off’ by
Corney’s firing. The next day, the President acknowledged in a television interview that he was
going to fire Corney regardless of the Department of Justice’s recommendation and that when he
“decided to just do it,” he was thinking that “this thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.”
In response to a question about whether he was angry with Corney about the Russia investigation,
the President said, “As far as I’m concerned, I want that thing to be absolutely done properly,”
adding that firing Corney “might even lengthen out the investigation.”
The appointment of a Special Counsel and efforts to remove him. On May 17, 2017, the
Acting Attorney General for the Russia investigation appointed a Special Counsel to conduct the
investigation and related matters. The President reacted to news that a Special Counsel had been
appointed by telling advisors that it was “the end of his presidency” and demanding that Sessions
resign. Sessions submitted his resignation, but the President ultimately did not accept it. The
President told aides that the Special Counsel had conflicts of interest and suggested that the Special
Counsel therefore could not serve. The President’s advisors told him the asserted conflicts were
meritless and had already been considered by the Department of Justice.
On June 14, 2017, the media reported that the Special Counsel’s Office was investigating
whether the President had obstructed justice. Press reports called this “a major turning point” in
the investigation: while Corney had told the President he was not under investigation, following
Corney’s firing, the President now was under investigation. The President reacted to this news
with a series of tweets criticizing the Department of Justice and the Special Counsel’s
investigation. On June 17, 2017, the President called McGahn at home and directed him to call
the Acting Attorney General and say that the Special Counsel had conflicts of interest and must be
removed. McGahn did not carry out the direction, however, deciding that he would resign rather
than trigger what he regarded as a potential Saturday Night Massacre.
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Efforts to curtail the Special Counsel’s investigation. Two days after directing McGahn
to have the Special Counsel removed, the President made another attempt to affect the course of
the Russia investigation. On June 19, 2017, the President met one-on-one in the Oval Office with
his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, a trusted advisor outside the government, and
dictated a message for Lewandowski to deliver to Sessions. The message said that Sessions should
publicly announce that, notwithstanding his recusal from the Russia investigation, the investigation
was “very unfair” to the President, the President had done nothing wrong, and Sessions planned to
meet with the Special Counsel and “let [him] move forward with investigating election meddling
for future elections.” Lewandowski said he understood what the President wanted Sessions to do.
One month later, in another private meeting with Lewandowski on July 19, 2017, the
President asked about the status of his message for Sessions to limit the Special Counsel
investigation to future election interference. Lewandowski told the President that the message
would be delivered soon. Hours after that meeting, the President publicly criticized Sessions in an
interview with the New York Times, and then issued a series of tweets making it clear that
Sessions’s job was in jeopardy. Lewandowski did not want to deliver the President’s message
personally, so he asked senior White House official Rick Dearborn to deliver it to Sessions.
Dearborn was uncomfortable with the task and did not follow through.
Efforts to prevent public disclosure of evidence. In the summer of 2017, the President
learned that media outlets were asking questions about the June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower
between senior campaign officials, including Donald Trump Jr., and a Russian lawyer who was
said to be offering damaging information about Hillary Clinton as “part of Russia and its
government’s support for Mr. Trump.” On several occasions, the President directed aides not to
publicly disclose the emails setting up the June 9 meeting, suggesting that the emails would not
leak and that the number of lawyers with access to them should be limited. Before the emails
became public, the President edited a press statement for Trump Jr. by deleting a line that
acknowledged that the meeting was with “an individual who [Trump Jr.] was told might have
information helpful to the campaign” and instead said only that the meeting was about adoptions
of Russian children. When the press asked questions about the President’s involvement in Trump
Jr.’ s statement, the President’s personal lawyer repeatedly denied the President had played any
Further efforts to have the Attorney General take control of the investigation. In early
summer 2017, the President called Sessions at home and again asked him to reverse his recusal
from the Russia investigation. Sessions did not reverse his recusal. In October 2017, the President
met privately with Sessions in the Oval Office and asked him to “take [a] look” at investigating
Clinton. In December 2017, shortly after Flynn pleaded guilty pursuant to a cooperation
agreement, the President met with Sessions in the Oval Office and suggested, according to notes
taken by a senior advisor, that if Sessions unrecused and took back supervision of the Russia
investigation, he would be a “hero.” The President told Sessions, “I’m not going to do anything
or direct you to do anything. I just want to be treated fairly.” In response, Sessions volunteered
that he had never seen anything “improper” on the campaign and told the President there was a
“whole new leadership team” in place. He did not unrecuse.
Efforts to have McGahn deny that the President had ordered him to have the Special
Counsel removed. In early 2018, the press reported that the President had directed McGahn to
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have the Special Counsel removed in June 2017 and that McGahn had threatened to resign rather
than carry out the order. The President reacted to the news stories by directing White House
officials to tell McGahn to dispute the story and create a record stating he had not been ordered to
have the Special Counsel removed. McGahn told those officials that the media reports were
accurate in stating that the President had directed McGahn to have the Special Counsel removed.
The President then met with McGahn in the Oval Office and again pressured him to deny the
reports. In the same meeting, the President also asked McGahn why he had told the Special
Counsel about the President’s effort to remove the Special Counsel and why McGahn took notes
of his conversations with the President. McGahn refused to back away from what he remembered
happening and perceived the President to be testing his mettle.
Conduct towards Flynn, Manafort,~. After Flynn withdrew from a joint defense
agreement with the President and began cooperating with the government, the President’s personal
counsel left a message for Flynn’s attorneys reminding them of the President’s warm feelings
towards Flynn, which he said “still remains,” and asking for a “heads up” if Flynn knew
“information that implicates the President.” When Flynn’s counsel reiterated that Flynn could no
longer share information pursuant to a joint defense agreement, the President’s personal counsel
said he would make sure that the President knew that Flynn’s actions reflected ” hostility” towards
the President. During Manafort’s prosecution and when the jury in his criminal. trial was
deliberating, the President praised Manafort in public, said that Manafort was being treated
unfairly, and declined to rule out a pardon. After Manafort was convicted, the President called
Manafort “a brave man” for refusin to “break” and said that “fli in ” “almost ou ht to be
Conduct involving Michael Cohen. The President’ s conduct towards Michael Cohen, a
former Trump Organization executive, changed from praise for Cohen when he falsely minimized
the President’s involvement in the Trump Tower Moscow project, to castigation of Cohen when
he became a cooperating witness. From September 2015 to June 2016, Cohen had pursued the
Trump Tower Moscow project on behalf of the Trump Organization and had briefed candidate
Trump on the project numerous times, including discussing whether Trump should travel to Russia
to advance the deal. In 2017, Cohen provided false testimony to Congress about the project,
including stating that he had only briefed Trump on the project three times and never discussed
travel to Russia with him, in an effort to adhere to a “party line” that Cohen said was developed to
minimize the President’s connections to Russia. While preparing for his congressional testimony,
Cohen had extensive discussions with the President’s personal counsel, who, according to Cohen,
said that Cohen should “stay on message” and not contradict the President. After the FBI searched
Cohen’s home and office in April 2018, the President publicly asserted that Cohen would not
“flip,” contacted him directly to tell him to “stay strong,” and privately passed messages of support
to him. Cohen also discussed pardons with the President’s personal counsel and believed that if
he stayed on message he would be taken care of. But after Cohen began cooperating with the
government in the summer of 2018, the President publicly criticized him, called him a “rat,” and
suggested that his family members had committed crimes.
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Overarching factual issues. We did not make a traditional prosecution decision about
these facts, but the evidence we obtained supports several general statements about the President’ s
Several features of the conduct we investigated distinguish it from typical obstruction-ofjustice
cases. First, the investigation concerned the President, and some of his actions, such as
firing the FBI director, involved facially lawful acts within his Article II authority, which raises
constitutional issues discussed below. At the same time, the President’s position as the head of
the Executive Branch provided him with unique and powerful means of influencing official
proceedings, subordinate officers, and potential witnesses-all of which is relevant to a potential
obstruction-of-justice analysis. Second, unlike cases in which a subject engages in obstruction of
justice to cover up a crime, the evidence we obtained did not establish that the President was
involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference. Although the obstruction
statutes do not require proof of such a crime, the absence of that evidence affects the analysis of
the President’s intent and requires consideration of other possible motives for his conduct. Third,
many of the President’s acts directed at witnesses, including discouragement of cooperation with
the government and suggestions of possible future pardons, took place in public view. That
circumstance is unusual, but no principle of law excludes public acts from the reach of the
obstruction laws. If the likely effect of public acts is to influence witnesses or alter their testimony,
the harm to the justice system’s integrity is the same.
Although the series of events we investigated involved discrete acts, the overall pattern of
the President’s conduct towards the investigations can shed light on the nature of the President’s
acts and the inferences that can be drawn about his intent. In particular, the actions we investigated
can be divided into two phases, reflecting a possible shift in the President’s motives. The first
phase covered the period from the President’s first interactions with Corney through the President’s
firing of Corney. During that time, the President had been repeatedly told he was not personally
under investigation. Soon after the firing of Corney and the appointment of the Special Counsel,
however, the President became aware that his own conduct was being investigated in an
obstruction-of-justice inquiry. At that point, the President engaged in a second phase of conduct,
involving public attacks on the inve~tigation, non-public efforts to control it, and efforts in both
public and private to encourage witnesses not to cooperate with the investigation. Judgments about
the nature of the President’s motives during each phase would be informed by the totality of the
The President’s counsel raised statutory and constitutional defenses to a possible
obstruction-of-justice analysis of the conduct we investigated. We concluded that none of those
legal defenses provided a basis for declining to investigate the facts.
Statutory defenses. Consistent with precedent and the Department of Justice’s general
approach to interpreting obstruction statutes, we concluded that several statutes could apply here.
See 18 U.S.C. §§ 1503, 1505, 1512(b)(3), 1512(c)(2). Section 1512(c)(2) is an omnibus
obstruction-of-justice provision that covers a range of obstructive acts directed at pending or
contemplated official proceedings. No principle of statutory construction justifies narrowing the
provision to cover only conduct that impairs the integrity or availability of evidence. Sections
1503 and 1505 also offer broad protection against obstructive acts directed at pending grand jury,
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judicial, administrative, and congressional proceedings, and they are supplemented by a provision
in Section 1512(6) aimed specifically at conduct intended to prevent or hinder the communication
to law enforcement of information related to a federal crime.
Constitutional defenses. As for constitutional defenses arising from the President’s status
as the head of the Executive Branch, we recognized that the Department of Justice and the courts
have not. definitively resolved these issues. We therefore examined those issues through the
framework established by Supreme Court precedent governing separation-of-powers issues. The
Department of Justice and the President’s personal counsel have recognized that the President is
subject to statutes that prohibit obstruction of justice by bribing a witness or suborning perjury
because that conduct does not implicate his constitutional authority. With respect to whether the
President ca,n be found to have obstructed justice by exercising his powers under Article II of the
Constitution, we concluded that Congress has authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of his
authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice.
Under applicable Supreme Court precedent, the Constitution does not categorically and
permanently immunize a President for obstructing justice through the use of his Article II powers.
The separation-of-powers doctrine authorizes Congress to protect official proceedings, including
those of courts and grand juries, from corrupt, obstructive acts regard less of their source. We also
concluded that any inroad on presidential authority that would occur from prohibiting corrupt acts
does not undermine the President’s ability to fulfill his constitutional mission. The term
“corruptly” sets a demanding standard. It requires a concrete showing that a person acted with an
intent to obtain an improper advantage for himself or someone else, inconsistent with official duty
and the rights ofothers. A preclusion of”corrupt” official action does not diminish the President’s
ability to exercise Article II powers. For example, the proper supervision of criminal law does not
demand freedom for the President to act with a corrupt intention of shielding himself from criminal
punishment, avoiding financial liability, or preventing personal embarrassment. To the contrary,
a statute that prohibits official action undertaken for such corrupt purposes furthers, rather than
hinders, the impartial and evenhanded administration of the law. It also aligns with the President’s
constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws. Finally, we concluded that in the rare case in
which a criminal investigation of the President’s conduct is justified, inquiries to determine
whether the President acted for a corrupt motive should not impermissibly chill his performance
of his constitutionally assigned duties. The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction
laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional
system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.
Because we determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment, we did not draw
ultimate conclusions about the President’s conduct. The evidence we obtained about the
President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that would need to be resolved if we were
making a traditional prosecutorial judgment. At the same time, if we had confidence after a
thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice,
we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach
that judgment. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a
crime, it also does not exonerate him.