Some interactions were straightforward, like a public handshake with the Russian ambassador. Others are more controversial, such as a secret meeting to get “dirt” on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
This number has grown throughout the year, largely thanks to public reporting that has forced new acknowledgments and explanations from Trump’s associates. All of the Trump associates who have spoken out deny any improper contacts with Russians and deny participating in any collusion with the Kremlin to influence the US election.
This list included White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, Donald Trump Jr., former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and others affiliated with the Trump campaign and business empire.
Trump’s aides and associates had at least 19 face-to-face meetings with Russians or people affiliated with the Russian government during the presidential campaign and transition, according to their public statements, court filings and reporting from CNN and other outlets.
Some of these meetings were about the campaign — like Trump adviser George Papadopoulos’ meetings with Russians in Europe. Others were claimed to be for non-campaign purposes, like when then-Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., met the Russian ambassador in his Senate office.
In all, there were at least 51 communications during the campaign or transition between Trump associates and Russians or people closely affiliated with the Russian government, according to their public statements, court filings and reporting from CNN and other news outlets.
These interactions include face-to-face meetings, phone calls, text messages, emails, private messages on social media and online video chats. The vast majority of these exchanges became known only after Trump took office.
About one-third of these interactions came from Papadopoulos and were revealed in October in court filings prepared by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team before Papadopoulos’ guilty plea.
On at least nine occasions, Trump and his senior officials denied that there had been any contacts whatsoever with Russians during the campaign or that there were any ties between the campaign and Russians.
These denials petered out last spring as more and more interactions were reported in the media. But before those reports, Trump himself and other senior administration officials offered blanket denials that had been any communication between campaign officials and Russians.
“Russia is a ruse,” Trump said in February. “I have nothing to do with Russia. Haven’t made a phone call to Russia in years. … I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge no person that I deal with does.”
Days after the election, now-White House Communications Director Hope Hicks issued denials on behalf of the Trump campaign about the issue of Russia contacts. She told The New York Times that the campaign was “not aware of any campaign representatives that were in touch with any foreign entities” during the election. And she told The Associated Press that “there was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign.”