President Donald Trump wasted no time on Monday trying to extinguish a political firestorm ignited by news that his former campaign manager Paul Manafort had been charged on a dozen counts as a result of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Step one: Make Manafort out to be a stranger.
Hours after Manafort surrendered to the FBI, Trump tweeted that Manafort’s alleged misdeeds, including a massive money laundering conspiracy, took place long before he joined the presidential campaign. Trump then once again denied that there had been any collusion between his campaign and Russia.
Although Trump is correct that the case against Manafort may not provide any direct evidence of those claims, the president may have a harder time convincing people that he was unaware of Manafort’s shadowy ties to controversial Russian-linked figures when he joined the campaign. Trump and Manafort reportedly met in the the 1980s, and have run in some of the same circles since. They even once lived in the same building.
1988 ― Longtime Trump adviser and notorious dirty trickster Roger Stone introduces Manafort to Trump at the Republican National Committee, according to Stone’s recollection of events. At the time, Manafort and Stone were part of the same lobbying firm, whose clients in the ’80s and ’90s included a number of the world’s most brutal dictators. Another version of this history holds that Trump may have first met Manafort as early as 1980.
2005 ― Manafort arrives in Kiev, Ukraine, where he begins consulting for the Ukrainian Party of Regions, a political party with close ties to the Kremlin.
2006 ― Manafort buys an apartment at Trump Tower in New York City for $3,675,000. Manafort would reportedly “kibitz with his old client when they’d run into one another on the elevator,” according to Slate’s Franklin Foer.
Sometime in 2006 ― Manafort reportedly signs a $10 million annual contract to begin an influence campaign in the U.S. and Europe to benefit Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government. Manafort reaches the agreement with Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch and Putin ally, and it continues until at least 2009. In response to a 2017 Associated Press report uncovering the contract, Manafort claimed his work was not “inappropriate” and that it “did not involve representing Russia’s interests.”
According to Mueller’s indictment, around this same time, Manafort and Gates begin a “multi-million dollar lobbying campaign in the United States on behalf of [Ukrainian politician Viktor] Yanukovych, the Party of Regions, and the Government of Ukraine.” Neither Manafort nor Gates had registered as a foreign agent, as required by law.
2008 ― Manafort and Gates embark upon a “scheme and artifice to defraud, and to obtain money and property by means of false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises from the United States, banks, and other financial institutions,” according to Mueller’s indictment. Over the next six years, the two men allegedly wired over $12 million to foreign entities, which allowed them to avoid paying taxes on the income.
February 2010 ― Yanukovych is elected president of Ukraine. Manafort and Gates continue to lobby on his behalf in the U.S. until at least 2014, when Yanukovych is exiled to Moscow amid escalating controversy over his friendliness with Putin. Manafort and Gates collect millions of dollars for their work.
March 2016 ― Manafort joins Trump’s presidential campaign.
June 9, 2016 ― Manafort attends a meeting at Trump Tower with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and others. Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, are also in attendance.
June 20, 2016 ― Manafort takes over as campaign manager.
July 2016 ― Trump campaign officials at the RNC quietly campaign to soften the GOP platform’s language against Russia.
July 27, 2016 ― Manafort pushes back against reports about supposed Russian efforts to help get Trump elected. In an interview with CBS, Manafort awkwardly defends Trump’s claim that he has no ties to Russians.
“That’s what he said,” says Manafort. “That’s what... that’s obviously what our position is.”
Aug. 16, 2016 ― The New York Times reports that Manafort was directed $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments for his lobbying work for Yanukovych’s pro-Russian party. Manafort denies having received the funds.
Aug. 19, 2016 ― Manafort steps down from Trump campaign.
Jan. 19, 2017 ― Manafort and other Trump associates are named in a New York Times report as targets of an investigation by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies into the campaign’s ties with Russia.
Jan. 20, 2017 ― Trump is sworn in as president.
March 2017 ― Responding to reports of Manafort’s lobbying efforts for Putin, Trump administration officials attempt to downplay his role with the campaign.
Then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer claims Manafort played a ”limited role,” even though he served the campaign for nearly five months.
June 27, 2017 ― Manafort retroactively discloses that he received upward of $17 million over two years from Yanukovych’s pro-Russia Party of Regions.
July 25, 2017 ― Manafort testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee and turns over a number of documents to investigators, including notes from his 2016 meeting between Veselnitskaya and Trump campaign officials at Trump Tower.
July 26, 2017 ― FBI agents raid Manafort’s Alexandria, Virginia, home in a pre-dawn operation, in search of documents related to Mueller’s investigation.
Oct. 30, 2017 ― Manafort and Gates surrender to authorities days after a federal grand jury approves their indictments, the first resulting from Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Manafort and Gates later plead not guilty to the dozen charges of conspiracy and money laundering. The charges do not involve alleged collusion between Trump campaign officials and Russia.