The U.S. Justice Department and Congress have been investigating Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 election. So far, more than two dozen people have been charged and seven have been convicted, including people close to President Donald Trump. Here is a look at some of the high-profile individuals in the probe.
Trump ties: Former campaign manager.
Russia ties: Did work for Ukraine, Russian billionaire; attended now-infamous 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Russians.
The longtime Republican operative took over the Trump campaign in March 2016 but abruptly resigned that August following reports he was part of a covert Washington lobbying operation on behalf of pro-Russia factions in Ukraine without disclosing that work to the U.S. government. Further, AP reported that Manafort once secretly worked for a Russian billionaire close to Russian President Vladimir Putin on a plan to influence politics, business dealings and news reports to Russia’s benefit.
Manafort was convicted in Virginia in August 2018 of eight charges of tax and bank fraud. In September, he faced a charge of conspiracy against the United States and chose to plead guilty to lying to the FBI under a plea agreement. But he subsequently broke the terms of the deal, special prosecutor Robert Mueller contends, in ways that haven’t been spelled out yet.
Manafort was sentenced to four years in prison for the Virginia case and an additional three and a half years in the FBI case.
Trump ties: Early campaign backer; initial national security adviser.
Russia ties: Repeated conversations with Russian ambassador.
Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI. He admitted lying about multiple conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States before Trump took office. Some of those interactions occurred on Dec. 29, 2016 — the same day outgoing President Barack Obama announced sanctions against Russia.
Flynn agreed to cooperate with investigators who, in early December 2018, recommended no jail time for Flynn because he provided so much “substantial” and “firsthand” information regarding Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Flynn participated in 19 interviews with investigators after pleading guilty.
Trump ties: First prominent elected official to endorse Trump; served as Trump’s initial attorney general.
Russia ties: Met with Russian ambassador.
Sessions, the former Alabama senator, had twice told senators that he had no contact with any representative of the Russian government about the 2016 vote before or after Election Day. After it was revealed he in fact met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kisylak, Sessions recanted and said he would recuse himself from any campaign-related investigations. His recusal angered Trump, who ultimately forced Sessions’ resignation in November 2018.
Donald Trump Jr.
Trump ties: Son who now runs Trump’s business.
Russia ties: Attended now-infamous meeting with Russians seeking to trade intel on Hillary Clinton.
The president’s eldest son met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya two weeks after his father won the GOP nomination after an intermediary promised him compromising information on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government.
Trump Jr. originally said the meeting was regarding a ban on American adoptions of Russian children but later released the entire email exchange that led to the meeting, which showed he was offered information. Trump Jr. said he considered the information “Political Opposition Research.” Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and then-campaign manager Paul Manafort also attended.
Trump Jr. is operating the family business. In a 2008 speech to a real-estate conference about emerging markets, he told attendees he had traveled to Russia six times in an 18-month period, saying that “buyers have been attracted to our projects.” The President himself has claimed he has no investments in Russia, but his son disclosed that Trump properties have Russian investors.
Trump ties: Son-in-law, key adviser.
Russia ties: Met with Russian ambassador, Russian banker, Russian lawyer; directed Flynn to contact Russian officials, according to reports.
The president’s son-in-law and a key member of the administration’s inner circle, Kushner met during the election campaign with the Russian ambassador and a top-level Russian banker to discuss sanctions and a “backdoor channel” to Vladimir Putin, according to several reports.
Kushner has agreed to testify before the Senate investigative committee. A Trump spokesman has said Kushner’s meetings were appropriate, given that he functioned as the person of contact with foreign officials during the campaign.
He also attended the meeting between Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, which emails show was arranged under the premise that Veselnitskaya had compromising information about Hillary Clinton.
He is believed to be the “very senior official” who Michael Flynn said directed him to contact Russian officials around Dec. 22 about a UN resolution regarding Israel, NBC News reported Dec. 1, citing two people familiar with the matter.
Michael D. Cohen
Trump ties: Trump’s former personal lawyer.
Russia ties: Had meetings about a “Trump Tower” real-estate project in Moscow.
The President’s former personal lawyer entered an unexpected and explosive guilty plea in November, admitting he lied to Congress about a project the Trump organization tried to develop in Moscow. Cohen initially said the project was halted in January 2016 — before Trump began running for president. He recanted and admitted it wasn’t dropped until June of that year; he also admitted he had steady communications with Russian government officials about the project. He said he initially lied out of “loyalty” to Trump.
Further, Cohen has pleaded to a campaign-finance violation charge for arraigning hush payments to porn star Stormy Daniels. (Trump denied having an affair with Daniels but acknowledging arranging the payments.) Cohen was sentenced in December to three years in prison, but he has not yet begun serving his term.
Trump ties: Former foreign policy adviser to campaign.
Russia ties: Investigated as possible Russian agent.
Page traveled in 2016 to Moscow, where he gave a Russian-friendly speech and allegedly met with a confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Intelligence officials recently disclosed they wiretapped Page’s communications on the suspicion that he was a Russian agent, saying they believed he had been “collaborating and conspiring with the Russian government.” Page called the allegations a “ridiculous smear campaign” but acknowledged he acted as an “informal” adviser to the Russian government.
Trump ties: Friend, adviser.
Russia ties: Communicated with suspected Russian operative.
A self-proclaimed political “dirty trickster” going back to the Nixon years, Stone has been a longtime Trump friend and adviser and former associate of Paul Manafort. Along with Manafort, Flynn and Page, Stone is one of four people whose calls and contacts with Russian officials are under investigation by U.S. law enforcement, according to multiple media outlets. Among other issues, Stone has acknowledged he’s communicated with “Guccifer 2.0,” the online handle that has claimed responsibility for hacking Democratic emails — American officials believe the Guccifer account is a front for Russian security operatives. But Stone has said the contact was after the hacked emails were released.
Trump ties: Worked with Trump Organization scouting real-estate deals; Bayrock Group, Sater's employer, had headquarters in Trump Tower.
Russia ties: Worked for Bayrock Group, a real-estate company that was headquartered in Trump Tower in Manhattan. Scouted business deals for the Trump Organization and partnered on some in New York and Florida. Traveled with Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump to Moscow to meet potential business partners.
The Russian-born immigrant (who lived in Port Washington before moving to Los Angeles) was part of several attempts by Trump to garner business deals in Russia, starting with a 2005 effort to build a “Trump Tower” in Moscow. In 2006, Sater reportedly accompanied Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump around the city to meet with potential business partners. The tower was never built.
But later, Bayrock and Trump partnered to build properties in New York and Florida, financed by Russian and Kazakhstan money, according to a lawsuit, CNN reported.
In November, Michael Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about a Russian real estate deal he negotiated on Trump’s behalf. Cohen said he worked with an individual — identified by multiple news reports as Sater — to try to put together the deal.
And in February 2017, Sater met with Cohen to deliver a Russia-Ukraine proposed settlement proposed by a pro-Russia lawmaker.
Trump ties: Contacts with U.S. officials and Trump associates under scrutiny.
Russia ties: Former Russian ambassador to the United States.
Kisylak has been called a spy and a recruiter of spies by U.S. intelligence officials, according to news reports — which Russia denies. Conversations with Kisylak are what led to Michael Flynn’s resignation and Jeff Sessions’ recusal from the Russian probe. The former ambassador’s meeting with Jared Kushner also is under the microscope.
Trump ties: Former Trump campaign adviser.
Russia ties: Alleged go-between for Trump campaign.
Papadopoulos was the first person to plead guilty in the Russia probe, admitting he lied to the FBI about his dealings with Russians offering “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. He at first maintained he met with the individuals before joining the Trump campaign; in fact, it happened after he was on board.
Though many first-time offenders are sentenced just to probation, Papadopoulos was given 14 days in jail because, the federal sentencing judge said, he had imperiled the overall investigation. He served 12 days before being released.
Trump ties: Met with Trump Jr., Manafort and Kushner in June 2016 in Trump Tower to discuss compromising material on Democrats.
Russia ties: A lawyer who has been called the “go between” for the Moscow regional government and the public face of Moscow’s fight against the “Magnitsky Act,” a type of U.S. sanctions.
Veselnitskaya and others once said the Trump Tower meeting was about U.S. adoptions of Russian children. Later, the president admitted “this was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics — and it went nowhere.” (In fact, election help from a foreign individual or government is prohibited.)
In an interview with NBC, Veselnitskaya admitted she was an “informant” to a top Kremlin official.