In Novermber of 2013, the Miss Universe contest, a project partially owned by Donald Trump, was held in Moscow. The timeline of his visit has been the subject of some confusion, with varying stories coming out about when exactly he arrived in left. The goal here is to keep an evidence-based record of his trip, updated as needed when new (to me) evidence shows up.
Many pieces of evidence will be presented, but at the core of this timeline is a blending of accounts from three sources:
- What Happened in Moscow: The Inside Story of How Trump’s Obsession With Putin Began — Mother Jones [MoJo] (this is an excerpt from the book Russian Roulette).
- Trump’s Two Nights of Parties in Moscow Echo Years Later — Bloomberg [Bloom]
- Flight Records Illuminate Mystery of Trump’s Moscow Nights — Bloomberg [BlmFlt]
With additional info from:
- Trump’s Miss Universe Gambit — New Yorker [NYork]
All times listed in my article are Moscow (MSK) time, unless otherwise noted. Embedded tweets will show with your local time, and MSK will be added to the caption. All media times are listed below based on time of posting, unless otherwise noted. Twitter and facebook both display times in the local time of the viewer. [Note: Medium handles Twitter embeds oddly, seeming to convert using the current time difference rather than the original (i.e. if Daylight Savings is currently in effect). So what should be an eight hour difference looks like a seven hour difference on the embeds, at the time of this writing.]
Caveat: The necessity of this format is to list everything in some order. However in some cases the order of events isn’t completely known. This is especially true with the series of events after the filming of Emin’s video, and before the red carpet event for Miss Universe — this entire sequence of events has been placed in an order based largely on guesswork.
The goal here is to create a continuously updated resource. Please comment on this article or send me information on twitter (@thomasafine) with any update information you have. I am not trying to reproduce every social media posting related to Trump’s visit, or even every unique photo, just one or two photos or postings per unique setting that suggest timing of events, or that establish a setting not seen elsewhere.
Before the trip
(I have another timeline that looks at events in the year leading up to Miss Universe.)
Despite some red herrings in social media that suggest he arrived in Moscow as early as November 4th, we have firm evidence that on November 7th, Trump attended a celebration of Reverend Billy Graham’s final sermon, held at the Grove Park Inn, in Asheville North Carolina.
Numerous media photos and videos are available confirming that Trump attended this event. For example, this video shows Trump in attendance, immediately adjacent to the guest of honor, while singing Happy Birthday (at 1:56 in the video). Based on live tweets from AsheVegas on twitter, the song happened at about 8:06 pm (4:06 am the next day in Moscow). Additional spontaneous tweets sent out that day:
If Ashevegas was tweeting close to live (albeit from some sort of video feed), then Trump stayed at the party until at least 4:30 am on the 8th, Moscow time. It’s a 25 minute drive to Asheville Regional Airport, or about an hour and 20 minutes to Greenville-Spartanberg International Airport. It’s also a minimum of about eight hours flying time to Moscow. Based on reports (below) that Trump was in Moscow on the morning of the eighth, this makes for an extremely tight schedule.
The Flight Out
11/8 -5:15am-1:58pm— Trump flew out on good friend Phil Ruffin’s private jet from Asheville Regional Airport, leaving at 9:15 pm EST, or 5:15 am MSK. [BlmFlt] Trump first went to the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Moscow as soon as he arrived [MoJo]. The exact arrival time is not in the Bloomberg article, but instead comes from this tweet:
11/8 -afternoon— Trump had a meeting with the Agalarovs and with Miss Universe executives (with an assumption that this includes Paula Shugart) [MoJo]. Given the short amount of time here, and the description of the following luncheon, I’d tend to assume that the meeting took place at Nobu prior to the luncheon. However one source [NYork] says the meeting took place at the hotel (but it also says “morning” which is impossible), and also attributes the offer to send five women to Trump’s room to this meeting.
11/8-afternoon—Trump attends a festive meal at Nobu [MoJo,Bloom], with Herman Gref of Sperbank, and many other big executives. It’s a big enough group that Trump was described as giving a speech to the crowd [MoJo].
The following facebook posting went up at 8:35pm MSK, but was almost certainly a few hours earlier. Rob Goldstone is cropped off the left side, and was a significant source for the MoJo book excerpt. Incidentally, he (Goldstone) deleted nearly all of his social media from this time period.
Emin posted a similar photo on VKontakte welcoming Trump to Russia, and also on Instagram. Oddly enough his Instagram says this was Crocus City, and while there is another Nobu there, the Nobu in this picture is the one in downtown Moscow, close to Trump’s hotel. This was confirmed with a streetview of the address of the downtown Nobu, Bolshaya Dmitrovka Street 20, Moscow 115487, Russia.
11/8-late afternoon or early evening — Trump presides over contestant review at a theater in Crocus City (an Agalarov-owned building complex in Moscow).[MoJo] Apparently while the contest has the appearance of fairness, Trump has complete veto power over any of the finalists, and regularly uses this power. MoJo alleges this seems to be along the lines of his own personal taste, which can have the appearance of subtly racist motives. Miss Universe executives would also be present, as would the contestants. New Yorker article speculates that this review took place at Aras’ birthday party.
11/8-evening — Trump attends Aras Agalarov’s birthday party. The location is the Backstage restaurant, in Crocus City complex. In video of the event, Trump is seated at the Agalarov’s table, between Aras and an unidentified woman.
Video segment, NBC Nightly News. Trump appears a bit near the beginning, and starting around 1:20.
Nightly News Full Broadcast (July 12th)
In Wednesday night's broadcast: Exclusive video shows Pres. Trump speaking with the Agalarovs at a birthday party in…
Emin later posts a photo to social media posing with Trump, both giving a “thumbs up” sign. This photo matches details from the above video which shows them posing for apparently the same photo.
A spletnik article from the next day includes several photos of Trump at the party, including one that’s very similar to a tweet posted at 2:22 am MSK with Nick Jonas and Olivia Culpo, saying Trump has arrived in Moscow. (That tweet was initially hard to verify because both Nick Jonas and Olivia Culpo have deleted their own tweets from that time period.)
11/9 ~ 1:30 am — Trump leaves Agalarov’s party [MoJo]. At this party, Rob Goldstone sets up an early morning appointment for Trump to record his small segment in Emin’s music video, which “stars” Trump (the video consists of Emin’s daydream with Miss Universe contestants, in which he wakes up at a table of Apprentice contestants, and Trump tells him he’s fired).
11/9-?? — According to his congressional testimony, Trump’s bodygaurd Keith Schiller, checks Trump’s room and waits outside his door for a few minutes, before going to bed.
11/9-overnight — Trump sleeps at Ritz Carlton? If there’s an issue of compromising materials being filmed or photographed, this is the most likely time and location, but not the only possibility. Despite his busy schedule there are still significant gaps throughout, and it doesn’t take long to create and film a compromising situation.
11/9–7:15am-8:10am — Trump films his segment of the Emin music video. Times listed are from MoJo, as planned times, and have not been confirmed to reflect actual times. I suspect the shooting happened later, as there doesn’t seem to be anything happening between this, and the interviews that happened around noon, and Trump must have needed rest after a busy day and night. Trump’s red and pink diagonal pinstriped tie is different from the solid red textured tie he wore the night before. The video was filmed in a conference room of the Ritz Carlton [NYork] (confirmed by a photo from the hotel.)
11/9-?? — The only photo I know of with Trump at the Ritz Carlton Moscow (aside from the conference room where he filmed the Emin video). I don’t actually know where this photo goes. I tend to think the red tie in this photo, which I’ve only found at low resolution, is the from Saturday morning, not Friday, because it appears to be more shiny like the pinstriped tie, but I’m not sure. Even if it’s that tie, it’s not clear if this photograph occurred before filming Emin’s video, between the filming and the interviews, between the interviews and the tour of the city, or after that. Geographically, the Ritz Carlton is 25 minutes from Crocus City Hall (and up to an hour in rush hour). It wouldn’t make a lot of sense to zip back and forth, so before or after filming the Emin video probably makes the most sense.
All the versions of this photo I’ve found are from Yulya Alferova, who is to the right of Trump. Off the right edge of the picture appears to be Rob Goldstone, and I think I can see a bit of Phil Ruffini off the left edge, behind someone else (also off the left edge). No idea who the other two faces are. The location was identified based on the pillars and pillar decorations, and the floor pattern, which appears in the Ritz Carlton lobby near the front desk.
11/9- morning? — Trump in the Crocus City Hall auditorium early in the morning with an unknown woman. Since I can’t actually tell which red tie he’s wearing here, this is conceivably from the previous day, possibly when Trump reviewed the finalists. On the other hand, sometime on the 9th he filmed a segment that was used at the beginning of the broadcast (see below), and it was staged in the auditorium. It’s possible this is that (in which case I need to move that up). It’s also unclear on the order of this, with the next photo from the Ritz Carlton. Given the geography, if this is really from the morning of the ninth, then it might be more sensible to place this after the Ritz Carlton lobby photo.
11/9-day — Press conference with Emin (left) and Aras (right) Agalarov. Several photos exist like this, anything with Trump in front of a cluster of colorful microphones is most likely from this part of the day.
11/9-?? —Trump interviewed by Miss Universe host Thomas Roberts. The location appears to be the Backstage restaurant (part of the Crocus City complex) where Aras had his birthday party.
Watch Donald Trump's full 2013 interview
In a 2013 interview with Thomas Roberts, Donald Trump explains why he brought his Miss Universe pageant to Moscow…
11/9-?? —Additional interview(s) same spot. Unsure of order.
11/9-?? — Downtime at the Backstage restaurant (based on appearance).
Alferova posted various versions of this photo, with varying text to most of her social media channels. This version is the least cropped, showing an unknown person on bottom, and a waitress to the right. The earliest version I’ve found is from her Russian twitter account, and was posted at 2:21pm MSK.
And a photo from Artem Klyushin’s instagram (he also tweeted a slightly modified version at 4:52 pm MSK).
This photo has been the source of much speculation, as people wonder if it might be Trump “skyping” with Putin. There is evidence to suggest that Trump spoke to Putin, but nothing (that I know of) more specific than that to suggest that this is what’s happening here.
11/9-afternoon — (order here is uncertain, before or after press conference and interviews). Trump takes a tour around Moscow with Aras Agalarov (at least). [Bloom]
11/9-?? — Trump films set piece to be used at the beginning of the Russian broadcast of Miss Universe. Crocus City Hall is mostly empty and still undergoing stage setup, but they loaded a part of the hall with cheering fans to serve as a backdrop for the piece. You can see in the photos how empty the place is, and Trump is still wearing the red/pink diagonal pinstripe tie, not the blue one he wore during the actual pageant. Artem Klyushin posted the entire Russian broadcast video on his VK wall, and the footage that was shot here can be seen right at the beginning.
(Alferova tweeted on her Russian account a similar but slightly different photo at 2:03pm MSK, and posted a photo taken a few seconds after these where Trump and Malakov are about to shake hands on VKontakte.)
11/9-?? — Trump gets a phone call from Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, that Putin won’t be coming to the event.[MoJo] However there’s also some evidence that suggests Trump spoke on the phone or “skyped” with Putin at some point this weekend. Ordering of events is uncertain here.
11/9-?? — Trump Tower news. The time of this news breaking is listed on rt.com as 16:36, but I don’t know their standards for timezone presentation, so I don’t yet know when this is. It is however, earlier than many other sources, who reported about the Tower starting on the 11th and 12th.
US 'Miss Universe' billionaire plans Russian Trump Tower
US Billionaire Donald Trump has revealed plans to construct a skyscraper in Russia, similar to New York's famous Trump…
11/9 ~7:30pm-9:30pm — Miss Universe red carpet. Trump appears here in a new tie, blue with groups of four lighter blue diagonal stripes, which he wears the rest of the evening. (This appears to be the same tie he wore for the Billy Graham event.)
Here’s the earliest posted photo I’ve found so far in the blue tie:
And another with his old friend Phil Ruffin (background) and new friend Aras Agalarov.
There are several photos similar to this one with Trump and the two Agalarovs in front of this backdrop. Those where Emin is wearing a suit with a thin black tie are all from the red carpet. (The rest are immediately following the show with Emin in a black jacket, black T-shirt, and silver necklace, which he wore in the show.)
11/9–10:00pm — Miss Universe pageant. Note that some sources incorrectly state that the Miss Universe contest was broadcast live in the United States, but this is incorrect. It was on tape-delay in the United States and showed at 9pm U.S. Eastern time.
Trump was seated in front of Artem Klyushin (based on a video he shot) and Yulya Alferova (behind and to his right). [To do: who’s the woman seated to his right?]
Emin stops in to chat with Trump and Dad:
Unidentified man talks to Trump:
Artem shoots a video from behind Trump:
11/9-?? — Press coverage after the pageant is finished.
11/10-1:00am — Official after party starts, at the Crocus Expo Center, in the same complex as Crocus City Hall. In addition to this party there was another party at Rose Bar (next to Nobu, close to the Ritz Carlton, all of which are about 25 minutes from Crocus City), and yet another at Soho Rooms (ten minutes southwest of those locations). Not sure of the timing of these. Emin sang at both the official after party and the Rose Bar party. The Soho Rooms “Night Out” party looked to be a bit more wild. There’s only evidence that Trump attended the official after party. Here he is with famous Russian singer Fillip Kirkorov.
11/10–3:58am? — Trump gets on a flight back to the U.S. Ruffin’s plane again.[BlmFlt] Strictly speaking, there’s no actual evidence he was on this plane. Trump’s tweet (below) that he is back in the U.S. (if it can be trusted, so far I have no corroborating evidence) still leaves at least twelve hours unaccounted for, and it’s hard to stop oneself from jumping to the conclusion that he spent a second night in Moscow, somewhere.
The tweet shown near the beginning of this article with flight times does not agree with the Bloomberg article, and lists 3:43am as the time out of Moscow, and 12:09pm (MSK) as the arrival time.
11/10–12:11pm? — The plane lands at Newark Liberty International Airport. 4:11 am U.S. Eastern time. [BlmFlt]
11/11–5:44am — Trump tweets that he just got back from Moscow. 9:44pm U.S. Eastern time.
There’s a part two coming. In the mean-time, check out my article on the Russian’s use of troll accounts immediately following the beauty pageant (and before anyone really thought Trump would run, let alone have a chance of winning).
- 2018/04/25 — clarified Nobu location as downtown Moscow; added photo and links of set piece for broadcast with Andrei Malakov.
- 2018/04/28 — removed embedded tweets from the “Red Herrings” section below; changed the order of the “downtime” to after the interviews; added an earlier photo of Trump on red carpet; added a new photo that might be early morning on the ninth.
- 2018/05/01 — updates on flight times based on a tweet.
- 2018/05/02 — added info from New Yorker article; nailed down location of Emin video; re-ordered some stuff.
These are sources which have been proven incorrect or unreliable. [Previously I included embedded tweets, but decided I didn’t want to confuse the issue with the other information here that’s correct, nor take up additional space here.
There’s a tweet that claims Trump arrived in Moscow by November 4, 2013, and includes a photo of Trump, along with Emin and Aras, Phil Ruffin, and Ruffin’s wife. However the attire of all involved matches their meeting in June 2013 at the Miss USA contest, as does the text in the background (thanks to Scott M. Stedman for catching this, when I made the mistake of trying to break this “news” on Twitter). Another version of this tweet appeared later that day.
Another tweet seems to be related, naming Olekssandra-Ruffin Nikolayenko, shown at the right in the above photo. The linked facebook article in that tweet is not available (to me). There was also at least one other version of this tweet.
There’s also a tweet claiming Trump arrived on November 7, 2013, including to a link to an article making the same claim, however all documentary evidence shows he was in North Carolina on this date. The linked article seems to have gone missing (at the time I checked), but is available on archive.org.