President's Lawyer, Associates Worked On Moscow Real Estate Deal During Campaign
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New documents reviewed by Trump Organization lawyers reveal that President Donald Trump’s company was pursuing the development of a large Trump Tower hotel and condo in Moscow while Trump was campaigning for president in late 2015 and 2016, the Washington Post reports.
Emails exchanged between Russian-born real estate developer Felix Sater — a U.S. citizen who, at the time, was brokering the deal — and Trump Organization leadership regarding the project claimed the deal would "get Donald elected."
Sater encouraged Trump to visit Moscow to promote the project, claiming Russian President Vladimir Putin would help aid in its completion by saying “great things” about Trump and the proposed hotel and condominium project, the Post reports. Trump never made that trip.
“I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected. We both know no one else knows how to pull this off without stupidity or greed getting in the way. I know how to play it and we will get this done,” Sater wrote in an email, obtained by the New York Times, on Nov. 3, 2015, to Michael Cohen, who at the time served as the Trump Organization’s executive vice president. Cohen has since transitioned to company attorney and spokesman.
“Buddy, our boy can become President of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putin’s team to buy in on this …,” Sater wrote. The emails do not show a response from Cohen.
Though the White House declined to comment, Cohen submitted a two-page statement to Congress on behalf of the Trump Organization Monday explaining the company’s interactions with the Kremlin while this Trump Tower Moscow deal was underway.
The Trump Organization signed a nonbinding letter of intent in October 2015, and after discussing potential designs and preliminary financing (Sater claimed he had secured financing for the project through VEB, Russia’s state-run bank) the company eventually decided the deal was not going to pan out. Cohen’s statement said this decision was reached without any input from Trump.
“I did not ask or brief Mr. Trump, or any of his family, before I made the decision to terminate further work on the proposal," Cohen wrote in the statement. “The Trump Tower Moscow proposal was not related in any way to Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.”
Trump and his campaign team remain under investigation by a handful of congressional committees and special counsel Robert Mueller regarding their possible collusion with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election.