It’s like the punchline to a bad Yakov Smirnoff joke: “Trump doesn’t build tower in Russia, Russia builds Trump into presidency, heuh, heuh, heuh.”
As we reported last month, President Donald Trump once tried to make a deal for a Trump Tower Moscow with two of the central figures in the Trump campaign/Russian collusion meeting, and even announced those plans during a 2013 press conference:
We’re thinking about doing a Trump Tower Moscow, so we’re talking to a group of people about doing that.
According to reporting at the time, however, the plan was shelved when Trump announced his presidential run.
But a new bombshell report from The Washington Post shows that Trump was still pursuing the deal deep into his presidential run, which began on June 16, 2015:
While Donald Trump was running for president in late 2015 and early 2016, his company was pursuing a plan to develop a massive Trump Tower in Moscow, according to several people familiar with the proposal and new records reviewed by Trump Organization lawyers.
As part of the discussions, a Russian-born real estate developer urged Trump to come to Moscow to tout the proposal and suggested that he could get President Vladimir Putin to say “great things” about Trump, according to several people who have been briefed on his correspondence.
[…] Trump never went to Moscow as Sater proposed. And although investors and Trump’s company signed a letter of intent, they lacked the land and permits to proceed and the project was abandoned at the end of January 2016, just before the presidential primaries began, several people familiar with the proposal said.
The White House isn’t denying the report, but rather referring questions to the attorney representing Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who appeared to tacitly confirm the reporting in a statement to the Post:
Cohen, a longtime Trump legal adviser, declined to comment, but his attorney, Stephen Ryan, said his client “has been cooperating and will continue to cooperate with both the House and Senate intelligence committees, including providing them with documents and information and answering any questions they may have about the Moscow building proposal.”
This revelation will certainly dominate news coverage for a time, but more importantly, it shows the ever-tightening circle of facts that special counsel Robert Mueller has to go on, and provides a new set of dots for Congressional investigators to connect.