Alex Brandon / AP

President Trump has heatedly denied campaign connections to Russia. But congressional investigators are looking into claims by one of his closest business associates that he briefed the candidate three times on a frantic effort to get a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Why it matters: A Republican close to the White House tells Axios' Jonathan Swan: "It gives Mueller all the excuse he needs to open a full-blown investigation into Cohen. And it's worth noting that Cohen's financial affairs are inextricably intertwined with the president's."

The two key stories:

  • WashPost: "A top executive from Donald Trump's real estate company emailed Russian President Vladi­mir Putin's personal spokesman ... last year to ask for help advancing a stalled Trump Tower development project in Moscow ... The request came in a mid-January 2016 email from Michael Cohen, one of Trump's closest business advisers.''
  • ''Cohen said that he discussed the deal three times with Trump and that Trump signed a letter of intent with the company on Oct. 28, 2015. ... [H]e said that the project was abandoned 'for business reasons' when government permission was not secured."
  • N.Y. Times: "A business associate of President Trump promised in 2015 to engineer a real estate deal with the aid of the president of Russia, Vladimir V. Putin, that he said would help Mr. Trump win the presidency."
  • "The associate, Felix Sater, wrote a series of emails to Mr. Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, in which ... he predicted that building a Trump Tower in Moscow would highlight Mr. Trump's savvy negotiating skills and be a political boon to his candidacy. 'Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it.'"

Go deeper

Updated 23 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Chris Christie: Wear a mask "or you may regret it — as I did" — Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted relief bill.
  2. Economy: Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet).
  3. Health: The pandemic is getting worse again New York reports most cases since MayMany U.S. coronavirus deaths were avoidable.
  4. Education: Boston and Chicago send students back home for online learning.
  5. World: Spain becomes first nation in Western Europe to exceed 1 million cases — France becomes the second.

Biden says he will appoint commission on Supreme Court reform

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden told CBS' "60 Minutes" this week that if elected, he would put together a bipartisan commission to study the federal court system and make recommendations for reform.

Why it matters: Biden has come under pressure to clarify his position on court packing after some Democrats suggested expanding the court if Senate Republicans confirm President Trump's Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
54 mins ago - Economy & Business

Wall Street still prefers bonds

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Sunset Boulevard/Getty Contributor

Investors' return on U.S. corporate bonds has been falling since its August peak, but buying has only accelerated, especially in investment grade bonds that are offering historically low yields.

The state of play: Since hitting its 2020 high on Aug. 4, the benchmark Bloomberg Barclays U.S. bond aggregate has delivered a -2.2% return. (For comparison, the S&P 500 has gained 3.9% during the same time period.)