Aug 28, 2017

Making sense of the Trump Tower Moscow stories

Evan Vucci / AP

The Washington Post reported last night on the existence of an ultimately abandoned plan to develop a Trump Tower in Moscow during late 2015 and early 2016 — right before the start of the 2016 presidential primaries. And today, the NYT and WaPo dropped two new reports detailing emails about the project from Felix Sater, a Trump business associate, and Michael Cohen, a close friend of Trump's and an executive vice president at The Trump Organization.

  • Sater's emails were sent to Cohen and boasted of connections to Russian President Vladimir Putin that would allow the project to get completed and help "get Donald elected."
  • Cohen emailed Putin's personal spokesman to ask for help in getting the stalled project started again.

The kicker: ABC News continued the pile on this afternoon with a report that Trump knew about the Moscow project and had personally signed a letter of intent for it, contradicting his repeated assertions that he has had no business dealings in Russia.

Why it matters
  • Emails show the Trump Organization was pursuing a major deal in Russia while Trump was running for president, and simultaneously claiming he had nothing to do with Russia.
  • The leaks put a new focus on Michael Cohen, a Trump lawyer who was very close to the boss when he was in Trump Tower.
  • Axios' Jonathan Swan reports that sources close to the White House have been worried about Cohen as a figure in the investigation, because his financial dealings are inextricably bound up in Trump's and lead, at best, to some "colorful" characters.

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