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Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

It's easy to lose sight of what truly matters in this Russia investigation. And, to be fair, only Robert Mueller truly knows. But lost in the buzz around the BuzzFeed story, was a bombshell floated by Trump’s own lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

What he said: In remarks that he yesterday tried to walk back as "hypothetical," Giuliani admitted Trump's team may have been working on — and updating him on — a potential Trump Tower in Moscow all the way up to Election Day.

This possibility is a huge deal for four reasons:

  1. Giuliani suggested that then-candidate Trump was aware of — and discussed — the deal far longer than previously disclosed. Giuliani, relaying a quote from the president that hardly sounds hypothetical, said in an interview with the N.Y. Times that Trump had told him the Trump Tower Moscow discussions were "going on from the day I announced to the day I won."
  2. That would mean Trump was being untruthful or highly misleading with his repeated campaign denials of any Moscow business dealings, as late as his Oct. 9 debate with Hillary Clinton: "I don’t deal there."
  3. This would mean Trump was cooking up a business deal with Vladimir Putin’s Russia while calling for warmer relations with Russia and questioning the U.S. role in Putin’s nemesis, NATO.  
  4. And Russian officials would have had negative information to hold over Trump, during the election and after. They would have known Trump was misleading the American people about his Moscow deal. 

Why this matters: Imagine there was no drip, drip, drip — and we learned in one fell swoop that an American presidential candidate was secretly negotiating a multibillion-dollar business deal with an enemy of the United States (and falsely denied it) while that nation was seeking to tip our election in his favor.

Be smart: It appears the Giuliani strategy includes, little by little, confirming troubling facts so that they won't seem as jarring when revealed in full by Mueller or others.

  • This allows Trump and others to say: "This isn’t new." Or: "Trump disclosed this earlier."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

1 hour ago - World

Netanyahu and Israel reluctantly adjust to a post-Trump Washington

Netanyahu (R) and Biden in 2010. Photo: Avi Ohayon/GPO via Getty

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his close aides are very nervous about the transition to a new U.S. administration after a four-year honeymoon with Donald Trump. One Israeli official told me it felt like going through detox.

What he's saying: Netanyahu congratulated Biden minutes after he was sworn in, saying in a statement that he looked forward to working together to "continue expanding peace between Israel and the Arab world and to confront common challenges, chief among them the threat posed by Iran."

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. State of play: New coronavirus cases down, but more bad news ahead.
  2. Politics: Biden set to immediately ramp up federal pandemic response with 10 executive actions — Scoop: Joe Biden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. World: Biden will order U.S. to rejoin World Health OrganizationBiden to bring U.S. into global COVAX initiative for equitable vaccine access.
  4. Vaccine: Amazon offers to help Biden administration with COVID vaccine efforts.
Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

First glimpse of the Biden market

Photo: Jonathan Ernst-Pool/Getty Images

Investors made clear what companies they think will be winners and which will be losers in President Joe Biden's economy on Wednesday, selling out of gun makers, pot purveyors, private prison operators and payday lenders, and buying up gambling, gaming, beer stocks and Big Tech.

What happened: Private prison operator CoreCivic and private prison REIT Geo fell by 7.8% and 4.1%, respectively, while marijuana ETF MJ dropped 2% and payday lenders World Acceptance and EZCorp each fell by more than 1%.