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Michael Cohen, an attorney for Donald Trump, in Trump Tower Dec. 2016. (Richard Drew / AP)

Michael Cohen, an executive vice president of the Trump Organization, emailed Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, in January 2016 and asked him to help accelerate the building of a Trump Tower in Moscow, reports The Washington Post, citing documents submitted to Congress Monday.

"Over the past few months I have been working with a company based in Russia regarding the development of a Trump Tower - Moscow project in Moscow City. Without getting into lengthy specifics, the communication between our two sides has stalled... As this project is too important, I am hereby requesting your assistance. I respectfully request someone, preferably you, contact me so that I might discuss the specifics as well as arranging meetings with the appropriate individuals."

Why it matters: Cohen's email to Peskov is the most direct documented correspondence of a top Trump aide and a high-ranking member of Putin's government during the campaign.

Cohen's background: Cohen, who has been one of Trump's closest aides for more ten years, did not take a formal role in the campaign, but he did sometimes appear as a Trump surrogate in the media.

Trump's involvement: Cohen told congressional investigators that the business deal was proposed as a licensing project, and would have been built by Moscow-based developer I.C. Expert Investment Co. Cohen also said Trump signed a letter of intent with the company on Oct. 28, 2015, after which he "began to solicit designs from architects and discuss financing." Note: The signed letter of intent contradicts Trump's repeated denials that he has no business deals with Russia.

Cohen's response: In a statement turned over to Congress, Cohen claimed that Felix Slater, a Russian immigrant and Trump associate, had advised him to write the email, suggesting that such a massive real estate project in Moscow would require Russian government approval. The New York Times reported Monday that Sater promised in 2015 to build a Trump Tower in Moscow with Putin's help, and said the real estate deal would help Trump win the 2016 election.

Cohen's statement to the Post: "It should come as no surprise that, over four decades, the Trump Organization has received and reviewed countless real estate development opportunities, both domestic and international. The Trump Moscow proposal was simply one of many development opportunities that the Trump Organization considered and ultimately rejected."

Go deeper

21 mins ago - Health

FDA panel backs Merck's antiviral COVID pill

The Merck Cherokee Plant in Riverside, Pennsylvania. Photo: Paul Weaver/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Tuesday voted 13-10 to endorse an antiviral pill developed by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics to treat adults at high risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19, despite concerns over its effectiveness and safety.

Why it matters: Oral antiviral drugs designed to prevent or treat COVID-19 could be key pandemic-fighting tools, if proven effective, especially as new variants emerge. If authorized, the Merck drug, known as molnupiravir, would be the first treatment of its kind to be made available in the United States.

Shooting at Michigan high school leaves 3 dead, 6 wounded

Screengrab: CBSN

Three people dead and six others are wounded after a shooting at a high school in Michigan according to the Oakland County Sheriff's Office.

Driving the news: The alleged shooter was a 15-year-old sophomore at Oxford High School and has been arrested, per police.

Fed signals it could yank economic support quicker as inflation sticks around

Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell testifies during a hearing before Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee today. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Federal Reserve will consider pulling back economic support sooner "as the threat of persistently high inflation has grown," chair Jerome Powell said during a congressional hearing on Tuesday.

Why it matters: This is the biggest signal yet the Fed is backing away from its stance that soaring prices would be fleeting — a change that could shift its policies that underpin the economy.