Another Trump lie has been exposed, and this one could prove to be one of the most damning yet. Back in January, after he was elected but before he was even inaugurated, the soon-to-be-president tweeted out an emphatic, all-caps tweet about how he had no deals, loans, or anything related to Russia.
Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2017
Since then, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has already proven that numerous Trump team members had sustained, suspicious contact with Russia, with indications that Trump himself may have also been deeply involved with some of the backroom conversations.
Now, a stunning new report from Buzzfeed News reveals that while he was running for president, Trump secretly signed a letter of intent to build the Trump World Tower Moscow in the Russian capital.
The covert negotiations went on in private even as Trump and his team insisted publicly that they were completely free of Russian influence. The LOI was, not surprisingly, written for Trump by his longtime attorney Michael Cohen, who is now embroiled in a mountain of corruption and bribery scandals himself.
Trump signed the letter then dispatched Cohen and his other associate Felix Sater to Russia to further negotiate the deal with the Russians involved. When the deal didn’t happen immediately, Cohen got antsy.
A few months later, Sater told Cohen that the two of them had been invited to Russia to meet with GenBank, a bank that had been sanctioned by the U.S. due to its involvement in the Russian invasion and annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine.
Sater informed Cohen that the bank operates “through Putin’s administration and nothing gets done there without approval from the top. The meetings in Moscow will be with ministers — in US, that’s cabinet-level and with Putin’s top administration people. This likely will include Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s press secretary. To discuss goals, meeting agenda and meeting time between Putin and Trump.”
Cohen was unimpressed and insisted on using his own contacts. He eventually found an invite from as still-unknown Russian individual, possibly a Russian mortgage mogul.
Sater went on to arrange for Cohen to communicate with a Russian spy in order to arrange transportation, but according to past comments from Cohen, the plans to pursue the deal soon fizzled out. That claim has now been exposed as a lie.
In reality, the two men continued to communicate secretly about the deal, using an encrypted application called Dust, which automatically deletes messages forever so we may never know exactly what was said. It was Cohen who suggested the clandestine method.
The day Trump became the clear winner of the Republican primary, Sater reverted to traditional methods and texted Cohen asking if they should hop on a phone call together. Sater told Buzzfeed that he and Cohen intended to travel to Russia after Trump clinched the nom, but soon decided it was too dangerous as suspicions about ties between Donald and Russia began to spread.
Whatever the full truth of the story turns out to be, the men involved clearly knew they were doing something wrong, given the extreme lengths they went to in order to keep their actions hidden. Hopefully, Mueller gets to the bottom of it and delivers the information to the American people soon.
Read the full story by Anthony Cormier and Jason Leopold @ Buzzfeed here.