Bombshell emails just pulled Ivanka into the middle of Trump-Russia probe for the first time

First daughter and White House advisor Ivanka Trump has surprisingly managed to dance around the edges of the investigation into Russian interference and Trump collision in the 2016 presidential campaign but now a new report links her to an attempt to connect the then-candidate with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Emails provided to Senate Intelligence Committee investigators and Special Counsel Robert Mueller by The Trump Organization (TRO) shows that Ivanka was involved in an effort to connect her father’s personal lawyer, the now notorious Michael Cohen, with a Russian Olympic weightlifter.

Her effort which came in November 2015 – even as Donald Trump was in full campaign mode – was meant to facilitate a Trump-Putin meeting and help the development of a 100-story Trump Tower in Moscow, reports BuzzFeed News, citing the emails and four other sources.

The month before, on the day of the third Republican presidential debate, Trump had signed a formal agreement to allow a Russian developer to brand the proposed tower with the Trump name.

Under the agreement with the Russian developer, TRO would have the option to brand the hotel’s spa and fitness facilities as “The Spa by Ivanka Trump.”

The contract said that Ivanka, then an executive vice president of development and acquisitions at TRO, would be granted “sole and absolute discretion” to have final say on “all interior design elements of the spa or fitness facilities.”

“Publicly,” reports BuzzFeed, “she was a sophisticated ambassador for the company, attending ribbon cuttings, posting pictures of deals on her Instagram page, and gracing advertisements for the company’s new properties. But inside the Trump Organization, she had a reputation as a shrewd and tough executive known to get her way.”

It is unclear how Ivanka first connected with former Olympic weightlifter Dmitry Klokov, who won a Silver Medal at the 2008 Olympics and gold at the 2005 World Championships,  but she had made a 2006 trip to Moscow with her brother Donald Jr. and others to scout locations for a tower there.

Ivanka exchanged emails with Klokov, a 35-year-old giant of a man who has over 350,000 followers on Instagram and connected him to Cohen apparently to help push forward a deal that could make the Trump family millions.

Cohen had at least one phone conversation with Klokov and exchanged several emails in which the athlete again offered a connection to Putin. Cohen soon sent back an email saying they already had the Putin connection and that he would not need Klokov’s services.

Klokov then emailed Cohen again and copied Ivanka, questioning Cohen’s authority to make decisions for TRO.

“Frustrated by the exchange,” reports BuzzFeed, “Ivanka Trump questioned Cohen’s refusal to continue communicating with Klokov, according to one of the sources.”

Ivanka, Klokov, TRO, and Cohen all brushed off inquiries from BuzzFeed or declined comment, and those that did respond offered conflicting accounts –  but the emails seen by investigators appear to tell the story.

Ivanka has never been interviewed by Mueller and has not testified before the House or Senate investigators, at least according to press reports, and has managed to stay clear of the Russia mess, but this shows she was an interested party who was willing to jump in when she thought she could play a role.

Benjamin Locke

Benjamin Locke is a retired college professor with an undergraduate degree in Industrial Labor and Relations from Cornell University and an MBA from the European School of Management.