A wild new report from Buzzfeed News has just exposed another crucial part of the relationship between Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin and raises a host of new questions about the alleged quid pro quo that took place behind the scenes of the 2016 election between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
Trump’s longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, admitted to federal investigators that he had lied to Congress about how much the President and his team knew about the Trump Organization’s negotiations for a 100-story Trump Tower Moscow real estate deal.
Now, two U.S. sources, including the originator of the plan, have revealed that the Trump Organization was planning to give Vladimir Putin the $50 million Trump Tower Moscow penthouse.
While it’s not clear that Trump knew about the plan to gift the penthouse to Putin, Cohen did admit this morning that he had “regularly briefed Trump and his family on the Moscow negotiations” until the plan fizzled out and that he lied to “protect the President and his family.”
Trump certainly knew about the Trump Tower Moscow; he personally signed the letter of intent on Oct. 28, 2015.
What we do know is that Putin definitely knew about it. Law enforcement officials told Buzzfeed that Michael Cohen “discussed the idea with a representative of Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s press secretary.”
Cohen and a longtime Trump associate, the mobster Felix Sater, wanted to give Putin the penthouse so that the rest of the Russian oligarchs would shell out big rubles for the chance to be the dictator’s neighbor.
“In Russia, the oligarchs would bend over backwards to live in the same building as Vladimir Putin. My idea was to give a $50 million penthouse to Putin and charge $250 million more for the rest of the units. All the oligarchs would line up to live in the same building as Putin” bragged Sater to Buzzfeed News.
While there isn’t anything inherently illegal about giving the penthouse to Putin, it raises an enormous can of worms for President Trump and the Trump Organization executives who were in on this plan, which almost certainly included his sons Don Jr. and Eric.
All the lies about Trump’s “non-existent” business connections to Russia are coming back to haunt him in a big way.
Original reporting by Anthony Cormier and Jason Leopold at Buzzfeed News.