Replying to BuzzFeed News’s disputed revelation that then-Trump attorney Michael Cohen was directed by the president to lie in his Congressional testimony, Rudy Giuliani spent part of his holiday weekend of cable news ranting making the claim that any plans for a Trump Tower in Moscow were merely a barely thought-through pipe dream with no real substance in actuality.
On Monday, Giuliani told The New York Times that “the proposal was in the earliest stage” and described the status of the project to The New Yorker magazine by saying that “no plans were ever made. There were no drafts. Nothing in the file.”
While the Special Counsel’s office took the extraordinary step of issuing a somewhat vague statement saying that Buzzfeed’s reporting was “not accurate,” it only did so after Giuliani, one of the Trump’s current defense attorneys (at least on TV), reached out to Mueller’s office as the bombshell accusations of corroborating evidence of Trump’s directives to Cohen began to spread like wildfire across the news media, according to CNN.
Despite the pushback from the Special Counsel’s office, BuzzFeed News has been adamant in standing by its reporting. It bolstered its own credibility today by proving once again that Rudy Giuliani has no compunction whatsoever in saying anything that he believes that the public will swallow, regardless of its relation to reality.
Contradicting the former NY mayor’s claims that the Moscow Tower Project was so preliminary that there were no plans drawn up for it, BuzzFeed News cited “hundreds of pages of business documents, emails, text messages, and architectural plans” that it gathered during more than a year’s worth of reporting as it published a detailed look at the project, which it describes as “a richly imagined vision of upscale splendor on the banks of the Moscow River.”
According to today’s report, as early as September 2015 architectural plans had been created “for a bold glass obelisk 100 stories high, to be topped by a gleaming, cut-diamond–like shape emblazoned on multiple sides with the Trump logo.”
The article includes examples of exterior and interior renderings of the building as proof.
“The building design you sent over is very interesting,” BuzzFeed quotes the Russian real estate developer Andrey Rozov as writing to Cohen in September 2015, “and will be an architectural and luxury triumph. I believe the tallest building in Europe should be in Moscow, and I am prepared to build it.”
Further undermining Giuliani’s specious claims that the proposal was in its “earliest stage,” BuzzFeed gives details of the finalized letter of intent signed by Donald Trump on Oct. 28, 2015, which contains not only the building site of the proposed tower (by the river in the Moscow City neighborhood), but the number of condos (“approximately 250 first class, luxury residential condominiums”) vs the number of hotel rooms (“approximately 15 floors” containing “not fewer than 150” rooms).
The plans also include a luxury spa and fitness center, a commercial rental area “consistent with the overall luxury level of the Property,” and an office space “consistent with Class A luxury office properties,” as well as “luxury” parking.
All of that luxury doesn’t come easy, so to ensure that all that was supposed to glitter was properly gilded, the plan was to have the Trump Organization manage the building’s operations and supervise the restaurants and bars as well as licensing their brand — for a hefty fee — to the Russian developer.
According to the website:
“The Trump team would also have the option to “brand all or any portion of the spa or fitness facilities” as “The Spa By Ivanka Trump,” according to the plans. If they exercised that option, Ivanka or one of her representatives would choose all interior design elements for the spa and health club,” BuzzFeed reports.
BuzzFeed reiterates the previously reported news that to make the Tower an attractive proposition for Russian President Vladimir Putin to approve, Trump planned on offering him the sumptuous penthouse valued at $50 million for free, something likely to have run afoul of America’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act that prohibits bribing foreign governments in exchange for business accommodations.
With the letter of intent including very specific financial arrangements for the project, Giuliani’s continued peddling of Trump’s long-time claim that he had no business interests with Russia is clearly as flimsy as his reputation after his increasingly unhinged TV appearances had him contradicting himself and the president multiple times.
“On at least 23 occasions since the summer of 2016, Mr. Trump has said either that he had “nothing” to do with Russia, or that he has “no deals,” no investments and no “business” in Russia,” according to The New York Times.
“I have nothing to do with Russia,” he said. “To the best of my knowledge, no person that I deal with does.”
Giuliani has subsequently been forced to acknowledge the existence of negotiations over the Moscow Tower continued well throughout Trump’s presidential campaign, although he has waffled on the exact dates, belatedly saying that anything he said about Trump Tower Moscow was “hypothetical and not based on conversations I had with the president.”
Now that BuzzFeed News has bolstered its journalistic credibility with such damning evidence of the extent of the Trump Organization’s Russia plans, their reporting on evidence of Trump’s ordering his former lawyer to lie to Congress on his behalf seems less hypothetical than anything Giuliani has said on the subject, Mueller’s extremely limited disclaimer notwithstanding.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.
Original reporting by Azeen Ghorayshi at BuzzFeed News.