Throughout his presidential campaign, Donald Trump maintained that he had no business dealings or projects in Russia. However, recently released emails and documents have shown that Trump was not telling the truth when he made that frequently-repeated assertion. In fact, Trump was actively pursuing a real estate development to be known as Trump Tower Moscow.
The Trump Tower Moscow deal would have been a sweet one for Trump's company. According to internal Trump Organization documents uncovered last week by CNN, the project would bestow on his company, "a $4 million upfront fee, no upfront costs, a percentage of the sales, and control over marketing and design. And that's not all: the deal included the opportunity to name the hotel spa after his daughter Ivanka."
The revelation that Trump was actively pursuing business in Moscow throughout 2015, even as he ran for president, was a new one, but according to Trump's attorney, Michael Cohen, the project was dumped in January, 2016, CNN reported. If what Cohen claimed is actually true, then Trump's claim to have no business interests in Russia would be at least true for the bulk of Trump's presidential campaign run.
But according to statements by one of Trump's business partners in the prospective deal, the Trump Tower Moscow project remained active as late as February of 2017, well after Trump's inauguration, and Donald Trump, Jr. may now be in charge.
The latest revelation was highlighted by independent journalist Seth Abramson, who has investigated the Trump-Russia connections using publicly available sources for much of 2017. Abramson pointed to a February, 2017, interview with Emin Agalarov — son of billionaire Russian oligarch Aras Agalarov, conducted by Forbes Magazine.
The Agalarov family was — and it now appears still is — Trump's business partner in the planned Trump Tower Moscow development. The entire Forbes interview with Emin Agalarov may be accessed at this link.
In the interview, Emin Agalarov is asked whether the Agalarovs would continue "discussions" on the Trump Tower Moscow project with Trump's sons, even though Donald Trump has now ostensibly distanced himself from the Trump "brand." The younger Trumps, Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump, are now in control of the Trump daily business interests, at least according to the elder Trump's statements.
"We are in contact with both," the younger Agalrov said in the interview. "And I think anything Trump related, I personally — I don't know about my father at the moment — but I would be interested to pursue....we could always build a building together."
But the elder Donald Trump said, prior to his inauguration, that he would refuse to divest himself from his businesses, meaning that though his sons are nominally in control of the Trump business operation, Trump himself would still profit from any deals or projects they pursue.
As Abramson notes, with the Trump Tower Moscow deal still in effect, and with Trump continuing to personally profit from his family business operations, "Trump is CURRENTLY in a business agreement with Putin's agent," meaning the Agaralovs. Aras Agalarov is a close and trusted associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump's association with Aras and Emin Agalarov made headlines earlier this summer, when it was revealed that Donald Trump, Jr. held a secret meeting with Russian agents in New York's Trump Tower in June of 2016, a meeting where Trump, Jr. was promised derogatory information from the Russian government on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
That meeting, attended by Trump, Jr. — as well as by Trump's then-campaign manager Paul Manafort and Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, a top campaign and now White House adviser — was also attended by a former Soviet counterintelligence officer, and a Russian lawyer with ties to that country's intelligence services. Experts say that the meeting appears to have been part of a Russian intelligence operation.
The meeting was arranged by Rob Goldstone, a close associate of the Agalarovs, who serves as a publicist for Emin Agalarov, an aspiring pop music star. Trump himself appeared in one of Emin Agalrov's music videos. Goldstone, according to his own social media posts, apparently visited Russia just 10 days before the June, 2016, meeting in Trump Tower New York.
[Featured Image By Chris Kleponis/Getty Images]