The business entity that manages US President Donald Trump’s companies and real estate ventures was planning on gifting Russia President Vladimir Putin a penthouse suite worth tens of millions of dollars at a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow if the plan could come through.
That plan ultimately didn’t come to fruition, but this latest revelation, according to reporting from BuzzFeed News, adds a new wrinkle in the Trump/Russia saga, and brings into question whether similar dealings were proposed or followed through upon in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.
Four sources, including one person who originated the plan, confirmed that the Trump Organization had planned to give Putin a penthouse in the proposed tower worth around $50 million. Two law enforcement officials also confirmed that Michael Cohen, who was Trump’s lawyer at the time, had spoken about the deal directly to an aide to Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s press secretary.
Some details about the deal aren’t known at this point. For instance, it’s unknown whether Trump was aware about the proposal to gift Putin with the penthouse, although according to testimony given today at Cohen’s plea hearing, the lawyer regularly briefed Trump and his family members about aspects of the negotiations.
Also unclear is when this part of the negotiation was proposed, if it came at early parts of the talks or later on toward the end when things fizzled out.
https://t.co/B7hglEKUqu Sure, but what about that time someone who donated to the Clinton Foundation asked for a favor and didn’t get it?
— Amanda Marcotte (@AmandaMarcotte) November 29, 2018
That last part may be on the minds of investigators and many Americans who are paying close attention to the Russia inquiry. As reporting from MarketWatch pointed out, negotiations between Russia and the Trump Organization lasted well into Trump’s run for president.
Previously, the president, Cohen, and people close to Trump had insisted that those negotiations had ended in January, just before the Iowa caucuses and the official start of the presidential campaign. Cohen’s statement earlier on Thursday, however, indicated that the negotiations lasted into June of 2016 — around the same time Trump earned the Republican Party’s nomination, and just a month before a controversial meeting happened at Trump Tower in New York, between a Russian lawyer with close ties to the Kremlin and Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and then-campaign manager Paul Manafort.
After Cohen’s plea statement on Thursday, Trump denied any wrongdoing, and responded by suggesting that Cohen was a liar. “He’s a weak person and what he’s trying to do is get a reduced sentence,” Trump said, per reporting from ABC News.