Trump Defends Moscow Talks During 2016 Campaign As ‘Very Legal’

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In a new series of Twitter posts, President Donald Trump stressed that the conversations he had during his presidential campaign about building a Trump Tower in Moscow were “very legal,” while also criticizing the ongoing scrutiny into his purported business deals in Russia.

As noted by Business Insider, the tweets were posted on Friday morning from Buenos Aires, Argentina, where Trump is attending the ongoing Group of 20 (G20) summit. The publication added that Trump’s comments were made on the heels of former personal lawyer Michael Cohen’s guilty plea on Thursday, where he admitted to lying to Congress about the planned Moscow Trump Tower.

“Oh, I get it! I am a very good developer, happily living my life, when I see our Country going in the wrong direction (to put it mildly),” Trump tweeted.

“Against all odds, I decide to run for President & continue to run my business-very legal & very cool, talked about it on the campaign trail…”

In his follow-up Twitter post, Trump said that he had only “lightly looked” at the idea of a real estate project in Russia, without mentioning any specifics about the building he was referring to. He added that he had “put up zero money [and made] zero guarantees” in relation to the project, ending his tweet by calling the Robert Mueller-led investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged ties with Russian officials a “witch hunt.”

Donald Trump’s use of the words “witch hunt” in reference to the Mueller probe came mere hours after he used the term in the same context, further accusing the special counsel investigation of ignoring the wrongdoings of the “other side,” as previously reported by USA Today. Trump also referred to the probe as an “illegal hoax” and, earlier in the day, took shots at Cohen, calling him “weak” and “not very smart” in the aftermath of his guilty plea.

“Even if he was right, it doesn’t matter because I was allowed to do whatever I wanted during the campaign. I was running my business,” said Trump.

Regarding Trump’s alleged involvement in the so-called “Moscow project,” the Washington Post wrote that the president consistently denied having interest in any Russian real estate deals during the time he was running for president in 2016. Cohen’s guilty plea on Thursday had him admitting that he lied about how plans to build a Trump Tower in Russia fell through in January 2016, several months before Trump won the Republican presidential nomination. The talks, however, apparently continued until June of that year, per court filings cited by the Washington Post.

The president’s tweets about the “very legal” talks he had regarding the planned Moscow Trump Tower also came shortly after a report from BuzzFeed News detailed how the Trump Organization allegedly wanted to give Russian President Vladimir Putin a $50 million penthouse at the tower. This was reportedly included in negotiations that continued “into the summer of 2016,” as related by two U.S. law enforcement officials who spoke to the publication.