Who Is Howard Lorber? Donald Trump's Russia-Tied 'Best Friend' Got Call From Trump, Jr Ahead Of Tower Meeting

Jonathan Vankin

New evidence obtained by Senate investigators has cleared up a mystery about who received calls from Donald Trump, Jr., or at least from someone using his phone, shortly after Trump, Jr. was informed of an upcoming meeting with a group of Kremlin-linked Russians offering "incriminating" information on Democrat Hillary Clinton. One of those calls, according to the New York Times, went to a wealthy New York real estate developer and Bronx native named Howard Lorber, whom the elder Trump has described as one of his "best friends," the NYT reported.

Lorber, 70, had even appeared with Trump on The Apprentice, the NBC TV reality show that launched Trump to national stardom, and, as Inquisitr has reported, fashioned Trump's image as a hyper-competent, successful businessman despite having filed multiple bankruptcies.

But Lorber — who was named to Trump's campaign economic advisory council about two months after the Trump Tower meeting between Trump, Jr. and the Russians — also has "deep ties to Russia," according to a Washington Post profile.

Trump himself, according to a 1997 New Yorker profile, described Lorber as having "major investments in Russia." Trump and Lorber traveled to Russia together in 1996 to explore "Trump building a huge luxury residential tower in Moscow as part of a project owned by a subsidiary of Lorber's firm," according to the Washington Post report.

As has been widely reported, including by Inquisitr, Trump never gave up on his dream of building a "Trump Tower Moscow," even though his 1996 trip to Moscow with Lorber resulted in nothing. In October of 2015, even as he was running for president and adamantly denying any business ties to Russia, Trump signed a "letter of intent" to develop a 1,500-foot skyscraper in Moscow in conjunction with a Russian developer.

Trump, Jr. had earlier failed to reveal the recipients of his calls to blocked numbers before and after the June, 2016, meeting with the Russians, in his testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, according to a New York Times report.

But on Thursday, Trump, Jr. said, "After a year of hearing about this one ad nauseam, yet another left-wing narrative officially bites the dust," the NYT reported.

Trump, Jr. did not explain the contents of his call with Lorber, or reveal why he thought to call one of his father's "best friends," who also has close ties to Russia, shortly after learning that the Russians were offering information that would "incriminate" Clinton. According to an email received by Trump, Jr., that information "was obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump," as the Washington Post reported.

"Who knows if Lorber gave Trump his phone for sensitive calls, if the men were together at the time, if Lorber was used as an intermediary on Russia issues (as Lorber historically has had major Russia ties), if Trump was conferenced in," wrote Proof of Collusion author Seth Abramson, on his Twitter account. "But somehow that call leads to Trump."

A call following the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians and also reported by the Washington Post, was also attributed to a blocked number on Trump, Jr.'s phone. But the identity the person on the other end remains a mystery.