Secret, internal documents from the Trump organization obtained by BuzzFeed News and published online Tuesday morning appear to shed light on Donald Trump’s drive to lift economic sanctions on Russia — a policy he attempted to implement within days of taking office in January of 2017. According to the documents, the Trump Organization — Trump’s private business — was attempting to secure financing to build a Trump Tower skyscraper in Moscow from VTB Bank, a state-owned Russian financial institution that has been under United States sanctions since 2014.
Trump was unable to obtain credit from other institutions at the time, due to his multiple business bankruptcies. In 2016, according to a New York Times report, Trump sought a loan from the German Deutsche Bank, which over the previous decade had been the only major bank willing to loan him money. Deutsche Bank loaned Trump $2.5 billion over 17 years.
The New York Times report said that Trump sought the 2016 loan to effect improvements at a Trump-owned golf course in Scotland, but a spokesperson for the Trump Organization called that claim “absolutely false,” saying that business has sought no outside financing at all for the Scottish golf project.
Deutsche Bank, despite its past history of loaning to Trump, rejected him for the 2016 loan, the Times reported, calling the loan too “risky” — allegedly fearing that Trump’s divisive statements on the campaign trial could damage the bank’s reputation.
But in negotiations recorded in the internal documents, Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen was told on October 12, 2015, by Felix Sater — a Russian-born former business partner of Trump’s with alleged ties to organized crime, as the Inquisitr has reported — that Andrei Kostin, chair of VTB Bank “has indicated he would finance Trump Moscow. This is major for us.” Sater continued, saying “not only the financing but Kostin’s position in Russia, extremely powerful and respected.”
However, for the Trump Organization to receive financing from VTB would likely require that the U.S. lift sanctions — a policy that Trump openly advocated throughout his 2016 campaign, as the New York Times recounted.
Within days of his inauguration, Trump began pushing the U.S. State Department to ease economic sanctions on Russia, sanctions which had been imposed in 2014 due to Russia’s annexation of Crimea from the Ukraine. But as NBC News reported, resistance from within the State Department — as well as from Congress — put at least a temporary halt to Trump’s effort to remove the Russia sanctions.