A business associate of President Donald Trump bragged that he would facilitate a Moscow real estate development with the assistance of Russian President Vladimir Putin that would help Trump secure the presidency, according to emails submitted to Congress Monday.
Felix Sater, who was serving as a broker on the nascent Trump Tower Moscow project, sent a series of emails to Trump Organization Chief Counsel Michael Cohen in November 2015, in which he advertised his Kremlin influence and predicted the development would yield political capital for Trump’s campaign.
“Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,” Sater wrote in an email, obtained by The New York Times. “I will get all of Putin’s team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.”
“I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected,” Sater wrote.
Sater further claimed to have secured financing from VTB Bank, a Russian financial institution that was subjected to American sanctions for its role in the disruption of Ukrainian democracy in Crimea. Contrary to Sater’s boasts, the project never secured the requisite financing or government approval and died weeks after Sater’s emails were sent.
Both Congressional intelligence committees and the Department of Justice are currently looking into ties between the Trump campaign and Kremlin officials, to determine whether anyone in Trump’s orbit played an active role in facilitating Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Cohen, who is a long time Trump attorney, emailed Putin’s personal spokesman Dmitry Peskov in January 2016 to ask for assistance in obtaining government approval for the stagnant business venture. (RELATED: Trump Lawyer Reportedly Asked Vladimir Putin’s Spokesman For Help On Moscow Real Estate Deal)
“Over the past few months I have been working with a company based in Russia regarding the development of a Trump Tower – Moscow project in Moscow City,” Cohen wrote Peskov, a person familiar with the email told the Washington Post. “Without getting into lengthy specifics the communication between our two sides has stalled.”
“As this project is too important, I am hereby requesting your assistance. I respectfully request someone, preferably you, contact me so that I might discuss the specifics as well as arranging meetings with the appropriate individuals. I thank you in advance for your assistance and look forward to hearing from you soon,” Cohen wrote.
Cohen also said in his statement that Trump was aware of the Moscow project and signed a letter of intent to go ahead with the deal in October 2015, four months into his campaign. Cohen’s statement contradicts Trump’s repeated assertions during the campaign that he had “no relationship to Russia whatsoever.”
The emails represent the first demonstrable instance of Trump organization executive seeking the assistance of top Kremlin aides to advance business interests.
Cohen, who has served as one of Trump’s top aides for over a decade, said in a statement to congressional investigators that he requested help from the Kremlin at Sater’s direction.
Cohen said Sater suggested reaching out to Peskov to obtain Russian government approval for the project, which the Trump organization planned to profit from through a licensing deal with the Moscow-based developer I.C. Expert Investment Company.
“The Trump Tower Moscow proposal was not related in any way to Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign,” Cohen wrote in his statement to Congressional investigators, obtained by WaPo. “The decision to pursue the proposal initially, and later to abandon it were unrelated to the Donald Jr. Trump for President Campaign.”
The Trump organization denied the existence of any Russian real estate holdings in a Monday statement.
“To be clear, the Trump Organization has never had any real estate holdings or interests in Russia,” the statement reads.
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