- A Georgian-American businessman is breaking his silence after his text messages with Michael Cohen were quoted in the Mueller report regarding a claim about a sexual blackmail tape of President Donald Trump.
- Through a spokesperson, Giorgi Rtskhiladze says that there is “no factual basis” to support a claim that a salacious Trump tape exists.
- Rtskhiladze claims the text exchange quoted in the Mueller report is “incomplete.”
A Georgian-American businessman claims that the Mueller report left out key context from a text message exchange he had with former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen regarding a rumored sex tape of President Donald Trump.
“The incomplete text exchange referenced in the Mueller report (between the parties) was based on ‘rumours’ only, and has no factual basis,” Melanie Bonvicino, a spokeswoman for the businessman, Giorgi Rtskhiladze, said in a written statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Rtskhiladze is identified in a footnote contained in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report that refers to an Oct. 30, 2016 text message exchange with Cohen.
Rtskhiladze wrote: “Stopped the flow of tapes from Russia but not sure if there’s anything else. Just so you know.”
Rtskhiladze told prosecutors in an interview on April 4, 2018, according to Mueller’s report, that he was referring to compromising tapes that were rumored to be held by people affiliated with the Crocus Group, a real estate conglomerate owned by billionaire real estate developer Aras Agalarov. (RELATED: Mueller Report Undercuts Several Steele Dossier Claims)
Agalarov had partnered with Trump to host the 2013 Miss Universe pageant, where the infamous Steele dossier alleges that Trump was videotaped with prostitutes.
Rtskhiladze told investigators in a second interview on May 10, 2018 that he was told that the Trump tapes were fake, Mueller’s report says.
The report also asserts that Rtskhiladze claimed he did not tell Cohen that he believed the tapes were fake. Cohen told prosecutors on Sept. 12, 2018 that he spoke to Trump about the message from Rtskhiladze, who has done business with the Trump Organization in the past.
But Bonvicino says that Rtskhiladze disputes how the Mueller report characterizes his exchanges with Cohen, as well as what he told prosecutors.
“We continue to urge media to refrain from further reporting on this matter, until such time as a full accounting of the text message exchange between him and Michael Cohen shall be made available for publication,” Bonvicino said.
She said that Rtskhiladze will soon release more details of the text exchanges.
The footnote in Mueller’s report has been interpreted in two different ways, largely depending on the political leanings of the interpreter. Trump supporters largely see the footnote as proving once and for all that the rumor that Russians have blackmail material on Trump was a farce. But anti-Trump conspiracy theorists, such as Twitter personality Seth Abramson, have asserted that Rtskhiladze’s text messages show that tapes of Trump did exist and that the Republican was aware of them during the 2016 campaign.
Whatever Cohen might have been told by Rtskhiladze, the former Trump fixer seemed to knock down rumors of Trump tapes during congressional testimony he gave on Feb. 27.
“Are you aware of anything that the president has done at home or abroad that may have subjected or may subject him to extortion or blackmail?” Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat, asked Cohen.
“I am not, no,” said Cohen, who began cooperating with Mueller’s team against his former boss in August 2018.
“Are you aware of any videotapes that may be the subject of extortion or blackmail?” Cohen was asked.
“I’ve heard about these tapes for a long time. I’ve had many people contact me over the years. I have no reason to believe that tape exists,” replied Cohen.
The allegations of sexual blackmail against Trump first appeared in the Steele dossier, published by BuzzFeed on Jan. 10, 2017.
Christopher Steele, the former British spy who wrote the dossier, alleged that the Russian government had recorded Trump with prostitutes at a Moscow hotel in November 2013. Steele’s source claimed the tapes showed the prostitutes urinating on each other in front of Trump, who has vehemently denied the allegations.
The claim has come under scrutiny in the months and years since the dossier was published. People who were with Trump during his Moscow visit have said that he had very little time take part in the events alleged by Steele.
“When I heard it, what first struck me was, well when would it have happened?” Rob Goldstone, who worked for the Agalarovs at the time of Trump’s visit to Moscow, told TheDCNF in 2018.
Goldstone said that Trump stayed one night in Moscow and was only alone in his hotel room for six or seven hours before departing the Russian capital the next day.
Other allegations from the dossier were all but debunked by the Mueller report. Mueller said that Cohen did not visit Prague, which is where Steele alleged that the ex-Trump lawyer met with Kremlin officials to pay off hackers.
Mueller said he was unable to establish that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, even though the dossier describes a “well-coordinated conspiracy” with the Kremlin.
Mueller’s report makes other references to Rtskhiladze’s interactions with Cohen and the Trump Organization. The pair were in contact in 2015 during negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Rtskhiladze had partnered with the Crocus Group on business ventures in Moscow in the past. He had also worked on a development deal with Trump Organization to build properties in Batumi, Georgia.
Cohen forwarded a “preliminary design study” for the Trump Tower project to Rtskhiladze on Sept. 22, 2015, according to the report. But Cohen and the Trump Organization ended up partnering with another middleman, Felix Sater, to negotiate the Trump skyscraper.
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