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The Russian Connection: Trump’s Tower In Moscow

The New York Times uncovered an e-mail from a Trump associate that boasted about a deal in Russia that would “get Trump elected” president. The business associate? None other than then guy with the margarita glass, convicted felon Felix Slater, the Russian immigrant from Brighton Beach, Brooklyn.

A business associate of President Trump promised in 2015 to engineer a real estate deal with the aid of the president of Russia, Vladimir V. Putin, that he said would help Mr. Trump win the presidency.

The associate, Felix Sater, wrote a series of emails to Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, in which he boasted about his ties to Mr. Putin. He predicted that building a Trump Tower in Moscow would highlight Mr. Trump’s savvy negotiating skills and be a political boon to his candidacy.

“Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,” Mr. Sater wrote in an email. “I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.” [..]

Mr. Sater, a Russian immigrant, said he had lined up financing for the Trump Tower deal with VTB Bank, a Russian bank that was under American sanctions for involvement in Moscow’s efforts to undermine democracy in Ukraine. In another email, Mr. Sater envisioned a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Moscow.

“I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected,” Mr. Sater wrote.

Mr. Sater said he was eager to show video clips to his Russian contacts of instances of Mr. Trump speaking glowingly about Russia, and said he would arrange for Mr. Putin to praise Mr. Trump’s business acumen.

“If he says it we own this election,” Mr. Sater wrote. “Americas most difficult adversary agreeing that Donald is a good guy to negotiate.”

There is no evidence in the emails that Mr. Sater delivered on his promises, and one email suggests that Mr. Sater overstated his Russian ties. In January 2016, Mr. Cohen wrote to Mr. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, asking for help restarting the Trump Tower project, which had stalled. But Mr. Cohen did not appear to have Mr. Peskov’s direct email, and instead wrote to a general inbox for press inquiries.

The project never got government permits or financing, and died weeks later.

Marcy Wheeler has some thoughts on Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen convenient lack of memory about meeting with Dmitry Peskov.

Sater was just engaged in salesmanship. But for what? A tower or a presidency?

Cohen never went to Russia. But did he make the deal without leaving NYC?

Now, a second story based on the emails actually turned over reveals a far more interesting detail: Cohen may not have gone to Russia, but he did reach out to Dmitry Peskov.

Peskov, you may recall, was (per the Steele dossier) the “main protagonist” of the kompromat campaign against Hillary, which initially reportedly — but perhaps not credibly — started as sharing old dirt on Hillary with Trump’s campaign, but by the end, consisted of deciding to leak the second batch of emails.

Russians do have further ‘kompromat’ on CLINTON (e-mails) and considering disseminating it after Duma (legislative elections) in late September. Presidential spokesman PESKOV continues to lead on this.

For his part, Cohen played the key role in brokering relations between Russia and the Trump team after Paul Manafort stepped down during the summer.

Speaking separately to the same compatriot in mid-October 2016, a Kremlin insider with direct access to the leadership confirmed that a key role in the secret TRUMP campaign/Kremlin was being played by the Republican candidates personal lawyer Michael COHEN

So any ongoing discussions between Cohen and Peskov would go to the heart of any coordination between Trump and Russia.

Which is why it is so interesting that Cohen has started to not recall whether there were ongoing conversations after that January email (note, NYT’s Haberman says Cohen sent this to the mail press email for Peskov, not a private one).

“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, according to a person familiar with the email. “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.

[snip]

In the statement, obtained by the Washington Post, Cohen said Sater suggested the outreach because a massive Trump development in Moscow would require Russian government approval. He said he did not recall receiving a response from Peskov and the project was abandoned two weeks later. [my emphasis]

I wonder if Cohen can recall any more recent conversations with Peskov, such as in advance of the time, in February of this year, when he and Sater delivered a Ukrainian peace plan to Mike Flynn in the days before Trump’s National Security Advisor was forced to quit?

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow reports on the myriad ties between Donald Trump and Russia that have come to light in contradiction of Trump denials, with the latest being the pursuit of a real estate deal backed by a state-run Russian bank while Trump was campaigning for president. She also has more news about the Russian Trump Dossier. (report begins at 2:10)

The revelations keep coming and the explanations from Trump and his defenders keep falling apart. As Charlie Pierce noted:

So much of what the president* has said about his relationship with this guy has been a lie because everything the president* has said about his business dealings in Russia has been a lie. There’s so much of it now, and we’re only seeing the drip-drip-drip details that are leaking out piecemeal. This is where I become almost convinced that the key to this presidency* is that nobody, including the president* himself, ever thought he’d win. He could continue to do business with shady characters because, after November, who really would care? Now, he knows what’s out there and he’s really stuck. At this point, the biggest threat to Robert Mueller’s investigation is not that Mueller might get fired, but that all his support staff will die crippled with carpal tunnel syndrome.