President Donald Trump has never fully let go of his connections to the business world that have stood poised to have corrupted his presidency from the start. This week, after he suggested that plans for a Trump Tower Moscow didn’t even get far enough to include a specific site, Buzzfeed News unveiled that actually, the team involved in the project had their eye on a very particular location. They were going to put up the tower in “Moscow City,” which sits along the same Moscow River that the Kremlin itself does and hosts an array of commercial developments along the same lines as the never-realized Trump Tower.
The letter of intent that Donald Trump himself signed indicates these plans. That letter emerged after his high profile lawyer Rudy Giuliani claimed that although there was a letter of intent in place for the project, no one had ever signed it.
Considering the president’s new deceitful suggestion that there wasn’t even a site picked for the project, either Trump didn’t read what he signed or dismissed the truth incredibly flippantly — and he’s been documented to have lied thousands upon thousands of times while in office, so the more likely option is pretty clear. He said he wasn’t “even sure” and “didn’t think” that “they” had a site — but he himself signed a letter outlining the site.
The project has figured prominently because of its proximity to the Kremlin, not just in terms of geography. There were plans floated at one point to give Russian President Vladimir Putin himself a penthouse in the development, which would have capped off a rather lengthy one-sided love affair between Trump and Putin. Before the 2013 Miss Universe pageant held in Moscow, Trump suggested the leader might become his “new best friend.”
More recently, Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the scope of the project, possibly after consulting with the president himself about his then-upcoming testimony. He had initially claimed that negotiations ended in January 2016, but they actually stretched at least into the middle of the year despite the eventual president’s continued claims that he had nothing to do with Russia.
Trump and his associates have sought to downplay the significance of the high stakes Trump Tower Moscow plans. Giuliani has insisted that the letter of intent and subsequent months of negotiations were of no consequence, while Trump has claimed that there’d have been nothing wrong with the deal if he did pursue it — although he’s now perhaps become conscious of the truth and changed his tune, telling The Times this week that the Trump Tower Moscow proposal was “unimportant” and he “didn’t care” — despite his decades-long history of trying to make business inroads in Russia.
The previously established business connections aren’t the only troubling Trump ties to Moscow. More recently, he’s repeatedly met with Putin either without any American staff present or with an eventual demand for secrecy — even from other administration officials — placed on a translator that was there.
These incidents figure into the broader picture that Special Counsel for the Russia investigation Robert Mueller continues to explore.
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