The year was 2015.
Donald Trump, the reality star and New York developer, announced in June of that year his intent to run for president of the United States.
He signalled yet another intent that year — to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, signing a letter to that effect in October, CNN reported Tuesday.
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During the campaign, Trump asserted that his business had “no relationship to Russia whatsoever,” ABC News reported.
And last Sunday, Trump’s lawyer told CNN’s Dana Bash that the letter regarding the Moscow project had never actually been signed.
The letter, obtained by CNN’s Chris Cuomo, was written to Andrey Rozov, CEO at Moscow-based company I.C. Expert Investment, and signed by both Trump and himself.
Giuliani called the fact of Trump signing the letter “bulls***” on Tuesday, The New York Daily News reported.
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The newspaper went on to report Giuliani claiming, “I don’t think I said nobody signed it,” despite having told Bash that “no one signed” the intent.
The letter detailed the “basic terms” of a licence agreement that would see I.C. Expert Investment affix the Trump brand to a proposed tower with 250 luxury condos, a first-class hotel and commercial and office components.
However, it didn’t exactly commit the parties to the project — it was only meant to “facilitate further discussions” toward making it happen.
Today, it serves as confirmation that the U.S. president hasn’t always been totally clear about his ties to Russia.
The Washington Post was first to report on the Trump Tower Moscow story in August 2017.
The newspaper, citing anonymous sources, detailed efforts by Russia-born developer Felix Sater to bring Trump to Moscow to tout the plan and to have Russian President Vladimir Putin say “great things” about the then-U.S. presidential candidate.
The deal ultimately fell apart in January 2016, as proponents didn’t have the land or permits they needed to make it happen, the Post reported at the time.
Nevertheless, Trump’s ties to Russia would continue to dog him during the campaign — he issued the following tweet in July 2016.
The deal would crop up again in November 2018, when Trump’s former fixer, Michael Cohen, admitted that he lied to Congress about work he did on Trump Tower Moscow, saying he did it to be “consistent” with Trump’s political messaging and to be “loyal” to him.
Cohen had told Congress that all work related to the Moscow project had wrapped up in January 2016, but he admitted they continued up to June of that year.
It would later emerge that Cohen had made contact with Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s press secretary, looking for help to realize the tower.
Peskov said he informed Trump’s side that the “presidential administration isn’t involved in construction projects, and if they are interested in making investments we will be glad to see them at St. Petersburg’s economic forum.”
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Reports from numerous media outlets in November indicated that the Trump organization planned to give Putin a penthouse in the tower, but Giuliani denied this in a CNN interview.
Trump’s lawyer said in that interview that the plan was “unknown to the president” and the prospect of giving Putin a penthouse was “crazy.”
Cohen was subsequently sentenced to three years in prison, both for lying to Congress and for making hush payments to two women who alleged that they had affairs with Trump.