Trump’s Russia connections are becoming clearer
Rick Newman Thu, Nov 29 12:34 PM CST
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Donald Trump was negotiating with Russian officials over a tower project he wanted to build in Moscow right up to the time he won the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, according to new legal documents filed by special counsel Robert Mueller. The upshot is that Trump had deeper financial interests in Russia while running for president than he has acknowledged up till now.
The new information comes in legal filings associated with a new guilty plea by Michael Cohen, who was a senior executive at the Trump Organization from 2006 until earlier this year. In August, Cohen pleaded guilty to eight criminal charges and began cooperating with prosecutors probing Trump’s connections to Russia. Cohen has now pleaded guilty to lying to Congress, based on false claims he made regarding the Russia project to House and Senate intelligence committees in 2017.
Cohen said then that the Moscow project ended with no deal in January 2016, which was after Trump had declared his presidential candidacy but before any of the primary elections. But Mueller found that Cohen—and Trump—continued to pursue the deal until as late as June of that year, when Trump was poised to become the Republican presidential nominee.
‘The Moscow project was discussed multiple times’
The timing is crucial because in January of 2016, Trump was a long-shot candidate who wouldn’t have been the focal point of Russian efforts to interfere in the U.S. election. But by June of that year, Trump was a king-slayer who had beaten every Republican and upended American politics. By then, he would undoubtedly have become a top interest of Russian president Vladimir Putin and his battalion of election meddlers.