TrumpWatch, Day 256: Documents Show More Contacts Between Trump Officials and Russians

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Documents handed to federal investigators have revealed two more previously unreported contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

Weeks before the Republican National Convention, Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen (pictured) exchanged e-mails about a possible trip to an economic conference in Russia involving Moscow’s leaders, including President Vladi­mir Putin, according to “people familiar with the correspondence”.

Cohen also received a proposal in late 2015 for a Moscow residential project from a company founded by a Russian billionaire and former MP. It was the second proposal for a Trump-branded Moscow project made during the Trump campaign.

The lawyer rejected the plan for the Moscow building, and he declined the invitation to the economic conference, citing the difficulty of attending so close to the GOP convention.

But the documents, turned over in August to the inquiry of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, add to the evidence of Russian attempts to establish financial and political links with Donald Trump’s senior advisors. They include established and attempted contacts with Donald Trump Jr.; Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner; campaign manager Paul Manafort; advisors Carter Page and George Papadopoulos; and Cohen.

An Established Connection

The June 2016 e-mail to Cohen about the economic conference came from Felix Sater, a Russian-born real estate developer and childhood friend of the lawyer in Brooklyn.

Sater, a long-time associate of the Trump Organization, was also involved in discussions in late 2015 and early 2016, authorized by Donald Trump, about building a Trump Tower in Moscow. Cohen approached the Kremlin for assistance in late January 2016 before the project stalled.

See How Donald Trump, Running for President, Sought Deal for a Trump Tower in Moscow

But Sater returned to possible projects when he worte Cohen that the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum could include introductions to Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, top financial leaders, and perhaps Putin. Sater said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, could help arrange the discussions.

Cohen soon received a formal invitation to the conference from the Russian organizer of the conference, accompanied by a letter from an official to help the Trump lawyer obtain a visa.

The correspondence came at about the same time as a meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Manafort, and Kushner with three Kremlin-linked envoy in Trump Tower in New York in June 2016. When the encounter was revealed this summer, Trump Jr. falsely claimed the discussion was about “adoptions”, reportedly in a statement dictated by Trump Sr. Further disclosures, including of Trump Jr.’s e-mail exchange with the broker of the meeting, confirmed that it was about a Russian offer of material damaging to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

That meeting in turn followed months of Russian efforts seeking contacts with the Trump campaign, including correspondence with advisor Papadapoulos.

Another Building Proposal

The latest-disclosed documents also show another inquiry for a building project in Moscow.

Russian billionaire Sergei Gordeev, who was in the upper house of the Russian Parliament until 2010, pitched the idea to Cohen via international financier Giorgi Rtskhiladze.

A spokesman for Rtskhiladze, Melanie Bonvicino, confirmed the initiative for a Trump-branded residential development, saying a 13-page document with pictures was delivered in October 2015.

Bonvicino sai, Cohen informed Rtskhiladze that the Trump Organization could not pursue the project because it was already committed to another developer in Russia — a reference to the Sater project.

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