- Win McNamee/Getty Images
- Ivanka Trump pushed Michael Cohen to work with a Russian athlete to secure a deal for a Trump Tower in Moscow, BuzzFeed reported. This was in 2015, during the height of her father’s US presidential campaign.
- The former Olympic weightlifter, Dmitry Klokov, is said to have told Cohen, a longtime lawyer for President Donald Trump, that he could set up a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The meeting would clear the way for the real-estate deal.
- Cohen reportedly declined the offer, frustrating Ivanka Trump.
- The report says congressional and FBI investigators have reviewed emails detailing the interactions of Cohen, Ivanka Trump, and Klokov and asked witnesses about them.
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Ivanka Trump connected Michael Cohen with a Russian athlete, who offered to introduce Donald Trump to Russian President Vladimir Putin, BuzzFeed reported Wednesday. The goal of the proposed meeting was to help pave the way for a Trump Tower in Moscow, according to emails and four sources BuzzFeed spoke with.
Ivanka Trump, the president’s eldest daughter, told Cohen in November 2015 to talk to the athlete, the former Olympic weightlifter Dmitry Klokov, and Cohen had at least one subsequent phone conversation with Klokov, the report says.
BuzzFeed reported that Cohen and Klokov also exchanged several emails, in one of which Klokov told Cohen he could set up a meeting between Putin and Donald Trump, a presidential candidate at the time, to clear the way for a Trump Tower in Moscow.
But Cohen reportedly emailed Klokov to decline his offer and say the Trump Organization already had a deal to pursue the project.
The Russian athlete copied Ivanka Trump in his reply and questioned Cohen’s authority to make decisions for the Trump Organization, at which point Trump asked Cohen why he did not want to pursue the deal through Klokov, the report says.
BuzzFeed said Klokov told the outlet he did not “send any emails” to Cohen but stopped responding when it told him it had learned that he had sent at least two emails to Cohen and had at least one phone call with him at Trump’s request.
Both congressional and FBI investigators are said to be looking into the events and working out the details of how the first daughter knows Klokov, including by reviewing emails and questioning witnesses.
A source with direct knowledge of the matter told Business Insider that the special counsel Robert Mueller’s office had not contacted the White House with any document or interview requests related to Ivanka Trump.
Other efforts to build a Trump Tower Moscow were already in the works
Cohen’s rejection of Klokov’s request may have to do, at least in part, with the fact that by that time, he and his longtime associate, the Russian-born businessman Felix Sater, had been collaborating for weeks to secure financing for the deal.
Sater first sent a letter of intent to Cohen outlining the terms of the “Trump World Tower Moscow” deal on October 13, 2015. Andrey Rozov, a Russian investor, had already signed it by the time Sater forwarded it to Cohen for Trump’s signature.
“Lets make this happen and build a Trump Moscow,” Sater wrote in a note attached to the letter and shared by The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman. “And possibly fix relations between the countries by showing everyone that commerce & business are much better and more practical than politics. That should be Putins message as well, and we will help him agree on that message. Help world peace and make a lot of money, I would say thats a great lifetime goal for us to go after.”
In November – the same month Ivanka Trump told Cohen to contact Klokov – Cohen and Sater exchanged a series of emails gearing up to celebrate the Trump Tower Moscow deal. In the emails, obtained by The Times, Sater bragged about his relationship with Putin and told Cohen he would “get all of Putins team to buy in” on the deal.
He also wrote that he “arranged for Ivanka to sit in Putins private chair at his desk and office in the Kremlin.”
Of Donald Trump, Sater wrote: “Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it.”
- Shannon Stapleton/Reuters
Cohen was advocating the project as late as January 2016, when he contacted Dmitry Peskov, a top aide to Putin, about pushing the Trump Tower Moscow deal through.
“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 to Peskov, according to The Washington Post, which cited a person familiar with the email. “Without getting into lengthy specifics, the communication between our two sides has stalled.”
Cohen continued: “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 told Vanity Fair last year that the proposal from Sater was “business as usual and nothing more,” describing it as “just another project, another licensing deal.” He added that he had “really wanted to see this building go up, because the economics were fantastic.”
Adding another layer to the story, Sater told the MSNBC host Chris Hayes in March that the Trump Organization was negotiating with a sanctioned Russian bank to secure financing for the building during the campaign.
The Trump Tower Moscow deal is among several events connected to Cohen that Mueller is known to be looking into as part of his investigation into Russia’s election meddling.