Co­hen re­veals Rus­sian out­reach at­tempts in 2016 Trump cam­paign

Lodi News-Sentinel - - LOCAL / STATE - By Chris Mege­rian and David Will­man

WASH­ING­TON — Don­ald Trump se­cretly au­tho­rized his long­time lawyer Michael Co­hen to try to ar­range a meet­ing with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin in New York just three months after Trump had an­nounced his White House bid, ac­cord­ing to new dis­clo­sures from spe­cial coun­sel Robert S. Mueller III on Fri­day.

The pro­posed meet­ing be­tween the real es­tate mogul and the Rus­sian leader, who was vis­it­ing New York for the U.N. Gen­eral Assem­bly in Septem­ber 2015, did not take place. It’s un­clear whether Rus­sian au­thor­i­ties con­sid­ered the of­fer, which Co­hen made in a ra­dio in­ter­view.

Two months later, Co­hen spoke with a Rus­sian na­tional who claimed to be a “trusted per­son” in the Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion. The per­son, who was not named in the court doc­u­ment, offered Trump’s cam­paign “po­lit­i­cal syn­ergy” and re­peat­edly pro­posed a meet­ing be­tween Trump and Putin.

The Rus­sian said a meet­ing with Putin would have a “phe­nom­e­nal” im­pact not only on Trump’s po­lit­i­cal ca­reer “but in a busi­ness di­men­sion as well,” which prose­cu­tors said was Trump’s decades­long ef­fort to build a lux­ury ho­tel and con­do­minium tower in Moscow.

Whether the of­fer for col­lab­o­ra­tion with Moscow was gen­uine isn’t known. Co­hen did not pur­sue it be­cause, prose­cu­tors say, he al­ready was work­ing with an­other per­son “who Co­hen un­der­stood to have his own con­nec­tions to the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment.”

The pre­vi­ously un­known in­ter­ac­tions flesh out how Trump’s per­sonal fi­nan­cial in­ter­ests re­peat­edly col­lided with his un­con­ven­tional pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, the lat­est data points for the spe­cial coun­sel in­ves­ti­ga­tion into whether Trump or his aides as­sisted Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 elec­tion.

The Trump Tower Moscow project could have gen­er­ated “hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars from Rus­sian sources in li­cens­ing fees and other rev­enues” for the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion, the hold­ing com­pany for Trump fam­ily busi­nesses, prose­cu­tors wrote, es­ti­mat­ing the project’s po­ten­tial value for the first time.

The com­pany, they added, “sought and likely re­quired” Rus­sian gov­ern­ment as­sis­tance to build the Moscow tower.

The fact that Co­hen dis­cussed it with Trump “well into the cam­paign” was sig­nif­i­cant, prose­cu­tors said, “par­tic­u­larly be­cause it oc­curred at a time of sus­tained ef­forts by the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment to in­ter­fere with the U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.”

The de­tails were re­vealed in a seven-page sen­tenc­ing memo for Co­hen, who has co­op­er­ated with Mueller’s of­fice after plead­ing guilty to sev­eral crimes in­volv­ing the pres­i­dent.

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