Russia’s Peskov shares 2016 emails from ex-Trump lawyer Cohen
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov revealed two emails on Friday from U.S. President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty the previous day to lying to Congress about a project in Moscow.
Peskov said that Cohen had used the January 2016 emails to request a meeting either with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s then-chief of staff Sergei Ivanov or Peskov himself.
In the emails, which Peskov showed to reporters, Cohen expressed interest in discussing a proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow. U.S. prosecutors referred to the emails in court documents related to Cohen’s plea deal.
“Over past few months I’ve been working with the company based in Russia regarding the development of Trump tower, a project in Moscow City,” Cohen wrote in one of the emails that Peskov showed. “I am requesting your assistance. I request someone preferably you contact me, so I might discuss the specifics as well as arranging meetings with appropriate individuals.”
Peskov said that Russian officials never responded by email to Cohen, instead contacting the lawyer by phone.
“We told them that Presidential Administration doesn’t build houses, and if they want to invest in Russia that we will be happy to see them at St Petersburg Economic Forum,” Peskov said on Friday.
Trump’s business dealings in Russia took center stage on Thursday right before his departure for the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires, when Cohen admitted that he lied to lawmakers when he said that negotiations for the skyscraper ended in January 2016, when in fact they continued until June that year, after Trump clinched the Republican nomination.
Trump defended his company’s pursuit of business in Russia during his 2016 White House bid, saying that his dealings there were legal and that they ultimately ended without a project. In an early morning tweet from Argentina, where he’s taking part in the G-20, Trump assailed the scrutiny of his business, calling it a “Witch Hunt.”
“Put up zero money, zero guarantees and didn’t do the project,” Trump wrote.
The Trump Organization had considered offering Putin a $50 million penthouse in a planned skyscraper in Moscow to make the building more desirable to rich buyers, according to Felix Sater, a Russian-born real estate developer who was broker on the project and discussed it hours after the Cohen guilty plea. Peskov said Trump’s associates didn’t offer the Kremlin a penthouse for Putin.
Sater, a former Trump business associate and ex-government informant who pleaded guilty to felony charges, said Thursday that he came up with the idea as a way to reap extra profit from Trump Tower Moscow, which he said would have brought in as much as $500 million if it had been built. Cohen approved of the idea, Sater said, adding that it came to him while “spitballing” marketing schemes.
The Moscow tower deal was scrapped in 2016, though the reasons remain unclear.