I figured that after the midterms were over, Robert Mueller would start rolling out new indictments and we’d see a flood of new reporting on new developments in the investigation. Thursday was a banner day for that, with multiple stories beginning to connect the dots of potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
First, we have former Trump fixer Michael Cohen pleading guilty to lying to Congress–but it’s what he lied about that matters. Specifically, he lied about Trump not pursuing business deals with Russia during the campaign. He now admits that while the campaign was going on, he was flying to Russia to negotiate the building of a Trump Tower in Moscow.
Donald Trump and his aides continued negotiations about a potential Trump Tower project in Moscow well into the 2016 presidential campaign, his ex-lawyer Michael Cohen acknowledged in a guilty plea in a New York federal court on Thursday.
Cohen admitted that he lied to Congress last year when he said that those discussions had ended in January 2016 and that his overtures to the Russian government went unrequited.
In fact, the talks continued through June, and Cohen did hear back from one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s top aides, spokesman Dmitry Peskov, according to court documents.
This obviously creates conflicts of interest, a motive for favoring Putin and an opportunity for a quid pro quo. We don’t know what else Mueller may have that proves that this happened, but I’m sure it’s more than was revealed. The fact that Trump and those around him lied repeatedly about this kills any credibility they might have in disputing it. But then a second story broke in BuzzFeed, which is reporting that as part of the negotiations over the Moscow Trump Tower, Trump promised Putin that he would give him the $50 million penthouse apartment in the building.
President Donald Trump’s company planned to give a $50 million penthouse at Trump Tower Moscow to Russian President Vladimir Putin as the company negotiated the luxury real estate development during the 2016 campaign, according to four people, one of them the originator of the plan.
Two US law enforcement officials told BuzzFeed News that Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer at the time, discussed the idea with a representative of Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s press secretary…
The revelation that representatives of the Trump Organization planned to forge direct financial links with the leader of a hostile nation at the height of the campaign raises fresh questions about President Trump’s relationship with the Kremlin. The plan never went anywhere because the tower deal ultimately fizzled, and it is not clear whether Trump knew of the intention to give away the penthouse. But Cohen said in court documents that he regularly briefed Trump and his family on the Moscow negotiations.
Now we’re getting much closer. This looks a lot like a bribe to get the deal approved and it creates all kinds of opportunities not only for a quid pro quo but for blackmail as well. Indeed, the many lies Trump and those around him have told about the project are known to be lies to Putin, so he already has that to hang over Trump’s head. We don’t know what else there is to come out, but I’m betting we’re going to see things get a lot more specific in court filings and for the image created by connecting all these dots is going to look a lot like Trump and Putin in bed together.