On Monday, the Washington Post reported on the existence of emails between a business associate of Donald Trump and Trump's lawyer back in 2015 that suggested the Trump camp was exploring the idea of building a Trump Tower in Moscow. The Post presented this as a conflict of interest because it would have given Trump, then running for president, a major business interest in Russia. The deal never came to pass, but now the New York Times has a follow-up on the actual content of those emails, sent by the Russian-born Felix Sater to Trump attorney Michael Cohen. Sater, the Times explains, was a broker for the Trump Organization who earned money by delivering real estate deals. And he was pushing hard for this one, suggesting it would help Trump's chances of getting elected:
- Our boy: “Buddy," Sater wrote, "our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.”
- Ivanka: At another point, Sater, in an apparent attempt to boast of his connections, said he helped arrange a visit to the Kremlin by Ivanka Trump in 2006. “I arranged for Ivanka to sit in Putins private chair at his desk and office in the Kremlin," he wrote. In a statement, Ivanka Trump confirmed she visited the Kremlin but said she never met Putin. She didn't address the odd chair statement.
So what does all this mean? Cohen, for his part, says not much because Sater is prone to "puffery." But the emails are now in the hands of the House Intelligence Committee as part of its investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The Trump Organization said Monday that it "has never had any real estate holdings or interests in Russia.”