Donald Trump's personal lawyer confirmed Monday that the president's company pursued a project in Moscow during the Republican primary, but said that the plan was abandoned "for a variety of business reasons." The attorney, Michael Cohen, also said he sent an email to the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin as part of the potential deal, the AP reports. The confirmation that the Trump Organization was actively considering doing business in Russia during the presidential election could provide special counsel Robert Mueller fodder for probing Trump's personal and business finances, a line Trump has warned him not to cross. Cohen disclosed details of the deal in a statement to the House intelligence committee, which like Mueller is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.
In the statement, which the AP obtained Monday, Cohen said that he worked on the real estate proposal with Felix Sater, a Russia-born associate who he said claimed to have deep connections in Moscow. (The details have previously been reported in the media.) The discussions about the potential development occurred in the fall of 2015, months after Trump had declared his candidacy, and ended early last year when Cohen determined that the project was not feasible, according to a copy of Cohen's statement. Cohen also disclosed that Trump was personally aware of the deal, signing a letter of intent and discussing it with Cohen on two other occasions. In a statement, the Trump Organization emphasized that the licensing deal "was not significantly advanced," noting that no site or financing materialized during the negotiations. The company also said it was never paid any fees as part of the deal, and the signed letter of intent was nonbinding. Click for more from Cohen's statement.