Despite Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump’s multiple claims that there was no “Trump Tower Moscow” deal, it appears that not only was there a deal, but there were extensive plans in place to make it the largest building in all of Europe based on a new set of documents and emails recently released by BuzzFeed News.
The plan was dazzling: a glass skyscraper that would stretch higher than any other building in Europe, offering ultra-luxury residences and hotel rooms and bearing a famous name. Trump Tower Moscow, conceived as a partnership between Donald Trump’s company and a Russian real estate developer, looked likely to yield profits in excess of $300 million.
The tower was never built, but it has become a focal point of the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Trump’s relationship with Russia in the lead-up to his presidency.
The president and his representatives have dismissed the project as little more than a notion — a rough plan led by Trump’s then-lawyer, Michael Cohen, and his associate Felix Sater, of which Trump and his family said they were only loosely aware as the election campaign gathered pace.
Let’s first recall that Trump has repeatedly lied, starting in early 2016 and until recently, claiming that “he had no deal, and no planned deals” in Russia.
But as shown here, the Tower project plan had moved along quite far and was designed to fit in right at the corner among the buildings shown above.
Trump Tower Moscow had been planned to be the tallest building in Europe when Trump attorney and fixer Cohen managed to gain the support of developer Andrey Rozov.
“The building design you sent over is very interesting,” the Russian real estate developer Andrey Rozov wrote to Cohen in September 2015, “and will be an architectural and luxury triumph. I believe the tallest building in Europe should be in Moscow, and I am prepared to build it.”
In addition to the letter of intent signed in October 2015 by Trump, Felix Sater managed to also obtain a similar signed letter of intent from developer Rozov, which he forwarded to Cohen.
Detailed architectural plans and designs had already been put together based on the work of an architect who had been selected by Ivanka, including a branded spa under her name.
Ivanka Trump recommended the architect for the failed Trump Tower Moscow project in an email to Michael Cohen, it has been revealed.
Cohen copied Ivanka and Don Trump Jr on emails about the project in late 2015, and Ivanka replied suggesting an architect for the building, according to a person close to the Trump Organization.
Ivanka was also due to have a spa inside the building branded with her name, according to documents linked to the project.
Trump’s company was explicitly given the option to ‘brand any or all portion of the spa or fitness facilities as “The Spa by Ivanka Trump” or similar,” according to papers seen by CNN.
Key perks of the project included a planned personal penthouse for Vladimir Putin which would have been worth $50 million, based on an idea that was pitched by Cohen’s partner on the project, Felix Sater, to Putin press secretary Dmitri Peskov.
A show-stopping apartment like that could have been marketed for $50 million. But as BuzzFeed News reported in November, Trump’s fixers planned not to sell it — but to give it away for free, to none other than Vladimir Putin himself. Two US law enforcement officials confirmed that Cohen discussed the idea with an aide to Putin’s press secretary.
The hope was that the lavish gift would help grease the wheels, and in the process entice more Russian elites to move in. “My idea was to give a $50 million penthouse to Putin and charge $250 million more for the rest of the units,” Felix Sater told BuzzFeed News in November. “All the oligarchs would line up to live in the same building as Putin.”
Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to lying both to Congress and the Special Counsel’s Office (SCO) when he claimed that this project had ended in January 2016, when he attempted to email Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov in Moscow for help moving things forward, and falsely claimed that he received no response.
That was a lie which Cohen admitted in his sentence statement, and he also admitted why he lied: because Trump (Client-1) wanted it.
Michael’s false statements to Congress likewise sprung regrettably from Michael’s effort, as a loyal ally and then-champion of Client-1, to support and advance Client-1’s political messaging.
It was obvious he was in CONSTANT contact with him running ideas, proposals, etc. by him for his approval.”). political ties between himself and Russia, as well as the strongly voiced mantra of Client-1 that investigations of such ties were politically motivated and without evidentiary support, and (b)specifically knew, consistent with Client-1’s aim to dismiss and minimize the merit of the SCO investigation, that Client-1 and his public spokespersons were seeking to portray contact with Russian representatives in any form by Client-1, the Campaign or the Trump Organization as having effectively terminated before the Iowa caucuses of February 1, 2016. Seeking to stay in line with this message, Michael told Congress that his communications and efforts to finalize a building project in Moscow on behalf of the Trump Organization, which he began pursuing in 2015, had come to an end in January 2016,
Michael had a lengthy substantive conversation with the personal assistant to a Kremlin official following his outreach in January 2016, engaged in additional communications concerning the project as late as June 2016, and kept Client-1 apprised of these communications. He and Client-1 also discussed possible travel to Russia in the summer of 2016, and Michael took steps to clear dates for such travel.
Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis made this point in a more direct way during an interview with Bloomberg.
“Mr. Trump and the White House knew that Michael Cohen would be testifying falsely to Congress and did not tell him not to,” Davis said.
Cohen has admitted under oath that Trump was kept in the loop on the project with at least 10 status meetings during 2016, meaning that Trump was aware that Cohen would falsely claim the project ended in January, when in fact it went until at least June.
One can argue about whether this supports the claim that Trump “told Cohen to lie to Congress” as was also reported by BuzzFeed in a different report, but I think that may be a distinction without a meaningful difference. “Told him to lie” may have been done in an explicit conversation, or it may have simply been implied by Trump’s own very vocal denials of “any connection to Russia.” Common sense would mean that if Cohen went to Congress and told them he was still working on the Moscow project at least until the day that the Washington Post revealed that Russians had hacked the DNC, that might be a bit of a political problem for Trump.
Here’s a detailed timeline of events related to Cohen based on an extended timeline compiled from what Mueller’s filings and the media have revealed. Pardon its length because a lot has happened, but reviewing it this way with all these details makes the patterns of conduct and the overall picture far more clear and easy to identify.
- 2008 —
- 2013 —
- Trump attempts to create a Trump Tower project with his Miss Universe Moscow partner Aras Agalarov. Don Jr. is in charge of the project and Ivanka goes on location scouting trips with Aras’ popstar son Emin. Ike Kaveladze, who works for the Agalarov family is also present.
- 2014 —
- Obama implements sanctions on Russia for their illegal annexation of Crimea, which according to Emin Agalarov’s music promoter Rob Goldstone throws the Russian economy into turmoil and kills the Trump/Agalarov Tower project.
- Eric Trump says in an interview when discussing the funding of Trump golf courses, “Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.” Eric later denies making this statement.
- October 13, 2015 —
- Felix Sater obtains a signed Letter of Intent from Russian Developer Andrey Rozov for a new Moscow Tower project using funding from Russia’s VTB Bank, which is sanctioned.
- October 28, 2015 —
- On the same day as the third GOP debate, Trump signs a nonbinding letter of intent to build Trump Tower Moscow.
- November 2015 —
- Felix Sater emails Michael Cohen about a new Trump Tower Moscow project, saying “I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected … I know how to play it and how to get this done. Buddy, our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it… I will get all of Putin’s team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.”
- Ivanka Trump emails Cohen that she can connect him with Russian Olympic weightlifter Dmitry Klokov in order to set up a Putin-Trump meeting on Trump Tower Moscow. Cohen contacts Klokov by phone and email; Klokov offers “political synergy” and to arrange the meeting but Cohen refuses, saying he already had an arrangement in place [via Sater].
- Sater and Cohen are soon also in talks with a Ukrainian member of Parliament to try to come up with a peace plan to remove sanctions on Russia.
- January 14, 2016 —
- Michael Cohen sends an email to Putin press secretary Dmitry Peskov trying to get talks regarding Trump Tower Moscow restarted. He claims that
they ignored him.[But they didn’t, they actually answered him.] Peskov also lies about not responding to this email to CNN. .He is later rumored to be Putin’s point man on his campaign against Hillary, but this remains unconfirmed.
- Michael Cohen sends an email to Putin press secretary Dmitry Peskov trying to get talks regarding Trump Tower Moscow restarted. He claims that
- January 16 —
- Cohen emails Peskov again, asking to reach a high-level official and for someone who speaks English to contact him.
- January 20 —
- Peskov’s assistant responds to Cohen’s emails and provides a Moscow-based phone number him to call. They speak for at least 20 minutes as Cohen requests assistance on the Moscow Tower project. The assistant takes notes and says they will follow up with others in Russia.
- January 21 —
- Sater emails Cohen asking for a call, then tells him that he’s received a call from Russia. “It’s about Putin, they called today.”
- May 4 —
- Felix Sater writes to Michael Cohen that he’s heard back from Moscow about his trip for the Tower project. “I had a chat with Moscow. ASSUMING the trip does happen the question is before or after the convention. Obviously. the pre-meeting trip (you only) can happen anytime you want but the 2 big guys [Trump and Putin] where [sic] the question. I said I would confirm and revert .” Cohen responded, “My trip before Cleveland. [Trump] once he becomes the nominee after the convention.”
- May 5 —
- Felix emails to Cohen: “[Dmitry Peskov] would like to invite you as his guest to the St. Petersburg Forum which is Russia’s Davos it’ s June 16- 19. He wants to meet there with you and possibly introduce you to either [Putin] or [Medvedev] , as they are not sure if 1 or both will be there. He said anything you want to discuss including dates and subjects are on the table to discuss.”
- May 6 —
- Sater asks for Cohen to confirm his dates for St. Petersburg; says “Works for me.”
- Also in May —
- US surveillance operations detect Russian spies vowing to “Get Hillary Clinton” in retaliation for her criticism of Putin’s last election in 2011. A GRU officer is recorded saying they are “getting ready to pay Clinton back for what President Vladimir Putin believed was an influence operation she had run against him five years earlier as Secretary of State”.
- Russian spies attempt to cultivate Carter Page as an asset, yet again!
- Paul Manafort meets in New York with his ex-GRU linked assistant from the Ukraine Konstantin Kilimnik. They allegedly discuss how much Deripaska approves of his work with the Trump campaign. About this same time, he’s being pressured by former Russian intelligence officer Victor Boyarkin to pay back his boss, oligarch Oleg Deripaska.
- George Papadopoulos drunkenly brags about having “dirt on Hillary Clinton” from Russia to Australia’s top diplomat to Britain, Alexander Downer in a Kensington wine bar.
- Trump releases an attack ad on Hillary claiming she’s “too close to Putin.” WaPo considers if the “Bromance” between Trump and Putin is over? Still, Politico reports that Trump is “Putin’s Candidate.”
- June 1, 2016 —
- Michael Cohen and Felix Sater continue to discuss efforts to obtain help from the Russian government on the Trump Tower Moscow project. Trump is updated on the current status of this more than three times, as are members of his family. [Likely Don Jr. and Ivanka, who had selected the architect for the project.]
- June 2, 2016 —
- Hillary gives a major speech criticizing Trump’s closeness to Russia and Putin, accusing him of praising “dictators like Vladimir Putin” and having a “bizarre fascination with dictators and strongmen who have no love for America.”
- June 9, 2016 —
- June 14, 2016 —
- WaPo Reports that the DNC has been hacked by the Russian government and the DNC goes public about the cyber intrusion, confirming Assange’s claim of having “Hillary” info from two days previous.
- Cohen tells Sater in the Lobby of Trump Tower that he’s not going to Russia. [From what we know at the moment, Cohen didn’t pursue this project further, although Giuliani has recently quoted Trump as saying the Moscow project “started when I began my campaign and ended when I won.” So in his mind, it was still viable right up until it wasn’t anymore, because it would have been a violation of government ethics rules. This again suggests Trump wasn’t expecting to win.]
- June 16, 2016 —
- Alex Downer reports what he heard from Papadopoulos to the FBI and the Crossfire Hurricane investigation begins, (most likely) targeting Papadopoulos, Manafort, Flynn, and Carter Page for their links and contacts with so many Russians. But not Trump … yet.
- June 20, 2016 —
- Chris Steele, while working on opposition research for the DNC via Fusion GPS, begins writing memos to the FBI, which talk about Trump being compromised by Russia and include the fact that the Russians have hacked the DNC email system and detail questionable contacts between Page, Manafort, Cohen and the Russians. [This again means it’s impossible for Steele’s dossier to have started the Russia investigation, because that had already started before he wrote his first memo.]
- July 18-21, 2016 —
- The Republican National Convention takes place, during which Trump national security adviser J.D. Gordon torpedoes a platform plank supporting the arming of Ukrainian rebels against pro-Russian forces, then lies about it. Trump becomes the Republican nominee.
- Carter Page travels to Moscow, approved by Trump national security adviser J.D. Gordon and Corey Lewandowski via email on June 19, to give several paid speeches. He informs Jeff Sessions of his trip before he goes. While there he later admits to Congress he meets the Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich and Andrey Baranov, Rosneft’s head of investor relations, who tells him of an impending sale of a large portion of their stock.
- Steele receives intel that Page also had secret meetings with Russian government oil firm Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin, who allegedly offers him broker fees on the sale of 19 percent of Rosneft stock supposedly as a payoff for influencing Trump to drop sanctions on Russia. He also reports that Page was also informed by Kremlin Official Igor Divyekin that “Russia had compromising materials on Hillary Clinton,” making him the third person in the Trump campaign after Papadopoulos & Don Jr. to be informed of this—yet none of them informed the FBI. Page eventually denies all of this, but then he does admit to Baranov telling him about the Rosneft stock sale, which is weird since Rosneft is sanctioned—so what can he legally do with this information?
- July 31, 2016 —
- October-November, 2016 —
- Cohen protects Trump by negotiating a $130,000 payoff to Stormy Daniels and also attempts to reimburse David Pecker for his payoff to silence Karen McDougal about her affair with Trump. He uses his own money for this, laundering it through a shell company. Trump eventually pays him back using a fraudulent retainer.
- November 7, 2016 — 19.5 percent of Rosneft is sold to the Qatar Sovereign Investment Fund (QIA) operated by Ahmed al-Rumahai. [This seem to be consistent with the Steele memo, which predicted brokerage fees for this sale were offered as a payoff to Page for Trump lifting sanctions on Russia.]
- November 8th— Election Day [‘nuff said].
- December 12, 2016 —
- Michael Cohen escorts Qatar Investment Fund (QIA) manager Ahmed al-Rumahai into Trump Tower for a meeting with Michael Flynn, which may have been to lobby in opposition to efforts being pushed by the Saudi and UAE Crown princes, who had met with Don Jr. via Erik Prince in August. [Eventually. the Saudis and the UAE will implement a blockade against Qatar based on bogus emails generated by Russian hackers saying they “support ISIS.” Later the QIA will inject cash into the Kushner family’s failing 666 Park Ave. project after Kushner’s father tries to shake them down for cash and fails.]
- January 9, 2017 —
- Michael Cohen meets personally in Trump Tower with Russian oligarch Victor Vekselberg chairman of investment firm Renova Group who became Russia’s “richest man” in 2012 after his investment in Rosneft. Vekselberg is also part of a consortium that includes oligarch German Khan, who is Alex Van Der Zwaan’s father-in-law. Van Der Zwaan is ultimately the first person convicted by Mueller of lying to the FBI about Manafort’s deputy Rick Gates being in contact with Kilimnick, which indicates that nearly all of this is linked to Russian intelligence and Putin.
- January 20 — Inauguration day.
- Michael Cohen meets Vekselberg again at the inauguration after he seems to use his American cousin Andrew Intrator to illegally donate $250,000 to the Trump inaugural committee. Mueller eventually interviews Vekselberg after detaining him at a New York airport, and Cohen’s shell company is later paid $500,000 by Intrater’s company for “real estate” advice that he never provides. Cohen sets up several more of these shady deals with various companies, netting more than $4 million through the shell company he used to pay off Stormy Daniels.
- February 6 —
- Michael Cohen and Felix Sater complete negotiations on a deal to end sanctions against Russia by stopping the violence in Crimea with a Russian-friendly member of the Ukrainian parliament named Andrii V. Artemenko. They supposedly deliver a copy of this plan to Michael Flynn’s desk, but there is no evidence he ever reviewed it or passed it on to anyone since he was fired one week later for lying to the FBI for suggesting to Russian ambassador Kislyak that Trump would drop sanctions, and and then lying about it to the VP and FBI.
- February 21 —
- Artemenko talks to a Ukrainian news outlet and reveals that he’s known Michael Cohen for some time since Cohen has an ethanol business in the country (which is also where his wife was born and where his step-father is from), and that his meeting with Cohen and Sater on Feb. 6 wasn’t their first. According to Artemenko, he discussed the “peace plan” with Cohen and Sater “at the time of the primaries [early 2016], when no one believed that Trump would even be nominated.”
- April 24 —
- Charles Kushner meets at the St. Regis Hotel in New York with Qatari finance minister Ali Sharif Al Emadi in an effort to have them invest in the Kushner-owned property at 666 5th Avenue, but they refuse.
- May 30 —
- June 2 —
- Michael Isikoff reports that Trump attempted to have all Russian sanctions lifted as soon as he took office, but was thwarted by holdover Obama officials and Congress. This puts the Cohen/Sater/Artemenko “Peace Plan” in greater perspective.
- June 16 —
- Trump’s Lawyer Michael Cohen lawyers up for Russia probe.
- August 14 —
- Michael Cohen’s attorney writes a letter to Congress vehemently denying his involvement in collusion between Trump and Russia as described in the Steele dossier, even though he had been directly involved in writing to the Russian government during the campaign to restart the Trump Tower Moscow project.
- August 18 —
- Michael Cohen writes House and Senate Intel committees a letter falsely claiming that he had ended the Trump Tower Moscow project in January 2016, that it hadn’t been widely discussed within Trumpco, that he’d never agreed to travel to Moscow, and he didn’t recall the Russian government responding after he had emailed Peskov about it. These are all lies.
- August 28 —
- The Washington Post reports that Michael Cohen sent an email in January 2016 to Putin deputy Dmitry Peskov trying to get talks regarding Trump Tower Moscow restarted. Cohen says that things didn’t proceed because they lacked “confidence” the licensee could accomplish the deal. [So, he’s still lying.]
- August 30 —
- Dmitry Peskov, responding to questions from CNN, admits that they did receive the email from Cohen about the Trump Tower Moscow project. “But, since, I repeat again, we do not react to such business topics — this is not our work — we left it unanswered.” [No, they didn’t.]
- September 19 —
- Michael Cohen is scheduled to do a closed-door interview with Senate Intel, but he releases a public statement which goes against their arrangement, so the interview is changed to an open hearing. [His public statements repeats the content of his false letter from August.]
- October 2 —
- The Washington Post reports that Michael Cohen, even after his private interview with Senate Intel staff just a week prior, had two more unreported contacts with Russian nationals during the campaign. Weeks before the RNC, he had exchanged emails with a “business associate” to attend a conference that would have included a personal appearance by Putin. [This would be Felix Sater in relation to Dmitry Peskov.] The other was in 2015, when he received a proposal for a Trump-branded residential project in Moscow from a billionaire who used to be a member of the Russian Senate.
- October 25, 2017 —
- Cohen testifies to Senate Intel and repeats the false statements from his previous letter that the Trump Tower Moscow project ended in January 2016.
- April 2018
- Michael Cohen is raided by the FBI and SDNY for his illegal payments to Stormy Daniels and other potential crimes.
- April 18, 2018 —
- Scaramucci says Cohen will never turn on Trump. [Sure, just wait until he hears all the charges!]
- April 20, 2018 —
- NYTimes’ Maggie Haberman reports that Roger Stone claims “Trump goes out of his way to treat Michael Cohen like garbage.”
- April 21, 2018 —
- CNN reports that Keith Davidson, the lawyer who set up the Daniels, McDougal, and Broidy payoff deals with Cohen, is cooperating with the Justice Dept.
- Kellyanne Conway refuses to explain why Trump tweeted about Cohen not ‘flipping.” [If you’re innocent of everything no one can flip on you, because there’s nothing to flip about.]
- April 25, 2018 —
- Michael Cohen announces to the court that he intends to plead the Fifth Amendment if asked to testify in the Stormy Daniels case, and the judges tells his legal team to be prepared for a special master to review all the privileged documents. Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti says the “cover up” matters more than Trump’s sex life.
- April 27, 2018 —
- The Wall Street Journal reports that Trump showed up late in 2012 to Michael Cohen’s son’s bar mitzvah, holding up the ceremony as they had waited for him, then complained about having to come, thus embarrassing Cohen. They also report that Cohen was overheard bragging that he had connections to the Russian mob while he was a guest at the wedding of his friend Gregory Erhlich, and that he practically begged to join Trump in the White House, thinking that he’d be named chief of staff instead of Reince Priebus.
- May 2, 2018 —
- Giuliani goes on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show:
- He says that Trump paid Cohen back his $130,000 through his retainer fees for $35,000 each plus enough for taxes and a bonus, and that means there’s no “campaign finance” problem, but that’s not how campaign finance law works: that would still be a violation by the size of an “in kind” contribution, and by the fact they didn’t report it, plus potentially money laundering and fraud.
- He says that the NY FBI who raided Cohen’s office were “Stormtroopers.” [Wait, didn’t they use to work for Giuliani?]
- He says Cohen hardly did any “legal work” for Trump. [So what’s the retainer for, because if it’s not for legal work THAT’S FRAUD. And how are they still claiming attorney/client privilege for something Cohen wasn’t doing?]
- Trump tweets and confirms Giuliani’s claim that Cohen was reimbursed using a retainer payment and says none of the money “came from the campaign,” which is totally missing the point because it still benefited the campaign. Avenatti says “whatever lawyer wrote those tweets is a moron.” [I’m betting it was Giuliani.]
- Jeff Toobin on Giuliani’s comments about Cohen : “That’s a confession.” [You betcha!]
- Huckabee-Sanders finally confirms that Trump paid Cohen back but she says she didn’t lie and only shared the “Best information she was given.” [Facepalm!]
- Giuliani goes on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show:
- May 3, 2018 —
- Giuliani goes on Fox and Friends, as if he hasn’t already done enough damage
- He also admits that the Daniels payoff was about the campaign: “Imagine if that [allegation] came out on Oct. 15, 2016 in the middle of the last debate with Hillary Clinton,” Giuliani added. “Cohen didn’t even ask. Cohen made it go away. He did his job.” [Right, exactly … it was a campaign-related payment.]
- He says that Trump didn’t know the details of the $130,000 payment until just “10 days ago” because “Cohen didn’t even ask.” [Ask what, for permission to do it? If he didn’t ask—that’s fraud, again.]
- He calls Michael Avenatti an “ambulance chaser” when in fact that’s what Michael Cohen actually used to do, and his clients were prosecuted for insurance fraud.
- Giuliani goes on Fox and Friends, as if he hasn’t already done enough damage
- May 4, 2018 —
- MSNBC’s Donny Deustch says that Michael Cohen told him “Rudy doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” [No, shit!]
- NYTimes reports that Trump apparently did know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels months ago, so he’s been lying it about it all this time up until two days prior when Giuliani admitted he paid Cohen back. [Oy vey!]
- May 8, 2018 —
- Friends of Michael Cohen tell Vanity Fair that he says the FBI investigation of him is a “nightmare” that is “ruining the lives” of his family.
- Michael Avenatti releases a document that states that multiple corporations including Columbus Nova, Novartis, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) and also AT&T (who are in a lawsuit with Trump over their attempted merger with Time Warner) paid Michael Cohen’s Essential Consulting apparently for “insight” and possibly access to Trump. AT&T confirms they paid Cohen $600,000, which brings the grand total to more than $4 million that Cohen was paid simply for being close to Trump.
- May 9, 2018 —
- Fox’s Judge Andrew Napolitano warns of an “imminent” Michael Cohen indictment. [Really? No.]
- Huckabee-Sanders angrily argues that Cohen’s pay-for-play schemes have “nothing to do with the White House”—even though Novartis and AT&T thought that it did, and that’s what they were paying him for.
- Fordham University professor Jed Schugerman writes for Slate that Michael Cohen’s “pay to play” scandal involving Vekselberg may prove the “collusion case” if it’s linked directly to the Trump admin’s multiple attempts to have Russian sanctions scuttled. This is happening at the same time as Kushner and Flynn’s efforts to contact the Kremlin while Cohen attempted with Felix Sater to implement a Ukraine “peace plan” —until Congress overrode them, since Vekselberg owns 26.5 percent of Deripaska’s aluminum firm Rusal, and they were subsequently both sanctioned. [BINGO!] Even if Trump didn’t initially know about the payments to Cohen, he found out about it later and attempted to cover it up p, so we’re back to obstruction of justice and misprision of felony. Cohen may have also violated FARA by lobbying for Russia and also Korea without being registered, just like Flynn and Manafort.
- Columbus Nova scrubs their website of links to Renova and Vekselberg.
- Fox News totally blacks out the latest revelations of corporate influence payments going to Michael Cohen for hours.
- Cohen’s attorney files a motion contending that $20,500 worth of payments documented by Avenatti was really to a different “Michael Cohen,” who is from Canada. Avenatti says that makes them only 99.35 percent accurate and tells Rachel Maddow that Novartis actually received a personal lunch meeting with Trump after paying Michael Cohen and that it wasn’t just one “Suspicious Activity Report” that was sent to Treasury after the payment to Daniels: there were three SAR reports.
- May 10, 2018 —
- The Dallas Morning News reports that AT&T gave information about Cohen’s payments to Mueller back in November 2017, which is about the time he also interviewed Vekselberg at an airport.
- Giuliani’s law firm fires him and denies that they would even complete a deal on behalf of their clients without their knowledge. [Oh, so they’re “no fraud” lawyers.]
- The Washington Post reports that AT&T wanted Cohen’s advice on their merger with Time Warner which is being blocked by a DOJ lawsuit, as well as other regulatory matters. Their CEO states that the payment was a “big mistake.” [Hmmm, think so.]
- May 11, 2018 —
- Giuliani says he wouldn’t debate Avenatti for $10 million. [Which is a nice round number for them to request in a defamation judgment.] He also accelerates in his cheap shots from calling Avenatti an “ambulance chaser” to saying he’s a “pimp.” He also says that “Trump blocked the AT&T deal” so that means the money paid to Cohen had no influence, [and/or Cohen committed fraud with his claims he could impact Trump’s decisions] but this also contradicts the DOJ, who has claimed their suit wasn’t motivated by his political feud with CNN (which is owned by Time Warner).
- The Wall Street Journal reports that Mueller is seeking documents from Ford about the pitch made to them by Michael Cohen for consulting work, which they had turned down.
- August 21, 2018
- Michael Cohen pleads guilty to eight counts including tax evasion, bank fraud, and campaign finance violations which he claims were initiated “at the direction of the candidate.”
- Manafort’s jury comes back and delivers convictions on eight counts, including tax fraud, bank fraud, and corporate campaign finance issues and a mistrial on the additional 10 counts.
- Trump says he’s sad about Manafort but ‘it has nothing to do with collusion’ [the first trial doesn’t, but Kilimnick is a defendant in the second trial which is upcoming] after going to a rally where he again whines about the “witch hunt” but doesn’t mention anything about Manafort or Cohen’s convictions to the crowd. They again chant “Lock Her Up!” [Still?] Later he complains about some of the seats being empty.
- Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis states “Trump directed him to commit a crime.”
- August 23 —
- National Enquirer publisher David Pecker accepts an immunity deal to cooperate and confirms Cohen’s story that Trump directed the payments for McDougal [and apparently Daniels].
- August 24 —
- The Wall Street Journal reports that Trump CFO Allen Weisselberg “was granted immunity by federal prosecutors for providing information about Michael Cohen in the criminal investigation into hush-money payments for the two women during the 2016 presidential campaign.” [Uh oh, there goes another “flipper!”]
- August 30 —
- The New York Times reports that Trump and Cohen had concocted a plan to buy up all the decades worth of dirt that the National Enquirer had “captured and killed” for them, including multiple affairs beyond just Daniels and McDougal. However, the plan was never enacted.
- Natasha Bertrand of the Atlantic explains to Chris Hayes how the National Enquirer “dirt” stories confirm parts of the Steele dossier, particularly that there was Kompromat available on Trump which made him susceptible to blackmail, and that Cohen’s role as a “fixer” matches the allegation that he may have tried to pay off Romanian hackers in Prague. [Also Cohen was paid back $50,000 for “IT Services” by the campaign, but he didn’t work on the campaign—so what were they really paying him for?]
- September 20 —
- ABC News reports the Michael Cohen has spoken to Mueller for hours in multiple interviews and discussed both collusion with Russia as well as whether he had been offered a pardon. He’s also talking to SDNY prosecutors who are looking into the Trump Foundation charity. And sources have said Mueller has proof Michael Cohen was in Prague, as the Steele dossier claims.
- September 26 —
- Trump lashes out at Stormy Daniels attorney Avenatti: “Avenatti is a third rate lawyer who is good at making false accusations, like he did on me and like he is now doing on Judge Brett Kavanaugh,” [Uh, but Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to being involved in exactly what Avenatti was accusing.]
- October 11 —
- Michael Cohen switches his party registration back from Republican to Democrat again, after just one year.
- October 25 —
- Prosecutors from SDNY reveal in a filing that they are still investigating Michael Cohen, even though he’s already agreed to plead guilty and has been cooperating. [Apparently not cooperative enough for them.]
- November 9 — The Wall Street Journal reveals that President Donald Trump was fully aware of all the steps taken by former “fixer” Michael Cohen in making illegal campaign contributions as a way to funnel hush money to adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. Cohen had noted this in court under oath already, but it also seems that David Pecker has confirmed it with SDNY prosecutors, who nearly included Trump in their draft indictment of Cohen.
- November 29 —
- Michael Cohen reaches a plea deal with Mueller for making false statements to Congress about contacts he had with Russian nationals during the 2016 campaign and he’ll offer new ‘testimony potentially damaging to Trump’.
- Trump slams Michael Cohen for his guilty plea, claiming that he’s a “weak person and not a very smart person” and that he “lied to investigators” for a lesser sentence. [Well, we can’t say that because he hasn’t been sentenced yet and he also hasn’t really said that much that we didn’t know.] “When I’m running for president that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to do business,” Trump says. [Yeah, actually it does or else you wind up in a pickle like this one.]
- Rep. Richard Schiff says that Cohen’s guilty plea is a verification of their suspicions that other witnesses were untruthful. He vows to send all the transcripts of everyone who was interviewed by House Intel to Mueller once he is officially chairman in January; multiple criminal referrals have already been made.
- Cohen’s partner in the Trump Tower Moscow project Felix Sater tells BuzzFeed that the two of them had planned to offer Putin the $50 million penthouse in the proposed tower because it would help sell other apartments in the building to other Russian oligarchs. BuzzFeed reporter Anthony Cormier tells Rachel Maddow that there is a “nexus between the Trump Tower Moscow project and the Russian hacking during the election.”
- November 30 —
- Yahoo News reports that Mueller has been asking questions about Don Jr. and Ivanka’s involvement in the Trump Tower Moscow project. Junior testified to the Senate that he was only “peripherally” involved and had essentially tried to confirm Cohen’s original lie about the project ending in January 2016, although he remained fairly vague. But Ivanka had helped pick the architect for the building.
- Former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance says that Trump’s Moscow Tower deal was potentially illegal, even if it was never completed because offering Putin the gift of a $50 million penthouse is illegal under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits Americans from bribing foreign officials in pursuit of a business relationship.
- December 1 —
- In Cohen’s memo on his sentencing agreement, he admits that he consulted with White House staff and Trump’s lawyers before delivering his false testimony to Congress. [This means that a) they were potentially co-conspirators for these lies and b) Trump lawyers could be disbarred and prosecuted for suborning perjury.]
- Dimitry Peskov admits that he did respond to Michael Cohen’s emails in 2017 about the Moscow Project, now saying there were two emails and a phone call. [This makes him a liar!] He then says the emails “disappeared.” [Should we ask the GRU or perhaps WikiLeaks about that?]
- December 2 —
- Michael Cohen’s lawyer ask the judge to spare him jail time considering his cooperation with Mueller, SDNY and NYAG and says that he could have held out for a pardon or clemency from Trump. [Sure you could, and how did that work out?]
- Sen. Warner indicates to Face the Nation that “Senate Intel has made a number of [criminal] referrals to Mueller” for lying to Congress beyond just Cohen. [Next on deck: Don Jr. and Roger Stone]
- December 3 —
- George Conway says that Trump’s tweets about Cohen and Stone are “witness tampering.” [Yep.]
- December 6 —
- Judge Andrew Napolitano says Don Jr. has told friends that he expects to get indicted, especially since Cohen has been cooperating. [Yes, and also Kushner, maybe.]
- December 7 —
- Bloomberg reports that Russian oligarch Victor Vekselberg, who had been interview by Mueller about has ties to Michael Cohen, had privately bragged after the election that they would soon have the influence to end sanctions with Trump in the White House.
- SDNY files their sentencing recommendation with the court saying that Michael Cohen “has not been fully cooperative” and should serve 51 to 61 months in prison because he wouldn’t answer questions about additional criminal conduct by his own friends and family. [This is probably about his wife and father-in-law’s involvement in their taxi medallion schemes.]
- Mueller’s office says that what Cohen told them has been “credible and corroborated” in their investigation of Russia and Trump in four areas, including “details of the Moscow project and efforts to reach out the Russian nations,” which Trump was aware of [That’s collusion yet again].
- Trump tweets that the Cohen filings “totally clears the President” when they totally do not and they specifically indicate he was involved personally in multiple crimes from campaign finance violations, conspiracy to defraud the U.S. in coordination with Russia (including the Moscow project), and also potentially obstruction and perjury before Congress.
- December 12 —
- Michael Cohen is sentenced to 36 months in prison. He admits as he accepts his plea that he repeated his lies to Congress about the Moscow project to Mueller’s investigators. [Which would normally be an additional charge, but they didn’t bother.] He also says Trump is “no artist at deal-making.” [Yeah, we’ve noticed.] Feds agreed not to pursue the National Enquirer because they cooperated. They admit they committed a felony in connection with Trump’s campaign.
- Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis says that “anyone associated with the Trump campaign has a lot to worry about.” [Yeah, ya think?]
- December 16 —
- Giuliani says it’s “not a crime” if Trump got a heads-up on the Russia email hacks. [Somehow he’s forgotten his own claims from just a couple months ago that Comey violated “Misprision of Felony” for not reporting his impression that Trump had obstructed justice because not reporting a crime is a crime. Even though Comey did report it, that’s what this memos were for.] Rudy also claims that paying off Daniels and McDougal wasn’t a crime even though there are guilty pleas already, plus David Pecker and AMI corroborate Cohen, and he again claims that the FBI “broke into Cohen’s office.” [They had a warrant and knocked.] And lastly, Rudy says that Mueller will have a sit-down interview with Trump “over [his] dead body”.
- Lanny Davis says Guiliani is lying about the FBI “breaking into Cohen’s office” because that’s just plain bullshit, and also that ‘Michael Cohen has corroborating evidence for everything’. [Suggesting he’s got receipts, and also tapes!]
- December 17 —
- After Trump calls Michael Cohen a “Rat,” Fox contributor Andrew McCarthy tweets back telling him to “Stop with the Mobster Lingo.”
- Michael Cohen’s friend Donny Deutsch says that “Russia and Stormy Daniels” are the least of Trump’s concerns, “real estate is a slimy business and Donald was the bottom of the bottom of the bottom. What is going to put him in jail, what is going to destroy everything he’s ever built and his children is a 30-year criminal enterprise.”
- December 21 —
- CNN reports that Trump twice chewed out acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker over not “controlling” the SDNY prosecutors who were going after Michael Cohen. Trump claims they’re said “going rogue,” first when Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress and again when the prosecutor’s sentencing statement linked him to Cohen’s payoff to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. [Wouldn’t this be attempted obstruction of justice again?] The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman explains that Trump apparently expects Whitaker to be his “personal fixer.” [That’s really not his job.]
- December 27 —
- McClatchy reports that foreign intelligence services have evidence that Michael Cohen’s cell phone pinged from a cell tower in Prague during the summer of 2016. This supports their previous reporting that Mueller had obtained evidence of Cohen in Prague back in April, and that an Eastern European intel service had obtained phone recordings of Russians discussing Cohen’s presence in Prague. This potentially confirms a story from the Steele dossier that Cohen went to Prague to help provide funds for Romanian hackers to escape the country, which would be a direct financial connection between the hackers and Trump.
- Cohen snarkily tweets that although Prague is lovely in the summer, he’s never been there and Mueller knows everything.
- January 10, 2019 —
- Michael Cohen is scheduled to testify before the House Intel Committee before he reports to prison next month for lying to Congress and violating campaign finance law under orders from Trump.
- Giuliani can’t imagine why Congress wants to talk to “thoroughly discredited liar” Michael Cohen. [Well, because he’s only been caught lying for things that Trump claims and supports.]
- January 15, 2019 —
- The Wall Street Journal reports that federal prosecutors will likely limit Michael Cohen’s testimony since there are several ongoing cases pending, as associates of his claim that he’ll say that he was working for a “madman” and that “it’s explosive.”
- January 18, 2019 —
- Giuliani blows off the new Cohen report about Trump having him pay for a phony online poll. “If you believe Cohen I can get you a great deal on the Brooklyn Bridge.” [That joke stopped being funny when Bugs Bunny was telling it in the ‘50s.]
- Giuliani issues a full statement which blasts Cohen as being an unreliable witness about Trump ordering him to lie to Congress [except that Cohen himself isn’t the source for that story: it was reportedly “two members of Federal law enforcement” who say the FBI had confronted Cohen with the documentation and forced him to admit it.]
- January 19, 2019 —
- Kurt Eichenwald points out that perjury only has a five-year sentence, but witness intimidation has a 20-year sentence, and Trump’s attempts to intimidate and threaten Cohen have ramped up quite a bit after the latest BuzzFeed report.
- January 20, 2019 —
- Giuliani tells Meet the Press that the talks about the Moscow Tower project went on until November or December 2016, and that this is what Trump’s written answers to Mueller reflected. He denies that Trump asked Cohen to lie. [Cohen was prosecuted for having lied about the project ending in January when it went on at least until June, and now Rudy says November?] He argues that Trump wasn’t lying when he said in February 2017 that “I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge, no person that I deal with does” because it never went beyond the letter of intent. [But it did, and he knew that, that’s the point.]
- Giuliani also says that Michael Cohen’s father-in-law “might be a criminal, linked to organized crime”. [This allegation may be based on reports that his father-in-law Fima Shusterman—who is the person who first introduced Cohen and Trump—had pleaded guilty to a felony, conspiracy to defraud the IRS, in 1993, the year before Cohen’s marriage.
- January 21 —
- BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jonathon Cormier go on CNN to explain that they remain 100 percent behind their story about Trump telling Cohen to lie. They explain that they had emailed Mueller’s spokesman before publishing their story and that he had originally declined to comment when they just said “we’re going to report that Trump told Cohen to lie.” They later said he would have commented further if they’d given him a more detailed heads up. [This seems to indicate that they don’t disagree with the core premise of the story.]
- January 22, 2019 —
- Over the course of five weekend interviews Giuliani again says the Moscow project went all the way until October or November, then said he was just “talking hypothetically” about that and claimed Trump doesn’t remember, then quoted Trump saying the Moscow project “started when I began my campaign and ended when I won.” At which point Trump is supposedly getting exasperated by his confusing statements and NBC is reporting that senior White House officials are asking Rudy to get off the TV.
- Don Jr. claims that the media [BuzzFeed] is “trying to subvert Democracy” with the Trump-Cohen report. [But hey, weren’t you in on some of that project and also may have given false testimony to Congress which matched Cohen’s lies? Covering your ass, much?]
- Since Cohen can’t talk to Congress about ongoing cases—including the Moscow Project—Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows question whether his appearance before Congress will be nothing more than a “media stunt.” [Probably not.]
- January 23, 2019 —
- Cohen postpones his testimony to Congress because of “threats from Trump.” MSNBC security analyst Ken Dilanian says that this could be yet another felony of witness tampering for Trump. [You bet.]
- Cohen’s friend Donny Deutsch says on Deadline: White House: “I’ll give it to you in real-time, because I had a front-row seat. I happened to speak to Michael after the interview. He said, ‘I’m not doing it, I’m not testifying. My wife is sitting here crying. They’re calling out my poor father-in-law, 80-something, a man who’s never done anything.’”
- Congress moves to subpoena Cohen and compel his testimony.
What this timeline displays is that Cohen—with support from Sater, Trump, Ivanka, and Don Jr.—kept up his work to coordinate with Peskov right up to the point that it was reported that the Russians had hacked the DNC. The political heat had already been on Trump for his Russian links before that, but once the Russians had been reported to have committed cyber espionage against the Democrats (which was ultimately in support of Trump), it was too hot to stay in the kitchen and everything about the project went dark.
At several points, existing sanctions on Russia and their banks become a problem blocking the project. It explains why Cohen and Sater were attempting to arrange a so-called “peace deal” with Ukraine that would have ended the dispute (by essentially giving up Crimea to Russia) and eliminated the reason for sanctions, thereby opening up the door for the Moscow Tower project yet again.
Let me repeat again that there was a problem with the bank that Sater had lined up to fund the project—because it was sanctioned.
Felix Sater, a Russian-born businessman with financial ties to the Trump Organization, confirmed Friday that President Donald Trump’s business was privately negotiating a deal with a sanctioned Russian bank during the 2016 US election.
On Friday, Sater told MSNBC host Chris Hayes that a local developer in Russia worked on behalf of the Trump Organization to secure financing for a Trump Tower in Moscow from VTB Bank, Russia’s second-largest bank and a US-sanctioned entity.
“I had a local developer there [in Russia], and I had the Trump Organization here [in the US], and I was in the middle,” Sater said. “And the local developer there would have gotten financing from VTB and/or another Russian bank, but VTB at that point was the go-to bank for real-estate development.”
Violation of U.S. sanctions is actually a much bigger and more serious crime than lying to the FBI or Congress.
Punishment for violations of the sanctions can be severe. Civil fines range from $11,000 to $1 million for each violation. Civil fines may be imposed even if the violation was committed unknowingly and with innocent intent. The majority of the fines imposed are most likely the result of corporations simply failing to recognize trade transactions involving a targeted country or SDN. Additionally, criminal penalties may be levied for willful violations and include fines from $50,000 to $10 million and imprisonment from 10 to 30 years.
The offer of a free $50 million personal penthouse for Putin could be considered a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, even though the deal was never completed.
“Do you see anything here touching illegality?” asked anchor Stephanie Ruhle, noting that Trump was “employing his classic punch back strategy”, saying first that accuser Michael Cohen is a liar, then claiming that he had nothing to hide, and finally admitting “even if I was hiding something, it’s legal so I’m allowed to do it.”“There’s a lot of potential illegality here,” replied Vance. “Probably the biggest chunk would be if there’s an issue with this story that we heard last night that there had been a promise of a $50 million penthouse to Putin if the project went forward.”
“It can also be illegal to enter into a conspiracy to do something that you don’t do actually do,” she said. “It can even be illegal to make an attempt in certain circumstances.”
All of this would be, besides the political considerations, a very large reason for Trump, Cohen, Don Jr., Ivanka, Sater, and notably Peskov and his deputy to lie about all this—because that’s exactly what they all did.
That’s especially problematic if their willingness to ignore the Russian attack on our election in 2016—and Trump’s decision to side with Putin against his own intelligence community—was also linked to their own possible culpability and participation in what all of this actually was: a conspiracy.
As Anthony Cormier told Rachel Maddow on December 12t when Cohen was sentenced, this all appears to be connected.
“Do you believe that the Trump Tower Moscow deal, or anything else that Michael Cohen was personally involved in during the course of the campaign, is directly related to Russia interfering in the election to help Trump — any cooperation, conspiracy, collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign to work together to help Trump get elected with foreign assistance?” Maddow asked.
“So there is a small line in the story — in both the one we published in May and the one we published today — in which two FBI agents with direct knowledge of this inquiry before [Robert] Mueller got involved told us that Michael Cohen had communications with more than one individual who either knew about or took part in the election interference,” Cormier replied.“So he is talking to them about Trump Tower Moscow, but they themselves were involved in or had knowledge of the interference operation?” Maddow asked.“That’s exactly right,” he replied.
Trump and his associates have repeatedly lied to the American people to cover up their multiple attempts to ignore and get around sanctions on Russia to implement this project. They’ve undermined U.S. foreign policy and implemented multiple violations of the Logan Act by reaching out to Russia while they were still in the campaign or during the transition, before they had legal authorization to negotiate on behalf of the United States.
The Russians had a conspiracy to undermine Hillary Clinton and the U.S. in general favor of Trump. At the same time, Trump and his cohorts had a parallel conspiracy to do this deal with Russia and undermine sanctions while ignoring and minimizing their attacks.
The cover-up is the criminal conspiracy to collude with Russia: they are one and the same. This is not sour grapes, and this is not partisan: This is about the basic standards of conduct that this country expects from its leaders. Either we have some recognition of the rule of law, or we don’t.