Updated: Jan 18, 2021
For quite some time, Donald Trump and the Trump Organization had interest in pursuing new business deals in Russia. While the Trump Organization and close associates looked to start business in Russia, two offers went to Michael Cohen. Cohen, who was an executive vice president for the Trump Organization, was in contact with Felix Sater – a long time business associate – and Giorgio Rtskhiladze – a business partner who previously worked with Cohen on Trump properties in the country of Georgia. Sater and Rtskhiladze were in contact with Cohen just months after Trump announced his intent to run for president in 2015. What was Sater’s and Rtskhiladze’s main ambition? To construct a “Trump Tower” skyscraper in Moscow.
In October of 2015, Cohen agreed to terms within a Letter of Intent (LOI) with Sater and I.C. Expert, the company of Andrey Rozov, a Russia-based developer. Trump and Rozov later signed the LOI in November, providing millions in funding to the Trump Organization and the plan for hundreds of millions should the project come to completion. As negotiations proceeded for this new “Trump Tower” Moscow project, Donald Trump and Vladmir Putin both publicly spoke positively of each other. Cohen also directly updated Trump about the project as negotiations continued.
The Senate Committee found that Sater spoke with business personnel and officials in Russia who have significant connections to senior-level individuals within Russia – both in government and in various business industries. Separately, to finalize the details of the negotiations, Cohen and Sater planned to have Cohen and Trump to travel to Russia. While these travel plans never came to fruition, Sater did utilize his high-level contacts in Russia to pursue these deals. In the meantime, Cohen made direct contact with a Russian Presidential Administration Aide to Dmitri Peskov, a key advisor to Putin, in January of 2016. At this time, the Committee found that senior Russian officials – and most likely Putin himself – was aware of the negotiations and/or travel plans that were taking place.
Negotiations continued throughout the Spring of 2016 and plans were set for Cohen to visit the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), however Sater and Cohen met in person at Trump Tower in the United States on June 14th of 2016 and, at this point, the deal for a “Trump Tower” in Moscow stopped.