A business associate of President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump defends indicted GOP congressman House to vote Thursday on holding Bannon in contempt Youngkin calls for investigation into Loudoun County School Board amid sexual assault allegations MORE in 2015 told Trump's longtime lawyer that he would enlist Russian President Vladimir Putin in a proposed real estate deal that he boasted would help Trump win the presidency, according to emails obtained by The New York Times.
In a series of emails to Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen, the business associate, Felix Sater, argued that building a Trump Tower in Moscow would benefit the businessman's candidacy.
“I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected,” Sater wrote on Nov. 3, 2015, almost exactly a year before Election Day. “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.”
There is no evidence in the emails that Sater, a Russian immigrant who was then acting as a broker for the Trump Organization, delivered on his promises, according to The Times. The plan for a Trump Tower in Moscow never materialized, and negotiations ended before Trump’s business ties to Russia had become a major campaign issue.
Cohen suggested that the emails were braggadocio.
“He has sometimes used colorful language and has been prone to 'salesmanship,'" Cohen said in a statement to The Times. “I ultimately determined that the proposal was not feasible and never agreed to make a trip to Russia.”
Sater also claimed to have helped organize a 2006 trip to Moscow for Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and son Donald Trump Jr.
“I arranged for Ivanka to sit in Putin's private chair at his desk and office in the Kremlin,” Sater wrote.
Ivanka Trump told the Times in a statement that she took “a brief tour of Red Square and the Kremlin but I have never met President Vladimir Putin.” Alan Garten, the general counsel of the Trump Organization, said that Sater only happened to be in Moscow at the same time as the two Trump children.
“There was no accompanying them to Moscow,” Garten said.
Trump has long downplayed his relationship to Sater, suggesting under oath in 2013 that he would not recognize him if they were sitting in the same room.
Sater served time in jail after stabbing a man in the face with the stem of a margarita glass during a 1991 bar fight; in 1998, he pleaded guilty to his role in a Mafia-orchestrated stock fraud scheme.
But his sentencing was delayed for years in the latter case while he cooperated with federal law enforcement on other investigations, according to The Washington Post. During that time, he worked in a real estate firm with offices in Trump Tower and in 2010 went to work for Trump directly, carrying a Trump Organization card that identified him as a “senior advisor to Donald Trump.”
After Sater made an August 2016 visit to Trump Tower, Garten told Politico that Sater was not advising the Trump Organization and that the Trump Organization was not seeking business in Russia.
President Trump has repeatedly said that he has no business ties to Russia. In May, the White House released a letter from two of his lawyers saying that his income tax returns do not show income from or debt owed to Russian sources — with the exception of $95 million paid by a Russian billionaire for a Trump-owned estate in Florida and $12.2 million in payments related to holding the Trump-owned Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013.
The Trump Organization on Monday turned over emails to the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian interference in the election and whether any Trump associates were involved.
--Updated 2:13 p.m.