Rantt Rundown: Cohen Reportedly Sought Trump-Putin Meeting & Trump Tower Moscow Deal Into June 2016

Day 483 of the Trump presidency

From Left: Donald Trump, Bayrock Group Chairman Tevfik Arif, and Felix Sater at the Trump Soho launch party on Sept. 19, 2007, in New York. (Mark Von Holden/WireImage)

From Left: Donald Trump, Bayrock Group Chairman Tevfik Arif, and Felix Sater at the Trump Soho launch party on Sept. 19, 2007, in New York. (Mark Von Holden/WireImage)

Over the last several decades, President Trump has pursued multiple Trump Tower deals in Moscow. One of those pursuits has drawn the attention of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

According to questions drafted by Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow, Mueller is seeking to ask the following question:

“What communication did you have with Michael D. Cohen, Felix Sater, and others, including foreign nationals, about Russian real estate developments during the campaign?”

While Donald Trump was running for president, the Trump Organization sought to develop a huge Trump Tower in Moscow. Trump signed a letter of intent in October 2015, a few months into his presidential campaign, to pursue this venture. Trump’s longtime mob-connected associate, and at times FBI informant, Felix Sater was working closely with Trump’s fixer Michael Cohen (at the time he played the role of Trump Organization Executive Vice President) towards this deal.

Cohen has publicly stated that the deal fell through in January 2016. Documents obtained by Buzzfeed News indicate that the deal was still actively being pursued well into June of the 2016 campaign. It didn’t stop there. Plans were reportedly being discussed for then-candidate Donald Trump to meet face-to-face with Russian President Vladimir after the Republican Convention:

Let’s put the timing of this in perspective. This deal was still being pursued while Donald Trump’s family and campaign chairman sought dirt on Hillary Clinton from Russian operatives who were seeking sanctions relief in that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting. This deal was still being pursued right as Wikileaks prepared to release DNC emails that were DNC emails obtained through a Russian intelligence operation (leaks that Trump and his family relentlessly helped disseminate).

From what we know about the way President Trump conducts himself, he treats countries who appeal to his business needs with preferential treatment. That was certainly the case here.

Meanwhile…

  • After North Korea threatened to pull out of the upcoming summit, President Donald Trump threw a wrench in the talks.

  • On the one year anniversary, since Robert Mueller was appointed as Special Counsel, President Trump disparaged the investigation.

Not only did President Trump’s clearly misrepresent his first months in office, he painted a false picture of the Russia investigation.

  • It appears we need to add another number to the list of plea deals. Reuters reported:

The former son-in-law of Paul Manafort, the one-time chairman of President Donald Trump’s campaign, has cut a plea deal with the Justice Department that requires him to cooperate with other criminal probes, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

The guilty plea agreement, which is under seal and has not been previously reported, could add to the legal pressure on Manafort, who is facing two indictments brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his probe of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

When it comes to the case of Manafort, there was more news: Mueller filed an unredacted memo outlining the scope of his probe to Judge T.S. Ellis.

  • President Trump is now just as eager to expose the US intelligence source as the House Republicans are. The Washington Post reported:

President Trump’s allies are waging an increasingly aggressive campaign to undercut the Russia investigation by exposing the role of a top-secret FBI source. The effort reached new heights Thursday as Trump alleged that an informant had improperly spied on his 2016 campaign and predicted that the ensuing scandal would be “bigger than Watergate!”

The extraordinary push begun by a cadre of Trump boosters on Capitol Hill now has champions across the GOP and throughout conservative media — and, as of Thursday, the first anniversary of Robert S. Mueller III’s appointment as special counsel, bears the imprimatur of the president.

The dispute pits Trump and the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee against the Justice Department and intelligence agencies, whose leaders warn that publicly identifying the confidential source would put lives in danger and imperil other operations.

  • The right tried to claim that President Trump’s comments about immigrants being “animals” was specifically about MS-13. If you look at not only the context of his conversation but his worldview as a whole, it’s not that simple.

  • A very troubling report on what ICE did to a DACA recipient:

The company controlled by the family of the White House adviser Jared Kushner is close to receiving a bailout of its troubled flagship building by a company with financial ties to the government of Qatar, according to executives briefed on the deal.

Charles Kushner, head of the Kushner Companies, is in advanced talks with Brookfield Asset Management over a partnership to take control of the 41-story aluminum-clad tower in Midtown Manhattan, 666 Fifth Avenue, according to two real estate executives who have been briefed on the pending deal but were not authorized to discuss it. Brookfield is a publicly traded company, and its real estate arm, Brookfield Property Partners, is partly owned by the Qatari government, through the Qatar Investment Authority.

  • Gina Haspel was confirmed by the Senate as CIA Director.
  • Michael Avenatti, Stephanie Clifford’s (Stormy Daniels) lawyer, left us on the edge of our seats once again.

Rundown // Donald Trump / News / Russia