It’s still unclear whether President Trump and President Vladimir Putin will meet at the G-20 this weekend (the prospects for a meeting have been repeatedly confirmed and denied by both sides), but there’s little doubt that, back in Washington, the talk of the town will focus on whether Michael Cohen’s guilty plea represents an important turning point in the Russia collusion investigation (as the Washington Postsuggested in a Page 1 story published in Friday’s paper).
But as Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani confirmed yesterday in an interview with the New York Times (and as the president himself told a group of reporters before departing for Argentina), the Cohen story is really just more of the same.
And as if the media needed more evidence that the Trump Tower Moscow controversy has already been litigated in the public eye, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Friday offered a quick reminder when he showed two of Cohen’s emails to a group of reporters, confirming a 15-month old report that Cohen had reached out to him to ask for help with facilitating the project (none was offered, and the project was eventually abandoned), the Daily Mail reported.
As a reminder, here’s what Peskov and Cohen said about Cohen’s ‘contact’ with the Kremlin at the time (per CNN). Cohen has since admitted to lying about the talks ending in January 2016, and has instead claimed that they continued – with the president’s involvement at times – until the summer of 2017.
“This email said that a certain Russian company together with certain individuals is pursuing the goal of building a skyscraper in the ‘Moscow City’ district, but things aren’t going well and they asked for help with some advice on moving this project forward,” Peskov said. “But, since, I repeat again, we do not react to such business topics — this is not our work — we left it unanswered.”
He added: “We cannot discuss with President Putin hundreds and thousands of different requests, which, by the way, come from a variety of countries.”
Cohen revealed Monday that he had made the overture to Moscow at a point well into Trump’s presidential campaign.
“The Trump Moscow proposal was simply one of many development opportunities that the Trump Organization considered and ultimately rejected,” Cohen said in a written statement.
“In late January 2016, I abandoned the Moscow proposal because I lost confidence that the prospective licensee would be able to obtain the real estate, financing and government approvals necessary to bring the proposal to fruition,” he added. “It was a building proposal that did not succeed and nothing more.”