In October 2015, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen received a letter of intent from a Russian businessman to develop Trump World Tower Moscow. The letter only needed Donald Trump’s signature.
“Dear Michael, Attached is the signed LOI (Letter of Intent) by Andrey Rozov. Please have Mr. Trump counter-sign, signed and sent back,” wrote Felix Sater, a Russian-born businessman. “Lets make this happen and build a Trump Moscow. And possibly fix relations between the countries by showing everyone that commerce & business are much better and more practical than politics. That should be Putins message as well, and we will help him agree on that message. Help world peace and make a lot of money, I would say thats a great lifetime goal for us to go after.”
The tower was to be built in the Moscow financial district known as “Moscow City,” where most buildings sat empty after a 2014 financial crisis. Trump eventually signed a version of the letter.
Cohen and Sater, who had known each other since childhood, emailed frequently about the project. According to the New York Times, in November 2015 Sater boasted of his ties to Vladimir Putin, telling Cohen that he would “get all of Putins team to buy in” on the Trump Tower Moscow deal. “Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,” Sater wrote. “I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected.”
Sater also said he had secured financing for the tower through Russia’s VTB Bank, which was under U.S. sanctions for involvement in Russian attempts to interfere in the democracy in Ukraine.
In January 2016, Cohen emailed Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, asking for his “assistance” in pushing the deal through, the Washington Post reported. But it died some time thereafter.
In a February press conference Trump said he “has no deals with Russia.” Cohen revealed to Congressional investigators on Aug. 28 that Trump’s company had been pursuing the Trump Tower Moscow project five months into the Republican presidential primary. He said the plan was canceled “for a variety of business reasons.”