President Trump has denied he ever stayed in Moscow overnight, most notably to James Comey when he was director of the FBI. But flight records show he did, during the Miss Universe pageant in 2013.
The logistics are key to the “Steele dossier,” the collection of intelligence indicating collusion between Trump and the Russian government, and what is usually called its “salacious allegation” — that Trump hired prostitutes to urinate on a bed at the Ritz-Carlton Moscow while he watched, and the Russians have him on tape which is being used as blackmail. “Pee pee tapes” is the shorthand used by late-night comics.
Trump has said that was impossible, because he flew to Moscow for the pageant but left without spending the night. But Bloomberg reports that, according to flight records, Trump flew to Moscow on a private jet owned by his business partner Phil Ruffin. The plane landed in Moscow on Friday, Nov. 8. It left the city at 3:58am on Sunday, Nov. 10.
The plane touched down at Newark International Airport at 4:11am Eastern time. “I just got back from Russia-learned lots & lots. Moscow is a very interesting and amazing place!” Trump tweeted the same day.
Trump’s earlier denials of the pee pee tapes
In his memos, Comey described Trump’s denials. The first came during their dinner at the White House in January 2017. “He said he arrived in the morning, did events, then showered and dressed for the pageant at the hotel,” and then left for the event, Comey wrote. “Afterwards, he returned only to get his things because they departed for New York by plane that same night.”
On the second occasion in February 2017, Trump “explained, as he did at our dinner, that he hadn’t stayed overnight in Russia during the Miss Universe trip,” Comey wrote.
If Trump wasn’t truthful with Comey, that presents another potential complication for him: Lying to the FBI is a federal offense.
In his new book, “A Higher Loyalty,” Comey wrote that Trump seemed fixated on reports of the pee pee tapes and asked Comey to somehow prove they weren’t true.