Reports: Trump associate bragged that Putin would get Donald elected
A business associate of US President Donald Trump had in 2015 advocated using Russian President Vladimir Putin's help to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, the New York Times (NYT) reported. In return, Putin and Russia would help Trump get elected as president. The revelation comes as former FBI director Robert Mueller leads an investigation into the Trump's campaign's alleged collusion with Russia.
In emails accessed by NYT, Trump's business associate Felix Sater wrote to Trump's attorney Michael Cohen in 2015, calling for the construction of a Trump Tower in Moscow. "I will get Putin in on this program and we will get Donald elected," he said. "Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it," Sater added.
Sater's emails indicate that some of Trump's associates considered close ties with Russia a politically advantageous move during the early months of the campaign. The Justice Department, FBI and other congressional committees are now investigating these very ties. Trump has repeatedly denied that his campaign had any links to Russia. US intelligence agencies believe Russia meddled in the presidential election to help Trump win.
Sater is a Russian immigrant who claimed he was facilitating financing for the construction of the Trump tower with Russian bank VTB. VTB was sanctioned by the US for being linked to Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
Sater expressed keenness to show video clips to his Russian contacts of Trump praising Russia. He said he'd arrange for Putin to praise Trump's business skills. "If he says it we own this election," Sater wrote in the email. "Americas most difficult adversary agreeing that Donald is a good guy to negotiate."
There's no evidence that Sater delivered on what he promised in the emails and it's likely that he overstated his Russian contacts. The Trump Tower project in Moscow never took off as it didn't receive government permits or financing. "To be clear, the Trump Organization has never had any real estate holdings or interests in Russia," the Trump organization clarified in a statement.