President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, and others in the president’s orbit have long maintained that a proposal for a Trump Tower in Moscow never got past the initial planning phase — and that the project couldn’t have influenced Trump’s views on Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.
That story was undermined by the release of new documents showing detailed architectural renderings and financial details for the project.
The documents, published Tuesday by BuzzFeed News, are a direct rebuke to Giuliani, who said in separate interviews Sunday and Monday that the project “did not advance beyond a free nonbinding letter of intent” and that “[n]o money was ever paid, no plans were ever made. There were no drafts. Nothing in the file. Nothing ever happened to it.” Giuliani called a letter of intent that was previously published by CNN “bullshit” Friday in an interview with the New York Daily News.
The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., also sought to downplay the Moscow project in an an interview on with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham on Monday. “The reality is, this wasn’t a deal — you know, I think, we don’t know the developer. We don’t know the site. We don’t know anything about it,” Trump Jr. said.
That isn’t true, according to the documents obtained by BuzzFeed News. The detailed plains would have made Trump Tower Moscow the tallest building in Europe, at more than 1,516 feet. It would have included luxury offices, apartments, a hotel, and an Ivanka Trump-branded spa with the Trump Organization keeping significant creative control.
ThinkProgress could not immediately reach Giuliani or Jay Sekulow, another lawyer for Trump, for comment. The White House did not return a request for comment.
Trump bucked his Republican and Democratic rivals during the 2016 campaign by repeatedly taking positions favorable to Russia and praising its president, Vladimir Putin. The U.S. Intelligence Community has concluded that Russia illegally intervened in that election on behalf of Trump, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller is currently investigating whether anyone in the Trump campaign aided those Russian efforts.
The new revelations come after a long holiday weekend of media appearances for Giuliani, who told Meet the Press on Sunday that Trump had discussed the Moscow project with his former fixer, Michael Cohen, “as far as October, November” of 2016 — that is, right up until the presidential election. Cohen pleaded guilty last November to falsely telling Congress the project ended before the 2016 presidential primaries and admitted the negotiations continued until June 2016.
Giuliani’s statement on Meet the Press suggested the negotiations may have gone on even longer than Cohen admitted — and not for the first time. In December, Giuliani told ABC News that negotiations for the project went on “all the way up to November of — covered all the way up to November 2016.”
Giuliani walked those comments back Monday in an interview with The New York Times and another with The New Yorker, where he said the timeline he gave earlier was “hypothetical.” He downplayed the project in both interviews, saying it was “in the early stages.” But the new documents published Tuesday suggest plans for the project were much further along than previously known.