Donald Trump and President Obama have reportedly been briefed about a dossier which claims Russia has “compromising personal and financial information” about Trump. In response, Trump denied he has anything to do with Russia whatsoever.
Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2017
Trump hasn’t released his tax returns, so there’s no way to independently check his claim that he has “no deals” or loans in Russia. But in 2008, Donald Trump Jr. told a real estate conference that “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets” and “we see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” Those comments directly contradict what his father now claims.
In 2013, Trump brought his Miss Universe pageant to Moscow. The pageant reportedly Trump millions and was financed in part by a Russian billionaire, Aras Agalarov. The same year, Trump struck a deal with Agalarov to develop a new building in Moscow. That project, the Washington Post reports, was put on hold when Trump decided to run for president. The Post also reports that in 2008, Trump sold a Palm Beach mansion to Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovev for $95 million — about $53 million more than he paid for it less than four years earlier.
Around the time of the Moscow pageant, Trump did an MSNBC interview where he was asked about his relationship with Putin.
“I do have a relationship,” Trump said. “I can tell you that he’s very interested in what we’re doing here today, he’s probably very interested in what you and I are saying today and I’m sure he’s going to be seeing it in some form. But I do have a relationship with him.”
Trump went on to praise Putin for doing “a very brilliant job” and compared him favorably with both President Obama and President George W. Bush.
“He has really eaten our presidents’ lunch, let’s not kid ourselves,” Trump said. “He’s done an amazing job… Now in all fairness to Obama, I think that he’s done the same thing with President Bush. I think that Putin has done an amazing job of showing certain leadership that our people have not been able to match.”
Asked about that interview shortly before November’s presidential election, Trump said he’s “not recanting anything” but denied having a relationship with Putin.
Beyond Trump’s dealings in Russia and with Russians, a number of his past and current advisers — including former foreign policy adviser Carter Page, soon-to-be Homeland Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and former campaign manager Paul Manafort — have either met with high-ranking Russian officials or have had financial relationships with Russian interests.
During a press conference in July, brazenly encouraged Russian hackers to “find” tens of thousands of emails deleted from Hillary Clinton’s server, adding that media coverage would result in the hackers being “rewarded mightily by our press.” Trump is scheduled to give his first press conference since then on Wednesday.