During the election campaign, President Donald Trump's company was close to reaching a deal to develop a Trump Tower in Moscow, The Washington Post reported on Sunday.
The Trump Organization signed a letter of intent with investors to open up a massive development as part of the Trump brand, but dropped the deal in January 2016 after they failed to get the land and permits to proceed with the project.
Felix Sater, a Russian-born real estate developer who grew up in Brooklyn, also urged Trump to visit Moscow to discuss the proposal and said he could get Russian President Vladimir Putin to say "great things" about Trump, according to the Post.
An email that Sater sent to Trump Organization Executive Vice President Michael Cohen said "something to the effect of, 'Can you believe two guys from Brooklyn are going to elect a president?' " a person familiar with the exchange told the Post.
Although Trump did not make the trip to Moscow, the Post said that these newly disclosed details are evidence that "Trump's business was actively pursuing significant commercial interests in Russia at the same time he was campaigning to be president — and in a position to determine U.S.-Russia relations."
The new details come amid the ongoing investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into possible collusion between members of Trump's team and Russia.
The revelations also add to the likelihood of additional contacts between Russia-connected individuals and Trump associates during his presidential bid, the Post said.
Both White House officials and Cohen, a longtime Trump aide who remains his personal attorney, declined to comment on the report.
Trump denied having any business ties to Russia in July 2016, a few months after the deal fell through, tweeting, "for the record, I have ZERO investments in Russia" and then insisting at a news conference the next day, "I have nothing to do with Russia."
As the talks on the Moscow project progressed after starting in September 2015, Trump was the only Republican running for the nomination who made numerous positive comments about Putin, which were reciprocated by the Russian leader.
Trump has repeatedly tried to distance himself from Sater, who served time in jail after assaulting a man during a 1991 bar fight and then pleaded guilty in 1998 to his role in an organized- crime-linked stock fraud.
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