"Well, I told you, General Flynn was obviously in charge of [with Russia]. So, it's a person. But he was dealing, as he should have been. . . . Russia is a trick. I have nothing to do with Russia. We have not phoned Russia for years. Do not talk to the people of Russia. I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge, no one I deal with does.
– President Trump at a press conference on February 16, 2017
Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about his efforts to secure a real estate deal in Moscow for the Trump organization in 2015 and 2016, while his boss was campaigning for the presidency.
For three decades, Trump had considered concluding a real estate contract in Moscow, but he could never control it even after holding his Miss Universe competition in Moscow in 2013. In a recent court proceeding, prosecutors made numerous contacts deal in 2016 between Cohen, then executive vice president of the Trump organization, Felix Sater, a Russian-born business man with a checkered past, and many Russian nationals, including the 39, press secretary to the President of Russia.
Trump has repeatedly claimed that he had "nothing to do with Russia" either in his business or in the 2016 campaign. At a press conference in 2017 Three days after Michael Flynn's resignation as National Security Advisor, Trump went farther. He told reporters that "to my knowledge, no one with whom I deal" has anything to do with Russia.
We have previously described the links between members of the Trump campaign and Russia. But Cohen was technically not part of the campaign, even though he was a close advisor. Because the president's business and political world are closely linked, as a reading service, Fact Checker has drawn up a chronology of what happened, what the president knew and what he said publicly about contacts between his staff and Russia.
Trump announced that he was running for president in June 2015. He spent the next months on the election campaign before the Iowa caucuses in February 2016.
At the same time, Cohen was working on an agreement that would allow Trump's name to a skyscraper in Moscow. According to court documents, Cohen has informed Trump and his family about the project more than three times between September 2015 and June 2016, but it is unclear exactly when these briefings took place. The chronology below describes how the campaign and the Moscow project intersected.
September and October 2015: Cohen and Sater, who had previously worked on previous real estate deals for Trump in Russia, have begun discussions on a possible deal. According to the Washington Post, "an unidentified investor intended to build the project and, under a license agreement, gave it the name of Trump". Sater thought that Trump's advertising during the campaign was auspicious. He began contacting former contacts in Russia and quickly concluded a licensing agreement for the Moscow project.
October 28th: Trump personally signed the letter of intent for the Moscow project. It was the same day as the third Republican debate.
December: Negotiations for Cohen's visit to Moscow intensified, but by the end of the month, Sater's relationship with Cohen had deteriorated dramatically, according to BuzzFeed. Despite particularly difficult text messages, Cohen continued to respond to Sater.
December 2: Associated Press reporters questioned Trump about his relationship with Sater. Trump said, "Felix Sater, my boy, I must even think about it. I do not know him. "
Trump was leading the polls at Christmas 2015.
January 14-16, 2016: Cohen sent an e-mail to Dmitry Peskov, a senior aide and spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, to get his help "to secure land and permits," according to documents submitted to Congress.
January 20th: Upon returning from the Peskov office, Cohen spoke with his assistant for 20 minutes. During this appeal, according to court documents, Cohen presented the Moscow project and asked for help in moving it forward. Cohen first told Congress that he had never heard from Peskov. Peskov corroborated this false assertion in August 2017 by stating that he had received an e-mail, but that he "had left it unanswered" (after Cohen's new admission, Peskov posted e-mails to reporters and confirmed that the Russian authorities had contacted Cohen by phone.)
"Michael had a long substantive conversation with the personal assistant of a Kremlin official following his mission in January 2016. He also initiated additional communications regarding the project until June. 2016 and has [Trump] informed of these communications, "according to a sentencing memorandum filed by Cohen's team.
January the 21st: Sater told Cohen, "It's about [the President of Russia] they called today. "
On February 1, Trump finishes second in the Iowa caucuses.
Spring 2016: "[Cohen] and [Trump] also mentioned a possible trip to Russia in the summer of 2016 and Michael has taken steps to specify the dates of this trip, "according to the memorandum filed by the Cohen team. Cohen also discussed this "potential business trip to Russia" with a senior campaigner, according to court documents.
May 3 Trump becomes the presumptive candidate Ted Cruz (Tex.) And Ohio Governor John Kasich, Trump's last opponents, pulled out of the competition.
May 4-6: Cohen and Sater discuss the possibility of a trip to Russia including Trump. They discuss the question of whether it would be better for him to surrender before or after the July Republican National Convention. On May 5, Sater announced that a Russian official would like to invite Cohen to "Davos of Russia" in June, where he would be introduced to Putin and / or Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Cohen accepts the trip. According to the sentencing memorandum filed by Cohen's team, he continued to update Trump until June.
May 21st: The advisers of the time, Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, suggest to the campaign that Trump goes to Russia. Papadopoulos sends an e-mail on May 4 to the new campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, in which he said: "Russia is looking forward to meeting with Mr Trump for some time and getting in touch with me to discuss it." Manafort then sends this email to his assistant. Rick Gates wrote: "We need someone to say that DT does not make these trips." Gates agreed and forwarded the exchange to "the person who responds to all unimportant messages" , in order to avoid an answer from an official.
On May 26, Trump obtains the necessary number of delegates for the appointment of the Republican President.
June 3: Rob Goldstone, a music publicist, email Donald Trump Jr.Goldstone represents Emin Agalarov, whose father is a prominent real estate developer near Putin. It offers "very high-level and sensitive information" that could "incriminate Hillary" and is part of the "support of Russia and his government to Mr. Trump". Agalarov asks Goldstone to forward this information to his father, to whom the "Crown Prosecutor of Russia has informed the prosecutor". Trump Jr. responds quickly: "If that's what you say, I love it later this summer."
June 7th: Trump promises a "major speech on the crimes of Hillary Clinton".
June 9th: Trump Jr., Manafort and Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, meet Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and others at the Trump Tower. At least eight people attend this meeting, including two other Russian partners. Since the beginning of the meeting, it has been reported that Veselnitskaya may have worked for the Kremlin at that time.
June 9-14: Sater tried to contact Cohen to confirm his next trip to Russia. Court documents indicate that Sater sent "several messages" to Cohen and "forms included" to be completed.
June 14, the Washington Post reveals the Democratic National Committee had been hacked. The next day, the DNC and CrowdStrike, the firm hired by the DNC to investigate piracy, said, "Two Russian intelligence opponents, separate, present on the DNC network in May 2016."
June 14th: Cohen met Sater in the lobby of Trump Tower to inform him that he would not be traveling to [that] Cohen initially agreed to go to St. Petersburg in June.
June 15th: Trump publishes a statement: "We believe it was the DNC that did the" hacking "to distract from the many problems facing its deeply flawed candidate and failed party leader. Too bad the DNC is not hijacking Hillary Clinton's 33,000 missing e-mails. "
On July 21, Trump officially becomes the Republican candidate for the presidency. The next day, WikiLeaks publishes nearly 20,000 DNC emails obtained through hacking operations in Russia. US officials said Russian intelligence used intermediaries give the email cache to WikiLeaks.
July 21-27: During several television appearances, tweets and a press conference, Trump and his campaigners deny any connection with Russia, despite previous and ongoing meetings and communications.
- July 24: "Are there any links between Mr. Trump, you or your campaign, and Putin and his regime?" Asked George Stephanopoulos in Manafort on "This Week" on ABC News. "No, there is none," Manafort said. "It's absurd and unfounded."
- July 24: Jake Tapper queries Trump Jr. in an interview on CNN's "State of the Union," about the suggestion that Russians have allegedly hacked the DNC network to help Trump and hurt Clinton. Trump Jr. calls the claims "lies".
- July 25th: Trump replies: "The new joke in town is that Russia has leaked DNC's disastrous emails, which should never have been written (stupid), because Putin likes me."
- July 26th: Trump tweeted "For the record, I have zero investment in Russia."
- July 27: Trump says, "What should I do with Russia? You know, the more I came to Russia, I bought a house a few years ago in Palm Beach. "
Sater told BuzzFeed that after Trump's tweet dated July 26, he knew the deal was canceled.
October 9th: During the second debate with Clinton, Trump said: "I know Russia, but I do not know anything about the internal functioning of Russia. I do not treat there. I have no business there. I do not have a loan from Russia. "
October 26th: At a rally in Kingston, NC, Trump said, "First of all, I do not know Putin, I have nothing to do with Russia, I do not have anything to do with Russia. "
January 11, 2017: Asset tweets: "Russia has never tried to exercise on me. I have nothing to do with Russia – no transaction, no loan, nothing! That day, at a press conference, Trump said, "I tweeted that I was not dealing with Russia. I do not have an agreement that can happen in Russia because we have stayed away. And I have no loans with Russia. "
May 11th: In an interview with Lester Holt of NBC News, Trump said, "I'm not involved in Russia. No loan. No nothing."
August 27: The Washington Post reported for the first time that when Trump ran for president, his company was pursuing the project of developing a huge Trump tower in Moscow.
November 29, 2018: After the announcement of Cohen's guilty plea, Trump told reporters, "He lied about a project that everyone knew. I mean, we were very open with that. … This agreement was a very public agreement. Everyone is aware of this agreement. I was not trying to hide anything. "
This is false because it was not revealed until the Washington Post was published in August 2017, almost a year after the elections.
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