A Russian national who had ties to the Kremlin told President Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, as early as November 2015, that he could use his relations with the Russian government to help trade and prospects. Trump's policies.
The new contact with Russia was revealed Friday by the special advocate Robert S. Mueller III, who stressed the cooperation that Cohen had provided the investigation into the Russian interference in the elections of 2016.
The interaction between a top lieutenant of Trump and a Russian citizen having claimed links with the government is the latest of a dozen similar interactions to occur since the November 2016 election. A few days after Trump's victory, his spokesman, Hope Hicks, said there was no contact of any kind between Trump's associates and Russia.
The new information on Cohen is particularly significant because the contact took place at the beginning of the campaign and because the prosecutors said that the Russian national claimed to want to help the Trump campaign and his company.
Prosecutors wrote around November 2015: "Cohen has received contact information from a Russian citizen who claimed to be a" trusted person "in the Russian Federation and who could offer the campaign a" political synergy " And a "synergy on a government". level & # 39. "
According to them, Cohen told prosecutors that the Russian had repeatedly suggested organizing a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump, partly to help Cohen to advance his project to build a project Trump real estate in Moscow.
"The person told Cohen that such a meeting could have a" phenomenal "impact" not only politically but also commercially ", referring to the Moscow project because it does not "no greater guarantee in a project than the consent of [the President of Russia]", Wrote the prosecutors.
By the time Cohen made contact with the Russian, he had already started working on a Trump construction project in partnership with Felix Sater, a Trump business partner born in Russia. Cohen pleaded guilty to having lied to Congress about the details of this project, including a phone call that he had arranged with a Kremlin official in January 2016 to discuss the project.
Sater, too, suggested organizing a meeting with Putin. Cohen told prosecutors that he was not pursuing the Russian's offer because he had decided to work with Sater.
The new information highlights both the frequency of Russian offers of support to Trump's key collaborators during the campaign – and the eagerness with which some of his closest advisors welcomed these entries.
Prosecutors wrote that Cohen was one of the first supporters of a meeting between candidate Trump and Putin. In a September 2015 radio interview, Cohen suggested that Trump meet with the Russian president while he was in New York to attend the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly. Prosecutors said Cohen later claimed his remarks were impulsive, but he admitted in recent weeks that he had spoken with Trump to contact the Russian government.
The contact of autumn 2015 took place at an important moment of the campaign. As Trump's candidacy began to heat up, Putin seemed to be more and more interested in his efforts. On December 17, 2015, Putin drew attention by congratulating the famous businessman, calling him "colorful and talented" and "absolute leader of the presidential race". Trump returned the compliment the next day. calling Putin "a leader, unlike what we have in this country."
Mueller's case preceded Cohen's conviction on Wednesday for various crimes, including the lie before Congress about his contacts with Russia. Prosecutors in New York have said that Cohen should be sentenced to a lengthy prison sentence, not least because he only provided reluctant cooperation to his investigations, which are separate from Mueller's investigation. .
In another case, however, Mueller said Cohen had "made considerable efforts" to facilitate the investigation of Russia's participation in the 2016 election.
Prosecutors said his information had allowed him to explain his interactions with Russian interests, as well as information about what they called "some discrete issues related to Russia" in the investigation. that he had learned through regular contacts with Trump company executives. They said that he was also able to provide information on contacts with White House officials after Trump took office and on the circumstances surrounding the preparation of his false testimony before the Congress.