BuzzFeed News isn't exactly hiding because of the controversy over last week's Cohen story, it dropped this damning Trump Tower Moscow project piece yesterday.
The plan was dazzling: a glass skyscraper that would stretch higher than any other building in Europe, offering ultra-luxury residences and hotel rooms and bearing a famous name. Trump Tower Moscow, conceived as a partnership between Donald Trump’s company and a Russian real estate developer, looked likely to yield profits in excess of $300 million.
The tower was never built, but it has become a focal point of the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Trump’s relationship with Russia in the lead-up to his presidency.
The president and his representatives have dismissed the project as little more than a notion — a rough plan led by Trump’s then-lawyer, Michael Cohen, and his associate Felix Sater, of which Trump and his family said they were only loosely aware as the election campaign gathered pace.
On Monday, his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said “the proposal was in the earliest stage,” and he went on to tell the New Yorker that “no plans were ever made. There were no drafts. Nothing in the file.”
However, hundreds of pages of business documents, emails, text messages, and architectural plans, obtained by BuzzFeed News over a year of reporting, tell a very different story. Trump Tower Moscow was a richly imagined vision of upscale splendor on the banks of the Moscow River.
Trump had for 30 years tried to extend his real estate empire to Moscow. He even wrote about it in his book The Art of the Deal. But he never found the right opportunity — until 2013, when he visited Russia to host the Miss Universe pageant. “TRUMP TOWER-MOSCOW is next,” he tweeted after the event.
Two years later, a vision had emerged. Trump Tower Moscow was to be much more than just another upscale apartment building. It was to be a vast — and vastly lucrative — undertaking that would elevate the Russian capital’s skyline and extend the perimeter of the New York developer’s influence.
By September 2015, a New York architect had completed plans for a bold glass obelisk 100 stories high, to be topped by a gleaming, cut-diamond–like shape emblazoned on multiple sides with the Trump logo.
“The building design you sent over is very interesting,” the Russian real estate developer Andrey Rozov wrote to Cohen in September 2015, “and will be an architectural and luxury triumph. I believe the tallest building in Europe should be in Moscow, and I am prepared to build it.”
The Trump Tower Moscow project was designed to be the tallest in Europe, we knew exactly where it was to be built, on the Moscow River just 2 miles from the Kremlin itself, we know Trump signed a letter of intent to build the tower, and we know that the tower's luxury penthouse was to be a gift to Vladimir Putin himself.
So when both Rudy Giulinai and Donald Trump Jr. went on TV to lie about this and call it Cohen's project, the reality is that Trump has wanted this building for decades.
And he did everything he could to make it happen.