Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor who is now President Trump’s personal attorney, said Sunday that plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow may have continued until at least the 2016 presidential election — months later than previously acknowledged.
Giuliani said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Trump recalls discussing the project with his former lawyer Michael Cohen until late 2016. He said Trump doesn’t remember the exact dates or sequence of these conversations but that they didn’t go anywhere.
The question of how long negotiations regarding the proposed Trump Tower in Moscow went on has become one of the central issues in the Russia investigation, because Cohen originally told Congress he had stopped work on the project in January 2016, long before the November presidential elections. In May 2018, Yahoo News revealed that, in fact, those negotiations had gone on months longer than that.
In November, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about how long he was involved in the proposed Moscow Tower project.
Now Giuliani is saying those talks lasted roughly until Trump was elected president. “It’s our understanding that they went on throughout 2016. There weren’t a lot of them, but there were conversations,” Giuliani said Sunday. “Can’t be sure of the exact dates, but the president can remember having conversations with him about it.”
“Throughout 2016?” the show’s host, Chuck Todd, asked.
“Yeah, probably could be up to as far as October, November. Our answers cover until the election. So anytime during that period, they could’ve talked about it. But the president’s recollection of it is that the thing had petered out quite a bit.”
On Thursday, BuzzFeed News published a now contentious story claiming that Trump ordered Cohen to lie about the negotiations. Mueller’s office issued a rare public statement on Friday night disputing the BuzzFeed News story.
“BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the special counsel’s office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony are not accurate,” Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel’s office, said in the statement.
Cohen has previously said he made false statements in order to be consistent with Trump’s political messaging. The president has dismissed his longtime fixer as “a liar.”
Giuliani affirmed that he had to answer questions about the Trump Tower negotiations in written form to former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the head of the special counsel probe into Russia’s propaganda campaign. According to Giuliani, Trump remembers a few conversations and the letter of intent for the real estate project that he signed Oct. 28, 2015 — but not much else.
“They sent a letter of intent in. They didn’t even know where to send it. They knew so little about it. They finally got it straightened out, and then they abandoned the project.”
Giuliani, who campaigned for Trump, said “that’s about as much as [the president] can remember” because throughout 2015 and 2016, all of his energy was directed toward his bid for the White House.
“And I know that. I was with him for about five months. His concentration was 100 percent on running for president,” he said.
While Giuliani downplayed the importance of the timeline, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the top Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, who appeared on “Meet the Press” after Giuliani, said the revelation that conversations could have continued into November is “news to me.”
“That is big news. Why, two years after the fact, are we just learning this fact now when there’s been this much inquiry?”
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