Trump Wanted to Give Putin $50M Trump Tower Penthouse During the 2016 Campaign

As I have said many, many times: The collusion between Donald Trump and the Russians has always been right out in the open.

That doesn't mean, of course, that there wasn't also collusion going on that none of us could see.

Like, for example, as we've now learned in the wake of Michael Cohen's guilty plea, that Trump intended to give Vladimir Putin the $50 million penthouse in Trump Tower, for reasons that included trying to entice other Russian oligarchs to spend their money with Trump — because, according to Felix Sater, "In Russia, the oligarchs would bend over backwards to live in the same building as Vladimir Putin. My idea was to give a $50 million penthouse to Putin and charge $250 million more for the rest of the units. All the oligarchs would line up to live in the same building as Putin."

Anthony Cormier and Jason Leopold at BuzzFeed report:
Donald Trump's company planned to give a $50 million penthouse at Trump Tower Moscow to Russian President Vladimir Putin as the company negotiated the luxury real estate development during the 2016 campaign, according to four people, one of them the originator of the plan.

Two U.S. law enforcement officials told BuzzFeed News that Michael Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer at the time, discussed the idea with a representative of Dmitry Peskov, Putin's press secretary.

The Trump Tower Moscow plan is at the heart of a new plea agreement by Cohen, who led the negotiations to bring a gleaming, 100-story building to the Russian capital. Cohen acknowledged in court that he had lied to Congress about the plan in order to protect Trump and his presidential campaign.

The revelation that representatives of the Trump Organization planned to forge direct financial links with the leader of a hostile nation at the height of the campaign raises fresh questions about [Donald] Trump's relationship with the Kremlin. The plan never went anywhere because the tower deal ultimately fizzled, and it is not clear whether Trump knew of the intention to give away the penthouse. But Cohen said in court documents that he regularly briefed Trump and his family on the Moscow negotiations.
To that end, Hunter Walker reports at Yahoo News that Mueller is also investigating reports "that the president's elder daughter, Ivanka, who is now a top White House adviser, and his eldest son, Don Jr., were also working to make Trump Tower Moscow a reality. The sources said those efforts were independent of Cohen's work on the project. One of the sources said Ivanka was also involved in Cohen's efforts."

Donald Trump may try to argue, incredibly, that Cohen and Sater were trying to give away the penthouse in Trump Tower without his knowledge, but he's going to have a hard time convincing anyone with a shred of sense and decency that he was clueless about his personal lawyer, his longtime real estate business associate, his daughter, and his son trying to make a deal to get a Trump property into the hands of Vladimir Putin.

That argument becomes an even harder sell given, as Greg Sargent at the Washington Post notes, that Trump was a presidential candidate at the time who "repeatedly talked up Putin and stated in many different ways that as president, he'd pursue good relations with him and Russia."

Trump's collusion with Russia has been evident for years. In July of 2016, months before the presidential election, I wrote "The Real Story of the DNC Email Leak is Trump's Terrifying Ties to Russia," in which I detailed the possibility that Trump was compromised by Russia, Paul Manafort's sinister history, and the Trump campaign having changed the Republican platform's Ukraine plank to be more favorable to Russia. The dots were there to be connected, long before Election Day. But far too many people were spending their time instead scolding the people connecting them for being conspiracy theorists, hysterics, and alarmists.

And now here we are.

Fortunately, Congressional Cassandra Rep. Adam Schiff has been on this from go, and the Democrats' new majority has positioned him to finally make some shit happen — which the Republicans can no longer stymie. Emma Loop at BuzzFeed reports:
A plan by Donald Trump's company to give Russian President Vladimir Putin a $50 million penthouse will be in the crosshairs of the House Intelligence Committee when Democrats take control of it in the new year, several members said. The plan, hatched during the 2016 election and involving the proposed but never realized Trump Tower Moscow, was reported Thursday by BuzzFeed News.

"If true, this story further underscores the need to finish the Committee's counterintelligence investigation to determine what, if any, financial leverage the Russians may hold over [Donald] Trump and the Trump Organization, and what Trump may have hoped to gain by any financial offer to Putin," Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the committee, said in a statement to BuzzFeed News Thursday evening.

The committee, which spent more than a year on an investigation into Russian election interference, already questioned Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney, about the real estate development project. On Thursday Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the project in order to protect Trump and his campaign.

"The Committee looks forward to inviting Mr. Cohen back to help answer these and many other outstanding questions," Schiff said.
I'll bet.

I'm looking forward to it, too.

I am not, however, giddy with anticipation about what will come next. Partly, that's because it's still a long shot that Donald Trump will face consequences and be neutered of the power he routinely abuses — and I remain well aware that Trump pushed into a corner while he retains the colossal power the office of the presidency confers is a perilous thing for the rest of us. I'm too busy fervently hoping we get through this safely to be giddy about any of it.

And partly it's because I will never stop grieving all the damage that Trump has done in the time he was allowed to be the Republican nominee and then the president, despite the fact that his collusion with Russia was apparent given some basic scrutiny. I desperately hope that we get rid of Trump and get rid of Mike Pence and get rid of all their dirtbag lackeys and find some way to rid ourselves of the stain of their leadership and restore some of what we've lost. If that can even happen, it's going to take so much work. Just contemplating it leaves me bereft of the energy required for giddiness.

I want him gone with every cell of my being, though. And I'm going to keep doing my tiny piece to make that happen every goddamn day until he's nothing but a red-behatted smear in a history book.

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