President Donald Trump’s former attorney and Trump Organization Vice President Michael Cohen told an aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin that the company would give Putin a $50 million penthouse in Trump Tower Moscow if the project was allowed to go forward, BuzzFeed News reports.
Law enforcement officials told the outlet that Cohen discussed the idea with Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The negotiations around the planned Trump Tower Moscow plan are at the center of Cohen’s plea agreement in special counsel Bob Mueller’s probe, which was announced Thursday.
Cohen admitted in court that he lied to Congress about the plan in order to protect Trump and the campaign.
The Trump Tower Moscow plan never moved forward and it is unclear if Trump himself knew of the $50 million penthouse offer. Cohen said in court that he regularly briefed Trump on the Moscow negotiations.
BuzzFeed previously reported that Cohen and his business associate Felix Sater “worked furiously” behind the scenes during the summer of 2016 to get the deal done before Trump won the Republican nomination.
“In Russia, the oligarchs would bend over backwards to live in the same building as Vladimir Putin,” Sater told BuzzFeed News. “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.”
Trump claims “everybody knew” about Trump Tower Moscow:
“[Cohen is] lying about a project that everybody knew about,” the president told reporters on Thursday. “We were very open with it. We were thinking about building a building. … There would have been nothing wrong if I did do it. If I did do it, there would have been nothing wrong. It was my business. So he’s lying very simply to get a reduced sentence, OK?”
On Friday, the president tweeted that he “lightly looked at doing a building somewhere in Russia” but it was “very legal & very cool.”
The Washington Post notes, however, that Trump “repeatedly denied that he had deals in Russia” on the campaign trail. Cohen admitted in court that he lied to Congress in order to protect “Individual 1,” identified in court as Trump.
Mueller looking at Ivanka, Don Jr.’s roles:
Yahoo News reported Thursday that Mueller is investigating the role that Trump’s two oldest children had in the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations. The outlet reported that Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. worked to make Trump Tower Moscow happen independently of Cohen’s efforts. Mueller has reportedly asked about their involvement.