No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State. — ARTICLE I, SECTION 9, CLAUSE 8
The intent of this clause was to prevent members of the US government, including the president, from undue influence from foreign governments. Alexander Hamilton, in The Federalist No. 22, wrote:
One of the weak sides of republics, among their numerous advantages, is that they afford too easy an inlet to foreign corruption.
As a real estate developer, hotelier, golf course owner, and club owner, Donald Trump has had many business dealings with foreign nationals and foreign governments before, during and after his campaign for the presidency. The Special Counsel Report explores specifically the contacts between Russian businessmen, who had close ties with President Vladimir Putin, and members of the Trump Organization and Trump campaign. In many of these contacts, the Russians offered Trump help in becoming president and help in closing big real estate deals in Russia and other countries. Presumably, the help was offered in exchange for favorable treatment of Russia by Trump once he became president.]
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IV. RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT LINKS To AND CONTACTS WITH THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN
The Office identified multiple contacts — “links,” in the words of the Appointment Order — between Trump Campaign officials and individuals with ties to the Russian government. The Office investigated whether those contacts constituted a third avenue of attempted Russian interference with or influence on the 2016 presidential election. In particular, the investigation examined whether these contacts involved or resulted in coordination or a conspiracy with the Trump Campaign and Russia, including with respect to Russia providing assistance to the Campaign in exchange for any sort of favorable treatment in the future. Based on the available information, the investigation did not establish such coordination.
This Section describes the principal links between the Trump Campaign and individuals with ties to the Russian government, including some contacts with Campaign officials or associates that have been publicly reported to involve Russian contacts. Each subsection begins with an overview of the Russian contact at issue and then describes in detail the relevant facts, which are generally presented in chronological order, beginning with the early months of the Campaign and extending through the post-election, transition period.
A. Campaign Period (September 2015 – November 8, 2016)
Russian-government-connected individuals and media entities began showing interest in Trump’s campaign in the months after he announced his candidacy in June 2015.288 Because Trump’s status as a public figure at the time was attributable in large part to his prior business and entertainment dealings, this Office investigated whether a business contact with Russia-linked individuals and entities during the campaign period-the Trump Tower Moscow project, see Volume l, Section IV.A. I, infra — led to or involved coordination of election assistance.
Outreach from individuals with ties to Russia continued in the spring and summer of 2016, when Trump was moving toward — and eventually becoming — the Republican nominee for President. As set forth below, the Office also evaluated a series of links during this period: outreach to two of Trump’s then-recently named foreign policy advisors, including a representation that Russia had “dirt” on Clinton in the form of thousands of emails (Volume I, Sections IV.A.2 & IV.A.3); dealings with a D.C.-based think tank that specializes in Russia and has connections with its government (Volume I, Section IV.A.4); a meeting at Trump Tower between the Campaign and a Russian lawyer promising dirt on candidate Clinton that was “part of Russia and its government’s support for [Trump]” (Volume I, Section IV.A.5); events at the Republican National Convention (Volume I, Section IV.A.6); post-Convention contacts between Trump Campaign officials and Russia’s ambassador to the United States (Volume I, Section IV.A.7); and contacts through campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who had previously worked for a Russian oligarch and a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine (Volume I, Section IV.A.8).
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288 For example, on August 18, 2015, on behalf of the editor-in-chief of the internet newspaper Vzglyad, Georgi Asatryan emailed campaign press secretary Hope Hicks asking for a phone or in-person candidate interview. 8/18/15 Email, Asatryan to Hicks. One day earlier, the publication’s founder (and former Russian parliamentarian) Konstantin Rykov had registered two Russian websites-Trump2016.ru and DonaldTrump2016.ru. No interview took place.
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1. Trump Tower Moscow Project
The Trump Organization has pursued and completed projects outside the United States as part of its real estate portfolio. Some projects have involved the acquisition and ownership (through subsidiary corporate structures) of property. In other cases, the Trump Organization has executed licensing deals with real estate developers and management companies, often local to the country where the project was located. 289
Between at least 2013 and 2016, the Trump Organization explored a similar licensing deal in Russia involving the construction of a Trump-branded property in Moscow. The project, commonly referred to as a “Trump Tower Moscow” or “Trump Moscow” project, anticipated a combination of commercial, hotel, and residential properties all within the same building. Between 2013 and June 2016, several employees of the Trump Organization, including then-president of the organization Donald J. Trump, pursued a Moscow deal with several Russian counterparties. From the fall of 2015 until the middle of 2016, Michael Cohen spearheaded the Trump Organization’s pursuit of a Trump Tower Moscow project, including by reporting on the project’s status to candidate Trump and other executives in the Trump Organization. 290
a. Trump Tower Moscow Venture with the Crocus Group (2013-2014)
The Trump Organization and the Crocus Group, a Russian real estate conglomerate owned and controlled by Aras Agalarov, began discussing a Russia-based real estate project shortly after the conclusion of the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. 291 Donald J. Trump Jr. served as the primary negotiator on behalf of the Trump Organization; Emin Agalarov (son of Aras Agalarov) and Irakli “Ike” Kaveladze represented the Crocus Group during negotiations, 292 with the occasional assistance of Robe1t Goldstone. 293
In December 2013, Kaveladze and Trump Jr. negotiated and signed preliminary terms of
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289 See, e.g., Interview of Donald J Trump, Jr, Senate Judiciary Committee, 115th Cong. 151-52 (Sept. 7, 2017) (discussing licensing deals of specific projects).
290 As noted in Volume I, Section III.D.l, supra, in November 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty to making false statements to Congress concerning, among other things, the duration of the Trump Tower Moscow project. See Information ¶ 7(a), United States v. Michael Cohen, 1:18-cr-850 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 29, 2018), Doc. 2 (“Cohen Information”).
291 See Interview of Donald J Trump, Jr, Senate Judiciary Committee, 115th Cong. 13 (Sept. 7, 2017) (“Following the pageant the Trump Organization and Mr. Agalarov’s company, Crocus Group, began preliminarily discussion [sic] potential real estate projects in Moscow.”). As has been widely reported, the Miss Universe pageant — which Trump co-owned at the time — was held at the Agalarov-owned Crocus City Hall in Moscow in November 2013. Both groups were involved in organizing the pageant, and Aras Agalarov’s son Emin was a musical performer at the event, which Trump attended.
292 Kaveladze 11/16/17 302, at 2, 4-6; GRAND JURY OSCKA V 00385 (12/6/13 Email, Trump Jr. to Kaveladze & E. Agalarov).
293 GRAND JURY
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an agreement for the Trump Tower Moscow project. 294 On December 23, 2013, after discussions with Donald J. Trump, the Trump Organization agreed to accept an arrangement whereby the organization received a flat 3.5% commission on all sales, with no licensing fees or incentives. 295 The parties negotiated a letter of intent during January and February 2014.296
From January 2014 through November 2014, the Trump Organization and Crocus Group discussed development plans for the Moscow project. Some time before January 24, 2014, the Crocus Group sent the Trump Organization a proposal for a 800-unit, 194-meter building to be constructed at an Agalarov-owned site in Moscow called “Crocus City,” which had also been the site of the Miss Universe pageant. 297 In February 2014, Ivanka Trump met with Emin Agalarov and toured the Crocus City site during a visit to Moscow. 298 From March 2014 through July 2014, the groups discussed “design standards” and other architectural elements. 299 For example, in July 2014, members of the Trump Organization sent Crocus Group counterparties questions about the “demographics of these prospective buyers” in the Crocus City area, the development of neighboring parcels in Crocus City, and concepts for redesigning portions of the building. 300 In August 2014, the Trump Organization requested specifications for a competing Marriott-branded tower being built in Crocus City. 301
Beginning in September 2014, the Trump Organization stopped responding in a timely fashion to correspondence and proposals from the Crocus Group. 302 Communications between the two groups continued through November 2014 with decreasing frequency; what appears to be the last communication is dated November 24, 2014. 303 The project appears not to have developed past the planning stage, and no construction occurred.
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294 GRAND JURY
295 OSC-KA V 00452 (12/23/13 Email, Trmnp Jr. to Kaveladze & E. Agalarov).
296 See, e.g., OSC-KAV_011 58 (Letter agreement signed by Trump Jr. & E. Agalarov); OSCKAV_01147 (1/20/14 Email, Kaveladze to Trump Jr. et al.).
297 See, e.g., OSC-KA V 00972 (10/14/14 Email, McGee to Khoo et al.) (email from Crocus Group contractor about specifications); OSC-KA V 00540 (1/24/14 Email, McGee to Trump Jr. et al.).
298 See OSC-KA V 00631 (2/5/14 Email, E. Agalarov to Ivanka Trump. Trump Jr. & Kaveladze); Goldstone Facebook post, 2/4/14 (8:01 a.m.)INVESTIGATIVE TECHNIQUE
299 See, e.g., OSC-KAV_00791 (6/3/14 Email, Kaveladze to Trump Jr. et al.; OSC-KAV_00799 (6/10/14 Email, Trump Jr. to Kaveladze et al.); OSC-KA V 0081 7 (6/16/14 Email, Trump Jr. to Kaveladze et al.).
300 OSC-KAV 00870 (7/17/14 Email, Khoo to McGee et al.).
301 OSC-KA V 00855 (8/4/14 Email, Khoo to McGee et al.).
302 OSC-KA V 00903 (9/29/ 14 Email, Tropea to McGee & Kaveladze (noting last response was on August 26, 2014)); OSC-KAV_00906 (9/29/14 Email, Kaveladze to Tropea & McGee (suggesting silence “proves my fear that those guys are bailing out of the project”)); OSC-KA V 00972 (10/14/14 Email, McGee to Khoo et al.) (email from Crocus Group contractor about development specifications)).
303 OSC-KA V 01140 ( 11/24/14 Email, Khoo to McGee et al.).
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b. Communications with J.C. Expert Investment Company and Giorgi Rtskhiladze (Summer and Fall 2015)
In the late summer of 2015, the Trump Organization received a new inquiry about pursuing a Trump Tower project in Moscow. In approximately September 2015, Felix Sater, a New York-based real estate advisor, contacted Michael Cohen, then-executive vice president of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Donald J. Trump. 304 Sater had previously worked with the Trump Organization and advised it on a number of domestic and international projects. Sater had explored the possibility of a Trump Tower project in Moscow while working with the Trump Organization and therefore knew of the organization’s general interest in completing a deal there.305 Sater had also served as an informal agent of the Trump Organization in Moscow previously and had accompanied lvanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. to Moscow in the mid-2000s.306
Sater contacted Cohen on behalf of I.C. Expert Investment Company (LC. Expert), a Russian real-estate development corporation controlled by Andrei Vladimirovich Rozov.307 Sater had known Rozov since approximately 2007 and, in 2014, had served as an agent on behalf of Rozov during Rozov’s purchase of a building in New York City. 308 Sater later contacted Rozov and proposed that I.C. Expert pursue a Trump Tower Moscow project in which l.C. Expert would license the name and brand from the Trump Organization but construct the building on its own. Sater worked on the deal with Rozov and another employee of I.C. Expert.309
Cohen was the only Trump Organization representative to negotiate directly with I.C. Expert or its agents. In approximately September 2015, Cohen obtained approval to negotiate with I.C. Expert from candidate Trump, who was then president of the Trump Organization. Cohen provided updates directly to Trump about the project throughout 2015 and into 2016, assuring him the project was continuing .310 Cohen also discussed the Trump Moscow project with Ivanka Trump as to design elements (such as possible architects to use for the project 311) and Donald J. Trump Jr. (about his experience in Moscow and possible involvement in the project 312) during the fall of 2015.
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304 Sater provided information to our Office in two 2017 interviews conducted under a proffer agreement GRAND JURY
305 GRAND JURY
306 Sater 9/19/17 302, at 1-2, 5.
307 Sater 9/19/17 302, at 3.
308 Rozov 1/25/18 3 02, at 1.
309 Rozov 1/25/18 302, at I; see also 11/2/15 Email, Cohen to Rozov et al. (sending letter of intent).
310 Cohen 9/12/18 302, at 1-2, 4-6.
311 Cohen 9/12/18 302, at 5.
312 Cohen 9/12/18 302, at 4-5.
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Also during the fall of 2015, Cohen communicated about the Trump Moscow proposal with Giorgi Rtskhiladze, a business executive who previously had been involved in a development deal with the Trump Organization in Batumi, Georgia. 313 Cohen stated that he spoke to Rtskhiladze in part because Rtskhiladze had pursued business ventures in Moscow, including a licensing deal with the Agalarov-owned Crocus Group. 314 On September 22, 2015, Cohen forwarded a preliminary design study for the Trump Moscow project to Rtskhiladze, adding “I look forward to your reply about this spectacular project in Moscow .” Rtskhiladze forwarded Cohen’s email to an associate and wrote, “[i]f we could organize the meeting in New York at the highest level of the Russian Government and Mr. Trump this project would definitely receive the worldwide attention .”315
On September 24, 2015, Rtskhiladze sent Cohen an attachment that he described as a proposed “[l]etter to the Mayor of Moscow from Trump org,” explaining that “[w]e need to send this letter to the Mayor of Moscow (second guy in Russia) he is aware of the potential project and will pledge his support .”316 In a second email to Cohen sent the same day, Rtskhiladze provided a translation of the letter, which described the Trump Moscow project as a “symbol of stronger economic, business and cultural relationships between New York and Moscow and therefore United States and the Russian Federation.”317 On September 27, 2015, Rtskhiladze sent another email to Cohen, proposing that the Trump Organization partner on the Trump Moscow project with “Global Development Group LLC,” which he described as being controlled by Michail Posikhin, a Russian architect, and Simon Nizharadze. 318 Cohen told the Office that he ultimately declined the proposal and instead continued to work with LC. Expert, the company represented by Felix Sater.319
c. Letter of Intent and Contacts to Russian Government (October 2015-January 2016)
i. Trump Signs the Letter of Intent on behalf of the Trump Organization
Between approximately October 13, 2015 and November 2, 2015, the Trump Organization (through its subsidiary Trump Acquisition, LLC) and I.C. Expert completed a letter of intent (LOI) for a Trump Moscow property. The LOI, signed by Trump for the Trump Organization and Rozov on behalf of I.C. Expert, was “intended to facilitate further discussions” in order to “attempt to
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313 Rtskhiladze was a U.S.-based executive of the Georgian company Silk Road Group. In approximately 2011, Silk Road Group and the Trump Organization entered into a licensing agreement to build a Trump-branded property in Batumi, Georgia. Rtskhiladze was also involved in discussions for a Trump-branded project in Astana, Kazakhstan. The Office twice interviewed Rtskhiladze, GRAND JURY
314 Cohen 9/12/18 302, at 12; see also Rtskhiladze 5/10/18 302, at 1.
315 9/22/15 Email, Rtskhiladze to Nizharadze.
316 9/24/15 Email, Rtskhilad ze to Cohen.
317 9/24/15 Email, Rtskhiladze to Cohen.
318 9/27/15 Email, Rtskhiladze to Cohen.
319 Cohen 9/12/18 302, at 12.
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enter into a mutually acceptable agreement” related to the Trump-branded project in Moscow. 320 The LOI contemplated a development with residential, hotel, commercial, and office components, and called for”[a]pproximately 250 first class, luxury residential condominiums,” as well as”[o]ne first class, luxury hotel consisting of approximately 15 floors and containing not fewer than 150 hotel rooms.” 321 For the residential and commercial portions of the project, the Trump Organization would receive between 1% and 5% of all condominium sales, 322 plus 3% of all rental and other revenue. 323 For the project’s hotel portion, the Trump Organization would receive a base fee of 3% of gross operating revenues for the first five years and 4% thereafter, plus a separate incentive fee of 20% of operating profit. 324 Under the LOI, the Trump Organization also would receive a $4 million “up-front fee” prior to groundbreaking. 325 Under these terms, the Trump Organization stood to earn substantial sums over the lifetime of the project, without assuming significant liabilities or financing commitments. 326
On November 3, 2015, the day after the Trump Organization transmitted the LOI, Sater emailed Cohen suggesting that the Trump Moscow project could be used to increase candidate Trump’s chances at being elected, writing:
Buddy our boy can become President of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process …. Michael, Putin gets on stage with Donald for a ribbon cutting for Trump Moscow, and Donald owns the republican nomination. And possibly beats Hillary and our boy is in .. . . We will manage this process better than anyone. You and I will get Donald and Vladimir on a stage together very shortly. That the game changer.327
Later that day, Sater followed up:
Donald doesn’t stare down, he negotiates and understands the economic issues and Putin only want to deal with a pragmatic leader, and a successful business man is a good candidate for someone who knows how to negotiate. “Business, politics, whatever it all is the same for someone who knows how to deal”
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320 11/2/15 Email, Cohen to Rozov et al. (attachment) (hereinafter “LOI”); see also 10/13/15 Email, Sater to Cohen & Davis (attaching proposed letter of intent).
321 LOI, p. 2.
322 The LOI called for the Trump Organization to receive 5% of all gross sales up to $100 million; 4% of all gross sales from $100 million to $250 million ; 3% of all gross sales from $250 million to $500 million; 2% of all gross sales from $500 million to $1 billion; and 1 % of all gross sales over $1 billion. LOI, Schedule 2.
323 LOI, Schedule 2.
324 LOI, Schedule 1.
325 LOI, Schedule 2.
326 Cohen 9/12/18 302, at 3.
327 11/3/15 Email, Sater to Cohen (12:14 p.m.).
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I think I can get Putin to say that at the Trump Moscow press conference.
If he says it we own this election. Americas most difficult adversary agreeing that Donald is a good guy to negotiate ….
We can own this election.
Michael my next steps are very sensitive with Putins very very close people, we can pull this off.
Michael lets go. 2 boys from Brooklyn getting a USA president elected. This is good really good.328
According to Cohen, he did not consider the political import of the Trump Moscow project to the 2016 U.S. presidential election at the time. Cohen also did not recall candidate Trump or anyone affiliated with the Trump Campaign discussing the political implications of the Trump Moscow project with him. However, Cohen recalled conversations with Trump in which the candidate suggested that his campaign would be a significant “infomercial” for Trump-branded properties. 329
ii. Post-LOI Contacts with Individuals in Russia
Given the size of the Trump Moscow project, Sater and Cohen believed the project required approval (whether express or implicit) from the Russian national government, including from the Presidential Administration of Russia. 330 Sater stated that he therefore began to contact the Presidential Administration through another Russian business contact. 331 In early negotiations with the Trump Organization, Sater had alluded to the need for government approval and his attempts to set up meetings with Russian officials . On October 12, 2015, for example, Sater wrote to Cohen that “all we need is Putin on board and we are golden,” and that a “meeting with Putin and top deputy is tentatively set for the 14th [of October]. “332 [GRAND JURY] this meeting was being coordinated by associates in Russia and that he had no direct interaction with the Russian government. 333
Approximately a month later, after the LOI had been signed, Lana Erchova emailed lvanka Trump on behalf of Erchova’s then-husband Dmitry Klokov, to offer Klokov’s assistance to the Trump Campaign. 334 Klokov was at that time Director of External Communications for PJSC Federal Grid Company of Unified Energy System, a large Russian electricity transmission
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328 11/3/15 Email, Sater to Cohen (12:40 p.m.).
329 Cohen 9/12/ 18 302, at 3-4; Cohen 8/7/ 18 302, at 15.
330 GRAND JURY Sater 12/15/17 302, at 2.
331 Sater 12/15/ 17 302, at 3-4.
332 10/ 12/15 Email, Sater to Cohen (8:07 a.m.).
333 GRAND JURY
334 Ivanka Trump received an email from a woman who identified herself as “Lana E. Alexander,” which said in part, “If you ask anyone who knows Russian to google my husband Dmitry Klokov , you’ll see who he is close to and that he has done Putin’s political campaigns.” 11/ 16/15 Email, Erchova to I. Trump.
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company, and had been previously employed as an aide and press secretary to Russia’s energy minister. Ivanka Trump forwarded the email to Cohen. 335 He told the Office that, after receiving this inquiry, he had conducted an internet search for Klokov’s name and concluded (incorrectly) that Klokov was a former Olympic weightlifter. 336
Between November 18 and 19, 2015, Klokov and Cohen had at least one telephone call and exchanged several emails. Describing himself in emails to Cohen as a “trusted person” who could offer the Campaign “political synergy” and “synergy on a government level,” Klokov recommended that Cohen travel to Russia to speak with him and an unidentified intermediary. Klokov said that those conversations could facilitate a later meeting in Russia between the candidate and an individual Klokov described as “our person of interest.” 337 In an email to the Office, Erchova later identified the “person of interest” as Russian President Vladimir Putin. 338
In the telephone call and follow-on emails with Klokov, Cohen discussed his desire to use a near-term trip to Russia to do site surveys and talk over the Trump Moscow project with local developers. Cohen registered his willingness also to meet with Klokov and the unidentified intermediary, but was emphatic that all meetings in Russia involving him or candidate Trump-including a possible meeting between candidate Trump and Putin-would need to be “in conjunction with the development and an official visit” with the Trump Organization receiving a formal invitation to visit. 339 (Klokov had written previously that “the visit [by candidate Trump to Russia] has to be informal.”)340
Klokov had also previously recommended to Cohen that he separate their negotiations over a possible meeting between Trump and “the person of interest” from any existing business track. 341 Re-emphasizing that his outreach was not done on behalf of any business, Klokov added in second email to Cohen that, if publicized well, such a meeting could have “phenomenal” impact “in a business dimension” and that the “person of interest[‘s]” “most important support” could have significant ramifications for the “level of projects and their capacity.” Klokov concluded by telling
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335 11/16/15 Email, I. Trump to Cohen.
336 Cohen 8/7/18 302, at 17. During his interviews with the Office, Cohen still appeared to believe that the Klokov he spoke with was that Olympian. The investigation, however, established that the email address used to communicate with Cohen belongs to a different Dmitry Klokov, as described above.
337 11/18/15 Email, Klokov to Cohen (6:51 a.m.).
338 In July 2018, the Office received an unsolicited email purporting to be from Erchova, in which she wrote that “[a]t the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016 I was asked by my ex-husband to contact lvanka Trump … and offer cooperation to Trump’s team on behalf of the Russian officials.” 7/27/18 Email, Erchova to Special Counsel’s Office. The email claimed that the officials wanted to offer candidate Trump “land in Crimea among other things and unofficial meeting with Putin.” Id. In order to vet the email’s claims, the Office responded requesting more details. The Office did not receive any reply.
339 11/18/15 Email, Cohen to Klokov (7:15 a.m.).
340 11/18/15 Email, Klokov to Cohen (6:51 a.m.).
341 11/18/15 Email, Klokov to Cohen (6:51 a.m.) (“I would suggest separating your negotiations and our proposal to meet. I assure you, after the meeting level of projects and their capacity can be completely different, having the most important support.”).
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Cohen that there was “no bigger warranty in any project than [the] consent of the person of interest.”342 Cohen rejected the proposal, saying that “[c]urrently our LOI developer is in talks with VP’s Chief of Staff and arranging a formal invite for the two to meet.” 343 This email appears to be their final exchange, and the investigation did not identify evidence that Cohen brought Klokov’ s initial offer of assistance to the Campaign’s attention or that anyone associated with the Trump Organization or the Campaign dealt with Klokov at a later date. Cohen explained that he did not pursue the proposed meeting because he was already working on the Moscow Project with Sater, who Cohen understood to have his own connections to the Russian government. 344
By late December 2015, however, Cohen was complaining that Sater had not been able to use those connections to set up the promised meeting with Russian government officials. Cohen told Sater that he was “setting up the meeting myself.”345 On January 11, 2016, Cohen emailed the office of Dmitry Peskov, the Russian government’s press secretary, indicating that he desired contact with Sergei Ivanov, Putin’s chief of staff. Cohen erroneously used the email address “Prpeskova@prpress.gof.ru” instead of “Prpeskova@prpress.gov.ru,” so the email apparently did not go through. 346 On January 14, 2016, Cohen emailed a different address (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the following message:
Dear Mr. Peskov,
Over the past few months, I have been working with a company based in Russia regarding
the development of a Trump Tower-Moscow project in Moscow City.
Without getting into lengthy specifics, the communication between our two sides has
stalled. As this project is too important, I am hereby requesting your assistance.
I respectfully request someone, preferably you; contact me so that I might discuss the
specifics as well as arranging meetings with the appropriate individuals.
I thank you in advance for your assistance and look forward to hearing from you soon.347
Two days later, Cohen sent an email to Prpeskova@prpress.gov.ru, repeating his request to speak with Sergei Ivanov.348
Cohen testified to Congress, and initially told the Office, that he did not recall receiving a response to this email inquiry and that he decided to terminate any further work on the Trump Moscow project as of January 2016. Cohen later admitted that these statements were false. In
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342 11/19/15 Email, Klokov to Cohen (7:40 a.m.).
343 11/19/15 Email, Cohen to Klokov (12:56 p.m.).
344 Cohen 9/18/18 302, at 12.
345 FS00004 (12/30/15 Text Message, Cohen to Sater (6:17 p.m.)).
346 1/11/16 Email, Cohen to email@example.com (9: 12 a.m.).
347 1/14/16 Email, Cohen to firstname.lastname@example.org (9:21 a.m.).
348 1/16/16 Email, Cohen to email@example.com (10:28 a.m.).
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fact, Cohen had received (and recalled receiving) a response to his inquiry, and he continued to work on and update candidate Trump on the project through as late as June 2016. 349
On January 20, 2016, Cohen received an email from Elena Poliakova, Peskov’s personal assistant. Writing from her personal email account, Poliakova stated that she had been trying to reach Cohen and asked that he call her on the personal number that she provided. 350 Shortly after receiving Poliakova’s email, Cohen called and spoke to her for 20 minutes. 351 Cohen described to Poliakova his position at the Trump Organization and outlined the proposed Trump Moscow project, including information about the Russian counterparty with which the Trump Organization had partnered. Cohen requested assistance in moving the project forward, both in securing land to build the project and with financing. According to Cohen, Poliakova asked detailed questions and took notes, stating that she would need to follow up with others in Russia. 352
Cohen could not recall any direct follow-up from Poliakova or from any other representative of the Russian government, nor did the Office identify any evidence of direct follow-up. However, the day after Cohen’s call with Poliakova, Sater texted Cohen, asking him to “[c]all me when you have a few minutes to chat … It’s about Putin they called today.” 353 Sater then sent a draft invitation for Cohen to visit Moscow to discuss the Trump Moscow project, 354 along with a note to “[t]ell me if the letter is good as amended by me or make whatever changes you want and send it back to me.” 355 After a further round of edits, on January 25, 2016, Sater sent Cohen an invitation – signed by Andrey Ryabinskiy of the company MHJ-to travel to “Moscow for a working visit” about the “prospects of development and the construction business in Russia,” “the various land plots available suited for construction of this enormous Tower,” and “the opportunity to co-ordinate a follow up visit to Moscow by Mr. Donald Trump.” 356 According
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349 Cohen Information ¶ ¶ 4, 7. Cohen’s interactions with President Trump and the President’s lawyers when preparing his congressional testimony are discussed further in Volume II. See Vol. II, Section 11.K.3, infra.
350 1/20/16 Email, Poliakova to Cohen (5 :57 a.m.) (“Mr. Cohen[,] I can’t get through to both your phones. Pis, call me.”).
351 Telephone records show a 20-minute call on January 20, 2016 between Cohen and the number Poliakova provided in her email. Call Records of Michael Cohen [GRAND JURY} After the call, Cohen saved Poliakova’s contact information in his Trump Organization Outlook contact list. 1/20/16 Cohen Microsoft Outlook Entry (6:22 a.m.).
352 Cohen 9/12/18 302, at 2-3.
353 FS000l 1 (1/21/16 Text Messages, Sater to Cohen).
354 The invitation purported to be from Genbank, a Russian bank that was, according to Sater, working at the behest of a larger bank, VTB, and would consider providing financing. FS00008 (12/31/15 Text Messages, Sater & Cohen). Additional information about Genbank can be found infra.
355 FS000l I (1/21/16 Text Message, Sater to Cohen (7:44 p.m.)); 1/21/16 Email, Sater to Cohen (6:49 p.m.).
356 1/25/16 Email, Sater to Cohen (12:01 p.m.) (attachment).
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to Cohen , he elected not to travel at the time because of concerns about the lack of concrete proposals about land plots that could be considered as options for the project. 357
d. Discussions about Russia Travel by Michael Cohen or Candidate Trump (December 2015-June 2016)
i. Sater’s Overtures to Cohen to Travel to Russia
The late January communication was neither the first nor the last time that Cohen contemplated visiting Russia in pursuit of the Trump Moscow project. Beginning in late 2015, Sater repeatedly tried to arrange for Cohen and candidate Trump, as representatives of the Trump Organization, to travel to Russia to meet with Russian government officials and possible financing partners. In December 2015, Sater sent Cohen a number of emails about logistics for traveling to Russia for meetings. 358 On December 19, 2015, Sater wrote:
Please call me I have Evgeney [Dvoskin] on the other line.  He needs a copy of your
and Donald’s passports they need a scan of every page of the passports. Invitations &
Visas will be issued this week by VTB Bank to discuss financing for Trump Tower
Moscow. Politically neither Putins office nor Ministry of Foreign Affairs cannot issue
invite, so they are inviting commercially/ business. VTB is Russia’s 2 biggest bank and
VTB Bank CEO Andrey Kostin, will be at all meetings with Putin so that it is a business
meeting not political. We will be invited to Russian consulate this week to receive invite
& have visa issued. 360
In response, Cohen texted Sater an image of his own passport. 361 Cohen told the Office that at one point he requested a copy of candidate Trump’s passport from Rhona Graff, Trump’s executive assistant at the Trump Organization, and that Graff later brought Trump’s passport to Cohen’s
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357 Cohen 9/12/18 302, at 6-7.
358 See, e.g., 12/1/15 Email, Sater to Cohen (12:41 p.m.) (“Please scan and send me a copy of your passport for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”).
359 Toll records show that Sater was speaking to Evgeny Dvoskin. Call Records of Felix Sater Dvoskin is an executive of Genbank, a large bank with lending focused in Crimea, Ukraine . At the time that Sater provided this financing letter to Cohen, Genbank was subject to U.S. government sanctions, see Russia/Ukraine-related Sanctions and Identifications, Office of Foreign Assets Control (Dec. 22, 2015), available at https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center /sanctions/OF CEnforcement/Pages/20151222.aspx. Dvoskin, who had been deported from the United States in 2000 for criminal activity, was under indictment in the United States for stock fraud under the aliases Eugene Slusker and Gene Shustar. See United States v. Rizzo, et al., 2:03-cr-63 (E.D.N.Y. Feb. 6, 2003).
360 12/19/15 Email , Sater to Cohen (10:50 a.m.); FS00002 (12/ 19/15 Text Messages, Sater to Cohen, (10:53 a.m.).
361 FS00004 (12/19/15 Text Message , Cohen to Sater); ERT_0198-256 (12/ 19/15 Text Messages, Cohen & Sater).
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office.362 The investigation did not, however, establish that the passport was forwarded to Sater.363
Into the spring of 2016, Sater and Cohen continued to discuss a trip to Moscow in connection with the Trump Moscow project. On April 20, 2016, Sater wrote Cohen, “[t]he People. wanted to know when you are coming?” 364 On May 4, 2016, Sater followed up:
I had a chat with Moscow. ASSUMING the trip does happen the question is before or after
the convention. I said I believe, but don’t know for sure, that’s it’s probably after the
convention. Obviously the pre-meeting trip (you only) can happen anytime you want but
the 2 big guys where [sic] the question. I said I would confirm and revert. … Let me
know about If I was right by saying I believe after Cleveland and also when you want to
speak to them and possibly fly over.365
Cohen responded, “My trip before Cleveland. Trump once he becomes the nominee after the
The day after this exchange, Sater tied Cohen’s travel to Russia to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (“Forum”), an annual event attended by prominent Russian politicians and businessmen. Sater told the Office that he was informed by a business associate that Peskov wanted to invite Cohen to the Forum.367 On May 5, 2016, Sater wrote to Cohen:
Peskov would like to invite you as his guest to the St. Petersburg Forum which is Russia’s
Davos it’s June 16-19. He wants to meet there with you and possibly introduce you to
either Putin or Medvedev, as they are not sure if 1 or both will be there.
This is perfect. The entire business class of Russia will be there as well.
He said anything you want to discuss including dates and subjects are on the table to
The following day, Sater asked Cohen to confirm those dates would work for him to travel; Cohen wrote back, “[w]orks for me.”369
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362 Cohen 9/12/18 302, at 5.
363 On December 21, 2015, Sater sent Cohen a text message that read, “They need a copy of DJT passport,” to which Cohen responded, “After I return from Moscow with you with a date for him.” FS00004 (12/21/15 Text Messages, Cohen & Sater).
364 FS00014 (4/20/16 Text Message, Sater to Cohen (9:06 p.m.)) .
365 FS000l 5 (5/4/16 Text Message, Sater to Cohen (7:38 p.m.)).
366 FS00015 (5/4/16 Text Message, Cohen to Sater (8:03 p.m.)).
367 Sater 12/15/17 302, at 4.
368 FS00016 (5/5/16 Text Messages, Sater to Cohen (6:26 & 6:27 a.m.)).
369 FS00016 (5/6/ 16 Text Messages, Cohen & Sater).
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On June 9, 2016, Sater sent Cohen a notice that he (Sater) was completing the badges for the Forum, adding, “Putin is there on the 17th very strong chance you will meet him as well.” 370 On June 13, 2016, Sater forwarded Cohen an invitation to the Forum signed by the Director of the Roscongress Foundation, the Russian entity organizing the Forum. 371 Sater also sent Cohen a Russian visa application and asked him to send two passport photos. 372 According to Cohen, the invitation gave no indication that Peskov had been involved in inviting him. Cohen was concerned that Russian officials were not actually involved or were not interested in meeting with him (as Sater had alleged), and so he decided not to go to the Forum. 373 On June 14, 2016, Cohen met Sater in the lobby of the Trump Tower in New York and informed him that he would not be traveling at that time. 374
ii. Candidate Trump’s Opportunities to Travel to Russia
The investigation identified evidence that, during the period the Trump Moscow project was under consideration, the possibility of candidate Trump visiting Russia arose in two contexts.
First, in interviews with the Office, Cohen stated that he discussed the subject of traveling to Russia with Trump twice: once in late 2015; and again in spring 2016. 375 According to Cohen, Trump indicated a willingness to travel if it would assist the project significantly. On one occasion, Trump told Cohen to speak with then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to coordinate the candidate’s schedule. Cohen recalled that he spoke with Lewandowski, who suggested that they speak again when Cohen had actual dates to evaluate. Cohen indicated, however, that he knew that travel prior to the Republican National Convention would be impossible given the candidate’s preexisting commitments to the Campaign. 376
Second, like Cohen, Trump received and turned down an invitation to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. In late December 2015, Mira Duma — a contact of Ivanka Trump’s from the fashion industry — first passed along invitations for Ivanka Trump and candidate Trump from Sergei Prikhodko, a Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation. 377 On January 14, 2016, Rhona Graff sent an email to Duma stating that Trump was “honored to be asked to participate in the highly prestigious” Forum event, but that he would “have to decline” the invitation given his “very grueling and full travel schedule” as a presidential candidate. 378 Graff
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370 FS000 18 (6/9/16 Text Messages, Sater & Cohen).
371 6/13/16 Email , Sater to Cohen (2:10 p.m.).
372 FS00018 (6/13/16 Text Message , Sater to Cohen (2:20 p.m.)); 6/13/16 Email, Sater to Cohen.
373 Cohen 9/12/18 302, at 6-8.
374 FS00019 (6/14/16 Text Messages, Cohen & Sater (12:06 and 2:50 p.m.)).
375 Cohen 9/12/18 302, at 2.
376 Cohen 9/12/18 302, at 7.
377 12/21/15 Email, Mira to Ivanka Trump (6:57 a.m.) (attachments); TRUMPORG_16_000057 (1/7/16 Email, I. Trump to Graff(9:18 a.m.)).
378 1/14/16 Email, Graff to Mira.
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asked Duma whether she recommended that Graff “send a formal note to the Deputy Prime Minister” declining his invitation; Duma replied that a formal note would be “great.” 379 It does not appear that Graff prepared that note immediately. According to written answers from President Trump, 380 Graff received an email from Deputy Prime Minister Prikhodko on March 17, 2016, again inviting Trump to participate in the 2016 Forum in St. Petersburg. 381 Two weeks later, on March 31, 2016, Graff prepared for Trump ‘s signature a two-paragraph letter declining the invitation. 382 The letter stated that Trump’s “schedule has become extremely demanding” because of the presidential campaign, that he “already ha[d] several commitments in the United States” for the time of the Forum, but that he otherwise “would have gladly given every consideration to attending such an important event.”383 Graff forwarded the letter to another executive assistant at the Trump Organization with instructions to print the document on letterhead for Trump to sign.384
At approximately the same time that the letter was being prepared, Robert Foresman — a New York-based investment banker — began reaching out to Graff to secure an in-person meeting with candidate Trump. According to Foresman, he had been asked by Anton Kobyakov, a Russian presidential aide involved with the Roscongress Foundation, to see if Trump could speak at the Forum. 385 Foresman first emailed Graff on March 31, 2016, following a phone introduction brokered through Trump business associate Mark Burnett (who produced the television show The Apprentice). In his email, Foresman referenced his long-standing personal and professional expertise in Russia and Ukraine, his work setting up an early “private channel” between Vladimir Putin and former U.S. President George W. Bush, and an “approach” he had received from “senior Kremlin officials” about the candidate. Foresman asked Graff for a meeting with the candidate, Corey Lewandowski , or “another relevant person” to discuss this and other “concrete things” Foresman felt uncomfortable discussing over “unsecure email.”386 On April 4, 2016, Graff forwarded Foresman’s meeting request to Jessica Macchia, another executive assistant to Trump. 387
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379 1/15/16 Email, Mira to Graff.
380 As explained in Volume II and Appendix C, on September 17, 2018, the Office sent written questions to the President’s counsel. On November 20, 2018, the President provided written answers to those questions through counsel.
381 Written Responses of Donald J. Trump (Nov. 20, 2018), at 17 (Response to Question IV, Pait (e)) (“[D]ocuments show that Ms. Graff prepared for my signature a brief response declining the invitation.”).
382 Written Responses of Donald J. Trump (Nov. 20, 2018), at 17 (Response to Question IV, Part (e)); see also TRUMPORG_16_000134 (unsigned letter dated March 31, 2016).
383 TRUMPORG_16_000134 (unsigned letter) .
384 TRUMPORG_l6_000133 (3/31/16 Email, Graff to Macchia).
385 Foresman 10/17/18 302, at 3-4.
386 See TRUMPORG_16_00136 (3/31/16 Email, Foresman to Graff); see also Foresman 10/17/18 302, at 3-4.
387 See TRUMPORG_16_00136 (4/4/16 Email, Graff to Macchia).
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With no response forthcoming, Foresman twice sent reminders to Graff — first on April 26 and again on April 30, 2016. 388 Graff sent an apology to Foresman and forwarded his April 26 email (as well as his initial March 2016 email) to Lewandowski. 389 On May 2, 2016, Graff forwarded Foresman’s April 30 email — which suggested an alternative meeting with Donald Trump Jr. or Eric Trump so that Foresman could convey to them information that “should be conveyed to [the candidate] personally or [to] someone [the candidate] absolutely trusts” — to policy advisor Stephen Miller. 390
No communications or other evidence obtained by the Office indicate that the Trump Campaign learned that Foresman was reaching out to invite the candidate to the Forum or that the Campaign otherwise followed up with Foresman until after the election, when he interacted with the Transition Team as he pursued a possible position in the incoming Administration. 391 When interviewed by the Office, Foresman denied that the specific “approach” from “senior Kremlin officials” noted in his March 31, 2016 email was anything other than Kobyakov’s invitation to Roscongress. According to Foresman, the “concrete things” he referenced in the same email were a combination of the invitation itself, Foresman’s personal perspectives on the invitation and Russia policy in general, and details of a Ukraine plan supported by a U.S. think tank (EastWest Institute). Foresman told the Office that Kobyakov had extended similar invitations through him to another Republican presidential candidate and one other politician. Foresman also said that Kobyakov had asked Foresman to invite Trump to speak after that other presidential candidate withdrew from the race and the other politician’s participation did not work out. 392 Finally, Foresman claimed to have no plans to establish a back channel involving Trump, stating the reference to his involvement in the Bush-Putin back channel was meant to burnish his credentials to the Campaign. Foresman commented that he had not recognized any of the experts announced as Trump’s foreign policy team in March 2016, and wanted to secure an in-person meeting with the candidate to share his professional background and policy views, including that Trump should decline Kobyakov ‘s invitation to speak at the Forum .393
NEXT: The role of George Papadopoulos
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388 See TRUMPORG_16_00137 (4/26/16 Email, Foresman to Graff); TRUMPORG_16_00141 (4/30/16 Email, Foresman to Graff).
389 See TRUMPORG_ 16_00139 (4/27/16 Email, Graff to Foresman); TRUMPORG_16_00137 ( 4/27 /16 Email, Graff to Lewandowski).
390 TRUMPORG_16_00142 (5/2/16 Email, Graff to S. Miller); see also TRUMPORG_16_00143 (5/2/16 Email, Graff to S. Miller) (forwarding March 2016 email from Foresman).
391 Foresman’s contacts during the transition period are discussed further in Volume I, Section IV.B.3, infra.
392 Foresman 10/17/18 302, at 4.
393 Foresman 10/17 /18 302, at 8-9.
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