Trump's discussions with Cohen about the Moscow project - regardless of when they ended - happened while Trump cozied up to Russian Federation with his rhetoric on the campaign trail.
The project and the length of discussions around have been subject to a changing narrative and is a key part of the legal saga facing Cohen, Trump's former attorney.
In one interview, Giuliani said Trump had been in talks over the proposed Moscow Trump Tower project throughout the presidential campaign, possibly as late as October or November 2016. Last May, Giuliani went on Sean Hannity's Fox News show and acknowledged that Trump repaid Cohen for hush money payments to Stormy Daniels, the porn star alleging an affair with Trump, a statement viewed then as a misstep but later perceived as an effort to minimize revelations about possible campaign finance violations.
"The President never (emphasis ours) spoke with Cohen about the congressional testimony", Giuliani told the New York Daily News, adding that any talks that occurred would have "happened between the lawyers [and] would have been part of the joint defense agreement". Trump's aides continued meeting and having phone calls with Russians after he won, which special counsel Robert Mueller has been investigating.
A final letter of intent signed by Trump on October 28, 2015, noted Trump Tower Moscow would have "approximately 250 first class, luxury residential condominiums", 15 floors of 150 hotel rooms, a luxury spa by Ivanka Trump and fitness center, and a commercial area for businesses to rent. "My comments did not represent the actual timing or circumstances of any such discussions".
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He testified before Congress that the project he pursued on Trump's behalf was abandoned by the time of the Iowa Caucuses in January 2016; that would be consistent with Trump's 'political messaging'.
"I would think most voters, Democrat, Republican, independent, you name it, that knowing that the Republican nominee was actively trying to do business in Moscow, that the Republican nominee, at least at one point, had offered, if he built this building, Vladimir Putin, a three-penthouse apartment, and if those negotiations were ongoing while - up 'til the election, I think that's a relevant fact for voters to know", Warner said.
Negotiations for a Trump deal in Moscow occurred around the same time that the Russian government was interfering in the 2016 U.S. election. Giuliani said Trump did not really remember when the conversations took place, but was comfortable with a general answer that Trump provided Mueller, which "would have covered all the way up to November of - covered all the way up to November 2016". They sent a letter of intent in. "I don't know if they made it up".
'I made these misstatements to be consistent with Individual 1's political messaging and out of loyalty to Individual 1, ' Cohen said at his plea hearing late past year.
That statement, which suggested that the Trump Organization was engaged in business dealings with Russian Federation up to and beyond the election, ignited a firestorm and then an abrupt walk-back from Giuliani. A former federal prosecutor, he has also been the team's public face and, even if not the primary author of letters and other documents to the Mueller team, he has nonetheless helped develop strategy.