NYT: How a Lawyer, a Felon and a Russian General Chased a Moscow Trump Tower Deal

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Felix Sater, a longtime business associate of President Trump’s, drew on deep Russian contacts to pursue a real estate deal during the 2016 campaign. One of those contacts was a former intelligence official in Russia.

By Mike McIntire, Megan Twohey and Mark Mazzetti

When Donald J. Trump took a run at building a tower in Moscow in the middle of his 2016 presidential campaign, it was the high point of a decades-long effort to plant the “Trump” flag there.

The role his former lawyer Michael D. Cohen played in the endeavor entered the spotlight again on Thursday after he pleaded guilty to misleading Congress. But the effort was led in large part by Felix Sater, a convicted felon and longtime business associate with deep ties to Russia.

To get the project off the ground, Mr. Sater dug into his address book and its more than 100 Russian contacts — including entries for President Vladimir V. Putin and a former general in Russian military intelligence. Mr. Sater tapped the general, Evgeny Shmykov, to help arrange visas for Mr. Cohen and Mr. Trump to visit Russia, according to emails and interviews with several people knowledgeable about the events.

For months, the felon, the former Russian intelligence officer and Mr. Trump’s lawyer worked to land the deal, speaking with a Putin aide, Russian bankers and real estate developers. But by July 2016, with Mr. Trump having secured the Republican presidential nomination and accusations of Russian election interference heating up, the project was abandoned, and neither Mr. Cohen nor Mr. Trump traveled to Moscow.

read more at New York Times

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