During the 2016 campaign, the Trump Organization wanted to give Russian President Vladimir Putin a $50 million penthouse in Trump Tower Moscow, four people with knowledge of the matter told BuzzFeed News.
Two law enforcement officials said Michael Cohen, President Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer, met with a representative of Putin's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, to discuss the plan. Real estate promoter Felix Sater told BuzzFeed News he worked on the plan with Cohen, and they thought if Putin was in Trump Tower Moscow, wealthy movers and shakers would follow. "In Russia, the oligarchs would bend over backwards to live in the same building as Vladimir Putin," he said. Trump Tower Moscow was never built.
On Thursday, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to the Senate about Trump's business dealings in Russia. Cohen had testified the Trump Tower Moscow deal collapsed in January 2016, but court documents state he later admitted the deal moved forward beyond that. It's not clear if Trump knew about the plan to give the penthouse to Putin, BuzzFeed News reports; in court documents, Cohen said he regularly briefed Trump and his family on the negotiations in Moscow. Catherine Garcia
During a meeting in Trump Tower on Jan. 6, 2017, Donald Trump, just weeks from being inaugurated as president of the United States, was shown highly classified intelligence that indicated Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered cyberattacks to influence the 2016 U.S. election, The New York Times reports.
Trump was briefed by former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and Adm. Michael Rogers, the former director of the National Security Agency. The evidence included texts and emails from Russian military officers and information from a source close to Putin who covertly told the CIA how Russia executed its disinformation and hacking campaign.
Several people at the briefing told the Times Trump sounded "grudgingly convinced," but since the inauguration, has been reticent to publicly call Putin out, as seen in Helsinki on Monday, yet quick to ridicule Brennan and Clapper. One of Trump's closest aides told the Times Trump is afraid if he ever admits the campaign was successful, it will delegitimize his presidency. For more about the meeting, and the lengths Brennan went to protect the human sources who funneled information to the CIA, visit The New York Times.Catherine Garcia
Former FBI Director James Comey writes in his forthcoming book A Higher Loyalty that President Trump is "untethered to the truth" and built a "cocoon of alternative reality that he was busily wrapping around all of us."
Comey said when he first met Trump, he had "flashbacks" to when he prosecuted members of the mob, and Trump lies about "all things, large and small." Comey also writes that Trump is fixated on the dossier compiled by former intelligence officer Christopher Steele, which includes unconfirmed allegations regarding Trump and Russian prostitutes.
He said Trump gave several explanations as to why it was impossible for him to ever have been with the women, and told Comey it bothered him to think there was "even a one percent chance" first lady Melania Trump thought it was true. Comey thought this was a strange thing to say, writing, "In what kind of marriage, to what kind of man, does a spouse conclude there is only a 99 percent chance her husband didn't do that?"
Comey also dedicates space in the book to the size of Trump's hands ("smaller than mine, but did not seem unusually so") and his regrets over how he announced in July 2016 that Hillary Clinton would not be prosecuted over her emails. A Higher Loyalty is out Tuesday. Catherine Garcia