President Donald Trump’s legal counsel Rudy Giuliani admitted Dec. 19 to the New York Daily News that Trump signed a letter of intent dated October 28, 2015, to proceed on a Trump-branded development in Moscow.
“Of course” he signed it, Giuliani told the Daily News.
Just days earlier, Giuliani told CNN, “There was a letter of intent to go forward, but no one signed it.”
Giuliani told the Daily News that “I don’t think I said nobody signed it.”
Giuliani also suggested on Dec. 16 on ABC’s This Week that Trump’s conversations with his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, sentenced last week to three years in prison, may have happened past January 2016—including as late as November 2016. Cohen admitted to lying to Congress about talks on a Russian development deal past January 2016.
CNN obtained the signed copy of the letter of intent and reported on it Dec. 18.
During the 2016 presidential campaign and in 2017, Trump claimed he had “nothing to do with Russia” on many occasions.
However, in testimony to Congress in 2017, Trump’s son Donald Trump, Jr., said that Cohen and another Trump associate had looked into a Moscow development in 2015 or 2016. (Donald Trump, Jr., was involved in another Russian deal that he said halted progress in 2014.)
The timeline of Trump’s direct involvement is a critical one in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Russia attempted to sway American voters in favor of Trump in the 2016 presidential election, as well as sow confusion and discord by encouraging voters to stay home or pick third-party candidates rather than Hillary Clinton. On Dec. 17, the Senate Intelligence Commission released reports that pinned direct Russian intelligence involvement in an effort to mislead African American voters.
If Trump were seeking a financial deal in Russia through 2016, it raises questions about members of his campaign and his family’s extensive contacts with Russian officials and surrogates, which they initially largely denied, and whether they made offers to or accepted offers from the Russian government. With Trump, his family, and others denying a Russian deal in progress, it also raises the issue of whether Moscow could have used its knowledge of the deal letter for leverage against President Trump.