President Donald Trump’s conversations with his former personal attorney about a Trump Tower Moscow deal may have lasted up until the 2016 election, his new lawyer said Sunday.
Rudy Giuliani said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the president’s written answers to questions from special counsel Robert Mueller “cover up to the election” with regards to discussions about the possible deal and that Trump “can remember having” such discussions “up to as far as October, November.”
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Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty last year to lying to Congress about talks about a potential real estate deal in Moscow. Cohen told lawmakers in closed-door testimony that negotiations about the deal ended in January 2016. Cohen later said in his plea that discussions continued into June of that year.
Giuliani revealed Sunday that the discussions may have lasted up until Trump’s election, a disclosure that has already sparked concerns from Democrats and others who have long worried that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia have exerted a great influence on Trump.
“It's our understanding that they went on throughout 2016,” Giuliani said, adding that “there weren't a lot of them, but there were conversations. Can't be sure [of] the exact dates, but the president can remember having conversations with him about it."
Pressed by host Chuck Todd, Giuliani said that the discussions could have extended until October or November.
“Any time during that period they could have talked about it. But the president's recollection of it is that the thing had petered out quite a bit.”
Trump had repeatedly insisted throughout the campaign that he had "no business" in Russia, including after U.S. intelligence agencies said Russia had sought to interfere in the election on Trump's behalf.
Giuliani on Sunday downplayed the Trump Tower Moscow discussions as just a proposal and sought to cast Trump’s role in the talks as minor, framing Cohen as the lead negotiator on the project.
But while Giuliani said Trump was mostly uninvolved in the discussions, Trump himself took credit for ending the deal last year, telling reporters multiple times that “I decided” not to pursue it.
For instance, he said on Nov. 29, 2018: “We had a position to possibly do a deal to build a building of some kind in Moscow. I decided not to do it. The primary reason — there could have been other reasons. But the primary reason, it was very simple: I was focused on running for president.“
Giuliani told Todd he was unclear why the deal fell apart: “I don't know why it didn't go anywhere. Nor does the president really know exactly why. I mean, there are a lot of these things that happen in a business like his.“
Regardless, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on "Meet the Press" that Giuliani's admission of even a potential active proposal was big news.
"That is news to me,“ Warner said. “And that is big news. Why, two years after the fact, are we just learning this fact now, when there's been this much inquiry?"
"I think that's a relevant fact for voters to know. And I think it's remarkable that we're two years after the fact and just discovering it today," he said.> Share on Facebook > Share on Twitter