A Russian businessman texted Michael Cohen that he had stopped the “flow of tapes from Russia”
Buried in a footnote in Section II B of Volume II of the redacted Mueller report is a single reference to supposed kompromat the Russian government was rumored to have on the president — the infamous “pee tape.” The report confirms that then-FBI director James Comey briefed President-elect Trump about the report in January 2017, but it also reveals that the Trump campaign was privately aware as early as October 2016 — more than two months before BuzzFeed News published the Steele dossier — that embarrassing tapes of then-candidate Donald Trump might exist in Russia.
According to the report, on October 30th, 2016, Trump’s private attorney and fixer Michael Cohen received a text from a Russian businessman involved in the Trump Tower Moscow deal, in progress for more than a year. “Stopped flow of tapes from Russia but not sure if there’s anything else. Just so you know….” Giorgi Rtskhiladze wrote to Cohen. Cohen told investigators he spoke to Trump about the issue after receiving the texts from Rtskhiladze.
Rtskhiladze later admitted he had been told the tapes were fake, but he did not communicate that to Cohen, the report says.
Rtskhiladze’s description of the tapes’ content tracks with the unverified information included in the Steele dossier, which claimed that Trump watched Russian prostitutes urinate in a Moscow hotel room in 2013. “Rtskhiladze said ‘tapes’ referred to compromising tapes of Trump rumored to be held by persons associated with the Russian real estate conglomerate Crocus Group, which had helped host the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant in Russia.”
The Crocus Group’s president is Aras Agalarov. It was Agalarov’s son, the Russian pop star Emin Agalarov, who brokered the June 9th, 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Kremlin-linked lawyer, who promised to deliver “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary.”
Besides the Trump Tower Moscow project, the report also says Rtskhiladze was involved in discussions for a Trump-branded project in Astana, Kazakhstan, and had previously been involved in a development deal with the Trump Organization in Batumi, Georgia. Separately, the report says Rtskhiladze had worked on business ventures in Moscow, including a licensing deal with the Agalarov-owned Crocus Group.
According to the report, Cohen forwarded a preliminary design study for the Trump Moscow project to Rtskhiladze, in September 2015 writing, “I look forward to your reply about this spectacular project in Moscow.” Rtskhiladze forwarded Cohen’s email to an associate and wrote, “[i]f we could organize the meeting in New York at the highest level of the Russian Government and Mr. Trump this project would definitely receive the worldwide attention.”
In his book, A Higher Loyalty, James Comey wrote that after he briefed Trump, the then-president-elect asked him to investigate and prove the report was a lie. “He brought up what he called the ‘golden showers thing’…adding that it bothered him if there was ‘even a one percent chance’ his wife, Melania, thought it was true,” Comey writes. “He just rolled on, unprompted, explaining why it couldn’t possibly be true, ending by saying he was thinking of asking me to investigate the allegation to prove it was a lie. I said it was up to him.”
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