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News Wednesday, May 3 2017

Comey Confirms: Putin Knew Trump Presented An Opportunity To Make Pro-Russian Deals with US Government

May 03, 2017

FBI Director James Comey confirmed today that Russian President Vladimir Putin viewed Donald Trump’s business background as an opportunity to make pro-Russian deals if Trump was elected President. WATCH:

Comey: “… the intelligence community assessed that Putin believed he would be more able to make deals, reach agreements, with someone with a business background…”

Putin knew full well the possibilities for deal-making under a Trump presidency considering Trump’s long and well documented ties to Russia. In fact, in the years leading up to the election, Trump’s family bragged about the hundreds of millions of dollars that poured into their businesses from Russian oligarchs and mobsters. Putin knew from the start that he would have a puppet in the White House with Donald Trump serving as President.

“Director Comey’s confirmation that Putin believed he could play puppet master with Trump is welcome but not surprising.  Anyone who has been paying attention knows that there’s long been a quid pro quo between Trump and Putin that works for the two of them at everyone else’s expense,” said American Bridge Rapid Response Director Emily Aden.

“To date, Trump has praised and defended Putin’s oppressive regime at every turn and refuses to acknowledge Russia’s role in rigging our election in Trump’s favor even as the FBI says there are continued cyber-attacks from Russian interests.  As a result, the American people are rightfully wondering if the White House has been compromised with the Trump Administration working for Putin at our country’s expense. That’s exactly why we need an independent commission investigating this scandal on behalf of the public and our national security interests.”

Background on Trump’s Business Deals With Russia

Trump: “I’ve Done A Lot Of Business With The Russians.” [“The Late Show,” CBS, 10/17/13]

Washington Post: Since The 1980’s Trump And His Family Members Have Sought Business Opportunities In Moscow, “And They Have Relied On Russian Investors To Buy Their Properties Around The World.” According to Washington Post, “Trump has conveyed a different view, informed in part through his business ambitions. Since the 1980s, Trump and his family members have made numerous trips to Moscow in search of business opportunities, and they have relied on Russian investors to buy their properties around the world.” [Washington Post, 6/17/16]

Donald Trump Jr: “Russians Make Up A Pretty Disproportionate Cross-Section Of Our Assets. We See A Lot Of Money Pouring In From Russia.” According to Washington Post, “‘Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,’ Trump’s son, Donald Jr., told a real estate conference in 2008, according to an account posted on the website of eTurboNews, a trade publication. ‘We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.’” [Washington Post, 6/17/16]

Washington Post: Trump Has “Long Aspired To Build A Trump Tower In Russia.” According to Washington Post, “Trump has long aspired to build a Trump Tower in Russia — a market that first gained his attention in the 1980s as the Cold War was ending and the Soviet Union began to open more to outsiders. ‘Russia is one of the hottest places in the world for investment,’ Trump said in a 2007 deposition. ‘We will be in Moscow at some point,’ he promised. Part of the allure was what Trump and his associates saw as a huge opportunity — the chance to market American-style luxury apartments to the wealthy elite in a place that still mostly offered utilitarian Soviet-style construction.” [Washington Post, 6/17/16]

Trump Partnered With Russian Oligarch Aras Asgarov On The Miss Universe Pageant In Moscow. According to Politico, “Soon after meeting Trump, the Agalarovs persuaded him to bring the 2013 pageant to one of their marquee properties: Crocus City Hall, a 7,500-seat concert hall they had opened four years earlier. ‘We just had a meeting … we all seemed to like each other, shook hands and signed our contract within a week’s time,’ Emin said in his Forbes interview, adding that the pageant would cost $20 million to host.” [Politico, 5/15/16]

After The Pageant Putin Awarded Agalarov The “Order Of Honor Of The Russian Federation.” According to the Washington Post, “The Agalarovs are wealthy developers who have received several contracts for state-funded construction projects, a sign of their closeness to the Putin government. Shortly after the pageant, Putin awarded the elder Agalarov the ‘Order of Honor of the Russian Federation,’ a prestigious designation.” [Washington Post, 6/17/16]

Herman Gref, Putin’s Former Economy Minister, Set Up A Meeting For Trump And Russia’s Top Businessmen While Trump Was In Moscow For Pageant According to Bloomberg, “The last time Donald Trump made an appearance in Moscow was November 2013 for the Miss Universe contest he famously owned. It was a glittering event filled with carefully choreographed photographs and parties. Then another, more private, invitation arrived: Come to Nobu to meet more than a dozen of Russia’s top businessmen, including Herman Gref, the chief executive officer of state-controlled Sberbank PJSC, Russia’s biggest bank. Gref, who was President Vladimir Putin’s economy minister from 2000 to 2007, organized the meeting together with Aras Agalarov, the founder of Crocus Group, one of the country’s largest real-estate companies, which was hosting the beauty pageant at one of its concert halls.” [Bloomberg, 12/21/16]

2008: Trump Revealed He Had Traveled To Russia Six Times Over 18 Months To Strike Business Deals. According to Washington Post, “The quest continued. In his 2008 speech, Donald Jr. announced that he had traveled to Russia six times in the previous 18 months in hopes of striking a deal. ‘Several buyers have been attracted to our projects there,’ he said. But, Donald Jr. explained, Russia presented enormous challenges. ‘As much as we want to take our business over there, Russia is just a different world,’ the younger Trump said in his 2008 speech. ‘It is a question of who knows who, whose brother is paying off who. . . . It really is a scary place.’” [Washington Post, 6/17/16]

Trump Business Associate Sergei Millian: Trump Received “Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars” As A Result Of Interaction With Russian Businessmen. According to ABC News, “But an ABC News investigation found he has numerous connections to Russian interests both in the U.S. and abroad. ‘The level of business amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars — what he received as a result of interaction with Russian businessmen,’ said Sergei Millian, who heads a U.S.-Russia business group and who says he once helped market Trump’s U.S. condos in Russia and the former Soviet states. ‘They were happy to invest with him, and they were happy to work with Donald Trump. And they were happy to associate—[and] be associated with Donald Trump.’” [ABC News, 9/22/16]

2008: Trump Sold A Mansion In Palm Beach To Russian Oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev For $95 Million. According to Washington Post, “Trump also sold a mansion in Palm Beach in 2008 for $95 million to Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev, according to property records. Trump had purchased the mansion at a bankruptcy auction less than four years earlier for $41.4 million, records show.” [Washington Post, 6/17/16]

At Least 63 Individuals With Russian Passports Or Addresses Have Bought At Least $98.4 Million Worth Of Property In Seven Trump-Branded Luxury Towers In Southern Florida. According to Reuters, “During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald J. Trump downplayed his business ties with Russia. And since taking office as president, he has been even more emphatic. ‘I can tell you, speaking for myself, I own nothing in Russia,’ President Trump said at a news conference last month. ‘I have no loans in Russia. I don’t have any deals in Russia.’ But in the United States, members of the Russian elite have invested in Trump buildings. A Reuters review has found that at least 63 individuals with Russian passports or addresses have bought at least $98.4 million worth of property in seven Trump-branded luxury towers in southern Florida, according to public documents, interviews and corporate records.” [Reuters, 3/17/17]

Trump SoHo Recruited Financing From Investors In Russia And Kazakhstan. According to ABC News, “Trump was involved in a range of deals with Russian-born business executives, including the developer of the Trump project in Toronto. One of his partners in Trump Soho recruited financing from investors in Russia and Kazakhstan, according to court filings. And in 2013, Trump earned a cut of the proceeds when a Russian oligarch paid to host the Miss Universe Pageant at his venue in Moscow.” [ABC News, 9/22/16]

Eric Trump Touted Russian Condo Buyers Because They Can Pay In Cash. According to ABC News, “Eric Trump and Donald Jr. were also present, and were quoted praising the importance of Russian condo buyers, many of whom have purchased units in Trump buildings in seven-figure, cash-only deals. ‘As the experience of the past few years shows, the best property buyers now are Russian,’ Eric Trump is quoted as saying. ‘They’re different in that they can go around without a mortgage loan from American banks, that require income checks and they can buy apartments with cash.’” [ABC News, 9/22/16]

USA Today: Three Trump Condo Owners Convicted In 2013 For “Illegal High-Stakes Sports Betting Ring For A Russian-American Organized Crime Group.” According to USA Today, “Three Trump condo owners — Golubchik,  Trincher and Sall — were convicted in 2013 in federal court in New York of participating in an illegal high-stakes sports betting ring for a Russian-American organized crime group. The betting ring operated illegal gambling websites and catered almost exclusively to wealthy oligarchs from the former Soviet Union, according to prosecutors. Golubchik and Sall own Trump condos in Sunny Isles Beach. And professional poker player Trincher owns a condo in Trump Tower in New York City. Golubchik and Trincher were principal leaders of the enterprise, which included money laundering and extortion, prosecutors charged in the indictment.” [USA Today, 3/28/17]

Published: May 3, 2017

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