Nation

‘Our boy can become president . . . and we can engineer it,’ Trump ally said of Russia deal

A business associate of President Trump promised in 2015 to engineer a real estate deal with the aid of the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, that he said would help Trump win the presidency.
Evan Vucci/Associated Press
A business associate of President Trump promised in 2015 to engineer a real estate deal with the aid of the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, that he said would help Trump win the presidency.

WASHINGTON — A business associate of President Trump promised in 2015 to engineer a real estate deal with the aid of the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, that he said would help Trump win the presidency.

The business associate, Felix Sater, wrote a series of e-mails to Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, in which he boasted about his ties to Putin and predicted that building a Trump Tower in Moscow would be a political boon to Trump’s candidacy.

“Buddy our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,” Sater wrote in an e-mail. “I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.”

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The e-mails show that, from the earliest months of Trump’s campaign, his associates viewed close ties with Moscow as a political advantage. Those ties are now under investigation by the Justice Department and multiple congressional committees.

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There is no evidence in the e-mails that Sater delivered on his promises. Sater, a Russian immigrant, was a broker for the Trump Organization at the time, which means he was paid to deliver real estate deals.

In another e-mail, Sater envisioned a ribbon-cutting in Moscow.

“I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected,” Sater wrote.

Cohen suggested that Sater’s comments were puffery.

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“He has sometimes used colorful language and has been prone to ‘salesmanship,’ ” Cohen said in a statement. “I ultimately determined that the proposal was not feasible and never agreed to make a trip to Russia.”

The Times reported earlier this year on the plan for a Trump Tower in Moscow, which never materialized. On Sunday, The Washington Post reported the existence of the correspondence between Sater and Cohen but not its content.

The Trump Organization on Monday turned over e-mails to the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian meddling in the presidential election and whether anyone in Trump’s campaign was involved. Some of the e-mails were obtained by The Times.

The Trump Organization issued a statement Monday saying: “To be clear, the Trump Organization has never had any real estate holdings or interests in Russia.”