Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty Thursday to charges that he made false statements to Congress about his role in Donald Trump’s efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, referred to in court documents as the “Moscow Project.”
Here’s what we know about the project and Trump’s longtime efforts:
- Cohen at one point discussed traveling himself to Russia as they sought government approval for the project. He briefed the Trump family about the status of the plans, according to court documents. He even discussed with then-candidate Trump the possibility of Trump traveling to Russia while the 2016 campaign was underway, prosecutors say.
- The ultimately failed effort to “pursue a branded property in Moscow” was just the latest in decades of efforts by Trump to get into the Moscow real estate business. As The Atlantic pointed out last year, Trump mentioned talks to build “a large luxury hotel across the street from the Kremlin in partnership with the Soviet government” in his 1987 book The Art of the Deal.
- In the mid-1990s, The New York Times has reported, Trump announced ambitions to build Trump Tower and Trump International buildings in Moscow, though the plans never came to fruition. Trump would continue to sporadically announce plans for a Russian tower well into the current decade, including at the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow.
- In 2015, BuzzFeed News reported in May, Cohen met with sometimes Trump adviser Felix Sater about the possibility of licensing the Trump name for a massive tower in Moscow, potentially the tallest building in Europe.
- Cohen falsely told Congress that plans for a Moscow tower ended in January 2016, before “the very first primary” of the election cycle. In fact, he continued working on the project at least through June of that year, even discussing the possibility of Trump visiting Russia after the Republican National Convention, prosecutors say.
- According to BuzzFeed, Sater knew the deal had fallen through when Trump tweeted in July 2016, writing “For the record, I have ZERO investments in Russia.”