On Sunday, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani admitted that talks about the construction of Trump Tower in Moscow continued up to November of 2016.
“Well, it’s our understanding that they went on throughout 2016. Weren’t a lot of them, but there were conversations. Can’t be sure of the exact date. But the president can remember having conversations with [Michael Cohen] about it,” Giuliani said.
The admission raises questions about whether President Trump’s approach to Russia, such as his promise as candidate to lift sanctions, was driven by his own financial interests.
On CNN Monday, national security attorney Susan Hennessey explained that the Russia playbook involves a “carrot and stick” approach that mixes threatening behavior—like potential blackmail—with financial incentives to achieve their geopolitical goals.
“So we’ve seen the model by which they use the carrot and the stick. The threat of something holding over you but also an incentive,” she says. “A reason to want to favor their interest. So I think this is something that is sort of right out of the Russian playbook.”
“And notably, this is something that as a candidate, Donald Trump would have been and reportedly was warned about,” she added. “The Russians use these tactics in order to ultimately compromise people.”