A newly released trove of documents show how President Donald Trump's praise for Russian president Vladimir Putin lined up with behind-the-scenes efforts by his family and associates to build a high rise in Moscow.
The president frequently praised Putin while campaigning for U.S. president in 2016, and he insisted he had no business ties to Russia -- all while his attorney Michael Cohen and others on the Trump Organization payroll negotiated the Moscow development, reported BuzzFeed News.
The website published a cache of internal Trump Organization documents Tuesday that show how detailed and extensive negotiations matched up with developments in Trump's presidential campaign.
Negotiations were hot and heavy in October 2015, when Cohen and Trump associate Felix Sater were working to secure a deal to build the 100-story tower -- and to forge a closer relationship with Russia and its president.
"All we need is Putin on board and we are golden, meeting with Putin and top deputy is tentatively set for the 14th," Sater emailed Cohen on Oct. 12, 2015. "See buddy I can not only get Ivanka to spin in Putins Kremlin office chair on 30 minutes notice, I can also get a full meeting."
Trump tweeted out a Washington Examiner story with the headline, 'Putin loves Donald Trump,' on Oct. 17, 2015, just days after receiving a signed letter of intent from a Moscow developer.
The Trump Organization made edits to that letter of intent over the next 11 days, according to documents published by the website, and a final version of the letter was signed Oct. 28, 2015, by Trump and Russian developer Andrey Rozov.
"Michael my next steps are very sensitive with Putin's very very close people, we can pull this off," Sater emailed Cohen on Nov. 3, 2015. "Michael let's go. 2 boys from Brooklyn getting a USA president elected."
"Putin gets on stage with Donald for a ribbon cutting for Trump Moscow," he said in another email that same day, "and Donald owns the republican (sic) nomination. And possibly beats Hillary and out boy is in. I'll take the Ambassadorship to the Bahamas so I can fish and dive, and be a hero to my kids. That my friend is the home run that I want out of this."
Sater and Cohen began arguing in the final weeks of 2015 about the length of negotiations, and the Trump Organization attorney apparently grew impatient and tried to take matters into his own hands by emailing Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov’s office, according to the criminal information filed against the attorney by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Cohen continued trying to reach Peskov during January 2016, and eventually spoke to the Kremlin official's assistant.
Trump boasted to campaign crowds that Putin had praised him as a "genius," as Cohen and Sater made plans to visit Russia with their boss.
“I think I’d have a good relationship with Putin, who knows," Trump told a rally in February 2016. "If we got along with Russia, that would be sort of nice, wouldn’t it?”
Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort met June 9, 2016, with a Russian attorney promising damaging campaign information about Hillary Clinton, and that same day Sater texted Cohen about preparations for the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
"I am filing out the badges for the St. Pete economic forum for you," Sater texted. "Putin is there on the 17th very strong chance you will meet him as well."
Those plans were scuttled June 14, 2016 -- the day the Washington Post reported that Russian government hackers had penetrated the Democratic National Committee -- and Cohen asked Sater to meet him in the atrium of Trump Tower in New York and told him the Moscow deal was off.