U.S. Department of Justice
Attorney Work Product // May Contain Material Protected Under Fed. R. Crim. P. 6(e)
that summer, Cohen recalled having a brief conversation with Trump in which Cohen said the Trump Tower Moscow project was going nowhere because the Russian development company had not secured a piece of property for the project. Trump said that was "too bad," and Cohen did not recall talking with Trump about the project after that. Cohen said that at no time during the campaign did Trump tell him not to pursue the project or that the project should be abandoned.
- 2. Cohen Determines to Adhere to a "Party Line" Distancing Candidate Trump From Russia
As previously discussed, see Volume II, Section II.A, supra, when questions about possible Russian support for candidate Trump emerged during the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump denied having any personal, financial, or business connection to Russia, which Cohen described as the "party line" or "message" to follow for Trump and his senior advisors.
After the election, the Trump Organization sought to formally close out certain deals in advance of the inauguration. Cohen recalled that Trump Tower Moscow was on the list of deals to be closed out. In approximately January 2017, Cohen began receiving inquiries from the media about Trump Tower Moscow, and he recalled speaking to the President-Elect when those inquiries came in. Cohen was concerned that truthful answers about the Trump Tower Moscow project might not be consistent with the "message" that the President-Elect had no relationship with Russia.
In an effort to "stay on message," Cohen told a New York Times reporter that the Trump Tower Moscow deal was not feasible and had ended in January 2016. Cohen recalled that this was part of a "script" or talking points he had developed with President-Elect Trump and others to
- Cohen 3/19/19 302, at 2. Cohen could not recall the precise timing of this conversation, but said he thought it occurred in June or July 2016. Cohen recalled that the conversation happened at some point after candidate Trump was publicly stating that he had nothing to do with Russia. Cohen 3/19/19 302, at 2.
- Cohen 3/19/19 302, at 2.
- Cohen 3/19/19 302, at 2.
- Cohen 11/20/18 302, at 1; Cohen 9/18/18 302, at 3, 5; Cohen 9/12/18 302, at 9.
- Cohen 9/18/18 302, at 1–2; see also Rtskhiladze 4/4/18 302, at 8–9.
- Cohen 9/18/18 302, at 1–2.
- Cohen 9/18/18 302, at 3.
- Cohen 11/20/18 302, at 4.
- Cohen 9/18/18 302, at 5. The article was published on February 19, 2017, and reported that Sater and Cohen had been working on plan for a Trump Tower Moscow "as recently as the fall of 2015" but had come to a halt because of the presidential campaign. Consistent with Cohen's intended party line message, the article stated, "Cohen said the Trump Organization had received a letter of intent for a project in Moscow from a Russian real estate developer at that time but determined that the project was not feasible." Megan Twohey & Scott Shane, A Back-Channel Plan for Ukraine and Russia, Courtesy of Trump Associates, New York Times (Feb. 19, 2017).