Emails involving Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, and Trump’s agent, Felix Sater, generated a series of revelations on Monday. First came news that Trump had sent convicted fraudster Sater to Moscow for a supposed real estate deal not just in 2007, as had been previously reported, but in 2015 and 2016, during the presidential campaign. This was followed by content from an email in which Sater announced he would work with Vladimir Putin’s team so that “Our boy can become president of the United States.”
A new email reported by The Washington Post is a direct email from Michael Cohen to one of Vladimir Putin’s top aides, Dmitry Peskov.
“Over the past few months I have been working with a company based in Russia regarding the development of a Trump Tower - Moscow project in Moscow City,” Cohen wrote Peskov, according to a person familiar with the email. “Without getting into lengthy specifics, the communication between our two sides has stalled.”
Cohen told investigators that he wrote the email on the recommendation of Felix Sater. In the email, Cohen asks for Peskov’s assistance in getting Trump’s business back on track.
“I respectfully request someone, preferably you, contact me so that I might discuss the specifics as well as arranging meetings with the appropriate individuals.”
As Maggie Haberman of the New York Times points out, Cohen writes to Peskov at a generic Kremlin address, suggesting the two had not yet established a relationship. However, this email is supposedly from January 2016. That puts it in the same time frame as Felix Sater’s offer to broker a deal with Putin’s team, and a full six months ahead of the Trump Tower meeting chaired by Donald Trump Jr. in which the Russians offered information meant to harm Hillary Clinton.
Cohen’s email marks the most direct interaction yet documented of a top Trump aide and a similarly senior member of Putin’s government.
The email shows the Trump business official directly seeking Kremlin assistance in advancing Trump’s business interests, in the same months when Trump was distinguishing himself on the campaign trail with his warm rhetoric about Putin.
What’s not clear at the moment is how Peskov responded to Cohen’s emails, what steps Sater took to carry through on “managing” the connection to Putin’s team, or how these connections played into Russian propaganda and hacking efforts that were already ramping up.
Cohen’s email outreach to Putin’s aide happened a full two months before Paul Manafort took over Trump’s campaign, and more than a month before Jefferson Sessions announced his support for Trump. The communications involving Cohen, Sater, and Kremlin officials may represent the start of “official” contact between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
In the emails released so far, Cohen’s request to Putin’s aide seem to be limited to helping with Trump’s business, but the same is not true of Sater’s email to Cohen, which suggests that Trump can become president and that the way for this to happen is to gain the assistance of Putin.
Considering the way the story has moved all day, expect additional news concerning the contents of the Sater-Cohen emails very soon.