Despite President Trump’s claims during the presidential campaign that he has “nothing to do with Russia” including “no deals,” emails obtained by the Washington Post and the New York Times show that former Trump Organization attorney Michael Cohen and former Bayrock Group executive Felix Sater were actively working on a licensing deal with a Moscow-based developer as recently as last year.
In one January 2016 correspondence, Cohen reportedly emailed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aide, Dymytry Peskov, to ask for his help pushing the project forward.
The Trump Organization had even secured a letter of intent with a developer, IC Expert Investment Co., but had not yet had success obtaining building permits from the Russian government, according to the Washington Post.
In a statement submitted to congressional investigators, Cohen said he could not recall receiving a response from Peskov and claimed the project was abandoned two weeks later, the Washington Post reported.
IC Expert appears best known for building a large-scale suburban real estate development in Reutov, a town just east of Moscow.
According to its website, the firm was founded in 2005 and has since developed millions of square feet of mixed-use property around Moscow. Most notably, the real estate firm developed the “Novokosino” and “Novokosino-2” complexes in Reutov, a more than 4 million-square-foot “micro district” with 17 residential buildings and thousands of apartments.
However, according to Russian news reports from last year, construction at “Novokosino-2” has taken much longer than many expected, drawing protests from apartment buyers, some of whom complained that the company is not employing enough construction workers. Some buyers haven’t been able to move in for over a year, according to the reports.
Nearby, IC Expert also developed Reutov Park, a 1 million-square foot shopping mall. The mall was co-developed with Amma Development, a company reportedly founded by former executives in the Russian division of IKEA.
Other development and banking partners listed on IC Expert’s website include Sberbank, Russia’s largest lender. Sberbank is embroiled in a federal gravel quarry dispute that landed in a New York court earlier this year, and it’s hired Trump’s former personal attorney Marc Kasowitz. At the time he was hired by Sberbank, Kasowitz was also working for Trump on matters related to Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
A subsidiary of VTB Bank is another of IC Expert’s listed partners. According to an email obtained by the Times this week, Sater said he had already lined up financing for the Trump Moscow project with VTB as a lender.
Both Sberbank and VTB are majority state-owned and were placed under U.S. sanctions following Russia’s annexation of the Crimea region in Ukraine in 2014.
Intel Chiefs: Don’t Buy Chinese Phones
Six top U.S. intelligence chiefs told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday they would not advise Americans to use products or services from Chinese smartphone maker Huawei.
The six — including the heads of the CIA, FBI, NSA and the director of national intelligence — first expressed their distrust of Apple-rival Huawei and fellow Chinese telecom company ZTE in reference to public servants and state agencies.
When prompted during the hearing, all six indicated they would not recommend private citizens use products from the Chinese companies.
“We’re deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks,” FBI Director Chris Wray testified.
On top of that, the Phone maker was caught buying fake reviews. Huawei’s new flagship phone, the Mate 10 Pro, is available for pre-order in the US despite not having any deals with US carriers — so to get some attention, it seems the company has stooped to having fake reviews for the new phone planted online, as spotted by 9to5Google.
Police Recommend Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Arrested for Bribery
The Israel Police recommended that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted on bribery and breach of trust charges in two alleged corruption cases.
The recommendation, made public on Tuesday evening, comes after yearlong investigations into the two alleged corruption cases.
State prosecutors must now decide whether or not to file indictments.
Netanyahu in an address to the nation Tuesday night maintained his innocence, saying the recommendations “cast a dark shadow” and “have no place in a democratic state.”
“I will keep working for the good of the country, not for cigars from a friend and not for better media coverage,” he said in reference to the accusations.
During his tenure as prime minister, some 15 investigations have been opened against Netanyahu to “topple me from power,” he said. The prime minister said he is sure he will be re-elected in the next national elections, which are scheduled for November 2019.
Netanyahu is at the center of two probes. In one, known as Case 1000, he allegedly received expensive gifts from supporters in return for advancing their interests, including expensive cigars and champagne from the Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.
In the other, Case 2000, Netanyahu is alleged to have conspired with Arnon Mozes, the owner of the Israeli daily Yediot Acharonot, to advance legislation hobbling the free and pro-Netanyahu tabloid Israel Hayom bankrolled by American billionaire Sheldon Adelson.
Russia Making Deals with Israel and Palestinians To Control Peace Process
Palestinians have given up working with the US on the Peace Process, and instead have decided that Putin was better than Trump.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea summer beach resort of Sochi on February 12.
“We are hoping that Russia and the EU will step in to fill the void,” the PA official said. “We believe that these countries should and can play a larger role in any peace process in the wake of the Trump administration’s hostile policies toward the Palestinians and bias in favor of Israel.”
The US has already lost a lot of influence in Israel, as Putin and his oligarchs have invested heavily in Alternative Energy in Israel – something that the US lags far behind. Additionally, Putin has visited Israel several times.
A large delegation of senior Russian security officials is slated to arrive in Jerusalem on Wednesday for talks on Iran’s entrenchment in Syria and Lebanon, following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Monday.
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