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.
ICE Barricades Entrances to Prevent Protestors from Entering Government Building
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers barricaded an employee and visitor entrance Wednesday to prevent activists from performing an “occupation” of the agency’s D.C. headquarters.
Several dozen activists had intended to enter the building to protest Trump administration deportation and border detention policies, but arrived to find temporary fencing and a line of officers blocking their way.
Amid heavy rain, activists chanted slogans anyhow, including “quit your jobs!” at Department of Homeland Security guards and ICE employees who peered from windows.
The protest was organized by Movimiento Cosecha and was advertised in a press release as a demonstration by “undocumented activists and allies,” as similar protests occur in other cities.
Christian Leader Robert Jeffress Condemns Jews to Hell During Speech at Jerusalem Embassy Opening.
Robert Jeffress, one of Trump’s personal religious leaders decided to insult the entire National of Israel today, by condemning all Jews to hell during the opening of the American Embassy in Jerusalem.
Robert Jeffress says ‘you can’t be saved by being a Jew,’ and ‘Mormonism is a heresy from the pit of hell.’ He’s said the same about Islam,” Said Mitt Romney, who is running for a Senate seat representing Utah, wrote. “Such a religious bigot should not be giving the prayer that opens the United States Embassy in Jerusalem.”
The Anti-Defamation League also criticized Jeffress on twitter, writing: “Today is a day of celebration as the US Embassy opens in Jerusalem. The choice of Pastor Robert Jeffress to offer a prayer sends exactly the wrong message. Jeffress has a history of bigoted comments about LGBTQ people, Jews, Muslims, Christians and other religions.”
Both evangelical pastors chosen by Trump to bless the US embassy opening – Jeffress and Hagee – are adamant zealots for Jewish conversion – nothing more grossly insulting to Jewish history and the endurance of Judaism could possibly have been dreamed up.
— Simon Schama (@simon_schama) May 14, 2018
This man is an embarrassment to the United States and to the Christian faith. It’s hard to get reputable clergy to attend such an event but this is shameful.
Who Is Robert Jeffress? ‘Bigot’ Pastor From Texas Due to Speak at U.S. Jerusalem Embassy Move https://t.co/oq96Veby6C
— Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) May 14, 2018
Alexander Nix, CEO of Cambridge Analytica has been Suspended by Board
Alexander Nix, the CEO of Cambridge Analytica, the firm at the heart of the data-mining scandal, has been suspended.
The company said in a statement: “The board of Cambridge Analytica has announced today that it has suspended CEO Alexander Nix with immediate effect pending a full, independent investigation.
“In the view of the board, Mr Nix’s recent comments secretly recorded by Channel 4 and other allegations do not represent the values or operations of the firm and his suspension reflects the seriousness with which we view this violation.”
Cambridge Analytica said its chief data officer Alexander Tayler had been appointed acting chief executive while an investigation was carried out by Julian Malins QC whose findings they would “share publicly in due course”.
“The board will be monitoring the situation closely, working closely with Dr Tayler, to ensure that Cambridge Analytica, in all of its operations, represents the firm’s values and delivers the highest-quality service to its clients.”
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