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May 17, 2018
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump's attorney Michael Cohen worked behind the scenes to negotiate a business venture in Moscow long after Trump denied financial involvement with Russia, BuzzFeed News reported Thursday, citing internal emails, text messages, and other documents. Cohen's machinations apparently included trying to arrange a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Cohen and Felix Sater, a developer who often worked with the Trump Organization, wanted to license the Trump name to a building that would be called Trump World Tower Moscow, which would have netted at least $100 million for both the Trump Organization and Cohen and Sater.

After several months of back-and-forth negotiations with Russian officials tied to the Kremlin, Sater, and Cohen thought they could pull off a lucrative deal, and wanted to arrange a meeting between Trump and Putin to finalize things. Sater, who was born in the Soviet Union and became a federal informant after escaping stock fraud charges, tried to secure funding and approval from Russian officials. In early 2016, Sater said that he had made plans to meet "with Putin's top administration people ... [t]o discuss goals, meeting agenda, and meeting time between Putin and Trump."

Cohen told the House Intelligence Committee in September that the project had been scrapped back in January 2016, but BuzzFeed News reports that he and Sater continued communicating via encrypted messages to work on Trump Tower Moscow. In June 2016, Cohen accepted an invitation to Russia, where he was told he would meet Putin or other top officials, but he reportedly eventually abandoned the plan. Soon afterward, Trump tweeted that he had "ZERO investments in Russia." Read more at BuzzFeed News. Summer Meza