Trump attorney discussed Moscow real estate deal with Trump three times

Last Updated Aug 28, 2017 5:56 PM EDT

Michael Cohen, executive vice president of the Trump Organization, and a personal attorney to President Donald Trump, discussed a proposal for real estate deal in Moscow with Mr. Trump three times during the presidential campaign, Cohen told The Wall Street Journal in an interview Monday.

According to the WSJ, Cohen said he informed then-candidate Trump that he was working on a licensing deal for a Trump Tower in Moscow. Further, Cohen says that in October 2015, he “asked for and received Mr. Trump’s signature on a nonbinding letter of intent” for the project. A few months later, though, in January 2016, he said he informed Mr. Trump that he had killed the proposal. The conversations, he told the Journal, were all “brief.”

Those conversations withe the president may be of interest to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, given reporting Monday that Cohen sent an email in January 2016 to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s personal spokesman during the U.S. presidential campaign last year to ask him for help in advancing Mr. Trump’s business interests, according to the Washington Post.   

“As this project is too important, I am hereby requesting your assistance. I respectfully request someone, preferably you, contact me so that I might discuss the specifics as well as arranging meetings with the appropriate individuals. I thank you in advance for your assistance and look forward to hearing from you soon,” Cohen wrote.

The email, the Post pointed out, is the most direct interaction yet known between a top Trump employee and a senior member of the Putin government. However, the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman tweeted that the email address that Cohen used was a general email press address — essentially along the lines of a account. 

CBS News’ Jeff Pegues spoke with Cohen, who told him that the Trump Moscow proposal “was simply one of many development opportunities that the Trump Organization considered and ultimately rejected.”  

Cohen told Pegues that in “late January 2016, I abandoned the Moscow proposal because I lost confidence that the prospective licensee would be able to obtain the real estate, financing, and government approvals necessary to bring the proposal to fruition.  It was a building proposal that did not succeed and nothing more.”  

© 2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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