Taking Stock of Today’s Storm of Revelations

We have another of those days where the rush of miscellaneous revelations tied to the Trump-Russia probe just keeps coming and the day won’t quit. The TPM Team has already covered the various stories emerging out of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s release of documents and interviews tied to the Trump Tower meeting in June 2016. But a bunch more came late in the day.

Ronan Farrow reported on the source who revealed those Michael Cohen bank documents. It’s not just this person’s personal decision that is notable but the fact that he or she says two other reports have apparently been removed or hidden in the government SARs database. That’s why the person says they leaked the document — to call attention to these other missing reports. It’s really not clear where this lead in the story goes.

Now we have a report from Yahoo News, from TPM alum Hunter Walker, that says that Michael Cohen continued trying to put together a Moscow Hotel deal far longer into 2016 than he has previously claimed.

According to Hunter’s report, Felix Sater shared text messages with all the relevant investigations that show that Cohen was still talking to Sater about a Trump Hotel project as late as May 2016. He had previously said he dropped the idea in January 2016.

Notably, Cohen apparently considered traveling to St. Petersburg in June 2016 to try to advance the hotel project.

The pair continued talking between January and May of 2016 when Sater began pressing Cohen to travel to Russia to work on the deal. Sater encouraged Cohen to go to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in mid-June 2016. Sater presented the event as an opportunity for Cohen to meet top Russian officials, business leaders, and bankers in one place. He obtained an invitation for Cohen, who indicated he was considering the trip, but ultimately said any travel to Russia would have to take place after the Republican convention, which took place in July 2016.

They did not discuss the project further. In his statement to the House Intelligence Committee, Cohen said Sater “constantly” encouraged him to go to Russia and that he declined to make the trip.

The chain of events here is notable. It appears Cohen told Sater he needed to get through the GOP convention before traveling abroad. The convention began on July 18th, 2016. Of course, once the convention was over, the situation had changed dramatically. Wikileaks had begun releasing its tranches of DNC emails and Russia had moved, if not to the center of the campaign, at least to a place of prominence that would have made such a trip highly problematic.