If you’ve been in the news business long enough, either as a producer or a consumer, you know that it doesn’t always – maybe doesn’t mainly – work in logical or linear ways. Last night CNN’s Chris Cuomo went live with a copy of the letter of intent President Trump signed to build a Trump Moscow development project in October 2015.
In a sense this wasn’t really new news at all. We’ve known this for months. We knew there was a letter of intent. We knew Trump signed it, despite recent denials from Rudy Giuliani and the President. The significance of that document has increased as we’ve learned more about how much work went into securing the deal and how central President Putin’s support was in making it happen. But again, the existence of this letter has been known for some time.
But actually seeing the letter, having it confirmed that yes President Trump signed it, despite all the denials as recently as a few days ago, just makes it different. It’s somehow different even to me.
Consider again the date: October 28th, 2015. By this time Trump had gone from being a joke candidate to the clear frontrunner in the race. So it wasn’t just that Trump had some on-going business negotiation. He had one that started during the campaign and was getting more serious as Trump moved more clearly to secure the GOP nomination.
Active negotiations continued at least until July 2016 and quite possibly through election day. The Special Counsel’s sentencing memo said that if the project had been completed, the Trump Organization “could have received hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian sources in licensing fees and other revenues.”
As I explained here, that doesn’t just sound like a ton of money to you and me. It would have been a ton of money for Trump too. That was orders of magnitude more money than Trump had made from any of his building projects this century, possibly more than all of them combined.
There’s really nothing more you need for the quid pro quo. Putin was dangling hundreds of millions of dollars in front of Trump, in addition to operating on numerous fronts to make Trump President.