On November 11, 2013, Donald Trump posted a note to Aras Agalarov on Twitter confirming that they had discussed plans for a Trump Tower to be built in Moscow.
@AgalarovAras I had a great weekend with you and your family. You have done a FANTASTIC job. TRUMP TOWER-MOSCOW is next. EMIN was WOW!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 11, 2013
On November 12, 2013, Itar-Tass, a Russian-government-controlled news agency, reported a conversation with Donald Trump where he said, “’I have plans to start business in Russia… I am currently in talks with several Russian companies to build a skyscraper on the model of Trump Tower in New York.’ The businessman did not name his partners or the size of the investment.” Source
From September–November 2015 (and possibly throughout 2016), Felix Sater, a Russian immigrant and member of Bayrock, an investment company that had done business with the Trump Organization, worked with Michael Cohen, a Trump Organization executive and Donald Trump’s lawyer, to attempt to license the Trump brand for a new skyscraper tower in Moscow. As part of this effort, Donald Trump signed a letter of intent to sell a license to the Trump brand to Russia. Source
In an interview, Emin Agalarov said that his father, Aras Agalarov had also signed a letter of intent and selected a parcel of land for the tower. Source
Sater lined up financing via VTB Bank, a Russian bank under US sanctions at the time. Sater further claimed he would arrange for Putin to publicly praise Trump. Sater’s publicly released emails included: “Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it… I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.” Also, “I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected.” Source
In January 2016, Michael Cohen emailed a general press account for the Kremlin with a letter addressed to Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri Peskov. The letter asked for Peskov’s help with the Trump Tower project, which he said had been stalled. Cohen stressed how important the project was, and requested Peskov personally to contact him to advance the project. The deal ended up falling through weeks later. Source1 Source2
Despite his strenuous denials that he was doing any business in Russia, Donald Trump was planning Trump Tower Moscow since at least 2013, and the venture continued well into his 2016 presidential campaign. Trump was personally involved, as evidenced by the signed letter of intent and his own explicit tweets and statements.
**Note that Peskov was named in the Steele Dossier as previously being in control of the kompromat file on Hillary Clinton.**
During a statement to Congress on 8/28/2017, Michael Cohen said he didn’t recall whether he received a response from Peskov, or that he had any further contact with any Russian officials about the project. Cohen characterized the project as simply one of many opportunities the Trump Organization ended up rejecting.
The nearly immediate cancellation of the project, and Cohen’s assertions that the project was just one of many, directly contradicts Cohen’s personal plea to top Kremlin official Peskov about the importance of the project.