In an interview with ABC News’ Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in December, Giuliani said Trump was having conversations with his former personal attorney Michael Cohen about the project up until and around Nov. 2016. He has repeated those claims in recent interviews.
“According to the answers that he gave, it would have covered all the way up to — covered up to November 2016. Said he had conversations with him but the president didn’t hide this,” Giuliani told Stephanopoulos, indicating that this was the timeline the president provided in his written responses to special counsel Robert Mueller’s questions.
Giuliani also told the New York Times on Sunday that he was basing this information on conversations he had with the president and said the discussions were ongoing throughout the entire election. Giuliani told the Times that the president told him that conversations about the project were “going on from the day I announced to the day I won.”
Now, the president’s personal attorney has reversed course, saying his statements were “hypothetical.”
“My recent statements about discussions during the 2016 campaign between Michael Cohen and then-candidate Donald Trump about a potential Trump Moscow ‘project’ were hypothetical and not based on conversations I had with the President,” Giuliani said in a statement to ABC News. “My comments did not represent the actual timing or circumstances of any such discussions. The point is that the proposal was in the earliest stage and did not advance beyond a free non-binding letter of intent.”
Trump frequently denied a connection to Russia during the election.
“I don’t know Putin, have no business whatsoever with Russia, have nothing to do with Russia,” he said at an Oct. 2016 rally.
Much remains unknown about the plans for a Trump Tower in Moscow.
Cohen worked hand-in-hand with Felix Sater, a Russian-born business associate who scouted deals for the Trump Organization, to set in motion plans for a Trump Tower in Moscow. The two even conceived an idea to offer a $50 million penthouse in the prospective building to Russian President Vladimir Putin, a source familiar with the deal told ABC News.
The public first learned in the summer of 2017 that Cohen had been pursuing a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow even after his boss had begun to campaign for president.
At the time, Cohen told members of Congress that the deal never progressed beyond an initial “letter of intent” and it was halted in Jan. 2016, before the Iowa caucuses.
But later, Cohen admitted in court that he made the false statements about the project “to be consistent with Individual 1’s political messaging and to be loyal to Individual 1.” Individual 1 was believed to be Trump, based on the description in court documents.
The president during the campaign denied working on any deals with Russia but tweeted late last year that he “lightly looked at doing a building in Moscow.”
Cohen was sentenced in December to three years in prison for financial crimes, lying to Congress and for two violations of campaign finance law.
He’s scheduled to report to prison in early March, but he could have a busy month of congressional testimony before then.
He has already agreed to appear publicly before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Feb. 7, and Schiff has expressed interest in bringing Cohen back to the House Intelligence Committee for an interview behind closed doors.