Having failed on multiple occasions to successfully develop a Trump Tower in Moscow the Trump Organization tried yet again to pursue a Moscow development time during the 2016 election cycle. In October 2015, months after Trump announced his candidacy for president of the United States, the Trump Organization signed a nonbinding letter of intent agreeing to license the Trump name in Moscow. Less than a month later, Felix Sater emailed his longtime friend, Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen, about the development, writing, “I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected … Buddy 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.” Sater, who, along with the Bayrock Group, was involved in the first attempt at building a Trump Tower in Moscow, has claimed that he had lined up funding for the project from the sanctioned Russian bank Vneshtorgbank, or VTB. Cohen indicated that he told Trump about the Moscow proposal three times, but that Trump “was never in contact with anyone about the proposal other than [Cohen].”
Cohen seemed to match Sater’s interest in the project, and in January of 2016, he emailed Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov asking for help regarding Trump Tower Moscow. The Kremlin has confirmed they received the email, but indicated that they did not reply. The deal, which reportedly “would have given his company a $4 million upfront fee, no upfront costs, a percentage of the sales, and control over marketing and design,” fell through in early 2016. In July 2016, just months after he had actively pursued this Moscow development, he took the stage at a new conference to state that he had “nothing to do with Russia.” Cohen has stated that “the Trump Moscow proposal was simply one of many development opportunities that the Trump Organization considered and ultimately rejected,” and that “it was a building proposal that did not succeed and nothing more.”
In December 2018 Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to charges brought by both the Department of Justice and the Special Counsel’s office, including lying to Congress about the duration of the negotiations to build a tower in Moscow and Trump’s involvement.