Trump Meets With Soviet Ambassador
Trump’s relationship with Russia dates back decades before the election. According to his book The Art of the Deal, he describes both meeting with then-Soviet ambassador Yuri Dubinin at a luncheon in New York in 1986 and his efforts to build “a large luxury hotel across the street from the Kremlin in partnership with the Soviet government.” The following year, Trump also tried to meet with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and took his first known trip to the then-Soviet Union, visiting Moscow and Leningrad—now St. Petersburg—to explore hotel and real estate opportunities. On this trip, he also met with the Soviet ambassador to the United States.
Trump traveled to Moscow for a second time in 1996, announcing plans to invest $250 million in Russia and to license his name on two luxury residential buildings in Moscow, neither of which are ever constructed. That same year he filed his first trademark application, for “Trump Tower,” in Russia.
Trump continued to attempt to build in Russia during the 2000s. In 2005, Trump signed a one-year deal to explore building a Trump Tower in Moscow; the project proceeded at least to the point of finding a potential site. In 2006, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump visited Moscow with their business associate Felix Sater, whose company the Bayrock Group was a partner on the project, to “[connect] with potential partners”.
The following year, Trump expressed his hopes of developing real estate in Moscow, saying, “We will be in Moscow at some point.” In 2008, Donald Trump Jr. echoed his father’s earlier comments, saying that “the Trump Organization [wanted] to build luxury housing and hotels in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Sochi.” That same year, Trump Jr. visited Moscow six times in 18 months in search of new deals, although none panned out. Despite his failure to develop in Russia, the Trump Organization depended heavily on Russian money in their other exploits; Trump Jr. once told reporters at a real estate conference that “Russians [made] up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets […] we see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”