President-elect Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday that he has “NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!”
Trump, however, has a long history with Russia, trying repeatedly to build luxury properties in Moscow, holding a beauty pageant there and benefiting from heavy investments from Russians in his properties around the world.
It is not possible to verify whether Trump does not have current deals or loans with Russian entities because he has refused to release his tax returns. But a look at Trump’s record since the 1980s shows that he and his family long have been interested in trying to do business there. The connection became a matter of curiosity during the 2016 presidential race. A Russian official was quoted saying his government had been in contact with Trump’s campaign, and the candidate repeatedly praised Russian President Vladimir Putin while urging the country’s leaders to hack into his opponent’s emails.
The connections go back 30 years.
Trump first visited Moscow in 1987 in an effort to make real estate deals. As he told it in a Playboy interview, two Russian fighter planes accompanied his jet to the airport, and he had insisted on having two Russian colonels fly with him. He stayed at the National Hotel, overlooking the Kremlin, and said that the Soviets wanted him to build two luxury hotels.The Soviet ambassador had visited Trump in New York City and said his daughter had “adored” Trump Tower and suggested a Moscow version, according to a Newsweek account of the visit published at the time. Trump visited a number of potential sites around Moscow.
Trump said he told Soviet officials that he did not know how to arrange financing because the government owned the land. Trump said he was told: “No problem, Mr. Trump. We will work out lease arrangements.”
Trump said he responded, “I want ownership, not leases.” The Soviets said they would create a committee of seven government representatives and three Trump associates to resolve problems.
Trump said in the 1990 interview that he was “very unimpressed” with the Soviet system, which he called “a disaster.” “What you will see there soon is a revolution,” he added. He said his “problem” with then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was that he was “not a firm enough hand.”
Trump did not wind up making a deal, but he soon tried again.
In 1996, Trump sought to build luxury condominiums in Moscow, but the deal never happened. Trump tried again in 2005, signing a deal for a possible Trump building in a converted pencil factory, but this also failed to materialize.
The Trumps were undaunted. Donald Trump Jr. traveled to Russia six times in an 18-month period, starting around 2006, to try to make deals. His father seemed convinced it would happen.
“Russia is one of the hottest places in the world for investment,” the senior Trump said in 2007. “We will be in Moscow at some point.”
The following year, Trump Jr. appeared at a real estate conference in which he said the company had tried to invest in Russia. He acknowledged that “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”
The article continues to point out his lies.