Mike Licht / Flickr Trump Russian Business Ties...
Mike Licht / Flickr

BuzzFeed is still sticking with its story that Donald Trump instructed Michael Cohen to lie during his testimony before a congressional committee, and since Rudy Giuliani spent the weekend confessing that, sure, Trump might have coached Cohen on his testimony, it seems more probable than ever that the core of that original story was correct all along.

And now BuzzFeed is back with another story on that Moscow Project, showing that, far from being an idea that Trump was just kicking around, or a passing fancy dropped when the campaign got serious, it was actually this project that was Trump’s “lifetime goal.” Forget the election: What Trump wanted most was a massive tower that would have dominated the city skyline, been among the world’s ten tallest buildings, and generated a massive boost to both Trump’s ego and his bottom line.

The Moscow Project was everything that Donald Trump wanted. It would put his name on a blazing diamond more than 100 stories above the Moscow streets. It would provide a lavish home to the nation’s undisputed ruler. And it would give Trump a much more direct pipeline to the wallets of the oligarchs whose money he had been laundering for over a decade.

It wasn’t just a dream. It was an architectural design completed in New York and sent to Trump’s Moscow agents in 2015. The same oligarchs Trump had been dealing with were telling him that they were ready to build this monster with his name on it. And there’s no doubt at all that this was more than enough to get Trump to go along with absolutely anything.

When the tower was complete, it would have been the tallest building in Europe. Not only that, but it contained a special home expressly for Vladimir Putin. The leader of Russia would be living in a penthouse that was topped by Trump’s name in massive gold letters, fixed to a glowing cut-diamond-shaped logo. The tower would also contain no fewer than 250 “first-class” luxury condos and 150 hotel rooms, along with several floors of office and retail space.

The building wouldn’t be built by Trump. But then, it had been years since the Trump Organization built anything. Considering Trump’s finances, his even getting a loan to lift a golden shovel in the United States was out of the question. But unlike some other buildings onto which Trump plastered his name, this one would be a design provided by his architect. Everything would be done in his style. It would be as close to “his” building as anything in decades had been.

All of this was much further along than Trump has ever been willing to admit. And it wasn’t just the idea of being validated with a building he could never have financed in the United States that thrilled Trump—there was also the money.

For lending his name and gold-plated taste to this building, Trump would get $4 million up-front. But that was only the start. The real money would come later, in the form of a cut of every condo sold, a cut of every retail or office space leased, a cut of stays at the hotel, even a cut of sales of food and visits to the famous spa, to be named after Ivanka.

It was everything Trump wanted.

The Russians may have kompromat on Trump. They may have filmed his activities in a Moscow hotel room. But there’s no reason to believe they ever needed those tapes. Because this—Trump’s Moscow Project—was all that was ever needed to control Trump. These were men who knew him. They’d worked with him on purchases in the United States for almost 20 years. Some of them had laundered money through his casino for a decade before that.

Paul Manafort was selected to run the campaign because he knew Russia’s model for distributing propaganda through social media and using rallies and demonstrations to create a faux grassroots movement. Donald Trump was selected as candidate for the Russian experiment not just because he had so often talked about running, but also because he was a commodity that the Russians understood completely.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.



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