Trump Defends Business Dealings With Russia During Campaign: ‘Why Should I Lose Lots of Opportunities?’
President Donald Trump defended his decision to continue business discussions regarding the proposed development of a Trump hotel in Moscow during the 2016 campaign.
The president spoke to reporters before departing to Argentina for the G20 summit and called his former attorney Michael Cohen — who pleaded guilty Thursday morning to lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow — “weak,” saying that he was lying to try to get a reduced sentence.
According to the plea, Cohen lied about the date in which discussions regarding the Trump Tower project in Moscow ceased. While he initially said talks about the project ended in January 2016, before the primaries, he now admits those talks continued until June 2016. He also admitted to communicating with the office of Russian President Vladimir Putin despite initially denying a correspondence ever took place.
When asked about the project, Trump explained:
“I was focused on running for president,” Trump said, though he added: “There would be nothing wrong if I did do it.”
“I was running my business while I was campaigning. There was a good chance that I wouldn’t have won, in which case I would have gotten back into the business, and why should I lose lots of opportunities?”
“I was allowed to do whatever I wanted during the campaign,” Trump added. “I was running my business during the campaign.”
The National Review‘s David French puts the new development in context:
Let’s just be clear — there is now evidence that Trump was pursuing a substantial personal business relationship with our chief geopolitical foe long after he wrapped up the GOP nomination.
Regardless of the legality of his actions, this is not acceptable.
— David French (@DavidAFrench) November 29, 2018
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