Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California has asserted that a failed Trump Tower deal with a Russian-born real estate broker during the 2016 presidential race is evidence that President Donald Trump has been dishonest about his business ties to Russia.
On Sept. 3, Schiff blasted the revelation that Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, had been exploring a potential Trump Organization project in Moscow during the presidential race.
"The President was dishonest when he said during the campaign that he had no business in Russia, was pursuing no business in Russia," Schiff told CNN.
On Aug. 27, several sources familiar with the Trump Organization disclosed that Cohen had been negotiating a potential Trump Tower in Moscow with Russian-born developer Felix Sater from November 2015 before cancelling the deal in January 2016, The Washington Post reports.
The failed real estate deal had not been previously disclosed. On Aug. 28, The New York Times obtained emails sent between Cohen and Sater in November 2015, with the Russian developer signaling that the deal would help solidify Trump's support with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it," Sater wrote. "I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process."
Cohen has since released a statement asserting that he abandoned the real estate deal because he was not confident that the Trump Organization would receive government approval and financing.
"The decision to pursue the proposal initially, and later to abandon it, was unrelated to the Donald J. Trump for President campaign," Cohen said.
In Schiff's view, the failed real estate deal would have had a compromising impact on the Trump campaign.
"If they were pursuing business in Russia during the campaign, that might have influenced the positions that the candidate took in a more pro-Russian direction," Schiff continued. "After all, if they were going to be criticizing Putin, criticizing Russia, that would diminish the chances that this deal would go through."
Schiff is the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, which is investigating the Russian government's influence during the 2016 election. The California Democrat concluded that his committee would likely call for both Cohen and Sater to testify.
Trump was complimentary of Putin throughout his presidential campaign but repeatedly denied any financial ties to Russia. In July 2016, Trump asserted during a press conference that he had "nothing to do with Russia."
On Jan. 11, Trump blasted the disclosure of an unverified dossier alleging that Russia had compromised him with damaging information.
"Russia has never tried to use leverage over me," Trump tweeted out. "I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA -- NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!"
Sources: CNN, Donald J. Trump/Twitter, The New York Times, The Washington Post / Featured Image: Gage Skidmore/Flickr / Embedded Images: United States Congress via Wikimedia Commons, Alvesgaspar/Wikimedia Commons