- The Washington Times - Friday, November 30, 2018

House Democrats will investigate the Trump Organization’s reported plans to give a $50 million penthouse to Russian President Vladimir Putin as it negotiated for its Trump Tower Moscow, BuzzFeed News reported Friday.

Rep. Adam Schiff, the incoming intelligence committee chairman, told BuzzFeed the panel’s probe into connections between the president and Russians will expand to include the latest revelations about the planned Trump Tower.

“If true, this story further underscores the need to finish the committee’s counterintelligence investigation to determine what, if any, financial leverage the Russians may hold over President Trump and the Trump Organization, and what Trump may have hoped to gain by any financial offer to Putin,” he said in a statement.

BuzzFeed News reported on the plan Thursday evening.

Unnamed sources in U.S. law enforcement told the outlet that Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former lawyer and personal “fixer,” discussed the plan with someone in Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov’s office.

Felix Sater, a business associate of Cohen, told the online news outlet that the idea was to give Mr. Putin the tower’s $50 million penthouse to encourage other big spenders to buy in.

“In Russia, the oligarchs would bend over backwards to live in the same building as Vladimir Putin,” Sater told BuzzFeed News. “My idea was to give a $50 million penthouse to Putin and charge $250 million more for the rest of the units. All the oligarchs would line up to live in the same building as Putin.”

Plans for the nixed Trump Tower have come under scrutiny from the Mueller probe as it became the focal point of Cohen’s latest plea deal with the special counsel’s team.

On Thursday, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the plans and negotiations for a Russian Trump Tower.

Mr. Trump has defended his decision to negotiate with Russia during the election as simply running his business in case he lost the presidential race.

• Gabriella Muñoz can be reached at gmunoz@washingtontimes.com.

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