TOPSHOT - US President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany...
SAUL LOEB

Russia scandal turns in a direction Trump will not like

Updated

The revelations in the Trump-Russia scandal have been breaking at a striking pace in recent days, so it’s probably worth taking a moment to get up to speed, because much of what we’ve learned has been rather stunning.

The Rachel Maddow Show, 8/28/17, 9:00 PM ET

Trump sought Moscow business deal while campaigning for president

Rachel Maddow reports on the myriad ties between Donald Trump and Russia that have come to light in contradiction of Trump denials, with the latest being the pursuit of a real estate deal backed by a state-run Russian bank while Trump was campaigning…
For example, this Washington Post report, published late yesterday, is a doozy.

A top executive from Donald Trump’s real estate company emailed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s personal spokesman during the U.S. presidential campaign last year to ask for help advancing a stalled Trump Tower development project in Moscow, according to documents submitted to Congress on Monday.

The request came in a mid-January 2016 email from Michael Cohen, one of Trump’s closest business advisers, who asked longtime Putin lieutenant Dmitry Peskov for assistance in reviving a deal that Cohen suggested was languishing.

Despite Trump’s repeated denials that his business operation had no dealings with Russia, a member of his inner circle was, during the campaign, trying to complete a major real-estate deal in Moscow. Not only was a top Trump aide working on this as recently as last year, and not only did the aide reach out to a member of Vladimir Putin’s team, but as Rachel explained on last night’s show, the financing for the deal was coming by way of a bank owned and controlled by Putin’s government in Russia.

This, in and of itself, is quite a revelation. While it’s true the deal didn’t come together, we now know that as recently as last year – not exactly ancient history – Trump pursued the Republican presidential nomination while also pursuing a major business deal with the Russian government. Voters, however, weren’t aware of any of this – though they may have noticed Trump’s effusive praise of Putin at the time.

The Rachel Maddow Show, 8/28/17, 9:25 PM ET

Trump Moscow deal pushed as asset to campaign

Carol Leonnig, staff writer for The Washington Post, talks with Rachel Maddow about new revelations that Donald Trump was pursuing a business deal in Moscow while campaigning, and why his aides saw a Russian deal as an asset to the campaign.
And this isn’t a situation in which a Trump lieutenant tackled a business venture on his own: as the Post’s report added, Michael Cohen ‘said that he discussed the deal three times with Trump and that Trump signed a letter of intent with the company on Oct. 28, 2015.” That’s several months after Trump launched his campaign. (He even participated in a debate that evening.)

This is the same business deal Felix Sater, a Russian-born real estate developer and Trump associate, who also tried to help close, saying in an email that completing the agreement would help put Trump in the White House.

“Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,” Sater wrote in an email obtained by the New York Times. “I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.”

If you’re thinking this bolsters allegations of possible collusion between Team Trump and Moscow, you’re not alone.

Let’s also not forget that the president recently said if Special Counsel Robert Mueller looked into Trump’s finances, the president would consider that an unacceptable breach.

In case this weren’t quite enough, NBC News reported overnight:

Federal investigators working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller are keenly focused on President Donald Trump’s role in crafting a response to a published article about a meeting between Russians and his son Donald Jr., three sources familiar with the matter told NBC News.

The sources told NBC News that prosecutors want to know what Trump knew about the meeting and whether he sought to conceal its purpose.

As regular readers know, there’s ample reason to believe the president directly helped cover up the truth by helping shape a deliberately misleading public statement.

CNN reports today, meanwhile, that Donald Trump Jr. has agreed to participate in a transcribed interview with the Senate Judiciary Committee, and that Robert Mueller’s team has “issued subpoenas to a former lawyer for Paul Manafort and to Manafort’s current spokesman.”

All of this, of course, comes on the heels of the revelations we discussed yesterday.

There was a brief period in which we weren’t learning much about Donald Trump’s Russia scandal. That period has apparently ended.

Donald Trump, Russia and Scandals

Russia scandal turns in a direction Trump will not like

Updated