By Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg/Getty Images.
In the wake of recent reporting detailing Donald Trump’s efforts to build a Trump Tower in Russia during the presidential campaign, Ivanka Trump appeared Friday on ABC to downplay the controversial real-estate project—and put some distance between herself and the president. Asked by Abby Huntsman whether she had any concerns about the project, the senior White House adviser responded that she knew “literally almost nothing” about a Trump Organization proposal to build a skyscraper in downtown Moscow, and said she had “zero concern” that anyone in her family could be implicated in Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian efforts to fix the 2016 election.
Of course, Ivanka’s account differs somewhat from various reports suggesting she knew a great deal about the project. According to Yahoo News, both she and Donald Trump Jr. were involved in the project as far back as 2013, and were aware that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen had been working to revive the deal. In October 2015, Trump Sr. signed a letter of intent to move forward with negotiations, but has continued to be evasive about the extent of his ambitions. In November, Cohen pleaded guilty to making false statements to Congress about the scope of the Trump Tower project, and BuzzFeed News recently reported that the president directed Cohen to say that those negotiations ended months earlier than they actually did, though the special counsel’s office issued an unusual statement disputing the BuzzFeed story as “not accurate.”
According to the contested BuzzFeed report, both Ivanka and Trump Jr. received “regular, detailed updates” about the project from Cohen. Ivanka would reportedly have managed a spa at the tower, and per BuzzFeed, instructed Cohen to speak with a Russian athlete who had “synergy on a government level” to move the project along. A spokesperson for the First Daughter’s attorney told BuzzFeed that she was only “minimally involved” in proceedings, and “did not know about this proposal until after a non-binding letter of intent had been signed.” Her older brother, meanwhile, has testified under oath that he was only “peripherally aware” of the plans.
She contested the Yahoo report too, insisting that her involvement in the project was limited to recommending an architect. But in her interview with Huntsman, she offered additional explanations: the Moscow deal was one of many she was juggling, she was too busy to have paid much attention, and it never moved beyond a theoretical stage. “There was never a binding contract,” she told Huntsman during the Good Morning America interview, part of which aired Friday. “I never talked to the—with a third party outside of the organization about it. It was one of—I mean, we could have had 40 or 50 deals like that, that were floating around, that somebody was looking at. Nobody visited it to see if it was worth our time. So this was not exactly like an advanced project.”
“There’s nothing there, yet it’s created weeks and weeks and months of headlines,” she added. “So no, I have zero concern.”
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