The Independent is highlighting a newly discovered video of Donald Trump meeting with Russian officials in 1995, reportedly to discuss his possible participation in the construction of an underground mall.
The video adds new insight into Mr Trump’s business dealings in Russia well before the 2016 presidential election. It had previously been reported he visited Moscow in 1996 — a year after his alleged meeting with the former mayor’s administration — when he announced plans to invest upwards of $250m into the city.
The video was unearthed by someone who had “been going through the Russian TV archives”, according to Daniel Sandford, a home affairs correspondent for BBC News, who previously served as a correspondent in Moscow.
Mr Trump’s reported meeting with Moscow officials in 1995 and the newly-unearthed footage does not show any clear wrongdoing on the part of the president. It does, however, refute the notion that he had zero dealings in Russia before assuming the White House in 2016 — a frequent claim made by Mr Trump and his inner circle.
“Trump was in Moscow. He had contacts… on matters related to the construction of the Okhotny Ryad underground mall on Manezh Square,” ex-Mayor Yury Luzhkov told Interfax in comments published Tuesday.
Trump, Luzhkov told the news agency, had “one or two” contacts with then-first deputy mayor, current Duma lawmaker, Vladimir Resin who oversaw Moscow’s construction industry during Luzhkov’s reign.
“[Trump] planned to take part in the mall’s construction,” the former mayor was quoted as saying. “There were intentions… but the matter didn’t go further.”
Resin’s talks with Trump alongside other U.S. real estate moguls were reportedly broadcast by Russian state television in 1995.
Trump also traveled to Moscow in November 1996, where he announced plans to invest some $250 million in several building projects, including a high-rise tower just north of Okhotny Ryad.
Okhotny Ryad, estimated to be worth between 55 billion and 75 billion rubles ($840 million and $1.1 billion) in 2018, was built in 1997.
Resin replaced Luzhkov as acting mayor until Sergei Sobyanin’s appointment in 2010.
Luzhkov, who served as mayor in 1992-2010, was reportedly fired for poorly managing Moscow and fostering "exorbitant corruption" during his reign.
Trump Held Talks With Moscow Leadership to Build Mall, Ex-Mayor Reveals (The Moscow Times)