(CNN)President Donald Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, claimed in a January 2017 interview that the Trump Organization had no recent relationship with Russia, months before admitting he had personally pursued a business deal there on behalf of the company during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“There’s no relationship,” Cohen told Hannity in the January 11, 2017 appearance. “The last time that there was any activity between the Trump Organization — actually, wasn’t even really the Trump Organization, it was the Miss Universe pageant, it was held in Moscow,” Cohen said, referring to the pageant held in 2013.
Cohen’s answer ignored his own work dealing with Russia on behalf of the Trump Organization during the 2016 presidential campaign. CNN reported in September 2017 Cohen sent emails during Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign seeking the assistance of the Kremlin in an effort to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Cohen has said he dropped the project in January 2016.
Cohen told CNN that Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov did not respond to his emails. He also said that, before the proposal was abandoned, he discussed it with Trump three times and Trump signed a preliminary agreement for it in October 2015, well into his run for the presidency.
The owner of I.C. Expert Investment Company, a Russian company, also signed the document. Cohen said in a September 2017 statement to Congress the proposal “was not related in any way to Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.”
Cohen’s work for Trump has come under increased scrutiny since the FBI raided his home and office last month. That scrutiny intensified last week after porn star Stormy Daniels’ lawyer revealed that a US investment firm with ties to a Russian oligarch made payments to Cohen’s consulting firm, Essential Consultants. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators have questioned the Russian oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg, about the payments, a source familiar with the matter told CNN.
CNN’s KFile reviewed all of Cohen’s appearances on Hannity’s radio program after compiling dates of his appearances through archived social media posts. Audio of the episodes were obtained from the liberal watchdog group Media Matters, which monitors and stores audio of Hannity’s program.