The pageant and the presidents attempts to get close to Putin have become a focus of the inquiry into Trumps links to Russian interference in the US election
Sitting in a makeshift studio overlooking the Moscow river on a crisp day in November 2013, Donald Trump sulked, gazed down the lens of a television camera and said anything he would come to regret.
Asked by an interviewer whether he had a relationship with Russian president Vladimir Putin, the brash New York businessman could not resist boasting.” I do have a relationship with him ,” Trump said.
Russia’s strongman had” done a very brilliant undertaking “, Trump told MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts, before declaring that Putin had bested Barack Obama.” He’s done an amazing job- he’s put himself genuinely at the forefront of the world as a leader in a short period of time .”
Trump, a teetotaler, seemed intoxicated by the buzz surrounding the glitzy event that had brought him back to Moscow: that year’s instalment of the Miss Universe contest that he then owned.
Four years later, he is struggling to shake off the hangover.
The 2013 pageantry has become a focal point for the simultaneous investigations, led by special attorney Robert Mueller and congressional committees, into whether associates of Trump colluded with Russian officials to help them win the 2016 US presidential election.
Investigators are scrutinizing closely attempts apparently made by the Russian government to pass Trump’s team damaging information on Hillary Clinton, use Trump’s politically connected Miss Universe business partners as couriers.
They are also looking into the $20 m cost that Trump collected for putting on the pageantry from those same business partners- along with extraordinary allegations about Trump’s private conduct behind closed doors at the Ritz-Carlton hotel during his 2013 is necessary to stay in Moscow.
The Guardian has learned of additional, previously unreported, the linkages between Trump’s business partners on the pageantry and Russia’s government. The ties are likely to attract farther scrutiny by investigators who are already biting at the heels of Trump associates.
A full accounting of Trump’s activities in the Russian capital as that autumn turned to wintertime may be critical to resolving a controversy that has already ingested the first eight months of his presidency.
” Our committee’s investigation will not be complete unless we fully understand who President Trump met with when he was over in Russia for Miss Universe, and what follow-up contacts occurred ,” Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said in an interview.
Trump’s attorney, John Dowd, declined to answer when asked whether the president’s squad accepts that the Miss Universe contest is a legitimate area of investigation for examiners.” Fake news ,” Dowd said in an email.