FRESH AIR: For more than a year now, journalists Michael Isikoff and David Corn have been devoted to covering the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. Isikoff was the first reporter to reveal that there was a U.S. intelligence investigation into Russian ties to a figure in the Trump campaign — Carter Page. Corn was the first to reveal the existence of the infamous Russia dossier, the unverified collection of reports alleging connections between the Trump campaign and Russia compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele.
Now, in their new book, Russian Roulette, the two men attempt to put all the pieces of the story together.”We start the book with Donald Trump’s trip to Moscow in 2013, when he really first forms this ‘bromance’ with Vladimir Putin,” Isikoff says. Isikoff notes that Trump’s 2013 trip to Russia for the Miss Universe pageant centered on a business deal: “He signed a letter of intent to build a Trump Tower in Moscow with a Putin-connected oligarch, Aras Agalarov.”
In 2016, Agalarov would later be one of the conduits for what was described to Donald Trump Jr. as an offer of help to the Trump campaign by the Russian government. The earlier potential deal for the Moscow Trump Tower fell through, Isikoff says, after the Obama administration and the European Union imposed sanctions on Russia following the annexation of Crimea and the invasion of Ukraine. But Corn says that the stalled deal may help explain other elements of the story: “People have been trying to figure out for years the positive remarks that Donald Trump has made about Vladimir Putin … It’s almost hiding in plain sight that one reason he has for saying all these kind things about Putin is that he was always interested in doing business deals there.” MORE
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