(CNN) – Much has been made about president-elect Donald Trump’s interest in Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin; but what about Trump’s business history in that country?
Donald Trump’s not backing away from his apparent admiration for Vladimir Putin – and his hopes for a good relationship with the Russian president. But the president-elect is determined to avoid the appearance that he might have business conflicts in Russia.
Trump has said, “I have no deals, I have no loans and I have no dealings. We could make deals in Russia very easily if we wanted to. I just don’t want to because I think that would be a conflict.”
There’s no way to verify Trump’s claim – because he hasn’t released his tax returns.
CNN and other news outlets have looked into Trump’s history with Russia- and found that he’s made no significant real estate deals there.
However, it wasn’t for a lack of trying. Trump’s attempts to build hotels and other buildings in Russia go back at least 30 years.
Michael Kranish, co-author of the book Trump Revealed, says, “He tried very hard, several times, to do deals in Moscow. He said ‘We’ll be in Moscow. It’s inevitable. We’ll be there.’ But in the end, he wasn’t able to do the real estate deals.”
An attempt to build a ‘Trump Tower’ in Moscow fell through- before it started.
What’s gotten in the way of Trump’s attempts to make some real estate deals in Russia and elsewhere?
Kranish says, “Donald Trump tries to make deals around the world, and often-times in recent years it’s been an effort to have someone else bear the risk, and then pay Donald Trump to put his name on a building.”
But Trump has made money from Russians. He sold a mansion in Palm Beach to a Russian billionaire for $95-million.
And there was one deal in Moscow that did go through. In 2013 he made millions when he partnered with a Russian billionaire to hold the Miss Universe pageant in the shadow of the Kremlin.
At the time Trump tweeted, “Do you think Putin will be going to the Miss Universe pageant in November in Moscow? If so, will he become my new best friend?”
Michael D’Antonio, author of The Truth About Trump, says, “Trump did want to meet with Putin during the Miss Universe pageant. The connection was never made, but I think there was an exchange of gifts.” Which one biographer says, included a lacquered box from Putin.
Trump has since given conflicting accounts of whether he’s ever actually met Putin, in person.
Michael Savage:”Have you met Vladimir Putin?”
Donald Trump: “Yes.”
Michael Savage: “You have?”
Donald Trump: “Yes. One time, long time ago.”
A year later, a different story, as Trump said, “I never met Putin.”
Either way, D’Antonio says, he’s had a deep fascination with Russia, and its leaders. “There’s something in him that really admires strongmen, tough guys, who seem to be able to get things done without much encumbrance.”
As for the possibility of any future Trump deals in Russia, the president-elect’s lawyer promises that no new foreign deals will be made by Trump’s company during his time in the White House.
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