Felix Sater, a longtime business associate of Donald Trump with organized crime ties, promised in a 2015 email to "engineer a real estate deal with the aid of the president of Russia, Vladimir V. Putin, that he said would help Mr. Trump win the presidency," reports the New York Times today.
It's unclear what the emails may have led to, and how the discovery of communication may affect the ongoing federal investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 U.S. elections that Trump won.
The associate, Felix Sater, wrote a series of emails to Mr. Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, in which he boasted about his ties to Mr. Putin and predicted that building a Trump Tower in Moscow would highlight Mr. Trump's savvy negotiating skills and be a political boon to his candidacy.
"Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it," Mr. Sater wrote in an email. "I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process."
Mr. Sater, a Russian immigrant, said he had lined up financing for the Trump Tower deal with VTB Bank, a Russian bank that was under American sanctions for involvement in Moscow's efforts to undermine democracy in Ukraine. In another email, Mr. Sater envisioned a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Moscow.
"I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected," Mr. Sater wrote.
Mr. Sater said he was eager to show video clips to his Russian contacts of instances of Mr. Trump speaking glowingly about Russia.