President Donald Trump reportedly told former FBI Director James Comey – twice – that he didn’t spend a single night in Moscow when the infamous “pee tape” was allegedly made.
But Bloomberg and Politico have obtained flight records for Trump’s jet that indicate he actually spent two nights in the Russian capital when he traveled there for the Miss Universe Pageant in 2013.
A dossier of information about Trump collected by former British agent Christopher Steele claims that Russian agents secretly filmed Trump at the Moscow Ritz-Carlton that weekend as he instructed prostitutes to urinate on a bed that then-President Barack Obama had slept in.
The New York Times reported last year that Trump traveled to Moscow on a plane owned by casino mogul Phil Ruffin. Bloomberg and Politico obtained flight records for a Bombardier Global Express jet owned by Ruffin Development Expositions that left the U.S. on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013 and landed at Moscow’s Vnukovo International Airport the following day. The jet left the city early Sunday at 3:58 a.m. after Trump attended the pageant.
Ruffin’s spokeswoman Michelle Knoll confirmed to Politico that Trump used the aircraft for his trip.
It’s not known which night the tape was allegedly recorded, but Trump’s bodyguard Keith Schiller testified last year that he turned down an offer from an unknown Russian to send five sex workers to Trump’s Moscow hotel room at some point that weekend, sources told NBC. Schiller said he kept an eye on Trump’s hotel room for a while, then went to bed himself.
Trump’s own social media accounts seem to support the argument that he was in Russia at least overnight. In one Facebook post, Trump poses in a photo outside Nobu Moscow on Friday, Nov. 8, 2013. The pageant was held on Saturday. On Sunday evening, Trump tweeted that he’d “just got back from Russia.”
I just got back from Russia-learned lots & lots. Moscow is a very interesting and amazing place! U.S. MUST BE VERY SMART AND VERY STRATEGIC.
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 11, 2013
After Trump became president, Comey said he warned him about Steele’s dossier, which had been turned over to the FBI. Trump denied spending a single night in Moscow. Comey told ABC this month that Trump responded by asking, ” Do I look like a guy who needs hookers?” (Comey added: “I assumed he was asking that rhetorically.”)
Trump also said he’d “spoken to people who had been on … the trip … and they had reminded him that he didn’t stay over night in Russia,” Comey recalled in a memo. Trump insisted again later in the Oval Office that he “hadn’t stayed overnight in Russia during the Miss Universe trip,” Comey wrote.
In addition, Trump told his FBI director that he could never go for the “golden showers thing” because ” I’m … a germaphobe,” Comey wrote in his memoir A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership.
If Trump deliberately lied to Comey, it could indicate ” consciousness of guilt ” and could bolster a case against him by special counsel Robert Mueller, former federal prosecutor Pete Zeidenberg told Politico.
Trump’s Miss Universe pageant has posed multiple problems for the president. The New Yorker reported earlier this year that Trump has used the pageant to cultivate potential business partners, including in Russia, where he hoped to build a Trump tower. In 2013, he cemented an alliance with father and singer son Aras and Emin Agalarov, who hosted the pageant in Moscow.
In the summer of 2016, a publicist for Emin Agalarov emailed Donald Trump Jr. offering damaging information about Hillary Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” Donald Jr. replied: “I love it” – and later attended a meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan with a Kremlin-connected lawyer, among others.