Election meddling has been the primary accusations swarming around the Robert Mueller investigation and subsequent report, which was released on Thursday in redacted form.
And while elected officials are rushing to analyze the content of the 448-page report, one detail deep in the footnotes has emerged that may confirm the so-called “pee tape” of Trump in a Russian hotel.
Part of the report speaks of certain tapes that Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, was trying to obtain.
The report found that Cohen received a text from Russian businessman Giorgi Rtskhiladze that stated he had, "Stopped flow of tapes from Russia but not sure if there's anything else… Just so you know.’”
In a follow-up text to Cohen, Rtskhiladze makes clear he’s talking about “compromising tapes of Trump rumored to be held by persons associated with the Russian real estate conglomerate Crocus Group, which had helped host the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant in Russia.”
Mueller connects that to the Steele dossier, an intelligence report funded as opposition research on Trump and first published by Buzzfeed. The dossier alleges the Kremlin had obtained a compromising tape of Trump. Supposedly, that included a hotel surveillance tape of Trump at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Moscow with prostitutes in his room. The Steele dossier says Trump intentionally stayed in the presidential suite, knowing President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama had slept there.
The document alleges Trump prioritized “defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him.”
Mueller notes former FBI Director James Comey brought the allegation up to Trump after the election in a briefing. But Mueller’s own investigation found Trump likely already knew of the alleged tapes. That’s because Cohen received his text from Rtskhiladze on October 30, 2016, just days before the presidential election.
Cohen at the very least took the allegation seriously, and took action to stop the release of any possible footage.
Cohen said he spoke to Trump about these tapes after receiving them. Tskhiladze later said he was told the tapes were fake, but he did not communicate that to Cohen. The Mueller report does not indicate the investigators' judgement on whether there were any genuine tapes.
Comey had his meeting with Trump on January 7, 2017, three days before Buzzfeed published the Steele dossier. On January 13, the Senate Select Intelligence Committee on Intelligence announced it would conduct a bipartisan inquiry into Russian interference in the election.