The memos of former FBI director James Comey which leaked last week provided two separate instances of President Donald Trump denying that he stayed in Moscow overnight during his infamous 2013 Miss Universe trip. A a new report from Bloomberg contradicts those claims.
“He said he arrived in the morning, did events, then showered and dressed for the pageant at the hotel (he didn’t say the hotel name) and left for the pageant,” Comey wrote of a dinner at the White House on January 27, 2017. “Afterwards, he returned only to get his things because they departed for New York by plane that same night.” Less than two weeks later, Comey wrote after a meeting on February 8: “He then explained, as he did at our dinner, that he hadn’t stayed overnight in Russia during the Miss Universe trip.”
According to Bloomberg’s reporting, however, flight records show that Trump flew on a private jet owned by business associate Phil Ruffin from Asheville to Moscow on November 7, landing in Moscow on November 8. Bloomberg reports that Trump’s social media postings and flight records indicate that Trump did spend the night before the pageant, November 9, in Moscow:
Trump surfaced online later that day in a Facebook post by the restaurant Nobu Moscow. That night he attended a birthday party for [developer and pageant host Aras] Agalarov.
The next day, Saturday, Nov. 9, Facebook posts showed Trump at the Ritz during the day, and in the afternoon he tweeted that he’d gotten a tour of Moscow. That evening, he attended the Miss Universe pageant, followed by an after-party whose scheduled start time was 1 a.m. — by that time, Sunday, Nov. 10. American rock band Panic! at the Disco, which had performed at the pageant, put on a second set for the 1,200 after-party attendees.
At this point, the flight records support a narrow slice of what Trump told Comey: On the night of the pageant itself, the plane Trump was said to be using didn’t fully overnight in Russia. Ruffin’s Bombardier took off from Vnukovo airport at 3:58 a.m. Moscow time, the records show.
According to Bloomberg, Trump’s plane did depart on the night of the pageant itself, November 10, around 3:58 AM Moscow time, and touched down the same morning at Newark Liberty International around 4:11 AM EST. And that night, at 6:44 PM EST, Trump tweeted this:
Bloomberg says that the Trump Organization and the White House didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
As Think Progress noted last week, Trump’s version of events directly contradicted that of his bodyguard, Keith Schiller, in sworn testimony that Schiller gave to Congress. Per NBC News’ sources, that testimony said:
The two sources said Schiller’s comments came in the context of him adamantly disputing the allegations made in the Trump dossier, written by a former British intelligence operative, which describes Trump having an encounter with prostitutes at the hotel during the pageant. Schiller described his reaction to that story as being, “Oh my God, that’s bull——,” two sources said.
The conversation with the Russian about the five women took place after a morning meeting about the pageant in Moscow broke up, two sources said.
That night, two sources said, Schiller said he discussed the conversation with Trump as Trump was walking back to his hotel room, and Schiller said the two men laughed about it as Trump went to bed alone. Schiller testified that he stood outside Trump’s hotel room for a time and then went to bed.
Stuart Sears, Schiller’s lawyer, said in a statement to NBC News when that story came out that “the versions of Mr. Schiller’s testimony being leaked to the press are blatantly false and misleading.” Six days ago, NBC News reported that the Trump campaign made a single payment of $66,000 to Sears’ law firm, Schertler & Onorato, in January. Hell of a coincidence.