President Trump reportedly wrote a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2013 to personally invite him to the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow.
Multiple people familiar with the letter told The Washington Post that the document has been turned over to investigators probing Russian interference in the 2016 election. The letter extended an invitation for Putin to attend the pageant, which Trump owned, and also noted that Trump was looking forward to seeing “beautiful” women on his trip to Russia, according to the report published Friday. During the same month in 2013, Trump tweeted that he was hoping to meet Putin, writing, “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?” Putin reportedly planned to attend, but canceled at the last minute and sent a gift and letter to Trump instead. It is unclear if he responded to Trump’s personal letter, or if it was even delivered, the Post reported. The report comes as the federal investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election heats up and congressional panels continue to probe the issue. Special counsel Robert Mueller announced indictments last month against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian groups for interfering in the election. Mueller’s team has reportedly been asking witnesses about Trump’s business dealings in Russia, including his trip to Moscow for the 2013 pageant. The 2013 letter is the first known attempt by Trump to reach out to Putin, the Post reported. It demonstrates Trump’s personal interest in meeting the Russian president, long before he even announced his 2016 campaign. Before the election, Trump repeatedly gave conflicting statements about whether he had ever met Putin in person. He has since met the Russian president several times.
The president said in November that he wasn’t going to “argue” with Putin about whether Russia interfered in the election. “Every time he sees me he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’ and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it,” Trump said at the time.