President Donald Trump’s insistence that he did not spend the night in Moscow during his 2013 trip to Russia has been disproved by flight records obtained by Bloomberg News -- which also means the president appears to have misled former FBI Director James Comey on more than one occasion.
[F]light records obtained by Bloomberg provide fresh details. Combined with existing accounts and Trump’s own social-media posts, they capture two days that, nearly five years later, loom large in the controversy engulfing the White House and at the heart of the Comey memos, which the Justice Department turned over last week to Congress.
What did Trump tell Comey?
The first denial came over dinner at the White House in late January 2017. “He said he arrived in the morning, did events, then showered and dressed for the pageant at the hotel," and then left for the event, Comey wrote. “Afterwards, he returned only to get his things because they departed for New York by plane that same night."
On the second occasion in February 2017, Trump “explained, as he did at our dinner, that he hadn’t stayed overnight in Russia during the Miss Universe trip," Comey wrote.
What actually took place?
Trump flew to Russia on the private jet of his business partner Phil Ruffin, departing from North Carolina the night of November 7 and arriving in Moscow at an unspecified time on November 8.
From Vnukovo airport, it’s less than an hour’s drive to the Ritz-Carlton hotel, where Trump stayed, according to the pageant’s host, developer Aras Agalarov.
Trump surfaced online later that day in a Facebook post by the restaurant Nobu Moscow. That night he attended a birthday party for Agalarov.
Social media posts show Trump at the Ritz the following day, and then that evening he attended the Miss Universe Pageant as well as the after-party.
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.
Keith Schiller, Trump’s former bodyguard, reportedly testified to Congress that a Russian offered to “send five women” up to Trump’s hotel room. Schiller said he and Trump laughed off the offer.
“We don’t do that type of stuff,” Schiller allegedly said last year.