Newly declassified memos seem to show the president twice told FBI director James Comey that he could not possibly have watched prostitutes urinate on a bed once used by Barack Obama because he did not spend a night in Moscow in November 2013.
Instead, the president allegedly claimed, he visited Moscow to watch the Miss Universe beauty pageant but flew back to the US without spending a night in the Russian capital.
Now, however, Bloomberg has reported that it has acquired flight records suggesting Mr Trump spent the night of Friday November 8-Saturday November 9 2013 in Moscow, before watching the beauty contest on Saturday evening and leaving Moscow in the early hours of Sunday November 10.
The reported flight records, if accurate, seem to corroborate the evidence of previously known social media posts which appear to show Mr Trump grinning outside Nobu restaurant in Moscow during daylight hours on Friday November 8 2013.
Mr Trump’s own twitter feed seems to show he was still in Moscow the following day, because on Saturday November 9 2013 he tweeted: “I was just given a great tour of Moscow – fantastic, hard working people. City is really energised! The world will be watching tonight!”
This was a reference to the Miss Universe competition, which at the time Mr Trump owned.
Mr Trump is known to have attended the pageant on Saturday night, and the after-party.
Bloomberg reported that the flight records suggested Mr Trump had been at least partially accurate when he apparently told Mr Comey he only returned to the hotel to get his things because his plane left for New York on the night of the pageant.
Bloomberg said the records it purchased from aviation data company FlightAware suggest Mr Trump left Moscow on a jet that took off from Vnukovo airport at 3.58am Moscow time on the morning of Sunday November 10.
Bloomberg, however, reported that the flight records still don’t discount the possibility that Mr Trump spent the night of Friday November 8-Saturday November 9 2013, in Moscow.
The New York Times has previously reported that Mr Trump flew to Moscow on a Bombardier Global 5000 private jet owned by Phil Ruffin, his partner in the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Las Vegas.
Bloomberg reported that its flight records do not indicate who was on board, but do show that the jet – tail number N443PR – took off from Asheville, North Carolina, at 9.15pm on Thursday November 7 2013, bound for Moscow’s Vnukovo airport.
With about 11 hours flying time between North Carolina and Moscow, Mr Trump would not have spent Thursday night in Moscow.
Bloomberg’s reported flight records and the social media posts, however, both seem to put him in the Russian capital during the day of Friday and the night of Friday-Saturday.
Yet memos released four days ago show Mr Comey writing down the details of two conversations in which the then FBI director said the president denied spending a night in Moscow.
In the first memo, written on January 28 2017, Mr Comey, who was fired by Mr Trump in May last year, recalled the president turning the conversation towards “what he called the ‘golden showers thing’”.
“He repeated that it was a complete fabrication and fake news,” Mr Comey wrote. “He said he had spoken to people who had been on the Miss Universe trip with him and they had reminded him that he didn’t stay overnight in Russia for that. 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. Afterward, he returned only to get his things because they departed for New York by plane the same night.
“He said he thought maybe he should ask me to investigate the whole thing to prove it was a lie.”
“He then explained that he hadn’t stayed overnight in Russia during the Miss Universe trip … The President said ‘the hookers thing’ is nonsense but that Putin had told him ‘We have some of the most beautiful hookers in the world.’ (He did not say when Putin had told him this).”
Mr Trump has not directly said whether he regards Mr Comey’s records of the two conversations as accurate, but he has called the former FBI director a "weak and unethical slimeball".
He and his supporters have repeatedly dismissed the contents of the Steele dossier as “fake news” and fantasy.
In one of his first public denials of the urinating prostitutes allegation, Mr Trump said it couldn’t be true because he was a “germaphobe”.
His comments were met with laughter when he told a January 2017 press conference: “Does anybody really believe that story? I'm also very much of a germaphobe, by the way. Believe me."
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