President-elect Donald Trump has stressed that he has "nothing to do with Russia," but that isn't, strictly speaking, true. Trump has pursued business interests in the nation since as far back as 1987, and continually over the years since, The New York Times reports.
"I really prefer Moscow over all cities in the world," Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., said in 2008, adding that he had visited Russia a half-dozen times in 18 months. Don Jr. and his siblings, Eric and Ivanka Trump, have made several visits to the nation on their father's behalf over the years.
Trump himself long pursued construction of a "Trump Tower Moscow," failing to have the deal come to fruition; Trump Jr. called Russia a "scary place" to businesses because of legal complications as well as rampant corruption. But that doesn't mean Trump hasn't repeatedly attempted to get a foothold elsewhere:
Trump Super Premium Vodka, with the shine of bottles glazed with 24-karat gold, was presented at the Millionaire's Fair in Moscow in 2007, and large orders for the spirits followed. The vodka was sold in Russia as late as 2009, but eventually fizzled out. In a news release, Mr. Trump heralded it as a "tremendous achievement."
He tried — and failed — to start a reality show in St. Petersburg in 2008 starring a Russian mixed martial arts fighter.
But real estate developments remained a constant goal. From 2006 to 2008, his company applied for several trademarks in Russia, including Trump, Trump Tower, Trump International Hotel and Tower, and Trump Home, according to a record search by Sojuzpatent, a Russian intellectual property firm. [The New York Times]
Alan Garten, the general counsel for the Trump Organization, explained to the Times that Trump's assertion that he has "stayed away" from Russia is true due to the fact that none of the business deals ever took root. See a full timeline of Trump's attempted dealings with Russia at The New York Times. Jeva Lange