- The House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday interviewed a Georgian-American businessman mentioned in the special counsels report.
- Giorgi Rtskhiladze told The Daily Caller News Foundation that he spent eight hours with the committee, which asked about his business contacts with Michael Cohen and the Trump Organization.
- Rtskhiladze has filed a complaint with the Justice Department regarding the special counsels report, which misquoted text messages he exchanged with Cohen about an unsubstantiated sex tape of Donald Trump.
The Democrat-controlled House Intelligence Committee continued its investigation of President Donald Trump on Tuesday by interviewing Giorgi Rtskhiladze, a Georgian-American businessman mentioned in the special counsels report because of his contacts with former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen.
Rtskhiladze told the Daily Caller News Foundation on Wednesday that he spent eight hours with committee staff discussing his business relationship with Cohen and the Trump Organization. He also answered questions about an Oct. 30, 2016, text message exchange with Cohen about a rumored sex tape of Trump that is mentioned in a footnote in the special counsels report.
Rtskhiladze, who is a U.S. citizen, said he was unable to offer any information to committee Democrats that helped their theory that the Russian government has compromised Trump. But he said he believes that they came away accepting his description of his relationship with Cohen and the Trump Organization.
Following his marathon testimony, Rtskhiladze spoke with Daniel Goldman, a former federal prosecutor and MSNBC analyst who was hired in March as the intelligence panels director of investigations. (RELATED: Georgian-American Businessman Disputes How Mueller Report Characterized Text Message To Michael Cohen)
The House Intelligence panel, which is led by California Rep. Adam Schiff, took an interest in Rtskhiladze as part of its recent focus on counterintelligence concerns related to Trumps business dealings in Russia.
In the wake of the special counsel reports finding that the Trump campaign did not conspire with Russia, Schiff has turned his investigative assets towards whether the Russian government has leverage over Trump, either in the form of business deals or blackmail material.
Rtskhiladze said he remains frustrated by the numerous Russia investigations, which have cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. He said that during his testimony Tuesday, he also aired his frustration with special counsel Robert Mueller, whose report misquoted Rtskhiladzes text message to Cohen about the rumored Trump tape.
Giorgi Rtskhiladze (left) speaking with Daniel Goldman (right), the director of investigations for Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, following June 25, 2019 interview in Washington, D.C. (Courtesy Melanie A. Bonvicino)
A footnote in Muellers report falsely identified Rtskhiladze as Russian and said that he wrote Cohen on Oct. 30, 2016, that he “Stopped flow of tapes from Russia but not sure if theres anything else. Just so you know.”
Rtskhiladze said that the rest of his exchange with Cohen shows that he had not seen a tape of Trump and that he was merely passing along a rumor. He also notes that the Mueller report left the word “some” out of his text to Cohen, which read: “Stopped flow of some tapes from Russia but not sure if theres anything else. Just so you know.”
“Not sure of the content but person in Moscow was bragging had tapes from Russia trip. Will try to dial you tomorrow but wanted to be aware. Im sure its not a big deal but there are lots of stupid people,” Rtskhiladze added in the text exchange.
Cohen responded: “You have no idea.”
Rtskhiladze said he contacted Cohen after a friend in Russia passed along a rumor they heard from another person regarding a possible tape of Trump.
“I have never seen these tapes. I dont know if the tapes exist. It was just a rumor from somebody who heard a rumor,” Rtskhiladze told the DCNF. He said he told the committee who he spoke to from Russia, but declined to identify the person in the interview with the DCNF because the person “did nothing wrong.”
Rtskhiladze said he contacted Cohen about the rumor both because he wanted to protect his investment in the Trump brand and because of the widespread chatter about Trump tapes in the wake of the release of “Access Hollywood” footage showing Trump saying he could grab women by the genitals.
“I conveyed that to Michael because it was a very sensitive time in general after the Access Hollywood tapes came out. Everybody was talking about tapes. Michael and I prior to that were saying that, well everybodys talking about some tapes, so I just notified Michael,” Rtskhiladze told the DCNF.
He also said that he has yet to hear back from the Justice Department regarding a complaint he filed about the Mueller reports mischaracterization of his text message to Cohen.
It is not the first time that Mueller and his team have been accused of leaving context out of allegations about Trump associates.
Former Trump lawyer John Dowd blasted Mueller last month for leaving out significant portions of a voicemail he left for a lawyer for Michael Flynn. Sen. Chuck Grassley has also pressed Mueller about emails cited in court documents in the George Papadopoulos case, which left out context that undercut the theory that the Trump campaign sought meetings with Russians.
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