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Trump’s curious statements about Putin—before, during, and after this Moscow jaunt—would later confound US intelligence officials, members of Congress, and Americans of various political inclinations, even Republican Party loyalists.
What could possibly explain Trump’s unwavering sympathy for the Russian strongman?
It seemed obvious to them that they should reach out to Miss Universe. “What if you had a partner who owns the biggest venue in Moscow? “Between myself and my father, we can cut through the red tape.” The venue Emin was referring to was Crocus City Hall, a grand 7,000-seat theater complex built by his father.
This led to meetings with Paula Shugart, the president of the Miss Universe Organization, who reported directly to Trump. Moreover, the influential Aras Agalarov could help smooth the way—and bypass the notorious bureaucratic morass that was a regular feature of doing business in Russia.
After spending his early years in Russia, Emin grew up in Tenafly, New Jersey, obsessed with Elvis Presley.
He imitated the King of Rock and Roll in dress, style, and voice.
She agreed to make the reigning Miss Universe, Olivia Culpo, available for the music video. A native Azerbaijani, Aras Agalarov was known as “Putin’s Builder.” He had accumulated a billion-dollar-plus real estate fortune in part by catering, like Trump, to the superwealthy.
With this visit, he would come near—so near—to striking that deal.Miss Universe staffers considered it an open secret that Trump’s true agenda in Moscow was not the show but his desire to do business there.Yet to those around him that afternoon, Trump seemed gripped by one question: Where was Vladimir Putin? With no word from the Kremlin, it was starting to look grim. Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s right-hand man and press spokesman, would be calling any moment.This was his second day in the Russian capital, and the brash businessman and reality TV star was running through a whirlwind schedule to promote that evening’s extravaganza at Moscow’s Crocus City Hall: the Miss Universe pageant, in which women from 86 countries would be judged before a worldwide television audience estimated at 1 billion.Trump had purchased the pageant 17 years earlier, partnering with NBC.