DONALD Trump sent Vladimir Putin gushing letters and invited him to be his personal guest at the Miss Universe beauty contest, an explosive Senate report reveals.
The letters were shared as part of an investigation examining how Russia interfered in the 2016 US presidential election.
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In a letter from 2007, the President said he was a “big fan” of the Russian strongman.
Putin had just been named Time magazine’s person of the year, which prompted the Republican to congratulate him.
He said: “Congratulations on being named Time magazine’s ‘Man of the Year’ – you definitely deserve it.
“As you probably heard, I am a big fan of yours! Take care of yourself.”
Trump also personally invited Mr Putin to the Miss Universe beauty pageant in 2013 at a time when his family and associates were exploring real estate deals in Moscow.
The President penned: “The World’s Most Beautiful Women” in capital letters, an attempt seen by many as trying to persuade Putin to attend the event.
The letter referred to the oligarch Aras Agaralov who Trump was working with in the venture.
The Senate Committee found that the Russian government engaged in an “aggressive, multifaceted effort” to influence or attempt to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
The committee found that Moscow’s intent was to harm Hillary Clinton’s campaign, tarnish an “expected” Clinton administration, help the Trump campaign once he became the Republican nominee, and undermine the US democratic process.
Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian intelligence officer, was linked to Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, according to report.
Mr Manafort reportedly met with Mr Kiliminik to discuss Trump’s election strategy and reportedly gave the spy polling data.
The committee couldn’t “reliably determine” why Mr Manafort handed over the information or how the Russian spy used the data.
Trump’s relationship with Agaralov also continued through the 2016 campaign, the report found.
The President has repeatedly insisted he had “nothing to do” with Russia during his campaign in July 2016.
Former FBI chief Robert Mueller led an investigation into alleged Russian links after James Comey was sacked in May 2017 by Trump for conducting the same investigation.
Trump tweeted at the time: “This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history.”
Mueller was investigating whether there was collusion between the Russian government, its agencies and the Trump campaign.
It is already the established view of the United States that Russia interfered in the election through a massive overt online propaganda campaign and covert means to influence the election in favour of Donald Trump.
The aim of Mueller’s investigation was to discover whether this effort was coordinated or aided by the Trump team.
In March last year, his report concluded that there was no evidence of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia, but it didn’t exonerate the US President either.
There were 10 possible instances of obstruction of justice.
Mueller said: “If we had confidence the President DIDN’T commit a crime, we’d have said so.”
The report also reveals how Trump reportedly asked his associate Felix Sater to accompany his son Donald Jr and daughter Ivanka on their own trip to Moscow to explore possible business ventures.
“My kids are going there; I’d feel more comfortable if you were looking after them,” Sater told the committee what Trump had asked him.
The associate reportedly contacted a “close friend” to get them a nearly private tour of the Kremlin.
Sater reportedly convinced a security guard to let Ivanka sit in the chair behind Putin’s desk.
He told the guard: “Just trust me, she’s the daughter of a VIP from the US. What’s she going to do, steal his pen?”