President Trump signed a "letter of intent" in late 2015 to pursue negotiations for a "Trump Tower" type of development in Moscow, according to a statement by long-time Trump lawyer Michael Cohen.
The same statement also attempted to put some distance between Trump and the development, according to a report from ABC News.
A Monday report by the New York Times showed emails from 2015 in which Cohen discussed the Russian project, and one of the email participants bragged that the deal would boost Trump's odds at becoming president.
"Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it," Felix Sater wrote to Cohen, the Times report said. "I will get all of Putin's team to buy in on this, I will manage this process."
Sater is a former partner with Trump in some Manhattan-based real estate projects, and has been a figure of interest to the media as the Russia investigations have progressed in the months since Trump's inauguration.
Trump was reported as saying in a deposition that he didn't know Sater very well, and that if the two were in the same room, Trump would not even be able to point him out.
Opponents to the president say the revelations show the extent to which Trump and his associates thought Moscow might be helpful to Trump's political run, but Cohen dismissed those claims and downplayed Sater's language.
The explanation from Cohen said the conversations began to fall apart in mid-Jaunary.
"I decided to abandon the proposal less than two weeks later for business reasons and do not recall any response to my email, nor any other contacts by me with Mr. Peskov or other Russian government officials about the proposal," Cohen said in the statement obtained by ABC.
Cohen added Trump was never in contact with anyone besides himself about the deal, thereby implying Trump was not in direct contact with Russian officials.
Opponents to President Trump have pointed to the new reports as directly contradicting statements from Trump that he had no business relationships or ties with Russia.