The 2013 Miss Universe pageant has become a focus in more than one of simultaneous investigations into whether aides and associates of Donald Trump colluded with Kremlin agents and officials to help Trump win the 2016 presidential election.
The investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller in addition to several congressional committee investigations are also looking into the $20-million fee that Trump received for putting on the pageant in Moscow from business partners who also seem to have served as couriers for the Russian government — passing along damaging information on Trump’s rival, Hillary Rodham Clinton, for one.
“Our committee’s investigation will not be complete unless we fully understand who President Trump met with when he was over in Russia for Miss Universe, and what follow-up contacts occurred,” said Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat on the House intelligence committee.
Paula Shugart, Trump’s top Miss Universe executive, raised the idea of hosting the 2013 contest in Russia according to Emin Agalarov, the son of Russian billionaire and real estate developer Aras Agalarov.
“In a little noticed interview published in July,” notes The Guardian, “Emin said Trump’s organization seemed to be in need of the money that Moscow could offer. ‘We have a lot of debts,’ he quoted Shugart as saying.”
Agalarov ultimately paid $20 million to Trump in return for bringing the Miss Universe contest to Russia. Several Democrats have pointed out that this payment — in addition to billions of dollars in bank loans that brought Trump back from bankruptcy in the early 1990s — likely left Trump indebted to foreign agents.