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Mueller says UBS executive told Trump team of Kremlin 'approach'

[NEW YORK] Wall Street executives combing through Robert Mueller's report will notice the name of one of their own: Bob Foresman.

He's an investment banking vice chairman in New York at UBS Group AG, the biggest Swiss bank, after earlier stints working for Barclays Plc and Renaissance Capital in Moscow. Two sections of the 400-plus-page report describe efforts by Mr Foresman: He unsuccessfully tried to meet with Donald Trump during the 2016 US presidential campaign about a Kremlin request, and later he used his Russia knowledge to pursue a job in the administration.

A spokeswoman for UBS declined to comment, and Mr Foresman didn't respond to a message. Industry employment records show that he still works at the bank.

In early 2016, Mr Foresman emailed Mr Trump's office to tell him about an "approach" he had gotten from "senior Kremlin officials" about the then-candidate, according to a redacted version of Mr Mueller's report released Thursday. The banker added that he once helped set up a "private channel" between Vladimir Putin and George W Bush. The report says that Mr Foresman, who had previously served as the head of Russia business for Barclays, told Mr Trump's office he wanted to discuss "concrete things", preferably not over "unsecure emails".

Mr Mueller didn't find an underlying crime by President Trump or any Americans related to Russian interference in the 2016 election, and Mr Foresman told the special counsel he hadn't looked to set up a back channel between Mr Trump and Mr Putin. Instead, he said he was asked by a Russian presidential aide to see if the Republican candidate could speak at an economic forum. Mr Mueller's report said there isn't evidence the campaign followed up with Mr Foresman until after the election.

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By then, Mr Foresman was pursuing "a possible position in the incoming administration", meeting with future National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to give his thoughts on Russian officials and later traveling to Moscow.

Early last year, Senator Dianne Feinstein asked Mr Foresman in a letter to provide any communication since mid-2015 with Mr Trump's campaign or representatives of Russia's government and banks.

"As a long-time investment banker in Russia," the California Democrat's letter began, "you have developed relationships with senior Kremlin officials and have expressed your passion for private diplomacy".


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