Ukraine paid Trump lawyer Cohen to arrange White House talks

Geraldine Edwards
May 25, 2018

Ukraine is bitterly denying a BBC report that it paid Donald Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, $400,000 to set up a meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

Freidman's cooperation agreement could be a significant development for Cohen, whose personal business practices are under investigation by the USA attorney for the Southern District of NY.

Mr Freidman had been accused of failing to pay more than US$5 million (Dh18.37m) in taxes and five other criminal counts, each carrying maximum prison sentences of up to 25 years.

Friedman, dubbed the "Taxi King", has reportedly for years managed Cohen's taxi companies in NY and Chicago.

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And this is bad news for Michael Cohen because, again, this is one of his business partners. Special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the federal Russian Federation investigation, has also scrutinized Cohen's activities and business relationships.

Sater is a convicted criminal associate of the Russian mob in NY and co-led Bayrock-Sapir, a real estate firm closely associated with Trump, to which Trump turned in his exploration of potential construction contracts in Moscow. There has been intense interest in whether he may ultimately decide to cooperate with the government in his own bid for leniency. Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani later admitted that Trump had repaid Cohen. "This is a very hard day for myself and my family", Freidman said to New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, who read the statement out loud on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360".

File image of Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney. "He has as much involvement in it as I do".

Stephen Ryan, an attorney for Cohen, declined to comment, as did Brett Berman, an attorney for Freidman. "And those who are prosecuted under New York State law, can not be saved by a Presidential pardon".

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The development came as Conservative House Republicans unveiled a resolution on Tuesday insisting on the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate their growing list of grievances with the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Cohen is under investigation by federal prosecutors, who last month conducted searches on his office and other locations.

The Justice Department on Monday said its inspector-general would expand an internal probe to include the new spying allegations. A FinCen representative said last week that "under longstanding procedures", the office "will limit access to certain SARs when requested by law enforcement authorities in connection with an ongoing investigation".

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