Top Trump executive, Michael Cohen, asked Putin aide for help on business deal

Posted by DanielS on Tuesday, 29 August 2017 07:20.

Michael Cohen, liaising with the Russian Federation.

Washington Post, “Top Trump Organization executive asked Putin aide for help on business deal”, 28 August, 2017:

A top executive from Donald Trump’s real estate company emailed Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s personal spokesman during the U.S. presidential campaign last year to ask for help advancing a stalled Trump Tower development project in Moscow, according to documents submitted to Congress on Monday.

The request came in a mid-January 2016 email from Michael Cohen, one of Trump’s closest business advisers, who asked longtime Putin lieutenant Dmitry Peskov for assistance in reviving a deal that Cohen suggested was languishing.

“Over the past few months I have been working with a company based in Russia regarding the development of a Trump Tower-Moscow project in Moscow City,” Cohen wrote to Peskov, according to a person familiar with the email. “Without getting into lengthy specifics, the communication between our two sides has stalled.

“As this project is too important, I am hereby requesting your assistance. I respectfully request someone, preferably you, contact me so that I might discuss the specifics as well as arranging meetings with the appropriate individuals. I thank you in advance for your assistance and look forward to hearing from you soon,” Cohen wrote.

Cohen’s email marks the most direct outreach documented by a top Trump aide to a similarly senior member of Putin’s government.

Cohen told congressional investigators in a statement Monday that he did not recall receiving a response from Peskov or having further contact with Russian government officials about the project. The email, addressed to Peskov, appeared to have been sent to a general Kremlin press account.

The note adds to the list of contacts between Trump associates and Russian officials that have been a focus of multiple congressional inquiries as well as an investigation led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III exploring Russian interference in the 2016 election. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that the Kremlin intervened to help elect Trump.

Cohen’s email to Peskov provides an example of a Trump business official directly seeking Kremlin assistance in advancing Trump’s business interests.

Cohen told congressional investigators that the deal was envisioned as a licensing project, in which Trump would have been paid for the use of his name by a Moscow-based developer called I.C. Expert Investment Co.

Cohen said that he discussed the deal three times with Trump and that Trump signed a letter of intent with the company on Oct. 28, 2015. He said the Trump company began to solicit designs from architects and discuss financing.

However, he said that the project was abandoned “for business reasons” when government permission was not secured and that the matter was “not related in any way to Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.”

Cohen’s request to Peskov came as Trump was distinguishing himself on the campaign trail with warm rhetoric about Putin.

Cohen said in his statement to Congress that he wrote the email at the recommendation of Felix Sater, a Russian American businessman who was serving as a broker on the deal.

In the statement, obtained by The Washington Post, Cohen said Sater suggested the outreach because a massive Trump development in Moscow would require Russian government approval.

Related Story:

Raw Story, 20 Feb 2017:

“BUSTED: Trump attorney Michael Cohen caught giving conflicting statements about secret Ukraine deal”

President Donald Trump’s personal attorney offered conflicting explanations about his alleged involvement in back-channel efforts to ease sanctions against Russia.

Michael Cohen, special counsel to the president and a longtime employee of the Trump Organization, admitted to the New York Times that he had delivered sealed plans for settling Russia’s conflict with Ukraine to then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

The newspaper, which first reported on the secret plans, quoted Cohen as saying he left the proposal with Flynn earlier this month and was waiting for a response when the retired general resigned over misleading statements he’d made about his communications with the Russian ambassador.

“Who doesn’t want to help bring about peace?” Cohen told the Times.

Cohen and Felix Sater, a business associate who helped Trump look for deals in Russia, claim they had never spoken to the president about their plans and have no experience in foreign policy.

The pair reportedly met with Ukrainian politician Andrii Artemenko, which Coren acknowledged in a separate interview with the Washington Post, just days before Flynn’s resignation — but he denied taking the sealed envelope to the White House and leaving it with the national security adviser.

“I acknowledge that the brief meeting took place, but emphatically deny discussing this topic or delivering any documents to the White House and/or General Flynn,” Cohen told the Post.

Cohen provided an identically worded statement to Lawnewz disputing the Times reporting on his document delivery.

The Times defended its account of Cohen’s actions, saying the attorney told reporters “in no uncertain terms that he delivered the Ukraine proposal to Michael Flynn’s office at the White House.”

Sater also told Times reporters that Cohen had told him the same thing, according to the newspaper’s deputy managing editor, Matt Purdy.

Cohen’s name comes up in an infamous dossier compiled by a former British spy on Trump’s Russian ties.

According to the unverified dossier, Cohen secretly met with Kremlin officials in Prague during August to “clean up the mess” over former campaign chair Paul Manafort’s ties to the pro-Russia regime in Ukraine.

The dossier claims Cohen helped set up plans to pay off hackers and others involved in an alleged plot to interfere with the U.S. election and quickly move them underground in case Hillary Clinton won.

Cohen has denied the claims, saying his passport shows he was not in Prague and was instead in California visiting a college with his son.

He denied to Lawnewz that he was under investigation by the FBI or any other government authorities.

“It would take any half decent, unbiased journalist 10 minutes to verify the inaccuracies in the dossier,” Cohen told the website.



Comments:


1

Posted by list of Trump's weekly misdeeds on Mon, 04 Sep 2017 05:22 | #

Jewish (liberal, of course) source listing Trump misdeeds in the past week, but exposing some Jewish misdeeds at the same time, notably by Cohen:

Medium.com. “Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember”, 2 Sept 2017:

Despite being a summer week heading into Labor Day weekend, Week 42 is the longest list so far, with the most items relating to Trump-Russia. News reports indicate the Mueller probe in moving ahead on many fronts, and uncovering damaging evidence about the Trump regime.

Resignations and firings continue en masse, as Trump’s WH continues to be filled with drama and showcase his inability to work with others and hire talent.

Another continuing theme is the dismantling of government programs and initiatives, alongside instituting authoritarian measures.

On Monday, Trump reversed an Obama-era policy, allowing police to receive surplus military gear.

Buried in a bill that Trump signed into law is a provision which allows police warrantless searches in parts of VA, MD and DC. Amidst the chaos, there was almost no media coverage.

Trump’s HHS cut the advertising budget for Obamacare by 90%. Lowering enrollment is a way to compromise the ACA.

The Trump regime said women’s right will not be part of their demands in negotiations with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The Trump WH removed a list of 250+ schools under investigation by the Obama administration for violating Title 9 by mishandling campus sexual assault, signaling an end of enforcement and accountability.

USA Today reported anti-protester bills are gaining traction in Republican controlled statehouses. So far, twenty states have proposed bills with restrictions on right to assemble and protest, and six have approved bills.

The GSA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) is undertaking a formal review of how the agency has handled the Trump hotel DC lease.

Trump’s Election Integrity Comm apologized after being chastised by a district judge their failure to disclose documents publicly as required.

In addition to his position as vice chair of Trump’s Election Integrity Commission, Kobach will become a regular columnist at Breitbart.

Trump acknowledged the crowd, “What a crowd, what a turnout!” — but failed to mention or acknowledge the 15 casualties, tens of thousands of displaced, or irreversible damage caused by Harvey.

Little digital forensic investigation has been done to examine the impact in at least 21 states whose election systems were targeted by Russia.

Academic and private election security experts warn future elections, including next year’s midterms, could be subject to hacking since nothing has been done to improve or build an effective defense.

Moyers & Company reported pro-Russian bots have been taking up right-wing causes after Charlottesville. A case study was done their impact on the narrative around Berkeley.

Bloomberg reported on the growing sophistication of pro-Russian bots, which are already taking a role in sowing seeds of discord in the US, and taking on Trump critics like McCain.

Experts say the Russian bots never left after the 2016 election, and are sharpening their attacks for upcoming elections in 2018 and 2020. The bots are learning to mimic human behavior.

WAPO reported during his run for president, in late 2015 to early 2016, Trump was seeking a deal for a Trump Tower in Moscow. Michael Cohen took the lead for Trump. The deal was never publicly disclosed.

Felix Sater urged Trump to come to Moscow, and said he could get Putin to say, “great things” about Trump. In late 2015, Trump started to publicly praise Putin. Shortly after, Putin offered praise of Trump in return.

Sater said, at Trump’s request, he traveled to Russia with Ivanka and Donald Jr. A lawyer for the Trump Organization said they happened to be there at the same time.

NYT reported on emails between Cohen and Sater which were turned over Monday to the House Intel Comm. Sater emailed Cohen, “Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it.”

Sater said he lined up financing for Trump for the Trump Tower in Moscow through VTB Bank, a bank under US sanctions for its involvement in Russia’s efforts to undermine democracy in Ukraine.

VTB is also majority-owned by the Russian government, as are other banks in The Weekly Lists including VEB, Alfa Bank and Sberbank — all of which have ties to Trump and his aides.

In an email, Sater bragged about his Russia connections, saying, “I arranged for Ivanka to sit in Putin’s private chair at his desk.”

Ivanka told WAPO she did not recall sitting in Putin’s chair. She also said she was not involved with Cohen’s discussion on the project, except to recommend architects.

ABC reported in October 2015, four months into his presidential campaign, Trump signed a letter of intent for Trump Tower Moscow.

The day Trump signed the term sheet was the same day as the third Republican primary debate. Trump seemed off and had a poor performance that night.

WAPO reported in mid-January 2016, Cohen emailed Putin lieutenant Dmitry Peskov to ask for his assistance with the stalled Moscow project and to arrange “meetings with the appropriate individuals.”

The email is the first known direct outreach by a senior Trump aide to a senior member of Putin’s government. Cohen told Congressional investigators that he did not receive a response.

Peskov confirmed Wednesday that he received Cohen’s email asking for his help in getting the stalled Trump Tower Moscow project moving again, but said he did not respond or share it with Putin.

In Week 15, Sater and Cohen were involved in a back-channel plan to get US sanctions against Russia lifted. In Week 17, Alex Orono, a Russian working with them on this plan, died suddenly.

Sater has cooperated with US authorities in the past, signing a plea deal with Andrew Weissmann, who is now part of Mueller’s special counsel.

Yahoo reported Swalwell, a Democrat on the House Intel Comm said the panel may call Trump to testify on the Trump Tower Moscow deal to clear up past conflicting statement.

Trump has publicly said of Sater, if he was sitting in the same room, “I really wouldn’t know what he looked like.” It is believed Sater was conducting business for Trump through 2016.

NYT reported on an eight page letter from Cohen’s attorney to the House Intel Comm giving a point-by-point rebuttal to the Steele dossier and “vehemently” denying Russian collusion.

CNN reported the “WV” referenced in Week 41 was Rick Clay of West Virginia, who tried through Trump aide Dearborn to make contact with Russians, allegedly to discuss their “shared Christian values.”

NBC reported Mueller’s team is investigating Trump’s role in crafting Donald Jr.’s response to the June 9 meeting, and whether Trump knew about the meeting and tried to conceal its purposes.

FT reported Akhmetshin gave testimony under oath for several hours on August 11, another sign Mueller is looking closely at the June 9 meeting.

CNN reported Mueller’s special counsel has issued subpoenas for Manafort’s former attorney, Melissa Laurenza of Akin Gump, and to his current spokesperson, Jason Maloni.

POLITICO reported Mueller is teaming up with NYAG Schneiderman on its investigation into Manafort and his financial transactions. The two teams have shared evidence and talked frequently in recent weeks.

Mueller’s and Schneiderman’s team has pressured Manafort by approaching his family and former business partners. Several people and firms who have worked with Manafort have been subpoenaed.

Trump has privately discussed his pardon powers with aides. State and federal investigators believe potential of a pardon has influenced Manafort’s decision on cooperating. Trump cannot pardon state crimes.

WSJ reported on Manafort’s close relationship with Russian oligarch Deripaska. The two worked together from 2004–2015 in counties with Russian political interests including Ukraine, Georgia and Montenegro.

As per Week 28, Deripaska has offered to give testimony to Congressional investigators in exchange for immunity. That offer is still being rejected, for not wanting to interfere with Mueller’s probe.

NBC reported Manafort turned over notes taken during the June 9 meeting to Congressional investigators and Mueller. The words “donor” and “RNC” appear in close proximity. It is illegal for foreigners to donate to American elections.

Daily Beast reported Mueller enlisted help from the IRS’s Criminal Investigations unit, an elite investigative entity that focus exclusively on financial crime, including tax evasion and money laundering.

One of Mueller’s top deputies, Andy Weissmann, has worked with the CI unit extensively. The CI unit would have access to Trump’s tax returns.

Bloomberg detailed the massive debt Kushner has outstanding against his family’s real estate investment in 666 Fifth Avenue. To pay off looming debt, the family has sold off properties and forgone new deals.

Kushner Cos. bought the building near a market high and has tried to get China and sovereign funds to buy the property or refinance part of the debt. These efforts may be influencing US foreign policy as per Week 35.

Speculation is Kushner’s outreach to VEB and Kislyak could have been related to real estate financing.

WSJ reported lawyers for Trump have met with Mueller and submitted memos arguing Trump didn’t obstruct justice by firing Comey. They also claim Comey is not a reliable witness. Experts say this is highly unusual.

Axios reported Russian diplomats continue to die unexpectedly. Russia’s ambassador to Sudan was the seventh diplomat to die since November.

Rep DeSantis floated an amendment to end the Mueller probe and stop Mueller from looking into activities prior to June 2015. DeSantis is a Trump loyalist and is considering running for governor of Florida in 2018.

WAPO reported Kelly refused to join Trump on stage in Phoenix after Trump prompted, “Where’s General Kelly? Get him out here. He’s great.”

WAPO also reported Trump continues to call friends and outside advisers, including Bannon, from his personal phone when Kelly isn’t around.

POLITICO reported on the shrinking West Wing, citing three factors: 1) Kelly’s careful review process, 2) five open-ended Russia investigations making it hard to hire, and 3) Trump’s dark mood over the summer.

Eight of the 28 members of the Nat’l Infrastructure Advisory Council resigned. In a letter, the cyber-security experts said Trump “threatened the security of the homeland,” citing Charlottesville and withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.

Trump lashed out at, then fired longtime aide George Gigicos because of the small crowd size at this Phoenix rally last week.

Responding to criticism about unfilled key roles in the executive branch, Trump tweeted to @foxandfriends: “We are not looking to fill all of those positions. Don’t need many of them — reduce size of government.”

ProPublica reported while Trump continues to leave key executive branch positions which require Senate confirmation unfilled, he has quietly installed more than 1k political staffers.

Many of these hires are regulating industries they used to work in. Most names are kept secret. These employees working in the shadows face must less scrutiny, and answer to no one but the WH.

The RNC chief of staff, Sara Armstrong resigned. Armstrong is the sixth RNC staffer to leave in the past month.

FP reported two top State Dept officials resigned in what was called “Black Friday.” One State Dept official said “Dissatisfaction is a big factor” for why diplomats continues to take early retirement or new jobs.

Longtime Trump aide Keith Schiller, best known for hand delivering the letter to Comey about his firing, is leaving the WH.

At Gallup daily tracker, Trump matched his biggest net disapproval of -27 (approve 34, disapprove 61), with the trend continuing lower.

On Friday, NYT reported Mueller has obtained an early draft of a letter giving Trump’s reasons for firing Comey.

WSJ reported an excerpt from the draft. Paraphrasing, Trump wanted to convey: “You’ve told me three times I’m not under investigation but you won’t tell the world, and it’s hampering the country.”

POLITICO reported the decision to fire Comey was made in Bedminster, where Trump huddled with Kushner and Miller. McGahn, Priebus and Bannon warned Trump against it, saying it would trigger a firestorm.

NYT reported Trump was supposed to golf that weekend, but it rained, so instead he stewed inside about Comey and the Russia investigation. Trump ordered Miller to draft the letter.

After returning from Bedminster Monday, May 8, Trump handed copies of the letter to senior officials including McGahn and Pence in the Oval office. McGahn was alarmed and tried to stop the letter.

On May 8, Rosenstein got a copy of the letter, and agreed to write a separate memo. May 9, the letter was replaced with a simpler rationale for firing Comey: his handling of the Clinton email investigation.

In an op-ed, McCain blasted Trump, saying Congress doesn’t answer to him despite his recent attacks, “We must, where we can, cooperate with him. But we are not his subordinates.”

On Thursday, Sanders said Trump promised to donate $1mm of his “personal money” to Hurricane Harvey victims. On Friday, when pressed on where the money was coming from, Sanders said she wasn’t sure.

NYT reported on Kelly’s unhappiness serving under Trump, telling an associate it was “by far the hardest job he had ever had.” Trump likes to surround himself with former military men from “central casting.”

Trump berated Kelly after the Phoenix campaign rally. Kelly told WH staff members “he had never been spoken to like that during 35 years of serving his country,” and he would not let it happen again.

Kelly has not been able to get Trump to stop binge-watching Fox News, Trump’s primary source of information. Trump does not have web browser on his phone, despite his frequent retweets of story links.

In a radio interview, Eric Trump said the negative media coverage was impacting his father: “Its important to keep in context. Otherwise, quite frankly, you’d probably end up killing yourself out of depression.”

On Friday, a day after Trump ordered Russia to close three US outposts, a fire was reported at the DC diplomatic annex, and smoke was coming out of the chimney at the consulate in San Francisco on a 100 degree day.



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