Michael Cohen Pocketed $400k to Arrange Trump Meeting With Ukrainian President, in Violation of U.S. Law: Report

Update | The former personal attorney and self-proclaimed "fixer" for President Donald Trump reportedly received a payment of at least $400,000 to set up a meeting between Trump and Ukraine’s president last year.

Embattled lawyer Michael Cohen helped arranged the meeting between Ukraine’s Petro Poroshenko, which took place in June 2017, BBC News reported Wednesday citing unnamed sources. The report indicated that Poroshenko used Cohen to facilitate a meeting with Trump because the Eastern European country’s diplomats and lobbyists in Washington were unable to secure longer sit-down with the president.

The Ukrainian leader reportedly needed the meeting with Trump to look more like “talks” rather than a simple meet-and-greet with the U.S. president, and he was attempting to create a backchannel to Trump.

Under U.S. law, a person cannot work on behalf of a foreign official or government unless they register with the federal government. Cohen is not a registered lobbyist and had a small law practice with only three clients.

GettyImages-951519056 Michael Cohen, longtime personal lawyer and confidante for President Donald Trump, arrives at the United States District Court Southern District of New York on April 26, 2018 in New York City. Cohen and lawyers representing President Trump are asking the court to block Justice Department officials from reading documents and materials related to his Cohen's relationship with President Trump that they believe should be protected by attorney-client privilege. Getty Images/Spencer Platt

Poroshenko, who came to power in 2014, was said to be concerned about how his actions against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort could affect his relationship with the new president. Believing Hillary Clinton, and not Trump, would win the presidency, Poroshenko had reportedly directed Ukraine’s anti-corruption bureau to leak information that showed Manafort had received payments from a pro-Russia Ukrainian political party.

Following Trump’s meeting with Poroshenko, Ukraine all but completely dropped its investigation into Manafort’s dealings with the Party of Regions.

The exact amount Cohen received remains unclear. The report cited a second source out of Kiev as stating Cohen was paid $600,000.

Cohen’s attorney, Stephen Ryan, did not immediately respond to Newsweek’s request for comment.

There is no evidence that Trump had knowledge of monies paid to Cohen for the meeting.

Poroshenko's office called the report “slander” and appeared to threaten a lawsuit unless BBC retracted its story in a statement to The New York Times.

The revelation followed reports of Cohen cutting deals worth at least $2.95 million with various companies, including AT&T, that were seeking information on how to handle an unfamiliar Trump administration last year. No report has indicated that Cohen had any meaningful impact on Trump’s decisions or administration.

One Ukraine-based intelligence source told BBC that former Trump business associate Felix Sater had helped Cohen, although it was not clear either how or to what extent.

Sater, a childhood friend of Cohen’s in New York, previously worked with Trump in the president’s signature New York tower. Both Sater and Cohen worked, during Trump’s campaign, to start a Trump Tower project in Moscow that spilled well into the summer of 2016 after the billionaire had secured the Republican nomination.

Sater’s attorney, Robert Wolf, firmly pushed back on the report in a statement to Newsweek.

“The claim that Mr. Sater helped set up a meeting between Ukraine's President and President Trump is an absolutely false and made up story,” Wolf said.

This story was updated to include statements from Poroshenko's office and a lawyer representing Sater.

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