US President Donald Trump’s long-time lawyer, Michael Cohen, has allegedly been paid $400,000 dollars to secure a meeting between his boss and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, a new report states.
Cohen received the money from intermediaries acting on behalf of Poroshenko, BBC reported on Wednesday, citing sources in Kiev.
If true, the act would qualify as a legal violation because Cohen was not registered as a representative of Ukraine as required by US law.
Trump hosted Poroshenko at the White House in June last year, after Kiev’s failed attempts to secure a meeting from official channels.
According to the report, Poroshenko wanted a summit that could be portrayed back home as “talks” with Trump but his lobbyists and the Ukrainian embassy in Washington could not do better than a brief photo-op with the American head of state.
That’s why Poroshenko asked one of his former aides to establish a back channel with the White House through Cohen, who had ties with a loyal Ukrainian lawmaker, the sources said.
There was no suggestion that Trump was aware of the payment.
However, the sources suggested that Cohen had asked Poroshenko to stop a high-profile government investigation into Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, who has been accused of getting millions of dollars from pro-Russian interests in Ukraine while running a political consultancy in the country.
Apparently, Poroshenko did exactly that as his country’s anti-corruption agency scrapped the probe upon his return to Kiev.
The report cited a second source that made similar claims but said the money Cohen received was some $600,000 in total.
The report was confirmed by Michael Avenatti, a lawyer who has exposed some of Cohen’s financial records.
Avenatti, who is also representing actress Stormey Daniels in a defamation case against Trump, said Cohen had indeed received money from “Ukrainian interests.”
So far Cohen and the two Ukrainians in charge of opened the backchannel have denied the allegation.
Poroshenko’s office has also called dismissed the report as a “blatant lie, slander and fake.”