Cohen Met With Russian Oligarch At Trump Tower and Is Widely Accused Of Selling Access To Trump . . . But Remains A Likable Fellow

Screen Shot 2018-05-27 at 10.38.06 AM.pngTrump lead counsel Rudolph W. Giuliani continues to struggle in media appearances this weekend with a jumbled and confusing interview.  Notably, while expressing his dislike for those who sell access, Giuliani was clear on one point: he likes and respects Michael Cohen.  The continued public support for Cohen may reflect a desire to keep him from becoming a cooperating witness, but the professions of respect for Cohen are becoming increasingly incongruous with disclosures of how Cohen shamelessly (and successfully) sought to sell access to Trump to foreign figures and various companies like AT&T.   The latest example is a payment of $580,000 from a company associated with Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg.  Cohen met with Vekselberg at Trump Tower during the transition period.

The subsidiary investment associated with Vekselberg denied that he had anything to do with the $1 million consulting contract and reported $580,000 in payments to Cohen.

Cohen is facing a wide array of alleged criminal allegations on the federal and state levels.  His defense has been effectively bankrolled by AT&T as well as other companies and firms that gave him hundreds of thousands of dollars for access to Trump.

Vekselberg has close connections to Vladimir Putin and forking over $600,000 had to be based on some expectation that Cohen could deliver. The question is what.

Payments were made by Columbus Nova and its CEO Andrew Intrater insists that the meeting had nothing to do with the money.  Intrater however does not explain why a lawyer with little discernible legal talent and a terrible reputation would warrant such a vast sum of money. The obvious explanation is that Intrater was one of many individuals buying access from one of the “swamp’s” most notorious bottomfeeders.

Vekselberg recently dodged reporters seeking to know why he held the meeting with Cohen, who was not a member of the campaign or the incoming Administration, and why the huge payment to Cohen.

Despite Cohen’s obvious effort to sell access, Giuliani was on the air on CNN Sunday morning expressing his personal affection for Cohen.  The President’s association with Cohen has been a long controversy.   It is not simply a problem in failing to sever ties with Cohen a year ago (as some of us encouraged), but ever having an association with a lawyer long-denounced as little more than a thug with a J.D. who threatened people with ruinous lawsuits.  The President has continued to refer to Cohen as “a great guy” and, until recently, his lawyer.  At a time when the White House should be denouncing these contracts and Cohen’s tactics, they are still expressing their respect and affection toward him.

While Giuliani is eager to call former intelligence heads “clowns” and denying that they are “civil servants,” he continues to embrace a lawyer who clipped companies for hundreds of thousands of dollars for access to Trump.  While Giuliani expressed a rather weakly stated discomfort of the President over any effort to sell access, he was entirely silent on these disgraceful contracts to cash in on access to Trump.

Cohen continues to drain the White House of coherence (let alone credibility) in its public position due to the refusal to denounce his activities.  This is not a case of loving the sinner while hating the sin.  There has been little offered in denouncing Cohen’s sins while hoisting the sinner up as a great and likable fellow.  For my part, I fail to see a redeeming, let alone a redemptive, element.

64 thoughts on “Cohen Met With Russian Oligarch At Trump Tower and Is Widely Accused Of Selling Access To Trump . . . But Remains A Likable Fellow

  1. I keep hearing media folk claim they know who this person of interest is. Is it possible media have this info and not sharing it? Why not? How is the “truth” available when constantly saying “they can’t find it”. I think Mueller shoud be much more forthcoming with the info he has and who is feeding it to him. Who knows where our economy would be without this investigation sitting tight waiting for a final word.

  2. PROFESSOR TURLEY IDENTIFIES THE ISSUE HERE:

    “At a time when the White House should be denouncing these contracts and Cohen’s tactics, they are still expressing their respect and affection toward him. While Giuliani is eager to call former intelligence heads “clowns” and denying that they are “civil servants,” he continues to embrace a lawyer who clipped companies for hundreds of thousands of dollars for access to Trump”.

    In other words, Trump scarcely noticed that Cohen was trying to sell access to the administration. Trump is only concerned that Mueller could turn Cohen against him. And meanwhile Giuliani recklessly implies that our intelligence agencies are out of control because that is Trump’s cynical defense.

  3. Turley wrote, “Vekselberg has close connections to Vladimir Putin and forking over $600,000 had to be based on some expectation that Cohen could deliver. The question is what.”

    Really? Turley hasn’t a clue? None whatsoever?

    The Trump-Russia dossier alleged that Michael D. Cohen made deniable cash payments to Russian hackers. If true, then Cohen would have to be “reimbursed” by Russia in more or less the same way that Trump reimbursed Cohen for “that porn-start thing–you know, with Trump and the porn-star.”

    There’s no indication that Vekselberg was Cohen’s handler and paymaster. There’s just an unanswered, if not unanswerable, question: What’s the $600,000 dollars for? No indication. No indication.

    • I’m pretty sure Columbia Nova paid Cohen for the same reason AT&T paid Cohen. Are you saying AT&T is part of the Muh Russian conspiracy too!?!

      • tommylotto asked, Are you saying AT&T is part of the Muh Russian conspiracy too!?!”

        A. No.

        Q. Is Mr. Lotto saying that Victor Vekselberg works for AT&T, too!?!

    • My question, about the many payments broadly, is what communications Cohen was having with Trump after the inauguration. Did giving money to Cohen simply play on Cohen’s ongoing ability to call Trump and get Trump to do useful things as a favor to an old friend? Merely doing a friend a favor is astoundingly out of character for Trump, who is profoundly self-interested and profoundly transactional.

      Was Trump doing Cohen these “favors” because Cohen was blackmailing Trump? Did Trump owe Cohen money, and were these access payments a means for these companies to bribe Trump by paying off his debts?

      You mention what highly-placed Russians told this distinguished former MI6 Russia intel specialist, which he reported (aka “The Steele Dossier”.) One of the more outlandish things these highly-placed Russians told Steele was that Carter Page had negotiated for Trump to receive a “broker’s fee” from the 19ish percent of the massive Rosneft oil company if the Magnitsky Act sanctions were lifted on Putin and his fellow mobsters. That’s a preposterous idea on its face, of course. But Vekselberg met with Cohen in January 2017. A few weeks later, Cohen wrote up what he understood to be Putin’s “Peace Plan for Ukraine” which would trade Russia keeping Crimea but withdrawing from eastern Ukraine in exchange for the US lifting the Magnitsky act sanctions. Cohen then delivered that plan to Michael Flynn, who was still the Presidential National Security Advisor. That exchange moves the lifting of the sanctions from preposterous to something the Trump administration could present as plausible and something like a “major move towards a better relationship with Russia” or similar. Flynn was finally “fired” from his post about a week after Cohen’s delivery. Trump inexplicably kept Flynn on long after revelations about lies and contacts with Russia doomed his term in that post, and later Trump “went to bat” for Flynn in pressuring Comey to drop the investigation. Again, strange behavior for a profoundly self-interested, extraordinarily self-interested person.

      But returning to Cohen: why would Trump “do Cohen favors” when people paid Cohen money? Might the two unavailable FinCEN Suspicious Activity Reports go a long ways towards explaining what transactions motivated Trump in these cases? Or is it more than mere bribery.

      In general Cohen appears to have done a lot of negotiating for Trump. If Cohen negotiated deals for Trump with Russia even if those deals didn’t “close,” then Trump might be in hot water. Former IL Governor Rod Blagojevich is in federal prison today not for physically accepting a briefcase of cash, but for negotiating deals for personal gain in exchange for official actions.

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