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. you claim that Cohen was selling access to Trump, yet I have heard / seen no evidence that access was provided to any of the people Cohen took money from.

    From what I read Cohen took money, could provide no access and these companies dropped him.

    Why make a baseless claim that access was sold? Especially when in each of these cases, the WH went against the Cohen client (ATT law suit, Russian sanctions etc).

    1. Excerpted from the article linked above:

      In a separate television appearance, Giuliani said Trump was “adamant” about wanting to agree to an interview, saying, “If he wasn’t thinking about it and it wasn’t an active possibility, we would be finished with that by now and we would have moved on to getting the investigation over with another way.”

      The new wrinkle, he said, if the disclosure about the informant.

      “We are more convinced, as we see it, that this is a rigged investigation. Now we have this whole new ‘Spygate’ thing thrown on top of it, on top of already very legitimate questions,” he told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

      Giuliani also raised the specter of a protracted legal fight over the question of a Trump interview if Mueller decided to seek a subpoena.

      “What we have to do is go to court and seek protection from the court, if we have to do that. Our first thing is we sure as heck are not going to testify unless it’s all straightened out, unless we learned the basis of that Russian investigation,” Giuliani told Fox.

    2. Curiously, Giuliani made his remarks that “. . . this is a rigged investigation . . . [and] we have this whole new ‘Spygate’ thing thrown on top of it . . .” on the same CNN SOTU appearance to which Turley linked in his original post for this thread. Evidently, then, Turley would have us suppose that Giuliani’s comments about Cohen are more worthy of discussion than Giuliani’s remarks about “a rigged investigation” and “this whole new ‘Spygate’ thing.” Or that Mueller can’t interview Trump until Trump gets the documents upon which Rosenstein and Wray briefed Congressional leaders on Thursday. Or that Trump’s legal team will fight a subpoena from Mueller all the way to The Supreme Court.

      Surely that’s not what Turley’s supposing. It’s just what he’d have us suppose.

      1. Suppose that Stefan Halper has been a paid CIA “asset” for many years. Suppose further that the human intelligence that Halper gathered from Carter Page and George Papadopoulos was collected while all three were on foreign soil in London, The United Kingdom. Next suppose that Halper’s HUMINT was shared with the National Security Division of The Justice Department rather than directly shared with the FBI. Could it be possible that the FBI did not know about Halper’s HUMINT? Well, if Halper’s HUMINT was not submitted in the FISA warrant application for Carter Page, then the answer could be that the FBI did not know about Halper’s HUMINT. Otherwise, the FBI would have known about Halper’s HUMINT from the FISA warrant application for Carter Page that was made in October of 2016–after Page had been fired from the Trump campaign. Of course, that would not change the known fact that Halper’s HUMINT was gathered on foreign soil–not U. S. soil.

      2. According to The Washington Post, (whose web addresses are preposterously long), Stefan Halper began an “association” with The Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment (read–think tank) in 2012. That does not mean than Halper was not a CIA asset. But it might explain a fair bit of the money reportedly paid to Halper. According to Turley’s post about “The Walrus” last week, Halper received one million dollars from the Office of Net Assessment. That would breakdown to $166,667 a year for six years from 2012 to 2017. Halper probably used most of that money to fund academic conferences; such as the one attended by General Michael Flynn in 2013 at Cambridge. It was at just such an academic conference at Cambridge that Halper met Carter Page on July 11th and 12th, 2016, after Page’s Moscow speech on July 7th, 2016.

  2. Trump is the swamp. Rather than give to politicians to get his permits approved and expedited, as he did for decades, in 2016 he cut out the middle-man and became a politician: for his own interest, not for the public interest.

    So they elected Swamp Thing to drain the swamp.

    1. I like that our First Lady is super classy, intelligent, and actually a woman unlike Michael Obama. That’s a man, baby.

      1. Totally. I can’t believe Michelle plagiarized Melania by traveling into the past and repeating what intelligent Melania wrote. And Michelle copied Melania’s pamphlets, too!

  3. I’d like to know if Michael Cohen received monies from any of these characters in PRIOR years before our President became President. To think that Mr. Cohen’s only business throughout his life was solely the representation of our President is naive. Without knowing his business dealings in previous years, it is irresponsible to draw the conclusion that he was attempting to “sell access” to our President. It is also disgusting that you’d resort to libel without knowing anything more than what you are reading in news articles or watching on television. You also show your bias by referring to Mr. Cohen in a deflammatory way. I will wait, as any prudent person (especially someone who claims to be a lawyer) for ALL the facts as presented in a court of law AND the conclusion of his case. It is irresponsible and unethical to write such conclusions BEFORE he’s been charged or given due process.

  4. Dr.Turley: in the interest of presenting all the facts, you might have mentioned that Cohen actually lives in Trump Tower. By not bringing that fact out, you make it look like there was involvement of others in the situation when that was not the case.

  5. It must be great sport to ruminate about the banal but, Professor Turley, did you notice that Obama and his “deep state” DOJ/FBI holdovers, the ones conducting Obama’s coup d’etat in America, placed a spy in the Trump campaign and then in the White House? We know you noticed that Richard Nixon’s re-election committee jimmied the lock of an office door and stole a file folder out of a file cabinet, but Obama’s treason is far more pervasive and prodigious. By the way, which crime and actual violation of the law did Richard Nixon commit, I forgot?

    1. And Obama’s not even an American. He was born in what was then known as Yugoslavia to Nigerian email scammers. When he was really, really, really, young he had chips implanted in his brain that directed him to do all the evil of which he is accused; all the evil because if that had not happened he would be a really, really, really nice guy. Darn that Tito.

      1. Look what pops up from unconstitutional “Affirmative Action Privilege,” welfare, quotas, food stamps, forced busing, social services, Obamacare, Social Security, Medicare, Fair Housing, Non-Discrimination, WIC, HUD, HHS, Hamp, Harp, utitlity subsidies, etc., etc., etc.; an “untouchable; a “synthetic state person.” Who says money can’t buy me love? America is all about a playing field tilted in favor of the color of the week. This Brave New World of Karl Marx in 1984 is disorienting and perplexing – steeped in honor, right?

      2. I read that story. I think that I read that from a state approved press release, I think after Sean Hannity told this story long ago, it dies off in the liberal media.

    2. George – What job was it exactly the spy held in the Trump campaign? What role in the White House? There’s no need for spies in the Trump White House. His own disgruntled appointees leak everything they know.

    3. This “Deep State” organization which you have discovered seems ominous. It appears that through your indefatigable and dogged sleuthing, you have revealed for all to see a nefarious cabal of ne’er-do-wells, hell-bent on eradicating our ‘Merican way of life and our love of chips and salsa, mom, and reality TV. Or, more ominously, fluoridating our precious bodily fluids, or some such other dastardly deed. Well done inspector, well done indeed.

      this is to “Inspector Clouseau, at your service madam” georgie

    1. Why are ‘Patriots’ always posting nasty images with racial or religious overtones? Is that a ‘patriotic thing’..??

  6. It starts out with the people you want to associate with you. Trump had lots of supporters in Congress and the Senate; lawyers lining up to ‘associate’ with him. Go back through Trump’s life, especially the last year or two, and now; what it ends with is the people who will associate with you. Trump is now being left with the dregs: Cohen, Giuliani, ?, ?, ?. No reputable lawyer who values his or her career will work for Trump. You can tell the quality of a leader by the lap dogs that hand on.

    We have a President who can’t keep his mouth shut to save his life, who gets in pi**ing contests with tin pot dictators, who continues to claim that since he took over, America has never been better, more respected, on track, etc., all because of him. The next sign of Trump going over the edge will be a campaign to go after Obama, Clinton, ?, ?.

    Wait for the Tweet or Twit.

  7. This type of “selling-access” thing NEVER happens in Washington D.C. and the very first hint of in history it was generated by President Donald J. Trump.


    Looks like a round-trip ticket for guilt by association. Without President Trump’s name in the article, “Cohen” has no meaning or value. Professor Turley is as guilty of “fake news” as CNN, PMSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS, HLN, NPR and the rest of the propaganda arm of the indoctrination division of the Constitution-hating communist party.

    Professor Turley takes this opportunity to tarnish President Trump by association. I’m not reading probative factual evidence of a crime merely innuendo as a political weapon. This article is equal and opposite, reverse “influence peddling” or “tarnish peddling.”

      1. Perhaps you can redeem it for a citation from the OED courtesy of Mo Betta Benson.

        He’s a genius!

        1. George – I am not so sure that he is a genius. He has not figured out how to pay for a subscription to the online version of the OED or learned to go to the WSU library to use their access. Or he could just be oppositionally defiant. He hasn’t even dropped a link for the supposed baby OED that he supposedly got a definition from. I am wondering if he paid someone to write his dissertation?

            1. David Benson still, even after much coaching, still owes me a citation from the OED. David, I agree, you are not a genius. You are not anywhere near a genius. You are slowly losing your grip on your mind, you cannot spell words anymore, hence the short sentences or one-word responses. You cannot explain Weart to us, even if you tried your hardest and we were as patient as Job.

              David, admit your limitations and we will do workarounds. I do not want to punish you. There is always a different way to do something or say something.

    1. Please post more of this type of material. Thanks, that is all.

      this is to “I don’t always check my daily pill dispenser” georgie

  8. Dr. Turley, I believe you buried the lede:

    “Cohen is facing a wide array of ‘alleged criminal allegations’ on the federal and state levels.”

    Accurate statement.

    Let’s insert some law into next post.

    1. Seriously, do they still use printing presses with Linotype hot metal typesetting? I thought everything was digital.

    2. Thank you! It’s disgusting how an attorney can make supposed factual statements out of allegations! Cohen hasn’t even been charged with a crime that I’m aware of! Even a person who is charged with a crime gets due process. Apparently Michael Cohen doesn’t get the same right which is a sickening precedent to even dabble with.

      1. Unfortunately, Shannon, if I may, “due process” is not a constitutionally-protected right which must be dispensed by a weblog. That’s right, because it’s constitutionally-protected, “due process” (of which I’m almost certain that you are aware of in both the substantive and procedural context) is provided by a government entity–but then again, I’m sure your 1L Conlaw professor covered that in detail. Thanks for your insightful commentary. It’s always refreshing for another respected member of the bar to take time out of a busy schedule to provide expert advise in order to advance the general knowledge of the bar.

        this is to “counselor” shannon

  9. He must be innocent, he’s likable! That’s how most of these clowns get elected. They have a pleasant smile and a firm handshake. Who cares what their platform is. They’re just nice people.

  10. Trump said he is a “Great Guy” and he only hires the best, I take him at his word. Then again I’m currently working hard to sell shares in a company that will build a bridge from Australia to California. Pity, Cohen is busy these days, for the right price I could get this project off the ground.

  11. They say most of life is just showing up. That’s what Michael Cohen does. He shows up where folks with good judgment would not.

  12. It’s sad to see Rudy Giuiani in his present diminished state. ETTD, Thanks Rick Wilson.

    1. Giuliani’s ” present diminished state” has been a long time in the making. Like Bolton and possibly other rabid right wing reactionaries, he has taken copious amounts of money from Iranian terrorist group, MEK. When are people going to wake up to the grotesques in and around Trump, attracted to Trump for obvious reasons.These people throughout history always manage to find each other. It’s fascinating. Pity it wasn’t so downright dangerous. Why would anyone bother warning Trump about Cohen? Why does Mr Turley imagine that would change anything? Trump was warned about Michael Flynn and his Russian ties so Trump promoted him. There is a level of naivety or denial in so many right wing commentators, it’s astounding.

      1. I’m honestly surprised that Turley hasn’t broken with Trump already.
        Perhaps it’s the Federal Judicial appointments that keeps him on board, as it is for many of Trump’s supporters.

  13. Cohen appears to have been running a con game. That should be unlawful, though people get away with that. (See the finders fees Hugh Rodham received from people seeking presidential pardons during the Clinton Administrations last days). The question is why businessmen find it advantageous to cough up protection money: (1) the regulatory state is too extensive and (2) the process of rule-making and adjudication is too penetrable and incorporates too much discretion. What do you propose be done about that?

    Cohen’s a ‘thug with a J.D”? Shall we review Michael Avenatti’s escapades and you tell us in all honesty what he is?

    1. Thank a merciful Providence that we don’t have to choose either Cohen or Avenatti as a role model for lawyering! Two grifters, IMHO.

    2. Looks like the Trump defenders are reduced to false equivalence. A false dichotomy doesn’t detract from the truth. When Cohen is seen through the Trump relationship and his much-boasted about status as ” Trump’s Roy Cohen” or ” Trump’s fixer”, you know that Trump uses the lawyer and the law for one purpose, and it’s not for guidance…

      1. If the equivalence actually was false, you’d have said how.

  14. Cohen, the gift to Trump’s detractors that keeps on giving.
    He is the very model of a modern dirtbag grifter lawyer.

    1. Precisely what Herr Drumpf ordered. Nothing too fancy. Preferably insecure and in desperate need of status. Actually, his doppelganger. One day someone is going to do a study of Trump’s tweets. The projection within his tweets is nothing less than a real time admission of guilt. He’s. That. Stupid.

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