Michael Cohen hand-delivered a “peace” plan for Russia and Ukraine to Michael Flynn one week before Flynn resigned
The plan included lifting sanctions on Russia in return for Russia withdrawing its support for the pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine. It would also allow Russia to keep Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014. The New York Times reported details of the transactions.
Over the past year Trump has suggested many times that he would be open to lifting sanctions on Russia in return for assistance with fighting terrorism.
The plan was pushed by Michael Cohen — a close confidante of Trump, and special counsel to the Trump Organization from 2007 to 2017. How he is Trump’s personal lawyer.
Another player was Felix Sater, a Russian-American real-estate developer who has helped the Trump Organization scout deals in Russia.
Ukrainian lawmaker Andrii V. Artemenko, who met with Trump’s campaign team during the election , was also involved. Artemenko told the New York Times he had evidence of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko‘s corruption that could lead to his ouster.
Poroshenko has battling pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine since 2014. He is considered more friendly to the West than his ousted predecessor, Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych’s political rise was heavily aided by former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who previously worked as an adviser on Yanukovych’s presidential campaign.
Cohen, Sater, and Artemenko met in the lobby of the Lowes Regency on Park Avenue in Manhattan in late January to draw up the proposal, according to the New York Times. Cohen told the paper that the meeting was aimed at “bringing about peace” between Ukraine and Russia. During that time the violence has flared up in eastern Ukraine between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russia separatists, and has risen to the worst fighting in a year.
In a series of text messages to Business Insider on Monday, Cohen said he “never delivered any documents to Flynn or any member of the White House nor engaged the President regarding this matter.” He gave a similar statement to the Washington Post on Sunday.
Cohen told Business Insider that he “emphatically” denies drafting the plan “or even knowing what the plan is.” He acknowledged that he met with Artemenko for “under 10 minutes” to discuss a plan Artemenko said “was acknowledged by Russian authorities that would create world peace.
But the proposal contains more than just a peace plan. Andrii V. Artemenko, the Ukrainian lawmaker, who sees himself as a Trump-style leader of a future Ukraine, claims to have evidence — “names of companies, wire transfers” — showing corruption by the Ukrainian president, Petro O. Poroshenko, that could help oust him. And Mr. Artemenko said he had received encouragement for his plans from top aides to Mr. Putin.
The Times stood by its story, however, telling The Washington Post that Cohen “told The Times in no uncertain terms that he delivered the Ukraine proposal to Michael Flynn’s office at the White House. Mr. Sater told the Times that Mr. Cohen had told him the same thing.”
Sater, a businessman who has boasted of his “relationship with Trump,” told the Post last May that he “handled all of the negotiations” for the Trump Organization’s dealings in Russia in the mid-2000s.
Trump has distanced himself from Sater, insisting in sworn testimony as part of a 2013 lawsuit that “if [Sater] were sitting in the room right now, I really wouldn’t know what he looked like.”
Cohen as a ‘liaison’ between Trump and Russian Leadership
Cohen, Trump’s lawyer, was named in the explosive dossier presented by top US intelligence officials to Trump and senior lawmakers last month that has increased scrutiny of his presidential campaign’s ties to Russia.
The memos, compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele for an opposition research firm in Washington, DC, said that Cohen was part of the “ongoing secret liaison relationship between the New York tycoon’s campaign and the Russian leadership,” and that he met secretly with Kremlin officials in Prague in August 2016.
Cohen, whose wife is Ukrainian, insisted shortly after the dossier was published that he was in California at the time of the alleged meeting and that he had never been to Prague.
The FBI is currently reviewing the allegations made in the dossier and is pursuing three separate investigations into Russian hacking that targeted prominent Democrats during the US election. The intelligence community is also examining phone calls made between Trump associates and Russian officials throughout the campaign.