Corruption scandal: Trump lawyer Cohen was ‘paid by Ukraine’ to arrange White House talks

May 25, 2018

President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, has been running a corrupt pay-to-play scheme, charging foreign governments and companies for access to the POTUS, according to a May 23 report by Paul Wood of the BBC.

In fact, the U.K.-based news outlet disclosed, Cohen received a secret payment of at least $400,000 to arrange talks between Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Trump last June, according to sources in Kiev close to those involved.

Cohen was contacted by the Ukraine, the sources told BBC’s Wood, because that nation’s registered lobbyists and embassy in Washington D.C. could get President Poroshenko little more than a brief photo-op with  Trump. Poroshenko needed something that could be portrayed as “talks”.

And in a tit for tat fashion, shortly after the Ukrainian president returned home from those “talks” last June, his country’s anti-corruption agency stopped its investigation into Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort—who has been indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his Russia investigation.

Cohen denies the allegations and is not registered as a representative of the Ukraine, as he should be under U.S. law, if he negotiated on their behalf, the BBC says.

However, in recent days, Trump’s “fixer” also has been accused of arranging secret access to the POTUS for U.S. telecom giant AT&T (which allegedly paid $200,000 to a shell company created by Cohen called Essential Consultants) and for Swiss pharmaceutical giant Norvartis (which paid $100,000 into the same account).

The Daily Dot reports that, in all, businesses and bodies politic paid $4.4 million into the Essential Consultants account in hopes of getting something in return from the new U.S. administration.

What’s more, this month, Trump, himself, reportedly made a suspicious deal—instructing the U.S. Commerce Department to help save China’s telecom company, ZTE, following an investment by a Chinese state-owned company, Metallurgical Corporation of China, in a project connected with the new Trump hotel and golf course in Indonesia.

Although Trump campaigned on promises of “draining the swamp” in Washington, a poll conducted by Transparency International at the end of 2017 found that the American public doesn’t think he is cleaning up the government. The results of the US Corruption Barometer 2017 show that:

  • 44% of Americans believe that corruption is pervasive in the White House, up from 36% in 2016;
  • 58% say the level of corruption has risen in the past year, up from 34% who said the same in January 2016;
  • Almost 70% believe the government is failing to fight corruption, up from 50% in 2016;
  • 55% gave fear of retaliation as the main reason not to report corruption, up from 31% in 2016; and
  • 74% think that ordinary people can make a difference in the fight against corruption, up 4 percentage points from 2016.

As news of Cohen’s pay-to-play dealings and Trump’s ties to his old business continues to come in, Americans are worried, according to Zoe Reiter, U.S. Representative at Transparency International.

Reiter commented, “There is a clear sense that people feel corruption has gotten worse. In January 2016, Americans were already distrustful of Washington. Last year, Congress fared the worst in this survey. This year, it is the White House, followed by Congress. Our elected officials are failing to build back trust in Washington’s ability to serve the people, and still appear to represent elite corporate interests.”

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