Trump Organization lawyer Michel Cohen hand-delivered a “peace” plan for Russia and Ukraine to former national security adviser Michael Flynn before Flynn was asked to resign, the New York Times reported on Sunday.
The plan, which involved lifting sanctions on Russia, was drafted by Cohen — a close confidante of President Donald Trump who has served as his organization’s special counsel since 2007 — and Felix Sater, a Russian-American real estate developer who has helped the Trump Organization scout deals in Russia.
Sater, a businessman formerly linked with the Mafia who has boasted of his “relationship with Trump,” told the Washington Post last May that he “handled all of the negotiations” for the Trump Organization’s dealings in Russia in the mid-2000’s.
Ukrainian lawmaker Andrii V. Artemenko, who met with Trump’s campaign team during the election, was also involved in drafting the proposal. Artemenko told the Times he had evidence of Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko’s corruption that could lead to his ouster.
Poroshenko has been locked in a war with pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine since he took power in 2014, and 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.
Cohen, Sater, and Artemek met in a hotel lobby on Park Avenue in Manhattan in late January to draw up the proposal, the Times said, which Cohen claimed was aimed at “bringing about peace” between Ukraine and Russia.
Cohen said he has not discussed the plan with Trump directly, and is waiting to see how Trump’s new national security adviser — who has yet to be named — will address it. Trump has suggested he would be open to lifting sanctions on Russia if Moscow proved a useful ally in fighting terrorism.
“If you get along and if Russia is really helping us,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal last month, “why would anybody have sanctions if somebody’s doing some really great things?”
Cohen, Trump’s lawyer, was named in the explosive, unsubstantiated 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.