Ukraine Paid Michael Cohen to Set Up Meeting With Trump

The government of Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko paid at least $400,000 to Michael Cohen, the personal lawyer of USA president Donald Trump, to arrange a meeting at the White House, according to a blockbuster report by the BBC, citing "sources in Kiev close to those involved".

President Donald Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, walks down the sidewalk in New York, April 11, 2018.

Evgeny "Gene" Freidman, the flamboyant 46-year-old "Taxi King" of NY and a perennial tabloid muse, has been sued for ripping off drivers, spent time last year in a Chicago prison, and once faced criminal charges for slamming his now ex-wife against a wall.

Freidman also denied that his own legal situation had anything to do with the NY state criminal investigation into Cohen's business dealings, saying he hates "that I have been grouped in this runaway train that I am not a part of!"

The plea by Freidman, a taxi operator who was charged with failing to pay US$5 million (S$6.7 million) in taxes, could provide the government with a new source of information about Mr Cohen.

CBS News' Kylie Atwood reported in June that Poroshenko was leaving Washington feeling that his message was heard by the administration, and that Ukraine had the backing of Mr. Trump.

Federal agents raided Cohen's offices and home last month, after federal prosecutors in Manhattan obtained a search warrant.

According to the BBC, several sources in Ukraine said Mr Poroshenko, believing Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton was sure to win the presidency, had authorised the leak of a document published by the New York Times in August 2016. That aide found his way to Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who was reportedly paid between $400,000 and $600,000 to make the meeting happen. In pleading guilty to a single count of criminal tax fraud, he will be sentenced to five years' probation, the attorney general's office said. "Our boy can become president of the United States of America and we can engineer it", Sater wrote to Cohen, according to an email obtained by the Times.

Michael Volkov, a defense attorney at The Volkov Law Group, sounded a grim note on Cohen's legal prospects after the deal had been struck.

"Gene Freidman and I are not partners and have never been partners in this business or any other", he continued, adding the hashtag "#MediaWrongAgain".

Freidman's lawyer, Patrick Egan, declined to comment on the Times report. But I'm willing to bet that Mr. Friedman, here, the guy who entered the plea deal, I'm willing to bet he knows.

"This is me taking responsibility for my actions and has nothing to do w/mc", Friedman wrote to the newspaper.

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