Donald Trump's personal lawyer once reportedly bragged that he was part of the Russian mob

Michael Cohen, centre. Picture: Getty Images
  • Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, reportedly bragged to a guest at a wedding he attended that he was part of the Russian mob.
  • Cohen is currently a subject of two federal criminal investigations, one of which focuses on Trump’s and his associates’ ties to Russia.
  • Investigators are known to be focusing on at least three Trump-Russia events that Cohen was involved in.

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s embattled personal lawyer, once bragged that he was part of the Russian mob, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Cohen is currently in the midst of a legal firestorm as the FBI investigates him for possible wire fraud, bank fraud, and campaign finance violations in connection to his work for Trump.

Cohen is also a subject of interest in the special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, which is examining whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to tilt the 2016 US election in Trump’s favour.

According to The Journal, Cohen once told someone at a former friend’s wedding that he belonged to the Russian mob. The former friend, Gregory Ehrlich, said he does not believe Cohen has any such ties.

Cohen has been described at different times as Trump’s fixer, pit bull, and consigliere. He has known Trump for decades and began working at the Trump Organisation in 2007. He left the company in 2017 to serve as Trump’s personal lawyer.

Trump Tower Moscow

In 2015, Cohen was instrumental in the Trump Organisation’s effort to secure a Trump Tower deal in Moscow, which ultimately fell through.

Cohen was in touch with a Russian-born businessman, Felix Sater, about the deal in October and November 2015, when Trump was a Republican presidential candidate.

Weeks after Trump signed a letter of intent to pursue the project, Sater and Cohen exchanged a series of emails gearing up to celebrate the Trump Tower Moscow deal. In the emails,obtained by The New York Times, Sater bragged about his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and told Cohen he would “get all of Putins team to buy in” on the deal.

“Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,” Sater wrote, according to The Times.

Cohen was advocating the project as late as January 2016, when he contacted Dmitry Peskov, a top aide to Putin, about pushing the Trump Tower Moscow deal through.

He told Vanity Fair last year that the proposal from Sater was “business as usual and nothing more,” describing it as “just another project, another licensing deal.” He added that he had “really wanted to see this building go up, because the economics were fantastic.”

Last month, Sater told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes that the Trump Organisation was actively negotiating with a sanctioned Russian bank to secure financing for the building during the election.

A mysterious Prague trip

Meanwhile, Mueller reportedly has evidence linking Cohen to a shadowy trip to Prague in the summer of 2016.

Details of Cohen’s possible trip to Prague first publicly emerged in a dossier, which alleges collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, compiled by the former British spy Christopher Steele.

The dossier said Cohen visited Prague to “clean up the mess” resulting from damaging revelations about former campaign adviser Carter Page’s and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s Russia ties.

The document cited a “Kremlin insider” as saying that there were “clandestine meeting/s between Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael COHEN and Kremlin representatives in August 2016.”

“The Kremlin insider clearly indicated to his/her friend that the reported contact/s took place in Prague, Czech Republic,” it said.

The document further alleges Cohen met with individuals linked to the Russian government, including Konstantin Kosachev, a member of Russia’s parliament, and Oleg Solodukhin, who works with the Russian Center for Science and Culture.

It also claims Cohen, Kosachev, and others, including Romanian hackers, discussed “how deniable cash payments were to be made to hackers in Europe who had worked under Kremlin direction against the Clinton campaign,” and ways to “sweep it all under the carpet and make sure no connection could be fully established or proven.”

A Moscow-friendly ‘peace plan’

Investigators are also said to be scrutinizing Cohen’s involvement in delivering to former national security adviser Michael Flynn a Russia-Ukraine “peace plan” that appeared to favour Moscow.

The Times reported last year that Cohen, Sater, and the Ukrainian politician Andrey Artemenko were the key figures involved in pushing for the proposal.

The plan Artemenko, Sater, and Cohen pushed would have the US lift sanctions on Russia in exchange for Moscow’s withdrawing its support for pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine. It would also allow Russia to maintain control over the territory of Crimea, which it annexed in 2014.

Cohen’s account of his involvement in the conception and delivery of the plan evolved at least four times following The Times’ report.

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