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Grr! Fake news make Cohen The Barbarian ANGRY!


More big doings in private foreign policy toward Russia -- apparently a growth industry these days -- as both the New York Times and the Washington Post are reporting that Donald Trump's personal attorney, Michael D. Cohen, worked with a mobbed-up Russian emigre and a Ukrainian politician (who'd very much like to become Ukraine's very own Donald Trump) to hash together a peace plan for Russia and Ukraine that would lead to the lifting of sanctions against Russia. Funny thing, though -- the Times reports Mr. Cohen told them he delivered the proposal to the White House, while in the Post, Cohen says he met with the other two guys and took a copy of the document home from the meeting, but definitely didn't take it to no White House. All of which leads us to ask: What does Michael Cohen know about his own activities, and when did he know it?

Here's the part both accounts agree on: Last month, Cohen met in New York with Andrii V. Artemenko, a member of the Ukranian parliament, and with Felix Sater, a guy who used to work on real estate deals with the Trump Organization. Artemenko has this terrific idea for peace between Russia and Ukraine that would involve Russian troops pulling out of eastern Ukraine, and then Ukrainian voters deciding in a referendum whether Russia could "lease" Ukraine's Crimea region, which Russia invaded in 2014 and has already annexed. Wacky, huh? Oh, also part of the deal: Artemenko claims he has all kinds of dirt on Ukrainian president Petro O. Poroshenko, and that it's such hot proof of corruption it would probably lead to his ouster. Artemenko claims his plan has the backing of Vladimir Putin, or at least Putin's Top Men. The Times reports Cohen said that after the meeting, Sater gave him a copy of the proposal in a sealed envelope, which he took to the White House with him during a February meeting with President Trump and then dropped off in Michael Flynn's office. But then Michael Flynn went and got fired, and now who knows what'll happen to the peace proposal. The Times quotes Cohen as being very much in favor of the plan, saying "Who doesn't want to bring about peace?" and also being perfectly fine with the supposed evidence of corruption by Poroshenko: "'Fraud is never good, right?' Mr. Cohen said."

Fake News! Says Cohen in the Washington Post version, where he insists that he did take the envelope, but not the cannoli, and that he never took anything to the White House:

“I acknowledge that the brief meeting took place, but emphatically deny discussing this topic or delivering any documents to the White House and/or General Flynn,” Cohen said. He said he told the Ukrainian official that he could send the proposal to Flynn by writing him at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

The Times says Cohen is a lying liarpants, only in much nicer terms so he won't sue them:

“Mr. 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,” Matt Purdy, a deputy managing editor, said in a statement to The Post.

We think this Michael Cohen guy had better have a good talk with himself and decide what he really thinks happened, is what we think.

Also, let's not forget that in that mysterious Russian dossier with the pee hookers (who are not the point), Cohen was alleged to have been a go-between for the Trump campaign in its alleged collusion with Russian intelligence. The dossier claims he met with Russian agents in Prague, a claim that has not been verified and which Cohen vigorously denied by posting a photo to Twitter of the cover of his passport, which isn't exactly compelling. Federal investigators are still trying to verify whether anything in the dossier is accurate, but this is definitely a photo of a passport cover:

Oh, and then there's the third guy in this terrific peace deal, Felix Sater, a Russian-American who in 1998 pleaded guilty to a Mafia-related stock fraud scheme, but then helped the U.S. government as an informer, which was very considerate of him. He also has his own close connections to Donald Trump: He worked out of an office in Trump Tower and helped Trump with several real estate deals, including attempts -- not realized -- to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, as recently as 2015. So he and Trump are buds, right? Not if you ask Donald Trump about him today, no way, says the Post:

In 2010, Trump allowed Sater to use a business card identifying himself as a senior adviser to the Trump Organization while he prospected deals. Still, when Sater’s criminal past, which had long been sealed because of his government cooperation, emerged, Trump claimed to barely know the Russian immigrant. In sworn testimony in 2013 in litigation related to a failed project with which Sater had been involved, Trump said he would not recognize Sater if they were in the same room.

But as for this peace deal, Sater is Mr. Public-Spirited! He said after he was told about the idea by Artemenko, he was bullish on the idea:

“I got excited about trying to stop a war,” he said. “I thought if this could improve conditions in three countries, good, so be it.”

Sater said he held the recent meeting out of honorable intent only. He said he had no business deals in Ukraine and without thought of any business deal or inappropriate relationship with a foreign power.

Cohen has his own connections to Ukraine, says the Times; his wife is Ukrainian, and he "once worked with relatives there to establish an ethanol business."

So did Cohen take the plan to Flynn or not? It looks like he told the Times he did, and then told the Post he didn't. Sater told the Post he didn't think Cohen got the plan to Flynn:

Sater said he thought Cohen intended to give the document to Flynn but was unable to do so because Flynn was embroiled in a crisis over his own job and resigned days later.

“He had other things on his mind,” Sater said.

It's pretty wild times in Washington these days, we guess.

Either way, the actual Ukrainian government isn't so keen on a parliament member and two American amateurs trying to do their very own freelance foreign policy. The Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S., Valeriy Chaly, told the Times that Artemenko "is not entitled to present any alternative peace plans on behalf of Ukraine to any foreign government, including the U.S. administration," and said the proposed scheme to lease Crimea to Russia would be "a gross violation of the Constitution,” and was the sort of plan that would "be pitched or pushed through only by those openly or covertly representing Russian interests." Apparently Ambassador Chaly is not a big fan of the idea of trying to blackmail President Poroshenko out of office, either, if you can believe that.

In conclusion: Apparently diplomacy between the U.S., Russia, and Ukraine is open to freelance bidding, and if you have some good ideas, just make sure you know the right people, and you too could bring peace to Ukraine, or at least overthrow its government and maybe get sanctions on Russia lifted so Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin can make peace and great deals. Peace is good, right?

[NYT / WaPo]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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