A Russian Mobster, a Dead Russian, and Michael Cohen: the Peace Plan 3 Months Later
I have to give Josh Marshall credit-he’s been on this Michael Cohen peace plan and rightfully so. The mobster, of course, is Felix Sater who was going to go to jail for felonies before suddenly becoming an FBI agent.
Putting aside everything regarding Russia collusion, the very fact of Trump’s long time business association with Sater raises a ton of uncomfortable questions and may be itself a crime.
In 2013, after a British journalist asked Trump about Sater, he abruptly walked out of the interview.
As for the dead Russian that would be” Andrii Artemenko, a Trumpish, pro-Russian Ukrainian parliamentarian.”
So Josh Marshall has been on this story which is the right call as Cohen is clearly a very important member of Team Trump as well. Marshall connects some of the recent dots:
“Sometimes the importance, import and context of a story is only revealed by subsequent events. The Michael Cohen ‘peace plan’ story from early February is one of those cases. As Allegra Kirkland explains here, back in early February, Cohen and mafia-linked Trump Organization associate Felix Sater met at the Loews Regency hotel in Manhattan with Andrii Artemenko, a Trumpish, pro-Russian Ukrainian parliamentarian to discuss a ‘peace plan’ for Ukraine. The story emerged in mid February and received a decent amount of attention. But key facts look quite different after what we learned during the consequential month of May.”
“Artemenko allegedly gave Cohen a package of paper documents to hand deliver to Michael Flynn. Cohen said he did so, though he later denied doing so and ran through several contradictory stories about what he did with the dossier before refusing to discuss it anymore. Almost certainly he hand delivered it just as Artemenko asked and as he said he did in the initial interviews.”
Michael Cohen also figured promptly in the Steele Dossier.
Congress now wants to speak to Cohen.
He refused to do so voluntarily, so now Congress is issuing a subpoena.
Back to Josh Marshall:
“The headlines referred to these documents as a ‘peace plan’ for Ukraine. But getting a bit less attention in the original reporting was the fact that the dossier also purportedly included damaging information about the leaders of the government of Ukraine. All the cloak and dagger activity over the ‘peace plan’ never made a great deal of sense since the plan was essentially this: Russia gets out of eastern Ukraine and the US lifts all sanctions, a message simple enough to be delivered in a Fortune Cookie, and about as obvious. It’s been the obvious plan for pro-Russian advocates since 2014. It doesn’t require a packet of papers or a personal meeting.”
Well it also called for ‘leasing’ Crimea to Russia for 50-100 years. But Marshall is right to remember the negative dossier promised about the Ukrainian leaders:
“Now, here’s the key. Artemenko brought these physical documents from Ukraine to New York, arranged a meeting with Cohen and asked him to hand deliver them to Mike Flynn, the President’s top foreign policy advisor. In the early 21st century there are many easier ways to send information. There’s email. There are phones. There’s old fashioned mail. There’s FedEx. There are of course also conventional diplomatic channels. Hand delivery of physical documents is certainly the most cumbersome option. But it is also extremely secure.”
“What does this tell us?”
“Well, we now have very strong indications that members of Trump’s team, including Flynn himself, were trying in the weeks just before this meeting to set up extremely secure modes of communication with people in Moscow. The main aim appears to have been to hide the contents of those communications from the US government. In that context, the ‘peace plan’ story looks very different and possibly much more significant than it appeared to be in March. We don’t know this incident involved people in Moscow or the Russian government but it was explicitly about the situation in Ukraine and the sanctions regime, which were central issues in the attempted rapprochement with Russia. We are also under no obligation to be willfully dense.”
Speaking of willfully dense I saw Naveed Jamail the alleged double agent who caught a Russian spy on Am Joy Reid this morning. Maybe he did catch that Russian spy. But boy his desire to give Trump the benefit of the doubt now is way past its expiration date.”
As Kurt Eichenwald pointed out there is no innocent explanation of the Kushner meeting with Kisylak and Gorkov. The most innocent would be it had nothing to do with paying Russia for collusion via removing sanctions and was just about securing Russian money for Jared’s own personal business interests. If so, that’s not terribly innocent either as his position was so high in the Trump transition.
“Now, at the time this whole Cohen/Sater/Artemenko interlude was treated as just another of the bizarre eruptions served up by the Trump world’s endless and weird connections with the former Soviet Union. Perhaps Artemenko was just a crank. But he managed to get a meeting with one of Trump’s top business associates and his purported personal lawyer. Cohen, the personal lawyer, agreed to hand deliver his package to the White House.”
Yes, he’s also now deceased.
But I’m glad Marsahll is pointing this out now-I and a few ‘conspiracy nuts’ where arguing it at the time as well-that this tendency to treat every new revelation as just more ‘weird connections and coincidence ‘ is no longer even remotely sustainable. You can only explain say weird coincidence X away if you ignore all the weird coincidences between A and W.
“And there’s more.”
“According to Artemenko, this wasn’t his first meeting with Cohen. He told Ukrainian press shortly after the initial reports of the meeting that he’d first met Cohen years earlier when Cohen was setting up an ethanol business in Ukraine. Cohen started that business with his brother’s father-in-law (bear with me here), a Ukrainian emigre with extensive business interests in the Ukraine agricultural sector, who supposedly help set up the meeting at the Loews Regency and died about a month after the meeting. More notably, Artemenko said he’d first started discussing his “peace deal” with Cohen during the Republican primaries. In other words, in the early months of 2016.”
“So here’s my question. We now know with what seems to be a fairly high degree of confidence that the Trump Team was trying to find ways to communicate with people in Russia by secure channels around this time. We also learned last night from Yahoo’s Mike Isikoff that the Trump Team rolled into town in late January eager to deliver basically the full package to Russia more or less immediately. A mixture of bureaucratic resistance and not having their own act together blocked the effort during the critical weeks before Mike Flynn was fired on February 13th.”
“What was in that dossier? Perhaps it was just flotsam and nonsense. But remember this was a set of physical documents which Cohen said he delivered to the White House, specifically to Mike Flynn. What was in them? Where’s the dossier now? Was it thrown away? Does Flynn still have it? Is it still at the White House?”
With all we’ve learned over the last four weeks about the Trump team’s efforts to conduct covert communications about a rapprochement with Russia, I think we need to know.”
Indeed. The good news is that the Special Counsel has now taken over the Flynn investigation and as his lawyer says, Flynn ‘Definitely has a story to tell.’
Maybe that Ukrainian dossier on Ukraine’s leaders is one of those big stories.
P.S. As we saw in my poll out last week, the long awaited poll results are in, and right now I’m just 11 points down vs. Peter King (GOP-NY-District 2). And the voters don’t even know who I am yet.
There is nothing more important in getting answers to Trump-Russia collusion than a Democratic House in 2019. Please donate to help me in my part of the effort to fight for a Dem House.
Thank you. We must have a Dem House. And so, we will.