Michael Cohen Ukraine Bigly

Michael Cohen, an attorney for President-elect Donald Trump, arrives in Trump Tower in New York, Friday, Dec. 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
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As I try to pull all this stuff together, I wanted to mention a few more fascinating details. Yesterday we noted that renegade Ukrainian MP Andrii Artemenko says he’s known Cohen for years. They first met when Cohen was setting up that ethanol business with family in Ukraine. Artemenko also says he started talking to Cohen about his “peace plan” for Russia and Ukraine back during the presidential primaries – long before the meeting in early February with Cohen and Felix Sater, which the Times reported last week. We also noted that in addition to Artemenko and the ethanol business, Cohen seems to have a lot of business and personal ties to Ukraine. Almost everywhere you look actually.

Well, it turns out there’s more.

Before Cohen hooked up with Trump (circa 2006-07), Cohen made a lot of money in the New York City taxi business. A friend mentioned this to me this morning. Sure enough it’s discussed in this story in The Wall Street Journal from January. How’d Cohen get into the taxi business? That’s not clear. But his business partner was a law client named Simon Garber, who the Journal describes as a “Ukrainian-born taxi baron.”

Cohen sold his share of the business to Garber in the early aughts before he hooked up with Trump, though for whatever reason, as the Journal notes, he “remains listed on New York City taxi and state corporation records as owning some taxi medallions through companies with colorful names such as Sir Michael Hacking Corp. and Mad Dog Cab Corp.”

It seems like the taxi business may be where Cohen first became a wealthy man and it may have been his income from the taxi business which allowed him to start snapping up Trump apartment properties, how Cohen first came to Trump’s attention. But that wasn’t the only business Cohen was in around that time. About the same time Cohen set up another business with two other Ukrainian immigrants, Arkady Vaygensberg and Leonid Tatarchuk.

This was MLA Cruises, a Florida company which took patrons on cruises outside US territorial waters to gamble. Cohen was CEO. MLA Cruises collapsed in a welter of lawsuits mainly targeting Vaygensberg and Tatarchuk. MLA Cruises may not have been as successful. But it’s still quite a fascinating business to have been in.

More to come, I assure you.

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