Sources in Ukraine told the BBC that Michael Cohen received a hefty secret payment to set up talks between the Ukrainian president and President Trump last year. Cohen denies it.
According to the BBC’s Wednesday report, intermediaries for Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko arranged the payment to Cohen for his help in establishing a back channel to Trump. One source told the BBC Cohen received $400,000; another put the total at $600,00.
The BBC report cited “sources in Kiev close to those involved,” including a “high-ranking Ukrainian intelligence officer.”
The Ukrainians were ultimately dissatisfied with the brief sit-down between the two leaders held at the White House last June, saying Cohen had accepted “hundreds of thousands” of dollars but failed to deliver a substantial meeting, according to the BBC.
Cohen denied to the BBC that he received the payment. The story notes that there is “no suggestion” Trump was aware of any payment.
The BBC’s report has not yet been confirmed by other outlets.
Shortly after it was published, Poroshenko’s office issued a blistering statement calling the story “slander” and demanding its retraction.
“We believe that the blatant disinformation that has been disseminated is a part of a fake campaign aimed at discrediting Ukraine-US relations, as well as a personal attack against the Presidents of Ukraine and the US,” the statement read.
No specific error was mentioned, and the BBC has made no correction to the piece.
If Cohen did accept funds from representatives for the Ukrainian leader, it would be just the latest example of the president’s former personal attorney raking in huge sums in exchange for his purported access to the White House.
It would also represent another link between Cohen and Ukraine. Cohen has business ties to Ukrainian immigrants in the casino boat, taxi and ethanol industries. Last year, he served as the conduit for a Ukrainian politician’s “peace plan” intended to end regional conflict there that involved lifting U.S. sanctions against Russia.
Though Cohen denied the New York Times’ report that he personally delivered the plan to then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn last February, his story on what ultimately happened with the plan changed multiple times.
Felix Sater, a former business associate of both Cohen and Trump who was also involved with the peace effort, and Andrii Artemenko, the Ukrainian politician behind it, have both reportedly been interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
This post has been updated.