The BBC has a big scoop here:
Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, received a secret payment of at least $400,000 (£300,000) to fix talks between the Ukrainian president and President Trump, according to sources in Kiev close to those involved.
The payment was arranged by intermediaries acting for Ukraine’s leader, Petro Poroshenko, the sources said, though Cohen was not registered as a representative of Ukraine as required by US law.
The meeting at the White House was last June.
Shortly after the Ukrainian president returned home, his country’s anti-corruption agency stopped its investigation into Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort.
Wow, what a coincidence. The report says there’s “no suggestion” Trump knew about the payment, which one source actually put at $600,000.
Cohen was reportedly approached because Ukraine’s registered lobbyists (the ones playing by the rules) could secure “little more than a brief photo-op with Trump.” So Cohen was serving as a “backchannel” to the pr*sident.
Poroshenko was apparently trying to get back in Trump’s good graces after reportedly approving a leak from Ukraine’s anti-corruption bureau that showed Manafort receiving millions of dollars from pro-Russian forces in Ukraine.
Poroshenko appeared relieved as he beamed and paid tribute to Trump in the Oval Office.
He boasted that he had seen the new president before Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin. He called it a “substantial visit”. He held a triumphant news conference in front of the north portico of the White House.
A week after Poroshenko returned home to Kiev, Ukraine’s National Anti Corruption Bureau announced that it was no longer investigating Manafort. […]
One source in Kiev said Poroshenko had given Trump “a gift” – making sure that Ukraine would find no more evidence to give the US inquiry into whether the Trump campaign “colluded” with Russia.
This is how American foreign policy is made under Trump—sold to the highest bidder who might also just grant Trump a gigantic political favor.