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In the dawning days of the Trump Administration — back when Michael Flynn was furiously denying his own Back-channel efforts to get Russian Sanctions lifted — there was another second-track, closed-door effort to accomplish this same goal. As we’ve heard discussed the recent Cohen Plea deal.

Michael Cohen, Felix Sater, and a pro-Russian Ukrainian politician were hatching a secret plan to “lease Crimea” to Russia for 50 years…  In the fine print of that Geopolitical deal was once again the goal of lifting US Sanctions against Russia.

Ukrainian politician behind controversial peace proposal to appear in Mueller probe

By David Stern and Josh Meyer, Politico — May 14, 2018

[…]

When the news broke about the peace plan [New York Times reported in February 2017], it caused a scandal in Ukraine. Among the plan’s proposals was the idea of leasing to Russia the Crimean Peninsula — which Moscow seized from Ukraine in 2014 — for 50 years, in exchange for ending the ongoing war in Ukraine’s Donbass region. The back-channel effort also sought to have the Trump administration drop sanctions against Russia imposed by the Obama White House.

[…]

Artemenko’s testimony could help Mueller’s team fill in the gaps on the peace plan, which he has been investigating in part because of the roles of Cohen and Sater, who also worked together to try and launch a Trump-branded development in Moscow starting in early 2015.

The plan may also be of interest to Mueller because it reportedly was hatched shortly after Flynn discussed dropping sanctions against Russia in a call with the Russian ambassador that was intercepted by intelligence officials. Flynn was fired from the White House after it became clear that he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations about Russian sanctions.

[…]

While Americans were focused on the supposed offense of Flynn lying to VP Pence, Flynn at the time had in hand a ‘Plan B’, that could, in theory, accomplish the same Putin-payback … if his own efforts failed.

Trump administration ‘had a secret plan to lift Russian sanctions‘ and cede Ukraine territory to Moscow

Senior Trump aides met with an opposition politician from Ukraine in New York

by Tom Hamburger Washington DC, Rosalind S Helderman — 20 Feb 2017

[…]

The meeting [in New York] with Andrii V. Artemenko, the Ukrainian politician, involved Michael Cohen, a Trump Organisation lawyer since 2007, and Felix Sater, a former business partner who worked on real estate projects with Trump’s company.

The occurrence of the meeting, first reported Sunday by the New York Times, suggests that some in the region aligned with Russia have been seeking to use Trump business associates as an informal conduit to a new president who has signaled a desire to forge warmer relations with Russia. The discussion took place amid increasingly intense scrutiny of the ties between Trump’s team and Russia, as well as escalating investigations on Capitol Hill of the determination by U.S. intelligence agencies that the Kremlin intervened in last year’s election to help Trump.

The Times reported that Cohen said he left the proposal in a sealed envelope in the office of then-national security adviser Michael T. Flynn while visiting Trump in the White House. The meeting took place days before Flynn’s resignation last week following a report in The Washington Post that he had misled Vice President Pence about his discussions in December of election-related sanctions with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

Cohen, speaking with The Post on Sunday, acknowledged that the meeting took place and that he had left with the peace proposal in hand.

[…]

As reported by the New York Times who originally broke this story of a Cohen-led Back-channel plan, Putin was aware of and approved of the Crimea-Ukrainian-US “give away” effort.

A Back-Channel Plan for Ukraine and Russia, Courtesy of Trump Associates

by Megan Twohey and Scott Shane, New York Times — Feb. 19, 2017

A week before Michael T. Flynn resigned as national security adviser, a sealed proposal was hand-delivered to his office, outlining a way for President Trump to lift sanctions against Russia.

Mr. Flynn is gone, having been caught lying about his own discussion of sanctions with the Russian ambassador. But the proposal, a peace plan for Ukraine and Russia, remains, along with those pushing it: Michael D. Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer, who delivered the document; Felix H. Sater, a business associate who helped Mr. Trump scout deals in Russia; and a Ukrainian lawmaker trying to rise in a political opposition movement shaped in part by Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

[…]

The amateur diplomats [Artemenko, Cohen, Sater, and Manafort] say their goal is simply to help settle a grueling, three-year conflict that has cost 10,000 lives. “Who doesn’t want to help bring about peace?” Mr. Cohen asked.

But the proposal contains more than just a peace plan. Andrii V. Artemenko, the Ukrainian lawmaker, who sees himself as a Trump-style leader of a future Ukraine, claims to have evidence — “names of companies, wire transfers” — showing corruption by the Ukrainian president, Petro O. Poroshenko, that could help oust him. And Mr. Artemenko said he had received encouragement for his plans from top aides to Mr. Putin.

[…]

All of this, of course, landed on the Robert Mueller radar at some point. And Mueller pursued it as a way of getting at Cohen, and as a window into his Trump-approved activities. Here is how the pro-Russia Ukrainian deal-maker summarized his subpoenaed questioning by the Special Counsel

Ukraine politician says Mueller focused on Cohen during questioning

by Luis Sanchez, The Hill — 06/13/18

Andrii V. Artemenko, a former member of the Ukrainian parliament, said that his questioning last week by special counsel Robert Mueller focused on his interactions with President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

[…]

Mueller’s questions, Artemenko said, focused on a meeting he had with Cohen on Jan. 27, 2017. The meeting, organized by Trump’s business associate Felix Sater, concerned a proposed plan that would have ended the conflict in Ukraine and eventually lifted U.S. sanctions placed on Russia — a priority for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Andrii Artemenko, the second half of the second Quid-pro-Quo Back-channel, may have pointed to the “conduit” for deep-pockets Russians to slyly grease the Trump-wheels … back in the earlier days, of giving Donald Trump time to find his “presidential footing” …

He’s Looking for Quid Pro Quos”: Is Andrii Artemenko the Key to the Trump-Russia Case?

Artemenko’s appointment with Robert Mueller’s grand jury could explain the connections between Michael Cohen, Felix Sater, Michael Flynn, and Moscow.
by Abigail Tracy, Vanity Fair — May 16, 2018

[…]

The timing of Artemenko’s grand-jury cameo is doubly intriguing given the recent spate of headlines involving Cohen, who is currently under investigation by federal prosecutors for the Southern District of New York over hush-money payments to women allegedly involved with Trump, which may have violated federal campaign-finance laws. Last week, it was revealed that, in the months after the 2016 election, Cohen received half a million dollars from an investment company tied to Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg. (The company, Columbus Nova, has denied any impropriety, and pointed out that its C.E.O—Vekselberg’s cousin—is American, not Russian.) “It’s timely because this particular connection went through Cohen, and Cohen has become so much of a focus, as one of the people who appears to have held himself out as a gateway to Trump,” Cotter said. “If you wanted influence with Trump, you went through Michael Cohen.”

Unfortunately for all of us, Trump has never been interested in being “Presidential”.  He’d rather rage at cable-news, on Twitter — than solve actual US and International problems — legitimately and transparently solve them.

As we have discovered, and Putin too, the number one driving force animating Donald Trump has always been and still is:  “What’s in it for Me?

I wondered if Trump is still “stinging” after (finally) being abruptly thrown under the Kremlin-Bus at that latest G-20 Summit meeting?

A spokesperson for the Kremlin on Thursday said the cancellation would free up time “for useful meetings.”

A top Russian lawmaker said the forgone meeting was a lost opportunity “not for Putin, but for Trump.”

“We have heard the official explanation and taken note of it,” Kremlin foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said during a Friday briefing. “But is it true? I think the true reason is rooted in the domestic political situation in the United States.”

www.cnbc.com

Uh-oh, it kind of looks like that Putin-payback Back-channel’s teller window has finally closed on the hapless Trump.  It kind of looks like the life-long Con has finally met his match.

And on the world stage, no less.    Don’t pay the piperDo not Pass Go.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.

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