September 13, 2017


Trump's Moscow Tower and Back-Channel Ukraine Dossier: Both Began During the Election Evidence Suggests (Ryan Goodman, September 13, 2017, Just Security)

The Ukrainian proposal has been called a "peace plan" by some, but that is a misnomer. The proposal involved unwinding Russian sanctions on favorable terms to Moscow, and the use of derogatory information against the current Ukrainian leadership. The idea was hatched by Ukrainian politician Andrii Artemenko, who told the Times that he received encouragement for his plans from Putin's top aides. Discussing the terms of the proposal, Ukraine's Ambassador to the United States, Valeriy Chaly said, "Such ideas can be pitched or pushed through only by those openly or covertly representing Russian interests." Cohen reportedly hand delivered the Ukraine dossier to then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn in the White House in the week before Flynn's resignation. [...]

The discussions between Artemenko, Sater, and Cohen began long before January 2017, according to Artemenko. In an interview with a Ukrainian news outlet, Artemenko said that he began discussions with Cohen and Sater "at the time of the primaries, when no one believed that Trump would even be nominated." Talking Point Memo reported on this interview in February 2017 (see also Josh Marshall's assessment that the Ukrainian news outlet is a legitimate publication).

It would surely be significant for the special counsel and congressional investigations if Cohen's discussions involving the Ukraine plan began during the presidential election season. It is even more significant if, indeed, the plan came with Russian backing, as Artemenko and Ambassador Chaly both suggest. Even Cohen, in explaining the reason he met with Artemenko in January said Artemenko told him the proposal "was acknowledged by Russian authorities would create world peace."

It would also be significant that both deals involved Cohen and Slater in this time period. If the discussions on the Ukraine plan occurred during "the primaries, when no one believed that Trump would even be nominated," that would be much closer in time to the emails between Cohen and Sater on Trump Tower in Moscow. Those emails include Sater telling Cohen, "I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected. ... Buddy our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process."

If the Ukraine discussions began in early 2016, other parts of the timeline also become significant. Those include bringing Paul Manafort onto the campaign in March 2016, with his ties to Ukraine including his work on the behalf of  the same pro-Kremlin political groups to which Artemenko belongs. The Trump team then changed the Republican party platform on Ukraine in July 2016, which they later denied. On July 30, Trump told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos that he was open to recognizing Russia's control of Crimea.

Finally, it is worth considering why exactly the deal involving Trump Tower in Moscow discontinued.

Posted by at September 13, 2017 1:29 PM