- President Donald Trump’s long-time personal lawyer Michael Cohen met with Qatar’s minister of economy and commerce, Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, in early April in Miami, Foreign Policy reported.
- The meeting occurred days before FBI agents raided Cohen’s home and office in New York City in connection with an ongoing criminal probe.
- Cohen is being eyed for, among other things, a hush-money payment given to porn star Stormy Daniels right before the 2016 presidential election.
Michael Cohen, the long-time personal lawyer of President Donald Trump, just days before being raided by the FBI last month, met in Florida with the economy and commerce minister of Qatar, according to a new report Friday.
The news about Cohen’s meeting with the Qatari minister, who is a member of that nation’s royal family, comes two days after The Washington Post revealed that Cohen in late 2016 had asked for a payment of at least $1 million from Qatar’s government.
According to The Post, Cohen was offering access to and advice about Trump’s incoming administration — but he was turned down by Qatar, a wealthy Arab Gulf state.
On Thursday, The New York Times reported that the family of Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, a senior White House advisor, is on the verge of having a debt-burdened New York City office building bailed out by a real-estate firm partly owned by Qatar’s government.
The sources would not disclose to Foreign Policy what was said at the meeting, which came at the start of a four-day roadshow designed to spotlight Qatar’s economic and cultural partnerships with several U.S. cities.
The Miami section of the roadshow occurred April 4. Foreign Policy reported that one person who was at the forum in Miami said that Cohen had “sat in one roundtable discussion” at the event.
A spokesman for the Qatari embassy said that Cohen had asked for the meeting with Al Thani, but would not confirm the meeting happened.
“The State of Qatar has never been a client of Mr. Cohen,” the spokesman told Foreign Policy.
CNBC has requested comment from Qatar’s embassy, as well as from Stephen Ryan, a lawyer for Cohen.
Qatar’s leader, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, met with Trump in the Oval Office at the tail end of the roadshow, on April 10.
Just a day earlier, on April 9, FBI agents, armed with search warrants, raided the New York City home and office of Cohen, as well as a hotel room where he and his family had been staying while their apartment was being renovated.
The agents, acting on behalf of federal prosecutors in Manhattan, seized documents and electronic files, as well as cells phones and other electronic devices. Prosecutors are investigating Cohen for possible crimes related to his business dealings.
Among the files seized were ones relating to an October 2016 payment of $130,000 that Cohen made, right before the presidential election, to the porn actress Stormy Daniels. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, has said the money was in exchange for her agreeing not to publicly discuss an affair she claims to have had with Trump in 2006.
The White House has denied such an affair. But Trump and his new lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, in recent weeks have confirmed that the president reimbursed Cohen for the payment to Daniels, despite Trump’s previous claim that he had no knowledge of the hush-money payoff.
On May 8, Michael Avenatti, a lawyer for Daniels, revealed that records showed that four other entities — drug giant Novartis, AT&T, defense contractor Korean Aerospace Industries and private equity firm Columbus Nova — had paid Cohen hundreds of thousands of dollars after Trump became president.
Columbus Nova has said Vekselberg played no role in its decision to hire Cohen as a “business consultant,” for a reported amount of $500,000.