As House begins impeachment inquiry, here’s what we know about Trump’s Ukraine-real estate ties

The formal inquiry is connected to the president’s conversations with the Ukranian head of state

Sep.September 24, 2019 06:11 PM
From left: Pavel Fuks, Michael Cohen, Felix Sater, and Donald Trump (Credit: Getty Images and Wikipedia)

From left: Pavel Fuks, Michael Cohen, Felix Sater, and Donald Trump (Credit: Getty Images and Wikipedia)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday announced the beginning of a formal impeachment inquiry of President Trump over his conversation with Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The decision follows the revelation of a whistleblower complaint that was filed in August, which accused Trump of pressuring Zelensky to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

Trump’s ties to the country extend further back than that conversation. They include a connection to a Ukrainian developer who wanted the Trump branding rights for a Moscow tower, and his associates’ efforts to negotiate a possible Russia-Ukraine peace deal. Nothing came of either plan.

Trump also announced Tuesday that he would authorize the release of a transcript of the conversation with Zelensky, but his administration has declined to provide Congress with a copy of the complaint, the New York Times reported.

“They never even saw the transcript of the call. A total Witch Hunt!” the president tweeted within minutes of Pelosi’s announcement.

Over the past few years, various reports and investigations have untangled relationships between Trump’s development side associates and Ukrainian businesses and politicians. Here are the real estate-related ties to Ukraine that have been revealed so far:

1) Negotiations with Ukraine-Russian developer
Back in 2006, Trump reportedly demanded $20 million to put his name on a proposed high-rise development in Moscow. Ukranian-Russian developer Pavel Fuks met with Trump several times in 2005, and later with his daughter Ivanka and son Donald Jr. to discuss a Trump-branded tower in Moscow, Bloomberg reported earlier this year. Fuks apparently offered the Trump Organization $10 million for the branding rights, but Trump demanded $20 million. Ultimately, no deal was reached.

2) Possible Ukraine-Russia peace deal brokered by Trump associates
Ahead of the 2016 presidential election, Michael Cohen and Felix Sater, former Trump Organization associates, discussed arranging a public meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, according to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report. Sater hoped the encounter would give a boost to a $1 billion Trump-branded tower in Moscow — different from Fuk’s proposed project — and elevate Trump’s international profile. Both Sater and Cohen pushed a proposed peace deal between Russia and Ukraine to end what is now a five-year conflict, according to the New York Times. The proposal raised questions because, among other issues, it involved a Ukranian lawmaker with aspirations to oust the country’s then-President Petro Poroshenko.

3) Michael Cohen’s taxi business
Trump’s former attorney and fixer, Cohen got into the taxi business with the help of his Ukrainian father-in-law, Fima Shusterman. When the FBI raided Cohen’s Manhattan hotel room last year, they were specifically looking for documents related to his taxis. The FBI’s search warrant also named Ukraine immigrant taxi owners Semyon and Yasya Shtayner, who received a $26 million loan from Cohen. In March, Cohen filed a lawsuit against the two, alleging that they’d failed to repay a $6 million loan.

4) Bryan Cohen’s $7M Ukraine connection
Michael Cohen’s younger brother, Bryan Cohen, chief administration officer at Douglas Elliman, served as the liaison for Ukrainian agricultural company, Grain Alliance, and the U.S. market, TRD reported last year. Grain Alliance paid at least $7 million into an LLC registered to Cohen’s home, though it’s not clear if any of the money went to Cohen personally.

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