Trump lawyer 'paid by Ukraine' to arrange White House talks

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The government of Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko paid at least $400,000 to Michael Cohen, the personal lawyer of U.S. president Donald Trump, to arrange a meeting at the White House, according to a blockbuster report by the BBC, citing "sources in Kiev close to those involved".

The Times said the agreement for Evegny "Gene" Freidman would allow him to avoid jail time and would have him work with prosecutors in both the state and federal investigations.

"This defendant is the self-anointed taxi king of the city of New York", Healy said.

Freidman, when asked by Reuters about the report, declined in a text message to answer any questions about cooperating with prosecutors or the terms of his agreement. Federal prosecutors had accused Evgeny Freidman of evading more than $5 million in taxes, and committing four counts of criminal tax fraud and one of grand larceny.

Freidman is required to pay restitution as part of his plea deal and will be sentenced to five years of probation, according to the attorney general's office.

President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, is distancing himself from an associate in the taxi industry who pleaded guilty to tax fraud. In 2015, Freidman put more than $60 million of his assets into offshore trusts with a trustee in Moscow, the prosecutor said.

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The broadened scope of Freidman's cooperation may prove worrisome to Mr Trump as well. Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is leading the federal Russian Federation investigation, has also scrutinized Cohen's activities and business relationships.

Cohen is a significant operator in the taxi business, owning a substantial number of taxi medallions, and was partners with Friedman for years. He in turn used personal contacts in a Jewish charity in NY state, Chabad of Port Washington.

Cohen has served as Trump's fixer and worked with him at the Trump Organization before he resigned that post but stayed on as the president's personal attorney.

Cohen is now under criminal investigation in the Southern District of NY. He declared bankruptcy on some of his medallions in 2016 and previous year was charged by the NY state attorney general with theft.

"Today, the "Taxi King" admitted that he built his empire by stealing from New Yorkers", Attorney General Barbara Underwood said in a statement.

Last month, federal agents carried out search warrants at Mr. Cohen's home, his office and a hotel room where he was staying. "And those who are prosecuted under New York State law, can not be saved by a Presidential pardon".

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