Correction, May 17, 2:20 p.m.: The story was edited to reflect that Cohen solicited Qatar Investments, a division of Qatar Investment Authority, and not the government itself.
Michael Cohen, President Trump’s personal attorney, solicited a payment of at least $1 million from Qatar Investment Authority in late 2016, in exchange for access to and advice about the then-incoming administration, according to the recipient of the offer and several others with knowledge of the episode.
Qatar declined the offer, which came a few days before a Dec. 12 meeting that year at Trump Tower between the Persian Gulf state’s foreign minister and Michael Flynn, who became Trump’s first national security adviser, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.
Cohen did not participate in the official meetings but spoke separately to a member of the Qatari delegation, Ahmed al-Rumaihi, who at the time was head of the investments division of the country’s sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority.
Rumaihi said Wednesday that Cohen first asked for the money, and Rumaihi refused, several days before the Trump Tower meeting, when the two saw each other at the Peninsula Hotel in New York. “He just threw it out there” as a cost of “doing business,” Rumaihi said.
Cohen spoke to him again at Trump Tower when the two men were outside the meeting between Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Thani and Flynn. Neither attended the closed-door session, and “I stood outside in the hall,” Rumaihi said, as the delegation went in. But “it was clear that the deal was not going to happen,” said Ruhaimi, who is no longer part of the Qatari government.
Cohen and his lawyer did not respond to requests for comment.
Editor’s note, May 17, 2:20 p.m.: In a statement, a spokesperson for Al-Rumaihi wrote, “In December 2016, Ahmed Al-Rumaihi and Michael Cohen met to discuss a potential Qatari investment in U.S. infrastructure by Qatar Investments, which is a division of the Qatar Investment Authority (“QIA”). As the head of Qatar Investments at that time, Mr. Al-Rumaihi was seeking advice on public-private partnerships the fund might initially pursue. In that conversation, Mr. Cohen stated he would require a $1 million fee for his services. At no point did Mr. Al-Rumaihi or anyone else from Qatar Investments pay the requested fee, nor did Mr. Al-Rumaihi ever entertain making such a payment. Cohen’s released account ledger, which shows no payment from Mr. Al-Rumaihi or any company or fund associated with him, confirms this. As a general matter, the QIA strictly prohibits the payment of fees to any middlemen in any transactions.”
Cohen Solicited $1 Million From Qatar Investments