Why the hell would Donald Trump’s lawyer hand-deliver a peace plan for Russia and the Ukraine to Michael Flynn without telling the U.S. State Department?
The New York Times reports a week before the president’s national security adviser resigned in disgrace, the sealed proposal arrived in his office. It’s bad enough that Michael Flynn called the Russian Ambassador to discuss sanctions before Donald Trump took office. This peace plan — which also involves lifting sanctions — is a whole new ballgame.
The peace plan was drawn up by Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen, his business associate Felix Sater, and Andrii Artemenko, a pro-Russia separatist and a lawmaker from the Ukraine. The unlikely trio met in a hotel lobby in New York City back in January to draft the peace plan.
Unlike Michael Flynn’s illegal attempts to conduct diplomacy as private citizen, the peace plan breaks no laws and seems harmless. After all, who doesn’t want peace?
The amateur diplomats say their goal is simply to help settle a grueling, three-year conflict that has cost 10,000 lives. “Who doesn’t want to help bring about peace?” Mr. Cohen asked.
But consider the players. The Russian-born Felix Sater helps Donald Trump scope out business deals in Russia. The Washington Post adds that he’s a rather unsavory character. He has ties to the Russian mafia, did hard time for stabbing a man in the face with a broken margarita glass, and now awaits sentencing for stock fraud.
And then we have Andrii Artemenko, who is involved in a pro-Russia separatist movement shaped by Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort. And he has plans for regime change.
Artemenko told the Times he had evidence of Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko’s corruption that could lead to his ouster.
Poroshenko has been fighting pro-Russia separatists in the Eastern Ukraine since taking power in 2014. The man he ousted, Viktor Yanukovych, was a client of Paul Manafort’s. Now, the self-proclaimed “Trump-style” future leader of the Ukraine claims he’s got “names of companies” and “wire transfers” that could take Petro Poroshenko down. You think Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election was bad? It doesn’t hold a candle to their shenanigans in the Ukraine.
That’s right. The Ukraine ousted Viktor Yanukovych for his human rights violations, and voted in his pro-West successor back in 2014. 85 percent of Ukrainians want to keep their country intact and united. Yet Donald Trump’s cronies want to aid and abet Russia and the separatists.
But, although Andrii Artemenko says Vladimir Putin’s top aides support his plans, he denies being a Russian agent.
“A lot of people will call me a Russian agent, a U.S. agent, a C.I.A. agent. But how can you find a good solution between our countries if we do not talk?”
Of course, Michael Cohen and Felix Sater deny ever talking with Donald Trump about this so-called peace plan. But would they put forward a proposal Mein Trumpf wouldn’t like? That’s doubtful.
Meanwhile, officials from the Ukraine are incensed. Their U.S. Ambassador Valeriy Chaly declared that Andrii Artemenko has no business putting forward a peace plan.
“[He] is not entitled to present any alternative peace plans on behalf of Ukraine to any foreign government, including the U.S. administration.”
On Friday, Petro Poroshenkko spoke at a security conference in Munich. There, he warned against “appeasement” of Russia. Meanwhile, U.S. experts say offering Russian an alternative to the current international agreement on the Ukraine would be a big mistake.
CNN reports: How Michael Flynn lost his job in just 23 days.
Meanwhile it is unclear what Michael Flynn was expected to do with the Russia-Ukraine peace plan that was hand-delivered to his office. A chat with Russia’s ambassador on the down-low hardly seems out of the question. The White House’s official version of Flynn’s resignation insists that he lost the president’s trust after lying about the phone calls. Yet it seems highly unlikely that he would have made those phone calls without Donald Trump’s tacit approval.
Featured image: Video screen grab via CNN.