In September of 2015, during the early stages of Donald Trump’s campaign for the U.S. presidency, Ukrainian billionaire and steel magnate Victor Pinchuk donated $150,000 to the Donald J. Trump Foundation.
Usually Ukrainian billionaires — especially those with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin — do not just give money away without some ulterior motive. There may have been a “quid pro quo” for this payment to Trump’s foundation, and now Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating the payment to determine if it may provide clues into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump Campaign.
According to the New York Times, the payment was made after Trump talked for 20 minutes through a video link to a conference in Kiev, Ukraine. Apparently Pinchuk was sponsoring the conference and wanted Trump to speak, so the New York real estate developer was able to sit in his office in Trump Tower and ramble for 20 minutes and get paid a cool 150k. If you do the math, that works out to a rate of $450,000 per hour. Even the stable genius is probably not worth that much money!
The donation from Pinchuk to the foundation was reportedly arranged by Trump’s “fixer” and personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. Cohen’s office, home and hotel room were raided by the FBI yesterday, and the federal agents confiscated all available communications between Cohen and Trump.
The Cohen FBI raid was not conducted by Mueller’s team, but it is reported that Mueller referred information to the U.S. District Attorney in Manhattan who got the necessary legal authority to conduct the raid.
Mueller’s special counsel investigation has led to indictments or guilty pleas from three former Trump associates, and charges against 13 Russians for allegedly attempting to interfere in the election.
According to the New York Times article, this latest development is part of a “broader examination of streams of foreign money to Mr. Trump and his associates in the years leading up to the election.”
Investigators subpoenaed the Trump Organization this year for all relevant financial documents that relate to any business Trump had with foreign nationals. The documents turned over by the Trump Organization included details of the $150,000 donation made by the Ukrainian billionaire.
This “donation” being investigated by Mueller may be just one more piece of evidence showing corruption and collusion in the Trump campaign.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.