it's mueller time
Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating a $150,000 payment made to the Donald J. Trump Foundation in 2015 by a Ukrainian steel magnate in exchange for President Trump appearing via video at a conference in Kiev, three people with knowledge of the matter told The New York Times.
The payment by Victor Pinchuk is part of a larger look at foreign money received by Trump and his associates ahead of the 2016 election, the Times reports. After being subpoenaed, the Trump Organization gave Mueller's team records regarding business with foreign nationals, including documents about Pinchuk's September 2015 donation. Trump appeared via video at the Pinchuk-sponsored Yalta European Strategy Conference that month, and he spent 20 minutes criticizing then-President Barack Obama and blaming his own halted delivery on a "terrible" sound system.
The payment was solicited by Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, and was the largest donation to the Donald J. Trump Foundation in 2015 from someone other than Trump, the Times reports. The Victor Pinchuk Foundation told the Times that Trump was approached to appear at the conference as a way to help "promote strengthened and enduring ties between Ukraine and the West." Cohen and Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow did not respond to requests for comment.
Marcus S. Owens, the former head of the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt organizations, told the Times that Pinchuk's payment is "curious because it comes during a campaign and is from a foreigner and looks like an effort to buy influence." You can read more about the payment, as well as other documents related to Russians the Trump Organization has been ordered to hand over to Mueller, at The New York Times.