Rachel Maddow noted that newly appointed U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was chosen by President Trump, for whom Paul Manafort worked. The MSNBC host described the affair as a "test" of whether prosecutors, who ultimately report to Sessions, will vigorously pursue Firtash or let the case "slide."
Maddow described apparent contradictory New York Times and Washington Post reporting on a January meeting between Donald Trump's "personal lawyer" Michael Cohen; Andrii Artemenko, a Ukrainian legislator connected to the party founded by Manafort and Viktor Yanukovych; and Felix Sater, a business associate of Donald Trump.
"A lot of people will call me a Russian agent, a U.S. agent, a C.I.A. agent," Artemenko was quoted.
The Times described Artemenko's and Sater's pasts as "questionable. Sater is said to have once plead guilty to involvement in a mafia stock scheme. Artemenko served two years in a Kiev jail on "embezzlement" charges that were later dropped.
The result of the meeting with Cohen was said to be a plan for peace between the United States and Russia that Rachel Maddow described as "giving Vladimir Putin everything he could ever want." The plan is said to include deposing the current Ukrainian president, Russia being permitting to maintain control of Crimea, and the United States dropping sanctions against Russia, put in place as a response to its annexation of the independent nation.
"Obviously, this is a very fair deal," Maddow said sarcastically.
Reporting on the story from the Times and the Post diverges at this point, with the Times reporting that Michael Cohen hand delivered an envelope containing an outline of the plan to then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn at the White House.
The Times reports that Cohen personally stated that he left a "sealed envelope" with the plan in the office of Flynn. However, the Post reports that, when speaking with them, Cohen denied leaving a copy of the plan with Michael Flynn, or discussing it with him, and called the accusations "fake news." He did confirm that the meeting with Flynn actually occurred. Both publications are reportedly standing by their reporting of Michael Cohen's seemingly contradictory accounts of events.
Maddow suggested that Cohen is "lying to one of those two papers."
[Featured Image by Ronald Zak/AP Images]