In a new bombshell revelation coming out of the Russia collusion investigation run by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, a pro-Russian Ukrainian politician who worked closely with Donald Trump's personal lawyer and "fixer" Michael Cohen, will testify to a grand jury on Friday, according to a scoop by the news site Politico on Monday. Andrey Artemenko found himself at the center of a political firestorm in his own country when he collaborated with Cohen and another Trump associate, Felix Sater, on a so-called Ukraine "peace plan" that would have allowed Trump to lift sanctions on Russia.
Artemenko told Politico that he received a subpoena from Mueller's team last week and plans to honor the subpoena, appearing in person before the grand jury at the end of this week. While he said that he was not told exactly what Mueller's investigators plan to ask him, he assumed that the questioning will focus on the "back channel" peace plan that Cohen delivered to Trump's then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn in February of 2017.
The three men reportedly cooked up the "peace plan," which would have allowed Russia to hold on to the previously Ukrainian territory of Crimea which Russia annexed in 2015, largely during a January 2017 meeting over drinks at the Loews Regency Hotel bar on Park Avenue in Manhattan. But Cohen and Sater also worked together on the now-dormant Trump Tower Moscow project that was active throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, and Mueller may be looking for connections between the two Cohen-Sater endeavors.
Cohen is now facing a criminal investigation apparently over his business practices, which involved a number of previously unrevealed payments from large corporations and a financial firm linked to a Russian oligarch — as well as his $130,000 hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels who says she had a sexual encounter with Trump.
Artemenko faced serious political consequences in Ukraine as a result of the Russia-friendly "peace plan," with prosecutors there accusing him of treason over his meeting with Cohen and Sater. He was subsequently stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship as well.
Cohen delivered the "peace plan" in a sealed envelope to Flynn within a few weeks of Flynn's phone call with Russia's then-ambassador to the United States, in which Flynn and Kislyak discussed lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia under a Trump administration. Why Cohen and Sater, neither of whom have any experience conducting foreign policy, were deeply involved in a supposed peace plan for the bloody Ukraine conflict that has claimed more than 10,000 lives since 2014 is unclear.
Whether Trump himself ever saw the "peace plan" is also uncertain.
Cohen has had business interests in Ukraine and is married to the daughter of a Ukrainian immigrant. His father-in-law, businessman Fima Shusterman, according to the new book Trump/Russia: A Definitive History by reporter Seth Hettena, has likely acted as a "silent partner" in Trump's businesses and may have served "as a conduit for Russian investors in Trump properties and other ventures." Trump hired Cohen in 2006 as "a favor" to Shusterman, according to the book.
Cohen said in an interview with the Washington Post that Artemenko assured him that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government were "on board" with the so-called "peace plan," but the Ukrainian politician denied that he gave any such assurances to Cohen.
Sater, who emigrated from Russia at the age of 6, and Cohen have reportedly known each other since childhood. In their correspondence over the Trump Tower Moscow development, Sater emailed Cohen and told him that Trump "can become president of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putin's team to buy in on this, I will manage this process."