One day after a report surfaced alleging that Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen tried to shake down a top investment official representing the ruling family of Qatar for “millions of dollars,” at a Trump Tower meeting in December of 2016, another media outlet reported that the same Qatari investor, Ahmed Al-Rumaihi, said that Cohen had asked him for a million dollar “fee” just a few days earlier.
Read the Inquisitr coverage of Tuesday’s allegation of the Cohen Trump Tower shakedown at this link. While the allegation, first reported by Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper, has not been independently confirmed by other news outlets — and was described as a “falsehood” by Cohen — the new report Wednesday by The Intercept online magazine would appear to lend some credence to the claim that Cohen sought a large payoff of some kind from Al-Rumaihi.
The Intercept report may be read in full at this link. According to Intercept reporter Ryan Grim, who wrote that he has had “several conversations” with Al-Rumaihi “since March,” the Qatari official who used to head an arm of the $100 billion Qatar Investment Authority fund recounted an incident at a high-end Manhattan restaurant during which Cohen asked him for $1 million as a fee for helping Qatar curry favor with the incoming Trump administration by pouring billions into United States infrastructure projects, which Trump had made a priority during the 2016 presidential campaign.
While few photographs of Rumaihi appear to be available, in 2014 while still a diplomat for Qatar he met with Virginia’s then-governor Terry McAuliffe, and the governor’s office later released the below image of the two during the meeting.
Gov. McAuliffe sitting down with Consul General Ahmed Al-Rumaihi of the State of Qatar to discuss economic relations. pic.twitter.com/iBWQfphKdO
— Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) April 10, 2014
According to the Intercept report, Cohen and Rumaihi met for dinner at the high-end Clement Restaurant in Manhattan’s Peninsula Hotel overlooking Fifth Avenue. At that dinner, Cohen pushed Al-Rumaihi to make the infrastructure investment immediately, “to show that Trump was already making America great again by bringing in foreign investment and creating American jobs,” according to Grim’s account of his conversations with the Qatari investment official.
However, when Al-Rumaihi asked Cohen about other ways Qatar could invest in the United States that would align with Trump’s priorities, “Cohen said there were plenty of options. But Cohen said he would need $1 million first, as part of his fee,” according to the Intercept account of Al-Rumaihi’s recollections. The restaurant sit-down took place some time between December 7, the date on which Al-Rumaihi first met Cohen, and December 12 — which was the date of the Trump Tower meeting attended by both Al-Rumaihi and Cohen.
The Trump Tower meeting was confirmed by Al-Rumaihi’s private sports investment company, Sports Trinity, after lawyer Michael Avenatti posted images from a C-Span video taken on December 12, 2016, showing Al-Rumaihi and Cohen entering the Trump Tower lobby and stepping into an elevator together.
That video may be viewed below.
Last week, Avenatti posted information, later confirmed by multiple media outlets as well as the companies themselves, that several large corporations — including telecom giant AT&T and pharmaceutical manufacturer Novartis — funneled sums well into the hundreds of thousands to Cohen’s LLC, Essential Consultants, to purchase some sort of consulting services for which Cohen had no expertise and never actually performed.
According to the media reports, Cohen aggressively sold himself to companies as a personal connection to Trump, collecting $1.2 million in exchange for his non-existent services — leading him to tell one associate, “I’m crushing it.”
But if the allegations in Tuesday’s explosive report in the Daily Mail are confirmed, the Cohen scandal could reach Trump directly, causing trouble for Trump on “a seismic scale,” according to New York Magazine columnist Jonathan Chait.
The Mail report said that Cohen, in asking for the “millions” from Al-Rumaihi during the Trump Tower meeting, also said that the money would be passed on to unspecified members of the Trump family. Cohen has denied ever asking Al-Rumaihi for money, telling The Intercept that the media stories contain “gross inaccuracies” and are “only being written in the hopes of maligning me for sensationalistic purposes.”