FBI special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly investigating a $150,000 payment from a Ukrainian billionaire to President Donald Trump’s foundation in 2015, according to the New York Times.
That same Ukrainian man, steel magnate Victor Pinchuk, has donated millions of dollars to Bill and Hillary Clinton’s foundation over the years.
What are the details?
In September 2015, Trump, then a Republican presidential candidate, gave a speech via video link to a conference Pinchuk hosted in Kiev. According to the Times, political consultant Doug Schoen, who has also worked for the Clintons, personally called Trump in August 2015 to set up the speech. Afterward, Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer, called Schoen to arrange the payment.
Mueller began the investigation into Pinchuk’s donation after receiving documents from the Trump Organization — the umbrella company that houses Trump’s real-estate entities — in response to a subpoena.
However, it’s not clear why this matter has suddenly become an issue of interest for Mueller’s investigation. Pinchuk’s donation was first reported in 2016 after the Trump Foundation, which at the time was under a microscope of scrutiny, made public its 2015 tax documents.
As the Times noted, Mueller’s investigation has widened in scope to include the flow of foreign dollars into Trump-owned entities, such as his foundation and business. But that doesn’t explain why Pinchuk’s donation is suddenly of interest to Mueller.
In a seemingly unrelated matter, investigators working with the U.S. attorneys for the Southern District of New York raided Cohen’s office in Manhattan on Monday. Initial reports said the basis of the raid was to seize documents related to the Stormy Daniels matter. However, later reports said FBI agents seized emails, personal finance records, business records, and attorney-client communications.
The raid was in direct response to information found during the course of Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation, Cohen’s attorney, Stephen Ryan, said.
What is Pinchuk’s connection to the Clintons?
According to the Times, Pinchuk has donated more than $13 million to the Clinton Foundation since 2006.
The Daily Caller has more on the connection:
In June 2012, the billionaire attended a dinner at the Clintons’ residence. And through Schoen, Pinchuk lobbied the State Department in 2011 and 2013. Documents filed with the Justice Department show Schoen and Pinchuk met on several occasions in 2012 with Melanne Verveer, a close Clinton associate who then served as an ambassador at large for global women’s issues.
Bill Clinton attended Pinchuk’s annual Yalta conference, The New York Times reported on Feb. 13, 2014. Pinchuk also attended the former president’s 65th birthday party in Los Angeles.
The FBI was investigating “pay-for-play” and the flow of foreign money into the Clinton Foundation, although nothing really ever came of it.