WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump's longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen asked the Qatari government for at least US$1 million in December 2016 in exchange for access or insight into the Trump administration, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday (May 16).
Qatar turned down Cohen's offer, made weeks before Trump's inauguration in January 2017, the Post reported, citing several people with knowledge of the situation. Other media outlets also reported Wednesday that Cohen requested money from Ahmed al-Rumaihi, who at the time was head of the investments division of Qatar's sovereign wealth fund.
Reuters could not immediately independently verify the reports. Cohen's attorney Stephen Ryan did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters on the reports. Al-Rumaihi was not immediately available for comment.
Cohen made the solicitation to al-Rumaihi at a meeting in Trump Tower in New York on Dec 12, 2016, the Post reported.
Al-Rumaihi was at Trump Tower as part of a Qatari delegation that included Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed al-Thani, the Post said.
Al-Rumaihi told Cohen that Qatar expected to invest in Trump plans to solicit investment in a US infrastructure programme, the Post reported. Cohen offered to help find projects for Qatar to sponsor, in exchange for a US$1 million upfront fee, the newspaper reported.
The request to Qatar would be the latest such exchange offered by Cohen to be made public following acknowledgements by US and European companies last week that they paid Cohen, who was Trump's lawyer for about a decade and self-described "fixer" for Trump.
Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG said it had paid Cohen nearly US$1.2 million; US telecommunications company AT&T Inc said it made payments of US$600,000; and South Korea's Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd said it hired him for US$150,000.
Novartis and AT&T have said they were contacted by the office of US Special Counsel Robert Mueller about the situation in late 2017.
Mueller is investigating possible collusion between Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and Russia, something that Trump has repeatedly denied.
Prosecutors are investigating Cohen for possible bank and tax fraud, possible campaign law violations linked to a hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, and perhaps other matters related to Trump's presidential campaign, a person familiar with the probe has said.