Donald Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, is facing claims he asked a Middle Eastern official for millions of dollars to give to ‘Trump family members’ in a meeting at Trump Tower weeks after the president’s election victory, DailyMail.com can reveal.
Cohen is alleged to have asked Ahmed Al-Rumaihi, a former diplomat in charge of a $100bn Qatari investment fund, to send ‘millions’ through him to Trump family members, an offer the Qatari said he refused.
Al-Rumaihi on Tuesday issued a statement agreeing that he was at Trump Tower and said that Cohen had ‘popped in’ to a meeting. Photographs show that he was part of a group greeted by Cohen, who went up in an elevator with them.
DailyMail.com can disclose that the group also included Qatar’s foreign minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.
The claims of a demand for ‘millions’ were made by a senior Kuwaiti government source close to Al-Rumaihi.
Last week DailyMail.com revealed that Al-Rumaihi was accused in court documents of boasting about bribing disgraced Trump former aide Michael Flynn, and attempting to bribe Trump’s former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon – charges which the investor denies.
The Kuwaiti source told DailyMail.com that following DailyMail.com’s disclosure of the court case, Al-Rumaihi called him and boasted that Cohen had asked him for money in exchange for influence in the Trump administration.
The official said: ‘He said Cohen told him to send millions to various members of the Trump family.’ Al-Rumaihi did not do so, the official added. The Trump family members were not named.
New claims: A source tells DailyMail.com that a Middle Eastern investor who met Michael Cohen at Trump Tower says Trump’s attorney demanded ‘millions of dollars’ from him for ‘Trump family members’. The investor did not make any money transfer
In the elevator: The investor was the Qatar Investments’ Ahmed Al-Rumaihi, who got in the elevator with Cohen and with – DailyMail.com can reveal – Qatar’s foreign minister
New intrigue: DailyMail.com has identified one of the other people who met Michael Cohen in the group as Qatar’s foreign minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani. His media attache confirmed his presence to DailyMail.com
Trump Tower visit: Qatar’s foreign minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and Ahmed Al-Rumaihi, a former diplomat in charge of a $100bn Qatari investment fund, were both in the president’s then headquarters in December 2016.
In his role as a senior official in the Qatari Investment Authority, Al-Rumaihi has business dealings with Kuwait, and has become close to several government officials there.
The Kuwaiti source said Al-Rumaihi informed him of the alleged bribery attempt so that he would not appear to be ‘going behind Kuwait’s back’ in his relationship with the Trump administration.
The latest claim to hit Cohen comes after his sales pitch to a series of blue-chip names was revealed.
He signed up AT&T and Novartis as clients for his ‘insight’ into the president and tried to get Uber and Ford to do the same, telling the ride-share giant: ”I have the best relationship with the president on the outside, and you need to hire me.’ Novartis and AT&T have both called contracting Cohen after Trump’s inauguration a mistake.
The Kuwaiti source claimed Al-Rumaihi told him that Cohen tried to get the money during a meeting which also included now disgraced former national security adviser Michael Flynn at Trump Tower in December 2016.
A representative for Al-Rumaihi’s company Sports Trinity said they have ‘no comment’ on the alleged bribe offer.
The gathering has come under intense scrutiny since Sunday night, when a video emerged of Cohen, Flynn and Al-Rumaihi together at Trump Tower.
Michael Avenatti, a lawyer representing porn star Stormy Daniels in a lawsuit against Trump, tweeted pictures and a link to a video filmed on December 12 of Flynn, Cohen and Al-Rumaihi walking together through the Trump Tower lobby together.
After posting the pictures, Avenatti tweeted: ‘Why was Ahmed Al-Rumaihi meeting with Michael Cohen and Michael Flynn in December 2016 and why did Mr. Al-Rumaihi later brag about bribing administration officials according to a sworn declaration filed in court?’
Accompanying the men was another man in a dark suit.
DailyMail.com can disclose that man is Qatari foreign minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, who is a member of the country’s royal family.
Qatar’s media attaché in Washington DC, Jassim Al-Thani, confirmed his presence at Trump Tower to DailyMail.com and said in a statement: ‘As a lead-up to the US Presidential election, His Highness had scheduled separate meetings with both major party candidates. His Highness met with then-candidate Donald Trump. The meeting with Hillary Clinton was postponed due to a scheduling conflict.
‘In December 2016 during the Presidential transition, His Excellency, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs met with officials from President Donald Trump’s incoming administration.
Ahmed Al-Rumaihi, who was head of Qatar investments at Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) from May 2016 to March 2017, was present at Trump Tower but did not participate in any meetings.
‘Since March 2017, Mr. Al-Rumaihi has not represented the State of Qatar in official matters. Nor is Qatar involved in any of his private business matters.’
The presence of the foreign minister raises questions about whether the Qatari government was involved in the meeting.
On Monday evening, Avenatti tweeted: ‘When the truth is disclosed relating to this meeting and the story surrounding it, it will redefine ‘ugly’! As in very. #BuckleUp #Basta’
On Tuesday however, Al-Rumahi broke his silence to tell CNN in a statement that he was in Trump Tower to ‘meet Trump transition officials’ and deny meeting Flynn.
‘Mr. Al-Rumaihi was at Trump Tower on December 12, 2016,’ a spokesperson for Sport Trinity, Al-Rumahi’s sports company which is involved in the BIG3 litigation, said.
‘He was there in his then role as head of Qatar Investments, an internal division of QIA, to accompany the Qatari delegation that was meeting with Trump transition officials on that date.
‘He did not participate in any meetings with Michael Flynn, and his involvement in the meetings on that date was limited.’
A source which CNN called ‘a person familiar with the Qatari delegation’s meetings at Trump Tower that day’ said there were ‘several meetings’ and added: ‘During one, Michael Cohen briefly popped in.’
The statement did not address Al-Rumaihi’s presence in the video of Trump Tower’s lobby and on Monday Sports Trinity had told Slate: ‘We do not confirm and have no basis to confirm the video.’
The claims that Al-Rumaihi boasted about bribing Flynn and attempting to bribe Bannon were made in court documents relating to a $1.2bn lawsuit against Al-Rumaihi over his business dealings with rapper Ice Cube.
Start of the intrigue: This was the cryptic tweet by Michael Avenatti which started speculation about who met who at Trump Tower. Ahmed Al-Rumaihi, who can be seen left and top right, denies meeting Mike Flynn (bottom right). A source familiar with the meetings claimed Cohen ‘popped in’ to one ‘briefly’ although in fact he escorted both men upstairs in the elevator
Ice Cube and his partner Jeff Kwatinetz allege that Al-Rumaihi and his business partners only invested a third of their promised $20.5m in the rapper’s BIG3 basketball league.
In court documents, Kwatinetz claimed that Al-Rumaihi boasted about bribing Flynn, and asked Kwatinetz to put him in touch with his friend, Bannon, to offer a further ‘bribes’.
‘Mr Al-Rumaihi requested I set up a meeting between him, the Qatari government, and Stephen Bannon, and to tell Steve Bannon that Qatar would underwrite all of his political efforts in return for his support,’ Kwatinetz wrote.
He added that when he refused the offer, Al-Rumaihi told Kwatinetz: ‘So many Washington politicians take our money, and stated ‘do you think Flynn turned down our money?’.’
The claims were denied by Al-Rumaihi’s spokesman as ‘pure Hollywood fiction’. The Qatari money man’s company, Sports Trinity, is hitting back in court with counter-claims that BIG3 mishandled company finances.
Controversy has previously dogged the Trump administration over its relationship with Qatari officials.
Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, allegedly sought a $500m investment from the Gulf state in a New York skyscraper owned by his company, according to The Intercept, as part of an attempt to raise $1.3bn to bail out the debt-ridden property.
Basketball move: Ahmed Al-Rumaihi was at a BIG3 basketball fixture in Dallas, Texas, at the time it is alleged he was trying to use the venture to make contact with Steve Bannon
Explosive claims: Jeff Kwatinetz’s claims about Bannon and how the Qatari investor Mohammed Al-Rumaihi wanted to target him
Big case: Rapper Ice Cube and his co-CEO are suing the Qatari investors for $1.2 billion. They are counter-suing claiming libel and demanding the case be moved to a federal court
Big names: Ice Cube (center) and Jeff Kwatinetz (right) set up BIG3 and have Clyde Drexler as Commissioner along with other Hall of Famers involved. Kwatinetz worked for two years with Bannon and still considers him a friend despite differing political views
Former Qatari prime minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, agreed to invest the cash in the building, 666 Fifth Avenue, if Kushner found other investors to raise the total, but the deal failed.
There have been claims – denied by the White House – that Trump’s decision to side with a coalition of countries led by Saudi Arabia that established a blockade against Qatar months later was influenced by al-Thani’s withdrawal from his son-in-law’s property deal.
The alleged deal is understood to be under investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, as part of his probe into foreign meddling in the Trump campaign and administration.
A spokesman for Kushner said his meetings involved ‘completely appropriate contacts from foreign officials and he did not mix his or his former company’s business in those contacts. Any claim otherwise is false.’
Cohen is also at the center of a cash-for-access scandal that has emerged from Trump’s court clash with his alleged mistress.
The president’s lawyer set up a company, Essential Consultants, which was used to pay off Daniels in an alleged deal to keep quiet about her affair with Trump.
Cohen then used the same company to receive payments from pharmaceutical giant Novartis, telecoms company AT&T, a Korean aerospace company and a firm controlled by a Russian oligarch.
DailyMail.com asked Michael Cohen’s own attorney for comment on the claim Monday and has received no response.