Keeping up with Michael Cohen can be a full-time job. Ever since the FBI raided his office, Donald Trump's longtime lawyer has been dogged by nonstop revelations about questionable business practices and bad decisions. Last week, for example, it came out that Cohen took money from a wide variety of sources, from AT&T to drug company Novartis to a Russian oligarch, looking for access to Trump or advice on how to work with him.
This week, like the last one and the one before it, is just more bad news for the president's self-styled fixer.
On Wednesday, The New Yorker published a report by Ronan Farrow on the law-enforcement official who leaked Cohen's financial records—the same ones that revealed Cohen's attempts to sell access to the president. The whistleblower revealed that he came forward because of what he found in records filed by First Republic Bank, where the shell company Cohen used for payments, Essential Consultants, kept an account. It revealed the payments from AT&T, Novartis, and the Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, but the whistleblower was more alarmed by what the documents omitted:
The report also refers to two previous suspicious-activity reports, or SARs, that the bank had filed, which documented even larger flows of questionable money into Cohen’s account. Those two reports detail more than three million dollars in additional transactions—triple the amount in the report released last week. Which individuals or corporations were involved remains a mystery. But, according to the official who leaked the report, these SARs were absent from the database maintained by the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FINCEN. The official, who has spent a career in law enforcement, told me, “I have never seen something pulled off the system. . . . That system is a safeguard for the bank. It’s a stockpile of information. When something’s not there that should be, I immediately became concerned.” The official added, “That’s why I came forward.”
These financial records are proving to be an unending headache for Cohen. Also on Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that the FBI was looking into payments he received from a South Korean aerospace firm and, in a separate story, that not long after the election, Cohen tried to get the Qatari government to pay him at least $1 million "in exchange for access to and advice about the then-incoming administration." The news comes directly from the person Cohen made the offer to:
The offer, which Qatar declined, came on the margins of a Dec. 12 meeting that year at Trump Tower between the Persian Gulf state’s foreign minister and Michael Flynn, who became Trump’s first national security adviser. Stephen K. Bannon, who became White House chief strategist, also attended.
Cohen did not participate in the official meetings but spoke separately to a member of the Qatari delegation, Ahmed al-Rumaihi, who at the time was head of the investments division of the country’s sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority.
Al-Rumaihi told the Post that Cohen presented this as the cost of "doing business," which clearly wasn't a convincing argument.
Meanwhile, despite Donald Trump's and Sarah Huckabee Sanders' repeated insistence that the president knew nothing about the hush money Cohen paid Stormy Daniels, a new financial-disclosure form suggests otherwise. CNN reports that during the 2016 election, Trump repaid Cohen at least $100,000 for incurred expenses. Cohen's payment to Daniels was $130,000.
That basically brings us up to speed on the overturned garbage truck that is Michael Cohen's career, or at least most of what went down in literally half of a week. There is one more thing, though. It also came to light this week that Cohen lied about how long he worked on a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow. He told Congress that he abandoned the project in January of 2016, but according to Yahoo News, multiple sources confirm that Cohen stayed involved until at least May of that year. And this is probably the best example of how deep a hole Cohen is in: The least damning piece of news about him to come out this week involves literally lying to Congress.