President Donald Trump has had his share of dubious business partners throughout his long career as a real estate mogul. Now, one of them is getting a great deal of attention for his shady past.
Michael Cohen, the former top executive at the Trump Organization, worked as a New York real estate dealer who was able to make $20 million in profit by flipping properties and selling them to unknown buyers.
In 2014, Cohen sold an apartment building for $10 million in cash that he had purchased for $2 million to a buyer whose name was shielded with the help of a limited liability company. Around the same time, Cohen did the same with three other properties, buying low and selling high, in cash, to LLCs instead of physical buyers.
“An all cash purchase by an LLC of an overvalued property in Manhattan is usually worth a closer look by federal investigators,” former federal prosecutor and money laundering expert Jaimie Nawaday told reporters. "There are perfectly good reasons to buy and sell through LLCs, but the combination of facts is one that tends to arouse interest."
This piece of information is important because Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who has been investigating the alleged Russian meddling in the U.S. election, is also looking into Russian money laundering.
As the FBI investigates Cohen, Congress is also looking into Trump’s private attorney’s role in the attempt to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, which occurred during the presidential campaign. They are also investigating the lawyer’s work with a Ukrainian legislator that involved the push for a “peace plan” between Moscow and Kiev that was mainly pro-Russia.
While Cohen is expected to be questioned by the Senate Intelligence Committee this week, he told the Senate last month that he had “nothing to do with any Russian involvement in our electoral process."
Whether he was involved with the alleged meddling or not, the fact that his past shady dealings are now under scrutiny by Washington officials puts the president in a tight spot. After all, Cohen and Trump have been close for decades. Has Cohen used his potential influence with Moscow on behalf of his boss?