The probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russian collusion with the Trump administration has found a new witness to haul before the grand jury and his connections to Russia cannot be denied according to a report on Politico.
Andrii Artemenko is a Ukranian politician who gave a proposal that offered a path to lifting sanctions on Russia to Michael Cohen who reportedly passed it along to then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn a week before he was fired, according to the New York Times article that revealed the scheme in February of last year.
Artemenko is scheduled to appear before Mueller’s Grand Jury on Friday to give his version of the events in question.
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Artemenko originally contacted Felix Sater, a former business partner of Trump’s who was indicted in a Mafia-connected money laundering and stock manipulation case and subsequently began cooperating with authorities.
Sater referred the Ukranian to Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen who The New York Times says left Artemenko’s plan in Flynn’s office. Cohen denies giving the document to Flynn, saying instead that he simply threw it away.
The plan itself was an unlikely proposal that attempted to put an end to hostilities between Ukraine and Russia by giving Russia a 50-year lease on the land in Crimea that they seized from Ukraine in exchange for a cessation of hostilities in the eastern areas of the country bordering Russia. It also proposed an end to the U.S. sanctions on Russia imposed by the Obama administration in retaliation for Russian hacking during the election.
The proposal has already caused considerable trouble for Artemenko who was stripped of his Ukranian citizenship (he also holds a Canadian passport) and ousted from his political party when news of the proposal was published. Ukraine’s top prosecutor also launched a treason investigation against him which Artemenko attributes to his accusations of corruption against Ukranian President Petro Poroshenko rather than his rogue diplomacy.
According to Politico: “Cohen told The Washington Post that Artemenko boasted during their January 2017 meeting that the Russian government ‘was on board’ with the proposal. Artemenko denied that, telling The Post that he had not spoken to any Russian officials and that the proposal came about during consultations with Ukrainian officials.”
Now Mueller will get to hear Artemenko’s testimony about the plan and his contacts with Trump administration officials straight from the horse’s mouth and under oath.
Whether this is the smoking gun proving collusion with Russian interests remains to be seen, but for a White House that has denied all of the contacts that have subsequently been revealed, this may be one of the biggest sources of the stench that has permeated the administration since its inception.
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