The one was reported on an April 13, 2018, The Wall Street Journal story revealing the existence of one of Michael Cohen’s nondisclosure agreements which involved an affair between a former playmate Shera Bechard and a client of Michael Cohen’s, supposedly Elliott Broidy. Here’s the punchline. This was published only 4 days after Mr. Cohen’s work places were raided by the FBI. Many investigative journalists are convinced that Elliott Broidy is being a stooge for President Trump because Ms. Bechard became pregnant which was followed up with an abortion. This narrative would be a blow to the president’s Evangelical followers which comprise about 35% of his base.
He has been saying that this scandal was leaked to the Wall Street Journal Four days after Michael Cohen’s places of work were raided by FBI, from data that Qatar had hacked from his computers. And I believe in the tooth fairy before I’d buy this tale as reported by some media outlets.
The other major scandal has to do with the level of pay-to-play corruption that Mr. Broidy has brought to the White House as an advocate for Israel and a lobbyist for Saudi Arabia and UAE.
It turns out that an associate, George Nader who has worked closely with Mr. Broidy, has been cooperating with the FBI’s Special Counsel Robert Mueller III who is heading the Trump-Russia probe.
Here is the rest of the story…
On May 22, 2018, Paul Waldman of the Washington Post penned the following report, “Get to know Elliott Broidy, the next major Trump scandal figure”
“A new article from the Associated Press lays out a remarkable campaign that Broidy and his partner George Nader waged in 2017 in order to obtain huge consulting contracts from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, in exchange for which they would use Broidy’s connections to the new president to help the Saudis and the UAE in their conflict with Qatar, a U.S. ally that houses a critical American military base.”
“And as the Daily Beast reports, after years of trying with almost no success to obtain federal military contracts, in 2017, Broidy’s company, Circinus LLC, received millions of dollars in defense work. The Trump presidency has been very good to Broidy, and he may have also been very good to President Trump himself.”
“But let’s back up. The first time most of us heard Elliott Broidy’s name was when Michael Cohen’s home and office were raided by federal prosecutors. In the ensuing legal proceedings, Cohen told the court that he had three legal clients: Trump, Sean Hannity and Broidy, a major Republican donor who had given hundreds of thousands of dollars to GOP candidates and who had held finance positions in the party. Cohen represented Broidy in an arrangement with a former Playboy model named Shera Bechard, who was paid $1.6 million to keep quiet about an affair she supposedly had with Broidy, which resulted in a pregnancy that she aborted.”
“From the start, many parts of this story didn’t quite add up. Broidy is a very rich man, but not necessarily someone who has occasion to hang out with Playboy models, unlike some people you might be familiar with. And he was not a public figure, which makes the $1.6 million payoff seem wildly excessive. To put it bluntly, $1.6 million is “Keep this out of the papers because it’ll be a huge story” money, not “Don’t tell my wife” money. And why would Broidy, who has access to the most high-priced and discreet legal talent in the country, retain someone like Cohen to take care of this delicate matter for him?”
“All of which leads to the theory that Broidy was acting as a cut-out for the person who really had the affair with Bechard: Trump. That theory is, at the moment, unproven but compelling.”
“There’s one more piece to this puzzle. We all know about Trump’s weird relationship with his daughter Ivanka Trump, how he often comments on her body and says things like “If she weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.” Both Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, the Playboy model who says she had an affair with Trump, said that Trump compared them to his daughter, which is a rather odd thing to say to a woman you’re having sex with. Whatever the true nature of Trump’s feelings, it’s clear that he’s attracted to women who remind him of Ivanka Trump. I bring this up because Shera Bechard is a dead ringer for Ivanka Trump. An absolute dead ringer.”
“But if the theory about Trump being the person who really had the affair with Bechard is true, why would Broidy step in and put up $1.6 million of his own money to do Trump a solid in this way? The explanation is that he may have stood to gain much, much more. And he had been involved in this kind of arrangement before. In 2009, Broidy pleaded guilty to a felony charge of rewarding official misconduct; he stayed out of jail by testifying against his co-conspirators. He gave $1 million in illegal gifts to New York State officials, and the state invested $250 million with his investment firm. One of the interesting details was that as part of the gifts, Broidy paid $90,000 to the mistress of one of the NY officials.”
“Fast forward to 2017. With Trump in office, Broidy was ready to really cash in. According to emails obtained by the Wall Street Journal, he was negotiating a deal in which he would use his influence to get the Justice Department to drop its investigation of a Malaysian company called 1MDB, for which Broidy and his wife would be paid $75 million. But the biggest haul was set to come from the Middle East.”
Broidy teamed up with George Nader, a Lebanese American who had lots of connections in the region and his own run-ins with the law: He had been convicted of sexually abusing minors in the Czech Republic and spent a year in prison there. Now Nader was based in the UAE and had built a relationship with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, as well as Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. According to the AP:
From the start, the men had a two-track mission: to carry out a campaign against Qatar that would curry favor with the princes, and to then turn that success into millions of dollars in defense deals, documents show.
“They would sell the Saudis and the UAE on consulting contracts for intelligence services and building a new Muslim fighting force of 5,000 soldiers, for which Broidy and Nader would be paid more than $1 billion. In exchange, they would get the American government on board with the Saudi/UAE campaign against Qatar.”
“The details are complex, but among the things we know is that Broidy had multiple meetings with Trump, in which he urged the president to support the Saudis and Emiratis against Qatar. American policy toward Qatar has been erratic; Trump supported the Saudi/UAE blockade of Qatar, but we haven’t removed our military base.”
“And there’s much more to be learned about George Nader as well. On Saturday, the NY Times reported that in 2016 Nader met with Donald Trump Jr. and offered the help of the Saudis and Emiratis in getting his father elected:”
“Mr. Nader was quickly embraced as a close ally by Trump campaign advisers — meeting frequently with Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, and Michael T. Flynn, who became the president’s first national security adviser. At the time, Mr. Nader was also promoting a secret plan to use private contractors to destabilize Iran, the regional nemesis of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates.”
“Like many aspects of the Trump corruption scandal, when you peel back one layer, you find more and more layers. For instance, you’ll be unsurprised to learn that Nader also has ties to Russia. Like Broidy, at the very least he could be facing criminal charges for acting as an agent of a foreign government without registering. ”
“Once we learn everything there is to learn, the Trump scandals may not wrap up into a neat and easily understandable package. But all the Trump scandals all lead back to one story — a story about incredibly corrupt people, including the president himself, trampling over the law and the interests of the country in order to stuff their own pockets. And it just keeps getting bigger.”
On May 25, 2018, Adam Pasick of Quartz penned the following report, “A timeline of all the foreign payments to Donald Trump’s moneymen, Elliott Broidy and Michael Cohen”
The revelations that have followed bombshell (news), plus the leak of Broidy’s hacked emails, reveal how the two men cashed in on their proximity to the White House. It’s fitting that Broidy’s firm Circinus is named after the Latin word for a draftsman’s compass—he and Cohen moved in some very interesting circles.
The timeline below is organized by country, with an additional section for payments between Broidy and Cohen.
Mid-2017: According to leaked emails, Broidy discusses with his wife, Robin Rosenzweig, a plan to pitch a consulting contract to Jho Low. He’s a Malaysian businessman at the center of the 1MDB state investment fund embezzlement scandal, which earlier this month helped bring down prime minister Najib Razak. Rosenzweig’s law firm is eventually hired by Pras Michel, formerly of The Fugees and a friend of Low, “to provide strategic advice” to the controversial mogul.
Aug. 7, 2017: Broidy emails a colleague at his venture-capital firm, with the subject line “Malaysia Talking Points *Final* ahead of Najib’s visit to the White House, recommending that Najib “make it clear that Malaysia fully backed U.S. efforts to isolate North Korea.”
September 12, 2017: Trump meets with Najib, and says: “He does not do business with North Korea any longer. We find that to be very important.”
January 19, 2017: Broidy invites Liviu Dragnea, leader of the country’s Social Democratic Party, to meet Trump at a private party at the Trump International Hotel during inauguration week, McClatchy reported. Asked to support stronger US-Romanian ties, Trump said: “We will make it happen! Romania is important for us!” Trump said, according to Dragnea’s Facebook post (link in Romanian).
Sept. 19 2017: Broidy meets with Romanian defense minister Mihai Fifor during Fifor’s visit to the US, according to McClatchy.
February 1, 2018 Circinus signs a deal “with a Romanian government-owned defense company that appears to give it the inside track for contracts valued at more than $200 million,” the NY Times reports. McClatchy reports that the deal was signed “in the presence of US ambassador Hans Klemm.”
January 9, 2017: Michael Cohen meets with Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, a close Putin associate who was later sanctioned by the United States, at Trump Tower, according to video footage reviewed by CNN and the New York Times. They discuss “a mutual desire to strengthen Russia’s relations with the United States under President Trump,” the Times reports. Vekselberg also met with Cohen at the inauguration and in one other instance.
late January, 2017: Cohen is awarded a $1 million consulting contract by Columbus Nova, which counts Vekselberg as its biggest client and is seen as an extension of his Renova Group conglomerate. Columbus Nova is run by Vekselberg’s cousin, Andrew Intrater, who was also in the Trump Tower meeting..
January, 2017: Broidy reportedly pitches Russian gas company Novatek a $26 million lobbying plan to help it get off a US sanctions list, through Broidy’s firm Fieldcrest Advisors.
May 8, 2018: Banking documents posted by Michael Avenatti, attorney for adult film actress Stormy Daniels, show that Cohen received $580,000 in “consulting fees” from Columbus Nova, plus a number of payments from Broidy and corporations including AT&T and Novartis.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE
Aug. 3, 2016: George Nader, Israeli social media specialist Joel Zamel, and Blackwater founder Erik Prince meet with Donald Trump Jr. and Trump advisor Stephen Miller at Trump Tower. Nader, Zamel, and Prince told the president’s oldest son “that the princes who led Saudi Arabia and the UAE were eager to help his father win election as president,” the NY Times reported.
April 2, 2017: Nader asks Broidy to invoice his Dubai-based company for $2.5 million as part of their campaign to lobby Trump to back the Saudis and Emiratis over their regional archenemies, Qatar and Iran.
October 6, 2017: Broidy emails Nader “a summary of Broidy’s talks with Kushner and Trump in the White House” on the UAE’s behalf. Broidy talks to Trump about secretary of state Rex Tillerson, who had criticized the Gulf state campaign against Qatar, saying that “Rex was performing poorly and should be relieved but only at a good time, politically.” (Tillerson was fired in 3/18.)
December 2, 2017: Broidy meets with Trump to again discuss the UAE-Saudi case against Qatar. Several days later, Broidy’s intelligence firm Circinus is awarded a $600 million contract with the UAE, the AP reports.
December 27, 2017: Broidy’s wife falls prey to a phishing attack, given attackers access to a Google spreadsheet filled with passwords.
January 17, 2018: Broidy tells Nader he received the first installment of $36 million from UAE.
Mid-January: Nader is stopped by FBI agents working with special counsel Robert Mueller at Dulles airport in Washington, on his way to Mar-a-Lago. He subsequently agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation.
January 16: Hackers begin to access Broidy’s emails, according to a lawsuit he later filed.
February 25: Hacker access to Broidy’s email ends, according to his lawsuit
March 26: Broidy sues Qatar after the NY Times, AP, and other media outlets begin to write stories about his leaked emails.
June 20, 2018: Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko reportedly meets with Donald Trump at the White House, after Ukrainian officials paid at least $400,000 to Michael Cohen to set up the talks, according to the BBC. After the meeting, the Ukrainian government suspends its investigation into Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort.
November 30, 2017: Broidy wires $200,000 to Real Estate Attorneys’ Group, controlled by attorney Keith Davidson, who represents former Playboy Playmate Shera Bechard.
December 5, 2017: REAG wires $200,000 to Keith Davidson
January 2, 2018: REAG wires $62,500 to Essential Consultants, a shell company controlled by Michael Cohen
April 13: The Wall Street Journal reports that Broidy used Cohen to pay Bechard $1.6 million over two years in quarterly installments. CNBC reported that Cohen also received $250,000 for negotiating and handling the deal.