Ukraine Oligarch's Payment for Trump Speech Under Scrutiny
President's foundation got $150K for a speech during the campaign from Victor Pinchuk
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2018 12:34 AM CDT
Victor Pinchuk, Ukrainian tycoon, in a 2008 file photo.   (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

(Newser) – The New York Times is out with a story that will give President Trump one more reason to fume about Robert Mueller. The special counsel is investigating a $150,000 payment made to the president's foundation in September 2015 by a Ukrainian tycoon. Billionaire Victor Pinchuk made the payment to the Donald J. Trump Foundation after Trump gave a 20-minute speech by video to a conference in Kiev. The payment is "curious because it comes during a campaign and is from a foreigner and looks like an effort to buy influence," the former head of an IRS division that oversees tax-exempt organizations tells the newspaper. Plus, he adds, that's a lot of money for a 20-minute speech.

The speech was set up by political consultant Doug Schoen, who works with Pinchuk and is a regular guest on Fox News, but it was Trump attorney Michael Cohen who solicited the payment after the speech was arranged. Business Insider describes Pinchuk as a "pro-Russian oligarch," and news of Mueller's interest in the payment comes after the special counsel questioned three Russian oligarchs on whether they illegally funneled money into Trump's campaign or to his inauguration, per the Hill. Pinchuk's own foundation says there is nothing suspicious about the payment, in part because back in September 2015, it was not at all clear that Trump would end up being the GOP nominee.

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