Washington Post: Trump lawyer Cohen sought $1M from Qatar in late 2016

WASHINGTON, May 17 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump's longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen asked the Qatari government for at least $1 million in December 2016 in exchange for access or insight into the Trump administration, the Washington Post reported.

Qatar turned down Cohen's offer, made weeks before Trump's inauguration, the Post reported late on Wednesday, citing several people with knowledge of the situation.

A spokesman for Ahmed al-Rumaihi, who at the time was head of the investments division of Qatar's sovereign wealth fund, confirmed Cohen had requested a $1 million fee.

But the spokesman, Robert Siegfried, said the request related to the possibility of advising Qatar on investments in U.S. infrastructure, and that at no point was access to the administration discussed.

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U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen exits a hotel in New York City, U.S., April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Michael Cohen, personal attorney for U.S. President Donald Trump, arrives to appear before Senate Intelligence Committee staff as the panel investigates alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen drives after leaving his hotel in New York City, U.S., April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Attorney Michael Cohen arrives at Trump Tower for meetings with President-elect Donald Trump on December 16, 2016 in New York.

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Michael Cohen, personal attorney for U.S. President Donald Trump, talks to reporters as he departs after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff as the panel investigates alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, President-elect Donald Trump's choice for National Security Advisor, Michael Cohen, executive vice president of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Donald Trump, and former Texas Governor Rick Perry talk with each other in the lobby at Trump Tower, December 12, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration.

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UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 19: Michael Cohen, center, a personal attorney for President Trump, leaves Hart Building after his meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee to discuss Russian interference in the 2016 election was postponed on September 19, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Attorney Michael Cohen arrives to Trump Tower for meetings with President-elect Donald Trump on December 16, 2016 in New York.

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Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney arrives with his attorney, Stephen M. Ryan to speak with reporters after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, White House national security adviser-designate, from left, Michael Cohen, executive vice president of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Donald Trump, and Rick Perry, former governor of Texas, speak in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, U.S., on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he had the 'highest confidence' in the intelligence community, in sharp contrast to President-elect Donald Trump's attack on the CIA after reports it found that the Russian government tried to help him win the presidency.

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Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, looks on as his attorney (not pictured) delivers a statement to reporters after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Attorney Michael Cohen arrives to Trump Tower for meetings with President-elect Donald Trump on December 16, 2016 in New York.

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UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 19: Michael Cohen, center, a personal attorney for President Trump, leaves Hart Building after his meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee to discuss Russian interference in the 2016 election was postponed on September 19, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen exits a hotel in New York City, U.S., April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen is pictured leaving a restaurant in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Levy
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, arrives with his attorney, Stephen M. Ryan, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 25, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen is pictured arriving at his hotel in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Levy
Michael Cohen, personal attorney for U.S. President Donald Trump, departs after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff as the panel investigates alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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"The conversation was regarding infrastructure investment in the U.S.," he said. "At no point did Mr. Al-Rumaihi or anyone else from Qatar Investments pay the requested fee, nor did Mr. Al-Rumaihi ever entertain making such a payment."

Cohen's attorney Stephen Ryan did not respond to a request for comment.

Al-Rumaihi told the Post that Cohen made the solicitation in early December at the Peninsula Hotel in New York, an account Siegfried confirmed. They later spoke again outside a meeting in Trump Tower in New York on Dec. 12, 2016, where al-Rumaihi was part of a Qatari delegation that included Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed al-Thani, the Post reported.

The solicitation would be the latest such exchange offered by Cohen to be made public following acknowledgements by U.S. and European companies last week that they paid Cohen, who was Trump's lawyer for about a decade and self-described "fixer" for Trump.

Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG said it had paid Cohen nearly $1.2 million; U.S. telecommunications company AT&T Inc said it made payments of $600,000; and South Korea's Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd said it hired him for $150,000.

Novartis and AT&T have said they were contacted by the office of U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller about the situation in late 2017. Mueller is investigating possible collusion between Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and Russia, something that Trump has repeatedly denied.

At the same time, prosecutors are investigating Cohen for possible bank and tax fraud, possible campaign law violations linked to a hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, and perhaps other matters related to Trump's presidential campaign, a person familiar with the probe has said. (Reporting by Eric Beech and Tim Ahmann)

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