Scrutiny on corporate payments to Trump attorney Michael Cohen has Cleveland connection

May 10, 2018 GMT

Scrutiny on corporate payments to Trump attorney Michael Cohen has Cleveland connection

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The recent scrutiny over payments made to longtime Trump Organization attorney Michael Cohen has a connection to Cleveland, via his work for the law firm Squire Patton Boggs.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that it had obtained an email from Fred Nance, a longtime Cleveland attorney and global managing partner for Squire Patton Boggs, containing talking points intended to create distance between the law firm and Cohen. The FBI is investigating Cohen for possible bank fraud and campaign-finance violations under a referral made by Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating possible Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election. 

Nance’s email stated neither “our Firm nor any of our clients is involved in the federal investigation of Cohen,” the Times reported. And it described the firm’s “strategic alliance” with Cohen as “in keeping with our posture as a global multi-practice law firm with a premier Public Policy practice.”

Squire Patton Boggs was created through a 2014 merger of Cleveland’s Squire Sanders and Washington, D.C.’s Patton & Boggs. The mega-firm hired Cohen in 2017, paying him $500,000 annually to help develop business leads, according to the Wall Street Journal. In the aftermath of the 2016 election, companies including Squire Patton Boggs rushed to connect with people tied to President Donald Trump, including Cohen. But the firm cut ties with Cohen in March, shortly after the FBI raided space Cohen used at a firm office in New York City. 

Nance did not immediately return a message left for him at his Cleveland office Thursday. He became a global managing partner with Squire Patton Boggs in November 2016.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Cohen had helped recruit five corporate clients to Squire Patton Boggs, including U.S. Immigration Fund LLC, a company with ties to the family of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law. Cohen was recruited to Squire Patton Boggs by Edward Newberry, a different global managing partner with Squire Patton Boggs, the Journal has reported. 

Interest in Cohen’s business affairs increased this week after bank records for a company he controlled, Essential Consultants LLC were disclosed publicly. The inspector general for the U.S. Treasury Department is investigating whether the records, first shared publicly by an attorney working for a female adult film actress known as Stormy Daniels, were leaked. The records show Cohen received $2 million from major corporations, including Squire Patton Boggs, AT&T and Novartis, for advice on how to work with the Trump administration in the aftermath of the November 2016 election.