The erstwhile “strategic alliance” between Squire Patton Boggs and longtime Donald Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen is continuing to land the firm in the headlines.
A Squire contract with Cohen forming the alliance in 2017 showed Cohen would receive $500,000 a year, according to a prosecutors’ filing in New York. Cohen was also poised to get a cut of the fees Squire collected from clients he referred to the firm.
Cohen referred five “client opportunities” to Squire during their association, according to an internal law firm email cited by The New York Times. One of those clients, as reported Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal, is the U.S. Immigration Fund LLC, an entity with ties to the family company of White House adviser Jared Kushner. Kushner is married to the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump.
The U.S. Immigration Fund is one of Squire’s top 10 lobbying clients so far in 2018. The $150,000 Squire received in lobbying income from the fund represents about 2 percent of all of the firm’s lobbying income thus far this year, according to data compiled by OpenSecrets.org. Last year Squire received $220,000 for lobbying on the fund’s behalf.
The U.S. Immigration Fund, the only one of Cohen’s referral clients to become public so far, paid Squire to lobby Congress over the EB-5 visa program, which grants residency to high-paying foreign investors. The fund arranged a trip to China last year for several officials of the Kushner family’s company, including Jared Kushner’s sister.
The journal said Cohen first introduced the fund’s CEO, Nicholas Mastroianni II, to Squire lobbyist Edward Newberry last year. Newberry is one of four Squire lobbyists who registered to influence lawmakers on the fund’s behalf.
Squire has worked to distance itself from Trump’s lawyer ever since Cohen’s post in the firm’s New York office was raided by the FBI in April. The firm immediately scrubbed its website of any mention of its “strategic alliance” with Cohen and announced the relationship had ended.
Squire has also denied any involvement in payments made to Essential Consultants, a firm created by Cohen shortly before the 2016 election that reportedly took in millions of dollars from a company tied to a Russian oligarch, as well as from AT&T and the pharmaceuticals company Novartis. Cohen used funds from Essential Consultants to make a $130,000 nondisclosure payment to adult film star Stephanie Clifford on the president’s behalf.
The nature of Cohen’s work at Squire wasn’t immediately apparent to his colleagues working side by side with him in New York, where he kept a lock on his office door.
Following the FBI’s raid on Cohen’s office and hotel room, Cohen’s attorney, Stephen Ryan of McDermott Will & Emery, filed a letter in a Manhattan court saying documents seized by the FBI could contain information on Squire. As the dispute plays in out Southern District of New York, it appears likely that more of Cohen’s activities during his affiliation with the firm could soon become public.