Grifting is a gold rush business in the Era of Trump. Don Jr. and Eric got the ball rolling when they set out to peddle a photo op with Pops for $1Million, inauguration weekend, before Hope Hicks backpedaled it. Then it was revealed that Michael Cohen’s shell company netted $4.4Million in 2017 for “consulting fees” from the likes of Novartis and AT&T. But those deals were chump change. The real money for Cohen was to come from a contract he signed in April to provide a top Trump donor with a $5Billion government loan from the Department of Energy to complete two nuclear reactors that Haney just happened to buy in November of 2016. Cohen was offered a $10Million “success fee” when he obtained the funding. Wall Street Journal:
A major donor to President Trump agreed to pay $10 million to the president’s then-personal attorney if he successfully helped obtain funding for a nuclear-power project, including a $5 billion loan from the U.S. government, according to people familiar with the matter.
The donor, Franklin L. Haney, gave the contract to Trump attorney Michael Cohen in early April to assist his efforts to complete a pair of unfinished nuclear reactors in Alabama, known as the Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant, these people said.
Had he been paid the success fee, Mr. Cohen’s deal with Mr. Haney could have been among the most lucrative of the known consulting agreements he secured after Mr. Trump’s election by emphasizing his personal relationship with the president, according to people familiar with his pitches.
You’ll love the timing on this. Cohen met with Haney April 5 and spent the night on his yacht. Also in town was a Quatari delegation, and part of Cohen’s job was to pitch the nuclear plant to them as an investment. Cohen may have thought at that time that he had a good chance of bringing the project to fruition, but that idea went up on smoke a few days later when the FBI raided his office April 9.
Under the contract, Mr. Haney agreed to pay Mr. Cohen a monthly retainer in addition to the $10 million success fee if he could help obtain the funding, including approval of the full amount of the project’s application under a U.S. Department of Energy loan program, the people familiar with the deal said.
Mr. Cohen’s fee would be reduced proportionally if he helped obtain less funding than the contract stipulated, according to a person familiar with the agreement.
A loan application by Mr. Haney’s company is still pending at the Energy Department. Mr. Cohen hasn’t communicated with Energy Secretary Rick Perry about Mr. Haney’s project, according to the Energy Department. Mr. Cohen made several calls to officials at the Energy Department in the spring to inquire about the loan guarantee process, including what could be done to speed it up, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Speaking of timing, here’s more interesting detail.
Mr. Haney’s company, Nuclear Development, entered into a $111 million contract in November 2016 to purchase the partially completed Bellefonte Nuclear Plant from the Tennessee Valley Authority. Mr. Haney has until November to close on the purchase.
A month after the purchase agreement, in December 2016, Mr. Haney donated $1 million to the Trump inaugural fund through a corporate entity, Federal Election Commission records show. He had previously backed mostly Democrats.
Five congress members, all Republicans, (Mo Brooks, Martha Robey, Robert Aderholt, Chuck Fleischmann, and Bradley Byrne) wrote a letter to Trump in May advocating approval of Haney’s loan application, despite the fact that the Tennessee Valley Authority, from whom Haney bought the partially completed power plant at an auction where it was sold for surplus, said that it wouldn’t need any large scale facilities that can generate electricity for at least twenty years.
So Haney bought Bellefonte cheap at auction, gave Trump $1Million, contracted with Cohen for $10Million to close the deal with the Department of Energy for $5Billion, plus he’s got five congress members lobbying as well — on a deal the TVA says it doesn’t even need.
The swamp is getting more crowded all the time.