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Asia300

Korean company said to be part of Trump lawyer probe

Korea Aerospace translator questioned about half year-long consultancy

U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen leaves federal court in the Manhattan borough of New York City on Apr. 16.   © Reuters

NEW YORK -- A South Korean aircraft maker has emerged in the probe into U.S. President Donald Trump's long-time personal lawyer Michael Cohen. 

The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that FBI agents have interviewed a California man who served as a translator between Korea Aerospace Industries and Cohen. 

Korea Aerospace Industries, or KAI, was revealed last week to have paid $150,000 to Cohen's firm Essential Consultants in November. The Sacheon-based company is South Korea's sole aircraft maker and is partnered with U.S.-based defense contractor Lockheed Martin.

The two had been vying for a roughly $16 billion contract to replace the U.S. Air Force's T-38 trainers in a competition called the T-X Trainer, and ultimately beat out  Boeing in the race.

"KAI has said the payment to Cohen's company was not related to the bid for the trainer jet contract or another maintenance contract, worth up to $48.8 million, that it won from the U.S. Air Force in October," the Post reported, adding that the consulting relationship lasted less than six months and ended after the November payment.

Cohen first became a subject of the FBI's investigation after a $130,000 payment was made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels as part of a deal to not disclose her story of an alleged affair with Trump shortly before the election. The probe was further complicated when numerous suspiciously large deposits to his shell company -- many of them from foreign sources -- were revealed.

According to the Post, KAI translator Mark Ko spoke with the FBI "a few weeks ago," but declined to provide details about the investigators' inquiries. He was unsure whether the agents were part of special counsel Robert Mueller's broader investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, the newspaper reported.

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