Firm tied to Russian oligarch made payments to Trump lawyer Cohen

"References to the transactions first appeared in a document posted to Twitter on Tuesday by Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for Stephanie Clifford, the pornographic film star who was paid $130,000 by Essential Consultants to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Mr. Trump". AT&T, whose proposed merger with Time Warner is pending before the Justice Department, issued a statement on Tuesday evening confirming that it made payments to Cohen's firm.

CNN, for the record, has not independently authenticated documents appearing to show the payments Avenatti is talking about.

Outside Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said that though former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen has no damning information on the President, Giuliani still feels bad that a "respectable" person like Cohen was put through the indignities of an Federal Bureau of Investigation raid.

The memo, containing highly specific dates and amounts, stated that Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian billionaire, and his cousin "routed" eight payments totaling approximately $500,000 to Cohen's company, Essential Consultants, between January and August 2017. Conway said Trump meant to say he did not know about the payment at the time it was made.

"This is probably why Cohen's offices were raided", Zeldin, the legal analyst, said about the payments detailed in Avenatti's memo.

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Adding to the intrigue: The payments were made to the same bank account that Cohen had created in 2016 to execute the now infamous hush payment to Daniels, Avenatti said.

Owens said any suggestion that Vekselberg used Columbus Nova as a conduit for payments to Cohen are false.

Vekselberg is the chairman of Renova, a Russian investment company. Shortly after Avenatti's tweet, AT&T admitted it retained Cohen for "insight" into the Trump administration. Notably, the Trump administration slapped him with sanctions last month along with other oligarchs accused of "malign activities", including meddling in the 2016 election. More recently, he has expanded his assets to include industrial equipment and high technology. It also denied that Essential did any legal or lobbying work for the company. She has also filed defamation suits against Trump and Cohen.

"Mr. Cohen inexplicably accepted these payments while he was the personal attorney to the President and holding himself out at times as employed by the Trump Organization (with few other clients)", the report reads.

Novartis and Korea Aerospace did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

  • Sonia Alvarado