USPresident Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen Photograph:( Reuters )
Michael Avenatti, adult actress Stormy Daniels' lawyer, on Tuesday, claimed that US President Donald Trump's attorney Michael Cohen, who had also paid Daniels US $130,000 to keep quiet about her encounter with Trump, has received US $500,000 from a Russian billionaire in months after the 2016 US elections.
In a tweet and report released on Tuesday, Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti said a company controlled by Viktor Vekselberg, a businessman with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, sent the payment to Cohen. The payments were allegedly made between January and August 2017.
After significant investigation, we have discovered that Mr. Trump’s atty Mr. Cohen received approximately $500,000 in the mos. after the election from a company controlled by a Russian Oligarc with close ties to Mr. Putin. These monies may have reimbursed the $130k payment.— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) May 8, 2018
An attorney for the Renova affiliate, Columbus Nova, said it hired Cohen as a business consultant and that Vekselberg had no involvement in the payments. Columbus Nova is an U.S. investment arm of Renova Group, a conglomerate controlled by Vekselberg. Both Vekselberg and Renova were hit last month by U.S. sanctions for suspected meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and other alleged "malign activity."
AT&T, the telecoms corporation, confirmed it had made payments to Cohen’s firm during 2017 for “insights into understanding the new administration”.
"Essential Consultants was one of several firms we engaged in early 2017 to provide insights into understanding the new administration. They did no legal or lobbying work for us, and the contract ended in December 2017," AT&T said in a statement.
Avenatti also said he discovered four payments of just under $100,000 each by drugmaker Novartis to Essential Consultants, the same company used by Cohen to make payments to Daniels. Novartis, a Swiss-based pharmaceuticals firm, did not dispute that it paid Cohen.