Russian oligarch questioned about payments to Trump's lawyer


Michael Avenatti, the lawyer representing the adult-film star Stormy Daniels, alleged that a Novartis unit had paid Essential almost $400,000 in late 2017 and early 2018.

The attorney for Stormy Daniels - the porn star who received $130,000 to keep quiet about an alleged affair she had with Trump a decade ago - produced information on Tuesday evening. The company made four payments totaling almost $400,000 between November and January, according to Avenatti's document.

AT&T and Novartis have both confirmed the payments, saying that they were for consulting on policy matters after the election.

AT&T (T) has confirmed that it paid President Donald Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen $200,000 for insights on the Trump administration.

Columbus Nova noted that it is "solely owned and controlled by the Americans", while Vekselberg has reportedly never had "any contractual relationship with Cohen" nor does he "own or manage Columbus Nova", according to a report from Bloomberg.

The payments from Columbus Nova point to a potential new financial tie between the president's personal lawyer and a USA representative of a key Russian figure.

Mueller is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, as well as possible collusion by the Trump campaign in that interference.

What makes this even more interesting is the Trump administration has since placed Vekselberg under USA sanction while Intrater was a significant Republican National Committee (RNC) donor who reportedly gave a quarter-million dollars to Trump's inaugural committee and donated $35,000 to his reelection campaign in June 2017. At the time, AT&T was seeking government approval for its acquisition of Time Warner, CNN's parent company.

The document said AT&T paid Cohen's company, Essential Consultants, four separate installments of $50,000 in late 2017 and early 2018.

But just a month after signing the deal, Novartis executives had their first meeting with Cohen, and afterward "determined that Michael Cohen and Essentials Consultants would be unable to provide the services that Novartis had anticipated".

Cohen's finances are of intense interest to federal authorities in NY, who last month served search warrants on his home, office and hotel room, gathering documents related to the Daniels payments as well as Cohen's personal businesses. This is why the raid on Cohen's offices was so crucial. In March 2017, Novartis had its first meeting with Michael Cohen under this agreement. Avenatti had not yet released the supporting documents at the time of publication.

Neither Avenatti nor Cohen responded to requests from Reuters for comment.

Cohen is being investigated by New York's Southern District, where Giuliani was once the US attorney.

"The engagement of Essential Consultants predated Vas Narasimhan becoming Novartis CEO".

Novartis said in a statement that it struck a one-year agreement with Essential Consultants last February, shortly after Trump was sworn in as President of the United States. That company is partnered with Lockheed Martin in seeking a multi-billion dollar contract for advanced fighter jet training for the military, a contract that is going to be awarded sometime this year.

The former president's travel to Russian Federation for the speech and potential meetings with Vekselberg and others came as Hillary Clinton's State Department labored to drum up interest in a technology-sharing project, led by Vekselberg, called Skolkovo.

The New York Times and NBC News said they had reviewed financial documents that corroborated Mr Avenatti's claims.

Well, now we know that at least one of these companies has been on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's radar since at least November 2017. By law, only USA citizens and legal permanent residents can donate to a US inaugural committee. But the contract could not be terminated so Cohen was paid in full for the year, a spokesman said.