AT&T Hired Firm of Michael Cohen as It Sought Trump 'Insights'

"It appears that these funds may have replenished the account following the payment to Ms. Clifford", read a summary of findings from Avenatti and Associates.

It concludes that "within approximately 75 days of the payment to Ms. Clifford, Mr. Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian Oligarch with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, caused substantial funds to be deposited into the bank account from which Mr. Cohen made the payment".

A lawyer for Cohen said he wouldn't discuss the US$500,000 from Vekselberg, according to a tweet posted by a reporter.

Vekselberg, a billionaire businessman, reportedly attended Trump's inauguration past year.

"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". The New York Times reported last week that Vekelsberg was stopped at an aiport and questioned by agents working with Special Counsel Robert Mueller about two months ago; CNN reported on Tuesday that agents asked him about the payments to Cohen, seemingly confirming Avenatti's assertion of the transaction.

Taken together, the Times' reporting and Avenatti's document offer the most detailed picture to date on Cohen's business dealings and financial entanglements in the run-up to and aftermath of the election.

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.

Cohen's attorney Todd Harrison, of the firm McDermott, Will & Emery, did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.

It Seems Mueller Just Doubled His Witness List For Manafort's Trial
Manafort, 69, is challenging indictments for bank and tax fraud Mueller filed against him in federal court in Alexandria, Va. Manafort's lawyer, Kevin Downing, has argued that a special counsel should be tightly constrained in how it operates.

The document claimed that AT&T paid Cohen's company four separate installments of $50,000, totaling $200,000, in late 2017 and early 2018.

AT&T Inc. confirmed that it hired a firm established by Donald Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, saying it was seeking "insights" around the time the new administration was inaugurated previous year. The other companies were Novartis AG, AT&T and Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd.

Andrew Intrater, the chief executive of Renova's USA subsidiary Columbus Nova, contributed $250,000 to Trump's presidential inauguration fund in January last year and a further $35,000 to Trump's re-election fund in June last year.

Separately, Avenatti cited a single payment of $150,000 from Korea Aerospace.

While it is illegal for foreigners to donate to USA politicians, Intrater is an American citizen. First Republic declined to comment.

According to Avenatti, Novartis made four payments of $99,980 into the account in late 2017 and early 2018. AT&T confirmed its connection on Tuesday evening.

Offering confirmation for at least one of the payments, AT&T said in a statement that Essential Consultants was one of several firms it "engaged in early 2017 to provide insights into understanding the new administration".

  • Stacy Houston