Stormy Daniels' attorney questions Trump lawyer dealings; firms defend payments

Casey Dawson
May 10, 2018

In a court filing on Wednesday, Cohen's attorneys highlighted what they said were several errors in the Project Sunlight report - including references to other men also named Michael Cohen who are not related to Trump's longtime personal lawyer.

"Novartis cooperated fully with the special counsel's office and provided all the information requested", it said.

Swiss drug company Novartis said it previous CEO signed a one-year contract with Essential, from February 2017 to February 2018, "focused on USA health-care policy matters".

Novartis spokesman Eric Althoff says in an emailed statement that Novartis hired lawyer Michael Cohen for $100,000 a month to consult on health care matters, but determined after a single meeting with Cohen that he wouldn't be of use.

Michael Avenatti, the attorney for the adult-film star, Stormy Daniels, published the report, called Project Sunlight, on Tuesday.

Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 in October 2016 to stay silent about her alleged tryst with Trump in 2006.

Columbus Nova, an investment firm affiliated with oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, claimed any advisement Essential provided wasn't tied to the Russian big-wig.

The deposits - made to Cohen's shell company, Essential Consultants - first came to light in a report released earlier in the day by Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels. South Korea's Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd (KAI) said it hired the consultancy for services on accounting matters.

The report also claimed Novartis paid Cohen's company almost $400,000.

Avenatti tweeted: "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".

The Avenatti document revealed a series of payments to Essential Consultants beyond the "hush money" payment to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

Similar payments were made by AT&T, which paid a total of about $600,000 to Cohen's firm for a yearlong contract, according to a person familiar with the agreement.

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Avenatti called the complaint from Cohen's lawyers "baseless, improper and sanctionable".

Among the transactions reported by The Times was a $500,000 payment a year ago to Cohen from Columbus Nova, which according to public documents is described as a US-based affiliate of Renova Group, a company founded by Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg. Cohen did no legal or lobbying work for us, and our contract with Cohen expired at the end of its term in December 2017.

Cohen entered the public spotlight in 2017 when Buzzfeed published the Russian Federation dossier written by ex-British special agent Christopher Steele.

According to Reuters, AT&T may have shelled out as much as $600,000 past year to Essential Consultants.

AT&T said it hoped to gain "insights" into the new administration at a time when it sought approval from antitrust regulators for an $85 billion purchase of Time Warner Inc. "And instead, he says something and then the chyron's, Trump, Cohen Bombshell, Russian oligarch' without nearly looking into the details", Ingraham told the panel.

The Treasury Department's internal watchdog says it's investigating how detailed allegations about the banking records of President Donald Trump's personal lawyer became public.

Avenatti's material suggests the Treasury Department and the special counsel's office have bank and other records documenting wire transfers. This form of consulting grew dramatically under former President Barack Obama, who imposed regulations barring lobbyists from taking government jobs or entering the White House.

Mueller's office reportedly stopped and questioned Vekselberg on his way into the United States earlier this year as part of its investigation into Russia's attack on the 2016 presidential election.

Fox News contributor and Washington Examiner chief political correspondent Byron York agreed with Driscoll, noting, "If this is the smoking gun of collusion, why did Robert Mueller's investigators farm this case out to the attorneys at the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of NY?" The Kremlin denies meddling in the election.

"The Fake News is working overtime", he wrote on Twitter.

"I'm not going to get into somebody else's qualifications".

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