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AT&T paid Trump lawyer for 'insights' on new administration

Stormy Daniels

She claims Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, paid her $130,000 to keep silent before the 2016 election.

Cohen's company, Essential Consultants LLC, received the money from a USA offshoot of the business empire of Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, lawyer Michael Avenatti claimed in a report he released Tuesday.

It said Novartis Investments S.A.R.L., a subsidiary of Switzerland-based pharmaceutical giant Novartis, made four payments of $99,980 each to Cohen's company between October and January. Shortly after Avenatti's tweet, AT&T admitted it retained Cohen for "insight" into the Trump administration. First Republic declined to comment.

Clifford is suing Trump for defamation, and has also sought to be released from the non-disclosure agreement.

"Columbus Nova is a management company exclusively owned and controlled by Americans", Columbus Nova's attorney Richard Owens said in a statement Tuesday night.

Other transactions described in the financial records range from hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments by Fortune 500 firms with business before the Trump administration, to small amounts related to unexplained activities in foreign countries.

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The stakes are sky-high for Cohen, who is now under a federal criminal investigation by the United States attorney's office in Manhattan and had his home, hotel room and office raided last month.

Aircraft manufacturer Korea Aerospace Industries paid the company $150,000 in November, the Times added.

The report released by Avenatti also claims that the bank account received payments totally almost $400,000 from global pharmaceutical company Novartis, and noted that Trump reportedly had a dinner meeting in Switzerland with the Novartis CEO shortly afterward the transactions were made. Following the payments, totalling just under US$400,000, Mr Trump had a dinner meeting with Novartis's incoming CEO ahead of a World Economic Forum gathering in Davos, Mr Avenatti said. Mr Trump regularly criticised Time Warner's CNN unit on the campaign trail and threatened to derail any merger. "They did no legal or lobbying work for us, and the contract ended in December 2017", AT&T said in a statement.

But it's the roughly $500,000 that Essential Consultants received from the Vekselberg business that was most notable in the Avenatti report. Representatives for the company couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Vekselberg was targeted for USA sanctions by the Trump administration last month.

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