"We don't know the answer to that very important question yet but one thing is for sure - investigators in USA attorney's office in Manhattan and the special counsel have probably been digging into that already for some time and will try to get to the bottom of it", Rocah said. "Keep in mind - it was a whole new environment and the usual players were no longer in [their] role".
An attorney for porn star Stormy Daniels said he has additional evidence linking a Russian businessman to U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, as worldwide and U.S. companies on Wednesday acknowledged large payments to Cohen's consulting firm. According to Avenatti's document, Cohen used the same firm to pay out Daniels. The agreement was for a term of one year, and paid Essential Consultants 100,000 United States dollars per month.
After a first meeting in March 2017, they realized that Cohen and his firm Essential Consultants LLC weren't so essential after all.
The company inked the deal with Cohen and EC LLC in February of 2017, hoping that Cohen could "advise the company" about the incoming Trump administration's planned changes to the Affordable Care Act, the nationwide health insurance program more commonly known as Obamacare. But the contract could not be terminated, so the payments to Cohen continued until February 2018, Novartis said.
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'Not a Payment' An attorney for Cohen said he wouldn't discuss the $500,000 from Vekselberg, according to a tweet posted by a reporter. Avenatti's document said it had paid Essential Consultants $150,000 in November a year ago.
OK, we didn't know the name either, but he's one of the Russian oligarchs who got sanctioned in March over Russia's cyberattacks on the USA - and closely tied to (drumroll) President Vladimir Putin. His cousin, the American head of Columbus Nova, was also reportedly questioned, CNN reported Tuesday. The companies later confirmed the payments. "Neither Viktor Vekselberg nor anyone else other than Columbus Nova's owners were involved in the decision to hire Cohen or provided funding for his engagement". But the US company, Columbus Nova, and Vekselberg deny the money had anything to do with him. Columbus Nova disputed that claim in a statement, saying that Cohen was hired as "a business consultant regarding potential sources of capital and potential investments in real estate and other ventures".
Other clients listed in Avenatti's document with global ties included Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI), a company that has been bidding for a $16 billion US military contract in partnership with Lockheed Martin.
The company determined after meeting with Cohen that the lawyer's assistance was not helpful.
Cohen is the subject of a separate criminal investigation by federal authorities in NY.
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Cohen has no background in health care or public policy.
In television interviews with ABC News and MSNBC, Avenatti declined to say how he obtained information about the payments.
"Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen have a lot of explaining to do". He did not immediately return a request for comment from Business Insider. Separately, federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating the payment and Cohen's broader business practices, and there are increasing indications that Cohen may be under financial strains.
The U.S. Treasury Department's inspector general's office said on Wednesday it opened an investigation into whether confidential banking records involving Cohen may have been leaked.
"Shouldn't there be many more facts before accusing Mr. Cohen of any improper or illegal conduct?" he said.
"Mr. Cohen inexplicably accepted these payments while he was the personal attorney to the President and holding himself out at times as employed by the Trump Organization (with few other clients)", the memo said.
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"Presumably, some people paid plenty to Cohen to secure a relationship with superior access to Trump", Coffey said.