Stormy Daniels’s lawyer: Cohen was paid $500K by Putin-tied company after election

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Stormy Daniels’s attorney Michael Avenatti said Tuesday that President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen received $500,000 in the months after the 2016 election from a company run by a Russian oligarch with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Avenatti said the funding may have been used to reimburse the $130,000 payment Cohen made to Daniels to stay quiet about her alleged affair with Trump.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani revealed last week that Trump had reimbursed Cohen $130,000, which was given to Daniels just days before the 2016 election. Cohen had earlier claimed that the nondisclosure payment came from his own funds, and Trump had told reporters he was unaware it had been been made.

Giuliani, who recently joined Trump’s personal legal team, has said that Trump only recently learned of the payment to Daniels, and he has not ruled out the possibility that Cohen made payments to other women on Trump’s behalf.

Avenatti released a report with preliminary findings about the bank account he says Cohen used to make the payment to Daniels. That account was made in the name of the company Cohen created to transfer the money to Daniels, Essential Consultants LLC.

{mosads}The report states that Cohen’s account received roughly $500,000 in payments from a company linked to Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg. Those payments were reportedly made between January and August 2017.

“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 report reads.

“This was occurring at the same time significant questions were being raised relating to (a) the involvement of Russia and Vladimir Putin in the 2016 Presidential Election and (b) the extent of the relationship between Mr. Putin and Mr. Trump.” 

CNN reported Tuesday evening that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has questioned Vekselberg about the payments to Cohen, as well as donations the head of his U.S. affiliate made to Trump’s campaign and inauguration fund.

Vekselberg, who is one of the subjects of recent U.S. sanctions, is one of two Russian oligarchs stopped by FBI agents earlier this year after their planes landed in New York.

The report released by Avenatti also claims that the bank account received payments totaling nearly $400,000 from global pharmaceutical company Novartis, and noted that Trump reportedly had a dinner meeting in Switzerland with the Novartis CEO shortly after the transactions were made.

The Hill has reached out to Cohen’s attorney Stephen Ryan for comment.

Daniels, an adult-film star whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, says she had an affair with Trump more than a decade ago. She is suing to negate the nondisclosure agreement she signed with Cohen, as well as suing both Cohen and Trump for defamation after they accused her of lying.

This story was updated at 11:30 a.m. on July 6 to accurately describe the relationship between Vekselberg and his company.

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