AT&T may have paid Trump lawyer up to $600000

Stormy Daniels

Mr Vekselberg is among a handful of Russians to have been sanctioned by the United States over the Kremlin's election meddling, the subject of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. Avenatti described those payments on national television last night, before they were fully confirmed by the Times.

Companies, including AT&T and the drug company Novartis, paid Cohen during the time he was working out of Squire Patton Boggs offices, but the firm says it wasn't aware of the LLC or the payments. However, Novartis couldn't get out of the contract without cause and eventually paid out the full value of the year-long deal to Cohen.

Special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators have questioned Vekselberg about the payments that his USA affiliate made to Cohen, a source familiar with the matter has told CNN.

On Wednesday, two lawmakers - Democratic Sens.

Cohen personally contacted the company early in 2017, after Trump's election victory, and spoke with then-CEO Joe Jimenez, who ordered subordinates to sign Cohen on to help the company navigate changes in ObamaCare and other health care issues.

It was not immediately clear how Avenatti knew about the payments, and he declined to say how in TV interviews with ABC and MSNBC.

Michael Avenatti, attorney and spokesperson for adult film star Stormy Daniels, listens to a reporters' question during an interview at The Associated Press, March 21, 2018, in NY.

The companies' arrangements with Cohen show how eager corporate executives were to establish ties to a new administration that did not seem to play by the typical Washington rule book or work in the traditional circles of power.

Daniels maintains Cohen paid her $130,000 via Essential Consultants to hush up a 2006 sexual encounter with Trump.

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Mueller's team is probing whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russian Federation to get him elected, an allegation the president has repeatedly and vehemently denied.

"The search warrant executed by the FBI on Mr. Cohen's office had nothing to do with matters handled by the firm, neither our firm nor any of our clients are involved in the federal investigation of Cohen", Kakolyris said.

"Essential Consulting was one of several firms we engaged in early 2017 to provide insights into understanding the new administration", AT&T said in a statement Tuesday evening.

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But in a memo to employees sent Wednesday, the telecommunications giant says it didn't pay Michael Cohen for legal or lobbying work.

Vekselberg was targeted for US sanctions by the Trump administration last month. The payments have the appearance of a secretive attempt to buy access to the president or perhaps even attempt to sway his opinion on the issues AT&T has pending in front of the government. "Novartis considers this matter closed", it said. "All you had to do was watch CNN during the campaign", the source said, referring to Cohen's frequent appearances. Companies often hire consultants for these purposes, especially at the beginning of a new Presidential Administration, and we have done so in previous Administrations, as well. "Cohen was one of those consultants".

But under the contract that AT&T had with Cohen, the lawyer may have been paid up to $600,000, according to the source who spoke with CNBC.

Trump's arrival came at a particularly perilous time for both Novartis and AT&T. But it continued paying the firm to comply with terms of the contract until it expired in February of this year, according to Novartis.

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