"Big mistake": Read AT&T CEO's letter of regret about hiring Michael Cohen

NEW YORK, An attorney for porn star Stormy Daniels said on Tuesday that President Donald Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, was paid $500,000 by a company with ties to a Russian oligarch who was hit last month with United States sanctions to punish Moscow for activities that included suspected meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

Essential Consultants paid $130,000 to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, days before the 2016 presidential election as part of a nondisclosure agreement that barred her from discussing an alleged sexual encounter with Trump.

Cohen didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

As ProPublica reported previous year, Cohen spent a short period in February 2017 working at the offices of Kasowitz Benson Torres in midtown Manhattan, alarming several lawyers at the firm who anxious about the brash attorney's reputation. The spokesman said that Columbus Nova was not aware that the sites had been registered before Wednesday.

Public documents describe Columbus Nova as the U.S. affiliate of the Russian investment company Renova Group, which is chaired by Viktor Vekselberg, who is a cousin of Andrew and Frederick Intrater.

In response to that reporting, Columbus Nova has attempted to distance itself from Vekselberg and Renova Group. The White House says Trump denies the affair. Cohen on a retainer contract of $50,000 per month, having paid him $600,000 in total, with their relationship ending last December.


According to a CNN source, investigators from Mueller's team were interested in the payments that Victor Vekselber's structures transferred to the accounts of US President Donald Trump's lawyer.

The AT&T CEO also included a fact sheet with his letter to employees detailing the company's versions of events around hiring Cohen. He said all the payments were made in late 2017 and early 2018. In a letter to employees, Narasimhan said he was not involved in any aspect of the transaction and felt "frustrated" with the arrangement. Politico later confirmed the news.

The Department of Justice has since sued to block the $85 billion merger.

Michael Avenatti, the lawyer representing Stormy Daniels, released a memo this week alleging Cohen received approximately half a million dollars from a company linked to Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg along with payments from other companies, including telecommunications conglomerate AT&T.

They included a subsidiary of Swiss-based drug-maker Novartis, telecom giant AT&T and Columbus Nova, an American firm tied to Russian businessman Victor Vekselberg, who is under US sanctions.

On Wednesday, AT&T said it had cooperated fully with Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the Russian Federation probe in November and December.

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