Novartis Got Out-Lawyered by Michael Cohen for Trump Services

This image released by NBC shows adult film actress Stormy Daniels during an appearance on

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Prior to working for Trump as a lawyer and "fixer", Cohen made a fortune in real estate and the previously lucrative NY taxi business. "Keep in mind - it was a whole new environment and the usual players were no longer in [their] role".

Among US$4.43 million in transactions he identified as suspicious were deposits from telco AT&T and a unit of drugmaker Novartis to the Cohen firm.

"Novartis was contacted in November 2017 by lawyers from the Special Counsel's office regarding the company's agreement with Essential Consultants". Both Trump and another of his personal attorneys, Rudy Giuliani, confirmed the president had paid Cohen back and that no campaign funds were used to pay off Daniels.

New questions being raised about Cohen's role and work for Trump could further pressure Cohen after the FBI raided his home and office last month as part of a criminal investigation of his business dealings and a payment to Daniels.

A spokesman for Korea Aerospace Industries said the company had signed a contract with Essential Consultants previous year for legal consulting concerning accounting standards on production costs, and upon the expiration of the contract, made a payment in November.

Novartis first met with Mr. Cohen in March 2017.

"With the recent change in administration, Novartis believed that Michael Cohen could advise the company as to how the Trump administration might approach certain United States healthcare policy matters, including the Affordable Care Act", Novartis said in a statement to Business Insider. But the company continued to pay him up to February 2018 because "the contract could unfortunately only be terminated for cause".

We've run down the full list of companies that paid Cohen, how much they paid, and what they said they paid for below. Rudy Giuliani, an outside attorney representing Trump in the special counsel's Russian Federation probe, has said that Trump reimbursed Cohen for his porn star payoff.

Essential Consultants "was one of several firms we engaged in early 2017 to provide insights into understanding the new administration".

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.

Last month, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on Russians including Vekselberg and his Renova Group that were meant to punish Russia for actions in Crimea, Ukraine and Syria, and for attempts to subvert Western democracies. Columbus Nova is exclusively owned and controlled by Americans, the company said in a statement. All three companies subsequently confirmed the payments.

Vekselberg attended Trump's inauguration and was on a list of Russian oligarchs facing additional sanctions by the Trump administration last month.

Perhaps the most notable payment to Essential Consultants was $500,000 from Columbus Nova, a US -based affiliate of a company controlled by a Russian oligarch, Victor Vekselberg, according to the documents released by Avenatti.

At issue is an account of bank transactions involving Trump attorney Michael Cohen. But the USA company, Columbus Nova, and Vekselberg deny the money had anything to do with him.

The company also has claimed that it hired Cohen as a consultant for possible sources of capital and potential real estate investments and other ventures.

The company is in contention for a multibillion joint USA contract with Lockheed Martin for jet trainers. Dow Jones, citing a source, reported that AT&T paid Cohen's company up to $600,000.

Avenatti has repeatedly declined to reveal how he obtained the Essential Consulting banking information. There are increasing signs that Mr Cohen may be under financial strain. Cohen and his attorney did not respond to a request for comment to NBC News.

Inspector General Eric Thorson, who operates independently of the agency's political leadership, launched the probe in response to media reports, said counsel Rich Delmar.

"Shouldn't there be many more facts before accusing Mr. Cohen of any improper or illegal conduct?" he said.

Did Michael Cohen take bribes from Russians and other people who wanted things from President Trump and then use that money to benefit Trump? And they are likely to study whether he attempted to directly influence government action, which in certain cases would have required him to register as a lobbyist, Coffey said.

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