Stormy Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti has outlined a series of "suspicious financial transactions" involving close to $400,000 in payments Novartis made to the account of Essential Consultants, which was earlier used by Donald Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen to pay $130,000 to the adult film actress to keep her silent about allegations of an affair with the president.
The New York Times and NBC News said they had reviewed financial documents that corroborated Avenatti's claims.
CNN reported Tuesday evening that special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russian Federation probe MORE's team has questioned Vekselberg about the payments to Cohen, as well as donations the head of his USA affiliate made to Trump's campaign and inauguration fund.
But it's the roughly $500,000 that Essential Consultants received from the Vekselberg business that was most notable in the Avenatti report. Stephen Ryan, a lawyer representing Cohen, declined to comment.
The seven-page document, prepared by the law firm of Clifford's attorney, Michael Avenatti, outlines what it says are $4.4 million in payments to the corporate entity set up by Cohen shortly before the 2016 elections. CNN previously reported Federal Bureau of Investigation agents removed Cohen's computer, cell phone, business files and financial documents, according to the source. Those payments were made from January to August 2017. Novartis - whose chief executive was among 15 business leaders invited to dinner with Trump at the World Economic Forum in January - spent more than $10 million on lobbying in Washington a year ago and frequently seeks approvals from federal drug regulators.
Aircraft manufacturer Korea Aerospace Industries paid the company $150,000 in November, the Times added. The company, an aircraft manufacturer, is partners with Lockheed Martin, the American defense contractor, in competition for a multibillion-dollar contract to provide trainer jets for the U.S. Air Force that is expected to be awarded this year. First Republic declined to comment.
Novartis, the pharmaceutical giant, paid Essential Consultants almost $400,000; AT&T, $200,000; and Korea Aerospace Industries LTD, $150,000.
Larry Solomon, a spokesman for AT&T, confirmed the relationship with the firm in an email on Tuesday. "They did no legal or lobbying work for us, and the contract ended in December 2017", the company said in a statement.