Stormy Daniels’ lawyer claims to have stumbled upon hundreds of thousands of dollars in shady payments to President Trump’s longtime personal attorney — and special counsel Robert Mueller has already grilled a Russian oligarch about the alleged dealings, a report says.
Viktor Vekselberg, billionaire and chairman of asset manager Renova Group, apparently chatted with the feds about supposed payments his US affiliate made to lawyer Michael Cohen following the 2016 election.
Sources told CNN that he was also questioned about donations that the head of his American company, Columbus Nova, gave to Trump’s inaugural fund and campaign funds.
The alleged Cohen payments were made public on Tuesday by Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, who outlined them in a series of online documents.
“After significant investigation, we have discovered that Mr. Trump’s atty Mr. Cohen received approximately $500,000 in the mos. after the election from a company controlled by a Russian Oligarch with close ties to Mr. Putin,” Avenatti tweeted.
“These monies may have reimbursed the $130k payment” [that Cohen paid Daniels to clam up about their alleged one-night stand a decade earlier].”
In his online documents, Avenatti claims that Vekselberg “caused substantial funds to be deposited into the bank account from which Mr. Cohen made the payment” to Daniels.
The porn star was given $130,000 to keep quiet about an alleged affair she had with Trump before he became president. Cohen and Team Trump have offered shifting explanations for the payment.
Trump said aboard Air Force One last month that he had no knowledge of the payment or where the money came from — and told reporters to ask Cohen.
Cohen said he took out a loan on his home equity line of credit to pay Daniels off.
Then Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani blurted out on Shawn Hannity’s TV show last week that Cohen paid Daniels and was later reimbursed by the president.
The former mayor later said the payment — made in October 2016 — aimed to prevent Daniels from spilling her guts just weeks before the election.
Cohen, Giuliani and Trump have also denied that the pair hooked up at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe in 2006, when Trump’s third wife, Melania, was home caring for their infant son.
Meanwhile, published reports say Vekselberg is a Ukrainian-born Russian businessman and noted ally of Vladimir Putin.
He’s one of two Russian oligarchs to be targeted by the FBI in recent months as special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation continues to ramp up. His private jet was intercepted by federal agents back in March and his electronic devices were searched just moments after he landed at JFK airport.
Vekselberg has been placed on a list of sanctioned Russians by the Trump administration for election interference — and been barred from traveling to the US.
In addition to the alleged Cohen payments, Mueller’s investigators have also questioned him about political donations made by his American cousin, Andrew Intrater, who heads Columbus Nova.
Intrater didn’t respond to CNN’s requests for comment. His company, however, sent The Post a statement, saying: “Columbus Nova is a management company solely owned and controlled by Americans. After the inauguration, the firm hired Michael Cohen as a business consultant regarding potential sources of capital and potential investments in real estate and other ventures. Reports today that Viktor Vekselberg used Columbus Nova as a conduit for payments to Michael Cohen are false. The claim that Viktor Vekselberg was involved or provided any funding for Columbus Nova’s engagement of Michael Coehn is patently untrue. Neither Viktor Vekselberg nor anyone else other than Columbus Nova’s owners, were involved in the decision to hire Cohen or provided funding for his engagement.”
Cohen and Vekselberg did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment, either.
The Russian’s fortune is estimated at $13.6 billion, making him one of the country’s richest men.
“Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen have a lot of explaining to do,” Avenatti tweeted Tuesday.
Source: Read Full Article