Michael Avenatti, the attorney for adult film actress Stormy Daniels, said on Tuesday that President Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, received about $500,000 from a company controlled by Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian oligarch under sanctions with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The money was given to Cohen in the months after the 2016 presidential election, Avenatti said, and may have reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 payment he made to Daniels in exchange for her silence regarding an affair she said she had with Trump in 2006. Cohen had said he used his own money for the payment, and Trump claimed he knew nothing about it, but last week, Trump's new lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said Trump reimbursed Cohen the $130,000 he paid Daniels.
Avenatti released a report stating that the company Cohen set up to make the payment to Daniels, Essential Consultants LLC, received $500,000 in payments from Vekselberg from January to August 2017. CNN reports that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team has asked Vekselberg about the payments, plus donations the head of his U.S. affiliate made to the Trump campaign and his inaugural fund. Avenatti's report also says the Essential Consultants LLC bank account received nearly $400,000 in payments from Novartis, deposited shortly before Trump reportedly had a meeting in Switzerland with the pharmaceutical company's CEO.