Trump 'fixer' Michael Cohen now the target of prosecutors


ISTOCK/HOHLNovartis reportedly paid Essential Consultants, a company run by President Donald Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen, $1.2 million, but has since ended a contract with the firm, according to Reuters. The payments Avenatti alleges Cohen received from corporate entities amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars from each company.

Before becoming Trump's right-hand man, Cohen - a burly guy with thick salt-and-pepper hair - was, in fact, a personal injury lawyer representing clients injured in auto accidents. Cohen-linked firm Essential Consultants drew at least $2.95M from corporate clients after Trump's election. Giuliani told the Times that the payments began after the election, but he told the Post that Cohen might have used some of Trump's money before the election, too.

The letter, signed by Cohen's attorneys Stephen Ryan and Todd Harrison, calls Avenatti's report "deliberately distorted" and "a toxic mix of disinformation".

In television interviews with ABC News and MSNBC, Avenatti declined to say how he obtained information about the payments.

Michael Avenatti, lawyer and spokesperson for grownup movie star Stormy Daniels, listens to a reporters' query throughout an interview at The Related Press, March 21, 2018, in NY. "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", he said.

"When we were contacted by the Special Counsel's office regarding Michael Cohen, we cooperated fully, providing all information requested in November and December of 2017", the company said in a written statement. Avenatti's document said KAI, which is competing for a Pentagon contract, paid Cohen $150,000 in November previous year.

In a court filing Wednesday in New York, Cohen's lawyers pushed back on Avenatti's document, saying it contained "blatantly incorrect statements". Just before Election Day in 2016, Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 not to talk about those allegations.

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True to form, Avenatti makes various tantalizing assumptions throughout the report.

In the best-case scenario for Trump, investigators would find no evidence that Trump was aware of any of the possible Cohen influence-peddling and no evidence that Russian money made its way to anyone with whom Trump allegedly had affairs; Cohen's work would not qualify as "lobbying" (for which he was not registered) and no quid pro quo would be uncovered.

The US Treasury Department's inspector general's office said it had opened an investigation into whether confidential banking records involving Cohen may have been leaked.

After the agreement was struck in February 2017, Novartis said it held its first meeting with Cohen the following month.

The Justice Department is seeking to block AT&T's $85 billion purchase of Time Warner on the grounds that it would stifle competition.

The coveted medallions were once valued at more than $1 million each, but their value has plummeted with the arrival of ride-hailing services such as Uber. The payments continued through January 2018, the company said.

But the company has confirmed it also paid Cohen's company Essential Consultants for "insights into understanding the new administration" beginning in early 2017, when Trump was inaugurated. But while Novartis may be facing some heat reputation-wise-and facing important questions about its managerial judgment-it's not hard to see the financial rationale for the drug maker's seemingly cavalier attitude toward a $1.2 million sunk cost: The Cohen payment is barley even a blip on the Novartis' radar. Avenatti repeated this sentiment just hours later, highlighting the account of the anonymous Novartis employee.