Stormy Daniels' Lawyer Drops a Bombshell on Donald Trump's Lawyer

Last night, Michael Avenatti, who represents Stormy Daniels, published a document about Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's longtime personal lawyer, detailing a number of curious financial transactions from Cohen's personal finances.

Among them was a transaction showing Cohen had received approximately $500,000 from a company controlled by Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian Oligarch with close ties to Vladimir Putin, who attended Trump's inaugural and who was questioned by Special Counsel Bob Mueller at an airport earlier this year.

Specifically, Vekselberg and his cousin Andrew Intrater paid half a million dollars in eight separate transactions to Essential Consultants LLC, the shell company Cohen created and used as the front from which to make hush payments to Stormy Daniels on behalf of Trump and to Shera Bechard on behalf of (ostensibly) Elliott Broidy, who was then a deputy RNC finance chair, as was Michael Cohen.

When Avenatti first published the document last night, which also contained information that AT&T made payments to Cohen totaling $200,000 and that the drug manufacturer Novartis made payments to Cohen totalling almost $400,000, there was no substantiating documentation of those payments, but, since then, Vekselberg's company Columbus Nova, AT&T, and Novartis have all confirmed the payments as described.

AT&T said the payments were made to get "insights" from Cohen into the Trump administration.

So, Cohen appears to have been selling access to the president to corporations, at minimum. But Avenatti, in the executive summary of the document, suggested that the money from Vekselberg "may have been used to reimburse Cohen for the $130,000 payment made to Daniels in exchange for her silence about an alleged affair with Trump."

Which is rather more significant than selling access, itself already a very serious offense.

Once again, I have no other conclusion to a piece of news about further evidence of Trump-Russia collusion than this: Once upon a time, this would have mattered. I hope it still does.

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