Avenatti Ties Trump Attorney Michael Cohen to $500k Russian Oligarch Payment

Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels Attorney, Stephanie Clifford, Porn Star, Donald Trump

Michael Avenatti has released a report which claims Trump attorney Michael Cohen received half a million dollars from a Russian oligarch in the wake of the 2016 presidential election. Avenatti further opined that the purported $500,000 in payment from Russian sources “may have” been the source of the $130,000 payment Cohen in turn made to porn star Stormy Daniels to shut her up about an alleged affair with President Donald Trump.

Avenatti is the attorney for porn star Stormy Daniels, who in turn is suing President Donald Trump over a nondisclosure agreement related to a purported hush payment which she claims resulted from an alleged extramarital affair. Trump has denied an affair took place.

In the report, which was released late Tuesday, Avenatti further claims the shell company used to facilitate the payment from Cohen to Daniels, Essential Consultants, LLC, was “exclusively owned and controlled by Mr. Cohen.” Avenatti’s report further explains the alleged relationship between Essential Consultants and Cohen’s bank. The report claims Cohen made certain statements to his bank pursuant to its “anti-money laundering protocol.” Avenatti claims in his report that Cohen told the bank:

  • Essential is a real estate consulting company that collects fees for investment consulting work;
  • The company’s typical clients are U.S.-based high net worth individuals;
  • The company’s primary source of funds will be derived from within the U.S. or a U.S.-based company;
  • The company expected one (1) to twenty (20) incoming domestic only wires totaling $1,000 to $10,000 each month for consulting fees, and one (1) to twenty (20) ACH credits and electronic transfers totaling $1,000 to $10,000 each month;
  • No outgoing wire transfers and debits related to ACH or electronic transfers were expected; and
  • Receipts of the business would be internally transferred to Mr. Cohen’s personal account at First Republic Bank.

Avenatti’s report says Cohen used the account ultimately to move $4,425,033.46 in payments. It concludes that “within approximately 75 days of the payment to Ms. Clifford, Mr. Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian Oligarch with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, caused substantial funds to be deposited into the bank account from which Mr. Cohen made the payment. It appears that these funds may have replenished the account following the payment to Ms. Clifford.” The report also names Vekselberg’s cousin, Andrew Intrater, as a source of payments. According to Avenatti:

Mr. Cohen inexplicably accepted these payments while he was the personal attorney to the President and holding himself out at times as employed by the Trump Organization (with few other clients). This was occurring at the same time significant questions were being raised relating to (a) the involvement of Russia and Vladimir Putin in the 2016 Presidential Election and (b) the extent of the relationship between Mr. Putin and Mr. Trump.

The payments, according to the report, did not stop there. Essential Consultants, LLC also received payments from pharmaceutical giant Novartis, telephone company AT&T, airplane and satellite manufacturer Korea Aerospace Industries, and former RNC Deputy Finance Chair Elliott Broidy. It is unclear from the report why these individuals and companies were conducting business with Essential Consultants. California attorney Keith Davidson is also listed in Avenatti’s report as having financial transactions with Essential Consultants. Avenatti’s report also details purported financial transactions between Cohen and accounts in Singapore, Hungary, Malaysia, Canada, Taiwan, Kenya, and Israel.

The report, which Avenatti made available here, appears to have been produced by his own law firm. It contains seven pages of information and is presented as fact; however, it cites no sources for the information. Law&Crime has reached out Avenatti to inquire about the sources of the information he presents as fact in the report. We will update this post accordingly if we receive a response. Others are inquiring publicly as well:

Law&Crime contributor Robert Barnes is even more suspicious:

The Atlantic tried to secure a comment from Cohen’s attorney, who claimed the $500,000 from Russian sources “wasn’t a payment” before hanging up:

Several NBC staffers reported that AT&T said it “engaged” Essential Consultants “to provide insights into understanding the new administration” under a “contract.”

[Editor’s Note:  Law&Crime has updated this post multiple times as new information continued to pour in.]

[Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.]

Aaron Keller is an attorney licensed in two states. He holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. During law school, he completed legal residencies in the Office of the New Hampshire Attorney General and in a local prosecutor’s office. He was employed as a summer associate in the New Hampshire Department of Safety, which manages the state police, and further served as a summer law clerk for a New York trial judge. Before law school, Keller worked for television stations in New York and in the Midwest, mostly as an evening news anchor and investigative reporter. His original reporting on the Wisconsin murder of Teresa Halbach was years later featured in the Netflix film "Making A Murderer."

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