AT&T says it cooperated with Russian Federation probe special counsel in Cohen case

10 May, 2018, 06:45 | Author: Genevieve Gibbs
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Mueller's team is probing whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russian Federation to get him elected, an allegation the president has repeatedly and vehemently denied.

AT&T may have paid President Donald Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen's private firm up to $600,000 as part of a consulting contract, CNBC reports.

Avenatti isn't disclosing the source of his information or releasing documentation. He denies having an affair with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti, had said Cohen's shell company, Essential Consultants, had received a total of $200,000 in four monthly installment payments of $50,000 from AT&T.

Novartis said it had been contacted by Mr Mueller's office and had co-operated fully.

Columbus Nova's lawyer, Richard Owens, said in a statement the company is "solely owned and controlled by Americans". He is also under criminal investigation by federal prosecutors in NY, who are probing his business dealings.

AT&T confirmed the authenticity of the memo, but did not comment further on the amount paid to Cohen's firm.

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In an April legal filing following the raid on his offices, federal prosecutors noted that Cohen was contracted to receive a $500,000 annual "strategic alliance fee" from Squire Patton Boggs, in addition to a cut of fees paid by the clients referred by Cohen.

Reasons for the payments varied from insight into the Trump administration to help with United States accounting rules. He built his fortune, now estimated by Forbes at $14.6 billion, by investing in the aluminum and oil industries.

Eric Althoff, a spokesman for Novartis, a multinational pharmaceutical company, said it entered into a one-year agreement with Essential Consultants in February 2017 to focus on health care policy.

But Cohen was paid for nearly all of 2017, according to the company's timeline. What better way to achieve that goal than to spend $10 million, which it did past year, lobbying Congress and $150,000 to essentially bribe the president?

"Suggestions to the contrary clearly misrepresent the facts and can only be meant to further personal or political agendas as to which Novartis should not be a part", the company said, adding that it considers the matter "closed".

"Essential Consulting was one of several firms we engaged in early 2017 to provide insights into understanding the new administration".

Eight payments totaling $500,000 were received between January and August 2017 from Columbus Nova, the USA arm of the Renova Group controlled by Vekselberg, the oligarch who has close ties to Russian leader Vladimir Putin and attended Trump's January 2017 inauguration.

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The company said it was contacted by Mueller's office in November of a year ago and that it had fully cooperated.

Mr Cohen initiated discussions with the drugmaker, according to a person familiar with the situation who asked not to be named because the matter isn't public. Daniels has filed two related lawsuits against Trump and Cohen.

AT&T is trying to buy media conglomerate Time Warner for $85 billion.

While Narasimhan was among business leaders who dined with Trump in Davos at the World Economic Forum in January, Novartis said that had nothing to do with its contract with Cohen.

In its statement, Novartis said it sought advice on healthcare policy, but Cohen could not deliver what he promised. "He's not known for policy and he's not in the administration".

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