But hiring the president's personal attorney for advice on how to woo Trump would be highly unusual, especially given that Cohen was never formally involved in the campaign or Trump's administration. Novartis, which has been questioned about this by Mueller's team, says it "entered into a one year agreement with Essential Consultants shortly after the election of President Trump focused on US healthcare policy matters", for which it paid Cohen a remarkable $1.2 million.
A source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday that AT&T paid more than $200,000 to Cohen's company. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson met with him during the transition and has visited the White House as the company has sought approval to absorb Time Warner.
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. Peter Carr, the special counsel's spokesman, declined to comment. AT&T and the health giant Novartis confirmed to reporters that they'd hired Cohen for "insights" on policies that Trump might pursue.
AT&T said Cohen's company "did no legal or lobbying work for us, and the contract ended in December 2017".
She has sued both Trump and Cohen. And there are some interesting people doing business with Michael Cohen.
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The Treasury Department's Office of the Inspector General said Wednesday it was investigating how allegations about Cohen's banking records became public, a response to the memo released by Avenatti. He denies having an affair with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.
Under federal law, financial institutions must monitor their customers' activities and report suspicious transactions to the government.
Among the previously unreported transactions were payments a year ago totaling about $500,000 from Columbus Nova, an investment firm in NY whose biggest client is a company controlled by Viktor Vekselberg, the Russian oligarch. Most explosively, he claimed that Essential Consultants had received $500,000 from a company affiliated with the Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg.
Columbus Nova's lawyer, Richard Owens, said in a statement the company is "solely owned and controlled by Americans".
Althoff says Novartis complied with requests for information about the payments from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators in November. The Trump Administration is not exactly a complex organization.
In the wake of Tuesday's revelations about millions of dollars being paid by several companies to Michael Cohen, which looked an very bad lot like selling access to Trump, we have the first report of an inside source at one such company, Novartis, being approached by Cohen for that exact quid pro quo exchange.