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That Michael Cohen x Russia x Stormy Daniels thing

An attempt at untangling the latest news surrounding Michael Cohen, Russian oligarchs, and Stormy Daniels…

  1. Michael Avenatti released an “executive summary” yesterday of material he says connects Trump’s payment to Stormy Daniels to a Russian oligarch. Avenatti represents Daniels in her lawsuit against Trump and Michael Cohen. (NPR)

  2. The Avenatti dossier claims that a company connected to Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg made eight payments to Essential Consultants, one Cohen’s shell companies, between January 2017 and August 2017. Avenatti suggested that the funds from Columbus Nova may have been used to reimburse Cohen for the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels in exchange for her silence about her alleged affair with Trump. (Daily Beast)

  3. Essential Consultants received more than $1 million from Vekselberg’s Columbus Nova. Cohen’s company, Essential Consultants, was incorporated on October 17, 2016 – 10 days after the Access Hollywood tape went public and a weeks before the election – and is the same shell company used to pay Stormy Daniels on October 27th. More than $4.4 million flowed through Essential Consultants beginning just before the 2016 election and continued until January 2018. (New York Times)

  4. The Russia-linked company that hired Michael Cohen registered a number of alt-right websites during the 2016 elections. Columbus Nova is listed as the registrant behind a handful of website domains named them after the alt-right movement, including,,,, and others. The brother of Andrew Intrater, Columbus Nova’s U.S. CEO, is named in the registration databases for the websites. Columbus Nova said Frederick Intrater was not acting on behalf of the company, even though he had used his work email address and listed the organization. Columbus Nova gave $500,000 to Cohen in the first half of 2017. (Washington Post)

  5. Robert Mueller’s investigators questioned Vekselberg about a $500,000 payment from Columbus Nova to Essential Consultants that was made shortly after the 2016 election. Vekselberg was placed on a list of sanctioned Russians for election interference and other activities last month by the Trump administration. The purpose of the payments and the nature of the business relationship between Vekselberg and Cohen is still unclear. (CNN)

  6. AT&T paid Essential Consultants $200,000 in four separate installments for “insights” on the Trump administration between October 2017 and January 2018. Net neutrality was repealed in December 2017. Two of those payments came before the Justice Department filed a November 20th antitrust lawsuit to block AT&T’s $85 billion deal for Time Warner. Two payments came after that. (CNBC / Politico / The Atlantic)

  7. AT&T said it was contacted by Robert Mueller’s team and “cooperated fully” regarding its payments to Essential Consultants. AT&T may have paid Cohen’s company as much as $600,000 last year. (Dallas News / Bloomberg / Reuters)

  8. Drug giant Novartis paid Essential Consultants $1.2 million for health care policy consulting work that Cohen was “unable” to do. Novartis signed a one-year contract with Cohen’s shell company for $100,000 per month in February 2017 – days after Trump’s inauguration – for advice on “how the Trump administration might approach certain U.S. health-care policy matters, including the Affordable Care Act.” But a month after signing the deal, Novartis executives “determined that Michael Cohen and Essentials Consultants would be unable to provide the services that Novartis had anticipated” following their first meeting with Cohen. “Cohen promised access to not just Trump, but also the circle around him,” a Novartis employee said. “It was almost as if we were hiring him as a lobbyist.” (CNBC / Bloomberg / STAT News)

    • Novartis CEO to employees: “We made a mistake” in working with Michael Cohen for guidance “as to how the Trump administration might approach certain US healthcare policy matters.” (CNBC)
  9. Mueller’s investigators questioned Novartis last year about its relationship with Cohen and Essential Consultants. “Novartis cooperated fully with the Special Counsel’s office and provided all the information requested,” a Novartis spokeswoman said in a statement. (Politico)

  10. Korean Aerospace Industries confirmed that it paid $150,000 to Essential Consultants. The company is in contention for a multibillion joint U.S. contract with Lockheed Martin for jet trainers. (Washington Post)

  11. The Treasury Department’s inspector general is investigating whether Essential Consultants banking information was leaked. Banks are required to file a Suspicious Activity Report on any unusual transactions over $10,000, which experts say could be the source of the information that Avenatti released yesterday. Rich Delmar, counsel to the inspector general, said that the office is “inquiring into allegations” that Suspicious Activity Reports on Cohen’s banking transactions were “improperly disseminated.” (Washington Post)


First take - well, of course there’s the back channel Russian connection directed by Russian interests and oligarch money, tied to Putin to dismantle and disrupt our critical thinking and knowledge via ‘planted’ information in social media all designed to influence voters.

Second take- Great to know Mueller has been deeply involved in this angle since mid 2017. Let’s get some more indictments out plz.

Third take - WTF will happen regarding our safeguarding electoral systems, social media, dark money, and well foreign influences…???

I do hope this scandal erupts as wildly as that Volcano in Hawaii…fissures upon fissures of deeply embedded human engineered influences that HAS galvanized this country. Metaphor notwithstanding…this runs verrry deep.

"Columbus Nova, a company whose U.S. chief executive, Andrew Intrater, and Russian investment partner Viktor Vekselberg have both reportedly been interviewed by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team, is listed as the registrant behind a handful of domains for websites named after the alt-right that were created during the 2016 election.

It is unclear if any of these websites were launched or ever hosted content.

These sites include,,,, and other similar combinations, which were all registered in the two days following a speech given by then candidate Hillary Clinton in August 2016 in which she excoriated the far-right movement known for its extremist, racist, anti-Semitic and sexist viewpoints. The sites are not currently operational."


More bits of news re: Cohen’s LLC coming from Committee to Investigate Russia - also an aggregator of what’s going on w/ these moment-to-moment revelations.

Like money going directly to the RNC, which has been reported and gets to reflect on all levels of RNC even the top tier Republicans may have known that money was coming from Russia (rumors about Ryan, McConnell swirl) And that CREW (Former GW Bush lawyer, Richard Painter and Harvard Law professor Lawrence Tribe’s entity) are making an inquiry as what Trump’s role may have been vis-a-vis Cohen’s alleged pay-for-play money grab.

We can already hear the denials coming.

Take a look here…Cohen's LLC: The Latest | Committee to Investigate Russia

A couple of excerpts
NBC News:

A review of public election filings shows that the CEO of Columbus Nova, Andrew Intrater, made several political donations over the past two years.

According to public record filings he donated $29,600 to the Republican National Committee in June 2017, $35,000 to the Trump Victory PAC the same month, and then $250,000 to the Trump Inauguration Fund.

And coming from CNN (linked within the body of the first link)

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a government watchdog, sent a letter to the Office of Government Ethics in March asking for an inquiry into whether President Trump had an interest in Cohen’s company:

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (“CREW”) respectfully requests that the Office of Government Ethics (“OGE”) exercise its oversight responsibilities to determine whether President Donald J. Trump held a beneficial interest in a limited liability company (“LLC”) that was used by his personal lawyer to make a surreptitious payment to a third party in the weeks before the 2016 presidential election. If he did, the LLC should have been reported as an “interest in property” on the public financial disclosure report (“OGE 278”) President Trump filed with OGE in June 2017.


(I updated your post to use the blockquote instead of the pre-formatted text shortcode)


Thanks for compiling this, Matt. It’s just–wow–jaw-dropping. Like so much else. . . .

Cohen Watch :eyes:

Michael Cohen’s Business Partner Agrees to Cooperate as Part of Plea Deal

Under the deal reached with the New York attorney general’s office, the partner, Evgeny A. Freidman, a Russian immigrant who is known as the Taxi King, specifically agreed to assist government prosecutors in state or federal investigations, according to a person briefed on the matter.

Mr. Freidman, who was disbarred earlier this month, had been accused of failing to pay more than $5 million in taxes and faced four counts of criminal tax fraud and one of grand larceny — all B felonies. Each carries a maximum prison sentence of up to 25 years in prison.


Avenatti is basically saying, “Lordy, let’s hear all the tapes, including the ones with Trump.”

Here’s a copy of the letter Avenatti filed with court today:


Cohen Watch :eyes:

Trump lawyer ‘paid by Ukraine’ to arrange White House talks

Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, received a secret payment of at least $400,000 (£300,000) to fix talks between the Ukrainian president and President Trump, according to sources in Kiev close to those involved.


Cohen Watch :eyes:

Eleven days before the inauguration, a Russian Oligarch paid Cohen $1 million in exchange for a consulting contract with the purpose of strengthening US, Russian relations under President Trump.

Holy guacamole guys! Cohen is going to be in so much trouble!

At Trump Tower, Michael Cohen and Oligarch Discussed Russian Relations

Eleven days before the presidential inauguration last year, a billionaire Russian businessman with ties to the Kremlin visited Trump Tower in Manhattan to meet with Donald J. Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, according to video footage and another person who attended the meeting.

In Mr. Cohen’s office on the 26th floor, he and the oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg, discussed a mutual desire to strengthen Russia’s relations with the United States under President Trump, according to Andrew Intrater, an American businessman who attended the meeting and invests money for Mr. Vekselberg. The men also arranged to see one another during the inauguration festivities, the second of their three meetings, Mr. Intrater said.

Days after the inauguration, Mr. Intrater’s private equity firm, Columbus Nova, awarded Mr. Cohen a $1 million consulting contract, a deal that has drawn the attention of federal authorities investigating Mr. Cohen, according to people briefed on the inquiry.



At Trump Tower, Michael Cohen and Oligarch Discussed Russian Relations

Shocking, but not surprising, right?

This is almost an aside, but I’m kind of p.o.'d at the NYT’s coverage of this event (don’t get me wrong, all things considered, NYT reporters are my heroes). The tone of this article appears uncharacteristically biased in favor of Cohen and the Trump-camp. Take the headline: “At Trump Tower, Michael Cohen and Oligarch Discussed Russian Relations” – the purpose of the meeting is presented as fact here, even though, later in the article, we find that the only source for the meeting’s agenda is one of the participants who has a strong motive for twisting the truth. A more accurate headline might be the one used by CNN “Russian oligarch met with Michael Cohen at Trump Tower during transition.

Mmm . . . I guess in the great scheme of things, pointing out this distinction isn’t that important – maybe I should grab another cup of coffee and get outside.


I thoroughly agree, whomever writes their headlines isn’t very good at their job. It can be misleading.

We’re all watching and waiting :smirk:

According to a source close to Cohen, Cohen has told friends that he expects to be arrested any day now. (Reached for comment, Cohen wrote in a text message, “Your alleged source is wrong!”) The specter of Cohen flipping has Trump advisers on edge. “Trump should be super worried about Michael Cohen,” a former White House official said. “If anyone can blow up Trump, it’s him.”


It’s happening

President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen has surrendered to the FBI in New York as he prepares to plead guilty Tuesday afternoon in an investigation into his activities and business dealings, according to people familiar with the matter.

Cohen is expected to plead guilty to charges related to bank fraud, tax fraud and a campaign finance violation, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.

A hearing in the case is scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday at a federal courthouse in Manhattan. Afterward, Deputy U.S. Attorney Robert Khuzami, who has been overseeing the probe, is scheduled to make public remarks.


The number of the day seems to be 8

President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty Tuesday in a Manhattan courthouse to eight violations of banking, tax and campaign finance laws in a federal investigation that scrutinized his business dealings and his efforts to silence women with negative stories about Trump.

In an appearance in a Manhattan courthouse Tuesday afternoon, Cohen pleaded to five counts of tax evasion, one count of making a false statement to a bank and two campaign finance violations: making an unlawful corporate campaign contribution and making an excessive campaign contribution.



Implicates T here.

BREAKING: Michael Cohen says he was directed to violate campaign law at the direction of a candidate for federal office


The NY Times confirms

Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former fixer, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to campaign finance and other charges. He made the extraordinary admission that he paid a pornographic actress “at the direction of the candidate,” referring to Mr. Trump, to secure her silence about an affair she said she had with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Cohen told a judge in United States District Court in Manhattan that the payment was “for the principal purpose of influencing the election” for president in 2016.


Hallmark sound to something big - BOOM from Ben Wittes/Lawfare Blog.

On the Lawfare Blog is the plea agreement that Cohen is asking. check out document on the link.


The 2nd document in that Lawfare article is the charging document. I just finished reading it, tells the whole story. I can’t wait for Lawfare’s analysis!

1 Like

Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis on Twitter :astonished:


So I was reading this article :point_down:

And I come across this line

The deal doesn’t preclude further prosecutions, including other charges against Mr. Cohen.

And this

In May, Michael Avenatti, a lawyer for Ms. Clifford, released a memo detailing payments made to Mr. Cohen from companies including AT&T Inc. and Novartis AG, as well as an investment firm linked to a Russian oligarch. Federal agents investigated whether Mr. Cohen lobbied Trump administration officials on the companies’ behalf without registering as a lobbyist, the Journal previously reported.

When is all this :point_up_2:going to come up again?

Here’s The NY Times story from May again. :eyes: