Cohen Talked Russian Relations With Kremlin-Tied Oligarch During Transition

Cohen Talked Russian Relations With Kremlin-Tied Oligarch During Transition

Viktor Vekselberg met Michael Cohen, Trump's lawyer and "fixer", on January 9, 2017, reportedly to discuss strengthening US-Russian ties under the new administration, the New York Times reported.

Just weeks before, Russian intelligence agents had used WikiLeaks as a conduit to leak out emails stolen from Hillary Clinton's campaign, which drew significant media coverage during a crucial stretch of the race. Cohen and Intrater were discussing setting up a meeting and Intrater noted that he was with Vekselberg near Trump Tower and asked if they could come by.

The paper reported that days after Trump's inauguration as president in January 2017, Intrater's private equity firm, Columbus Nova, gave Cohen a $1 million consulting contract, which was now under investigation by us federal authorities. A lawyer for adult-film star Stormy Daniels has claimed that the money was routed by Vekselberg and Intrater to a Cohen shell company.

"Obviously, if I'd known in January 2017 that I was about to hire this high-profile guy who'd wind up in this big mess, I wouldn't have introduced him to my biggest client, and wouldn't have hired him at all", Intrater said.

Vekselberg heads the Renova Group, a Russian conglomerate, an Intrater runs Columbus Nova, a subsidiary of Renova. Soon afterward, the Times recounted, Cohen signed on as a consultant to Columbus Nova.

Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg acquired his wealth in the post-Soviet era's oil and gas industry. A representative for Vekselberg also did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

About a week after the meeting, Cohen, Intrater and Vekselberg were together again at a dinner in Washington to celebrate Trump's inauguration. Intrater's lawyer, Richard Owens, said, "Columbus Nova has cooperated with all requests for documents and information from federal authorities".

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Cohen's dealings are the subject of an investigation by the Manhattan US attorney's office into whether the president's lawyer committed bank fraud, wire fraud, and campaign finance violations in connection to payments made to women who say they had affairs with Trump.

The US Treasury Department placed Renova Group and Vekselberg on the list of sanctioned individuals and entities last month, for activities including election interference. The Times confirmed that Vekselberg had been to Trump Tower that day with video footage.

At the time of the meeting, Cohen worked for the Trump Organization and his future was uncertain.

Cohen's deal with Columbus Nova did not work out well for him.

Intrater and Cohen first met by happenstance, according to a person familiar with their relationship.

Intrater, a USA citizen, donated $285,000 to Trump's Inauguration.

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