Federal Bureau of Investigation questions Russian businessman over Trump lawyer payment

Mr Avenatti also detailed payments he said were made to Mr Cohen by U.S. telecommunications company AT&T, Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG and Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd.

Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for adult film actress Stormy Daniels, first posted the revelations on Twitter.

The arrangement illustrates efforts by the telecoms company to work with an influential adviser to the new president as his administration took up major industry issues and considered its US$85 billion proposal to buy Time Warner Inc.

He added: 'We have only scratched the surface in this case.

Other transfers tied to Michael Cohen, the Trump lawyer, actually did occur.

The drugmaker, which makes Ritalin, Lamisil and other popular drugs, said Cohen's work was "focused on United States healthcare policy matters", according to USA Today. Owens said Vekselberg was not involved in the payments to Cohen. Then last week, Rudy Giuliani said that Trump had reimbursed Cohen $130,000, which was given to Daniels just weeks before the 2016 election.

Avenatti alleged that Vekselberg might have provided funds that "replenished the account" following Cohen's payments to Daniels. Mr Trump denies having an affair with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

Company that paid Stormy Daniels reportedly...

Avenatti also said he discovered four payments of just under $100,000 each by drugmaker Novartis to Essential Consultants, the same company used by Cohen to make payments to Daniels.

Novartis, which has not been accused of any illegal activity, made payments totaling almost $1.2 million to the USA firm. Transactions totaling $4.4 million flowed through Essential Consultants, beginning shortly before Trump was elected, according to the Times, which says its independent review confirms much of the information in Avenatti's document. "Funneled it through the law firm, and the President repaid him".

Trump's attorney Christopher William Dysard, from the firm Spears & Imes, declined to comment.

'They were a regular occurrence.

"What I see is something that is so fully bonkers I don't think as a nation that we fully digested it, and we are used to careening from one story to another", Melber told "Morning Joe".

The communications giant admitted the payments but disputed Avenatti's timeline.

The timing of those payments is nothing short of a disaster.

Avenatti cites four payments from AT&T, of $50,000 apiece, without further explanation.

Novartis is based in Basel, Switzerland, but has major research operations in the United States and needs approval from the Food and Drug Administration for its drugs to be sold in the U.S. It spend almost $8.8 million lobbying the U.S. government a year ago, according to the Center for Responsive Politics OpenSecrets database. The omission of those debts could have violated a federal law that prohibits willfully making false statements to the U.S. government, he told Reuters. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating Mr. Cohen for possible bank fraud and election-law violations, among other matters, according to people briefed on the investigation.

But some legal experts said the timing of additional payments could undercut that argument by showing a pattern of behavior.

In court filings, Cohen's attorney said that Cohen has seven clients for whom he provides "strategic advice and business consulting".

  • Leroy Wright