(CBS News) — Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for adult film actress Stormy Daniels, claims to have evidence of a series of payments made to a bank account in Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s name – including from a company linked to a Russian oligarch and two major corporations, AT&T and Novartis.
In a statement Tuesday, AT&T said that they had paid Cohen’s company, Essential Consulting, “to provide insights into understanding the new administration.”
CBS News has not been able to verify the other allegations by Avenatti. The New York Times said in a report Tuesday night that its own review of unspecified financial records “confirmed much of what was in Mr. Avenatti’s report.”
Avenatti, who has been aggressively pursuing Cohen and President Trump, laid out the claims in a 7-page memo Tuesday evening.
Cohen established a corporation called Essential Consultants LLC in October 2016, just weeks before the presidential election, according to Avenatti.
Essential Consultants then opened a bank account at First Republic Bank. It was from this account that a $130,000 payment to a representative of Stormy Daniels was made, according to Avenatti.
The question Avenatti claims to answer is where that money came from. He points to a series of alleged payments, including $500,000 from an investment firm linked to a Russian oligarch named Viktor Vekselberg and $399,920 from Novartis, a Swiss pharmaceutical company. CBS News has not confirmed such payments were made.
Avenatti also claimed that Cohen’s company received $150,000 from Korea Aerospace and $187,500 from Elliott Broidy, a former deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. Neither payment has been confirmed by CBS News.
According to Avenatti, AT&T paid Cohen’s company a total of $200,000 over a series of four payments of $50,000 from 2017 to early this year, a figure AT&T did not confirm.
Michael Cohen did not respond to CBS News’ requests for comment.
In a statement, AT&T said: “Essential Consulting was one of several firms we engaged in early 2017 to provide insights into understanding the new administration. They did no legal or lobbying work for us, and the contract ended in December 2017.”
AT&T announced a bid to acquire Time Warner in October 2016, a deal that Mr. Trump was quick to speak out against. Vekselberg was made a target of U.S. sanctions last month.
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