Cohen Talked Russian Relations With Kremlin-Tied Oligarch During Transition

Remigio Civitarese
Mag 26, 2018

Russian businessman Viktor Vekselberg, pictured here at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, met with Trump attorney Michael Cohen in Trump Tower shortly before the January 2017 inauguration of President Trump.

Intrater said Vekselberg had not originally meant to meet with Cohen at Trump Tower, adding that if he had known Cohen would later be the focus of several federal criminal inquiries, he would not have hired Cohen or introduced him to Vekselberg. He's pictured here (on the far right) withUSC Shoah Foundation board member Mickey Shapiro, USC Shoah Foundation founder Steven Spielberg, and honoree William Clay Ford, Jr.at a gala dinner at the Henry Ford Museum in September of 2015 in Dearborn, Michigan.

The Russian energy tycoon Viktor Vekselberg met with Michael Cohen at Cohen's office on the 26th floor of Trump Tower, the American businessman Andrew Intrater told The Times.

Both men have been questioned by Mueller's team.

In addition to being interviewed, Vekselberg was recently sanctioned by the USA, had assets in American frozen and is not allowed in the country, CNN reported.

Earlier this year, Vekselberg himself was questioned by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents working on Mueller's inquiry, and was asked about Columbus Nova payments to Cohen as well as more than $300,000 in donations Intrater made to the Republican National Committee and Trump's inauguration, CNN reported on Friday.

Mr Vekselberg was targeted in April with US Treasury Department sanctions, citing his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Intrater also said that the meeting took place as Cohen was packing up and leaving his job at the Trump Organization.

Intrater was also questioned, the sources said. A $250,000 donation Intrater made to Mr. Trump's inaugural committee secured him tickets to an inaugural dinner, and Vekselberg attended the dinner with him.

Vekselberg was on the panel of speakers Friday along with American and Russian business executives, but Huntsman was absent.

Columbus Nova said after the inauguration it hired Cohen "regarding potential sources of capital and potential investments in real estate and other ventures".

As CNN reports, "a person familiar with the meeting" says it was brief and claims "Vekselberg was not originally expected to attend". Well, it's actually the second known meeting between the three of them, with the (previously known) first one being on at Trump's inauguration on January 20. The Times confirmed that Vekselberg had been to Trump Tower that day with video footage.

And Intrater, like AT&T and Novartis before him, now admits to the Times that hiring Cohen was a big mistake on his part. The company paid Cohen approximately $500,000 in consulting fees between January and August 2017 and is a subsidiary of Renova Group, a Russian conglomerate founded by Vekselberg. The two parted ways after six months with after no new deals materialized and Cohen was only paid $580,000 of the $1 million contract.

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