Mr. Trump had criticized the proposed merger during the campaign.
They're not the only ones.
Despite the fact that Cohen had no experience or education in the health care or pharmaceutical fields, the company quickly signed a contract with Cohen through his shell company, Essential Consultants LLC - the same company that only three months earlier Cohen had used to make a $130,000 "hush money" payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, to keep her quiet about a claimed sexual encounter with Trump. The companies later confirmed the transactions.
A company linked to Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, among a handful of Russians since sanctioned by the US over the Kremlin's election meddling, hasn't denied making $500,000 in deposits into the Cohen account.
Columbus Nova said Vekselberg had no involvement in the arrangement with Cohen.
Separately, Korean Aerospace Industries confirmed to The Washington Post that it paid $150,000 to Cohen's company, but spokesman Oh Sung-keon said that it was not aware of its connection to Trump. "Unfortunately, I am just a lawyer". Columbus Nova disputed that claim in a statement, saying that Cohen was hired as "a business consultant regarding potential sources of capital and potential investments in real estate and other ventures". "Who knew that Michael Cohen would be exposed as the Leonardo da Vinci of our time?"
Avenatti said the transfers to the Cohen entity came from a Renova investment vehicle, Columbus Nova.
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On Tuesday night, Avenatti told CNN's Anderson Cooper: "There's been some criticism of our media strategy and how often I'm on CNN and how often I've been on your show and other networks". Are there other such companies? Cohen could have performed verifiable services, received money in payment and paid taxes on income he received. Providing political intelligence isn't illegal.
Cohen was one of those consultants.
Rich Delmar, a spokesman for the Treasury Department's Office of Inspector General, told ABC News on Wednesday that investigators are "inquiring into allegations that SAR information" - short for a Suspicious Activity Report - "has been improperly disseminated", referring to reporting related to Cohen's startup, Essential Consulting, LLC. The Washington Post first reported the investigation. The drugmaker said it "cooperated fully. and provided all the information requested".
The language in his dossier is "consistent with" wording typically found in SARs, said Daniel P. Stipano, former deputy chief counsel in the Treasury's Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. "Was it paying for something else?" Clark said it could be problematic for Cohen to have AT&T as a client at the same time he was representing President Trump.
Novartis not only confirmed it had set up a one-year agreement with Cohen that was "focused on United States healthcare policy matters", but that it was approached by the special counsel's office in November 2017 and asked about the payments.
"The engagement of Essential Consultants predated Vas Narasimhan becoming Novartis CEO and he was in no way involved with this agreement".
But Reuters reported Wednesday that the total payments by AT&T could be even higher - as much as $600,000. The company spent $8.7 million in 2017 lobbying the USA government.