Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for the adult film star alleging an extramarital affair with President Trump, made a major accusation against the president's personal lawyer and longtime friend Michael Cohen.
Here's what he said
Avenatti posted his claims on his social media account.
"After significant investigation, we have discovered that Mr. Trump’s atty Mr. Cohen received approximately $500,000 in the mos. after the election from a company controlled by a Russian Oligarc with close ties to Mr. Putin," he claimed. "These monies may have reimbursed the $130k payment."
Cohen established a shell company named Essential Consultants that was used to make the payment to Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about an extramarital affair she had with Donald Trump before he became president. Avenatti claims that he has evidence a Russian oligarch sent Cohen payments that might have been made to cover the hush money to Daniels.
"...within approximately 75 days of the payment to Ms. Clifford, Mr. Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian Oligarch with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, caused substantial funds to be deposited into the bank account from which Mr. Cohen made the payment," Avenatti claimed in a statement posted to his social media account.
"It appears that these funds may have replenished the account following the payment to Ms. Clifford," he added.
"It wasn't a payment."
Cohen's lawyer made a short statement about the claims to a reporter from The Atlantic before hanging up.
“I understand the shorthand you’re using, but it wasn’t a payment,” Ryan said.
After Avenatti made the allegations, CNN reported that special counsel Robert Mueller had already spoken to Vekselberg in his investigation into Russian election interference and alleged collusion with the Trump campaign.
Cohen's office and residence were raided by the FBI, prompting many to believe that he might testify against the president in order to escape charges in the criminal investigation. While Mueller made a criminal referral about Cohen, it was the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York that conducted the raids.
“I am unhappy to have my personal residence and office raided,” Cohen said on CNN about the raids. “But I will tell you that members of the FBI that conducted the search and seizure were all extremely professional, courteous, and respectful.”