Michael Cohen's lawyers say report alleging payments had 'numerous inaccurate statements'

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Novartis said the business relationship was brief but still paid Cohen $1.2 million because it couldn't get out of the contract. South Korea's Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd (KAI) said it hired the consultancy for services on accounting matters.

Last year, special counsel Robert Mueller reportedly contacted AT&T - one of the companies that made hundreds of dollars in payments to lawyer Michael Cohen - and asked them to hand over "all information" it had about the transactions.

The probe was prompted by a tip from the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who has been looking into Russian interference in the 2016 election, but the authorities have not said what crimes Cohen is suspected to have committed.

AT&T admitted Tuesday to giving the president's longtime personal attorney cash for "insights into understanding" the Trump administration.

Avenatti has also alleged that a Russian oligarch "routed eight payments" totaling a half-million dollars to Cohen through a company in the USA named Columbus Nova in 2017.

It shows, among other things, that a shell company linked to Cohen received large sums of money from a handful of corporate giants, ostensibly for insight on the Trump administration and potentially for access to President Donald Trump.

New questions being raised about Cohen's role and work for Trump could further pressure Cohen after the FBI raided his home and office last month as part of a criminal investigation of his business dealings and a payment to Daniels.

Cohen's lawyers say the allegation is "incorrect", citing a Columbus Nova statement that the company is owned by Americans, and that neither the Russian oligarch "nor anyone else, other than Columbus Nova's owners, were involved in the decision to hire Cohen or provided funding for his engagement".

Back in January, the Wall Street Journal reported that Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, paid adult film star Stormy Daniels $130,000 in "hush money" in 2016 to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Donald Trump that reportedly took place back in 2006. She has sued both Trump and Cohen.

The Avenatti document revealed a series of payments to Essential Consultants beyond the "hush money" payment to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

Avenatti's comments followed a statement he made on Tuesday about payments to Cohen's firm in 2017 and 2018, after Trump won the November 2016 presidential election.

Avenatti is responding on Twitter, calling Cohen's filing Wednesday "baseless, improper and sanctionable".

Among the transactions reported by The Times was a $500,000 payment past year to Cohen from Columbus Nova, which according to public documents is described as a US-based affiliate of Renova Group, a company founded by Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg.

Vekselberg, who has ties to the Kremlin, and his Renova Group conglomerate were sanctioned by the United States in April, freezing assets of up to $2 billion.

A lawyer for Columbus Nova has said Russian businessman Vekselberg had nothing to do with the transaction, which Avenatti said amounted to $500,000.

Columbus Nova began sending the payments to Cohen's Essential Consultants in January 2017, and they continued for eight months, according to Avenatti's report. It says its contract with him expired in December 2017. After meeting with Cohen in March 2017, Novartis determined the firm was not going to be able to provide the type of USA healthcare policy information it was seeking. With the news making the rounds, late night host Stephen Colbert made sure to chime in.

AT&T confirmed payments of $200,000 to Essential Consultants, although a source familiar with the matter told Reuters it likely paid more than that and could total as much as $600,000.

In a statement, Novartis said it entered into a one-year agreement with Essential Consultations in February 2017.

Avenatti's material suggests the Treasury Department and the special counsel's office have bank and other records documenting wire transfers.

Washington's influence industry is jammed with consultants hired by corporations and trade associations to provide government intelligence about elected officials.

An explosive document released on Tuesday by an attorney suing Donald Trump and his personal lawyer could be the most important public evidence in the Russian Federation imbroglio since Donald Trump Jr. released his emails previous year.