Trump at­tor­ney’s busi­ness scru­ti­nized

The Mercury News Weekend - - NEWS -

WASH­ING­TON » Al­ready un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion for a pay­ment to a porn star, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s long­time per­sonal at­tor­ney is fac­ing in­ten­si­fy­ing le­gal and eth­i­cal scru­tiny for selling his Trump World ex­pe­ri­ence and views at a hefty price to com­pa­nies that sought “in­sight” into t he new pres­i­dent.

One com­pany, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal gi­ant No­var­tis, ac­knowl­edged Wed­nes­day it paid Michael Co­hen $1.2 mil­lion for ser­vices, though they ended af­ter a sin­gle meet­ing. Oth­ers, in­clud­ing some with ma­jor reg­u­la­tory mat­ters be­fore the new ad­min­is­tra­tion, ac­knowl­edged pay­ments to­tal­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars over at least sev­eral months.

The cor­po­rate ties could sug­gest Co­hen was ped­dling his in­flu­ence and prof­it­ing from his re­la­tion­ship with the pres­i­dent. They also raise ques­tions about whether Trump knew about the ar­range­ment.

Co­hen’s cor­po­rate ties were first re­vealed in a de­tailed re­port re­leased by an at­tor­ney for porno­graphic film-ac­tress Stormy Daniels. The re­port al­leged that Co­hen used a com­pany he es­tab­lished weeks be­fore the 2016 elec­tion to re­ceive the pay­ments from a va­ri­ety of busi­nesses — in­clud­ing $500,000 from one as­so­ci­ated with a Rus­sian bil­lion­aire. Fi­nan­cial doc­u­ments re­viewed by the As­so­ci­ated Press ap­pear to back up much of at­tor­ney Michael Ave­natti’s re­port.

Co­hen’s lawyers said late Wed­nes­day that much of the in­for­ma­tion re­leased by Ave­natti was “com­pletely in­ac­cu­rate.” They told a New York judge that Ave­natti made state­ments “in an ap­par­ent at­tempt to prej­u­dice and dis­credit Mr. Co­hen” as he seeks to in­ter­vene in a civil case Co­hen brought stem­ming from April 9 raids on his home and of­fice. The raids were car­ried out by fed­eral agents look­ing for ev­i­dence in a crim­i­nal probe.

The lawyers wrote that some of the in­for­ma­tion Ave­natti pub­lished Tues­day did ap­pear to come from Co­hen’s ac­tual bank records.

Ave­natti re­sponded on Twit­ter, say­ing the at­tor­neys “fail to ad­dress, let alone con­tra­dict, 99% of the state­ments in what we re­leased. Among other things, they ef­fec­tively con­cede the re­ceipt of the $500,000 from those with Rus­sian ties.”

Asked about the re­ports of the pay­ments to Co­hen Thurs­day, Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence said on NBC News that it was a “pri­vate mat­ter” and “some­thing I don’t have any knowl­edge about.”

Trump at­tor­ney Rudy Gi­u­liani told Bloomberg News Wed­nes­day that Trump was “un­aware” of the pay­ments to Co­hen.


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