Novartis CEO says agreement with Trump lawyer was mistake

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It took less than 48 hours after the lawyer for a pornography star suing Donald Trump released documents alleging a massive pay-for-play scheme involving major USA corporations and the president for the companies mentioned to fess up.

In a letter to U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood, who is overseeing proceedings in a federal criminal probe of Cohen, Cohen's attorneys from the firm McDermott Will & Emery said the report Avenatti published Tuesday contains incorrect statements that have nothing to do with Daniels' defamation lawsuit against Cohen relating to $130,000 he paid to keep her quiet about an alleged affair with Trump years ago.

The Treasury inspector general's announced move comes less than a day after a memorandum outlining alleged banking and financial information was posted online by Michael Avenatti, an attorney for adult film star Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

Although the companies have cited various reasons for their payments, an insider from one of the firms has reportedly said, Cohen promised access to the president and his administration, posing as a "lobbyist".

"The rapid flow of millions of dollars to Cohen shows the rush by corporations - unable to rely on the influence of Washington's traditional lobbying class in dealing with a new, populist outsider president - to lock in relationships with Trump's inner circle". An attorney for Vekselberg did not respond to a request for comment, nor did representatives for his company in Russian Federation.

Cohen disputes Avenatti's claims.

As Rolling Stone's Ryan Bort concluded in his article on some of the latest developments involving Cohen: "Not since Watergate has "follow the money" felt like such an appropriate mantra for investigators".

The telecommunications giant paid $200K to the shell company of Michael Cohen, personal injury lawyer and Donald Trump's fixer, for "insights into the new administration". Daniels hired Avenatti to sue Cohen and Trump to escape that agreement.

AT&T circulated an internal memo after allegations against Cohen made the rounds on the news, explaining their role in the payment to Trump's former lawyer.

The company says Cohen approached them following the 2016 election.

Lawyer Michael Avenatti posted information on more than $4 million that made its way through a Michael Cohen-established LLC. We understand that the Government now possesses these records as a result of the seizures executed on April 9, 2018, and prior seizures, but we are not aware of any lawful attempts by Mr. Avenatti to obtain these records.

Before the trial began, AT&T and Time Warner considered using a "selective enforcement" defense, essentially arguing that the Justice Department was targeting their merger partly because Trump doesn't like CNN.

The application for Avenatti to appear as counsel is in connection with Daniels' request to intervene in the case involving the seizure of Cohen's records by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of NY.

On Thursday FCC chairman Ajit Pai told reporters during a news conference that he had never received any inquiries from Cohen on net neutrality issues.

On Friday's Morning Joe, panelist Donny Deutsch said that Avenatti is "already auditioning" for CNN president Jeff Zucker and MSNBC president Phil Griffin. The president points to the report of the Republican majority on the House intelligence committee - that cleared Trump and his campaign of any wrongdoing - and says the ongoing Mueller and Senate intelligence committee investigations amount to a "witch hunt".