There's the theory on the left, mostly fronted by a certain Vermont independent senator, that the Stormy Daniels story is worthless and that there's no reason for Democrats to pay attention to it, because it's not important.
Only, well, we keep finding out more and more about the man Trump used to try to make the Daniels story go away, his longtime personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, and just how bad Cohen is at his job, and how looking deeper into Cohen and his business affairs reveals things like payments Cohen apparently arranged for Donald Trump for a lot of things besides just hush money to porn stars.
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney, faced explosive claims about his business dealings on Tuesday, prompting AT&T and a company with ties to a Russian oligarch to acknowledge retaining him after the 2016 election.
The companies disclosed the business relationships after lawyer Michael Avenatti claimed they made payments to Essential Consultants, a company Cohen also used to make a hush-money payment to porn actress Stormy Daniels just weeks before the 2016 presidential election.
In a seven-page document he distributed online, Avenatti claimed that the same Cohen bank account was involved in transactions totaling more than $4.4 million and made from October 2016 through January 2018. Those transactions included $200,000 from AT&T and some $500,000 in deposits from Columbus Nova, a company linked to Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, who was sanctioned last month by the U.S. as punishment for Kremlin meddling in the U.S. election. The company on Tuesday said Vekselberg was not involved in the transactions.
POLITICO could not independently confirm some of Avenatti’s allegations, but if they prove true, they could show links between the Daniels affair, which is under investigation by prosecutors in New York, and special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign. They also appear to show businesses seeking intelligence on how to operate under a Trump administration.
“Michael Cohen should not be selling access to the president of the United States. I mean, this is a big deal,” Avenatti told CNN.
The money from AT&T appeared to be unrelated to the investigations but came as the Trump administration announced it would seek to block an $85 billion merger between AT&T and Time Warner.
So the same shell company Cohen set up for the Daniels payments was apparently the same shell company used to set up other payments, including from AT&T, and from other parties. It wasn't just the $130,000 for Daniels, it was millions in slush fund goodness.
In other words, everything Trump accused "Crooked Hillary" of doing, Trump was actually involved in. Oh yeah...and some of the money came from the goddamn Russians.
And hey, of course Mueller knows about it.
Special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators have questioned a Russian oligarch about hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments his company's US affiliate made to President Donald Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, after the election, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Viktor Vekselberg, chairman of asset manager Renova Group, is an oligarch close to Vladimir Putin, and last month the Trump administration placed him on a list of sanctioned Russians for activities including election interference. The purpose of the payments, which predate the sanctions, and the nature of the business relationship between Vekselberg and Cohen is unclear.
The scrutiny of the payments could add to the legal troubles for Cohen, whose home and office were raided last month as part of a criminal investigation by federal prosecutors in Manhattan. In court documents, the prosecutors said at least part of their inquiry stemmed from a referral from Mueller's office.
The questions asked of Vekselberg suggest that Mueller investigators have been examining some of Cohen's business relationships as part of the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Vekselberg is one of two Russian oligarchs the FBI stopped earlier this year after their private jets landed in New York-area airports as part of Mueller's investigation.
Investigators also asked Vekselberg about donations the head of his US affiliate made to Trump's inaugural fund and campaign funds, sources said.
I mean, let's recap here: Cohen's shell company is used to launder money for Trump. Cohen handles the money, and bam, companies and individuals get access to Trump. Some of these individuals were reportedly Russian oligarchs.
I mean, guys? Hello?
Stay tuned. This one's going to end up being big.