Published: Sat, May 26, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Trump's lawyer met with Russian oligarch at Trump Tower days before inauguration

Vekselberg met with Cohen for about 20 minutes in Cohen's 26th-floor office in Trump Tower in NY, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the meeting publicly.

Intrater said Vekselberg had not originally meant to meet with Cohen at Trump Tower, adding that if he had known Cohen would later be the focus of several federal criminal inquiries, he would not have hired Cohen or introduced him to Vekselberg.

As CNN reports, "a person familiar with the meeting" says it was brief and claims "Vekselberg was not originally expected to attend". And Intrater told the Times there was also a third meeting after the inauguration.

Both men have been questioned by Mueller's team.

Vekselberg was on the panel of speakers Friday along with American and Russian business executives, but Huntsman was absent.

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Cohen's finances are now under investigation by federal investigators in NY, following a referral from special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating contacts between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian intermediaries. It was through the same acquaintance that Intrater donated $250,000 to Trump's inauguration fund, one source said. They also made arrangements to link up at the president's inauguration.

Video footage from C-SPAN, which kept a camera feed in the lobby during the transition process, showed Vekselberg and Intrater arriving at Trump Tower on January 9, 2017.

"Obviously, if I'd known in January 2017 that I was about to hire this high-profile guy who'd wind up in this big mess, I wouldn't have introduced him to my biggest client, and wouldn't have hired him at all", Intrater said.

Michael Cohen's business practices are under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Days after Trump's inauguration, Columbus Nova awarded Cohen a $1 million consulting contract, a deal that has drawn the attention of the feds probing the lawyer, sources told the Times. He did not get an administration job, which he was reportedly expecting, and instead set up his own consulting firm for clients who wanted advice on working with the new administration. Mr. Mueller's office has since referred the investigation of Mr. Cohen to the prosecutors in Manhattan. That idea that Cohen may have met Vekselberg there without them forming a relationship and without Vekselberg being involved in Columbus Nova's hiring of Cohen is plausible.

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