Russian oligarch met with Cohen days before inauguration

Cohen Talked Russian Relations With Kremlin-Tied Oligarch During Transition

Donald Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen Met With Russian Oligarch in Trump Tower Days Before Inauguration: Report

The two men reportedly discussed strengthening U.S. -Russia relations under the soon-to-be President Trump.

Intrater's firm, Columbus Nova, later paid Cohen $500,000 for consulting work. -Russian ties on January 9, 2017, in Cohen's Trump Tower office, just feet away from the president-elect.

The billionaire's cousin, Andrew Intrater, head of USA investment firm Columbus Nova, attended the meeting and described it to the Times, which also confirmed Vekselberg's presence with video footage.

About a week after the meeting, Cohen, Intrater and Vekselberg were together again at a dinner in Washington to celebrate Trump's inauguration. His lawyers, and lawyers for Mr. Vekselberg, did not respond to requests for comment when told about video footage from C-Span showing Mr. Vekselberg and Mr. Intrater arriving at Trump Tower on January 9, 2017.

Columbus Nova has sought to distance itself from Vekselberg and Renova Group since records of the payments to Cohen emerged earlier this month.

Mueller's investigators stopped Vekselberg at a NY airport in early May after he arrived on a private plane, the Times reported, and the special counsel's team have interviewed Intrater twice. He noted they did not see Trump, who was in the building that day, and it's unknown of the then-president-elect was aware it was happening. Mr. Intrater said the meeting included only a brief discussion about relations between the United States and Russian Federation.

A spokesman for Vekselberg and Stephen Ryan, an attorney for Cohen, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The footage, taken at the lobby of Trump Tower during the presidential transition, shows Veskelberg and his cousin, Michael Intrater, entering an elevator on the ground floor of Trump Tower in NY.

"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. Intrater also donated $35,000 to the Trump Victory Fund and $29,600 to the Republican National Committee.

Mr. Mueller's office has since referred the investigation of Mr. Cohen to the prosecutors in Manhattan. Cohen had worked for a decade with the Trump Organization and served as a "fixer" to Trump, but Cohen was left without a role when assignments in the new administration were appointed.

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