>> US President Donald Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, received $500,000 from a Russian billionaire just months after the 2016 US election. That's the claim made by Stormy Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti in a tweet Tuesday. He alleges that a company controlled by Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, who has ties to President Vladimir Putin, sent eight payments from January to August 2017 that were deposited into an account for a company also used to pay off the porn star.
Avenatti added in his tweet, quote, these moneys may have reimbursed the $130,000 payment, referring to the money Cohen paid to his client Daniels to buy her silence after an alleged affair with Trump. Reuters could not immediately verify Avenatti's claims. But according to a CNN exclusive Tuesday, special councillor Robert Mueller's team have questioned Vekselberg.
He's the chairman of Renova Group who's American affiliate Columbus Nova is suspected of paying Cohen. Mueller is investigating allegations of Russian interference in the US election, whether Trump or his campaign worked with Moscow to affect the outcome of the race. Russia denies any involvement in the campaigns. Trump has repeatedly called Mueller's investigation a witch-hunt.
Vekselberg is one of two Russian oligarchs the FBI stopped earlier this year after their private jets landed in New York area airports. Sources told CNN, investigators also asked Vekselberg about donations the head of his US affiliate made to Trump's campaign. Just last month, the Trump administration placed Vekselberg on a list of sanctioned Russians for activities including election interference.
The latest reports could be damaging for Cohen, whose home and office were raided last month as part of a criminal investigation by federal prosecutors in Manhattan.