Mueller contacted drug company about Cohen payment in November

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AT&T on Wednesday declined to reveal when asked by CNBC how much it had actually paid Cohen under the contract, which it said the company entered into because it wanted "insights" on the Trump administration. "They did no legal or lobbying work for us, and the contract ended in December 2017".

President Donald Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen was hired a year ago by the USA -based affiliate of a Russian business magnate who attended Trump's inauguration and was recently sanctioned by the US government, the company said Tuesday.

Essential Consultants LLC, also received payments from other firms with pending issues before the Trump administration. A judge is expected to rule on the case in June.

CNN reported on Tuesday that Mueller questioned Vekselberg about the payments to Cohen.

Columbus Nova was linked to Putin-connected Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg by way of his cousin, Andrew Intrater, and while Columbus Nova confirmed a Cohen hire it denied Vekselberg's involvement.

The payments are particularly noteworthy because they were paid into Essential Consultants, a company created by Cohen in late 2016 and later used to pay Daniels. Cohen has not challenged reports of the new payments into the firm.

Mueller is primarily investigating possible collusion between Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and Russians who interfered in the election.

Another company, Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd., reportedly paid Essential Consultants a one-time fee of $150,000 in November 2017.

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Vas Narasimhan may have been still the incoming CEO at Novartis at that point in January, but he had directed the development effort at the pharma giant for several years and had been tapped for the CEO's job months before his meeting with Trump.

Columbus Nova hired Cohen as USA investigators were ramping up their inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election. According to Giuliani, Trump repaid Cohen in installments as part of a retainer-like agreement that ultimately put $460,000 to $470,000 back into Cohen's account. "Why was he engaged in these transactions?"

The FBI raided Cohen's home, office and hotel room last month to seize a collection of documents - a development that Trump slammed as "a disgrace". Trump said he reimbursed Cohen. It also said it expired in February 2018.

Among the information are suspicious activity reports banks file with the Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

Cohen's attorney, Steve Ryan, refused to discuss the $500,000 deposit when requested to do so by The Atlantic, but insisted it "wasn't a payment".

The Swiss pharmaceuticals company Novartis said it had been contacted by officials from Mueller's office in November past year, and confirmed it had paid Cohen $1.2m - significantly more than was initially disclosed.

"The agreement was used to stop the false and extortionist accusations made by her about an affair despite already having signed a detailed letter admitting that there was no affair", Trump wrote on Twitter.