Firm with ties to Russia says it hired Trump lawyer as 'business consultant'

A pharmaceutical giant said it paid Michael Cohen $1.2M for "access to the new administration."
2:48 | 05/10/18

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Transcript for Firm with ties to Russia says it hired Trump lawyer as 'business consultant'
The other major story, the president's one-time attorney and friend, Michael Cohen, surrounded today by cameras and new questions, too, after it's been learned that millions were paid to him through his shell company after the election. Some of that money funneled through the company with possible ties to a Russian oligarch. So, what was the money for? Here's ABC's chief national affairs correspondent Tom llamas again tonight. Reporter: Tonight, more cameras and new questions following the president's person attorney, Michael Cohen. Any response to avenatti? His document is inaccurate. How do you feel about, you may have changed an election? Reporter: A memo released by stormy Daniels' attorney, Michael avenatti, alleges Cohen used the same shell company that facilitated her payment in that hush agreement -- essential consultants -- for transactions totaling at least $4 million shortly before the election into 2018. And tonight, questions surrounding the $500,000 avenatti says Cohen receives from a company with deep ties to Putin ally Viktor vekselberg, a Russian billionaire, who reportedly attended the trump inauguration, and according to "The New York Times," was questioned by the Mueller team. And the big question tonight what exactly was that company, Columbus nova, paying for? Columbus nova tells ABC news it hired Cohen as a "Business consultant," for possible real estate deals, but says it had nothing to do with vekselberg. Cohen, already under criminal investigation for possible bank fraud and campaign finance violations. And now we're now learning of other companies who paid Cohen millions, looking for help in working with president trump. Now you have the right hand of the president, right hand of Mr. Trump, all of a sudden starts taking all of this money from all of these multinational corporations for god knows what, and the American people deserve to know what it was for. Reporter: Among the payments outlined in avenatti's memo, $200,000 from AT&T, which has a major merger pending before the justice department. The company says they paid to get "Insights into understanding the new administration." And pharmaceutical giant novartis acknowledges they paid Cohen $1.2 million. A company spokesman says they were promised, quote, access to the new administration. Special counsel investigators have questioned novartis about its agreement with essential consultants. And Tom llamas joins me now. And Robert Mueller's team has already questioned several of these clients, the companies that spent that money, sending it through Michael Cohen's company, which we know is called essential consultants. But the bottom line tonight, this could spell new legal trouble for Cohen. Reporter: It could, David. But legal experts also said, Cohen trying to capitalize on his long relationship with the president might not be a crime. One of the things they may look at is, was this lobbying, and if so, why didn't he register as a lobbyist? Tom llamas with us here on the set tonight. Tom, thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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