- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into payments a Kremlin-tied Russian oligarch made to President Trump’s personal lawyer.

Citing “a source familiar with the matter,” CNN reported Tuesday evening that Mr. Mueller’s team was asking questions about hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to Michael Cohen by oligarch Viktor Vekselberg.

Mr. Vekselberg, chairman of asset manager Renova Group, is one of the Kremlin figures slapped with U.S. sanctions over purported Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

He was not under sanction at the time of the payments from Renova’s U.S. subsidiary to Mr. Cohen, although the nature of his business relationship with Mr. Cohen remains unclear, CNN reported.

Mr. Vekselberg is one of two Russian oligarchs whose private jets were held in New York earlier this year while the FBI asked him about the nature of his relationship with Mr. Cohen, CNN reported.

Earlier on Tuesday, the attorney for porn star Stormy Daniels said Mr. Vekselberg had funneled $500,000 through shell companies to Mr. Cohen, a claim consistent with CNN’s reporting about the Mueller probe, although the network said it “has not independently authenticated” that claim.

SEE ALSO: Michael Avenatti suggests Russians reimbursed Michael Cohen for Stormy Daniels payment

Michael Avenatti implied that the $500,000 was reimbursement for the hush money Mr. Cohen had paid to his client, although the lawyer offered no proof beyond the timing — the payments to Mr. Cohen came in the months after the October 2016 award to Ms. Daniels.

• Victor Morton can be reached at vmorton@washingtontimes.com.

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