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Michael Cohen Exchanged 950 Text Messages With Russian Oligarch’s Cousin

May 22, 2019, 2:53 PM UTC
President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, exchanged more than 230 phone calls and 950 text messages over eight months with the chief executive of a U.S. money-management firm with ties to a Russian oligarch, according to newly unsealed court documents.

The communications between Cohen and Andrew Intrater, the chief executive officer of Columbus Nova LCC, began on the day of Donald Trump’s election, according to a U.S. search-and-seizure warrant filed in Washington on Aug. 7, 2017, and unsealed on Wednesday.

Citing public records and news reports, the government said Columbus Nova is an investment management firm controlled by Renova Group, which is itself controlled by Viktor Vekselberg, a wealthy Russian citizen. Intrater, an American, is a cousin of Vekselberg.

Columbus Nova has denied that it’s an arm of Renova Group. A spokesman for Intrater didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Telephone records related to Cohen’s cellular telephone show that on or about Nov. 8, 2016, the day of the presidential election, a telephone registered to Cohen exchanged the first in a series of text messages with the CEO of Columbus Nova,” according to the filing.

The relationship between Cohen and Columbus Nova has been previously reported, with news reports indicating that the U.S. firm invested about $500,000 with Cohen after the election. The full extent of the contacts between Cohen and Intrater hasn’t been reported.

The search warrant applications show that federal authorities were investigating Cohen for matters including violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Cohen wasn’t charged with FARA violations.

He pleaded guilty to tax evasion, making false statements to a bank, lying to Congress, and campaign finance violations. He’s now serving a three-year sentence in a federal prison in Otisville, New York.

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