I wonder if the good ole boys club of Trump World has a clubhouse, or requires a key, or what exactly? They’re a small insular circle, we know that much. Tuesday’s Avenatti bombshell revealed that Essential Consultants, the shell company Michael Cohen used to pay Stormy Daniels’ hush money, also received $500,000 from a firm linked to Russian oligarch Victor Vekelsberg, called Renova Group. Renova Group is connected to an investment firm, called Columbus Nova. Former Trump lead attorney Marc Kasowitz represented Columbus Nova in recent years on a commercial case which settled in early 2017. Not to mention the fact that Michael Cohen used to work at Kasowitz’ office, while he was collecting payments from Columbus Nova. ProPublica:
As ProPublica reported last year, Cohen spent a short period in February 2017 working at the offices of Kasowitz Benson Torres in midtown Manhattan, alarming several lawyers at the firm who worried about the brash attorney’s reputation. That was at the beginning of the period, between January and August 2017, when Columbus Nova made its payments to Cohen.
Any work Cohen did with Kasowitz in 2017 could take on new relevance since the FBI raided Cohen’s home and office last month. Kasowitz, who was Trump’s lead lawyer in the Russia investigation for a brief period last year, has reportedly still been involved in advising the president in the case.
Kasowitz continues to represent Trump in other matters. That includes a suit by Summer Zervos, a former contestant on “The Apprentice” who claims Trump defamed her by calling her a liar after she asserted that he had made unwanted sexual advances.
Kasowitz’s work for Columbus Nova stretches back to at least 2010 in related cases filed in New York and Illinois. In Illinois, Fifth Third Bank sued Columbus Nova and several affiliated entities, alleging that they had caused the bank to lose tens of millions of dollars on loans to a life insurance financing program that was “permeated … by fraud and embezzlement.” In the New York case, Kasowitz and three other attorneys at his firm filed a separate suit alleging that it was Fifth Third Bank that had committed fraud and caused losses.
Columbus Nova’s website says it is “the US investment vehicle for the Renova Group,” which is Vekelsberg’s firm. Vekeslberg was stopped at the airport and questioned by investigtors for Robert Mueller recently, according to the New York Times. Vekselberg was also among those hit with sanctions last month by the Trump administration in response to “malign activity around the globe” by the Russian government.
A lot of dots to connect. Too bad Steve Bannon isn’t still in his war room with his white boards to help us keep it all straight.