The day after it was revealed Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen received $500,000 in payments from a financial firm linked to a Russian oligarch aligned with Vladimir Putin, Pro Publica reports another longtime Trump personal attorney, Marc Kasowitz, also represented the very same Russian firm as recently as last year.
Kasowitz says he has represented the private equity firm Columbus Nova since 2010; Columbus Nova operates as the U.S. investment vehicle for Renova Group, a financial company run by Putin ally, Viktor Vekselberg. Columbus Nova also happens to be founded and run by Vekselberg’s cousin, Andrew Intrater. Vekselberg and Renova Group were both targeted by U.S. sanctions in April; Vekselberg and Intrater have been questioned by Robert Mueller.
It’s not completely clear the implications of the financial link between Vekselberg, Columbus Nova, and Kasowitz, but, at the very least, it shows an intimate business connection between the Trump World and the Kremlin-approved businesses. Columbus Nova told Pro Publica that its hiring of the pair of Trump lawyers was a coincidence. From Pro Publica:
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.
More troubling is the idea that a lawyer (Kasowitz), who was for a brief two-month period in 2017 in charge of the president of the United States’ legal defense in the Russia investigation, was on the payroll of a Putin-aligned oligarch just months before assuming that role. A spokesperson for Kasowitz told Pro Publica the litigation the lawyer was involved with settled in early 2017, but there is no public record confirmation of that fact. Kasowitz was ousted from Trump’s Mueller defense team in July 2017, but the New York Times reported in March that he was still in contact with Trump, who was considering bringing the lawyer back to his legal team in a larger role.