(CN) – President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen took aim Wednesday at a report by adult film star Stormy Daniels’ attorney accusing Cohen of “likely” bank fraud, claiming Daniels’ attorney has the wrong Michael Cohen.
Furthermore, Cohen says attorney Michael Avenatti has no business being in possession of personal bank records, let alone publishing them for public consumption.
In a letter to U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood, who is overseeing proceedings in a federal criminal probe of Cohen, Cohen’s attorneys from the firm McDermott Will & Emery said the report Avenatti published Tuesday contains incorrect statements that have nothing to do with Daniels’ defamation lawsuit against Cohen relating to $130,000 he paid to keep her quiet about an alleged affair with Trump years ago.
Among the claims Cohen says are incorrect: A wire transfer he supposedly received, sent to an account in Toronto, was actually received by a Canadian citizen named Michael Cohen for foreign aid work the Canadian Cohen did in Tanzania. Meanwhile, a wire transfer from a Kenyan bank from one Netanel Cohen went to Netanel’s brother Michael Cohen of Israel, Cohen’s attorneys say.
Cohen also denies cashing a check in Palm Beach, Florida, from Singapore-based KCS Outsourcing and denies any knowledge about the company. Similarly, he says he knows nothing about wire transfers from Hungary, and says he couldn’t have possibly made wire transfers from a Taiwanese bank account to a Bank of America account because he’s never been to Taiwan and has never had an account with B of A.
What’s worse, Cohen’s attorneys say, Avenatti appears to have some of Cohen’s actual financial records and made sensitive information available to the public – including Cohen’s dealings with clients like AT&T and Novartis.
“We have no reason to believe that Mr. Avenatti is in lawful possession of these bank records,” the letter states. “If Mr. Avenatti wishes to be admitted pro hac vice before this court, he should be required to explain to this court how he came to possess and release this information. The details of when Mr. Cohen was paid by these business clients – whose names had not previously been made public – have no relation to the litigation in which he represents [Daniels] or any purported reasons he may have to appear before this court.”
Both Novartis and AT&T acknowledge hiring Cohen. Novartis said the business relationship was brief but still paid Cohen $1.2 million because it couldn’t get out of the contract.
AT&T said it paid Cohen $200,000 for “insights into the new administration” but that Cohen did no legal or lobbying work for the company. Their contract ended this past December, the company said.
The letter, signed by Cohen’s attorneys Stephen Ryan and Todd Harrison, calls Avenatti’s report “deliberately distorted” and “a toxic mix of disinformation.”
Included as an exhibit with the letter is an email from Michael Cohen the Canadian to Avenatti noting “surely you are aware of the fact that [Michael Cohen] is an extremely common name and would request that you take care before involving innocent parties in this sordid affair.”
The Washington Post reported Wednesday the Treasury Department’s inspector general is looking into whether Cohen’s confidential banking records had been leaked to Avenatti or someone else. Avenatti declined to reveal his source, but told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Tuesday night that “people want to help our cause, people contact us with information.”
Avenatti took to Twitter late Wednesday to point out the letter by Cohen’s attorneys deftly leaves out any mention of Cohen’s financial ties to Russia.
“Mr. Ryan’s submission on behalf of Mr. Cohen is baseless, improper and sanctionable. They fail to address, let alone contradict, 99% of the statements in what we released. Among other things, they effectively concede the receipt of the $500,000 from those with Russian ties,” Avenatti tweeted.
“If Mr. Ryan/Mr. Cohen dispute the receipt of nearly $2MM from Columbus Nova, Korea Aero, Novartis or ATT (as opposed to insignificant amounts), they should state it NOW. Regardless, they should IMMEDIATELY produce the bank records so the American people can judge the truth.”
In his 7-page report, Avenatti accused Cohen of “likely” committing bank fraud, and detailed $4.4 million in “suspicious” transactions.
That total includes roughly $500,000 in payments from Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, Avenatti said.