A Russian oligarch closely tied to Vladimir Putin met with President Donald Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen at Trump Tower less than two weeks before the inauguration, The New York Times reported Friday.
Cohen and the oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg, both expressed a desire to strengthen Russia's relationship with the U.S., and made arrangements to meet at the Jan. 20, 2017, inauguration, the Times reported.
Shortly after the inauguration, Cohen's company Essential Consultants was awarded a $1 million, one-year consulting contract by private equity firm Columbus Nova, according to the newspaper.
The Times' account was based on an interview with Vekselberg's cousin Andrew Intrater, the head of Columbus Nova and an attendee of the meeting in New York City. The Times also cited video footage from Trump Tower and people briefed on the meeting.
The Times had previously reported that Columbus Nova decided to end the agreement with Cohen's company after just seven months and paying $580,000. Cohen had reportedly failed to deliver on Intrater's expectation to gain access to a slew of Republican donors for new deals and investors for Columbus Nova.