There could be an innocent explanation for the unusual timing of the alleged payments linked to a Russian oligarch and President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, according to Judge Andrew Napolitano.
“It’s optics,” he told FOX Business’ Neil Cavuto on Wednesday. “We need to know more.”
Cohen allegedly used his firm, Essential Consultants LLC, to pay adult film actress Stephanie Clifford $130,000 to keep quiet about having sex with the president. But documents supplied by the firm of Clifford’s lawyer Michael Avenatti claim to show more than $4.4 million worth of transactions were processed by Cohen’s firm starting shortly before the election and continuing through this past January.
Included was a payment of $500,000 from Columbus Nova, a New York investment firm with ties to Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian oligarch, according to Avenatti & Associates, which has refused to disclose how it acquired the documents.
The alleged payment occurred during Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign at the same time $130,000 was paid to Daniels, said Napolitano, senior judicial analyst for Fox News.
While that coincidental timing looks bad for the president, Napolitano stressed the importance of knowing all the facts before coming to a conclusion.
“The optics are bad, but there may be an innocent explanation for all of this,” he said. “However, someone is going to have to come forward with that explanation.”
Vekselberg reportedly was questioned at an airport this year by members of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating alleged Russian collusion in the 2016 presidential election.