Trump lawyer met Russian oligarch shortly before inauguration

WASHINGTON, May 25 (Reuters) - A Russian oligarch with links to the Kremlin met Donald Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen at the Trump Tower in New York City less than two weeks before Trump's inauguration as president, a source familiar with the meeting said on Friday.

During a discussion in Cohen's office, located on the skyscraper's 26th floor eleven days before the inauguration, Cohen and Russian businessman Viktor Vekselberg talked about improving relations between Moscow and Washington and arranged to meet again at the inauguration, the New York Times first reported. The paper quoted Andrew Intrater, an American who attended the meeting and manages investments for Vekselberg.

The source, who asked for anonymity as private conversations were being discussed, confirmed the New York Times' account to Reuters by telephone.

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Senate Intelligence Committee's review of Russian election meddling
Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee gather ahead of a press conference previewing the committee's findings on Russian election meddling at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 20, 2018. The U.S. needs to do more -- and quickly -- to prevent a repeat of hacking into voting systems by Russians or others ahead of this year's midterm elections, the Senate Intelligence Committee warned. Photographer: Toya Sarno Jordan/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) arrives for a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing evaluating the Intelligence Community Assessment on "Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) speaks to the media as she leaves a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing evaluating the Intelligence Community Assessment on "Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) arrives for a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing evaluating the Intelligence Community Assessment on "Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) speaks to the media as he arrives for a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing evaluating the Intelligence Community Assessment on "Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Former NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers departs from a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing evaluating the Intelligence Community Assessment on "Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper departs from a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing evaluating the Intelligence Community Assessment on "Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia and ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, center right, speaks during a press conference previewing the committee's findings on Russian election meddling at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 20, 2018. The U.S. needs to do more -- and quickly -- to prevent a repeat of hacking into voting systems by Russians or others ahead of this year's midterm elections, the Senate Intelligence Committee warned. Photographer: Toya Sarno Jordan/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Senator Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina and chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, center, speaks during a press conference previewing the committee's findings on Russian election meddling at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 20, 2018. The U.S. needs to do more -- and quickly -- to prevent a repeat of hacking into voting systems by Russians or others ahead of this year's midterm elections, the Senate Intelligence Committee warned. Photographer: Toya Sarno Jordan/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia and ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, takes notes ahead of a press conference previewing the committee's findings on Russian election meddling at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 20, 2018. The U.S. needs to do more -- and quickly -- to prevent a repeat of hacking into voting systems by Russians or others ahead of this year's midterm elections, the Senate Intelligence Committee warned. Photographer: Toya Sarno Jordan/Bloomberg via Getty Images
US Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson (R) testify about election security during a Senate Select Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, March 21, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Richard Burr (R-NC) and the committee's vice chairman Senator Mark Warner (D-VA)(2nd L) stand with members of the committee as they speak to the media about the committee's findings and recommendations on threats to election infrastructure on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Richard Burr (R-NC) and the committee's vice chairman Senator Mark Warner (D-VA)(R) and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) stand before speaking about the committee's findings and recommendations on threats to election infrastructure on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Donald Trump Jr., the president's son, takes a bathroom break after nearly two hours before the Senate Intelligence Committee, as part of the panel?s ongoing investigation of allegations of Russia?s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Donald Trump Jr., the president's son, departs after a full day being interviewed by Senate Intelligence Committee staff, as part of the panel?s ongoing investigation of allegations of Russia?s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. December 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Senators look at a placard presented as evidence of Russian social media manipulation, during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing to answer questions related to Russian use of social media to influence U.S. elections, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 1, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
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Cohen and a lawyer for Intrater could not immediately be reached for comment.

The paper reported that days after Trump's inauguration as president in January 2017, Intrater's private equity firm, Columbus Nova, gave Cohen a $1 million consulting contract, which was now under investigation by U.S. federal authorities.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is conducting an extensive investigation into alleged contacts and dealings between Trump, his associates and Russia, before and after the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Federal prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan are, meanwhile, conducting a separate investigation into financial and business dealings by Cohen.

Intrater told The New York Times that Vekselberg, his cousin and biggest client, did not instruct Columbus Nova to hire Cohen as a consultant. (Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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