Three days after President Donald Trump was sworn into office, the telecom giant AT&T turned to his personal attorney Michael Cohen for help on a wide portfolio of issues pending before the federal government — including the company’s proposed merger with Time Warner, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.
The internal documents reveal for the first time that Cohen’s $600,000 deal with AT&T specified that he would provide advice on the $85 billion merger, which required the approval of federal antitrust regulators.
Trump had voiced opposition to the merger during the campaign and his administration ultimately sided against AT&T. The Department of Justice filed suit in November to block the deal, a case that is still pending.
Cohen’s deals with AT&T and other corporate clients were first revealed this week by an attorney for adult-film star Stormy Daniels, but the new documents obtained by The Post offered greater detail about his arrangement with telecom company and the type of work he had been hired to perform.
It is unclear what insight Cohen — a longtime real estate attorney and former taxi cab operator — could have provided AT&T on complex telecom matters.
At the same time he was collecting $50,000 a month from AT&T, Cohen was being paid large sums to advise other companies on a broad variety of issues, including the Affordable Care Act, accounting practices and real estate.
In the wake of Trump’s election, corporate clients paid Cohen at least $2.95 million through a company called Essential Consultants, according to figures confirmed by the companies.
Essential Consultants was the same company Cohen used in October 2016 to route money to Daniels in exchange for her agreement not to disclose an alleged affair with Trump.
The corporate payments he received demonstrate how Cohen was able to turn his ties with the new president into money-making opportunities, despite Trump’s campaign pledges to “drain the swamp.”
AT&T and the pharmaceutical company Novartis, another Cohen client, said this week that they provided information about their dealings with Trump’s lawyer to special counsel Robert Mueller III last year. Cohen is also under investigation by prosecutors in New York for possible bank fraud and campaign finance violations.
The $600,000 that flowed to Cohen from AT&T was the equivalent of 3.5 percent of the $16.8 million the company spent on lobbying in 2017, according to disclosure forms.
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Source: Salt Lake Tribune