AT&T hired Cohen for advice on Time Warner merger: report

AT&T hired Cohen for advice on Time Warner merger: report
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AT&T reportedly hired President TrumpDonald John TrumpIran claims it rejected Trump meeting requests 8 times ESPY host jokes Putin was as happy after Trump summit as Ovechkin winning Stanley Cup Russian ambassador: Trump made ‘verbal agreements’ with Putin MORE's longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen to advise the company on several matters including its pending merger with Time Warner.

As part of the reported $600,000 that the telecommunications giant paid Cohen’s consulting firm, Essential Consultants LLC, The Washington Post reports that a portion was directed toward advising the company on its $85 billion merger, which required the approval of the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Trump had said on the campaign trail that he would block the deal if elected, and the DOJ has since sued to stop the deal from happening. Its case with the companies is still pending.

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The DOJ's antitrust chief, Makan Delrahim, was unaware of the payments to Cohen, according to the Post, which reported that AT&T hired Cohen just a few days after Trump was inaugurated in early 2017.

Documents obtained by the newspaper reveal that corporate clients paid Essential Consultants at least $2.95 million to advise them on a range of issues such as the Affordable Care Act, accounting practices and real estate.

Cohen set up the shell company shortly before the 2016 election to pay $130,000 to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about an alleged affair with Trump a decade earlier. Michael Avenatti, a lawyer for Daniels in her lawsuit against Trump and Cohen, first revealed AT&T's payments to Cohen.

According to an internal email sent to AT&T employees and obtained by The Hill, the company hired “several consultants to help us understand how the President and his administration might approach a wide range of policy issues important to the company, including regulatory reform at the FCC, corporate tax reform and antitrust enforcement.”

AT&T said in a separate statement to The Hill that it stopped paying $50,000 installments to Cohen around the end of 2017 and that “he did no legal or lobbying work” for the company.

Democratic lawmakers and outside groups have seized on the revelations this week, raising ethical questions over whether the lawyer was paid to offer access to the president.

Updated at 6:37 p.m.