Dems demand details on Cohen payments, citing potential corruption

Dems demand details on Cohen payments, citing potential corruption
© UPI Photo

A group of Senate Democrats is demanding answers from AT&T and Novartis after it was revealed the two companies paid large sums of money to President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump warns Iran's Rouhani: Threaten us 'and you will suffer' Pompeo: Iran's leaders resemble the mafia NYT's Haberman: Trump 'often tells the truth' MORE’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen.

Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenOn The Money: Trump 'ready' for tariffs on all 0B in Chinese goods | Trump digs in on Fed criticism | Lawmakers drop plans to challenge Trump ZTE deal On The Money: Trump rips Fed over rate hikes | Dems fume as consumer agency pick refuses to discuss border policy | Senate panel clears Trump IRS nominee Dems fume as Trump's consumer bureau pick refuses to discuss role in border policy MORE (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenPutin summit puts spotlight back on Trump's tax returns Sunk judicial pick spills over into Supreme Court fight House passes measure blocking IRS from revoking churches' tax-exempt status over political activity MORE (D-Ore.) sent a letter to AT&T on Monday raising questions about whether the $600,000 in payments were appropriate.

“In particular, AT&T had a significant financial interest in key Administration decisions, including whether the Department of Justice would contest the proposed merger with Time Warner, whether the Federal Communications Commission would overturn net neutrality rules, and whether the Administration would push a tax plan that gave huge breaks to corporations like AT&T,” the senators wrote to CEO Randall Stephenson.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Given these ongoing and significant matters, the unusual series of payments by AT&T to the President's personal attorney raise obvious questions about corruption and whether AT&T, Essential Consultants, and the Trump Administration were engaged in a pay-for-play operation.”

Warren and Blumenthal also sent a similar letter and list of questions to Novartis CEO Vasant Narasimhan about the Swedish pharmaceutical company’s $1.2 million consulting contract with Cohen’s limited liability firm, Essential Consultants.

In recent days, Stephenson and Narasimhan have both apologized for their companies’ contracts with Essential Consultants. Bob Quinn, AT&T’s head of public policy, stepped down after the payments were revealed.

In a detailed list of questions, the three Democrats pressed Stephenson for details on the payments, including which executives were involved in working with Cohen. In one of the questions, the senators ask the CEO to divulge information about a meeting he and Quinn attended at Trump Tower during the transition period after the election.

“Did you, Mr. Quinn, or any other AT&T executives meet with Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump or any other executives of the Trump Organization on January 12, 2017?” the Democrats wrote. “If so, did any of those discussions involve a potential work by, or a contract with, Essential Consultants and Mr. Cohen?”

"We are aware of the letter and will respond," said AT&T spokesman Michael Balmoris.

A Novartis spokesman did not respond when asked for comment.

Updated at 1:49 p.m.