AT&T confirms it paid Michael Cohen for ‘insights’ on Trump admin
AT&T confirmed Tuesday that it paid President Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen for “insights” on the Trump administration.
AT&T said in a statement obtained by The Hill that Cohen’s company “was one of several firms we engaged in early 2017 to provide insights into understanding the new administration.”
“They did no legal or lobbying work for us, and the contract ended in December 2017,” AT&T added in its statement, which was first reported by CNBC.
The payment was first revealed on Tuesday in a document published by Michael Avenatti, a lawyer for adult-film star Stormy Daniels, who is suing the president and Cohen.
Avenatti had claimed that AT&T, drug company Novartis and a Russian oligarch had all made payments to Cohen’s shell company, Essential Consultants.
The document claimed that AT&T paid Cohen’s company four separate installments of $50,000, totaling $200,000, in late 2017 and early 2018.
The telecom giant did not say in its statement how much it paid Essential Consultants.
Cohen used the shell company to pay $130,000 to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, shortly before the 2016 election to keep quiet about her alleged 2006 affair with Trump.
At around the time AT&T said the payments to Cohen’s company ended, it was pursuing a merger with Time Warner. The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) decision on it was still pending at the time. The DOJ has since sued to block the $85 billion deal.
The report released by Avenatti on Tuesday also said that Cohen’s account received roughly $500,000 in payments from Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, who was one of several Russian nationals and entities hit by U.S. sanctions in April in response to what the Trump administration said were broad, destabilizing activities by Moscow.
Vekselberg was stopped at a New York-area airport earlier this year and interviewed by investigators on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, which is investigating possible collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russia.
– Max Greenwood contributed
Updated: 8:16 p.m.