Technology

Dems demand details on Cohen payments, citing potential corruption

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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 Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Ron Wyden (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.

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“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.

Tags Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Ron Wyden
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