AT&T paid Trump lawyer to advise on Time Warner deal

05_10_18_AvenattiFees

Asked if President Donald Trump believes it was a mistake for Cohen to advise AT&T, Sanders said that the episode only shows how committed Trump is to "draining the swamp".

Randall Stephenson, AT&T's chairman and chief executive, also told employees in a message that the company's policy chief Bob Quinn would be retiring following the disclosures of payments to lawyer Michael Cohen, who is now the focus of a series of investigations. Its payments flowed into Essential Consultants, a company Cohen set up in the fall of 2016 to pay pornographic-film actress Stormy Daniels $130,000 as part of a confidentiality agreement to keep her quiet about an alleged sexual encounter she had with Trump.

Later in the week, it was reported that the initial AT&T number was drastically lower than what was actually paid - AT&T gave Cohen $600,000 to advise the company on its proposed $85 billion merger with Time Warner, something Trump had previously opposed. Though Cohen was still contracted with AT&T at the time, the company says he never lobbied on its behalf. AT&T disagreed, sending the battle into a federal trial. AT&T's ties to Cohen have prompted questions from USA lawmakers about whether AT&T sought to influence the government's independent merger review."Everything we did was done according to the law and entirely legitimate", Stephenson wrote in an email. He also said it would have a "massive effect" on the pay-TV industry itself, enabling AT&T increased leverage and control over the market and passing the resultant costs on to consumers.

Stephenson said the vetting process in Quinn's office "clearly failed" and vowed AT&T would "do better". The president has denied Ms. Clifford's claims.

It said Cohen approached AT&T in the transition period between Trump's November 2016 election and his January 2017 swearing-in.

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These are the "insights" that AT&T previously said it hired Cohen for. Ron Wyden of OR, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, who sent a separate letter Friday to Cohen regarding the payments from Novartis to his shell company Essential Consultants.

Quinn took charge of AT&T's legislative affairs operation in Washington less than two years ago. Cohen did not respond to requests for comment. But AT&T said it did not meet with Avenue a second time.

Novartis also said Cohen approached them and offered his consulting services.

Federal law requires companies such as AT&T to register individuals as lobbyists if they devote at least 20 percent of their time contacting and trying to influence key government decision-makers, including the president. "They were asking him to help them get a feel on the administration and where the administration is going", said Scott Amey, general counsel for the Project on Government Oversight.

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