AT&T paid President Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen specifically to advise the telecom company on its proposed $85.4 billion merger with Time Warner, according to a report by the Washington Post, citing internal documents obtained by the newspaper.
The report states that Cohen’s $600,000 deal with AT&T detailed the nature of the work he was to provide to the company, including focusing on specific long-term planning initiatives and immediate issues regarding corporate tax reform and the Time Warner acquisition.
Representatives for AT&T did not immediately return requests for comment, nor did Michael Cohen’s lawyer Stephen Ryan.
A spokeswoman for AT&T told TheWrap in a statement that: “Essential Consultants 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.”
The DoJ filed its lawsuit against AT&T in November 2017.
The Post reported that the documents, which were signed by two AT&T executives in the company’s public affairs office in Washington, specifically dictate that Cohen was not to spend his time lobbying for the company.
AT&T’s proposed merger with Time Warner is still awaiting regulatory approval, following the government’s attempt to block the merger due to antitrust concerns.
President Trump made clear during the campaign in 2016, when the AT&T-Time Warner deal was announced, that he would block the merger.
The Department of Justice’s lawsuit against AT&T is currently pending a decision from D.C. District Judge Richard Leon, which is expected to come on June 12. There’s no indication right now whether AT&T’s link to Cohen will have any bearing on the antitrust lawsuit.
A representative for the DoJ did not immediately respond to requests for comment, nor did representatives for Judge Leon.
The company’s dealings with Cohen, and a host of other companies, was brought to light earlier this week by Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for adult film star Stormy Daniels. Avenatti tweeted out what he called a “preliminary report” on Cohen’s shell company, Essential Consultants, which showed it also received payments from drug pharmaceutical giant Novartis and a prominent Russian oligarch with ties to President Vladimir Putin.
Essential Consultants, created by Cohen in October 2016, was the same company used to make a $130,000 payment to Daniels in exchange for her silence about an affair she says she had with Donald Trump several years earlier. Trump has consistently denied the affair.