AT&T says it paid the consulting firm run by President Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, $200,000 in 2017 for “insights” into the Trump administration.
“Essential Consultants was one of several firms we engaged in early 2017 to provide insights into understanding the new administration,” an AT&T spokeswoman told TheWrap in a statement Tuesday. “They did no legal or lobbying work for us, and the contract ended in December 2017.”
AT&T’s admission came after Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels, 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.
AT&T would not elaborate on the kind of services Cohen’s firm performed. A lawyer for Cohen did not respond to a request for comment.
The company is in the midst of pursuing an $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, a deal that the Justice Department has sued to block.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that Essential Consultants received more than a $1 million from various business entities “for an array of business activities that went far beyond what was publicly known.” Among those companies, Korea Aerospace Industries paid $150,000 in November 2017, while a firm linked to Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg paid $500,000.
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. Avenatti asserts that the $500,000 was used to repay Cohen for the $130,000 payment to Daniels.
The Executive Summary from our first Preliminary Report on Findings may be accessed via the link below. Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen have a lot of explaining to do.https://t.co/179WvIkRlD
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) May 8, 2018