Telecom company AT&T reportedly paid Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen, who does not work in mergers and acquisitions, as much as $600,000 for his professional insight into its $85 billion merger with Time Warner, the Washington Post reported Thursday.
The Trump administration opposed the merger in a suit in November and is awaiting a final verdict in federal court.
The fact that AT&T paid Cohen at all was first revealed in a dossier published by adult film actress Stormy Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti on Tuesday. In the document, Avenatti alleged AT&T had paid Cohen $200,000 in four installments of $50,000 between late 2017 and early 2018.
AT&T has since confirmed the payments and explained in a memo to employees that the company had hired “several consultants” to better understand the thought process of the Trump administration.
The Washington Post obtained internal documents that reportedly reveal Cohen’s agreement with AT&T paid him to “focus on specific long-term planning initiatives as well as the immediate issue of corporate tax reform and the acquisition of Time Warner.”
According to the terms of the agreement, Cohen was to split his time between working on “legislative policy development” and “regulatory policy development,” but was not to contact federal officials to avoid having to register as a lobbyist, according to the Post.
In a statement Wednesday evening, AT&T said they had been contacted by special counsel investigators in November and December 2017, and “cooperated fully.”
Several other companies, including the pharmaceutical giant Novartis, have also confirmed they paid Cohen for his consulting services.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut called for the Senate Judiciary Committee to investigate the payments, saying they “may well have been used to influence the president of the United States, using Michael Cohen and his shell company as a conduit.”
Cover image: Drew Angrer/Getty