AT&T’s Contract with Michael Cohen Shows Exactly What It Hoped to Get From Him

The Washington Post released the consulting contract between Trump’s lawyer and the telecom firm.

May 11 2018, 5:08pm

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AT&T has been facing a lot of questions after it was revealed it paid President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen $600,000 in 2017. The funds were for consulting services, according the company, and a contract from that deal published by The Washington Post shows exactly what it was asking for help with: AT&T’s desire to merge with Time Warner, along with other “corporate interests.”

The contract states that Cohen was expected to work with AT&T’s External and Legislative Affairs group to “creatively address political and communications related issues facing AT&T,” with a specific focus on “long-term planning initiatives as well as the immediate issue of corporate tax reform and the acquisition of Time Warner.” It also specifies that Cohen “advise on corporate interest at the Legislative and Executive (with focus on the FCC) branches of government.”

When news first broke that AT&T was in business with Cohen, thanks to files made public by Stormy Daniels’s lawyer Michael Avenatti, the company stated that Cohen’s firm was hired “to provide insights into understanding the new administration.” But the details of the contract are a lot more specific than just trying to learn how Trump ticks. Instead, it makes clear that AT&T wanted Cohen—a real estate lawyer with no background in corporate mergers—to help give advice on its proposed $85 billion merger with Time Warner.

President Trump has repeatedly spoken out strongly against the proposed merger, calling it “too much concentration of power in the hands of too few,” both when he was campaigning and after his election. Ultimately, the Department of Justice blocked the deal under antitrust law, which AT&T is currently fighting in court.

Though originally the company tried to brush off the scandal, AT&T’s CEO Randall L. Stephenson released a company-wide memo Friday where he said that hiring Cohen was “a big mistake.”

“To be clear, everything we did was done according to the law and entirely legitimate,” Stephenson wrote. “But the fact is our past association with Cohen was a serious misjudgment.”

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