The end of the Obama-era Net Neutrality rules is happening on June 11, 2018, according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the organization's chairman Ajit Pai. The timing of the announcement happens to coincide with reports that AT&T admitted that Donald Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, was paid between $200,000 and $600,000 by AT&T to provide "insights" into the U.S. president's administration. Therefore, some reports are speculating that Cohen was paid as a "fixer" to help kill Net Neutrality.
Cohen has consulted with AT&T, Novartis, Columbus Nova, and Korea Aerospace Industries after Trump became president. According to the Washington Post, Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for Stephanie Clifford aka Stormy Daniels, alleged that Cohen was paid $200,000 via shell company Essential Consultants. On May 8, 2018, AT&T confirmed the payments.
"Essential Consulting was one of several firms we engaged in early 2017 to provide insights into understanding the new administration," said AT&T in a statement according to CNBC White House reporter Christina Wilkie. "They did no legal or lobbying work for us, and the contract ended in December 2017."
According to Reuters, Democratic Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal claims that the payments by these companies "may well have been used to influence the president of the United States, using Michael Cohen and his shell company as a conduit." The payments may have been as high as $600,000. What is notable is that AT&T was paying Cohen to "provide insights into understanding the new administration" until December 17, 2017, which was three days after the FCC repealed Net Neutrality.
The Daily Kos reported that AT&T has since introduced new features that were previously illegal under the Net Neutrality regulations. However, it is not like AT&T is running rampantly out of control. The Trump administration has also blocked the proposed merger between AT&T and Time Warner based on antitrust laws.
According to a previous report by the Inquisitr, Senate Democrats have been scrambling to save the Net Neutrality rules at the last minute. They are hoping to use the 1996 Congressional Review Act (CRS), which allows Congress to review and potentially overrule federal regulations issued by government agencies. Polls show that 75 percent of Republicans, 89 percent of Democrats, and 86 percent of independents oppose the repeal of net neutrality.