Michael Cohen’s $600,000 deal with AT&T specified that he would provide advice on a wide portfolio of issues, including the telecommunication giant’s merger with Time Warner, documents obtained by the Washington Post show.
In fact, only three days after President Trump was sworn into office, AT&T turned to his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, for help. Worth $85 billion, the monstrous merger was criticized by Cohen’s most prominent client: the president himself. The Trump administration opposed the AT&T effort, and the Department of Justice filed suit to block the merger in November of 2017.
As the Inquisitr noted today, Trump lawyer’s dealings with the telecommunications titan were first revealed by Michael Avenatti, adult film actress Stephanie Clifford’s (professionally known as Stormy Daniels) attorney. Avenatti released a document, detailing bank transactions involving Essential Consultants, a Delaware entity owned by Michael Cohen, according to the Wall Street Journal. The transactions were set up for hush payments.
According to the Washington Post, it remains unclear what insight the former taxi cab operator and real estate attorney could have offered or provided to AT&T.
AT&T’s internal document shows Cohen was hired to “focus on specific long-term planning initiatives as well as the immediate issue of corporate tax reform and the acquisition of Time Warner.”
Perhaps more importantly, Cohen’s job was also to “creatively address political and communications issues,” which suggests he was hired to advise the company on matters before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The same documents show Cohen was supposed to spend half of his time on “regulatory policy development,” and the other half on “legislative policy development.”
Since Michael Cohen is not a registered lobbyist, he was forbidden from engaging in lobbying, so he was not allowed to contact government officials. Rather, his job was to advise the company.
Larry Noble, a former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission and an expert on lobbying law, explained to the Washington Post that, “individuals must register as lobbyists if they spend 20 percent of their time working for a client on legislative and executive branch issues and if they have had contact with at least two government officials related to that client.”
Cohen’s work does not appear to meet the definition, Noble asserted, adding that this is an ethical concern, since Cohen, “appears to be selling access to a current client, who is president.”
The corporate payments Cohen received, WaPo noted, demonstrate how the lawyer was able to find money-making opportunities, while swimming in the swamp his most prominent client, President Donald Trump, had promised to drain. The payments were approved by two executives in AT&T’s public affairs office, headquartered in Washington.
According to disclosure forms, the $600,000 AT&T spent on Cohen’s services was merely a drop in the ocean; the corporation spent $16.8 million on lobbying in 2017 alone.