The Slatest

AT&T Reportedly Bought Michael Cohen’s “Services” Specifically to Help With Its $85 Billion Merger With Time Warner

Michael Cohen, longtime personal lawyer and confidante for President Donald Trump, arrives at the United States District Court Southern District of New York on April 26, 2018 in New York City.
Michael Cohen, longtime personal lawyer and confidante for President Donald Trump, arrives at the United States District Court Southern District of New York on April 26, 2018 in New York City.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

We now know that Michael Cohen was explicitly open for business and his business is Donald Trump. But we’re learning more and more about the willingness of corporations to pony up cash in order to “gain access” to the president’s personal lawyer and, presumably, the ear of the president himself. Cohen was not a registered lobbyist and showed no interest in transparency of any kind. The payments from AT&T, Novartis, and others revealed earlier this week show Cohen’s conduct already walks right up the line of a straight up bribe. A Washington Post report Thursday, showing that AT&T payed $600,000 specifically for “advice” on the company’s pending $85 billion merger with Time Warner awaiting regulatory approval, scooched Cohen even closer to “the line” between legal and illegal bribery in Washington, D.C.

From the Post:

It is unclear what insight Cohen—a longtime real estate attorney and former taxi cab operator—could have provided AT&T on complex telecom matters… A “scope of work” describing Cohen’s contract in an internal AT&T document shows that he 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.” He was also directed to “creatively address political and communications issues” facing the company and advise the company on matters before the Federal Communications Commission…

  … In an internal email to employees obtained by The Post, AT&T said Cohen was among “several consultants” the company hired in early 2017 “to help us understand how the President and his administration might approach a wide range of policy issues important to the company, including regulatory reform at the FCC, corporate tax reform and antitrust enforcement.”

“At the time the contract was signed, AT&T was trying to build ties to the new administration,” the Post reports. “Months earlier, Trump had come out strongly against the proposed merger with Time Warner, which owns CNN — a network he often berates as ‘fake news.’” AT&T spent $16.8 million on lobbying in 2017.