AT&T confirmed Tuesday evening that it paid President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen in 2017 for “insights into understanding the new administration.”
The payments were revealed in a document published by Stormy Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti Tuesday afternoon.
Avenatti alleged that Essential Consultants, a shell company set up by Cohen before the election to pay Daniels, was paid by several corporations, including AT&T. AT&T was seeking government approval for its acquisition of Time Warner at the time. Time Warner is CNN’s parent company.
A document released by Avenatti stated that “Essential received $200,000 in four separate payments of $50,000 in late 2017 and early 2018 from AT&T.”
An AT&T spokesman would not confirm the amount, but did confirm that it enlisted Cohen’s company.
“Essential Consulting was one of several firms we engaged in early 2017 to provide insights into understanding the new administration,” AT&T said Tuesday evening. “They did no legal or lobbying work for us, and the contract ended in December 2017.”
AT&T, one of the biggest companies in the country, has numerous issues before the government, including valuable government contracts and changes to so-called “net neutrality” regulations.
But the timing of payments to a Trump lawyer is especially significant because of the AT&T-Time Warner deal.
Trump, then the GOP nominee for president, expressed opposition to the $85 billion deal on the day it was announced.
When Trump won the election, there were immediate questions about whether the deal would be blocked by the Trump administration’s Justice Department.
After a year-long review process, the DOJ sued to block the deal last November.
The payments to Cohen stopped in December, according to AT&T. At the time, pre-trial status conferences were getting started.
The trial began in March and wrapped at the end of April. Judge Richard Leon is expected to issue his decision on June 12, though he has said it could come earlier.