Law Firm That Partnered With Michael Cohen Says Shell Company Work Was A Side Hustle

WASHINGTON ― A major law firm that formed a strategic partnership with Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen last year said the work that Cohen did on behalf of companies that paid him through a shell company was separate from his business with the firm. 

Squire Patton Boggs, a global law firm with 47 offices in 20 countries, announced an arrangement with Cohen in April 2017 to “advance the interests” of its clients. The partnership, which lasted roughly a year, ended not long after Cohen was raided by the FBI last month.

AT&T, the investment firm Columbus Nova, the pharmaceutical company Novartis and Korea Aerospace Industries all paid Cohen’s Essential Consultants LLC, the same shell company that Cohen used to pay off Stormy Daniels, a porn star who claims she had an affair with Trump years ago. Although most of the payments came when Cohen had a partnership with Squire Patton Boggs, the firm said that was separate from the work he did with it.

“We have we never paid any money to Essential Consultants LLC and we’ve never performed work for any of the identified entities as a result of our past arrangement with Cohen,” Squire Patton Boggs spokesman Angelo Kakolyris told HuffPost in an email.

After the FBI raid on Cohen ― which included an office he had at Squire Patton Boggs’ office at Rockefeller Center in New York ― the firm said that it was fully cooperating with the federal investigation and that the activities under scrutiny did “not relate” to the firm.

Squire Patton Boggs agreed to pay Cohen a $500,000 annual “alliance fee,” according to court filings in connection with a dispute over government access to information he claimed was protected by attorney-client privilege. Over the past year, he had only three legal clients: Trump, Republican donor Elliott Broidy and Fox News host Sean Hannity. Federal prosecutors said that they had reason to believe Cohen had “exceedingly few clients and a low volume of potentially privileged communications” and that he “introduced a sum total of five clients to the firm.”

His access to Trump was an essential component of his marketability. Novartis said in a statement on Wednesday that it entered into a yearlong contract with Cohen’s shell company worth $1.2 million to advise it on how the Trump administration should approach health care policy. But a first meeting in March 2017, Novartis said, it determined Cohen would be “unable to provide the services that Novartis had anticipated related to US healthcare policy matters and the decision was taken not to engage further.” Under the terms of the contract, Cohen got his money anyhow.

Ryan Reilly is HuffPost’s senior justice reporter, covering the Justice Department, federal law enforcement, criminal justice and legal affairs. Have a tip? Reach him at ryan.reilly@huffpost.com or on Signal at 202-527-9261.