We made 'big mistake' hiring Trump's lawyer Cohen, says AT&T CEO

CEO of AT&T Randall L. Stephenson

The Department of Justice filed suit in November to block the deal, a case that is still pending.

The Washington Post reported this week that Cohen received $600,000 to consult for AT&T about the merger, among other issues. Last year, AT&T spent almost $17 million on federal lobbying, the third highest among companies. "Novartis believed that Michael Cohen could advise the company as to how the Trump administration might approach certain USA healthcare policy matters, including the Affordable Care Act", the company said in a statement to CNBC. Cohen was also in the building that day, but he and Stephenson did not meet and have never met, AT&T said.

The former NY mayor in an interview with Business Insider was responding to a challenge from Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for the adult entertainer who claims she had an affair with Trump, to debate the president's defamation suit against his client live on-air.

The new information about Cohen's business ventures comes just weeks after Federal Bureau of Investigation agents raided his home, office and hotel room, seizing financial records and his electronic devices.

In a supplemental document linked from the e-mail, Stephenson explained that Cohen was the one who approached the company offering insight on the administration's "key players, their priorities and how they think".

A Justice Department spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

AT&T's ties to Cohen have prompted questions from United States lawmakers about whether AT&T sought to influence the government's independent merger review.

Michael Cohen exits the U.S. Federal Court on April 16, 2018 in Lower Manhattan, New York. "They're paying a price, but they're doing the right thing". "Quinn stepping down is not going to cripple AT&T", said Feld. However, he noted that hiring the president's lawyer could trigger ethical questions.

White House scrambling to shore up support for Trump's Central Intelligence Agency pick
The White House is expected to announce the date and location of Trump's meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. With dozens of Democrats saying they will vote against her, support from Maine's senators could be pivotal.

Giuliani also told CBS News that while the president's legal team has been in touch with special counsel Robert Mueller's team earlier this week, there are no significant developments in that area. The president has denied Ms. Clifford's claims.

AT&T has declined to comment on the specific amount it paid to Essential Consultants.

The resulting contract - at $50,000 per month, from January through December 2017 - "was expressly limited to providing consulting and advisory services", according to the fact sheet.

Giuliani said he was trying to say that AT&T's payments to Cohen didn't sway Trump's personal point of view about the deal.

Harold Feld, vice president of the digital consumer-advocacy organization Public Knowledge, sometimes worked with AT&T on issues, including subsidies to defray the cost of telephone service to low income Americans, and sometimes against it. CNN is owned by Time Warner.

"As an example of the power structure I'm fighting, AT&T is buying Time Warner and thus CNN, a deal we will not approve in my administration because it's too much concentration of power in the hands of too few", Trump said during a speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in October 2016. "Novartis paid Mr. Cohen hundreds of thousands dollars more than it paid its big-shot lobbyists in Washington. AT&T has a lucrative business merger being blocked by Trump's Department of Justice".

Quinn's abrupt departure leaves almost 100 lobbyists working to complete an embattled merger with Time Warner, as well as to preserve gains the company made elsewhere, including in weakening federal oversight of its internet business.

Drugmaker Novartis said on Wednesday it had a US$1.2 million contract with Cohen's firm, but soon realised the agreement was a mistake.

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