AT&T Paid Michael Cohen Even More than We Thought - And Was Clear on What It Wanted in Return: Report
AT&T paid President Donald Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen about three times as much as has previously been suggested, according to a new report from Bloomberg. While initial reporting found that the company paid Cohen $200,000, a source told the outlet that the full figure was actually $600,000.
And in an internal email to the company's employees obtained by Bloomberg, AT&T reportedly said that it's payment to Cohen was explicitly about "antitrust enforcement" — which is directly implicated in the company's current efforts to merge with Time Warner. These efforts are currently being fought by the Trump administration.
Though he is a lawyer, Cohen is most commonly described as Trump's "fixer," and it's not clear he has any valuable expertise in antitrust law. The most plausible explanation for AT&T's efforts to pay him large sums of money is that it thought he would have influence in the administration. Indeed, multiple reports found that Cohen was explicitly selling his services to companies with the promise of "access" to Trump.
It appears AT&T didn't get what it wanted from the payments to Cohen, given the government's opposition to the merger. But the government did side with the company and others like it on another crucial matter: rolling back net neutrality.
While these allegations are troubling enough are their own, it's unclear to what extent Trump was involved in his lawyer's efforts to cash in on his ties to the White House. Any coordination between the president and Cohen on this front would raise deeply troubling questions about the undue influence of money in politics, which many argue is ethically objectionable, even if it's legal.