Trump promised to "drain the swamp" - but Washington is getting swampier

AT&T Chief Calls Hiring Michael Cohen as Consultant a 'Big Mistake'

AT&T Chief Calls Hiring Michael Cohen as Consultant a 'Big Mistake'

Quinn, who has been in his position since 2016, originally started with the Bell system as an operator for Illinois Bell in 1980, before AT&T was broken up by the Justice Department in a landmark antitrust action four years later.

On Friday, President Donald Trump blasted the "fake news media" for not reporting on litigation revolving around AT&T's planned merger with Time Warner in a tweet that seemed to come out of nowhere.

While Trump has been consistent about his opposition to the AT&T deal, "he didn't interfere" with the Justice Department case, Giuliani told CNN.

"Companies often hire consultants for these purposes, especially at the beginning of a new presidential administration, and we have done so in previous administrations, as well", the company said in the email. Previously, he led AT&T's work before the Federal Communications Commission as the company's senior vice president for regulatory affairs.

The AT&T payment was also significant because Essential Consulting, the shell consulting firm Cohen set up to receive payments, also happens to be the firm that paid Stormy Daniels the $130,000 in hush money.

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, has sent a letter to the CEO of Novartis International requesting documents and information about the company's payments to Cohen, who had a $1.2 million contract with the company during the beginning of the Trump administration.

Cohen is also under investigation by prosecutors in NY for possible bank fraud and campaign finance violations.

At the time that AT&T engaged Cohen, it wasn't aware of "the current controversy surrounding Cohen", AT&T said.

'Everything we did was done according to the law and entirely legitimate.'

AT&T's association with Cohen emerged just this week from information released by Daniels's attorney, Michael Avenatti.

He added that Cohen does not deserve what is happening to him. "Novartis paid Mr. Cohen hundreds of thousands dollars more than it paid its big-shot lobbyists in Washington".

Cohen drew up the agreement, complete with fake names for Trump and Daniels, and paid the money using a shell company he registered in DE just days earlier.

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.

Cohen's lawyer, Stephen Ryan, declined to comment to the Post on Thursday's report.

Quinn did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Within Time Warner this week, officials were surprised to learn about the contract with Essentials Consulting. Payments to Cohen were approved by two executives in AT&T's public affairs office in Washington.

Giuliani, a former mayor of New York City who recently joined Trump's personal legal team, said he represents Trump, not Cohen, but nevertheless believes Cohen did nothing wrong, HuffPost reported.

Federal law requires companies such as AT&T to register individuals as lobbyists if they devote at least 20 percent of their time contacting and trying to influence key government decision-makers, including the president.

Government ethics lawyer Kathleen Clark said Cohen had an obligation under NY state law to inform Trump of the consulting work if it potentially conflicted with Cohen's work as a personal lawyer to the president.

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