What was AT&T, the bluest of the blue-chips thinking? The telecommunications giant paid $200K to the shell company of Michael Cohen, personal injury lawyer and Donald Trump’s fixer, for insights into and understanding of the new administration.
Ma Bell does make it plain that none of the money that it paid Essential Consultants in 2017 was used for legal work or lobbying.
It’s good that AT&T cleared that up, though Essential Consultants is hardly a legal or lobbying powerhouse.
In fact, Essential Consulting is the firm that Cohen established to pay $130K to former porn star Stormy Daniels, who allegedly had sex with Donald Trump in 2006.
AT&T has the right to hire any firm or person that it likes for strategic advice. Cohen just doesn't fit AT&T's corporate profile. The New York Times on May 5 ran an extensive feature on Cohen's "shadowy business empire" and his alleged ties with Russian mobsters.
The telecommunications company isn’t the only entity to tap into the apparent savvy of Essential Consultants, which has Cohen as its sole employee.
Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, who has a close relationship with Vladimir Putin, is linked to Columbus Nova, a firm that paid $500K to Essential Consultants for services regarding potential sources of capital and real estate investments.
A spokesperson for Vekselberg, who is the biggest investor in Columbus Nova, said he had nothing to do with the decision to hire Essential Consultants.
AT&T is trying to seal its $85B acquisition of Time Warner, a deal opposed by the Trump Administration.
Trump has been in the public spotlight for eons. What unique “insights” did AT&T expect to get from Cohen? The Trump Administration is not exactly a complex organization.
The payment to Essential Consultants sure looks like a pay-for-play move.
At the very least, it was lousy PR.