Published: Fri, May 11, 2018
Finance | By Claude Patterson

Novartis CEO Calls Trump Lawyer Payment 'Mistake'

AT&T paid a Cohen company, Essential Consultants, LLC.

Only three days after President Trump was sworn into office, AT&T turned to his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, for help.

Vekselberg and Intrater could not be reached for comment, but Richard Owens, a lawyer for Columbus Nova, said in a statement the company hired Cohen after Trump's January 2017 inauguration "as a business consultant regarding sources of capital and potential investments in real estate and other ventures".

AT&T said Essential Consultants was one of several firms it "engaged in early 2017 to provide insights into understanding the new administration" but that it received no legal or lobbying services from Cohen's firm.

The Trump administration opposed the AT&T effort, and the Department of Justice filed suit to block the merger in November past year.

His comments come in response to a series of stories showing that Cohen received millions of dollars in payments following the 2016 election from major USA companies, including one firm that's backed by a Russian oligarch.

Before the trial began, AT&T and Time Warner considered using a "selective enforcement" defense, essentially arguing that the Justice Department was targeting their merger partly because Trump doesn't like CNN.

The AT&T CEO also included a fact sheet with his letter to employees detailing the company's versions of events around hiring Cohen. Rather, his job was to advise the company.

Mr. Stephenson's memo to AT&T's 249,000 employees followed the revelation that the company had paid Mr. Cohen $600,000 to advise on the $85.4 billion merger with Time Warner and other regulatory matters.

Cohen was also paid $1.2million by the pharmaceutical company Novartis.

Trump on the campaign trail repeatedly said he would block it.

Novartis said this week that it had provided information about its dealings with Cohen to the special counsel.

According to Noble, an individual 'must register as lobbyists if they spend 20 percent of their time working for a client on legislative and executive branch issues and if they have had contact with at least two government officials related to that client'. A Republican strategist who spoke with CNN said that Cohen would tell clients that they should "fire" their current lawyers and hire him because "I'm closest to the President".

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