In the last 24 hours, a series of bombs related to Stormy Daniels' lawsuit and Michael Cohen's investigation have diminished: the president's attorney and the "solver" apparently were paid to consult with AT & T, Novartis, Columbus Nova and Korea Aerospace. Industries after the president took office.
Each of these companies has some kind of financial interest over which the executive branch has influence (for example, the Department of Justice has sued to block the merger of AT & T and Time Warner). Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said today at a press conference that the payments "could well have been used to influence the president of the United States, using Michael Cohen and his fictitious company as a conduit."
Some have suggested a connection between the payment of AT & T and the derogation of the neutrality of the FCC network in December 2017. The idea that there was some kind of causal connection here is, in this moment, pure speculation. And on top of that, the Trump administration has also acted demonstrably against AT & T's financial interests, for example, by blocking the proposed merger between AT & T and Time Warner.
The story is still developing and since there are so many companies involved, it can be confusing. ( The Washington Post has a useful infographic that shows the flow of money, although at this rate it is beginning to look like Mailroom Charlie's meme).
We have broken down what we know about AT & T, the neutrality of the network and the merger of Time Warner in this scandal. Even if you get a complete conspiracy of corkboard, it is difficult to connect the dots in something damning.
- Michael Cohen established a company called Essential Consultants in October 2016.
- Michael Avenatti (attorney for Stephanie Cliffords, also known as Stormy Daniels) has argued in a new document that AT & T paid $ 200,000 to Michael Cohen through Essential Consultants from October 2017 to January 2018.
- AT & T has confirmed that payments were made.
- In fact, AT & T could have paid up to $ 600,000. We do not have a total yet.
- AT & T told Washington Post that Essential Consultants was hired "to provide information on the understanding of the new administration".
- We really do not know what that means.
- Payments, AT & T says, ended in December 2017, and Cohen did not exert pressure or legal work for them.
- This apparently contradicts what Avenatti says (it says that the payments of $ 50,000 were made during four months starting in October), and this detail has not yet been resolved.
- October 22, 2016: In a campaign speech in Pennsylvania, candidate Donald Trump promises to block a proposed AT & T-Time Warner deal that was announced earlier that day.
- October 26, 2016: Michael Cohen creates a bank account for Essential Consultants.
- November 9, 2016: Donald Trump is elected president of the United States.
- January 20, 2017: Trump takes office.
- April 27, 2017: The FCC under Ajit Pai presents a draft proposal to reverse the neutrality of the network.
- "Mid-2017": According to Michael Avenatti (attorney for Stephanie Cliffords, also known as Stormy Daniels), Cohen withdraws more than one million dollars from the Essential Consultants Account.
- October 2017 – January 2018: According to Avenatti, AT & T makes four payments of $ 50,000 to Essential Consultants.
- November 11, 2017: President Trump tells reporters on Air Force One that he did not participate in an informed decision to block the AT & T-Time Warner merger.
- November 20, 2017: The Department of Justice officially demands to block the AT & T-Time Warner merger.
- December 2017: According to AT & T, the last payment is made to Cohen in December (which contradicts what Avenatti says).
- December 14, 2017: After a controversial vote, the FCC kills net neutrality.
- March 22, 2018: The trial of AT & T-Warner begins.
By way of comparison, here is a little bit about what we know about the other companies.
Korea Aerospace Industries
- Korea Aerospace Industries (maker of aircraft components and military jets based in South Korea) says it paid $ 150,000 to Cohen for "legal advice on accounting standards on production costs."
- The Washington Post reports that KAI competes for a multi-million dollar contract with the US Air Force. UU
For now, the image is too murky to draw conclusions about AT & T payments and whether they had any effect on the actions of the executive branch in the last year. In comparison, more and more strange details, coincidental or not, continue to emerge in relation to the other companies. We will continue to update as information about AT & T and Michael Cohen emerges.