AT&T said that it paid the money to Essential Consulting, an LLC set up by the embattled Cohen, who is now under federal investigation for numerous possible crimes. "Essential Consulting was one of several firms we engaged in early 2017 to provide insights into understanding the new administration. They did no legal or lobbying work for us, and the contract ended in December 2017," said AT&T in a statement last night.
Yet AT&T made the payment at the same time that it has been fighting a lawsuit from the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice over its proposed $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX). As a candidate in the fall of 2016, Trump spoke out vehemently against the deal. (See AT&T Likens DoJ Suit to Shaved Persian Cat and Does AT&T Deserve Time Warner?)
AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) confirmed the payments Tuesday after attorney Michael Avenatti claimed on Twitter that the operator paid Essential "$200,000 in four separate payments of $50,000 in late 2017 and early 2018 from AT&T."
Avenatti says that this was the same shell company used by Cohen to wire $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels in October 2016, to buy her silence about an alleged affair with then-candidate Trump. Although Trump has denied the affair, the payment has been confirmed.
Avenatti said that several companies -- AT&T amongst them -- paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Cohen through the LLC since the election. Avenatti had not yet released the supporting documents at the time of publication.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading