The flag emblazoned with the AT&T logo flies on a flag beneath the Main BellSouth building in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photographer: Chris Rank/Bloomberg News)

AT&T Says It Was Contacted by Mueller Over Payments to Cohen

(Bloomberg) -- AT&T Inc. said it was contacted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team late last year for information about payments the company had made to President Donald Trump’s longtime personal lawyer for “insights” into the White House.

The telecommunications giant, which at the time needed government approval of its $85 billion takeover of Time Warner Inc., paid a consulting firm run by Trump attorney Michael Cohen at least $200,000 over roughly a year and cooperated with requests from Mueller’s team in November and December 2017, AT&T said in a statement Wednesday.

“Our consulting contract with Cohen expired at the end of the year,” AT&T said in the statement, a day after the payments were revealed. “Since then, we have received no additional questions from the special counsel’s office and consider the matter closed.”

AT&T’s payments to Cohen’s consulting firm were made public Tuesday by lawyer Michael Avenatti, who is representing Stephanie Clifford, a porn star who goes by the stage name Stormy Daniels, in litigation with Trump and Cohen. The details included payments to Cohen’s firm from AT&T, Novartis AG, a Korean aerospace company and a U.S. private equity firm tied to a Trump-supporting Russian oligarch.

All the companies confirmed the payments and said they were for legitimate consulting purposes. AT&T stopped paying Cohen’s team around the time the Justice Department sued the company to block its Time Warner deal, triggering the biggest antitrust case in decades. Novartis also said Wednesday that it was contacted by Mueller’s team late last year.

Dallas-based AT&T said it hired Cohen’s Essential Consultants LLC, a Delaware-based shell company he founded in October 2016, a month before the election, seeking intelligence on policies ranging from tax reform to its Time Warner deal, according to a person briefed on the matter. That’s the firm Cohen set up to pay $130,000 to Daniels to keep quiet about an alleged sexual encounter she had with Trump a decade ago.

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