AT&T says it paid to grasp Trump take on policy

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"Following this initial meeting, Novartis determined that Michael Cohen and Essential Consultants would be unable to provide the services that Novartis had anticipated related to United States healthcare policy matters and the decision was taken not to engage further", Novartis said in a statement.

Cohen established the firm, Essential Consultants, in the weeks leading up to Election Day and used it to make a $130,000 payment to Daniels, as a part of an agreement to prevent her from discussing her alleged affair with Trump.

Althoff says Novartis complied with requests for information about the payments from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators in November.

On Wednesday, two lawmakers - Democratic Sens.

The first revelations were made by Michael Avenatti, lawyer for the adult film actress Stormy Daniels, but were confirmed yesterday in much greater detail by NBC, the New York Times, and the Associated Press.

The company said it continued paying the president's personal lawyer under that one-year contract despite finding out within just a month or so that Cohen was unable to do the work expected. According to Avenatti's document, Cohen used the same firm to pay out Daniels.

The Treasury Department's internal watchdog says it's investigating how detailed allegations about the banking records of President Donald Trump's personal lawyer became public.

Cohen collected $250,000 from the company after he set up payments last year and this year by Elliott Broidy, a wealthy GOP donor who allegedly impregnated a Playboy model.

So: The president's lawyer reportedly phoned up a drug company and offered to sell it access to the White House (and, implicitly, influence over American health-care policy), then gave them it virtually nothing of use - but nonetheless led its employees to believe that that if they didn't continue paying him $100,000 a month, the US president might grow angry and use his political power to punish them.

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Avenatti's memo says the deposits into the account controlled by Cohen were made by Columbus Nova, an American investment company headed by Vekselberg's cousin, Andrew Intrater, and affiliated with the Renova Group, which Vekselberg controls.

A&T said Mr Cohen had been hired for "insight into understanding the new administration". Cohen did no legal or lobbying work for us, and our contract with Cohen expired at the end of its term in December 2017.

Trump's Justice Department has sued to block AT&T from an $85 billion merger with Time Warner, saying it would hurt competition and consumers would have to pay more to watch their favorite shows.

Vekselberg was targeted for US sanctions by the Trump administration last month.

AT&T told employees Wednesday that it paid Cohen, beginning in early 2017, to consult on how Trump might approach a range of policy issues, including antitrust enforcement. The payments have the appearance of a secretive attempt to buy access to the president or perhaps even attempt to sway his opinion on the issues AT&T has pending in front of the government.

On Wednesday, the Dallas-based company sent out an email to employees to explain its connections to Cohen, who has referred to himself as Trump's "fix-it guy".

An unnamed source told CNBC the contract AT&T had with Cohen may have included payments up to $600,000.

During the transition, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and Cohen both visited Trump Tower on the morning of January 12, 2017.

But Cohen was paid for nearly all of 2017, according to the company's timeline. Peter Carr, the special counsel's spokesman, declined to comment.