Michael Cohen linked to AT&T, Novartis Payments

Trump Tapes

Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, alleged “fixer” at the center of the Stormy Daniels pay-off affair, is having a no-good, very bad day.


Drug giant Novartis revealed Wednesday that it paid President Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen $1.2 million for health-care policy consulting work that he proved “unable” to do. The company also said it has been questioned by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team about the payments to Cohen.

NBC News reported later Wednesday that a senior Novartis official said that Cohen reached out shortly after Trump’s election “promising access” to the new administration.

Novartis said it signed a one-year contract with Cohen’s shell company, Essential Consultants, for $100,000 per month in February 2017, shortly after Trump was inaugurated as president. Novartis said it believed Cohen “could advise the company as to how the Trump administration might approach certain U.S. health-care policy matters, including the Affordable Care Act.”

But just a month after signing the deal, Novartis executives had their first meeting with Cohen, and afterward “determined that Michael Cohen and Essentials Consultants would be unable to provide the services that Novartis had anticipated.”


The payments (to AT&T) were revealed in a document published by Stormy Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti Tuesday afternoon.

Avenatti alleged that Essential Consultants, a shell company set up by Cohen before the election to pay Daniels, was paid by several corporations, including AT&T. At the time, AT&T was seeking government approval for its acquisition of Time Warner, CNN’s parent company.

A document released by Avenatti stated that “Essential received $200,000 in four separate payments of $50,000 in late 2017 and early 2018 from AT&T.”

AT&T disputed this timeline.

“Essential Consulting was one of several firms we engaged in early 2017 to provide insights into understanding the new administration,” AT&T said Tuesday evening. “They did no legal or lobbying work for us, and the contract ended in December 2017.”

AT&T’s assertion, in essence, is that Cohen provided information about what made Trump tick.
Selling access to or influence with a president is not illegal, but it has the whiff of the so-called “swamp” that Trump rails against.

AT&T declined to comment on the total amount of the payments. But a source with knowledge of the matter said the total was actually higher than the $200,000 listed by Avenatti.

AT&T, one of the biggest companies in the country, has numerous issues before the government, including valuable government contracts and changes to so-called “net neutrality” regulations.

But the timing of payments to a Trump lawyer is especially significant because of the AT&T-Time Warner deal. Trump, then the GOP nominee for president, expressed opposition to the $85 billion deal on the day it was announced.

And just how did Avenatti, the seemingly omni-present lawyer representing Stormy Daniels get such records to release?

Washington Post:

The Treasury Department’s inspector general is investigating whether confidential banking information related to a company controlled by President Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen may have been leaked, a spokesman said.

Rich Delmar, counsel to the inspector general, said that in response to media reports the office is “inquiring into allegations” that Suspicious Activity Reports on Cohen’s banking transactions were “improperly disseminated.”

Detailed claims about Cohen’s banking history were made public Tuesday by Michael Avenatti, an attorney for Stormy Daniels, the adult-film star who was paid $130,000 by Cohen shortly before the 2016 election to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Trump.

On Twitter, Avenatti circulated a dossier that purports to show that Cohen was hired last year by the U.S.-based affiliate of a Russian company owned by Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian business magnate who attended Trump’s inauguration and was recently subjected to sanctions by the U.S. government. The affiliate, New York investment firm Columbus Nova, confirmed the payment, saying it was for consulting on investments and other matters, but denied any involvement by Vekselberg.

Avenatti’s dossier also alleged that, after Trump’s inauguration, Cohen’s company Essential Consultants had received payments from several others with business considerations before the federal government, including telecommunications giant AT&T, aircraft manufacturer Korea Aerospace Industries and pharmaceutical company Novartis. All three companies subsequently confirmed the payments.

In an interview, Avenatti declined to reveal the source of his information.

“The source or sources of our information is our work product, and nobody’s business,” Avenatti said. “They can investigate all they want, but what they should be doing is releasing to the American public the three Suspicious Activity Reports filed on Michael Cohen’s account. Why are they hiding this information?”

A fixture on cable television, Avenatti has been calling on the Treasury Department for weeks to release reports of unusual banking transactions by Cohen. He came up with a social media hashtag: #releasetheSAR, using the acronym for a Suspicious Activity Report.

Then there is this tidbit from The Daily Caller about Avenatti’s reveal:

Michael Avenatti, porn star Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, released a seven-page dossier on Tuesday containing a list of payments purportedly made to Michael Cohen, the lawyer for President Donald Trump.

But there is one problem with the document: two of the allegedly “fraudulent” payments were made to men named Michael Cohen who have no affiliation with Trump.
Avenatti’s report includes a section listing “possible fraudulent and illegal financial transactions” involving Trump’s lawyer. One of the payments is a $4,250 wire transfer from a Malaysian company, Actuarial Partners, to a bank in Toronto.

Zainal Kassim, a representative for Actuarial Partners, told The Daily Caller News Foundation Avenatti’s report is a case of mistaken identity. He forwarded an email the falsely accused Michael Cohen sent to Avenatti requesting the lawyer “correct this error forthwith and make it known publicly” there is no connection to Trump’s Michael Cohen.

“You are surely aware of the fact that this is an extremely common name and would request that you take care before involving innocent parries in this sordid affair,” wrote Cohen, who told Avenatti he is an international consultant who was paid by Actuarial Partners for work on a project in Tanzania.

“Actuarial Partners have already received inquiries from the press in this regard, and we would like to see this scurrilous rumour spiked as soon as possible.” Haaretz, the Israeli news outlet, found another case of mistaken identity in Avenatti’s report.“Mr. Cohen received one wire transfer in the amount of $980.00 from a Kenyan bank from account holders Netanel Cohen and Stav Hayun to an account in Israel at Bank Hapoalim,” Avenatti wrote. Haaretz caught up with Netanel Cohen, who acknowledged having a bank account in Kenya and transferring money to a Michael Cohen. But the Michael Cohen in questions is his brother, Netanel told the news outlet. And his brother is not Trump’s lawyer.

“I’ve never heard of Michael Cohen, and I have no connection to this affair,” Netanel told Haaretz.
It is unclear how Avenatti obtained the financial records cited in his report. But various news outlets, including The New York Times, also appear to have viewed the documents. The Treasury Department’s office of the inspector general opened an investigation into whether someone leaked Cohen’s financial documents to Avenatti and the press, it was reported on Wednesday.

The Michael Cohen saga, and the headache it will be causing President Trump and Avenatti both, appears to just be starting.

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19 thoughts on “Michael Cohen linked to AT&T, Novartis Payments

  1. When the history of this mega corruption is written it will most definitely not be called The Smartest Guys in the Room. Something more like “Wait? These guys can’t be this bad at this. Can they?”

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    • There is a theme going here with these Trump associates. If you read into the material, after one meeting the company pretty much determined that Cohen was full of it. Its why the more I think and read on the Russia stuff, its going to come down to the Cohens, Roger Stones, and Flynns of the world being deemed by the Russians as not worthy of running real intelligence ops with despite what they originally thought, so they settled for the chaos instead. Then the cover-up stuff is just self inflicted stupidity. Possible more incompetence than master plan.

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      • Manafort is the only one who seems like he was smart enough to get stuff done. It would not surprise me at all if the rest were just too dense for long term use and cooperation.

        Novartis did find Cohen to be useless after one meeting. That is impressive. Cohen must really be a bag of hammers and/or just loudly corrupt. Either way being that bad at influence peddling/ being bribed does make it a bit juicy for the payers to spill the beans. Sure ATT and Novartis look bad but they are also laying it out quickly about Cohen with all the obvious implications.

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        • Manafort is separate to my mind, and without blowing up the comments section too much with info lets just stipulate that unlike Cohen and Stone and maybe some others, there is no questions about his association with Russia due to his known activities in the Ukraine. Whatever crimes they get Manafort on, he knew what he was doing, and did so over a long period of time and on a high level. Though forgotten now there was quite the outcry of “what are you doing” when Trump brought him in, only to quickly relieve him. Then there is Flynn, who of all people the Obama people specifically warned the Trump transition team not to let him back into the WH after Obama had fired him. That alone should tell people something.

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      • If you read into the material, after one meeting the company pretty much determined that Cohen was full of it

        Well how many meetings do you need for a bribe? You notice they decided just to pay out, right?

        Now maybe they had the misfortune to have lawyers even worse than Cohen, and thus didn’t write their contracts with any way out in case of “Total inability of the person we contracted with to do the job” or “Turns out he was lying about things, so we’re not going to pay”.

        Somehow, I don’t think their lawyers are even worse than Cohen. Of course, it’s possible they felt that cancelling the contract because Cohen was full of crap would cause Cohen to complain to Trump, which would result in the President retaliating.

        Yeah, that’s not a bribe then. That’s extortion, right?

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        • I’m picturing Cohen had one giant spread sheet labeled; Bribes taken, Bribes offered, Graft, Extortion, Threats of Harm, Hush Money with a drop down listing affairs, pregnancies, sex tapes, sex tapes of affairs.

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        • Fair to point out one meeting is sufficient, or the every popular “corporate speaking engagement” for big $. Terminology wise maybe we should come up with different terms. Yes Cohen and others are lawyers, but what they are doing here isn’t “lawyering” as such, mostly lobbying to use the more polite term for grifting.

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          • That’s a false equivalency in about a zillion ways, but let’s start with the obvious: Can you think of a situation in which a paid corporate speaker was hired for a one-year gig, gave one speech, was told not to come back, but got paid for the full year anyways?

            Moving on down, let’s start with market pricing. Now, I looked up corporate speaking gigs — what former politicians (or aspiring ones) are making is pretty much in line with what non-politicians with similar profiles make. Maybe there’s some outlier you’re thinking, of by it seems to scale up pretty much the same as the celebrity tiers do.

            Now what’s Michael Cohen, really bad lawyer, doing batting so very, very, far from his price range? Most Cooley law grads aren’t getting million dollar deals for “advice” and “insight” after all.

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            • I think Cohen is dirty as all get out, so not sure what your getting at, I’ve been pretty clear in my distaste for him and Trump. Cohen was at that level “above his price range” as you put it, because of his association with Trump, no other reason. Thus my previous statement, he isn’t really a “lawyer” in the common usage of the term, he really is a fixer that dabbles in the law and happens to be an attorney to fulfill his role for Trump and others.

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                • I’ve long maintained that the speaking gigs are pretty clearly legal bribery, but they’re nowhere near the same neighborhood as what we’re seeing here. Cohen taking huge sums of money off the record (way more than you’d pay a registered lobbyist) is clearly an attempt at not-legal bribery. The hilarious explanations of what the “consulting” was for are true classics.

                  The interesting question is where the money went and whether Trump new about it or if Cohen was just in business for himself on this one. IMO, it’s a toss of a coin. Trump attracts hangers on who are opportunistic grifters like him. Sometimes he works with them and sometimes they’re just in his orbit. But my understanding is that Trump generally took a dim view of people leeching off of his activities without kicking something upstairs.

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    • I thought everyone knew that you opened shell companies for all the different lines of shady business practices… You don’t mix your pay-out slush fund with your corporate shill slush fund with your foreign agent slush fund…how lazy is that? Trump grade corruption.

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  2. My assumption is everyone in the “Stormy” situation is telling the truth.

    Cohen paid her off.
    Trump reimbursed him.
    Trump didn’t know the details of the payment, or even that it’d occured.

    Conclusion: For Trump, “It was Tuesday”

    Not sure if this is typical Billionaire but Trump has a guy (Cohen) to to deal with nuisance lawsuits, that includes hookups which threaten to go public. $140k to settle something like this isn’t a large amount of money by Trump’s standards, the situation isn’t unusual for Trump. Presumably Stormy and the Playboy model are just the two we know about out of dozens or hundreds of others.

    And Trump selects these guys for being scumbags, so he can throw them under the bus if things get out of hand. Things with AT&T got out of hand.

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  3. Didn’t know whether this belonged here or in the Schneiderman thread. It’s been that kind of news cycle.

    The lawyer, Peter Gleason, did not respond to requests for comment, but he told the New York Times that he had spoken to Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, in 2013 about accusations that he says two women brought to him about Schneiderman, who resigned this week after the New Yorker reported allegations that he abused multiple women.

    In a letter submitted to US District Judge Kimba Wood, who is hearing Cohen’s request related to materials seized from his properties by federal agents on April 9, Gleason sought a court order to seal any documents seized in the raid that relate to communications about the two women.

    Three guesses as to whether this has kicked off a firestorm of dippy conspiracy theories on Hashtag Resistance Twitter, and the first two don’t count.

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