Payments to Trump Attorney Michael Cohen Pull Back Curtain on AT&T's Political Machine

WASHINGTON — As AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson pitched Congress in late 2016 on his company’s proposed megamerger with Time Warner, he offered lawmakers an aw-shucks account of his experience in the nation’s capital.“I’m a novice in the world of politics,” he said.That notion, which strained credulity, faces new skepticism after the Dallas-based telecom giant admitted it had paid President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen hundreds of thousands of dollars last year for “insights into understanding the new administration.”The payments put AT&T in the thick of the controversy surrounding Cohen — Trump’s longtime fixer who, among other things, gave hush money to a porn actress who alleges an affair with Trump.On Wednesday, AT&T said it had been contacted by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. The company said that after an inquiry from Mueller's team, it provided information last November and December about its payments to Cohen."A few weeks later, our consulting contract with Cohen expired at the end of the year. Since then, we have received no additional questions from the Special Counsel's office and consider the matter closed," the company said in a statement.But the high-dollar arrangement, which AT&T says involved no lobbying or legal work, also offers a peek behind the curtain at the vast political machinery the company employs when it has enormous business and policy stakes before the federal government.  Continue reading...

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