Posted on May 23, 2018
Why did AT&T pay Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen $600,000? We have some ideas.
Earlier this May, we learned that AT&T paid Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, $600,000 to “advise” on various matters in the telecommunications industry – even though Cohen is not an expert in the field. Cohen is widely considered a “fixer” who is best known for paying hush money to a woman with whom Trump allegedly had an affair and accepting massive sums of money from corporations in exchange for access to the president.
The timing of the payments to Cohen through a shady shell corporation raises serious questions about AT&T’s intentions to influence the Trump administration.
First, AT&T’s proposed $85 billion mega-merger with Time Warner is currently pending before the Department of Justice, which has sued to block the merger from moving forward. Trump has also publicly opposed the merger and promised to block it if he was elected. CREDO and our members have pressured the DOJ a number of times to reject this merger, which would hurt consumers, decrease competition and drastically increase market concentration.
What was AT&T expecting from Cohen and Trump after making such a massive payment? Cohen is no policy expert and, as far as we can tell, has no serious understanding of the telecom industry. An internal memo from AT&T claims Cohen was hired to work on “legislative policy development” and “regulatory policy development.” This reasoning simply doesn’t pass the smell test.
Second, payments from AT&T flowed into Cohen’s bank account starting in early 2017 and ending in January 2018 – just as Trump’s hand-picked FCC chairman Ajit Pai pushed through the repeal of net neutrality regulations despite massive public outcry – including from hundreds of thousands of CREDO members and even 75 percent of Trump supporters. We already knew AT&T opposed net neutrality, but now internal documents from AT&T reveal that the company paid Cohen to work on issues “with a focus on the FCC.”
Unlike AT&T and its corporate grift, CREDO Mobile has never given money to Donald Trump’s lawyer, and we never will. CREDO customers will never have to worry that their mobile carrier will participate in a pay-to-play scheme to win approval for corporate mega-mergers or destroy net neutrality.
At CREDO, our customers know that their phone bill is supporting progressive organizations and grassroots activists fighting to stop Trump and his right-wing agenda, including the battle to protect net neutrality and preserve a free and open internet.
Here’s the comparison of AT&T and CREDO – by the numbers: