Thursday, 16 August, 2018

AT&T Chief Says It Made a 'Big Mistake' Hiring Michael Cohen

John Oliver Last Week Tonight John Oliver takes a hard look at Micheal Cohen’s attempt to cash in on his ties to Donald Trump
Laurie Berry | 15 May, 2018, 14:46

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said last week that it was a mistake to hire Michael Cohen, former personal attorney for President Donald Trump, as a consultant after it was revealed the company may have paid him $600,000 a year ago.

On reports of drug manufacturer Novartis saying they had decided not to continue engaging with Cohen after just one meeting-even though they were in a deal with him worth over a million dollars-Oliver said "they basically paid a million dollars not to talk to Michael Cohen".

"These companies got exactly what they paid for, because they wanted to understand how the Trump administration worked, and think about it: They put their trust in a political novice who turned out to be a total moron and was actually just bilking them for personal gain", Oliver said of Cohen.

After the news broke that Swiss pharma Novartis paid $100,000 per month into an account belonging to Cohen, in a fixed-term contract worth $1.2 million, the company issued a statement attempting to clarify the situation. The company said it quickly determined that Cohen's firm was unable to provide the services it anticipated, but was contractually obligated to keep paying Cohen's firm through February 2018.

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The payment to Ms. Clifford was the first known activity involving Essential Consultants, a company started by Mr. Cohen. That same month, Narasimhan took over from Jimenez as CEO.

"So, you want to know how the Trump administration works? Drug prices are already out of reach for too many American families, and drug companies need to be held accountable if they are breaking the law". I'm closest to the president.

Wyden has also contacted Ken Blanco, who directs the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, requesting further information on transactions between Novartis and Essential Consultants, stating "the size and timing of these payments to Cohen, who has no apparent expertise in the healthcare industry, merit additional scrutiny". It was through Essential Consultants that AT&T retained Mr. Cohen. The senators said the payments "raise obvious questions about corruption and whether AT&T, Essential Consultants and the Trump administration were engaged in a pay-for-play operation".

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