The story of a $130,000 payment from President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen to Stephanie Clifford, professionally known as the adult film actress Stormy Daniels, took another turn tonight and it involves AT&T. Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti tweeted earlier claiming the President and Cohen “have a lot of explaining to do,” linking to a document detailing “suspicious financial transactions” involving the Essential Consultants LLC that Cohen formed in 2016 ( PDF ) to pay Daniels.
In a statement given to CNBC , AT&T confirmed the $200,000 payment reported by Avenatti, saying Cohen’s firm was one of several engaged for “insights” into the new administration. In court, Cohen has said he represented only Trump, Elliott Broidy and Sean Hannity. Former New York City mayor and current Trump lawyer Rudolph Giuliani went on Fox News last week to say that Trump reimbursed Cohen for the payment, but the payments revealed by Avenatti suggest funding could have come from a number of other sources, including AT&T. Whatever they were for, they came at the same time the company has been seeking approval for its merger with Time Warner .
Essential Consulting was one of several firms we engaged in early 2017 to provide insights into understanding the new administration. They did no legal or lobbying work for us, and the contract ended in December 2017
After significant investigation, we have discovered that Mr. Trump’s atty Mr. Cohen received approximately $500,000 in the mos. after the election from a company controlled by a Russian Oligarc with close ties to Mr. Putin. These monies may have reimbursed the $130k payment.
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti)
May 8, 2018