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Why Did AT&T & DIRECTV Give Money to Trump’s Lawyer?

This young man is experience intense stress over a time of economic downturn or other financial hardship.

Q. I read that AT&T and DIRECTV gave money to President Trump’s lawyer. I haven’t liked DIRECTV ever since AT&T took it over and now I dislike it even more! Why on earth would they give money to Trump’s lawyer? He’s such as sleaze bag! If they don’t explain, I’m dumping DIRECTV! — Carl, Falls Church, Virginia. 

Carl, let me try to explain.

The Washington Post (and several other news organizations) this week reported that AT&T last year gave $600,000 to Essential Consultants, a company controlled by Michael Cohen, President Trump’s personal attorney.

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DIRECTV did not have anything to do with the payment, although you could argue that it did by association because AT&T owns the satellite TV service. But the $600,000 fee had nothing to do with DIRECTV’s business per se.

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AT&T gave Cohen’s company the money because it said it wanted ‘advice’ on the company’s pending merger with Time Warner.

President Trump had expressed opposition to the deal during the 2016 campaign so it would appear the telco was hoping that a payment to Cohen might somehow persuade the president to change his mind.

AT&T is not saying that was the reason behind the payment — it’s sticking to the ‘advice’ explanation — but it’s not uncommon (or illegal) in Washington, D.C. to hire an associate of a powerful official that you are trying to influence. (It’s not illegal so long as there is no stated quid pro quo with the money.).

Of course, the payment to Cohen’s firm has turned into a disaster for AT&T for two reasons.

One, President Trump’s Justice Department decided to oppose the merger anyway by filing a lawsuit to block it. (A U.S. District Court judge is expected to rule on the case next month.)

And two, Cohen has become a central figure in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into alleged collusion between the Russian government and the president’s 2016 campaign.

The AT&T payment would seem to have nothing to do with the Mueller investigation, but if your company is mentioned in the same headline with Cohen now, it’s a PR nightmare. Some of your company’s customers (like you, Carl) might not like the association.

Carl, the AT&T payment story will likely peter out in the next few days, barring any other unforeseen developments. But I can guarantee that you are not the only one who wishes AT&T never made the payment to Cohen’s company.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson is likely on that list, too.

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— Phillip Swann

About TV Answer Man (1552 Articles)
The TV Answer Man is veteran journalist Phillip Swann who has covered the TV technology scene for more than two decades. He will report on the latest news and answer your questions regarding new devices and services that are changing the way you watch television.

8 Comments on Why Did AT&T & DIRECTV Give Money to Trump’s Lawyer?

  1. Duke Sweden // May 11, 2018 at 7:16 am // Reply

    Perhaps a payment to the Clinton Foundation will make Carl happy.

  2. This is the first political comment i have ever seen here. Phillip Swann, i have a suggestion for you. Don’t post these anymore or you will lose 50% of your audience, starting with me. Don’t go down the path that late night comedy does. Notice… their ratings suck as bad as their performance does

    • TV Answer Man // May 11, 2018 at 10:51 am // Reply

      I refrain from political comment here and did not offer any comment in the feature. Just explained why AT&T did what it did in relation to the merger which is related to TV. If a reader asks a question on a TV topic, I will answer it.

      • NotHappy // May 11, 2018 at 2:13 pm //

        ok, fair enough, can you advise me what TV channel i can watch that shows what Bill Clinton did with a 21 year old intern in the oval office WHILE has president?

  3. Troy Smith // May 11, 2018 at 11:48 am // Reply

    This article is just reporting the news and is newsworthy for the television industry. Mergers are never good for the consumer and to see what companies will do to gain influence to help their cause. I appreciate Phillip Swann reporting this. Politics aside AT&T admitted this was a wrong thing to do.

  4. Thom Koshinsky // May 11, 2018 at 9:07 pm // Reply

    a fair reply MIGHT have been to show how much money facebook, and or all other lobbyists paid the clinton foundation, including any with russian ties. but we know the washingtom compost won’t, That might be more in line with not taking sides, but you already have, with your deal with george soros

  5. Bill Clinton // May 16, 2018 at 8:08 am // Reply

    your all just wish ya was Bill Clinton. as for d.trump what a qwack cant wait 2020 he will never win again.

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