AT&T's quest for Trump insight is ham-fisted

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A document published by Stormy Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti had revealed the transactions on Tuesday afternoon as part of the ongoing legal battle between the adult actress and Trump. The company said the agreement "focused on USA healthcare policy matters" and that the "terms were consistent with the market".

There are also unconfirmed rumors from Roger Stone of ties between John Podesta, who served as Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, and Vekselberg, involving money that was allegedly laundered through an energy company Podesta held shares in.

AT&T hired a company linked with President Donald Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen to advise it on working with the new administration in early 2017, the telecoms group said on May 8.

Cohen was said by Avenatti to have accepted $500,000 along a USA associate of the Renova investment group possessed by Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian billionaire intently allied with Putin who was placed under permission by the United States government last month.

On Tuesday, Michael Avenatti, a lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels, said investigators for his law firm had found that Novartis had paid Cohen's shell company almost $400,000 in four installments a year ago.

AT&T, in a memo to staff Wednesday, explained that it needed to "understand" how the Trump administration would approach issues like tax reform and antitrust regulations. Novartis was contacted in November 2017 by lawyers from the Special Counsel's office regarding the company's agreement with Essential Consultants. The Treasury had declined Avenatti's request to release those documents, Avenatti told MSNBC. CNN previously reported Federal Bureau of Investigation agents removed Cohen's computer, cell phone, business files and financial documents, according to the source. Novartis' contract with Cohen came at a time when Trump appeared open to allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices. The former New York City mayor said the payments were made in multiple installments. It also wanted guidance on how Trump would respond to its plan to acquire Time Warner Inc., according to a person briefed on the matter.

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"Mr Cohen inexplicably accepted these payments while he was the personal attorney to the president", the document said. Vekselberg also attended Trump's inauguration. The billionaire is believed to be close to Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Narasimhan was among the European executives Trump had dinner with in January at Davos.

Law&Crime reached out to Novartis for comment. Following this initial meeting, Novartis determined that Michael Cohen and Essential Consultants would be unable to provide the services that Novartis had anticipated related to U.S. healthcare policy matters and the decision was taken not to engage further.

Novartis said that it had determined after first meeting Cohen in March of past year that Cohen and his shell company, Essential Consultants, "would be unable to provide the services that Novartis had anticipated related to USA healthcare policy matters and the decision was taken not to engage further".

Cohen, the Trump attorney best known for paying $130,000 to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, is under investigation by the US attorney's office for the Southern District of NY.

Watchdog groups questioned the arrangement, noting that Cohen had not previously lobbied on behalf of the health care industry.