The ever-affable Rudy Giuliani has once again stuck his foot in his mouth regarding his old friend and new boss, Donald Trump.
In a Friday interview with the Huffington Post, Giuliani – seemingly in an attempt to defuse the Michael Cohen “consultancy” scandal – claimed that Trump “denied the merger” between AT&T and Time Warner, despite long-standing protocol designed to keep DOJ decisions independent from the executive branch in order to keep the department free of political influence by the White House. Apparently the previous administration didn’t get the memo either.
Giuliani’s statement comes on the heels of revelations that Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, accepted a $600,000 payment right after the inauguration for “insights” into President Trump’s thinking.
“The president had no knowledge of it.” Giuliani told the Post, adding “Whatever lobbying was done didn’t reach the president… He did drain the swamp … The president denied the merger. They didn’t get the result they wanted.”
Cohen received $600,000 from AT&T, $1.2 million from Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis and $500,000 from an investment bank affiliated with a Russian oligarch, all following Trump’s unexpected election win in 2016.
Giuliani said Cohen’s business relationships did not contradict Trump’s campaign promises to end “pay-to-play” schemes and to “drain the swamp” because Cohen did not get for his newfound clients what they wanted. –HuffPo
Earlier in the week, AT&T said that they hired a company created by Cohen right after the inauguration – when it sorely needed government approval for the Time Warner deal, it hired a company created by Cohen in order to glean insights into the Trump administration.
AT&T’s top Washington executive, Bob Quinn, said that Cohen didn’t conduct any lobbying work for them – while CEO Randall Stephenson told employees that hiring Cohen was “a big mistake” in an internal memo circulated on Friday. While not-so coincidentally according to NBC News, was AT&T’s Friday announcement of Quinn’s sudden retirement.
If in fact AT&T thought this would buy them an approval, one has to wonder if Cohen simply trolled AT&T for $600K and laughed all the way to the bank. They were about to acquire CNN after all – and in December of 2017 said they wouldn’t sell the network to satisfy a DOJ demand before trying to close the $85 billion deal.
On the other hand – had AT&T agreed to sell CNN and the merger been approved, the Cohen payment would have the appearance of a successful “pay-for-play” deal.
AT&T says it was contacted by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office in late 2017 and cooperated with the probe, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“Our reputation has been damaged,” wrote Stephenson in the Friday memo. “There’s no other way to say it – AT&T hiring Michael Cohen as a political consultant was a big mistake.”
The FBI raided Cohen’s office, hotel and home last month amid an active federal investigation. Since the raid, there have been several mysterious leaks of information from various media outlets – such as the release of his bank records, or the claim that he arranged a $1.6 million payoff to a former Playboy model in late 2017 who says she was impregnated by a top Republican fundraiser, “according to people familiar with the matter” (96 hours after the raid).
Michael Cohen, whose office, home and hotel room were raided by federal agents this week, arranged the payments to the woman on behalf of Elliott Broidy, a deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee with ties to Mr. Trump, the people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Broidy, a Los Angeles-based venture capitalist, works on the Republican committee with Mr. Cohen, who is also a national deputy finance chairman. –WSJ
Giuliani, the former mayor of New York and US Attorney of the office now investigating Cohen, assumed the lead on Trump’s private legal team handling the Mueller investigation in the hope of wrapping it up as soon as possible. He said on Friday that he doubts Trump would be able to speak with the special counsel investigation before his June 12 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
He said the fact that Cohen has become involved in the probe shows that Mueller has been unable to make headway on the idea of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. He blamed much of Cohen’s involvement on adult film actress Stormy Daniels and her new lawyer, Michael Avenatti. They have been trying to break a non-disclosure agreement she signed promising not to discuss an affair she said she had with Trump a decade ago in return for $130,000. –HuffPo
Giuliani says that Cohen did nothing wrong.
“They’re buying his advice. It can turn out to be good or bad,” he said. “There’s a lot of people in Washington who are paid for their advice.” Which, of course, is the reason why Washington is just one giant “swamp” which Trump once upon a time vowed to drain.