Manhattan federal prosecutors are investigating whether President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, illegally did secret lobbying for deep-pocketed clients, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Citing unnamed sources, the Journal reported prosecutors have contacted companies that hired Cohen as a consultant after Trump became president — including AT&T and drug giant Novartis — and paid a total of about $1.8 million for his knowledge of the Trump administration.
Investigators in the U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District of New York are examining whether Cohen violated any federal disclosure laws in connection with the deals – like whether he lobbied for domestic or foreign clients without properly registering, the Journal reported.
Federal prosecutors in New York have been investigating Cohen for bank fraud, campaign-finance violations and other possible crimes; no charges have been filed. Cohen has previously denied any wrongdoing.
Special counsel Robert Mueller contacted Novartis, which is based in Basel, Switzerland, and Dallas-based AT&T late last year in the course of his investigation into whether Mr. Trump’s associates colluded with Russia to interfere in the 2016 elections, both companies have said, the Journal noted.
The companies have said they cooperated with his requests and considered the matters closed. Trump has repeatedly said there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia.
But according to the Journal, the FBI's raid of Cohen's office, home, and hotel room in New York likely led federal prosecutors to seek more information from AT&T and Novartis.
The companies were contacted by Manhattan federal prosecutors in recent weeks, the Journal reported.
Novartis paid Cohen $100,000 a month for the 12 months ending in February, for a total of $1.2 million.
AT&T paid Cohen's company $600,000 from 2017 to early this year for "insights into understanding the new administration" as it was seeking government approval for an $85 billion takeover of Time Warner.
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