The Department of Justice in November sued to stop AT&T's proposed $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner, saying the merger would harm competition, lessen innovation and result in higher costs for consumers. This is a common practice among large companies following an election, the company states.
Those rules, for instance, require that lobbyists register as such only if they've spent at least 20 per cent of their time with a client over a three-month period doing lobbying work.
"If the decision goes against AT&T, if this merger is blocked, then we may see some other heads roll at AT&T... including the chairman", he said. "And if you hired Michael Cohen, you'd have access to Trump and the administration".
Giuliani wasn't part of Mr. Trump's team at the time, so it's unclear how he would know if there was any involvement by Mr. Trump.
The AT&T-Time Warner deal, a so-called "vertical merger" among companies that do not compete, is the kind that has historically enjoyed typical regulatory approval.
AT&T has said that Cohen's hiring was for "insight into understanding the new administration", and that Cohen's role involved no lobbying.
On Jan. 12, 2017, Cohen and AT&T's chief executive, Randall Stephenson, were both seen visiting Trump Tower in NY, days before the contract with Essential Consultants was signed. "But the fact is, our past association with Cohen was a serious misjudgment". Cohen was not discussed in Stephenson's meeting with Trump, according to a person familiar with that encounter.
In a factsheet which accompanied the memo, AT&T claimed Cohen approached them around working on their own behalf in the post-election changeover. Cohen said he was going to do consulting for a "select few companies" that wanted his opinion on Trump and his administration, AT&T said. AT&T said it had "cooperated fully" with the inquiries. "We agreed to meet with them".
The AT&T payments were revealed by Michael Avenatti, lawyer for adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Attorneys for Cohen said on court documents this week said they had no reason to believe Avenatti had the information lawfully.
AT&T was one of multiple companies Cohen approached after the election.
That clause, the caboose in the First Amendment's train of protections, says Congress can not abridge the people's right "to petition the Government for a redress of grievances". "But that's factually accurate and it ought to carry more weight in this situation".
An attorney for Cohen did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
"There is a whole lot of influence peddling that Michael Cohen could do without falling into the scope of federal lobby legislation", said Ryan, vice president of policy and litigation at the good government group.
To that end, ethics experts said Friday that the wireless giant could be in the clear legally.