NEW YORK (AP) — Rudy Giuliani, one of President Donald Trump’s attorneys, said he is “quite certain” the president did not know Michael Cohen was trying to sell his insight into the president.
Giuliani told The Associated Press on Friday that Trump was “surprised” to learn that Cohen, his longtime attorney and self-described fixer, brokered deals with companies looking to gain his knowledge about the president.
Asked if the president was aware that Cohen was trying to sell influence and knowledge of the president, Giuliani said: “The answer is that I am quite certain he didn’t.”
The former New York City mayor, who is part of the outside legal team representing Trump in the Russian election meddling investigation, said he asked Trump about one of Cohen’s clients, a firm with ties to a Russian oligarch, the day the story broke.
“He knew nothing about it,” Giuliani said, adding that he had yet to ask Trump about some of the other corporations that paid Cohen, including telecom giant AT&T.
“I haven’t talked to him in detail except for the first day it came out. When it first came out, he was surprised,” Giuliani said.
Giuliani also said it not appear Cohen took any steps to advance the interests of the companies that paid him and did not speak to the president on their behalf.
“There doesn’t seem to be any involvement with us,” he said.
In a memo to employees, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said the company’s chief lobbyist is leaving the company after overseeing the hiring of Cohen as a political consultant.
Stephenson said the company made a “big mistake” in hiring Cohen and that, while everything the company did was legal, the association was “a serious misjudgment.” Bob Quinn, senior executive vice president of the company’s external and legislative affairs group, will retire, he said.
Stephenson, in his memo, said the company’s reputation had been damaged and that the vetting process used by its team in Washington “clearly failed.” The Washington team had hired Cohen under a one-year contract that paid $50,000 a month.
The Justice Department is seeking to block AT&T’s $85 billion purchase of Time Warner on the grounds that it would stifle competition. AT&T disagreed, sending the battle into a federal trial. U.S District Judge Richard Leon is expected to issue a ruling next month.
Cohen, according to AT&T, said that he was leaving the Trump organization to do consulting for a “select few” companies that wanted his opinion on the president and the administration.
The company says it was contacted by investigators with special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the probe into Russian election meddling, and provided “all information requested in November and December of 2017.”
The company said it has had no communication with Mueller’s office since then.
Other companies that paid Cohen big bucks include pharmaceutical giant Novartis, which paid Cohen $1.2 million for services, and Korea Aerospace Industries. Both have business interests before the federal government.
Colvin reported from Washington.