Why did AT&T pay the same company used to funnel hush money to Stormy Daniels?

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Essential Consultants, a shell company owned by Michael Cohen, has no other known employees or directors. It was incorporated in Delaware on October 17, 2016, 10 days after the Access Hollywood tape went public and a couple weeks before the 2016 election. If AT&T paid a monthly fee of $50,000, Essential Consultants would have received more money in the year than AT&T’s highest-paid lobbying firms, Mayer Brown and Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer, and Feld, which were paid $420,000 and $400,000 respectively. In 2017, AT&T paid 14 firms at least $200,000 to work Washington for the telecommunications giant. Essential Consultants does not appear in the public disclosures that AT&T filed about who they paid for lobbying, and AT&T says Essential did no lobbying or legal work for the telecom giant—but AT&T certainly had important issues before the government.  Among the more charitable interpretations of AT&T’s payments to Essential Consultants is that they were a pay-for-play scheme to get access to the newly elected president. Less charitable interpretations go well beyond the baseline level of corruption that Americans have come to expect from their government. People know that powerful interests pay for access to American politicians, but they likely do not expect the president’s personal lawyer to commingle the money of corporations, adult-film actresses, and Russian oligarchs. Maybe there is an explanation for all this. Maybe none of it will actually turn out to be illegal, but that may be the most damning indictment of our system.

Why did AT&T pay the same company used to funnel hush money to Stormy Daniels? In hiring Michael Cohen, AT&T betrays a complicated relationship with Trump (USA Today)