The White House on Friday distanced itself from the large payments some companies made to President Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen for insights into the administration.
During a briefing Friday, a reporter asked press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, “This week, the CEOs of AT&T and Novartis both said that they thought it was a mistake for their companies to work with the President’s lawyer. Does the President think it was a mistake for his lawyer to work with them?”
“I think that this further proves that the President is not going to be influenced by special interests,” Sanders responded. “This is actually the definition of draining the swamp, something the President talked about repeatedly during the campaign.”
And when Sanders was asked to explain her comment, she said, “I think it’s pretty clear that the Department of Justice opposed the merger, and so certainly the President has not been influenced by any — or his administration influenced by any outside special interests.”
She was likely referring to the Justice Department’s move to block a proposed $85 billion merger between AT&T and Time Warner.
The CEOs of AT&T and Novartis, which paid $1.2 million for the lawyer’s consulting services, have since issued separate statements, with both calling the engagement “a mistake.”
Cohen is reportedly the target of an ongoing federal criminal investigation related to his business dealings.