Michael Cohen, the longtime personal lawyer to President Donald Trump, never discussed with the president the consulting fees he received from corporate clients, Rudy Giuliani said Friday.
“The president had no knowledge of it,” Giuliani said, in an interview with the Huffington Post.
Cohen reportedly received $600,000 from AT&T, $1.2 million from Swiss drugmaker Novartis, $150,000 from South Korean aviation firm Korea Aerospace Industries and $500,000 from Columbus Nova, an investment firm linked to a Russian oligarch.
One of that firm’s biggest clients is a company helmed by billionaire Russian businessman Viktor Vekselberg, Fox News reported.
Giuliani told the Associated Press that it did 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.
Giuliani, a former mayor of New York City who recently joined Trump’s personal legal team, said he represents Trump, not Cohen, but nevertheless believes Cohen did nothing wrong, HuffPost reported.
“They’re buying his advice. It can turn out to be good or bad,” Giuliani said. “There’s a lot of people in Washington who are paid for their advice.”
However, Giuliani said he believes Cohen does not deserve the criticism he is taking from some in the media and in political circles.
“The guy is under severe emotional pressure,” Giuliani said. “The guy is really collateral damage.”
“The guy is under severe emotional pressure. The guy is really collateral damage.”
Giuliani is also a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, which is the office currently investigating Cohen’s business dealings.
Giuliani joined Trump’s outside legal team in April to represent Trump in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible ties to Russia.
Meanwhile, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said Friday that the company’s chief Washington lobbyist, Bob Quinn, would be leaving the company after overseeing the hiring of Cohen as a political consultant, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“There is no other way to say it – AT&T hiring Michael Cohen as a political consultant was a big mistake,” Stephenson’s memo to employees said.
“To be clear, everything we did was done according to the law and entirely legitimate,” Stephenson wrote. “But the fact is our past association with Cohen was a serious misjudgment.”
Stephenson said Quinn plans to retire, but people familiar with the matter told the Journal that the policy chief was forced to leave.
Quinn, a lawyer who joined the company in 1993 and took over its Washington office in October 2016, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
The telecommunications company said it was contacted by investigators with Mueller and provided “all information requested in November and December of 2017.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.