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Michael Cohen, the longtime personal attorney to President Trump. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Several American companies paid Donald Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, for White House insights; But it doesn't appear that the moves paid off.

The bottom line: The main thing the companies bought themselves was a major P.R. headache, with nothing to show for it.

AT&T, for example, gave Cohen at least $200,000 between last October and this January. Last November the company was sued by the U.S. Department of Justice, in an attempt to block its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner.

Columbus Nova, a U.S. investment firm with ties to Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, paid Cohen around $500,000. It claims that Vekselberg had no involvement in the hire, instead saying Cohen was retained "as a business consultant regarding potential sources of capital and potential investments in real estate and other ventures."

  • Columbus Nova has not yet provided information on capital sources or potential investments identified by Cohen, nor why an 18 year-old firm would make an upfront fundraising payment rather than one based on some sort of commission. As for Vekselberg, he had between $1.5 billion and $2 billion of money frozen by the U.S. Treasury Department.

Novartis reportedly signed Cohen to a $1.2 million, one-year contract in February 2017, in order to advise the drug maker on how Trump would approach issues ranging from Obamacare changes to reimbursement.

  • Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan was one of several big pharma CEOs who got a private dinner with Trump at this past January's World Economic Forum in Davos, but the company claims in a statement that the invite was unrelated to Cohen. In fact, Novartis says it quickly determined that Cohen "would be unable to provide the services that Novartis had anticipated related to US healthcare policy matters," but that it was contractually obligated to fulfill its payments for the full year.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Health

Pfizer-BioNTech: Booster doses more effective at blocking Omicron

Prepared doses of the BioNtech-Pfizer Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Germany on Dec. 7. Photo: Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that two doses of their COVID-19 vaccine were significantly less effective at neutralizing the Omicron variant in early lab tests, but a three-dose regimen was more effective.

Why it matters: Omicron, which has been labeled a variant of concern by the World Health Organization after being identified by scientists in South Africa last month, has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines against this specific new form of coronavirus.

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Biden unveils "Building a Better America" branding

President Biden speaks on infrastructure while visiting a bridge in Woodstock, N.H., last month. Photo: John Tully/Getty Images

President Biden today launched a new website and unveiled bold new branding as part of a nationwide tour to sell the benefits of his infrastructure package.

Why it matters: The White House says passage of the new law shows the ability to "forge bipartisan consensus and prove our democracy can deliver big wins" even in these toxic times.

3 hours ago - World

Olaf Scholz sworn in as German chancellor, succeeding Merkel

Incoming German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is sworn in by Bundestag President Bärbel Bas in Berlin today. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Social Democrat Olaf Scholz was sworn in as chancellor of Germany on Wednesday, succeeding Angela Merkel after 16 years and launching a new era of German and European politics.

Why it matters: Scholz, a center-left pragmatist who served as finance minister and vice chancellor in Merkel's last government, will lead Europe's largest economy in a coalition with the environmentalist Greens and pro-business Free Democrats.