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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

Cuomo asks New York AG and chief judge to choose "independent" investigator into sexual harassment claims

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at a press conference on Feb. 24. Photo: Seth Wenig/pool/AFP via Getty Images

A special counselor to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a statement Sunday asking the state's attorney general and chief judge to jointly pick an "independent and qualified lawyer in private practice without political affiliation" to investigate claims of sexual harassment against the governor. The AG's office subsequently turned down the offer, saying it wants to conduct its own probe.

The state of play: The statement is an about-face from Cuomo, who had previously selected a former judge close to a top aide to lead the investigation, the New York Times reported, a move that was widely criticized.

Republican Sen. Sasse slams Nebraska GOP for "weird worship" of Trump after state party rebuke

Sen. Ben Sasse, (R-Neb.) Photo: Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images

The Nebraska Republican Party on Saturday formally "rebuked" Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) for his vote to impeach former President Trump earlier this year, though it stopped short of a formal censure, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Sasse is the latest among a slate of Republicans who have faced some sort of punishment from their state party apparatus after voting to impeach the former president. The senator responded statement Saturday, per the Omaha World-Herald, saying "most Nebraskans don't think politics should be about the weird worship of one dude."

Cuomo barraged by fellow Dems after second harassment accusation

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced a barrage of criticism from fellow Democrats after The New York Times reported that the second former aide in four days had accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Cuomo had faced a revolt from legislators for his handling of nursing-home deaths from COVID. Now, the scandal is acutely personal, with obviously grave political risk.