Manhattan Federal prosecutors are probing whether President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen illegally worked as a secret lobbyist, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
According to people familiar with the expansive investigation into Cohen’s business dealings who spoke with WSJ, in recent weeks prosecutors have contacted the companies that paid Cohen to work as a consult and are investigating whether he violated federal disclosure laws by lobbying for the companies without properly registering.
After Trump was elected president, Cohen reportedly began selling his access to Trump to companies like AT&T and Novartis AG, earning about $1.8 million for his discernment of the Trump administration.
While Cohen sold himself as the person with the “best relationship with the President on the outside,” several of the companies have said they never actually worked with Cohen, realizing quickly after signing contracts with him that he couldn’t provide the insight promised.
According to the WSJ’s search of federal indexes, Cohen never registered as a lobbyist. He entered into contracts with the companies through his shadow consulting firm Essential Consultants LLC, the same company through which he secured a $130,000 payment to porn actress Stormy Daniels just ahead of the 2016 election.
In April, Cohen’s house, hotel and office were raided by the FBI and millions of documents were seized, including those related to the Daniels payment, which was made as part of a broader non-disclosure agreement to keep Daniels quiet about an alleged affair she had with Trump a decade ago.