Ford passed on offer from Trump lawyer
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, approached Ford Motor Co. to offer counsulting services last year. But the offer, which emphasized Cohen’s close connection with the president, was quickly rejected, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Those interactions in January 2017 are now part of an ongoing investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.
Mueller’s team has asked Ford for details regarding the automaker’s correspondence with Cohen and has interviewed Ford’s Washington D.C.-based vice president of government and community relations, Ziad Ojakli. Cohen’s pitch was made via an informal call to Ojakli, the Journal reported.
Ford declined to comment Saturday.
Mueller is looking into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia that may have influenced the 2016 presidential election, and whether the president sought to obstruct justice. The president has denied both of these allegations.
Automakers — particularly the Detroit Three — are looking to work closely with the Trump administration on pressing issues like fuel economy regulations, the North American Free Trade Agreement and trade with China. The Wall Street Journal’s report came just hours after automotive industry executives sat down with Trump to discuss fuel economy regulations — though the president quickly turned the conversation to demand that automakers produce more of their products in the U.S.
Other corporations took Cohen up on his offer through his company Essential Consultants LLC, including telecommunications giant AT&T. The company agreed to a $50,000-per-month contract with Cohen, who served as a political consultant for AT&T while navigating a merger with Time-Warner. Bob Quinn, AT&T’s chief lobbyist, is leaving the company after overseeing the contract.
In a memo to employees, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said the company made a “big mistake” in hiring Cohen as a political consultant. While everything the company did was legal, Stephenson said that the association with Cohen was “a serious misjudgment.”
In addition, Swiss drugmaker Novartis paid $1.2 million to Cohen’s company to advise the company on health policy.
And documents released this week by the lawyer for porn actress Stephanie Clifford, known as Stormy Daniels, allege that Russian billionaire businessman Viktor Vekselberg steered $500,000 to Essential Consultants.
Federal prosecutors have taken an interest in Cohen’s consulting work after it was discovered he channeled $130,000 in hush money through his company to former porn star Stephanie Clifford, known as Stormy Daniels, who says she had an affair with Trump.
FBI agents raided Cohen’s office, home and hotel last month as part of an investigation by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office.
The Associated Press contributed.