Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said Wednesday (May 9) they thought the Judiciary Committee should investigate payments from AT&T to Essential Consultants, a company set up by Donald Trump's then attorney, Michael Cohen.
The senators were responding to questions at a press conference to announce the official launch of a Congressional Review Act resolution to nullify the FCC's rollback of network neutrality rules.
Asked about the $50,00 per month payments, which AT&T has acknowledged but said were not payments for lobbying or legal work, Blumenthal said an investigation ought to be "a topic for the Judiciary Committee in its continuing investigation, which I hope will review not only those payments but also the other payments that may well have been used to influence the President of the United States using Michael Cohen and shell companies as conduits."
AT&T said the payments were to get insights into the new administration, not to influence it.
Blumenthal said the payments should be investigated, and certainly would be by the special counsel.
"I reflect again, on the need for equal access," Blumenthal said. "AT&T will always have its means of reaching powerful officials. The ordinary consumer will be denied that kind of access."
Markey said the payments also demonstrate how much money the broadband companies have.
"Michael Cohen has not been noted over the years as a telecommunications policy analyst," Markey quipped. "But he may just be the organizing principle of our country; maybe we will find it is true on every issue that he got paid to provide insight into the internal workings of the Trump White House. But, nonetheless, I agree with Dick Blumenthal that it must be investigated."
Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.
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