Net neutrality, mergers, AT&T, and Michael Cohen: what we know so far

In the past 24 hours, a series of bombshells related to the Stormy Daniels lawsuit and the Michael Cohen investigation have dropped: the president’s lawyer and “fixer” was apparently paid for consulting with AT&T, Novartis, Columbus Nova, and Korea Aerospace Industries after the president took office.

Each of those companies has some kind of a financial interest that the executive branch has influence in (for example, the Justice Department has sued to block the merger of AT&T and Time Warner). Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said in a press conference today that the payments “may well have been used to influence the president of the United States, using Michael Cohen and his shell company as a conduit.”

Some have suggested a connection between the AT&T payment and the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality in December 2017. The idea that there was some kind of a causal connection here is, at this time, pure speculation. And besides that, the Trump administration has also demonstrably acted against AT&T’s financial interests — for instance, by blocking the proposed merger of AT&T and Time Warner.

The story is still developing and since so many companies are involved, it can be confusing. (The Washington Post has a helpful infographic here showing the flow of money, although at this rate it’s beginning to resemble the Mailroom Charlie meme).

We’ve broken down what we know about AT&T, net neutrality, and the Time Warner merger in this scandal. Even if you go full corkboard conspiracy, it’s hard to connect the dots into something damning.

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