Federal prosecutors with the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York are investigating whether President Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, engaged in illegal lobbying as part of the wide-ranging criminal probe into the attorney, people familiar with the investigation told The Wall Street Journal on Thursday.
Prosecutors have contacted some of the companies that hired Cohen as a consultant after Trump’s 2016 electoral win, including AT&T and the pharmaceutical company Novartis. Those companies paid Cohen in excess of $1.8 million for his insights, and Cohen did not disclose those payments prior to their publication by Michael Avenatti, the attorney for porn star Stormy Daniels.
“This is consistent with the information we first disclosed weeks ago. Mr. Cohen’s conduct exposes him to serious potential criminal exposure,” Avenatti told Business Insider.
Failure to disclose those payments may have been in violation of federal disclosure laws, including whether he lobbied for foreign or domestic clients without properly registering as a lobbyist. Since Cohen is not a registered lobbyist and didn’t disclose the payments previously, he could be in violation of the Lobbying Disclosure Act for payments from domestic sources or the Foreign Agents Registration Act for foreign sources of such money, experts said last month.
Cohen is already under investigation for possible campaign-finance violations, bank fraud, and wire fraud, as well as other potential crimes. He has not been charged. The investigation follows the April FBI raids on Cohen’s home, office, and hotel room, where the government seized a trove of documents from Cohen.