Ford Dragged into Mueller-Trump Probe After Rejecting “Consulting” Pitch from Cohen

Special counsel reportedly asking Ford for documents and has interviewed executive.

by on May.14, 2018

NY attorney Michael Cohen was known as the "fixer" for Donald Trump.

The Ford Motor Co. has found itself caught up in the expanding probe into possible Russian collusion into the 2016 presidential election.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has asked the automaker to provide records relating to an apparent with Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, though it appears Ford rejected the bid. The automaker came under repeated attack by Trump during his campaign for its plan to move small car production to Mexico, and faced threats that, as president, Trump would hit it with sanctions.

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The New York attorney’s office and home were raided last month and it has since been learned that he received payments from AT&T and Novartis pharmaceuticals, among others, for services as a “consultant.”  Widely known as Trump’s “fixer,” Cohen also reached out to Ford, according to Michael Avenatti, the California attorney for Stormy Daniels, the porn star who Cohen paid off just before the 2016 election.

(Trump meets with auto exes to discuss CAFE but shifts focus to NAFTA. Click Here for the story.)

Referring to information he claims to have received from unnamed sources, Avenatti broke the news that Cohen was given consulting fees from AT&T, the telecomm giant that has been facing intense scrutiny over its bid to merge with Time Warner. Novartis, like the rest of the pharmaceuticals industry, has been under fire from the White House over high drug prices. The president this last week announced some steps to curb prices but pulled back from much more aggressive plans he had earlier announced.

One of a series of the tweets Trump posted that were sharply critical of Ford Motor Co.

Cohen also received $500,000 from a financial services company closely allied with Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, himself a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin. That money, according to reports, came in shortly after Cohen’s shell company, Essential Consultants, paid $130,000 to buy the silence of Stormy Daniels – whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, over an affair with Trump.

“I can confirm that Mr. Cohen solicited Ford Motor Company,” Avenatti said in a phone interview with the Detroit Free Press. “It was in late 2016 into ’17. On multiple occasions. There was no policy. He was trying to sell access to the president. My understanding is that it was by phone and electronic communication.”

Ostensibly, Cohen’s new clients were seeking insight into the new administration. But the fact that so many of Cohen’s clients faced challenging issues that might have to be handled by the Trump Administration has raised eyebrows, apparently including those of Mueller, as well as the Justice Department officials in New York who ordered the raid on the attorney’s offices in early April. There has been no indication that the president either knew about or personally profited from Cohen’s arrangements, however.

(Ford leaders face shareholder criticism over emissions, exec pay. Click Here for more.)

Former Ford CEO Mark Fields got a warmer reception when meeting with newly inaugurated Pres. Donald Trump.

But the arrangements were lucrative, at least for Cohen. Along with the $500,000 paid by Columbus Nova, the New York-based firm that handled key financial interests for Russian billionaire Vekselberg, Novartis paid $100,000 a month before terminating the contract. AT&T’s one-year contract cost it $50,000 a month. The telecomm giant’s CEO Ranall Stephenson has since declared the move “a serious misjudgment,” and said AT&T’s top Washington lobbyist is leaving the company.

Though Ford rebuffed Cohen’s approach, Mueller’s team is asking for documentation on any the company had with the New York attorney and, among other things, has apparently already interviewed Ford’s government affairs director Ziad Ojakli.

(Ford F-Series production all but shut down after supplier fire. Click Here for the latest.)

Ford had no comment on the Cohen story, though a source familiar with the situation confirmed the lawyer did approach the automaker which declined to engage him.

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