DealBook Briefing: How AT&T and Novartis Became Part of the Michael Cohen Saga



Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

How Trump’s Iran move could affect the global economy

With President Trump making good on his threat to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, the business world has been grappling with what to do next. European companies like Total were considering whether to abandon investments — their governments promised unspecified protections — while Boeing and G.E. were also caught in the crossfire.

Meanwhile, oil continued to rise as the U.S. warned buyers to curb purchases from Iran within six months. (Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional rival, said it would help stabilize markets.)

Peter Eavis’s take: While Mr. Trump’s foreign policies haven’t yet caused serious losses in the stock market, investors’ stoicism could face greater tests soon. Earnings growth for corporate America this year probably peaked in the first quarter. And since neither the E.U. nor China looks close to caving to Mr. Trump’s threats, global trade tensions look set to escalate.

The big question: How hard will the U.S. crack down on allies who don’t go along with sanctions — is this another trade fight?

Elsewhere in Iran news: Peter Thiel’s Palantir was helping monitor Iran. Some cybersecurity experts fear Iran will now hack more.


Vodafone’s chief executive, Vittorio Colao.

Sergio Perez/Reuters

Vodafone’s big deal reshapes European telecoms

In agreeing to buy Liberty Global’s cable networks in Germany and Eastern Europe for $22 billion, the British telecom giant is making the biggest move yet to consolidate the Continent’s internet industry. Vodafone won’t just be in wireless: It will offer high-speed internet and cable to 54 million customers.

Why this matters, according to analysts at JPMorgan Chase (via the FT):

We believe this event is a bellwether for the sector, and could potentially contribute toward a flurry of consolidation across Europe.

Not so fast: Expect Deutsche Telekom, now in Vodafone’s cross hairs, to fight the transaction.

Other telecom-adjacent news: Disney’s best quarterly results in two years were overshadowed by Comcast’s amassing a war chest to potentially challenge its Fox bid. James Murdoch won’t join Disney in any case. ESPN’s $750 million, five-year U.F.C. streaming deal shows that sports rights remain highly valuable. Sinclair Broadcasting may woo Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro. SoftBank’s latest earnings surpassed estimates because Sprint finally turned a quarterly profit.

The political flyaround

• Richard Cordray, the former head of the C.F.P.B., won the Democratic nomination for Ohio governor, while Don Blankenship, the former Massey Energy C.E.O., came in third in the Republican Senate primary in West Virginia. (NYT)

• The House voted to scrap an Obama-era rule meant to prevent discrimination by auto lenders. (NYT)

• Insurers in some markets plan huge price increases for Affordable Care Act plans, partly because of the repeal of the individual mandate. (Axios)

• The tax incentives that Racine, Wis., or Newark throw at Foxconn or Amazon are signs of desperation, Eduardo Porter writes. (NYT)

• Shareholder gun-control activists plan to speak at Sturm Ruger’s annual meeting today, but don’t expect much change. (NYT)


Eric Schneiderman

Frank Franklin Ii/Associated Press

Inside the race to replace Eric Schneiderman

New York lawmakers have been considering whether to replace the state’s attorney general, a leading critic of both President Trump and Harvey Weinstein, with a woman. Potential candidates include Letitia James, New York City’s public advocate, and Kathleen Rice, who challenged Mr. Schneiderman for the job. (Ben Lawsky, once New York’s top financial regulator, has also been mentioned.)

Whoever replaces Mr. Schneiderman must decide whether to continue his moves against Mr. Trump.

And Gov. Andrew Cuomo has appointed a special prosecutor — not the Manhattan district attorney, Cy Vance Jr. — to investigate Mr. Schneiderman.

Elsewhere in workplace misconduct: Five more Nike executives have left amid a furor over harassment and discrimination. A judge approved the sale of Weinstein Company assets to Lantern Capital. And Martin Sorrell, who left WPP after unspecified allegations, plans a new venture.


Yuriko Nakao/Reuters

The deals flyaround

• Toshiba is reportedly worried that Chinese regulators won’t approve its $18 billion deal to sell its memory business to a group led by Bain Capital. (WSJ)

• Glassdoor, the recruiting site, agreed to sell itself to Japan’s Recruit for $1.2 billion. (Bloomberg)

• Keystone Foods, the main U.S. supplier of Chicken McNuggets, has reportedly drawn interest from Cargill, Tyson Foods and Fosun International. (Bloomberg)

• The billionaire Albert Frère sold his 6.6 percent stake in Burberry, sending shares in the fashion house down nearly 7 percent. (Bloomberg)

• Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and Ashkenazy Acquisition agreed to buy full control of the Plaza Hotel in New York for a reported $600 million. (WSJ)

• TPG Capital is reportedly in talks to invest in Anastasia Beverly Hills, a makeup company, at a $3 billion valuation. (CNBC)


Chris Cox

Peter Earl McCollough for The New York Times

What does Facebook’s reorganization signal?

The company’s biggest mainstream products outside its main app — Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp — will now fall under Facebook’s chief product officer, Chris Cox. A group of emerging technologies, including a new blockchain-focused team, will be overseen by Mike Schroepfer, the chief tech officer. And ads, personnel, security and growth will be run by Javier Olivan, who has led growth efforts.

Though the move had been under consideration for a while, the Cambridge Analytica scandal sped up those efforts, according to the NYT. And it may streamline reporting lines and help keep Facebook nimble. But while it gives Mr. Cox in particular more prominence, it doesn’t fundamentally change things.

Elsewhere in Facebook news: The company will block political ads from groups outside Ireland ahead of that country’s referendum on abortion. And Jeffrey Zients, an Obama administration official, will replace the WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum as a director.

Elsewhere in tech: Here’s a prototype Uber flying taxi. The surge in A.I. and cryptocurrencies has created a shortage of graphics chips. Japan’s industrial future might be stuff that makes stuff. The union-affiliated CtW Investment Group plans to campaign against several Tesla directors. What else tech giants can do to improve racial diversity.


Sally Yates

Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images

Revolving door

Sally Yates, the former acting attorney general, has returned to King & Spalding as a partner specializing in investigations. (King & Spalding)

• Jefferies has hired Peter Scheman from Goldman Sachs as a co-head of Americas industrial banking. (Reuters)

The speed read

• MoviePass, which goes through about $21.7 million a month, has $15.5 million left in cash. (Bloomberg)

• Deutsche Bank is reportedly considering cutting about a fifth of its U.S. staff. (Bloomberg)

• Picasso’s “Fillette à la Corbeille Fleurie,” once owned by David and Peggy Rockefeller, sold for $115 million at auction. And a New York judge rejected a lawsuit against the sale of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Flesh and Spirit.”

• The House of Lords amended Brexit legislation to demand that Britain stay in the European Economic Area. (BBC)

• Argentina has begun negotiating for credit from the I.M.F., still widely blamed there for a 2001 debt crisis. (NYT)

• Denver Post journalists came to Manhattan to protest the paper’s owner, the hedge fund Alden Global Capital. (NYT)

• Nordstrom Rack’s president flew to St. Louis to apologize to three black teens it had falsely accused of attempted theft. (NYT)

• Audi, Volkswagen’s luxury brand, found emissions-manipulating software in about 60,000 of its best-selling diesel vehicles. (WSJ)

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On Fox News of All Places, Damaging Moments for Trump

It was harder to locate the strategy behind Mr. Trump’s swerving, stream-of-consciousness telephone interview last week on “Fox & Friends.” On live TV, the president seemed to stumble into acknowledging, for the first time, that he knew about his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, funneling $130,000 in hush money to an adult film actress who had claimed to have had an affair with the future president.

“He represents me, like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal,” Mr. Trump said, as the show’s hosts listened politely.

The president went on to say that Mr. Cohen does “a tiny, tiny little fraction” of his legal work — prompting prosecutors to file a fresh brief saying that the comment had undermined the president’s legal argument that documents seized from Mr. Cohen in a raid by prosecutors, were protected by attorney-client privilege.

On Thursday, “Fox & Friends” played host to another awkward and possibly significant exchange. Mr. Giuliani, back on the network less than 12 hours after his appearance on “Hannity” aired, mused that Mr. Cohen’s efforts to quiet Ms. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, had helped Mr. Trump’s presidential bid.

“Imagine if that came out on Oct. 15, 2016, in the middle of the, you know, last debate with Hillary Clinton,” Mr. Giuliani said.

Rudy Giuliani speaks out on Stormy Daniels payment Video by Fox News

Fair point — but problematic for Mr. Trump, whose legal team would be better off avoiding any suggestion that he had violated federal campaign finance laws that require the disclosure of spending meant to influence the electorate.


The Loyalists and Washington Insiders Fighting Trump’s Legal Battles

Lawyers from inside and outside the White House are confronting the Mueller inquiry, while others are focused on payments made to silence a pornographic film actress who said she had sex with Mr. Trump.

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Michael Avenatti, the voluble lawyer representing Ms. Clifford, responded on Twitter by thanking “Fox & Friends” for “helping our case week in and week out.”

“You are truly THE BEST,” Mr. Avenatti wrote. “Where can we send the gift basket?”

Perhaps Mr. Trump and his defenders feel more relaxed when chatting with Fox News’s stable of pundits, whose questions tend to be gentle. Those who know Mr. Trump well said that the president’s meandering call to “Fox & Friends” resembled the way he talks in private.

Also, Mr. Trump and some of his closest allies choose to appear only on Fox News — meaning that any gaffes are bound to appear there, rather than on rival networks.

Still, other moments have scrambled the usual Fox News formula.

When the correspondent Ed Henry sat down in April with Scott Pruitt, the embattled head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Mr. Pruitt was hoping for the interview to clear up a cloud of ethics problems hanging over his tenure. Instead, Mr. Henry pelted him with questions that Mr. Pruitt visibly struggled to answer.

Mr. Henry, though, belongs to the reporting side of Fox News, rather than its conservative commentariat. And the network’s pundits have been less aggressive in their questioning when interviews go south.

On Wednesday night, Mr. Hannity did not press Mr. Giuliani for details about the president’s reimbursing of Mr. Cohen, and the host even offered the former mayor a mulligan.

“But do you know the president didn’t know about this?” Mr. Hannity asked, seeming to prompt Mr. Giuliani to correct his earlier statement.

“He didn’t know about the specifics of it as far as I know,” Mr. Giuliani said. “But he did know about the general arrangement that Michael would take care of things like this.”

Later, Laura Ingraham, who follows Mr. Hannity at 10 p.m., seemed taken aback at what had transpired in the previous hour.

“God, if you go on ‘Hannity’ you better think it through, as the attorney for the president,” she said, her eyes wide in disbelief.

“I love Rudy,” she added, “but they better have an explanation for that. That’s a problem.”

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