Red-Faced AT&T Boss Admits Michael Cohen Payment Was ‘Big Mistake’
Hiring President Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, was a “big mistake,” AT&T Inc Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson said in a memo to employees that went out Friday morning.
AT&T’s head lobbyist, Bob Quinn, who oversaw the hiring of Cohen, is retiring, according to the memo.
AT&T said on Tuesday it had hired Essential Consultants LLC, a company used by Cohen, to advise it on working with the new administration in early 2017, around the time of Trump’s inauguration.
It paid Cohen about $255,000, cash that appears to have been intermingled with money used to pay hush money to porn stars and other questionable deals.
The disclosure of AT&T’s relationship with Cohen has turned into a major embarrassment for the telecommunications company as it awaits a U.S. judge’s June 12 decision on whether it can go through with an $85 billion deal to buy Time Warner Inc.
The deal, which was announced in October 2016, was quickly denounced by Trump, who has been sharply critical of CNN, a unit of Time Warner.
“To be clear, everything we did was done according to the law and entirely legitimate,” Stephenson wrote in the memo. “But the fact is our past association with Cohen was a serious misjudgment.”
Pharma giant Novartis has also admitted it screwed up by paying big bucks to Cohen in hopes of gaining access to Trump.—Reuters