Randall L. Stephenson, AT&T’s chief executive, stepped forth this Friday to suggest that the company had made a “big mistake” when it hired on President Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to offer advice on federal policy, including how the government could approach the telecommunications giant’s deal to buy out Time Warner.
Stephenson also stated that the company’s head of lobbying and external affairs, Bob Quinn, would be stepping down from the company.
“Our company has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons these last few days and our reputation has been damaged,” Stephenson wrote in a memo to employees. “There is no other way to say it — AT&T hiring Michael Cohen as a political consultant was a big mistake.”
Stephenson’s statement came after a revelation this week that the company had paid Mr. Cohen $600,000 to advise on the $85.4 billion merger with Time Warner alongside other regulatory matters.
Federal prosecutors are currently looking into Cohen’s business dealings, including a $130,000 payment he issued to the adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, known professionally as Stormy Daniels, in order to buy her silence about an affair she says she had with Trump. The president has denied Clifford’s claims.
The payment to Clifford was the first known activity involving Essential Consultants, a company founded by Cohen. It was through Essential Consultants that AT&T retained Cohen.
Michael Avenatti personal attorney to Clifford laid down a stern warning to Cohen early Saturday morning:
.@MICHAELAVENATTI: If you’re out there and you have stuff related to your relationships with #MichaelCohen that you’re concerned are going to come out you should be concerned because they are going to come out… that’s a stern warning this #SaturdayMorning #AMJoy pic.twitter.com/SIL6ouFiTR
— AM Joy w/Joy Reid (@amjoyshow) May 12, 2018
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