U.S. NEWS
05/11/2018 09:38 am ET Updated May 11, 2018

AT&T CEO Says Hiring Michael Cohen Was 'Big Mistake'

The telecom giant paid Trump's attorney to advise on a variety of issues, including a proposed merger with Time Warner.

(Reuters) - Hiring President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, was a “big mistake,” AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson said in an employee memo, reviewed by Reuters, 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.

“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.”

AT&T did not hire Cohen to lobby on behalf of the company, according to the memo. The one-year contract at $50,000 per month, from January through December 2017, was limited to consulting and advisory services, according to the memo.

The AT&T payments by AT&T were revealed by Michael Avenatti, adult film actress Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, who also said a company owned by Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg and other corporations had paid Essential Consultants for certain services.

Essential Consultants paid $130,000 to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, days before the 2016 presidential election as part of a nondisclosure agreement that barred her from discussing an alleged sexual encounter with Trump. He denies any encounter took place.

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