AT&T Chief Calls Hiring Michael Cohen as Consultant a 'Big Mistake'

Enron execs — they thought they were the smartest people alive. Until they went down.   PBS

Enron execs — they thought they were the smartest people alive. Until they went down. PBS

But he, and the rest of the company, was surprised by the election results and had few connections to Trump's circles. That would have put his consulting fee at $1.8 million for the year. That ranks it among the top spenders inside the Beltway, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

But self-described "fixers" like Cohen who make bad stories go away or help presidents with other thorny matters are not uncommon. In this instance, our Washington D.C. team's vetting process clearly failed, and I take responsibility for that.

AT&T declined to answer when its CEO found out about the Cohen contract.

Avenue Strategies also denied ever working with AT&T, saying in a statement "Avenue Strategies has never worked for AT&T".

"He promised access to the new administration", Althoff said. (The Justice Department has denied this.) But AT&T and Time Warner did not produce evidence of this, and after the judge hearing the case, Richard Leon, blocked discovery on certain communications from the White House that attorneys for AT&T and Time Warner attorneys had sought, the companies dropped that argument.

Giuliani is also a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of NY, which is the office now investigating Cohen's business dealings. The company also donated more than $2 million to the committee organizing Trump's inauguration.

The company was in talks in early 2017 with the Washington lobbying firm Avenue Strategies, which was co-founded and staffed by Trump campaign veterans and marketed its insight into and favor with the Trump White House, according to two sources familiar with the discussions. They say that they cooperated with Mueller's team and consider the matter closed.

Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor, said it is "highly unusual for the president to be involved in DOJ merger decisions" in a reaction to the Huffington Post article on Twitter. It was through Essential Consultants that Cohen in October 2016 paid $130,000 in hush money to Daniels, who claims to have had a sexual relationship with Trump.

The payment to Clifford was the first known activity involving Essential Consultants, a shell company incorporated in DE by Cohen.

So AT&T's chief executive Randall Stephenson said in an internal message to company employees on Friday that hiring Cohen was a big mistake, acknowledged that it's damaged AT&T's reputation.

Shares in AT&T briefly fell on Wednesday to their lowest point since August 2015.

SIMON: And what do we know about the contract that AT&T had with Michael Cohen, and what other companies had? He doesn't think the company will lose a step.

LUCAS: Well, much of the attention is focused on four companies in total - AT&T, Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis, Korea Aerospace Industries and a private equity firm called Columbus Nova.

The telecommunications company said that it was approached by researchers with Mueller and offered "all info asked in November and December of 20 17". He said that the suddenness of Quinn's departure might require a short period of adjustment, but that wouldn't have a lasting impact.

Cohen's work for AT&T did not appear to meet that definition, Noble said.

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