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AT&T CEO Apologizes for Cohen Kerfuffle

AT&T's CEO has apologized for hiring Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen -- paying $600,000 into his shell company during 2017 for "insights" into the nascent administration -- calling it a "big mistake."

"To be clear, everything we did was done according to the law and entirely legitimate," AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) CEO Randall Stephenson wrote in an internal memo on Friday to employees seen by Reuters. "But the fact is our past association with Cohen was a serious misjudgment."

Nonethless, AT&T's chief lobbyist, Bob Quinn, is retiring because of his role in hiring Cohen, who reportedly approached AT&T offering his services, according to sources cited by Reuters. (See AT&T Confirms Payments to Trump Lawyer's Shell Company.)

AT&T hired Essential Consultants LLC -- the firm set up by Cohen -- for advice on issues before the new administration. By far the most prominent was AT&T's proposed $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX), which candidate Trump had decried during the 2016 presidential campaign. The Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice is attempting to block the merger and the case is now in court. (See AT&T Likens DoJ Suit to Shaved Persian Cat.)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

Phil_Britt 5/19/2018 | 3:31:55 PM
Re: AT&T is also hiding items in their financials. You're right. Amazing how many underlings get let go when corporate gets caught with it's hand in the cookie jar.
mendyk 5/14/2018 | 1:54:11 PM
Re: AT&T is also hiding items in their financials. Sounds like maybe a couple more underlings are facing imminent "retirement."
Austin Idol 5/14/2018 | 10:46:28 AM
AT&T is also hiding items in their financials. AT&T is also hiding items in their financials.
$234M for Acquisitions and $1.009B for Advances and Investments in Equity Affiliates.
No mention anywhere as to what these items are for.
Are they playing games with the Fibertower Transaction to avoid scrutiny for the corruption and corrupt Fibertower Bankruptcy?
Are they trying to hide getting into bed with Solus who had multiple off shore Cayman Island Shells?
$3.1B for Verizon and Straightpath but only $207M for AT&T and Fibertower with some funny items on the cash flow and balance sheet statements for Q1-2018.
DanJones 5/12/2018 | 2:05:43 PM
Re: Underside of the bus Seems *possible* to me that none of their usual lobbyists had Trump access, so they took a punt on Cohen. He signed the deal on Jan 23rd, according to the Washington Post, so just as Trump was sworn in. Pretty amazing that no one said: "Wait, how would this guy know anything?"
Duh! 5/12/2018 | 1:15:51 PM
Re: Underside of the bus Speculating here, but Stevens was probably blindsided by this.  $100k payments would require signature authority well up the food chain, and Quinn (or maybe even one of his direct reports) probably would have had it. As far as Stevens was concerned, Cohen's shell company could easily have been no more than a bullet item in a review meeting.

I sometimes think that these companies' DC offices exist in a bubble, isolated from the rest of the business and seeing the world through a Beltway filter. Not necessarily rogue, but certainly justifying their existence.
mendyk 5/12/2018 | 10:14:48 AM
Underside of the bus The CEO takes full responsibility, and an underling gets to end his 25-year career at AT&T as a sacrificial speed bump. In other words, business as usual. I wonder if this was considered a big mistake and serious misjudgment before it became public.
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