AT&T CEO calls hiring of Michael Cohen a "big mistake"

AT&T’s headquarters is located in downtown Dallas

Michael Avenatti, the attorney representing adult film star Stormy Daniels, released a memo Tuesday that alleged Columbus Nova paid $500,000 to Michael Cohen through the same bank account that Cohen had created in 2016 to execute the hush payment to Daniels.

The payments went to the Essential Consultants LLC, the same shell company Cohen used to pay $130,000 in hush money to a pornographic actress who says she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006.

According to an internal email sent to AT&T employees and obtained by The Hill, the company hired "several consultants to help us understand how the President and his administration might approach a wide range of policy issues important to the company, including regulatory reform at the FCC, corporate tax reform and antitrust enforcement". AT&T's business with Cohen came amid a major antitrust showdown with the Trump administration, as the phone giant has been seeking US government approval for its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner.

AT&T paid Cohen, President Trump's personal lawyer and fixer, $600,000 through a contract that ended in December 2017. Cohen was one of "several consultants" the Dallas-based telecom company hired for insight, according to an email sent to US employees on Wednesday. Quinn accompanied Stephenson to meet with the president-elect at Trump Tower in January 2017 - 11 days before AT&T hired Cohen. "But the fact is our past association with Cohen was a serious misjudgment".

AT&T said this week it engaged with Essential Consultants a year ago so Cohen could provide "insights into understanding the new administration" and added the company did not lobby for the telecommunications giant.

The company's lobbying operation will now report to AT&T General Counsel David McAtee, Stephenson said.

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The White House said Friday that those deals didn't have any influence on Trump - noting that the Justice Department has not dropped its opposition to the AT&T-Time Warner merger.

Cohen's political payments, which also came from Novartis and Korea Aerospace Industries, have been increasingly scrutinized in recent days and may attract the attention of investigators.

AT&T also said, "we didn't ask him to set up any meetings for us with anyone in the administration and he didn't offer to do so".

Time Warner, with which AT&T wants to merge, owns CNN.

AT&T paid President Donald Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen $600,000 to advise the telecom giant on its proposed $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, along with other issues pending before the federal government, The Washington Post reported Thursday. While Novartis got little from Cohen, the arrangement dragged Novartis into Mueller's investigation.

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