AT&T Ousts Executive Who Paid Michael Cohen $600K
'Big mistake,' writes chief executive Randall Stephenson
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 11, 2018 10:06 AM CDT
An AT&T logo at a store in Hialeah, Fla.   (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

(Newser) – AT&T is one of the companies that paid big money to Michael Cohen after President Trump's election to take advantage of his close ties to the president. "Big mistake," chief executive Randall Stephenson writes in a company email now in wide circulation in the media. What's more, the AT&T executive who authorized the payment of $600,000 is now out of a job, reports the Washington Post. The official word is that Bob Quinn, who was the company exec in charge of lobbying, is retiring, but the Wall Street Journal reports that he was forced out. Quinn paid Cohen's firm, Essential Consultants, the big fee in order to receive guidance in dealing with the FCC and the Justice Department, particularly in regard to the company's possible merger with Time Warner.

“There is no other way to say it—AT&T hiring Michael Cohen as a political consultant was a big mistake,” writes Stephenson in the email. He said that while AT&T did nothing illegal, the hiring of Cohen was a "serious misjudgment" that has hurt the company's reputation. As the Post notes, it's not clear what guidance Cohen might have offered the company on complicated telecom matters. "(Our) team's vetting process clearly failed, and I take responsibility for that," writes Stephenson. The Verge finds Quinn's departure interesting for another reason: Quinn, writes TC Sottek, had been one of the telecom industry's most vocal opponents of net neutrality.

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