“Big mistake”: Heads are rolling at AT&T over payments to Michael Cohen

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“Big mistake”: Heads are rolling at AT&T over payments to Michael Cohen



By Max de Haldevang
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson didn’t mince his words in a memo to staff: ”Our reputation has been damaged. There is no other way to say it—AT&T hiring Michael Cohen as a political consultant was a big mistake,” he wrote, according to a memo obtained by CNBC.
Top executive Bob Quinn is leaving the company over the decision to pay $600,000 to president Donald Trump’s personal lawyer. Stephenson framed the departure as Quinn “retiring,” though the Wall Street Journal reports (paywall) he is being ousted.
The telecoms giant funneled the money to Cohen through the same shell company used to pay hush money to Trump’s alleged former partner Stormy Daniels. Stephenson writes that the payment was a “serious misjudgment,” adding that the “vetting process clearly failed.”
Read the statement in full:
All AT&T employees worldwide Team, Our company has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons these last few days and our reputation has been damaged. There is no other way to say it – AT&T hiring Michael Cohen as a political consultant was a big mistake.
To be clear, everything we did was done according to the law and entirely legitimate. But the fact is, our past association with Cohen was a serious misjudgment. In this instance, our Washington D.C. team’s vetting process clearly failed, and I take responsibility for that.
Here is more information on this issue, if you’re interested. For the foreseeable future, the External & Legislative Affairs (E&LA) group will report to our General Counsel David McAtee. Bob Quinn, Senior Executive Vice President – E&LA, will be retiring. David’s number one priority is to ensure every one of the individuals and firms we use in the political arena are people who share our high standards and who we would be proud to have associated with AT&T.
To all of you who work tirelessly every day to serve customers and represent the brand proudly, thank you. My personal commitment to you is – we will do better.
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