AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson told employees that the firm's top public policy official will retire following the revelation that the firm hired President Donald Trump's embattled personal attorney as a political consultant, a move Stephenson characterized as a "serious misjudgment."
"There is no other way to say it — AT&T hiring Michael Cohen as a political consultant was a big mistake," Stephenson told employees.
Bob Quinn, the senior executive vice president for external and legislative affairs, will retire, Stephenson's memo states. The public policy shop will report to general counsel David McAtee for "the foreseeable future."
"Our company has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons these last few days and our reputation has been damaged," Stephenson wrote. "To be clear, everything we did was done according to the law and entirely legitimate."
In a document attached to Stephenson's memo, the company states it "didn’t ask him to set up any meetings for us with anyone in the Administration and he didn’t offer to do so." It further states Cohen approached AT&T after the election to say he was leaving the Trump Organization and could consult on the administration's "key players, their priorities, and how they think." Cohen remained Trump's personal attorney after his official exit from the Trump Organization.
AT&T paid Cohen $600,000 for strategic advice on its $85 billion merger with Time Warner, which Trump has opposed since it was first announced, as well as policy issues like net neutrality and tax reform. Documents obtained by POLITICO show Cohen had a year-long contract starting just days after Trump's inauguration.
"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," he continued.
Cohen has been swept up in special counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation. AT&T said earlier this week it was contacted by Mueller's team late last year regarding its relationship with Cohen and cooperated with investigators.