(Reuters) - AT&T Inc (T.N) on Friday ousted its top lobbyist, and the No. 2 wireless carrier’s chief executive said it was a “big mistake” to hire Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, for advice on working with the Trump administration.
AT&T paid Essential Consultants LLC, a firm set up by Cohen, a total of $600,000 over 2017 for the advice. Cohen and others were hired to help navigate “a wide range of issues,” including its proposed $85 billion merger with Time Warner Inc (TWX.N), CEO Randall Stephenson said in a memo seen by Reuters.
The disclosure of AT&T’s relationship with Cohen has turned into a major embarrassment for the telecommunications company as it awaits a U.S. judge’s decision, due June 12, on whether it can go through with the purchase of Time Warner, a deal that has been denounced by Trump.
“There is no other way to say it – AT&T hiring Michael Cohen as a political consultant was a big mistake,” the memo said.
President Trump expressed opposition to the merger with Time Warner during the campaign and his administration ultimately chose to fight it, with the Justice Department filing suit in November to block the agreement.
In a fact sheet that accompanied the memo, AT&T said Cohen approached them about working on their behalf in the post-election transition. He was given a one-year contract at $50,000 per month, which ran from January through December 2017, that was limited to consulting and advisory services.
AT&T never asked Cohen to set up meetings with anyone in the Trump administration, and he did not offer to do so, it said.
“To be clear, everything we did was done according to the law and entirely legitimate,” Stephenson wrote in