“Our company has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons these last few days and our reputation has been damaged,” he wrote. “There is no other way to say it — AT&T hiring Michael Cohen as a political consultant was a big mistake.”
He went on to assure employees that no laws were broken when the company’s Washington, D.C. team hired Cohen to help AT&T gain insight on how to work with the Trump administration, but said the “vetting process clearly failed.”
“I take full responsibility for that,” he said.
— CNBC Now (@CNBCnow) May 11, 2018
In the same memo, Stephenson announced that the company’s senior executive vice president of the External and Legislative Affairs group would be retiring.
The move follows an onslaught of headlines this week, revealing that AT&T — and other companies, like the U.S. affiliate of a firm owned by a Russian oligarch who attended Trump’s inauguration — paid Cohen large sums of money to do political consulting work for the company, namely, to garner influence with Trump.
AT&T confirmed Thursday that it had cooperated with questions from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, who are investigating the Trump campaign and Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The payments to Cohen have come under scrutiny because Cohen is under federal investigation for a number of reasons, notably for a $130,000 payment he made to a porn actress just ahead of the 2016 election, reportedly to keep her quiet about an alleged affair she had with Trump a decade ago.