Rudy Giuliani stands by his comment about Trump and AT&T

AT&T Chief Calls Hiring Michael Cohen as Consultant a 'Big Mistake'

Hiring Michael Cohen 'Was A Big Mistake'

The documents detail the full scope of Cohen's $600,000 deal with AT&T and how his contract specified that he would provide advice on the $85 billion merger, which required the approval of federal antitrust regulators.

AT&T also said, "we didn't ask him to set up any meetings for us with anyone in the administration and he didn't offer to do so". "There is no other way to say it - AT&T hiring Michael Cohen as a political consultant was a big mistake". Last year, AT&T spent almost $17 million on federal lobbying, the third highest among companies. It was through Essentials Consulting that AT&T retained Cohen.

"Companies often hire consultants for these purposes, especially at the beginning of a new presidential administration, and we have done so in previous administrations, as well", the company said in the email.

The former NY mayor in an interview with Business Insider was responding to a challenge from Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for the adult entertainer who claims she had an affair with Trump, to debate the president's defamation suit against his client live on-air. The company said it was contacted by Mueller's office in November, though now considers its role in that inquiry closed.

Cohen is also under investigation by prosecutors in NY for possible bank fraud and campaign finance violations.

He added that Cohen does not deserve what is happening to him. Quinn declined to comment. Payments to Cohen were approved by two executives in AT&T's public affairs office in Washington. The companies were not allowed to pursue that line of argument during the trial, but they may try to use it should they lose the case and appeal. Those rules, for instance, require that lobbyists register as such only if they've spent at least 20 percent of their time with a client over a three-month period doing lobbying work. But AT&T said it did not meet with Avenue a second time. However, he noted that hiring the president's lawyer could trigger ethical questions.

"Do you have the view that all negative stories about the president are fake?" one reporter wondered. Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani told Bloomberg News that Trump was "unaware" of the payments to Cohen; Vice President Mike Pence told NBC News it was a "private matter" and "something I don't have any knowledge about". The Washington team had hired Cohen under a one-year contract that paid $50,000 a month.

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"This week's revelations of AT&T and other companies paying Michael Cohen for access to the president show how weak our lobbying transparency laws are and that a system of "pay to play" still thrives in Washington", Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project On Government Oversight, said in an email.

At the time the contract was signed, AT&T was trying to build ties to the new administration.

It was about that time that the company heard from Cohen, 51, described alternately as Trump's "personal lawyer" or his "fixer".

"We didn't engage with them".

The chief of the Antitrust Division, Makan Delrahim, has denied that there was any White House interference in the decision to sue to block the merger, and the White House issued a statement a year ago saying that "no White House official was authorized to speak with the Department of Justice on this matter".

AT&T and the pharmaceutical company Novartis, another Cohen client, said this week that they provided information about their dealings with Trump's lawyer to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III previous year. "There's a lot of men and women in Washington who are paid to their own advice".

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