This is full-on damage control.
“There is no other way to say it,” CEO Randall Stephenson wrote in an email to the company. “AT&T hiring Michael Cohen as a political consultant was a big mistake.”
BREAK: AT&T CEO: Hiring Michael Cohen was a mistake – pic.twitter.com/9F6aQraBew
— Hadas Gold (@Hadas_Gold) May 11, 2018
Stephenson called it a failure in the “vetting process.”
AT&T has been in the public eye ever since it was revealed it was one of the companies that paid Cohen, who serves as Trump’s personal lawyer, to gain insight and access into the president.
According to the Washington Post, AT&T paid Cohen $600,000 to consult on an upcoming merger with Time Warner.
It is unclear what insight Cohen — a longtime real estate attorney and former taxicab operator — could have provided AT&T on complex telecom matters.
At the same time that he was collecting $50,000 a month from AT&T, Cohen was being paid large sums to advise other companies on a broad variety of issues, including the Affordable Care Act, accounting practices and real estate.
However, as the news of AT&T and other companies paying for access to the president, Politico‘s Playbook published a post decrying everyone getting upset about it, saying it was business as usual in Washington.
WELCOME TO THE REALITY OF WASHINGTON.
YES, guys like Michael Cohen routinely get paid amounts like $1.2 million to offer insights about their boss or former boss. Yeah, it’s crazy. But many readers of this newsletter would not have their McMansion in McLean, their BMW, their membership at Army Navy, second homes in Delaware, cigar lockers and endless glasses of Pinot Noir at BLT Steak and Tosca if that kind of stuff didn’t happen. Newsflash: $1.2 million is not even a rounding error for massive corporations. (The smart companies route these deals through law firms.)
But don’t worry, they’re not OK with that.
AND NO, the swamp is not drained. Give us a break. We’re not defending the status quo—but welcome to reality. This is the campaign finance/lobbying/government system Congress created and D.C. fostered.