>> A startling memo by AT&T's CEO to employees. Randall Stephenson says he regrets hiring president Donald Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, right after the presidential election. Reuter's correspondent Jessica Toonkel had an exclusive look at the memo.>> He referred to it as a big mistake and said that they should have done a better job at vetting him.
AT&T's chief lobbyist is out as a result of this. He's been forced out, according to our sources.>> After AT&T payments were revealed by Michael Avenatti, the lawyer of porn star, Stormy Daniels, the company said on Tuesday it had hired Essential Consultants, a company used by Cohen to advise it on working with a new administration.
And Stephenson asserts everything was done according to the law.>> Stephenson, in the memo today, was very clear that this contract, which was from January to December, 2017. It was $50,000 a month. It was only for consulting purposes. Stephenson clarifies that they hired Cohen to understand what Trump's position would be on different areas, including their deal with Time Warner.
So, there was no lobbying involved. He didn't set up any meetings with the Trump Administration, nor did they ask him to set up any meetings.>> The disclosure of AT&T's relationship with Cohen comes at a bad time for the company, as it awaits a federal judge's decision on whether it can go through with an $85 billion deal to buy Time Warner.
>> Now, just as a reminder, that deal was blocked by the Department of Justice. Trump, right after the deal was announced in October of 2016, Trump himself said he was against the deal. He has said he has issues specifically with CNN.>> But Toonkel says the judge in this trial has so far steered away from politics and the Cohen connection may not effect the judge's decision on the deal.
As for the questions surrounding Stephenson's leadership.>> I've spoken to sources who've said that the board continues to have confidence in Stephenson, and they do not hold him accountable for this issue.