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AT&T CEO says hiring Trump lawyer Michael Cohen was ‘a big mistake’

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AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said hiring President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer as a consultant was a “big mistake,” according to a company memo sent on Friday.

The telecom giant hired attorney Michael Cohen, who has worked for Trump in a personal role for years, to help advise on its pending merger with Time Warner. The company has said it paid Cohen $600,000 to gain “insights” into the president’s thinking. The memo was first reported by Reuters.

In the employee memo, Stephenson admitted hiring Cohen’s firm was a huge error.

“To be clear, everything we did was done according to the law and entirely legitimate,” Stephenson wrote. “But the fact is our past association with Cohen was a serious misjudgment.”

AT&T also said its top lobbyist, Bob Quinn, who hired Cohen, is retiring.

“In this instance, our Washington D.C. team’s vetting process clearly failed, and I take responsibility for that,” Stephenson wrote in the memo.

AT&T is currently in a precarious public relations situation because it is awaiting government approval to finalize its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner.

The Justice Department sued to block the merger, and AT&T is awaiting U.S. District Judge Richard Leon’s ruling on whether the acquisition can proceed. His decision is expected on June 12.

AT&T has been on the defensive since Michael Avenatti, a lawyer for adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, revealed the company had paid Cohen through Essential Consulting, a company Cohen set up in October 2016.

Essential Consulting then made a $130,000 payment to Daniels to stop her from publicly claiming that she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006

In the memo, AT&T said it had hired several consultants to “help us understand how the president and his administration might approach a wide range of policy issues important to the company, including regulatory reform at the FCC, corporate tax reform and anti-trust enforcement.”

Cohen did no legal or lobbying work, the company said, and the contract ended in December 2017.

A Washington Post report on Thursday revealed that Cohen had in fact offered to advise on the Time Warner merger.

AT&T isn’t the only firm to express regret at having gotten entangled with Cohen. The drug company Novartis said on Thursday that it was wrong to have agreed to pay Cohen $1.2 million for advice on health care policy.

“We made a mistake in entering into this engagement and, as a consequence, are being criticized by a world that expects more from us,” Vasant Narasimhan, chief executive of Novartis, wrote in an email to employees.

The FBI raided the office and hotel room of Cohen last month, seizing documents as part of a search for information about the $130,000 payment made to Daniels.

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Brexit Britain remains top choice for finance firms – 'Why would anyone move to Paris?'

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THE CITY of London will continue to thrive in Brexit Britain with it remaining a top choice for firms, an independent economist has said.

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Biden will instruct FEMA to establish ‘thousands’ of Covid vaccination centers

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Trump’s leaving the White House, but the party is still his

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WASHINGTON — If you’re Liz Cheney, Mitch McConnell or Mitt Romney, here is your challenge as impeachment moves to a Senate trial: The GOP is still Trump’s party.

At least for now.

According to brand-new numbers from our NBC News poll, only 8 percent of Republican voters support Trump’s impeachment and removal from office.

That’s compared with 50 percent of all voters who say this, including 89 percent of Democrats and 45 percent of independents.

What also stands out: These percentages — overall and by party — are virtually identical to the impeachment/removal numbers for Trump during the Ukraine scandal.

It’s largely the story of the Trump Era: The numbers and partisan divide rarely change, even after an assault at the Capitol.

And just check out the opening paragraphs from this New York Times story.

“In Cleveland County, Okla., the chairman of the local Republican Party openly wondered ‘why violence is unacceptable,’ just hours before a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol last week. ‘What the crap do you think the American revolution was?’ he posted on Facebook. ‘A game of friggin pattycake?’”

“Two days later, the Republican chairman of Nye County in Nevada posted a conspiracy-theory-filled letter on the local committee website, accusing Vice President Mike Pence of treason and calling the rioting a ‘staged event meant to blame Trump supporters.’”

“And this week in Virginia, Amanda Chase, a two-term Republican state senator running for governor, maintained that President Trump might still be sworn into a second term on Jan. 20 and that Republicans who blocked that ‘alternative plan’ would be punished by the president’s supporters.”

If you’re a Republican opposed to Trump — or simply to how he conducted himself before last week’s attack — you’re in the minority of your party.

Back to the virus

Since Jan. 6 — the day of last week’s attack at the Capitol — this country has seen more than 2 million new coronavirus cases and more than 28,000 deaths from the virus.

Think about that again: In a little more than a week, 2 million new cases (!!!) and 28,000-plus deaths.

It’s that context — and presidential void — to view President-elect Joe Biden’s primetime address where he rolled out his $1.9 coronavirus relief package (more on that below).

The outgoing president has been MIA when it comes the coronavirus. So the incoming president has decided to take on the issue head-on before his inauguration.

And today, Biden delivers remarks on administering COVID vaccines to the U.S. population.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

23,421,473: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 237,251 more than yesterday morning.)

389,652: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 3,954 more than yesterday morning.)

128,947: The number of people currently hospitalized with coronavirus

275.78 million: The number of coronavirus tests that have been administered in the United States so far, according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project.

965,000: The latest initial weekly unemployment claims in the U.S.

5: The number of days until Inauguration Day.

Here’s what’s in Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief plan

President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday called for a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package on Thursday, per NBC’s Marianna Sotomayor.

The “American Rescue Plan” includes investments in a national vaccination program, additional direct payments and an increased federal minimum wage of $15 per hour.

“We are in a race against time. We need these resources to vaccinate the vast majority of Americans and to put safety measures in place that will help us put Covid behind us, so that we can reopen our schools, businesses, and once again be able to get there with our friends and family,” one senior transition official said on a briefing call with reporters.

Here’s some of what the plan asks for:

  • Containing Covid-19 and reopening schools by mounting a national vaccination program – Total: $416B. (That amount includes $20 billion for a national vaccination program and $170 billion to for schools).
  • Helping working families struggling from suffering economy – Total: $1 trillion. (That amount includes $1,400 per person direct payments and $400/week unemployment insurance programs for hard hit Americans).
  • Assisting small businesses, including minority business owners. (That includes $350 billion in emergency funding for state, local and territorial governments to pay frontline workers, as well as $15 billion in grants to help hardest-hit small businesses).

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ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Don’t miss this piece from Benjy Sarlin on how members of Congress are fearful even of some of their own colleagues.

And here’s the Washington Post on how some Capitol Police were battered at the hands of protestors.

GOP Sen. James Lankford has apologized to Black Tulsans for questioning the 2020 election results.

Here’s how Facebook and Twitter decided to make their moves on Trump’s accounts last week.

Biden has selected his deputy CIA director.

And he has picked his new director of vaccine efforts.

Rudy Giuliani may be on the outs with most of Trump World, but he still wants in.

The New York Times talked to GOP state and local leaders all over the country. Many described their devotion to Trump with an almost religious fervor.



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