"No one seems to understand why the RNC, America Rising and other GOP groups aren't doing even basic political blocking and tackling with Avenatti", said a GOP operative to The Daily Beast.
Stephenson's note followed the revelation that the company had paid Cohen $600,000 to advise on the $85.4 billion merger with Time Warner and other regulatory matters.
The internal memo also said that Senior Executive Vice President Bob Quinn "will be retiring".
Quinn did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
One thing Cohen did do: arrange hush money payments.
AT&T maintains that Cohen did no lobbying but was paid for his insight into the administration.
Giuliani, who came on as a member of Trump's legal team April 19, first walked back his comments to The Huffington Post from Friday in which he said the president himself blocked the AT&T-Time Warner merger last fall. Last year, AT&T spent almost $17 million on federal lobbying, the third highest among companies. He oversaw the contract with Cohen.
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For AT&T, the disclosure of its ties to Cohen comes at a critical moment. "But the fact is our past association with Cohen was a serious misjudgment". In his companywide email, Stephenson acknowledged that his "Washington D.C. team's vetting process clearly failed".
"We will do better", Stephenson wrote Friday.
Add that to the fact that Trump reportedly thinks Avenatti is a "loser" unworthy of his time. AT&T said it would not disclose the names of the other people and firms hired.
Still, AT&T and Time Warner executives believed the deal would receive DOJ approval, much like Comcast's acquisition of NBCUniversal did almost a decade ago. But he, and the rest of the company, was surprised by the election results and had few connections to Trump's circles. But AT&T said it did not meet with Avenue a second time.
Giuliani joined Trump's outside legal team in April to represent Trump in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible ties to Russian Federation. Novartis said it had cooperated fully and considers its role in the matter closed. But there were persistent questions about possible political interference, especially in light of the president's well-publicized disdain for both CNN and attorney general Jeff Sessions. CNN is owned by Time Warner.
That's why it was so surprising when HuffPost quoted Giuliani saying "the president denied the merger".