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Michael Cohen, longtime personal lawyer and confidante for President Donald Trump. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said in an employee memo Friday morning that hiring President Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, was "a big mistake."

The fallout: Stephenson also reportedly announced in the memo that Bob Quinn, AT&T's head lobbyist who oversees the Washington office that Stephenson said failed to properly vet Cohen, is retiring after less than two years in the role.

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

The backdrop: AT&T confirmed Tuesday that it contracted a corporation tied to Cohen for insights on the new administration. In total it paid him $600,000, per the New York Times.

  • Timing: Last November, AT&T was sued by the Justice Department in an attempt to block its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner. In a fact sheet on Cohen's role released Friday, AT&T said it had hired him with an eye towards understanding the administration's approach on "regulatory reform at the FCC, tax reform, and antitrust enforcement, specifically our Time Warner deal."

Go deeper: Corporate America paid Michael Cohen millions, left with nothing

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”