Margaret Peterlin, former Chief of Staff of the recently fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, has been hired by AT&T as its Senior Vice President of External and Public Affairs. Ms. Peterlin was left without a job this March after President Trump decided to remove Mr. Tillerson from his administration but her new role will see her remain in Washington. An attorney by trade, Ms. Peterlin contributed to the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, a 2001 statute regulating America's war on terrorism. She was previously employed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, her last post before joining the Trump transition team in late 2016 and later being given a prominent role in the current United States administration.
While only reported now, Ms. Peterlin's appointment is said to have gone into effect this May, with the veteran lawyer assuming the duties of Robert Quinn, AT&T's top lobbyist who was forced to retire following the revelation that the Dallas, Texas-based telecom giant hired President Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen to gain insights into the current U.S. administration. The company admitted to paying $600,000 for his services as part of a move that Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson reportedly labeled "a big mistake" in an internal memo.
Mr. Quinn oversaw Mr. Cohen's hiring and was effectively sacked for it, with AT&T promptly facing significant public backlash over the matter without having anything to show for it. The company ended up being embroiled in a lengthy legal battle with the Department of Justice that opposed its proposed Time Warner acquisition and while the deal ultimately went through, that was no thanks to Mr. Cohen's expensive services. AT&T's capital expenditures are expected to go down following the deployment of 5G networks in the U.S. as the company already said it will be focusing on decreasing its debt throughout the next decade.