Ryan Lucas

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Telecom giant AT&T made a "big mistake" in paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to President Trump's personal lawyer to seek his help as the company pursued a merger that the administration opposed, the company said Friday.

CEO Randall Stephenson said in a message to employees that although he believes everything about the relationship with Michael Cohen was legal and "entirely legitimate," it represented a "serious misjudgment."

"In this instance, our Washington D.C. team's vetting process clearly failed, and I take responsibility for that," he wrote.

Updated at 5:08 p.m. ET

The document released this week that described millions of dollars' worth of payments to Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen is rife with inaccuracies and may have depended upon leaked or stolen information, attorneys for Cohen charge.

As a businessman, Donald Trump was not shy about jumping into the trenches for litigious battles large and small. In fact, he seemed to almost relish the fight.

The game has changed, however, since Trump won the White House, and his enthusiasm for such scraps may have waned as the legal challenges facing him have piled up.

It's all a distraction, Trump says, from the real work of his administration.

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