On a day defined by the launch of a new Democratic investigation into possible abuses of power by President Trump, The New Yorker magazine presented yet another line of potential inquiry, reporting that Trump pressured John Kelly and Gary Cohn to make sure that the Justice Department sued to block the AT&T-Time Warner deal. Now multiple Democratic lawmakers are vowing to, in the words of Sen. Chris Van Hollen, “get to the bottom of it.”
Judges probing arguments for and against the AT&T-Time Warner merger attacked the Department of Justice’s argument that a lower court judge exhibited clear error in allowing the deal to go through and rejecting the government’s economic analysis that the combined company would use its leverage to raise retail prices anticompetitively. Judges sometimes play devil’s advocate, but DOJ clearly got the tougher — and much longer — end of the grilling.
Over the objections of AT&T and Time Warner, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has decided to permit 27 antitrust scholars to speak up at a hearing later this week.
The judge who refused to block AT&T’s merger with Time Warner ignored “fundamental principles of economics and common sense,” the Department of Justice writes in court papers filed Monday with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The U.S. Justice Department has only a remote chance of overturning AT&T’s takeover of Time Warner, Chief Executive Randall Stephenson said on Friday, while warning the case could affect bidding for 21st Century Fox.
Antitrust officials in the Justice Department have privately decided to appeal a federal judge’s approval of AT&T’s planned $85 billion takeover of Time WarnerOpens a New Window. but are facing resistance from the most important player in the process, the office of the U.S. Solicitor General.
Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson will oversee two other “chief executives” who will operate independently — one for telecommunications and one for media. John Stankey, who now leads DirecTV and the entertainment businesses, will head the media division, but without DirecTV. It goes to the telecom side of the company to be headed by John Donovan. The Time Warner acquisition appears to be on track to close by end of the year.
The groups argue that the pending merger of AT&T and Time Warner “would create a media and telecommunications giant with the ability to use its assets to dominate markets, hold back competition, and harm consumers by inflating prices and impeding innovative new video services.”