AT&T CEO: DOJ never demanded CNN sale in Time Warner deal

Kelvin Reese
November 12, 2017

Representatives of Twenty-First Century Fox, AT&T and Time Warner, CNN's parent, declined comment.

Previously, the president has blasted AT&T and Time Warner's merger plans - and during the 2016 election he threatened to block the companies from combining under his watch.

CNN, which President Trump has derided as "fake news" - while praising Murdoch's Fox News - is at the center of AT&T's $85.4 billion deal to buy Time Warner.

Sources say the Department of Justice (DoJ) may make the deal conditional on the disposal of either Turner Broadcasting - which includes CNN, Cartoon Network and sports channels - or satellite broadcaster DirecTV.

When running for the presidency, Donald Trump said, "AT&T is buying Time Warner and thus CNN, a deal that we will not approve in my administration because it is too much concentration of power in the hands of too few".

In an email provided by a DOJ spokeswoman, White House spokesman Raj Shah said that Trump "did not speak with the attorney general about this matter", and that "no White House official was authorized to speak with the Department of Justice on this matter".

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Trump vowed on the campaign trail past year to block the merger because "it's too much concentration of power in the hands of too few".

According to the Post, the president was likely referring to the Justice Department's newly confirmed antitrust chief Makan Delrahim, who is overseeing the AT&T transaction - and who supported Trump in the campaign and served as a White House lawyer. AT&T shares rose 1.6 percent to $33.97.

AT&T had previously targeted the end of the year for closing the deal, and Wall Street analysts had widely expected the deal to go through.

The deal is opposed by an array of rivals and consumer groups anxious that it would give the combined company too much power.

In an emailed statement, the Justice Department said that it "is committed to carrying out its duties in accordance with the laws and the facts".

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