AT&T’s request to have records produced of possible communications between the White House and the U.S. Justice Department has been denied by the judge overseeing the DOJ’s suit to block the Time Warner merger.
Reuters reported on Judge Richard Leon’s decision today, which follows a development last Friday in which the DOJ asked a judge to prevent AT&T from using political bias as a defense in the DOJ’s lawsuit to block the $85 billion AT&T-Time Warner merger.
AT&T has signaled that President Donald Trump’s dislike of CNN has played a role in the DOJ’s decision last year to file a lawsuit seeking to block the company’s $85 billion merger with Time Warner. The DOJ last week denied any such influence.
“There was no selective enforcement,” Justice Department lawyer Craig Conrath said according to Reuters. “The president is unhappy with CNN. We don’t dispute that. But AT&T wants to turn that into a get-out-jail-free card for their illegal merger.”
It’s unclear at this point how this development will affect AT&T’s chances in court, but up to this point, the company has stayed upbeat about its chances.
During his company’s earnings call last month, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said his company is preparing to fight a legal challenge from the U.S. Justice Department.
“We were obviously surprised when the government decided to try to block the merger because it is a classic vertical merger between two companies that don’t even compete with one another. With 50 years of legal precedent, this is the type of business combination that the government has consistently approved with appropriate conditions. While we remain open to finding some reasonable solutions to address the government’s concerns, we do expect this case will ultimately be litigated in court … and we remain very confident that we’ll complete this merger,” said Stephenson.