Science

AT&T CEO: We're under no pressure from Trump's DOJ to sell CNN

AT&T CEO: We're under no pressure from Trump's DOJ to sell CNN

"We are in active discussions with the (Justice Department)".

The White House also denies Trump spoke with Attorney General Jeff Sessions about the merger deal.

Jesse Lee, a spokesman for Protect Democracy, a watchdog group founded after Trump's election, says that previous administrations since the Watergate era have upheld strict contacts policy rules forbidding political influence from the executive branch over federal agencies tasked with enforcing US laws for political purposes.

AT&T has signaled it would not agree to sell DirecTV, which it acquired for $49 billion in 2015, leaving CNN and other cable TV assets as the main sticking point in negotiations between the Justice Department and AT&T. AT&T can deliver this video over the internet, including its cellular network. It would also mean that AT&T could now harness Time Warner's entertainment expertise.

Shares of Time Warner fell about 6 per cent to $89.00, while AT&T shares fell 0.2 per cent before climbing 1.16 per cent to $33.46.

Several Democratic senators warned the deal would lead to higher prices and fewer choices for consumers.

Makan Delrahim, who took up the reins at the antitrust division in September after he was confirmed by the Senate, has signaled he isn't a fan of settlements that force the Justice Department into ongoing monitoring of companies' behavior.

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"The Department of Justice, in particular, has an obligation to ensure "equal justice under law".

AT&T executives have consistently expressed optimism about the deal being approved.

The president previously labeled the network's journalism "fake" and "fraud" news and mockingly called the channel the "Clinton News Network" during last year's presidential race against Hillary Clinton. "And no White House official was authorized to speak with the Department of Justice on this matter".

When asked about concerns about Trump meddling in the deal review, Stephenson said "I have no reason to believe that". A spokesperson for AT&T stated that the company no longer expects the deal to close this year.

But even the perception of White House involvement could influence the deal-review process. As president, he frequently criticizes CNN. "For me it would be virtually impossible to not take that into account". He added that he had "never offered to sell CNN" and further stated that he had "no intention of doing so". "Period", Stephenson said at The New York Times' Dealbook Conference. Stephenson was responding on a question on whether he would consider selling Turner or HBO.

"I can't think of a single judge in America that wouldn't say, 'Justice Department can't reject this because of CNN.' Again, Donald Trump puts the burden on himself". But most of those involved direct competitors.

Other sources say the DOJ indicated that a divestiture of CNN would not be sufficient to make sure the deal doesn't hurt consumers. If that happens, AT&T is expected to fight it in the courts.