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Judge blocks AT&T's request to see White House communications about Time Warner deal

The judge overseeing the Justice Department's lawsuit to block AT&T's purchase of Time Warner has rejected the teleco...

Posted: Feb 21, 2018 6:03 AM
Updated: Feb 21, 2018 6:03 AM

The judge overseeing the Justice Department's lawsuit to block AT&T's purchase of Time Warner has rejected the telecom company's request for the communications records between the White House and the Attorney General and between the Attorney General and the antitrust division regarding the deal.

AT&T requested to see a log of communications between the White House and DOJ as part of its "selective enforcement" defense in the trial, which is scheduled to begin in March. AT&T had planned to use the "selective enforcement" defense to argue that the DOJ has unfairly targeted the company partly because of President Donald Trump's animus toward CNN, which is owned by Time Warner, and his pledge as a candidate to block the merger.

Judge Richard Leon said in his decision on Tuesday that AT&T and Time Warner "have fallen short of establishing that this enforcement action was selective" and that "defendants have not made a 'credible showing' that they have been 'especially singled out' [by the DOJ]."

"We respect the judge's decision and look forward to the upcoming trial," said Dan Petrocelli, lead trial attorney for both Time Warner and AT&T.

The DOJ said in a Friday status conference hearing that politics played no part in their decision to bring the case and that they have legitimate antitrust concerns because they believe that the deal would harm consumers with price increases. AT&T disputes that notion, saying prices would not increase in a significant way and that such a merger is important to help it evolve as it faces competition from new technology companies.

Leon seemed to side with the DOJ that the government does have legitimate antitrust concerns.

"As counsel for the Government explained at length during [Friday's] hearing, history belies the notion that this action is the first and only time that the Government has found an antitrust problem with a proposed vertical merger or insisted on a structural remedy as a condition to settlement," he wrote. "So while it may, indeed, be a rare breed of horse, it is not exactly a unicorn!"

The DOJ has already given AT&T a log of communications between the White House and the antitrust division, and said they saw no evidence of "untoward" communications regarding the merger.

Judge Leon also noted in the ruling that after speaking with counsel on both sides, he now believes that the head of the DOJ's antitrust division, Makan Delrahim, will be taken off the proposed witness list under the condition that he could be added back on for merit. AT&T had planned to include Delrahim on the witness list, an unusual move that would have essentially brought the lawyer leading the suit against AT&T on the witness stand.

Less than a year before he joined the DOJ in September, Delrahim said in a Canadian television interview he saw no major antitrust problems with the deal. On Friday, the DOJ's lawyers said they have an affidavit from Delrahim asserting that he received no directions or instructions from outside the antitrust unit regarding the merger.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 343505

Reported Deaths: 7543
CountyCasesDeaths
Hinds23932444
DeSoto23229283
Harrison20527329
Rankin15411291
Jackson15232252
Madison10959227
Lee10719179
Jones9047169
Forrest8723159
Lauderdale7884244
Lowndes7054151
Lamar702989
Lafayette6548124
Washington5595139
Pearl River5196152
Bolivar4954134
Oktibbeha494398
Panola4771112
Warren4728128
Marshall4701106
Pontotoc447773
Union433279
Monroe4330137
Neshoba4281181
Hancock428088
Lincoln4176116
Pike3667113
Leflore3627125
Tate353388
Alcorn350974
Sunflower347694
Scott341176
Adams340988
Yazoo339376
Copiah324968
Simpson322891
Itawamba314680
Coahoma314085
Tippah306568
Prentiss298863
Covington293484
Leake285475
Marion284181
Wayne277543
George272251
Grenada269488
Newton262364
Tishomingo239770
Winston236784
Jasper230648
Stone229637
Attala226373
Chickasaw219060
Holmes200174
Clay197654
Clarke186880
Tallahatchie183742
Calhoun181332
Smith179235
Yalobusha171540
Walthall145748
Lawrence142826
Greene140134
Amite137543
Noxubee135235
Perry133538
Montgomery133044
Carroll126431
Webster121232
Jefferson Davis116734
Tunica114227
Benton106725
Claiborne105331
Kemper102429
Humphreys100133
Franklin87923
Quitman84719
Choctaw82619
Wilkinson78032
Jefferson71328
Sharkey51618
Issaquena1736
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 577463

Reported Deaths: 11510
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson841981589
Mobile47171860
Madison37047533
Tuscaloosa26915465
Shelby26873256
Montgomery25918625
Baldwin24499328
Lee16949181
Calhoun15252332
Morgan15017290
Etowah14778370
Marshall12933235
Houston11774292
Elmore10761217
St. Clair10617252
Limestone10574158
Cullman10363205
Lauderdale10083254
DeKalb9382191
Talladega8836188
Walker7681287
Autauga7479114
Jackson7317117
Blount7266139
Colbert6635142
Coffee6163132
Dale5453117
Russell470642
Chilton4682117
Covington4649125
Franklin450081
Tallapoosa4440156
Escambia427882
Chambers3898125
Dallas3717163
Clarke367763
Marion3427106
Pike327879
Lawrence3225101
Winston294973
Bibb284565
Geneva276383
Marengo259967
Barbour246261
Pickens240062
Butler238272
Hale232778
Fayette225264
Henry209245
Monroe197241
Randolph196744
Cherokee196348
Washington180139
Macon168752
Crenshaw165558
Clay163759
Cleburne160245
Lamar149938
Lowndes144854
Wilcox130531
Bullock126142
Conecuh119630
Coosa116929
Perry109928
Sumter109032
Greene98736
Choctaw64325
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