Judge Blocks AT&T’s Bid to Obtain White House Call Logs

Fastest Internet Provider
Time Warner – AT&T Merger Blocked

AT&T’s move to obtain communication logs between the Justice Department and the White House were blocked by a federal judge. The telecom giant was attempting to prove its argument that politics were in play when halting its merger with Time Warner®.

Judge Richard J. Leon of the United States District Court in Washington is currently overseeing a trial over the deal, and said that the company has yet been unable to show that it has been treated with bias. “Defendants have fallen far short of establishing that this enforcement action was selective,” he said.

The proposed $85 billion merger with Time Warner® has been halted by the Justice Department, which has now scored a win by managing to avoid attention to the role of politics in its decision to stop the deal. The merger, if it happened, would transform the media landscape significantly. A spokesperson said, “We are pleased with and respect today’s decision, which will permit the parties and court to focus on the case at hand.”

AT&T® has brought the argument that the Justice Department has blocked their merger in order to stay in favor with the White House. President Trump has been an open critic of CNN, and said before the election that the proposed deal should be stopped. One of the fastest internet provider companies, AT&T® has requested the communication logs to see if the White House has any part in the agency’s decision.

The Justice Department last week asked Judge Leon to block AT&T’s demands, commenting that they were a “sideshow” to antitrust concerns the government has about the merger. They argued that the deal would harm consumers, suppress competition, and raise prices.

Merger With Time Warner
High-Speed Internet

The Justice Department blocking AT&T’s merger was unexpected because the government has previously been allowing mergers between companies that don’t directly compete. One of these deals was Comcast’s merger with NBCUniversal in 2011, which according to the judge, was the only case AT&T® was able to point to as proof of discrimination.

The case against political interference is very unusual, and AT&T® told the judge it was almost disinclined to raise the topic. The Justice Department retorted that the argument was intended as a “get-out-of-jail card.”

“There has not been this kind of a challenge to a vertical merger of companies that don’t compete in decades and this is hugely significant in that it suggests the Justice Department may be going in a radically new direction on antitrust,” opined Larry Downes, a project director at Georgetown University’s Center for Business and Public Policy.

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