Government's holdup of AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner worries some

AT&T ready to fight US on Time Warner deal: CEO

AT&T ready to fight US on Time Warner deal: CEO

The US Department of Justice, the country's antitrust regulator, is investigating the deal and has recommended that AT&T either sell its DirecTV unit or Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting unit, which includes CNN, according to reports this week.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that Trump's son-in-law and a senior aide had told Time Warner's executive vice president of corporate marketing Gary Ginsberg to dump 20 percent of CNN employees over their alleged inaccurate analysis of the 2016 presidential election. "That was made by a man who's actually a very respected person - a very, very respected person". Trump was apparently referring to Makan Delrahim, the chief of the Justice Department's antitrust division.

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According to a Justice Department official, AT&T has offered to divest CNN. But AT&T has said it doesn't want to lose the all-news network in the deal.

"I did make a comment as to what I think", Trump acknowledged, appearing to reference previous remarks he had made on the campaign trail criticizing the AT&T deal. As president, Trump has often blasted CNN for its coverage of him and his administration, disparaging it and its reporters as "fake news". "This way, at least you can get your word out".

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CNN has become a focal point in gaining competition approval for telecoms giant AT&T's $85.4bn (£64.7bn) bid to buy rival media giant Time Warner, which was announced last October. "So we'll see - that probably ends up being litigation maybe not, we'll see how it all plays out".

A DOJ source quoted by Politico later claimed that AT&T and Time Warner itself had offered to shed CNN to diminish antitrust concerns about the merger.

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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". Delrahim first noted Ronald Reagan's quip that the most terrifying words in the English language are "I'm from the government and I'm here to help".

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