AT&T is reportedly prepared to look into speculation that the Trump administration influenced an antitrust review of its pending merger with Time Warner.
Sources familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that if the Justice Department sues to block the merger, AT&T will ask the court to review communications between DOJ and the White House as part of the discovery process.
The report said that the company would also likely investigate any ties between the antitrust review and 21st Century Fox.
The merger between the telecom giant and media company was supposed to wrap up before the end of the year, but regulators recently signaled that they would push AT&T to divest Turner or DirecTV in order to approve the deal.
The agreement was not expected to raise antitrust issues, and the controversy fueled speculation that President Trump, a frequent, loud critic of Turner’s CNN network, played a role in the review — a charge the White House has denied.
Reuters, meanwhile, reported last week that Rupert Murdoch, the executive chairman of 21st Century Fox and CNN rival Fox News, discussed CNN with AT&T’s CEO twice in the past six months.
AT&T indicated it is prepared to fight an antitrust suit, but although analysts believe the company has a strong case, the discovery process could become complicated.
Any communications between 21st Century Fox and the Justice Department are likely fair game under discovery, but the White House, Bloomberg noted, would likely claim that its discussions with DOJ are privileged.
Filed Under: Industry regulations