Tuesday a federal judge rejected a request by AT&T, who had requested communication records between the White House and the Justice Department in an effort to learn whether President Trump had influenced the DOJ to block their merger with Time Warner.
The Justice Department sued to block the merger in November.
The Hill reported:
AT&T had been preparing to argue in the upcoming trial that President Trump‘s animus toward CNN, a Time Warner subsidiary, had influenced prosecutors’ decision to bring a case against the $85 billion deal.
“We respect the judge’s decision and look forward to the upcoming trial,” Daniel Petrocelli, the attorney for AT&T and Time Warner, said in a statement.
The order is a major win for the Justice Department, which had called the argument a “sideshow,” and a setback for AT&T, which had attempted to use Trump’s attacks on CNN to its advantage.
Judge Richard Leon wrote in his decision on Tuesday that AT&T had failed to prove that the government had unfairly singled out the merger in suing to block it.
Reuters also reported, regarding the judge’s decision:
The decision is a potential setback to AT&T’s plan to argue in an upcoming trial that the Justice Department’s decision to oppose the acquisition was politically motivated, perhaps spurred on by Trump’s public criticism of the deal and his frequent attacks on Time Warner’s CNN.
The trial to decide the fate of the $85 billion deal, which the companies agreed to in October 2016, is set to begin on March 19.
Trump criticized the deal as a candidate in late 2016, saying it would concentrate too much media power in the hands of one owner, and once again in November, saying it would raise prices. He has also frequently attacked Time Warner’s CNN for what he sees as negative coverage of his campaign and administration.