Breaking News
0

U.S. Justice official says lawyer vowed 'personal attacks' over AT&T deal

Stock MarketsOct 12, 2018 08:20AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
 
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Smartphone with AT&T logo is seen in front of displayed Time Warner logo in this picture illustration

(Advisory: Note language in paragraph 5)

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department's top antitrust lawyer said Time Warner's general counsel threatened to "employ personal attacks" if the agency tried to block the company's $85.4 billion merger with AT&T Inc (NYSE:T), according to a court filing made public on Thursday.

The merger, which was announced in October 2016 and closed on June 14, was opposed by President Donald Trump. The merged company includes CNN, the cable news station that is a frequent target of Trump's ire. The Justice Department has asked a federal appeals court to reverse a lower court's approval of the deal.

In the court filing, Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim denied that the government's lawsuit was motivated by animus toward CNN. He also said that Trump's opposition was not a factor.

According to the filing, Delrahim said the exchange with the Time Warner general counsel, Paul Cappuccio, occurred during a Nov. 8, 2017, meeting that included the company's chief executive, Jeffrey Bewkes, and Time Warner board member William Barr, a former U.S. attorney general.

Delrahim said that Cappuccio stood up, "wagged his finger at me, and said that if the Antitrust Division goes through with this, the case will be 'a sh*tshow like you've never seen,' and that it would be like 'Jimmy Hoffa and the firing of Jim Comey,'" referring to the missing former Teamsters president and the former FBI director fired by Trump.

"I interpreted Mr. Cappuccio's comments to mean that if we brought this enforcement action, defendants would employ personal attacks to denigrate the integrity of the Antitrust Division and myself," he added.

Delrahim's deputy, Andrew Finch, filed an affidavit with a nearly identical recollection.

Barr filed a declaration that the Justice Department officials' recollections were "incorrect" and that Cappuccio did not wag his finger at Delrahim or make reference to Hoffa or Comey.

He added: "No reasonable person could have misinterpreted Mr. Cappuccio's comments as a threat that the companies would personally attack Mr. Delrahim or anyone else in the event of litigation."

Barr said Cappuccio was suggesting instead that the government's challenge of the deal would cause a "public political and media frenzy" because of Trump's animus toward CNN.

Cappuccio could not immediately be reached, but AT&T said in a statement on Thursday that "our opinion of the government’s lawsuit is no secret" and that the company appreciated "Barr stepping forward to provide his first-hand account of DOJ’s interactions with us."

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The previously secret declarations were made in February when AT&T unsuccessfully sought court approval to see any White House communications that could have shed light on whether Trump pressured the Justice Department to block the Time Warner deal.

Last month, AT&T asked a federal appeals court to reject the Justice Department's challenge, saying the government had offered no basis for second-guessing key conclusions of a ruling upholding the transaction.

On Thursday, the Justice Department said the lower court had made an "illogical conclusion that the merger will

lead to no change in bargaining leverage" and erroneously concluded that consumers would not be harmed.

The core of the Justice Department’s concern is that AT&T, which owns DirecTV, would use its ownership of Time Warner’s content to make pay TV rivals pay more, thus raising their costs and forcing them to charge consumers more.

U.S. Justice official says lawyer vowed 'personal attacks' over AT&T deal
 

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind: 

  • Enrich the conversation
  • Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed.
  • Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically.
  •  Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and links within a comment will be removed
  • Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user.
  • Don’t Monopolize the Conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also believe strongly in giving everyone a chance to air their thoughts. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at Investing.com’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
Post also to:
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's Investing.com's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
or
Sign up with Email