We are writing to urge the Department of Justice (DOJ) to closely scrutinize AT&T's proposed acquisition of Time Warner. That triggered suspicions that the Antitrust Division, led by Makan Delrahim, is being influenced by the Trump White House, which has been highly critical of CNN's coverage of the administration.
When asked specifically whether the Department of Justice has asked AT&T to divest Time Warner, Sessions said, "I don't think". Then, he concluded: "I didn't make a statement, but I did make a statement long before".
Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) asked Sessions whether the reports about Antitrust Division's review of the merger were correct.
"I do feel you should have as many news outlets as you can - especially since so many are fake", Trump continued, according to a pool report.
The DoJ could still issue legal proceedings against AT&T over antitrust concerns around the consolidation of power that a merger would bring. The latter tend to remove competition from the marketplace.
For the moment, the DOJ has not taken any formal action: It's still reviewing AT&T's $86 billion merger proposal, though a decision is expected soon. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, asking for a hearing that would touch on political interference in merger review. Previously, the president has blasted AT&T and Time Warner's merger plans - and during the 2016 election he threatened to block the companies from combining under his watch.
It comes as reports in the U.S. linked the potential delay to President Donald Trump's open dislike of CNN's news coverage. "So I want to follow up", Klobuchar said. The first occasion on which he reflected on the matter in an official capacity as President came during his recent trip to Asia when he gave an ambiguous remark about AT&T's case possibly going to trial, noting how litigation still isn't guaranteed. Antitrust experts say that the company could seek access to any communications between the Justice Department and the White House as part of the discovery process.