AT&T may call antitrust chief to testify over Time Warner purchase in unprecedented move

Makan Delrahim, Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division.
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Makan Delrahim, Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division.

AT&T is reportedly thinking about calling the head of the Justice Department"s antitrust division to testify in a trial over the government"s effort to block the telecom"s $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner.

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In an unprecedented move, AT&T may call Makan Delrahim to testify at the trial, according to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

It is highly unusual for government officials to be listed as witnesses in such cases, but this is no ordinary antitrust trial. President Donald Trump has verbally pounded Time Warner-owned CNN.

The Justice Department sued to block the deal in late November. The government believes the acquistion would harm competition and raise prices for consumers. The department also denies allegations that it is blocking the deal as punishment for CNN"s news coverage.

AT&T, meanwhile, notes its deal with Time Warner is a so-called vertical merger, meaning it would combine the two companies are on the same supply chain, in this case content (Time Warner) and media distribution (AT&T). AT&T also notes that a vertical merger has not been blocked in about 50 years.

"This is a matter to be discussed in court, not the press, and as we have consistently told all reporters yesterday and today, we will reserve comment on it for the courtroom," Dan Petrocelli, lead trial counsel for Time Warner and AT&T, said in a statement.

The trial is scheduled to start on March 19.