The Justice Department has filed a lawsuit to block AT&T from its controversial $85.4 billion grab at Time Warner, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. President Trump has long been critical of the deal, saying he believes it would focus too much of the power in the media industry in one company. The Justice Department's move could be complicated, though, because it will require convincing the courts "that the deal would threaten competition," Bloomberg Politics wrote earlier this year. "That could be tough because AT&T isn't buying a direct competitor."
The merger would have paired AT&T's wireless phone service with Time Warner's visual media, including networks like CNN, TNT, and HBO as well as the Warner Bros. film and television studio. Earlier this month, the Justice Department demanded CNN's parent company, Turner Broadcasting, be sold before the deal could go forward, raising questions about Trump's involvement in the decision.
"Vigorous antitrust enforcement by the Justice Department would ordinarily be a cause for celebration, given that antitrust law is the last line of defense for consumers when federal agencies go on the sort of deregulatory jihad that President Trump has directed," wrote the Los Angeles Times. "But in this case, it's impossible to tell whether the DOJ is being principled or a puppet. In fact, its motives are completely suspect."
Before the suit was officially filed, AT&T's general counsel said the move would be a "radical and inexplicable departure from antitrust precedent." Read more about the AT&T-Time Warner deal, and how Trump might have played a role, at The Week.