AT&T is trying to prove that President Trump personally intervened to stop a proposed merger with Time Warner, Bloomberg reported Wednesday. AT&T reportedly believes there are documents tracing correspondence between the White House and Justice Department that could prove Trump wanted the $85 billion merger killed.
Last November, the DOJ announced that it would initiate an antitrust lawsuit to block the merger between AT&T and Time Warner, claiming the deal would "substantially lessen competition." When news of the suit surfaced, The New York Times reported that the DOJ had insinuated the deal would be approved if Time Warner sold off Turner Broadcasting — which owns the president's least favorite news network, CNN.
Various sources within AT&T and Time Warner told Vanity Fair that the demand for Time Warner to shed Turner Broadcasting, and CNN by proxy, reeked of politics. The antitrust lawsuit is set to begin in March, and Bloomberg says that AT&T is also hoping to get the head attorney for the DOJ's antitrust division to testify.
As a presidential candidate, Trump expressed his opposition to the AT&T and Time Warner merger, saying that it would result in "too much concentration of power in the hands of too few." Bloomberg notes that the White House has long denied allegations that their opposition to the sale is politically motivated. Both the Justice Department and AT&T declined to comment on Bloomberg's story. Kelly O'Meara Morales
AT&T announced Wednesday that it was making a $1 billion investment in U.S. operations as well as giving $1,000 bonuses to over 200,000 workers in response to the passage of the Republican tax bill. "This tax reform will drive economic growth and create good-paying jobs," AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said in a statement Wednesday. "In fact, we will increase our U.S. investment and pay a special bonus to our U.S. employees."
But it didn't take long before reporters noticed a peculiar detail: The telecommunications company had planned on making some of those investments even before both chambers of Congress passed the GOP tax bill Wednesday. In fact, AT&T outlined a similar initiative last week:
AT&T's announcement today for $1,000 bonuses for 200,000 employees follows an announcement last week to pay 20,000 employees $1,000 bonuses as mandated by a union agreement https://t.co/6YUqORzDaC … https://t.co/Bw7lgQqatd pic.twitter.com/3LCYJuYNcS
— Mike Rosenberg (@ByRosenberg) December 20, 2017
An AT&T spokesman told Reuters' David Shepardson that the bonuses announced Wednesday are "unrelated" to the union agreement publicized last week. But the company had already announced its $1 billion investment plan, too — back in November, pending the tax bill's passage.
President Trump gleefully touted AT&T's decision, saying Wednesday, "That's because of what we did." Bloomberg's Scott Moritz pointed out that AT&T is currently embroiled in a dispute with Trump's Justice Department over a planned merger with Time Warner, who owns Trump's least favorite news network, CNN. Boeing, Comcast, Fifth Third Bancorp, and Wells Fargo also announced worker bonuses or domestic investments in response to the tax bill's passage — but a few of those companies may have reasons aside from generosity to celebrate Trump's tax victory, as The Boston Globe's Astead Wesley noted. Kelly O'Meara Morales
Like AT&T, there's additional context here. Wells Fargo is also currently hoping to avoid additional fines and penalties from CFPB fraud investigation https://t.co/vwNUtx4nZI
— Astead (@AsteadWesley) December 20, 2017