Court Denies AT&T’s Requests for Internal DOJ Communications in Antitrust LawsuitFebruary 20, 2018
Today, U.S. District Court Judge Richard D. Leon denied AT&T's request for certain documents and testimony in its defense against the Department of Justice's charge that its proposed acquisition of Time Warner violates antitrust laws. AT&T has argued that it is subject to “selective enforcement,” that is, that the DOJ's motivation in bringing the case is primarily political, and motivated by President Trump's well-known dislike of CNN, a Time Warner property. The DOJ rejects this contention, maintaining that the DOJ's Antitrust Division alone decided to bring this case.
In denying AT&T's request to obtain documents, such as records of communication between the White House and the Department of Justice, Judge Leon ruled that AT&T had not met the high legal burden that it would have to satisfy to access them. As a result, AT&T is unlikely to be able to make a convincing defense of this nature, and will have to address the DOJ's central claim that its proposed merger is anticompetitive.
The following can be attributed to Gene Kimmelman, President and CEO of Public Knowledge:
“This ruling demonstrates that the court refuses to be distracted by politics and instead is focused on the facts and the law. This is a great result for consumers worried about the danger of higher prices and harm to online competition likely to result from this merger.”