Trump: AT&T-Time Warner Deal ‘Not Good for the Country’

Donald Trump

President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that the AT&T-Time Warner merger, which the Justice Department is seeking to block in court, is “not good for the country.”

Trump, an in impromptu press conference at the White House, said that he did not want to “get involved in litigation,” but said that he has “always felt that was a deal that’s not good for the country.”

“Your pricing is going to go up. I don’t think it’s a good deal for the country,” he said.

During the presidential campaign, Trump said he opposed the merger and would try to block it as it “concentrates too much power in the hands of too few.” Since then, Trump’s attacks on CNN have raised questions of whether the White House tried to exert its influence to stall the deal in retaliation. CNN is a unit of Time Warner.

The White House has denied that Trump has discussed the merger with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and the chief of the DOJ’s antitrust division, Makan Delrahim, said that there was no interference by the White House in the decision to pursue a lawsuit.

The Justice Department filed suit on Monday, claiming that the massive, $85 billion transaction would harm rivals and consumers as AT&T would have the incentive to raise prices and withhold Time Warner content.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said that the lawsuit was breaking from long-standing Justice Department precedent in how it handled past vertical mergers, in which a company combines with another but does not remove a competitor from the marketplace.

He also addressed whether he thought CNN was a factor in the DOJ decision. “I don’t know,” he said, but added that “nobody should be surprised that the question keeps coming up because we have witnessed such an abrupt change in the application of antitrust law here.”