Rupert Murdoch twice discussed CNN with AT&T CEO

Government's holdup of AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner worries some

Previously, the president has blasted AT&T and Time Warner's merger plans - and during the 2016 election he threatened to block the companies from combining under his watch.

Trump vowed on the campaign trail a year ago to block the merger because "it's too much concentration of power in the hands of too few". "It's illogical. It's why we did the deal", he said.

"Are we really going to make the (Justice Department) use antitrust law to force the sale of a cable channel because the President doesn't like its news coverage?" tweeted Jessica Rosenworcel, member of the Federal Communications Commission. The White House has said Trump has not spoken to the attorney general about the matter.

The revelation of Trump's son-in-law controversial comments came days after the reports that the US Department of Justice was forcing Time Warner to sell CNN before eventually approving the telecom giant's merger with AT&T. Delrahim, who supported Trump during the campaign and served nine months as a White House lawyer, is responsible for overseeing the AT&T transaction. AT&T stock closed up 1.1 percent at $33.44. But many, including AT&T executives, expected the acquisition to be finalized by the end of the year, and the DOJ's pushback has all but ensured that won't be the case.

If AT&T and DOJ cannot agree to conditions, the government can sue to block the deal. Requiring AT&T to sell either Turner or DirecTV would be in line with Delrahim's thinking.

Speaking at a conference in New York, Stephenson disputed claims he offered to sell CNN to win approval of AT&T's takeover of Time Warner.

The deal is opposed by an array of rivals and consumer groups anxious that it would give the combined company too much power.

The president has frequently referred to CNN as "fake news". He said the company has "very good" prospects of winning in court against the Justice Department.

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