AT&T's pending acquisition of Time Warner, an $85 billion media deal that could shake up how Americans watch TV, is being held up by the government. The official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said the department rejected that offer as insufficient to resolve its concerns, which it did not specify.
"I do feel you should have as many news outlets as you can - especially since so many are fake", Trump continued, according to a pool report.
Instead, the Trump administration DOJ plans to use the merger as a weapon against one the president's least favorite news organizations - Time Warner's CNN.
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.
President Donald Trump indicated the Justice Department may try to block AT&T Inc.'s proposed purchase of CNN owner Time Warner Inc., saying "it will probably end up being maybe litigation".More news: Patrice Evra: Marseille defender banned from Uefa club matches for seven months
The head of the DOJ's antitrust division denied that the White House is involved in the transaction.
Trump vowed on the campaign trail previous year to block the merger because "it's too much concentration of power in the hands of too few".
The official the president referred to was DOJ anti-trust chief Makan Delrahim, a Trump appointee who has threatened to block the deal in court unless AT&T sells off either Turner Broadcasting or its DirecTV service-the latter option impossible as it would undermine the entire basis of the merger. Time Warner shares fell just under 1% to close at $87.05. The deal has yet to be approved by USA antitrust regulators.
The deal is opposed by an array of rivals and consumer groups anxious that it would give the combined company too much power.
In court, AT&T would have the upper hand, said Geoffrey Manne, executive director of Portland-based think tank International Center for Law and Economics.