Maybe it’s because Donald Trump likes to use Game of Thrones imagery as props, but the Department of Justice today has conclusively given up on its long running effort to stop AT&T acquiring Time Warner.
“We are grateful that the Court of Appeals considered our objections to the District Court opinion,” said DOJ spokesman Tuesday mere hours after the Trump administration was handed a resounding rebuff by a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. “The department has no plans to seek further review,” Jeremy Edwards added for the now William Barr-run DOJ.
Judges Judith W. Rogers, Robert L. Wilkins and David B. Sentelle this morning backed the ruling of U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Leon from last spring that the $81 billion transaction was not harmful to consumers or competitors, despite the argued POV of the Justice Department.
“We affirm the district court’s order denying a permanent injunction of the merger,” the panel wrote in their released this morning.”The government’s objections that the district court misunderstood and misapplied economic principles and clearly erred in rejecting the quantitative model are unpersuasive.”
The public pose that the administration’s objection to the merger wasn’t somewhat political was pretty unpersuasive to many observers too. Certainly, the late 2017 starting effort by the DOJ to kill the AT&T/Time Warner deal was the first attempt by the feds to block a so-called “vertical” merger since in the 1970s.
Literally and figuratively a media event as suspicions arose that POTUS has unleashed regulators on the deal as a form of red-tape retribution against his perceived critics at CNN and subsequently its parent company, the six-week trial concluded in June 2018 with a solid win by AT&T. However, despite the fact that Judge Leon had removed any political motive by White House or the former Celebrity Apprentice host himself from the equation early on, the administration announced soon afterwards that they would challenge the ruling on appeal.
Oral arguments were heard in D.C. before the trio of judges on December 6.
The standing down by the DOJ this afternoon means the matter will not be taking what would have essentially been a “Hail Mary” pass at the Supreme Court handing out a decision in the government’s favor. Which means, to put a very big bucks blunt point on it, two and a half years after the purchase of Time Warner by AT&T was made public, Warner Media is truly here to stay folks and Trump’s nemesis CNN hasn’t been sold off or broken up.
AT&T did not respond to request for comment on the DOJ’s new stance today. Earlier, when the appeals panel ruling was released, AT&T General Counsel David McAtee said, “while we respect the important role that the U.S. Department of Justice plays in the merger review process, we trust that today’s unanimous decision from the D.C. Circuit will end this litigation.”
And it has.
BTW, if you are still interested, as millions are, in another type of battle for another type of Iron Throne – Game of Thrones‘ final season debuts on the Warmer Media-owned HBO on April 14.