On AT&T-Time Warner merger, Giuliani again contradicts White House

On AT&T-Time Warner merger, Giuliani again contradicts White House
Posted at 1:06 AM, May 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-11 22:05:51-04

(RNN) – Rudy Giuliani has apparently again contradicted the Trump administration with his public statements.

Giuliani told Huffington Post on Friday evening that President Donald Trump “denied” a merger between AT&T and Time Warner.

In November the Department of Justice sued to block the merger between the telecom and media giants.

As a candidate, Trump spoke out against the deal, calling it one “we will not approve" and critics have speculated the president personally wants it to fail because of his dislike for CNN, which is owned by Time Warner.

Randall Stephenson, the AT&T CEO, has said the issue is the “elephant in the room” in the case.

Before taking office Trump tried to present a more open mind, telling Axios he hadn’t yet “seen the facts” and that they would be “presented to me and to the people within the government.”

And Kellyanne Conway, in an appearance on CNN in November before the DOJ sued to stop the merger, admonished interviewer Brian Stelter not to “throw all that poison out to your viewers” when he asked if the president had involvement in what was then the decision-making process over whether to sue.

 “We’re not going to interfere with that here,” she said.

Now, Giuliani has suggested Trump in fact was central to that decision.

The AT&T-Time Warner deal, a so-called "vertical merger" among companies that do not compete, is the kind that has historically enjoyed broad support.

Makan Delrahim, the chief of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, for his part has argued the government's position is the deal would “mean higher monthly television bills and fewer of the new, emerging innovative options that consumers are beginning to enjoy.”

Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor, said it is “highly unusual for the president to be involved in DOJ merger decisions” in a reaction to the Huffington Post article on Twitter.

Giuliani made the comment as part of a larger point that Trump was evidently not moved on the issue by Michael Cohen. It's been revealed the president's personal lawyer received a $600,000 payment from AT&T to “provide advice on the $85 billion merger” according to The Washington Post.

“Whatever lobbying was done didn’t reach the president … The president denied the merger,” Guiliani, who recently joined Trump's legal team, said.

The former New York City mayor previously said in an interview on Fox News that Trump reimbursed Cohen for a hush payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, when Trump’s public position had been that he never knew about the payment at all.

In that episode Trump said Giuliani would “get his facts straight.”

“He’s working hard. He’s learning the subject matter,” while new on the job, Trump said.

But earlier this week the Associated Press reported that Trump was “growing increasingly irritated” by Giuliani’s “off-message media blitz.”

The president was considering sidelining him from television interviews, the report said.

Closing arguments were made in the AT&T-Time Warner case last month, and Judge Richard Leon said he will present a decision on June 12.

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