David McAtee II, AT&T's general counsel, said in a statement: "Today's DOJ lawsuit is a radical and inexplicable departure from decades of antitrust precedent. Vertical mergers like this one are routinely approved because they benefit consumers without removing any competitor from the market. We see no legitimate reason for our merger to be treated differently."

In a press conference Monday, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson sharply criticized the DOJ's decision.

"I've done a lot of deals in my career, but I've never done one where we have disagreed with the Department of Justice so much on even the most basic of facts," Stephenson said. "The rule of law is at issue here," he added later.

Stephenson also addressed the speculation that the Trump administration's opposition to the deal stems from President Trump's feelings about what he believes is CNN's unfair coverage of him.''


Trump fired off more shots at the network the week before the lawsuit was filed.

He tweeted one morning last week: "While in the Philippines I was forced to watch @CNN, which I have not done in months, and again realized how bad, and FAKE, it is. Loser!"

His tweets could potentially now be cited by AT&T as circumstantial evidence of presidential interference.

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