President Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani said Friday the head of the United States was unaware his lawyer Michael Cohen was hired by AT&T in early 2017 in order to provide the wireless carrier with insights into the then-new administration. Mr. Giuliani also asserted the President hasn't intervened in AT&T's attempted purchase of Time Warner that's the subject of an ongoing legal clash started late last year after the Department of Justice sued to block the deal, citing competition concerns. The Dallas, Texas-based telecom giant previously suspected White House involvement in the matter, with the DOJ dismissing that notion on several occasions.
President Trump's feud with CNN was often the subject of such speculation given how the U.S. chief repeatedly referred to the unit of Time Warner's Turner as "fake news" and the DOJ is now pushing AT&T to either divest Turner or sell off its DIRECTV division, with the latter scenario being even less likely to happen, though the mobile service provider isn't willing to agree to either. Washington claims buying the entirety of Time Warner would provide AT&T with an unfair advantage over other content distributors as it would allow it to increase the licensing fees its rivals would have to pay for the company's content portfolio that includes everything from Game of Thrones to Batman, arguing the deal would consequently add hundreds of millions of dollars to the annual TV bills in the country. AT&T described that argument as frivolous and paranoid, claiming it needs Time Warner to take on modern video streaming services such as Netflix that already produce their own content.
AT&T paid $600,000 to Mr. Cohen over 2017 as part of a move that its Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson described as a "big mistake," having pushed out the firm's top lobbyist Bob Quinn who sanctioned the hiring in the aftermath of its disclosure earlier this month. AT&T and the DOJ are presently awaiting a first-instance ruling over their dispute that's likely to forever change the U.S. media industry regardless of whether the $85.6 billion deal is approved due the precedent that any outcome would set, according to many analysts.