The Wall Street Journal has reported that Trump's son-in-law and a senior aide had told Time Warner's executive vice president of corporate marketing Gary Ginsberg to dump 20 percent of CNN employees over their alleged inaccurate analysis of the 2016 presidential election. 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 that you should have as many news outlets as you can, especially since so many of them are fake".
In 2014, Twenty-First Century Fox proposed buying Time Warner for $80bn.
Sources say the Department of Justice (DoJ) may make the deal conditional on the disposal of either Turner Broadcasting - which includes CNN, Cartoon Network and sports channels - or satellite broadcaster DirecTV. CNN has been a favorite punching bag for Trump, who has maligned the network repeatedly on the campaign trail, after winning last year's election, and since taking office this January.
The head of the Justice Department's antitrust division, Makan Delrahim, said in a statement late on Thursday that he has "never been instructed by the White House" on the AT&T deal. The White House has said Trump has not spoken to the attorney general about the matter.
Time Warner shares dropped 6.5 percent to $88.50 Wednesday. But many, including AT&T executives, expected the acquisition to be finalized by the end of the year, and the DOJ's pushback has all but ensured that won't be the case. It would then supply its video - HBO, CNN, TBS and the Warner Bros. movie studio - while providing access to the internet for millions of Americans. "It's time to settle, or it's time to go to court", he said.
In an emailed statement, the Justice Department said that it "is committed to carrying out its duties in accordance with the laws and the facts".