Judge turns down request for White House memos in AT&T - Time Warner deal

The judge overseeing the justice department's lawsuit to block AT&T's purchase of Time Warner has turned down the telecom company's request for the communications records between the White House and the attorney general and between the attorney general and the antitrust division regarding the deal.

AT&T requested to access to the log of communications between the White House and Department of Justice (DoJ)as part of its "selective enforcement" defence in the trial, which is set to get underway in March.

AT&T had planned to use the "selective enforcement" defence to argue that the DoJ unfairly targeted  the company partly due to president Donald Trump's animus toward CNN, which is owned by Time Warner, and his pledge as a candidate to block the merger.

"We respect the judge's decision and look forward to the upcoming trial," said Dan Petrocelli, lead trial attorney for both Time Warner and AT&T.

In a Friday status conference hearing, the DoJ said that politics played no part in their decision to bring the case and that they have legitimate antitrust concerns as they believe that the deal would harm consumers with price increases.

Meanwhile, according to the Verge, after the judge refused to let the companies have a look at the White House communiques, the two companies will likely continue to fight the DOJ antitrust suit in other ways.

In the decision yesterday, the judge on the case said the companies had fallen ''far short'' of the legal bar required to receive the documents.

At the time the lawsuit was first filed, a lawyer hired by AT&T said the companies were ''not dependent'' on showing Trump's intervention in the justice department's  decision. According to commentators, with yesterday's decision, they will likely have to look toward those other avenues in their defense.