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AP

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said today that the company is at the "advanced stages" of negotiations with antitrust regulators over its $85 billion takeover of Time Warner, but was "a little disturbed by leaks" yesterday about possible divestiture demands.

Speaking at the DealBook Conference in New York, Stephenson reiterated that no one at the Department of Justice has ever said that AT&T would be required to sell CNN, nor would he comment on reported DoJ requests to divest DirecTV. He also said he wants to keep CNN "because I need a strong competitor to NBC."

More highlights:

  • Stephenson had his first meeting with new DoJ antitrust head Makan Delrahim this past Monday.
  • He also would not sell anything larger than CNN, such as HBO or CNN parent Turner.
  • "If we have to go to litigation, our preference is sooner rather than later. We're ready to litigate now... We'd ask for an expedited hearing."
  • Stephenson said the merger's small breakup fee was a reflection that Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes didn't believe the deal would run into regulatory trouble.
  • On media concentration: Stephenson says that AT&T and Time Warner are trying to keep up with platforms like Facebook and Amazon.
  • Talks between Disney and Fox "didn't seem irrational to me," but thinks such discussions likely won't become too serious until there is more regulatory clarity over AT&T-Time Warner.
  • "I have no reason to believe" that the DoJ is taking into account President Trump's animosity toward CNN.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations before leaving office

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump plans to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations on his final full day in office Tuesday, sources familiar with the matter told Axios.

Why it matters: This is a continuation of the president's controversial December spree that saw full pardons granted to more than two dozen people — including former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, longtime associate Roger Stone and Charles Kushner, the father of Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

  • The pardons set to be issued before Trump exits the White House will be a mix of criminal justice ones and pardons for people connected to the president, the sources said.
  • CNN first reported this news.

Go deeper: Convicts turn to D.C. fixers for Trump pardons

Schumer's m(aj)ority checklist

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Capitalizing on the Georgia runoffs, achieving a 50-50 Senate and launching an impeachment trial are weighty to-dos for getting Joe Biden's administration up and running on Day One.

What to watch: A blend of ceremonies, hearings and legal timelines will come into play on Tuesday and Wednesday so Chuck Schumer can actually claim the Senate majority and propel the new president's agenda.

The dark new reality in Congress

National Guard troops keep watch at security fencing. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

This is how bad things are for elected officials and others working in a post-insurrection Congress:

  • Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) said she had a panic attack while grocery shopping back home.
  • Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said police may also have to be at his constituent meetings.
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told a podcaster he brought a gun to his office on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 because he anticipated trouble with the proceedings that day.