Nov 20, 2017

AT&T chief: DOJ's Time Warner suit pushes law past "breaking point"

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, left, listens as Trump speaks at the White House. Photo: Evan Vucci / AP

AT&T's CEO Randall Stephenson said Monday night that the telecom giant is ready for a war with the Department of Justice over the agency's lawsuit to block his $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner. "The government has filed a lawsuit and it stretches the very reach of antitrust law beyond the breaking point," he said.

The bigger picture: The legal battle is going to be closely watched for what it tells other companies and the public about the climate for big mergers.

The details:

  • Stephenson said he didn't know if the president's attitude toward CNN — owned by Time Warner — played into the decision to block the deal. "But nobody should be surprised that the question keeps coming up, because we witnessed such an abrupt change in the application of antitrust law here," he said. (A DOJ official said on Monday that there had not been communication with the White House about the investigation into the deal, to the official's knowledge.)
  • He said that the company wouldn't sell CNN to get the deal approved.
  • The executive also referenced the original content being created by Netflix, Amazon, Facebook and Google — asking, essentially, why the government was pursuing this deal while leaving those other companies untouched.

Go deeper: Our summary of DOJ's case

Go deeper

Sign of the times: A pro-Warren super PAC

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren at a rally in Nevada. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

A group of women progressives who back Sen. Elizabeth Warren has formed Persist PAC, a super PAC airing pro-Warren ads starting Wednesday in an effort to boost her performance ahead of Saturday's crucial Nevada caucuses, a spokesman told Axios.

Why it matters: Warren has spoken adamantly against the influence of unlimited spending and dark money in politics. But these supporters have concluded that before Warren can reform the system, she must win under the rules that exist — and that whether she likes it or not, their uncoordinated help may be needed to keep her viable through this weekend's contest and into South Carolina and Super Tuesday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 53 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Pentagon policy chief resigns amid reported discord with Trump

John Rood. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

John Rood, the Pentagon's top policy official, will resign from his post at the end of the month, CNN first reported and President Trump confirmed.

The state of play: CNN said Rood "was perceived as not embracing some of the changes in policy the White House and senior Pentagon officials wanted," such as peace talks in Afghanistan with the Taliban and a decision to cut back on military exercises with South Korea as the president courted North Korea's Kim Jong-un.

Coronavirus cases rise, as warnings of global pandemic grow

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

We may be "at the brink" of a global pandemic, warns a top U.S. public health official, as cases continue to spread despite containment efforts. Meanwhile, the global economy is being affected, including the tech manufacturing industry.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed more than 2,000 people and infected over 75,000 others, mostly in mainland China, where the National Health Commission announced 136 new deaths since Tuesday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health