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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

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Sources say Beto plans Texas comeback in governor’s race

Former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke speaks during the Georgetown to Austin March for Democracy rally on July 31, 2021, in Austin, Texas. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke is preparing to run for governor of Texas in 2022, with an announcement expected later this year, Texas political operatives tell Axios.

Why it matters: O'Rourke's entry would give Democrats a high-profile candidate with a national fundraising network to challenge Republican Gov. Greg Abbott — and give O’Rourke, a former three-term congressman from El Paso and 2020 presidential candidate and voting rights activist, a path to a political comeback.

Texas doctor says he performed an abortion in violation of state law

Pro-choice protesters march down Congress Avenue and back to the Texas state capitol in Austin, Texas, in July 2021. Photo: Erich Schlegel/Getty Images

A Texas doctor disclosed in an op-ed in the Washington Post on Saturday that he has performed an abortion in violation of the state's restrictive new abortion law, which effectively bans the procedure after six weeks.

Why it matters: Alan Braid's op-ed is a direct disclosure that will very likely result in legal action, thereby setting it up as a potential test case for how the abortion ban will be litigated, notes the New York Times.

Mike Allen, author of AM
6 hours ago - Technology

Axios interview: Facebook to try for more transparency

Nick Clegg last year. Photo: Matthew Sobocinski/USA Today via Reuters

Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president of global affairs, tells me the company will try to provide more data to outside researchers to scrutinize the health of activity on Facebook and Instagram, following The Wall Street Journal's brutal look at internal documents.

Driving the news: Clegg didn't say that in his public response to the series. So I called him to push for what Facebook will actually do differently given the new dangers raised by The Journal.