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Makan Delrahim after Tuesday's ruling. Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

The Justice Department has days to decide whether to continue its lengthy fight against AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner — but an appeal may not stop the deal from closing in the meantime.

The bigger picture: DOJ doesn't just have to worry about this deal, but about every future antitrust case where this ruling could constrain its ability to act.

What's next: DOJ is weighing two decisions as it enters the 6-day window before the deal can close:

  1. Should it appeal the ruling against their case?
  2. Should it ask to pause the deal while the longer appellate process moves forward?

This second question is more fraught. If a court stopped the deal from closing, the companies could find the clock has run past the deal's June 21 closing deadline. The deal has a $500 million breakup fee — but Time Warner could negotiate additional compensation if it had to extend the deadline for the deal, notes BTIG media analyst Rich Greenfield.

  • Judge Richard J. Leon surprised the courtroom Tuesday when, after announcing his decision, he told the Justice Department it would be "manifestly unjust" for them to ask for a stay, as a hold on the deal before an appeal is known.
  • "The court has spoken," he said.
  • Makan Delrahim, the Justice Department's top antitrust official, was noncommittal about whether he would follow Leon's advice as he left the courthouse after Tuesday's ruling.

The other side: AT&T says it still expects the deal to close ahead of the deadline next week.

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Go deeper

Senate Democrats reach deal on extending unemployment insurance

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Democrats struck a deal Friday evening on extending unemployment insurance in the President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package after deliberating for most of the day, per a Senate aide.

Why it matters: The deal allows Congress to move forward with voting on amendments to the bill, though it caused a massive delay in the 20-hour debate over the legislation.

Capitol review panel recommends more police, mobile fencing

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

A panel appointed by Congress to review security measures at the Capitol is recommending several changes, including mobile fencing and a bigger Capitol police force, to safeguard the area after a riotous mob breached the building on Jan. 6.

Why it matters: Law enforcement officials have warned there could be new plots to attack the area and target lawmakers, including during a speech President Biden is expected to give to a joint session of Congress.

Financial fallout from the Texas deep freeze

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Texas has thawed out after an Arctic freeze last month threw the state into a power crisis. But the financial turmoil from power grid shock is just starting to take shape.

Why it matters: In total, electricity companies are billions of dollars short on the post-storm payments they now owe to the state's grid operator. There's no clear path for how they will pay — something being watched closely across the country as extreme weather events become more common.