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Jeff Sessions sidesteps questions on AT&T-Time Warner merger

Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions, during questioning at a congressional hearing Tuesday, sidestepped a question about whether President Trump’s vitriol toward CNN was factoring into the Department of Justice’s review of a mammoth media merger.

AT&T is trying to buy Time Warner Inc. — which owns CNN, HBO, TNT, Cartoon Network and the Warner Bros. movie and television studio — for $85 billion. Justice Department antitrust division officials met last week with AT&T executives to discuss their concerns about the merger.

The division, now led by Makan Delrahim, has suggested that it might sue to block the merger. Sources familiar with the matter have told various news outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, that the Justice Department has suggested that AT&T sell either Turner Broadcasting, which includes CNN, or its El Segundo-based satellite TV unit, DirecTV, to win the government’s approval of the deal.

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) wanted to know whether the Justice Department had ordered AT&T to sell CNN, noting that Trump’s ire toward the news network is well documented.